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UN Food Agency Says Hunger Kills Six Million Every Year


The United Nations food agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization, says hunger and malnutrition are killing nearly six million children every year. Presenting a report on the state of food insecurity in the world, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf said the goal of cutting in half the number of hungry people by 2015 remains distant, but still attainable.

The Food and Agriculture Organization on Tuesday presented its annual report on the State of Food Insecurity in the world. The report presented a bleak picture: nearly six million children, it said, die every year from hunger and malnutrition.

"Sixty years after FAO came into being there are still far too many hungry children, women and men in the world, 852 million altogether," said Jacques Diouf.

The food agency's director general, Dr. Jacques Diouf, said many children die from diseases that are treatable, such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and measles. He said they would survive if they had proper nourishment.

At the World Food Summit, held at FAO headquarters in Rome in 1996, world leaders pledged to halve the number of hungry people in the world by 2015. Dr. Diouf says that goal remains distant.

"If, each of the developing regions continues to reduce hunger at the current pace only South America and the Caribbean will reach the millennium development goal target of cutting the proportion of hungry people by half," he said.

No developing region, Dr. Diouf added, will reach the more ambitious World Summit goal of halving the absolute number of hungry people. And he stressed, hunger reduction is essential to meet the goal set out nearly 10 years ago.

Dr. Diouf also said that hunger and malnutrition are among the root causes not only of poverty but also illiteracy, child mortality and disease.

He said improved nutrition fuels better health, increases school attendance, reduces child and maternal mortality, empowers women and lowers the incidence and mortality rates of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Dr. Diouf said the goal is still attainable but only if efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition are redoubled and refocused.

"To bring down the number of hungry people, priority must be given to the development of rural areas and agriculture on which the poor in many developing countries depend, directly or indirectly, for their livelihoods," continued Jacques Diouf.

Investment in agriculture, rural infrastructure and agricultural research, Dr. Diouf added, are essential for increasing agricultural productivity and rural incomes. He also said that to be fully effective in reducing hunger and poverty, other measures are also needed, in particular good education and improvements in the situation of women.

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