June 19, 2015
St Vincent and the Grenadines receives FAO award

St Vincent and the Grenadines was recently awarded, by the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, for reducing poverty and undernourishment.

Fresh from the meeting, which saw the re-election of the director general of the FAO, Jose Graziano Da Silva, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, at a press conference on Wednesday, said a number of countries were recognized for their accomplishments in reducing poverty and undernourishment.{{more}}

Gonsalves said in 2012, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) had received a recognition, which was recently confirmed.

“At that time, there were 17 countries which had been recognized as achieving both the millennium development goal target of at least halving the number of persons living in extreme poverty and the World Food Summit goal of at least halving the actual number of persons who are undernourished,” he said.

However, on this occasion, Gonsalves said 79 countries were identified as having met the millennium development goal 1C, but noted that only 29 countries, one of which was St Vincent, had both reduced the extent of the poverty and the extent of undernourishment.

“It is a remarkable achievement for a country of 110,000 people with all the legacy problems we have had of colonialism and underdevelopment; the challenges we have had with adverse weather, the question of CLICO and BAICO.”

The Prime Minister said he doesn’t think many persons realize the significance of the recognition.

“It is an extraordinary achievement. It is something which occurs with biblical engagement… Sometimes the church men and women and Christians across the land, we don’t give it sufficient recognition as to what we need to do to help the poor, to help the needy, to help those who are undernourished, those who are marginalized, those who are vulnerable…

“We have to be a good neighbour, which is really what this government’s policy has been about in fighting poverty and undernourishment.

In 1996, Gonsalves said 25.7 per cent of the country’s population were living in indigence and in 2009, based on the results of a poverty reduction study, that figure had been reduced to 2.9 per cent.

“When the numbers came in, I knew there would have been a dramatic improvement in the reduction of poverty and indigence… That’s a remarkable story in any language.

Gonsalves said when the name of St Vincent and the Grenadines was called and he was called upon to speak, he was filled with love and joy.

He said the achievement award, dated June 7, 2015, reads: “2015 marks the end of the World’s Food Summit’s goal and of the millennium development goal cycles based on FAO estimates. St Vincent and the Grenadines reached the target set by the 1996 World Food Summit, to reduce by at least 50 per cent, between 1990 and 2015, the absolute number of persons suffering from undernourishment in the country. By definition, this implies that the country has also reached target 1 C of the millennium development goal.”