KOICA starts up new projects to tackle food security in Africa
By Kim Se-jeong
The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), a public body that implements almost 80 percent of Korea’s international development assistance budget, announced Thursday new African projects geared toward food security in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
They are additions to the existing “Food for New Village” and “Emergency Humanitarian Food Reserve” projects, said Park Soo-hyun, deputy director at the KOICA’s evaluation office, during a press conference organized by the United Nations Development Program
(UNDP) Seoul Policy Center at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul.
The news was especially welcomed by the UNDP which has called on donor countries to step up assistance to ensure food security in Africa.
This year, the UNDP released the Africa Human Development Report 2012, an ambitious annual report with a different topic every year.
This year’s topic is Africa.
The report states that food security in Africa does not show signs of improvement. Despite unprecedented economic growth around the world, wealth is failing to distribute itself to countries in need.
It suggests that increasing agricultural productivity is one of four solutions, urging donor countries to ramp up its assistance to this end.
Kenyan Ambassador to Korea Ngovi Kitau recognized Korea’s quality development projects in Kenya and Africa in general.
But his comment came with a cautionary observation that Korea’s developmental assistance isn’t a silver bullet to put an end to all problems in Africa.
For example, the Saemaeul Movement was great, as the ambassador noted, but the Kenyan government doesn’t see it working for Kenya.
A panelist from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs echoed him, reiterating that assistance projects have to be tailored differently for each country.
Yet, this seems hard to swallow for those who design Korea’s development assistance strategy and a participant from the Korea Development Institute who are strong advocates for Korea’s development model.
In a promising tone, he insisted that African countries follow the footsteps of Korea, which has risen from extreme poverty to become one of the largest economies in half a century.