According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, the United Nations’ most recent report on this subject, the number of people suffering from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean increased by 2.4 million from 2015 to 2016, reaching 42.5 million. While undernutrition (a proxy of hunger) rose from 5 per cent in 2015 to 5.6 per cent in 2016 in South America, the figures for Mesoamerica (Central America and Mexico) fell slightly, from 6.7 per cent to 6.5 per cent for those years.
Unless actions are taken to fight these conditions, Latin America and the Caribbean will not attain their goal of ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030, as set out in the SDGs. This therefore requires intensified efforts and further relevant actions. Mesoamerica Hunger Free was launched as an initiative to support the promotion, formulation and implementation of cooperation projects that strengthen local, national and regional institutional frameworks and policies on food and nutritional security and family farming in Mesoamerica.
Towards a Solution
Mesoamerica Hunger Free is a South-South and triangular cooperation programme that started in 2015 as the result of a collaboration agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID) under the former administration of Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto. Mexico committed to fund the programmes activities in the amount of USD 15 million over a five-year period.
This initiative serves to achieve SDG 1 (End poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), and SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in nine Mesoamerican countries (Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama) by providing support to strengthen policies and institutional frameworks to improve food and nutritional security and family farming practices in the region.
The programme envisages actions at the national and local levels, as well as within Mesoamerica (among two or more countries). Moreover, Mesoamerica Hunger Free facilitates ad hoc South-South exchange activities between Mexican institutions and entities from the other Mesoamerican countries. The purpose is to share experiences and cooperate in strengthening relevant capacities through mechanisms such as technical missions, training sessions and forums for dialogue.
Mesoamerica Hunger Free has national management committees in each country. They identify priorities in agreement with Mexican representatives, FAO, national and local authorities, and community representatives. In addition, every six months, AMEXCID and FAO hold a joint commission to provide strategic follow- up to programme implementation.
The following achievements stand out among the main achievements of Mesoamerica Hunger Free:
- Technical advice was provided to define, characterize and register family farmers (Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama);
- Sustainable seed systems oriented to family farming in Nicaragua were promoted;
- The world’s first model law on small-scale fisheries and the model law on family farming, both approved by the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino), were developed;
- Fruit and vegetable production in protected environments were supported in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic;
- Indigenous handicrafts in Guatemala were designed and marketed;
- Rainwater harvesting systems were set up for human consumption in Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama;
- School feeding programmes and pedagogical gardens were promoted in Belize;
- Knowledge networks were set up in the region to strengthen the capacities of relevant groups, including parliamentary advisers, journalists and experts in rainwater harvesting systems, among others;
- Municipal extension programmes for family farming in El Salvador and Honduras were implemented.
These results have been possible due to a high level of local ownership and, mainly, to the involvement of national authorities and communities in the annual identification of challenges and priorities to strengthen food and nutritional security and family farming in each of the countries where Mesoamerica Hunger Free works.
Given the success of Mesoamerica Hunger Free, Mexican authorities and FAO have already envisioned a second phase for the programme.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s):1.1, 2.1, 6.a
Countries/ territories involved: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Supported by: AMEXCID, FAO Implementing entities: AMEXCID, FAO Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2015-2019
URL of the practice: goo.gl/k3uo2o (in Spanish); goo.gl/S1cDsG (in Spanish)
Name: FAO Subregional Office for Mesoamerica
Name: Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), Directorate-General for the Mesoamerican Project