News / Africa

Hunger Costs Poor Nations $450 Billion Annually

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

A new report says hunger could cost poor nations US$450 billion a year.  The ActionAid report – Who’s Really Fighting Hunger? – gives a scorecard of how nations are faring in trying to reach the first Millennium Development Goal – cutting chronic hunger in half by 2015.

ActionAid says 20 of 28 poor nations are at risk of not reaching that goal by the target date.  The report coincides with the latest U.N. figures, which say there are 925 million chronically hungry people worldwide.  That’s down from around one billion people last year.  But U.N. agencies say despite the improvement, food security remains fragile and more investment in agriculture is needed.

Alex Wijeratna of ActionAid’s Hunger Campaign reacts to the figures: “Obviously, we totally want hunger to come down in the world, but again, 925 million sounds and is an awful, awful lot of hungry people in the world.  Of course it’s great that it’s come down from a billion, but we need much bigger and quicker progress.”

The new report says hunger costs poor nations hundreds of billions of dollars annually, adding it’s “more than 10 times the amount needed to halve hunger by 2015.”

The cost of poverty

“We’ve extrapolated from U.N. estimates of the opportunity costs – the costs of young people and children going hungry.  What are the lifetime costs of that in terms of lost productivity, lost lifetime earnings, extra costs from repeating grades at school because you’re hungry, the health associated costs…and this is the number we’ve come up with,” says Wijeratna.

He calls the $450 billion dollar figure a conservative estimate.

“It would be cheaper to tackle hunger than to let it get as bad as it has,” he says.

The good, the bad, the hungry

The Who’s Really Fighting Hunger? report scorecard says Brazil, China, Ghana, Malawi and Vietnam all get top grades for tackling hunger.

“The reason is,” Wijeratna says, “they have made tackling hunger a big political priority.  It’s about political will.  Brazil, in particular, has a big campaign headed by the president of Brazil…and he made fighting hunger a priority.”

Brazil invested heavily in smallholder farms, improved social protection programs for the poor and hungry and provided cheap credit to farmers.  “The results have been dramatic,” says Wijeratna.

The worst grades go to the DRC, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Pakistan.

“I think there are specific issues for those specific countries.  Obviously, the Congo is in a conflict situation.  That means…about 76 percent of the population there are suffering from hunger.  That is very specific to that environment,” he says.

Pakistan is reeling from massive flooding.  “That is really going to impact on food security there.  And it’s very, very low.  Our report says one in two in Pakistan now are going hungry,” he says.

The United Nations will hold a summit next week on the Millennium Development Goals.  ActionAid is calling on nations to increase investment in agriculture and smallholder farming both at the national and international levels.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs