Wednesday 13 December 2017

Kenny issues pledge on world hunger

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Lyndsey Telford

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pledged Ireland's absolute commitment to tackling global hunger as he recalled the Great Famine more than 160 years ago.

Announcing plans for the country to double its spending on nutrition efforts by 2020, the Taoiseach said hunger is an issue that runs deep in the nation's psyche.

"In the 1840s we ate grass to fill our stomachs - with our children we lay down to die in graveyards - to be assured a Christian burial," Mr Kenny said.

"It is this generational memory that sees an Irishman or Irishwoman at emergency stations, clinics, agriculture projects, community groups and schools across the developing world."

The Taoiseach joined British Prime Minister David Cameron in calling for more investment in the developing world.

At a conference in London, also attended by Malawian President Joyce Banda, they backed a target of saving 20 million children from chronic malnutrition by 2020.

Mr Kenny said Ireland had used its current six-month presidency term of the Council of the European Union to drive forward efforts on maternal and child under-nutrition.

He said not too many generations ago, Ireland was home to starving parents.

"The emaciated, shrunken and swollen children were our own," he said.

Ireland will prioritise its resources of people, skills and money to achieve real impact and visible, quantifiable results, the Taoiseach added.

He said work undertaken by Ireland during its presidency, which comes to an end this month, has set a framework for the EU and its member states to introduce policies on tackling hunger.

Climate change was another issue discussed during the conference in London, when the Taoiseach pointed out that developing countries suffer the effects without having been part of the cause.

"We brought together the people living with the effects of climate change and the policy-makers so that we could listen to, and learn from, the experiences of those men and women living the crisis of failed crops, inundation, erosion, rising food-prices, hunger and under-nutrition," Mr Kenny added.

Last month, Ireland launched a new policy for international development - 'One World, One Future'.

Mr Kenny said this reinforces the country's readiness for the fight against global hunger.

Today in London, the country also endorsed 'Nutrition for Growth' - a compact aimed at encouraging investment in business and science to tackle the crisis.

"But tackling this crisis, ending under-nutrition is not just about spend or money," Mr Kenny added.

"To do this we need skilled expertise, strong, institutional capacity and collaboration right across the public service.

"We need vital partnerships between business and government to deliver sustainable improvements in nutrition."

Press Association

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