Inter-American Conference on Hunger, Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas

Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 7 and 8, 1996


The democratically-elected leaders of the countries who met at the Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994 promised to commit their nations to make the maximum effort possible to eradicate extreme poverty and its consequences in our Hemisphere.

We, the delegates to the Inter-American Conference on Hunger, acknowledge that the most ominous consequences of poverty are hunger and malnutrition, which affect far too many of our people. Approximately 11 million pre-school age children suffer from moderate or severe malnutrition in this Hemisphere, and nearly 22% of children have not been able to develop normally. Far greater numbers suffer from micronutrient deficiencies notably iodine, iron, and vitamin A. Hunger and malnutrition contribute significantly to the high maternal and child mortality rates of this Hemisphere.

We recognize that hunger and malnutrition have many causes. Interrelated factors influence the availability, access and utilization of food including: poverty; poor health; gender inequality; pollution growth; environmental degradation; barriers to trade; inadequate development transfer and adaptation of agricultural and other research and technology inappropriate national policies; and, war and civil strife. We further recognize that chronic malnutrition and acute malnutrition are brought on by different combinations of these factors and are often focused in different regions of a country. Therefore, strategies to address the problems of chronic and acute malnutrition are different and depend on the local condition.

We believe that situations of acute hunger should be addressed by short-term plans oriented to action designed for developing immediate results. Although chronic malnutrition may at times also call for emergency actions, it should mainly be fought with medium and long-term development plans.

We believe that forging ties with the private sector and encouraging outreach to communities will have the effect of maximizing use of scarce local resources while increasing awareness of hunger which will help to mobilize our citizenry in the fight against hunger.

We believe that hunger and malnutrition call be eliminated as a public health problem from this Hemisphere. We are hopeful in this belief because we know that the problem is primarily related to the distribution of and access to food rather than production of food. More than two-thirds of the countries of this Hemisphere have surplus production of food, and all have the potential economic and human resources necessary to develop workable strategies to improve distribution and availability at the household level. The combination of targeting resources, increasing private and public commitment, and applying technical knowledge makes the prospect of a future free of hunger a real possibility

We believe that it will be possible to make great progress against hunger and malnutrition through the joint efforts of government and the private sector, and through international cooperation particularly among the countries of the Hemisphere.

We believe that the growing spirit of volunteerism in the region is a valuable resource that can be harnessed in our efforts to understand, reach, identify, and assist people who suffer from malnutrition.

We believe that any effort against hunger and malnutrition should be motivated by respect for the dignity of all people and their need to satisfy the most elemental of basic requirements, nourishment. We also recognize that the private sector will benefit by investing in communities and people who will be healthy, ready to learn and have increased productive capacity in schools, farms, factories and the workplace.

We pledge to explore all means possible to eliminate malnutrition in the Hemisphere so that the Twenty-First Century may see this scourge removed from our peoples.