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Brussels, 15 October 2013
World Food Day 2013 – Calling for quality, not just quantity
2013 World Food Day: EU Commissioners for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, Kristalina Georgieva on making sure that not only everyone has enough food to eat but also that it's the right food
Tomorrow, 16th October, is World Food Day. It's the moment for us to take stock of how far we've come on improving humanitarian food assistance, agriculture and food and nutrition security, as well as to consider what more we can do.
It's part of our job description to regularly visit the world's poorest countries. And we never get over seeing people who don't have enough food for themselves or their families. Nothing is more shocking than the sight of children so malnourished that they are too weak even to cry.
That’s why children have a special place in the EU's humanitarian and development policies. The EU not only provides emergency assistance to acutely undernourished children and their mothers but also supports its partner countries in reducing by at least seven million by 2025 the number of children who are stunted - whose growth and development has been compromised because they don't get sufficient nutritious food nor adequate health services.
It's becoming increasingly clear that we need to focus not only on providing the right quantity of food but also on its quality. We need to make sure that people get food which provides all of the nutrients they need to develop their full potential. It's unacceptable that more than three million children still die each year from not getting enough of the right food.
In Guatemala, for example, even if it looks like the fields are full of maize and corn you will find one of the highest rates of stunting in the world, with half of all children there chronically undernourished. The consequences last a lifetime: a child who suffers from undernourishment up to the age of two will have his or her mental and physical development damaged forever.
That's why the EU is one of the world's largest donors of humanitarian food assistance and nutrition. Since 2010, the EU has directly supported more than a hundred million people facing acute food insecurity.
But the EU can't end food insecurity and hunger on its own. We need a broad partnership. We are now seeing important progress, with the new Food Assistance Convention, which entered into force in January this year. It commits signatories to a more efficient and effective response to food and nutrition insecurity. There's also the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement , where more than forty developing countries, together with donors, civil society, the private sector and UN organisations, are now joining forces.
But more needs to be done. That’s why, on this year’s World Food Day, we call on other donors and partners to ensure that we all act together in doing what we can to make sure that people have not just enough to eat but also the right quality of food, no matter where they live.