News / Economy

World Hunger Down, But Not Enough

Response to 2008 food price spikes falls short

Multimedia

Audio

The United Nations Tuesday announced that the number of hungry people declined to about 925 million.

That's lower than last year's peak of more than one billion, but still far too high, U.N. officials say. At this pace, the world will not meet the Millennium Development Goal to cut world hunger in half by 2015.

Progress on hunger was falling short even before food prices peaked in 2008 and food riots broke out. Garry Smith, who coordinates the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's response to the crisis, says the food price crisis made a bad situation worse.

"It was disastrous, in a way, that we added over 150 million people to the impoverished group around the world," he says.

The forces driving prices up included unusually low food reserves, competition from biofuels, and the influence of speculators on commodity markets.

High prices, less aid

But there was a longer-term factor at work as well, says policy director Gawain Kripke with the advocacy group Oxfam America.

"Over the last three decades, international donors providing foreign assistance have cut and cut and cut the amount provided for agricultural development," he says.

Aid for agriculture fell from about 17 percent of donor budgets three decades ago to less than five percent before the crisis.

"When food prices went out of control in 2007 and 2008, world leaders paid attention," Kripke says. "And at the G8 meeting in Italy, they made some new commitments for funding."

Led by the Obama administration, they pledged $22 billion at that meeting in July 2009. Several donors also set up a trust fund at the World Bank to direct funds to countries with the best plans.

Boosting agriculture

The 2008 crisis also got the attention of developing-world leaders, who experts say had been neglecting their farmers. A growing number have since increased their budgets for domestic agriculture support.

Many national leaders are also seeking to make the most of donors' renewed attention to agriculture. They are putting together comprehensive plans to boost food supplies. Five countries qualified for the first round of funding from the World Bank trust fund, worth about $230 million. Many more proposals are on the way.

But the World Bank's Chris Delgado says that creates a potential problem.

"There's been a tremendous effort by countries to really produce these peer-reviewed, inclusive, strategic plans," he says. "And my fear, and the fear of my colleagues, is that we're going to have a lot more really good proposals that we simply can't fund."

Diminished trust fund

That's because the trust fund is currently worth less than a billion dollars. And the $22 billion the G8 pledged overall turned out to be mostly re-packaged old money. Only about $4 billion to $6 billion is new money.

And the FAO's Garry Smith says donors have not given much information about where even that money is going. "We have to take their word for it in a way that the money's being spent and that good things are happening," he says. "It's very difficult to understand what those things are."

Even with the increased donor focus on agriculture, most estimates say tens of billions of dollars a year will be needed to make a dent in world hunger.

"The ability to use aid well has increased considerably" in developing countries, says the World Bank's Chris Delgado. "There's still more to be done, but what's lacking now at this particular time is not ideas or institutions so much as the funds."

World leaders will meet in New York next week to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals. With the number of hungry people worldwide still hovering around one billion, experts say a major new investment will be needed to close the gap by the 2015 target.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

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

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9034
JPY
USD
120.24
GBP
USD
0.6550
CAD
USD
1.2440
INR
USD
62.254

Rates may not be current.