28 September 2009With over three million children dying from hunger around the world every year and child mortality rates rising in Africa, the United Nations food agency today announced a new partnership to expand efforts in the fight against malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Food Programme (WFP) and a UN-backed initiative, known as the Millennium Villages Project, have joined forces to establish “undernourishment-free zones” in 80 villages across 10 African countries.The partnership aims to ensure school meal coverage for all children in primary school, find the best way of meeting the nutritional needs of children affected by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other pandemics, and work with smallholder farmers to boost productivity and incomes.“The hungry and malnourished cannot wait,” WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York. “We must act now to build the partnerships and take the comprehensive steps necessary to win this fight,” she added.Ms. Sheeran stressed that the historic $20 billion pledge to fight hunger and food insecurity made in July by the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G8) in L’Aquila, Italy, must be followed by concrete actions.“No one organization can do it alone, and we will leverage a growing collaboration with the Millennium Villages project to deliver powerful solutions to malnutrition,” she said.The Millennium Villages Project works with impoverished rural communities to transform village life in “hunger hotspots” across sub-Saharan Africa through practical measures, such as investing in improved seed and fertilizers for raising crop productivity, nutrition and school meals; long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to reduce malaria; clinics to dispense effective treatment and care, and safe drinking water.“Hunger stands at the core of extreme poverty,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Adviser to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “Without enough food, people suffer, die of disease, and too often descend into violence and conflict,” said Mr. Sachs. “Without enough food, a farmer cannot feed her family, much less earn an income and look after the children in the household.”The Millennium Villages Project is a collaboration between the Earth Institute, the Millennium Promise Alliance, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) aiming to help its 80 villages reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), global targets for cutting extreme poverty and hunger in half by 2015.