The consequences that the covid-19 crisis has had on food systems has been the main focus this year in the celebration of United Nations Day for South-South cooperation. Women and young people are the major victims of the crisis in developing countries. This has been highlighted in the commemorative virtual session in which representatives of the FAO, IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and WFP (World Food Programme), as well as various ministerial and other international organization representatives, have participated.
Marie Haga, of the IFAD, said that South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) is essential to invigorate the Development Agenda and therefore “it should be more present on the political agenda because we are convinced of its potential.” Jorge Chediek, director of the UN Office for South-South cooperation, called for the improvement of infrastructure and channels that enable such a cooperation “that does not have to replace the North-South cooperation, but rather adds to it.”
On behalf of the FAO, Beth Bechdol highlighted the devastating impact that covid 19 is having on the loss of jobs in the food sector. She called for the prioritisation of intra- and interregional dialogue, innovation, and to identify and disseminate good initiatives from developing countries.
Aggie A Konde of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa showed that the crisis caused by covid 19 is particularly affecting the young population (under 35 years of age) and especially women. Among the issues to improve regarding cooperation, financial transparency and the importance of knowing when to intervene and doing it at the right time were highlighted. In this regard, she noted that “we must be proactive, get out of our comfort zone and be prepared. There is no time to lose”.
Among the experiences shared, José Angel Lopez, Minister of Agriculture of Guatemala, explained the civic programme that they have developed in their country so that young people take food to the homes of students who are not going to classes due to the pandemic restrictions. In this regard, he stated that the school feeding programme has ensured that 50% of products come from family farming.
In the closing remarks, David Kaatrud, of the World Food Program (WFP), warned that the number of people queuing for food may dramatically increase as a result of the pandemic and noted the need for different organizations to have a more dynamic attitude to meet the challenge.