An Action program that promotes rural development and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, so that migration becomes an option and not a necessity, is the main objective of the High Level meeting on migration, development and food security in Mesoamerica, held last July in Mexico City.
“Migration must be a voluntary act, and not a forced act. Poverty, hunger, climate change, insecurity - that is, severe underdevelopment - create a perfect storm in which thousands of people only see one way out: emigrate,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva during the opening of the meeting. "The fundamental solution to forced migration is development," he said speaking to more than 100 delegates from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
Graziano da Silva welcomed the commitment signed on December 1st by the heads of State of these four countries to promote a comprehensive development plan that fights irregular migration. In addition, it pledged the FAO's support to the governments of those countries to promote the development of rural areas where the origin of migration centers are.
The secretary of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Mexico, Víctor Villalobos Arámbula, said: "In Mexico we are convinced that addressing the causes that originate the migration phenomenon is a condition for it to be optional, not forced." “That is the Mexican way, as President López Obrador has called it, and we are working to show to the whole world that this phenomenon can be prevented and controlled if there is development, employment and well-being for all in the countries of origin,” said Villalobos .
The governments of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have decided to build a "Comprehensive Development Plan" that will address the migration phenomenon "with actions that will generate development and opportunities at the local level."
The Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean, Maximiliano Reyes, said that, with this meeting, the FAO intends to achieve a strategy that involves a focused diagnosis for each territory, with specific policies and instruments that promote alternatives to migration. No country can face by itself this common challenge, and this implies a regional solution: “We are convinced that the will and the joint effort will allow us to move along the right path and we will show the world that migration is an option and, in no way, is a threat,” he said.
This Action program will consider, among other aspects, rural climate resilience and the agriculture adaptation to climate change; the creation of agricultural and non-agricultural employment; income generation and promotion of family farming, and will be aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Compact on Migration, adopted by the United Nations Assembly in December 2018.
The FAO General Director called on governments to give greater support to the Central American Dry Corridor, an area of great climatic vulnerability and high poverty rates, whose deterioration is driving migration. According to the FAO and the World Food Program, more than two million people have seen their livelihoods severely affected, and 1.4 million of them need right now food assistance due to the climatic effects of last year.
In El Salvador, the FAO is supporting the implementation of the Reclima project, which obtained financing from the Green Climate Fund and will benefit 225,000 people, working with the vast majority of the country Dry Corridor municipalities. "We must set a goal that all municipalities in this region, in all countries, have a program focused on climate resilience for rural populations," concluded Graziano da Silva.