[Viewpoint] Aid effectiveness in action

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[Viewpoint] Aid effectiveness in action

As the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, it makes perfect sense to be discussing aid and development in Busan. Flying into Busan’s glistening airport, driving between towering skyscrapers and across a breathtaking bridge, it’s hard to believe that little more than 50 years ago, this city’s port was the humanitarian hub for receiving huge amounts of aid for people recovering from a terrible war. Today, Koreans can be proud not just of what they have achieved, but of what they are now helping others achieve.

The world has watched with respect the Korean success story with its phenomenal pace of development in recent decades. But not only has Korea made the transition from aid recipient to donor nation - it is now emerging as an increasingly influential leader in the humanitarian sphere. Korea has set an example of what is possible with energy, commitment and a shared goal, and has now also taken the next step by engaging in the global effort to help end poverty and hunger beyond its borders.

WFP and Korea last year launched a new form of “trilateral” aid engagement, leveraging Korea’s own experience in combating hunger at home to help other developing nations. Our joint programmes in Nepal and Bangladesh are drawing on the experience of the Saemaul Undong or New Village movement, which was the bedrock of Korea’s remarkable rise. Now those same lessons are being shared with countries facing similar challenges tackling poverty and hunger.

In Rwanda, this means revitalizing entire villages - using food and cash transfers to build classrooms, small houses and community centers, connecting the community to the main water grid, constructing paths and planting trees, installing computers and the Internet for the use of local authorities, and making credit available to people looking to set up small businesses. We have started small, but we believe these villages will quickly become models for others to follow.

Just as the private sector has played such a central role in Korea’s economic rise, so we at the WFP have forged partnerships with Korean companies who share our goal of ending hunger. The WFP’s collaboration with LG Electronics is a pacesetter in this regard - our “Partnership of Hope” is the first public-private partnership in which a Korean company has made a sizeable donation to support WFP projects in both Africa and Asia. Only a few weeks ago, Korean Air provided a Boeing 747 to deliver four consignments of desperately needed specialized food supplies to Mombasa, Kenya, as part of our operation in the Horn of Africa, which tragically this year has included famine in some parts of Somalia.

I am only in Busan for a few days, but I am already inspired by the can-do spirit of this formerly war-torn city. We share that same spirit at the WFP, and together, we can end hunger in our lifetimes.

*The writer is the executive director of the UN World Food Program.

By Josette Sheeran
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