Posts Tagged ‘food prices’

One in six of world are going hungry

June 22, 2009
Morning Star Online, Sunday 21 June 2009

THE UN warned at the weekend that the global financial meltdown has pushed the ranks of the world’s hungry to a record 1 billion.

UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) officials reported that, because of war, drought, political instability, high food prices and poverty, hunger now affects 1.02 billion – up 11 per cent from last year’s 915 million.

The financial meltdown has compounded the crisis in what FAO director-general Jacques Diouf called a “devastating combination for the world’s most vulnerable.”

Compared with last year, there are 100 million more people who are hungry, meaning they consume fewer than 1,800 calories a day, the agency said.

“No part of the world is immune,” Mr Diouf said, emphasising that “all world regions have been affected by the rise of food insecurity.”

The crisis is a humanitarian one but it is also a political issue.

Officials presenting the new estimates in Rome sought to stress the link between hunger and instability, noting that soaring prices for staples such as rice triggered riots in the developing world last year.

Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme, another UN food agency, said hungry people had rioted in at least 30 countries last year. Most notably, soaring food prices led to deadly riots in Haiti and the overthrow of the prime minister.

“A hungry world is a dangerous world,” Ms Sheeran said. “Without food, people have only three options – they riot, they emigrate or they die. None of these are acceptable options.”

Even though prices have retreated from their mid-2008 highs, they are still “stubbornly high” in some domestic markets, according to the FAO.

On average, food prices were 24 percent higher in real terms at the end of 2008 compared to 2006, it said.

“Malnutrition kills through the fact that it weakens the immune system of a child,” said Andrei Engstrand-Neacsu, a Kenya-based spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in East Africa. Some 22 million of the 1 billion hungry people counted by the United Nations are in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, he said.


A Billion Hungry People Need Rescue Plan Too

October 15, 2008

By Wolfgang Kerler | Inter-Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 14  – Relief for the world’s hungry remains a distant prospect, with this year’s “Global Hunger Index” (GHI) attesting that even before the ongoing food crisis, 33 countries had “alarming” or “extremely alarming” levels of hunger.

India, home to the world’s largest food insecure population, launched its own India State Hunger Index Tuesday.

“Although we found several success stories, there was no across-the-board success,” Marion Aberle, a spokesperson for Welthungerhilfe (formerly known as German Agro-Action), told IPS about the recent GHI.

She added that “it is simply a scandal that almost one billion people worldwide are still suffering from hunger.”

Together with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Concern Worldwide, on Tuesday Welthungerhilfe launched GHI 2008, an index ranking 88 developing and transitional countries using the most recent available data from 2001 to 2006.

“The rankings do not reflect the current crisis of rising food prices, but they do highlight which countries could be most vulnerable to the crisis,” IFPRI said in a statement released simultaneously with the GHI.

The dramatic rise of food prices since 2006 has marked a major setback in the fight against malnutrition, as the countries most severely affected by hunger overwhelmingly are net-importers of cereals and other food.

“Although their agricultural sectors have the potential to feed their population,” Aberle added.

She stressed that “the only way to effectively eradicate hunger is to boost agricultural production in developing countries”. Additionally, an increase in food aid was needed for those who are currently hungry.

Three leading indicators — the proportion of undernourished, the prevalence of underweight children under five, and the under-five mortality rate — are combined into the GHI with a 100-point scale, 0 and 100 being best and worse, respectively.

Overall, the GHI fell by almost a fifth from 18.7 in 1990 to 15.2 in 2008, mostly due to progress in children’s nutrition. Improvement was scant in under-five mortality and the proportion of undernourished.

“The world has made only slow progress in reducing hunger in past decades, with dramatic differences among countries and regions,” said Joachim von Braun, IFPRI director general.

While the GHI decreased by almost 40 percent in Latin America, by about 30 percent in Southeast Asia and about 25 percent in South Asia, it shrunk by only 11 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Deterioration has been most dramatic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” Aberle said. With a GHI of 42.7 — up from 25.5 in 1990 — the country is now scoring worst.

In DRC, all common characteristics for states heavily affected by hunger can be found: war, violent conflict and political instability, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, inequality and a lack of general freedom.

Other countries with “extremely alarming” levels of hunger (a GHI over 30 points) are Eritrea, Burundi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ethiopia.

With the exception of Haiti, the 26 countries with an “alarming” level of hunger — described as a GHI between 20 and 29.9 — are all located in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia.

As regions, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are scoring worst on the 2008 GHI, with 23.3 and 23.0 respectively.

The most success could be seen in Kuwait and Peru: Both countries have managed to decrease their GHI by about 70 percent — “examples showing that progress is possible”, said Aberle.

Since 1990, only a handful of countries made significant progress. About a third of the countries made modest progress — defined as a reduction of GHI between 25 and 50 percent.

Among those countries is India, whose GHI declined from 32.5 in 1990 to 23.7 in 2008 — ranking 66 on the GHI. With more than 200 million people, India is home to over one-fifth of the world’s hungry — hence, IFPRI decided to produce an India State Hunger Index (ISHI).

“We felt it was time to develop an India-specific index, but also one that would be comparable with the GHI,” Purnima Menon, a research fellow at IFPRI, told IPS.

The ISHI 2008 scores for the 17 major states in India whose hunger levels were calculated range from 13.6 for Punjab to 30.9 for Madhya Pradesh — showing that not a single state falls in the “low hunger” or “moderate hunger” categories, and representing the substantial differences between the regions.

In almost all the states, underweight children contribute most to the ISHI — but there are some where calorie deficiency has the largest contribution.

“The other interesting comparisons are the links between economic indicators and the hunger index,” Menon said. “Not all states that have high economic growth are doing well on hunger.”

To eradicate hunger in India, similar actions are needed: strengthening of agriculture, social protection, poverty reduction and the distribution of essential nutrition and health interventions to women and children in the period of pregnancy and the first two years of life.

Referring to the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent to solve the current financial crisis, Aberle from Welthungerhilfe said: “We would love to see similarly strong-willed action to fight the world food crisis.”

WTO Talks Collapse Amidst Developing Countries’ Reluctance to Sacrifice Food Security

July 30, 2008

truthout, 29 July 2008

by: The Center for Economic and Policy Research

Last-minute attempt to push through a WTO expansion “deal” fails.

Washington, DC – Despite trade ministers’ hopes for a last-minute deal, World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations collapsed yet again today, and observers at the talks in Geneva say that the failure is not surprising, given the reluctance of India and other developing nations to sacrifice food security measures in the wake of the recent global spike in food prices.

Given President Bush’s lame duck status, negotiators had been called to Geneva to try to push through a last-minute deal before Bush left office. Because negotiators need about six months after a deal on the major issues to complete the details of the agreement, this possibility has now evaporated.

“Given what’s been on the table, no deal is better than a bad deal. A Doha conclusion would have had major negative impacts for workers and farmers in developing countries. The tariff cuts demanded of developing countries would have caused massive job loss, and countries would have lost the ability to protect farmers from dumping, further impoverishing millions on the verge of survival,” said Deborah James, Director of International Programs for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who has been observing the talks in Geneva.

Continued . . .

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