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

    Multimedia

    Audio

    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

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora