$23 billlion per year -- that's the amount a leading development NGO, ActionAid, says is needed to cope with growing world hunger.

The estimate came as G8 leaders convened this week in L?Aquilla, Italy.

Otive Igbuzor, head of campaigns for ActionAid, spoke from England before departing for the summit. He says the $23 billion is based partially on the Food and Agricultural Organization?s estimate of how much additional funding is needed to meet the U.N.?s goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015.

?Historically, the G8 has been making promises without fulfilling those promises,? Igbuzor says.

?In 2005, in Gleneagles (G8 summit in Scotland), the G8 countries promised an additional $50 billion of aid, but as of today, they?ve only delivered on $35 billion.?

Shifting Priorities?
Igbuzor says France is currently leading the pack in meeting its aid commitments, while Italy, the G8 host, is at the bottom. This follows a downward trend in the amount of money G8 countries have allotted for agricultural assistance over the past two decades, according to aid agency Oxfam.

?The shift in funding in agriculture may have gone to other areas, defense, bailing out of banks and so on. As a matter of fact, what we are demanding is 1/10 of one percent of the $15.6 trillion that was used to bail out banks,? Igbuzor says.

ActionAid says it is not just the amount of money but also making sure the money is channeled to where it is needed most. Igbuzor says small-scale producers, especially local women farmers, are crucial players in helping feed the hungry.

He says foreign-based, large-scale agribusinesses that operate in developing countries should be held more accountable for their practices, including land grabs and the greenhouse gases they emit.

New U.S. Proposals

The United States is expected to unveil a series of initiatives to address these concerns by better coordinating aid with donor countries and shifting its focus from giving emergency aid to helping countries produce their own food.

Igbuzor says this is a welcome development but that more details need to be made public.

?We want to tell the leaders of different countries that there is a need for a new global compact on food and agriculture. There is a need for a system of looking at the challenges of the food crisis in a way that many countries are involved,? Igbuzor says.


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