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Assessing Progress 10 Years After World Food Summit


In Rome, representatives from more than 120 countries are meeting as a 10-year follow-up to the World Food Summit. They’ll assess the progress made to reduce the number of hungry people in the world.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says there have been serious setbacks in some regions of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. The FAO says there are currently 206 million hungry people in the region, an increase of nearly 40 million since the early 1990s.

In related news, the relief group ActionAid is releasing a new report Monday called “Hungry for Solutions.” It says hunger is not due to scarcity of food, but to injustice within the food distribution system and a lack of access to natural resources.

Magdalena Kropiwnicka is a food and hunger policy advisor for ActionAid. From Rome, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the debate over the scarcity of food. She says the report analyzes food policies since the 1996 summit by looking at seven countries, including Brazil, Kenya, India, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana and Pakistan.

“One of the striking examples is India…which has shown tremendous economic growth over the course of the past 10 years. Unfortunately, 47 percent of children under five still continue being malnourished. This is a clear example that this is an issue not of availability, but of access. Also underlining that India produces enough food to feed its own population and underlining the fact that India has recently become a donor to the World Food Program for food aid purposes,” she says.

As for sub-Saharan Africa, Kropiwnicka says there is a combination of problems. “One, there’s a failure of policies over the course of the past 30 years. Let’s not forget that many of the countries In sub-Saharan Africa in the 1970s have had actually much higher GDP per capita than have right now. It’s also a problem of HIV pandemic. But it’s also a reluctance to invest in long-term rural development. A majority of people still live in the rural areas and there’s also a problem, a bit of aid dependency,” she says.

She adds that much needs to be done for women, who are responsible for up to 80 percent of the food production in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, she says that they have little decision-making power or access to owning their own land.