First ever regional meeting on food security in disaster-prone Pacific Islands concludes in Fiji

Taro, the main root crop for many pacific islands (Photo: Polynelise)

NADI, Fiji-May 3: 1:20pm(WFP): Preparing for and responding to natural disasters as they affect access to food for millions of people in the Pacific Islands, is one of the major themes that was discussed at the first-ever meeting of the Regional Pacific Food Security Cluster in Nadi, Fiji last week.

The meeting of some 50 representatives from governments, non-governmental and UN organisations, was jointly hosted by Food Security Cluster co-lead Coordinators: the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The three-day event, was designed to foster collaboration, coordination and the sharing of ideas and experiences amongst members. The Cluster supports the work of in-country food security coordination bodies that include Government and Non-Government actors from six regional pacific countries: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

“The South Pacific region is among the most vulnerable to the threat posed by natural disasters,” said Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture,Jitendra Singh, who also attended the forum as chief guest.

“In the past few years there have been two category five cyclones, Pam and Winston, as well as the El Niño drought, which were devastating for our region. Food Security Clusters across the Pacific region have coordinated the efforts of partners across the spectrum and have been instrumental in leading assessments to measure the impacts of these events and to inform action. We know there are already coordination gaps at the country level and these gaps become even more pronounced at the regional level. By bringing together Fijians and other Pacific Islanders to discuss the need for better and more productive food security coordination in this event, the Regional Cluster is also opening up opportunities for learning that surpasses country boundaries and that, strategically, provides Pacific Island Nations with a platform and a forum to discuss, network, and raise visibility for their work in the food security sector.”

Head of Office WFP’s Pacific Office,Peter French said: “The Pacific region is unlike any other region on earth – and food security here is a unique, complex and highly diverse issue. On top of the challenges of growing food in small island nations, comes the looming threat of climate change. We all need to work together to find solutions – and the impressive participation of partners from across the food security sector in this week’s meeting in Fiji is a strong sign of this collaboration.”

Speaking on behalf of Eriko Hibi, FAO Representative for the Pacific, Joseph Nyemah noted that FAO has been working with governments, communities and households in the region for over 30 years. “Our support to countries under the Food Security Cluster builds on a wide range of ongoing technical cooperation projects and experiences gained from extensive in field and in government assistance to FAO member countries in the sub-region,” he said. “FAO technical cooperation to support emergency preparedness and response is an expansion and enhancement of our work on the ground to ensure that every programme is resilience proofed.”

FAO has been a longstanding partner with WFP, providing technical assistance in food and agriculture, with an emphasis on resilience-building, and in helping countries in the rehabilitation and recovery phases of emergencies affecting the agriculture sector.

In line with its global mandate as the head of the humanitarian clusters for emergency logistics, telecommunications and as the co-lead for food security, WFP established a technical presence in the Pacific in late 2015 to assist regional governments with their emergency preparedness measures, and to enhance their capacity to assist people in need.

This support is coordinated through WFP’s office in Fiji. The regional programme focuses on assisting five priority Pacific Island nations, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands, with plans underway to expand support into Northern Pacific Island States.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.






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