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

Photogallery Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had earlier warned storm could be one of worst the city has ever faced More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8893
JPY
USD
118.31
GBP
USD
0.6660
CAD
USD
1.2459
INR
USD
61.427

Rates may not be current.