UN World Food Day from an Intern's Perspective


October 13, 2016
By Sabrina Verleysen, Villanova Student, Arcadia in Rome - Fall 2016

I am a Junior Communication and Spanish double major from Villanova University. As an intern at the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development in Rome, I have the opportunity to learn how an international agency functions day to day and the complexities of communicating on a global scale. I have the opportunity to write articles, report on special events, edit publications, and learn a ton!

World Food Day

This year, United Nations World Food Day will be celebrated on October 14th, 2016. The theme of World Food Day 2016 is - Climate is Changing: Agriculture and Food are too - will focus on the difficulties of feeding a growing population, amidst the increasing threat of climate change. The celebration of WFD is coming at a crucial time in our history for issues of food security and climate change.

Most recently, El Niño has had drastic effects on agricultural output, putting millions of people at risk of going hungry, especially the poor. Central American countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador are expected to experience vast food shortages due to irregular rain fall, drought, and severe dry weather. East and Southern Africa, specifically Somalia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Malawi and South Africa have already been suffering from disease, undernourishment, landslides, mudslides, and extreme drought all brought on by El Niño. The situation is predicted to worsen in the next year as La Niña is predicted to bring vast flooding to these areas of high risk. The UN warns that without action, the number of people affected by the El Niño/La Niña could top 100 million. On top of this, it is estimated that agricultural production must rise about 70 percent by 2050 in order to feed an increasing population. Climate change is making this goal even more difficult.

The International Fund for Agriculture Development is dedicated to eradicating hunger and poverty by investing in rural people, especially rural farmers. Climate change can be felt all over the world, but for rural farmers it can be especially crushing, when it is estimated that 75% of the world's poor rely on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihood. Where this is climate change, there is food insecurity. As the climate changes, we have no choice but to adapt rural farming strategies to ensure future food security, specifically in the poorest regions of the world. It is crucial that small holder farmers and rural food systems become more resilient in the coming years. WFD will highlight the complexities of the relationship between climate change and food insecurity, especially how the poorest regions of the world will adapt to impending food shortages.

Sabrina Verleysen

(All statistics and data come from the IFAD website)