Bridgetown, Barbados – The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean in Barbados, last month hosted parliamentarians from 13 CARICOM Member States to address the issues of food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition in the region.
Member States represented were: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The participants featured one parliamentary representative of the sitting government and one representative of the parliamentary opposition – per country.
FAO has worked with countries around the world to establish parliamentary fronts against hunger, the aim being for both government and opposition, through a bipartisan parliamentary motion, to express a commitment and to work together towards reducing hunger to zero in their countries.
Participants were introduced to the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean and an overview of the state of the Caribbean Community Food and Nutrition Security was presented. A participative panel discussion ensued on how public policies and legislation for Food and Nutrition Security can be improved through PFHs.
Members of the meeting agreed that there is a need for a Caribbean arm of the PFH LAC. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, being one of the first countries in the Caribbean to establish a Parliamentary Front, volunteered to host the Secretariat for the Caribbean Executive Committee of the PFH LAC for one year, when established, with the support of FAO.
Parliamentarians were engaged in focus groups to discuss actions related to 1) Priority legislative reform and policies, and 2) Priority actions that can be supported by a regional FAO Technical Cooperation Programme. The meeting was brought to a close following a presentation of suggested roadmap of actions by each group.
In a closing interview, Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul, FAO Deputy Sub-regional Coordinator, noted “it was clear coming out of the meeting that all of the countries that were present want to have some form of a Parliamentary Front against Hunger” she also emphasised the importance of involving community actors, stating that “Food and Nutrition Security is more than just the job of one Government or Ministry. It has to involve Civil Society, Academia, and everyone else because it impacts on everyone’s lives.”
Among the presenters were: Dr. Fletcher-Paul; The Hon. Luisa Maria Calderón Hinojosa, the Executive Coordinating Committee (ECC) of the PFH, Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean; The Hon. Saboto Caesar, ECC of the PFH LAC, Sub-coordinator for the Caribbean; Mr. Jean Leonard Touadi, FAO Special Coordinator for Parliamentary Alliances; Her Excellency, Guadalupe Valdez, Special Ambassador of the Zero Hunger Committee (ZHC) for Latin America and the Caribbean
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations