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Interview: Manuel Rabasa Guevara

Food security is a priority issue for the Kellogg Foundation. Under a broad definition, this includes the concepts of nutrition and agriculture. The idea is for foodstuffs to be produced with a high quality and in sufficient quantities to satisfy the nutritional needs of low-income populations, while also enabling families to sell the surplus. Between 1995 and 2001, the Kellogg Foundation invested in the Human Nutrition Initiative to spread the concept, set up successful food security projects and work towards making it part of public policy. For the purpose of maintaining and disseminating the victories that have been achieved, RedLAC has been established, once again with the support of the Kellogg Foundation. Manuel Rabasa Guevara, the economist and rural development promoter who supervises RedLAC, talks to us about the initiative.

What is RedLAC?
It is the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Human Nutrition and Sustainable Development, a group of projects, organizations and people, the majority of whom participated in the Kellogg Foundation’s Human Nutrition Initiative between 1995 and 2002.

What are the network’s goals?
To establish a permanent movement of systematic and political change based on the existing parts of the Human Nutrition Initiative, to build up a critical mass of people and institutions with leadership potential in food security and the alleviation of poverty, develop the capacity to influence food policies and practices in order to tackle the structural causes of poverty and social injustice, and communicate and disseminate the victories and the lessons learned.

Why was it necessary to create a network?
Between 2001 and 2003, the Human Nutrition Initiative and all the projects that were part of it underwent an independent socio-economic evaluation and systemization. As a result, information was gathered illustrating the victories, lessons and contributions of the projects that were successfully combating malnutrition and improving food security in local communities. Individually, however, the projects were fairly ineffective when it came to influencing public opinion and the government. This is why the need arose to work as a network, to acquire a greater presence and a louder voice.

How long has it existed?
We first decided to create RedLAC at the third Latin American Meeting of the Human Nutrition Initiative, in the Dominican Republic, in August 2002. The participating projects and organizations were grouped into five sub-regions. In February 2004, we set up the Network Dynamizer Group, comprised of two representatives from each sub-region.

Who are the participants?
The members of the projects that participated in the Human Nutrition Initiative, the leaders of the projects that participated in the four years of the Leadership Strengthening Program and the supervisors of the Learning and Knowledge Integration Centers (CAIS). The sub-regional meetings prompted RedLAC to invite representatives from other projects and organizations. Its purpose is to be an open network that will gain more strength and a more powerful voice.

Where are the RedLAC meetings held?
We try to organize for RedLAC to meet in the head offices of the projects or in neighboring locations, so we can get to know and share real experiences.

What’s next on the agenda for RedLAC?
In June and July, RedLAC’s sub-regions are working on the programming of events. Forums and debates have been scheduled for the following dates: Argentina, Brazil and the Andean region in November this year, Central America and the Caribbean in February 2005, and in Mexico in April. The Latin American meeting of CAIS will be held in September of 2004, in Colombia, and RedLAC will participate.

What do you hope to achieve with RedLAC?
That together with other players and social forces, we can contribute to building the conditions for food and nutritional security and sovereignty for the whole population of Latin America and the Caribbean.


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