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New food initiative a 'significant step' but must be followed by strong action

With just seven months until L'Aquila commitment deadline, G8 leaders must fulfill their promises

Media Contacts: Laura Blank World Vision Media Relations Director 708.872.5265 Holly Frew World Vision Media Relations Manager 202.596.8509 Washington, DC (May 18, 2012) President Obama's new food security and nutrition initiative announced earlier today is a welcome and significant step in the right direction, but the real success of the alliance will hinge on how successfully G8 leaders focus their investments on improving nutrition and engaging smallholder farmers. "We are pleased to see the President take a significant step forward to launch a food and nutrition initiative to lift 50 million people out of poverty," said Richard Stearns, President of World Vision U.S. "But leaders won't be able to claim success in 10 years if this alliance grows economies but not children." Since the G8 leaders met last year, a devastating famine tore through the Horn of Africa and now 18 million people in West Africa face hunger. The New Alliance has the potential to help underdeveloped countries improve their resilience to stop these kinds of cyclical crises from repeating themselves in the future, but there are three key factors that must happen in order for this initiative to claim victory in 10 years.

Three keys to success for New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition:
Sustained public investment: We applaud and support the goal of lifting 50 million people out of poverty through improving food security and nutrition in Africa. Robust engagement and socially responsible investment from the private sector are vital to this. However, such investment should not become a substitute for public-sector resources or by-pass civil society involvement. Investment in smallholder farmers: This New Alliance must be a true alliance. It must focus on making investments that enhance the productivity of smallholder farmers that provide the bulk of food consumed in Africa and align with investments and plans their governments are already making. Enabling families to grow their businesses makes great sense and should be the central goal of the new alliance.

Accountability to L'Aquila: The U.S. leadership on this alliance is very encouraging news for the 1 billion people who go bed hungry each night. But we cannot rest there. Canada and the UK have led their G8 colleagues in fulfilling pledges made at L'Aquila in 2009. World Vision is pleased to see the United States' commitment to fulfill its L'Aquila pledges, and we call on the lagging G8 donors to follow the U.S., Canada and the U.K. in keeping their promises. All G8 members must continue to build on the Lquila funding commitments and principles in order to finally ensure global food and nutrition security.

"In these challenging economic times, it's still important to remember those who desperately need help. The Alliance will require true accountability to ensure that millions around the world can give their children a healthy start to life," added Mr. Stearns. "Greater private investment is needed, but so is greater investment from developing country governments and donor countries. This investment is required in both agricultural development and basic health services for mothers and children if we are to ensure adequate nutrition for all children. While an opportunity was missed at this summit, the G8 must quickly develop and embrace an ambitious nutrition target to prevent malnutrition and stunting among millions of children."

Fast facts on global hunger:

80 percent of the food in Africa is produced by smallholder farmers. These smallholders own less than 2 percent of the land. More than 18 million people in West Africa are facing hunger, and the number continues to grow. Of those 18 million people, 3 million children under five are at risk of malnutrition, 1.1 million face severe malnutrition and a quarter million have died in the past year because of it. Only 38 percent of G8 Lquila commitments have been disbursed; there is only 7 months left until the deadline in December. - END World Vision staff will be available for comment immediately following President Obama's speech. Please contact Laura Blank (+1.708.872.5265) or Holly Frew (+1.202.596.8509) to schedule. About World Vision: World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information on their efforts, visit or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews.