News / Middle East

Hunger in Focus: On 30th World Food Day, 925 Million Still Hungry

Indian street children eat food at a shanty town in Hyderabad, 13 Oct 2010
Indian street children eat food at a shanty town in Hyderabad, 13 Oct 2010



The United Nations says the number of hungry people in the world has gone down by almost 1 million in the last year but the figure still stands at 925 million.

2010 is a significant date in the world's fight against global hunger: it marks 30 years since the first World Food Day and 65 years since the founding of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization.

Progress made

Caroline Hurford is from the U.N.'s World Food Program. She says in the 30 years since the first World Food Day, real progress has been made. According to the Global Hunger Index 2010, the proportion of hungry people in the world has gone down by one quarter since 1990.

But Hurford says some stumbling blocks have been hit in recent years. "There has been a slight dropping off in the number of hungry people in the late 1990s but then it rose again of course during the financial crisis of 2007-2008," she said.

"And then the very high food prices together with the high fuel prices really knocked everything off track again and we're just finding that more and more people are unable to afford to buy food and then of course climate change has come in and that's made it more difficult to grow food," Hereford added.

Fighting hunger is the first of eight Millennium Development Goals that world nations set ten years ago. Now the 2015 deadline is fast approaching and many people say they fear the target will not be met.

Some countries and regions are making progress. South Asia has made the largest improvements and many sub-Saharan African countries have also made advances, including Ghana, Ethiopia, and Angola.

But improvements are not consistent globally. The largest deterioration has been in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been wracked by conflict and political instability.

Hurford says environmental catastrophes, like drought, and conflict are two major barriers to fighting hunger.  "Clearly conflict is a huge problem as far as the actual growing of produce and crops is concerned," she said. "People cannot necessarily tend their fields if they are always being chased away by armed rebels and they're too frightened to stay at home and look after animals. So really that's one of the biggest problems."

In conflict-ridden countries like the DRC, emergency aid levels are high - in Somalia, for example, it accounts for 64 percent of the assistance the country receives.

Future steps needed

Edgardo Valenzuela is from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. He says if hunger is to be reduced, a new tactic is necessary.

He says emergency aid for countries is important but investment in agriculture needs to be a top priority.

"This kind of short term relief is not enough because for these countries which are in perpetual crisis, or in protracted crisis, there is a need to be able to develop a system to help them to able to plant and grow their food, because otherwise they will never have a sustainable way to eradicate hunger," said Valenzuela.

Aileen Kwa is an analyst with the South Center, a developing countries think tank based in Switzerland. She says the traditional two-pronged approach to fighting hunger, emergency aid and sustainable development, are not enough. She says an economic overhaul is needed.

She says many African countries suffer because they have eliminated subsidies and reduced tariffs. She says these economic policies were recommended by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and are not working.

"By eliminating or reducing their tariffs on agricultural products, it meant that a lot of agricultural produce from Europe, for instance, and from the U.S. too, was flooding into these countries and basically squeezing out the small holders," said Kwa. "Many of the developed countries have continued their subsidies so they're products are actually artificially cheap and they out compete the domestic farmers in Africa and even in parts of Asia."

In order to end the world food crisis, she says, governments have to have the political will to make international trade more fair.

According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world's undernourished live in just seven countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

The proportion of undernourished people is highest in sub-Saharan Africa - 30 percent of the continent's population.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs