In an effort to raise awareness of its eight development goals, UN schedules series of events
CAIRO: The United Nations local offices are planning a series of events to raise awareness of the organization s millennium development goals, including efforts to eradicate poverty and world hunger.
Under the theme of “Investing in Agriculture for Food Security, the UN yesterday marked World Food Day, a joint commemoration between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the ministry of agriculture. According to FAO sources, there are numerous projects between the two that aim at boosting agriculture and agribusiness in Egypt.
The events are also designed to reverse a significant worldwide decrease in aid and investment in the agricultural field. “The past two decades have seen a sharp decline in foreign assistance for agriculture, says UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “Many countries, including those most in need, have not allocated sufficient resources to farming and rural development.
The strategies driving such projects include supporting local farmers in sustaining adequate living standards, encouraging the public sector to provide secure investment climate for agribusiness investors and rural infrastructure, and encouraging the private sector to provide the know-how and technical assistance to the small farmers through cooperatives and “outgrower schemes.
A number of joint projects between FAO and the ministry contributed to Egypt’s designation as the biggest worldwide producer of rice last year, the UN body said.
Other projects focus on poultry, animal stock, fisheries, land reclamation and cultivation, agricultural-industrial integration, mechanical slaughters and fodder projects.
When the FAO accomplishes its goals, the World Food Program (WFP) will close, says Khaled Mansour, WFP spokesperson.
Providing essential food rations for families working on reclaiming desert land and turning them into fertile soil is among the WFP priorities for the country.
Desert reclamation requires five years to yield profit. During this period, the families that are supposed to farm these plots of land can’t find the essentials to keep them alive. While the government will provide electricity, services and loans for small projects, Mansour explained, WFP will provide food. Some families in the country spend 60 percent of their incomes on food, he added.
While concerns about investors buying land from these families and undeservingly receiving the benefits designated for these poorer families have been raised, they weren t confirmed.
Food and agriculture, however, aren t the only topics on the UN agenda for the country this month.
Violence against women and children and working towards achieving the millennium development goals are just examples of the items on their list. Beside preparations for the UN Day on Oct.24, the organization has also celebrated World Mental Health Day and International Day for Natural Disasters Reduction on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 respectively.
The UN had organized a one-minute stand against poverty and to publicize the organization’s eight millennium development goals yesterday at the Alexandria Library. This is in line with an international campaign to break the Guinness world record for the number of people standing in gatherings, on one day, for one cause.
This symbolic campaign isn’t the only one in efforts to publicize the organization’s plans. Symbolism plays a role in motivating people, says Maher Nasser, director of the UN Information Center in Cairo.
This week also witnesses the launch of the Nile Sailing for Development Campaign. James Rawely, resident UN country coordinator, and Moushira Khattab, National Council for Childhood and Motherhood secretary general, will inaugurate the project next Tuesday. The project will see eight traditional Egyptian sailboats (felucca) sail through the Nile from Aswan to Cairo.
The eight boats will make eight stops throughout the journey, each stop representing one of the millennium development goals: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development.
Logos designed by Egyptian children will adorn the sails to advertise these goals. The project features the collaboration of non-governmental organizations, the government and the private sector. The journey is to reach its final stop on Dec. 8, to coincide with the International Volunteer Day and Human Rights Day.
The campaign is an opportunity to follow up with the progress of developmental programs and examine the interaction between the UN and civil society, says Berlant Qabeel, information consultant at the FAO regional office for the Near East.