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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid