Development and relief agency CWS welcomes the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) announcement June 12 that 38 countries, including several where CWS supports local hunger and malnutrition programs, have met the internationally established Millennium Development goals to cut hunger in half by 2015.

The FAO also congratulated 18 of those countries for reaching both the Millennium Development Goal on hunger and a more stringent World Food Summit goal to have reduced by half the absolute number of undernourished people. 

The progress of countries in meeting the hunger goals were measured by both the FAO and the World Food Summit between 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, against MDG benchmarks established by the U.N. General Assembly in 2000 and against benchmarks set in 1996 by 180 nations who met at the World Food Summit to deliberate ways to end global hunger. 

“We are heartened today by the progress that these countries have made in ending hunger,” said CWS president and chief executive officer the Rev. John McCullough. “We are particularly happy that seven countries in which CWS and its local partners have been supporting successful, sustainable food and nutrition security and interrelated development programs are among those countries that have reached the goals.” 

Those countries in which CWS programs are at work that have reached the UN MDG1 hunger goals include Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Honduras, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Vietnam.  Of those, Georgia, Nicaragua and Vietnam are among the countries that also have reached the rigorous World Food Summit hunger benchmark. 

“As we see the visible and measurable progress the world is making in cutting hunger in half by 2015, we are further encouraged by the potent, growing wave of action, ideas, collaboration and innovative partnerships that are emerging to make the possible real. But it will take ever greater effort over the next few years, and beyond ― until the deed is done,” McCullough said.

CWS hunger programs in the most vulnerable communities typically are holistic initiatives that tackle the roots of hunger and malnutrition ― by making community awareness, education, skills training, micro-finance and clean water and sanitation resource development integral to its agriculture and nutrition programs. 

In the Republic of Georgia this spring, a small delegation of CWS staff and supporters from western Massachusetts saw how that approach is making a difference in the rural community of Galavani for a settlement of people displaced by the 2008 South Ossetia conflict.

CWS Europe is working in partnership with the Georgian Ecological Agriculture Association, to help residents establish sustainable agriculture in the community, along with related irrigation and sanitation projects. 

CWS delegate Katharine Mills, who visited the Galavani project, is coordinator for the fundraising CROP Hunger Walk in Holden, Mass.  Mills said, “The fact that Georgia has now reduced its hunger by half doesn’t surprise me. We saw amazing spirit and collaboration.

In Galavani, Mills said, “not only have the displaced families been actively participating in developing their settlement and food production, but Galavani's citizens are energetically volunteering. Together, they’ve constructed systems to bring in clean water for drinking and irrigation, they’re building greenhouses, and now the IDPs are growing vegetables for food and for sale and maintaining beehives.” 

In the beginning, the government of Georgia, which owned the land, built buildings for the settlement and provided tools. Now, the government has transferred ownership of the land to the residents. And with support from CWS and partners, these former farmers displaced by war are creating a new home, growing their ongoing food security, and selling milk and cheese for profit. 

Meanwhile, internationally, on June 16, FAO honored all of the 38 countries who are ending hunger at a high-level ceremony during the weeklong FAO Conference in Rome.