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FAO Report On Chronic Hunger - 2002-10-15

A new report says progress in reducing world hunger has virtually come to a halt. The report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization was released Tuesday, on the eve of World Food Day.

The FAO estimates there are about 840-million undernourished people, the vast majority in developing countries. Hunger, besides killing millions every year, especially children under age five, has also lowered life expectancy in the worst affected countries. The FAO says a “newborn child can look forward to an average of barely thirty eight years of healthy life, compared to 70 years of life in wealthy nations.”

There is also the problem of micronutrient malnutrition, where many people suffer deficiencies in such things as vitamin A, iron, iodine, zinc and vitamin C. It says, “micronutrients are essential for human growth and development. Between 100 and 140 million children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to blindness.”

Nicholas Hughes, program coordinator for the FAO’s economic and social department, says an extra twenty four billion dollars annually is needed to speed progress in reducing hunger. He says that if the 1996 World Food Summit goals were reached both poor and rich nations would benefit greatly.

Mr. Hughes spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the new report.