On 25 March, Côte d’Ivoire launched the new Centre of Excellence against Hunger and Malnutrition for West and Central Africa. The new centre of excellence is a partnership between WFP and the government of Côte d’Ivoire for regional knowledge exchange, and was inspired by the experience of the WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil. It is the first of its kind in the African continent.
The new regional centre of excellence will work as an incubator of solutions and a hub for the countries of the region to share knowledge adapted to the African context. Its creation is the result of Côte d’Ivoire’s commitment to partnering with other countries to scale-up good practices in fighting hunger.
Côte d’Ivoire made its first study visit to Brazil in 2013. Since then, the WFP Centre of Excellence has been providing technical assistance to the government in Zero Hunger and school feeding. In December 2017, another study visit happened, led by the country’s vice-president, Daniel Kablan Duncan. The goal of the second study visit was to strengthen knowledge exchange with Brazil in the areas of school feeding, food security, and social protection, and to discuss the possibility of creating a centre of excellence in Abidjan.
The launching of the new Centre of Excellence happened in Abidjan, in an event chaired by Côte d’Ivoire’s vice-president, Daniel Kablan Duncan. The King of Lesotho, Letsie III, the WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, and the director of the Centre of Excellence in Brazil, Daniel Balaban, attended the event.
Vice-president Kablan Duncan said, “This regional centre of excellence is the centre of unity, of sharing experiences to overcome hunger. The fight against hunger and malnutrition concerns our country’s first wealth, our human capital.”
The vice-president paid special tribute to the WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil, which inspired the creation of the new centre in Côte d’Ivoire. “Mr. Daniel Balaban, director of the WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil, has been supporting the Ivorian government in its efforts to build a school feeding and nutrition policy linked the fight against hunger and poverty. This is part of our effective cooperation with the WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil. Brazil has been able to lift 40 million people out of poverty. It should also be noted that Mr. Daniel Balaban introduced the Ivorian government representatives to programmes to fight poverty and focused mainly on home-grown school feeding. This experience made it possible to strengthen the school feeding programme in our country.”
WFP executive director David Beasley said, “This is the third Centre of Excellence WFP has launched, following those set up in Brasilia and Beijing. They are an inspiring symbol of how countries committed to eradicating hunger can learn from one another’s successes.” He also praised Côte d’Ivoire for its recent achievements in promoting sustainable development: “Côte d’Ivoire is an example of how, with investment, and a clear commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition, millions of people can seize the opportunity for a better future.”
Daniel Balaban, director of the WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil, talked about the unique strengths of WFP to fight hunger through an inclusive resilience-building approach and highlighted the impacts of the WFP Centre in Brazil, which was created to provide technical assistance to governments of developing countries committed to innovative solutions to hunger and poverty. “To witness that the pioneering and innovative experience of the WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil has also inspired other governments to replicate its working model in partnership with WFP is what really pleases me. It is the concrete proof that this project has been successful in its mission,” said Balaban.
At the ceremony, Daniel Balaban received the Medal of National Order of Côte d’Ivoire from vice-president Duncan, for the contribution of the WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil to Côte d‘Ivoire’s efforts to improve school feeding and overcome hunger.