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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs