Dec 2, 2010, 11:54 AM
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has urged countries to step up and allocate to urgent hunger needs a fraction of what is proposed for financial rescue packages to address the global economic downturn.
"We need to send a bold signal of hope to the world with a
human rescue package," said Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World
Food Programme, speaking from
WFP - which aims to feed nearly 100 million of the world's
hungriest people in 2009 - announced today that it will start the New Year
needing US$5.2 billion for urgent hunger needs. Without a rapid injection of
funds, millions of people in
Sheeran said that with a mere 1 percent of what has been tabled for financial rescue packages and stimulus packages in the United States and Europe, developed countries could fully fund the work of the World Food Programme, and make a mark toward meeting other urgent hunger needs, for example feeding all 59 million hungry school children worldwide ($3 billion per year) and the establishment of a reserve fund for fast acquisition of food stocks for emergencies. Funds are also needed to boost the agricultural production of small-holder farmers who have seen the price of seeds and fertilizers more than double since 2006.
"World leaders need to be confronted with the values implicit in the policy choices they are making," Sheeran said."The world is poised to produce trillions for financial rescue packages.What will they produce for the human rescue?"
WFP's urgent call comes off the back of historically high
food prices, followed by continued market volatility. The global financial
crisis, which is enveloping the developed world, is spilling into the
developing world as incomes are affected, and trade, capital flows and
remittances slow.This month, the Kyrgyz
government asked WFP to help feed 600,000 people pushed into desperate hunger
following a sharp decline in the remittances which account for 20 percent of
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced last week that another 40 million people have been pushed into hunger this year primarily due to high food prices, bringing the total number of hungry to nearly 1 billion worldwide. This increase comes after four decades of progress when the international community collectively helped to bring down the percentage of hungry people from 37 to 17.
Sheeran noted that hunger can lead to civil unrest as
"We are at a critical juncture where we risk watching hunger spiral out of control as the world's population is set to climb toward 9 billion mid-century," Sheeran said, adding the effects of hunger during a child's earliest years prevents them from reaching their full intellectual and physical capacity.
"We can't afford to lose the next generation," she said.