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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More