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

Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 7 and 8, 1996



1. That without interfering in the activities of the public sector, wherever feasible and where resources allow institutions in the form of foundations or non-profit private entities for collaborating with the public service be created or strengthened to focus specifically on the issues of hunger and malnutrition.

2. That the public and private sector work together within such institutions to place in operation as soon as possible programs for the immediate alleviation of hunger. At the same time, these institutions will work toward the development and implementation of long-term plans for solving the unique problems of hunger and malnutrition in their locality.

3. That together with communities, the private sector entities to be created or strengthened undertake studies to collect and evaluate information about the determinants of hunger and malnutrition in both urban and rural areas, so that high risk, priority problems call be identified and appropriate actions taken. Both energy deficiencies as well as micronutrient deficiencies should be assessed.

4. That one example of an action that could be taken is the creation of food banks which would be in charge of distribution of food and related supplements to target populations with the assistance of volunteers. The sources of food could be private institutions, private donations and, where possible, support from national, provincial and local governments in the form of monetary support and donations of space for the storage of food.

5. That the structure and organization of the foundations or groups be determined by the resources available and the needs of the community they will serve.

6. That funding for the foundations, training programs, and relief programs be determined within each member country in accord with the private and public resources available.

7. That human resources together with available economic assistance from public and/or private sources be marshaled in order to make possible a program to gather and distribute food and related supplements in target populations where problems of hunger and malnutrition have been observed. Based on existing information, priority should be given to children under three years of age, pregnant and breast-feeding women, school nutrition, and summer feeding plans for children of school age.

8. That any plan to distribute food should also explore the possibility of including the distribution of specific micronutrient supplements, especially for undernourished children and women of reproductive age.

9. That information about malnutrition and appropriate eating feeding and food preparation practices be made widely available. Breast feeding to age six months and appropriate feeding thereafter through the first 12 mouths is the single most significant individual action to promote normal development. Supporting the efforts of the private sector, health workers should be able to recognize and appropriately treat and counsel people who are malnourished. Non-health workers should know where and how to get information to high risk families.

10. That in public sector initiatives, in addition to implementing immediate plans for alleviation of' hunger and malnutrition, long-range plans be developed in the expectation of permanently and significantly reducing hunger in the Hemisphere. Where possible, the development of such long-term plans should include representatives of a broad range of organizations that can contributed to the fight against hunger such as: non-governmental organizations, worker and employer associations, universities, training centers, international organizations and specialized regional agencies.

11. That all initiatives and activities include attention to the concept of the family at risk and to the role that women play in household food security and overall decision making in their family and community.

12. That efforts should be made to assure the safety of food (based on scientific and technical standards) available to all people.

13. That in areas where there is a risk of contaminated water as well as malnutrition, efforts be mad made to improve the quality and quantity of drinking water.

14. Efforts should be made to improve access to sanitation facilities and encourage proper sanitation practices.

15. That additional fora are needed to discuss and exchange information and ideas on the progress towards eliminating hunger and malnutrition.

Practical Ideas for Implementing a Program to Combat Hunger

I. Immediate Activities

1. Explore establishing school "nutritious lunch or breakfast" programs in public schools; meals would be free to children who are economically challenged. The extent of the program would be determined by the level of resources available.

2. Explore establishing a central location in every city, town or village, for the collection and distribution of surplus and donated food. Call for volunteers to collect surplus food from markets, bakeries, and restaurants, and to help in distribution. Wherever feasible, food distribution sites should be located near existing health facilities.

3. Develop and carry out an information dissemination strategy. Target messages or good nutrition, inexpensive locally available nutritious foods and menus, appropriate feeding and weaning practices, good food preparation practices, and a greater awareness about the value of fortified foods. These messages should be provided using the media most used by the target population, these could include television, radio, newspaper periodicals, billboards, or telephone hotlines. Encouraging local community groups to use guest speakers at local level events could also be explored.

4. Encourage mothers to breast feed infants for the first six months and to wean appropriately as a means of assuring a sound nutritional foundation early in life.

5. Raise awareness of hunger and food security by establishing a "National Feed the Hungry" day.

6. Encourage food co-ops in rural areas, pursuant to which farmers will offer surplus crops in exchange for other food products.

7. Request pharmaceutical companies to donate appropriate, micronutrient supplements for distribution at the distribution centers. Develop mechanisms between the pharmaceutical companies and the distribution center to assure that high quality products are provided. Work closely with the local health system to monitor overall micronutnient capsule distribution plans to assure no duplication of effort.

8. Explore private sector partnerships at the local level to develop a community based social safety net.

9. Explore the possibility of establishing a national honor or award to an organization or individual who has made significant contributions to the fight against hunger.

II. Long-Term Activities

1. Appoint a Commission to study causes and patterns of hunger and malnutrition. Make the results of this study widely available for use in developing plans to address the problem.

2. Establish a National Committee for the Fight against Hunger, with broad private sector and public sector representation to develop and implement a strategy for reaching the most remote and under-served in the population. Such Committee will also have as one of its main purposes to raise awareness about the work of the Foundations, to be spokespersons on behalf of hunger and nutrition activities, and perhaps to present awards or honors to groups or individuals wile have made important contributions in tile fight against hunger. To facilitate and assure the continuance of Foundations and other entities the Committee should organize an annual National Drive for Pledges of Donations of Food and Nutritional Pharmaceutical Products and develop plans to increase private donations.

3. Revise the pre-service and in-service curricula for health. professionals to increase competency in breast feeding and post breast-feeding nutrition and in diagnosis, treatment and counseling of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Establish incentives for medical and other health professional community service programs in rural and undeserved areas.

4. Establish a university-sponsored program of voluntary technical assistance to rural areas comprised of students of agriculture and engineering and individuals form private agricultural and engineering firms.

5. Identify a short list of key priority policy barriers that need to be addressed through private/public partnerships to create an enabling environment for the private sector to increase its work in alleviating hunger and malnutrition.

6. Conduct as adequate cost analysis of the potential options for hunger alleviation to inform decision-making.

7. Develop a strategy for targeting resources to subgroups as food distribution programs gain experience.

8. Develop a monitoring and evaluation plan for assessing the impact of food programs. This plan could include: (a) the types of data organizations would need to identify, high risk communities, households and/or individuals (height census, socioeconomic, mortality rates, etc.); (b) the methods for collecting the data (surveys, facility statistics, KAP studies) and how this fits with other data collection efforts (e.g. World Bank Living Standards Surveys, UNICEF cluster surveys. USAID FHS/DHS Surveys); (c) how to use the data in order to use resources most effectively; and (d) how the data will be made available and reported on within and outside the country.

III. Training Centers and Council to Facilitate Implementation of the Plan of Action.

1. Training centers may be established for the creation and function of the foundations or similar entities proposed in this Plan of Action, ideally with the cooperation and collaboration of at least one university in each country.

The first of such centers will be established with the collaboration of the Universidad del Salvador-, Argentina. The center will be located in____________________ and will provide intensive training courses for directors, managers, and volunteers working in the Foundations.

2. Argentina, as the Responsible Coordinator for implementing the Nutritional aspects of the Summit of the Americas Plan of Action, will explore the feasibility of establishing a start-up, revolving fund to provide concessional loans to National Foundations. Contributions would be sought primarily from the private sector. Contributions from the public sector, development support agencies and international organizations would also be accepted. The Government of Argentina will also explore with regional institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank, UNICEF, or World Bank their interest in contributing to and administering the fund.

3. Argentina, as responsible Coordinator for implementing the Nutritional aspects of the Summit of the Americas Plan of Action, will seek to form an Honorary Inter-American Coordination Council to facilitate Linkages between the activities of National Committees for- the Fight against Hunger to be created in the Americas.

It shall be dedicated to promoting the goals of the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action of this Conference and of the Summit of the Americas.

Argentina will request The Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) to nominate members of the Honorary Inter-American Coordination Council.

Nominees should be outstanding persons from both the public and private sectors who have demonstrated special sensitivity to the socio-economic problems of the Americas.

Terms should be limited to one or two years, with re-election limited to one term. Members will volunteer their services to the Council and will seek support within their respective countries for the expenses of attending Council meetings.

The Council will meet at least once a year at a designated location based on the invitation of a member country. In the first meeting, to be organized in Buenos Aires, the Council will consider actions and recommendations to evaluate the progress that member countries have made. and will explore new ideas for facilitating this Plan of Action.

As they complete their terms of service, the members of the Honorary Inter-American Coordination Council could be designed ad " Honorary Citizens of the Americas."