Each year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) celebrates World Food Day on 16 October to commemorate the founding of the Organisation in 1945. Events are organized in over 150 countries across the world, making it one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. As a member state, South Africa also commemorates the day through hives of activities aimed at highlighting food and nutrition security.
These events promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and other forms of malnutrition and for the need to ensure food security and healthy diets for all. World Food Day is also an important opportunity to send a strong message to the public: We can end hunger and all forms of malnutrition in this lifetime and become the Zero Hunger Generation, but everyone needs to work together to achieve this goal.
For decades, the world was making progress in the fight against hunger. Now, the number of undernourished people is on the rise again. More than 800 million people, or roughly one in nine people, are going hungry. Food security in our times isn’t only a matter of quantity, it’s also a question of quality. Unhealthy diets have now become a leading risk factor for disease and death worldwide. There is an urgent need to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone.
The language of hunger used by the international community is beginning to reflect the urgent need to transform diets and food systems. In 2015, countries adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty and hunger, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. The Zero Hunger goal, or SDG 2, specifies not only the need to end hunger but, also, the need to achieve food security by improving access to nutritious food while using sustainable agricultural methods.
South Africa has the following objectives:
- To inform South Africans on the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security.
- To heighten public awareness on issues such as absence and scarcity of food in the country and to strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
- To promote food production and to stimulate national, bi-lateral, trans-national and non-governmental initiatives.
- To encourage research and technology development for the development of symbiotic ecological food production systems to ensure sustainable food production.
- To enhance the participation of rural people, particularly women and the under privileged in decisions and events impacting their living conditions.
- To heighten public awareness on the Government programmes aimed at halving hunger in South Africa.
- To raise awareness of the public regarding the contribution of indigenous forests to food security and nutrition.