High-ranking officials from 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, gathered at an FAO regional conference in Buenos Aires, to prioritize aid for rebuilding the devastations in Haiti that were caused by a killer earthquake in 2010, the head of that United Nations organization said.
“The countries decided that Haiti is not only an emergency problem; it’s a national reconstruction problem, one of rebuilding its productive capacity in order to implement a medium-term and long-term program that can ensure peace in that region,” Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, a Brazilian, said at a press conference.
The FAO director said that the Latin American countries will focus their activities on coordinating existing programs, together with the Caribbean nation’s Government, more than on dedicating financial resources.
“It’s not an issue of resources; of course, resources are necessary, but Haiti could perhaps be an example of the difficulties of coordinating emergency programs,” the official indicated at a press conference at the conclusion of the 32nd FAO Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti left around 250,000 dead and caused serious damage to productive infrastructure, while 1.5 million people are still living in camps.
“Each one goes there with his little flag and wants to do his own thing, and the result is that the contributions don’t make a difference,” Graziano da Silva vividly explained at the conclusion of the five-day meeting focused on food security.
The FAO carried out projects worth almost 40 million dollars in Haiti in 2010-2011, especially in reforestation plans and in order to optimize resources coming from the European Union.
The official reiterated that Latin American and Caribbean Governments reaffirmed at the Buenos Aires meeting their commitment to eradicate hunger before 2025, and he indicated that the region is the first to set that objective for itself.
In this regard, he said that increasing food production and supply “is vital in order to eradicate hunger.”
Graziano da Silva had noted during the conference “the need to increase food production at the global level by 70 percent, in order to feed a population that will reach 9 billion people in 2050.”
The meeting in the Argentine capital was attended by 18 ministers and 37 deputy ministers from 32 countries in the region, among a total of 299 participants.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina assumed the role of FAO regional conference chair for the next two years.
The next regional meeting will be held in Chile in 2014.