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Friday, January 7, 2011

WFP Founder Visits IR USA as Anti-Hunger Partner

Hunger, food shortages and food security issues continue to be some of the most consistent problems being addressed by charity and relief organizations like Islamic Relief (IR). With IR’s food distribution programs in Ramadan and during the Qurbani season, and its various income-generating projects for beneficiaries worldwide, the organization is no stranger to the desperate need for effective solutions for the overwhelming worldwide hunger problem.

On Monday, Richard Leach, director, CEO and founder of World Food Program USA (WFP), visited IR’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va., to discuss the decade-long strong partnership between the two organizations, the initiatives being put forth by the WFP today; and the challenges facing humanitarian organizations working to address hunger and food security issues.

More than 950 million people are affected by chronic hunger today in the world, Leach said. And while the need to fulfill immediate food demands is great, Leach believes programs and solutions must be put forth to address the chronic hunger issue.

One effective example is WFP’s “Purchase for Progress” programs, which allow WFP to use its “purchasing power to offer smallholder farmers opportunities to access agricultural markets, to become competitive players in those markets and thus to improve their lives.” Such programs give small farms the chance to thrive in their local agricultural markets, Leach said.

Hunger itself isn’t just about the lack of food, Leach asserts. It is closely intertwined with the economic development, stability and security of countries, especially developing nations. And in countries hit by natural disasters and conflicts, the challenges of producing and providing food become greater as such countries have difficulty transitioning from emergency to development mode.

The problems of world hunger and food security are ones with no easy solutions, Leach said. But progress is happening through the hard work of the WFP and IR USA, and the only path forward is to come up with new and effective long-term solutions to the problems.

--Dilshad D. Ali and Asma Yousef
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