World Hunger

Read about the rise in world hunger on the Straits Times 14 Oct 09 -

The number of undernourished people started climbing in 1995, reaching 1.02 billion this year under the combined effect of high food prices and the global financial meltdown, the agency said. The figure topped the 1 billion mark in June, and was 963 million a year ago.

Why more hungry people?
· Soaring prices for food staples in 2007 and 2008 forced poor families to sell their meagre assets and cut down on meals, health and education spending. Although the inflated prices - which caused riots across the globe last year - have stabilised, they remain comparatively high, especially in the developing world.

· World economic crisis is increasing unemployment, reducing remittances that immigrants send back home and making it difficult for poor countries to get credit lines to buy food on the market.

· Thirty countries now require emergency food assistance, including 20 in Africa. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) announced in June that the number of hungry people had reached 1 billion, or one in six of the world's population. The world's most populous region, Asia and the Pacific, has the largest number of hungry people - 642 million - followed by Sub-Saharan Africa with 265 million.

What should be done?
· More investments will be needed to fulfil pledges like the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to halve of the number of those living in hunger and poverty by 2015. In July, Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, Italy agreed to raise US$20 billion (S$28 billion) to help farmers in poor countries produce more - a shift from previous emphasis on delivering food aid.

· FAO, which will host a world food summit next month, says global food output will have to increase by 70 per cent to feed a projected population of 9.1 billion in 2050. To achieve that, poor countries will need US$44 billion yearly of aid to agriculture, compared with the current $7.9 billion, to increase access to irrigation systems, modern machinery, as well as to build roads and train farmers.

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