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Hunger costs Poor Countries $450 Billion a YearAlysha Atma Salem-News.com African Affairs Correspondent
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - ActionAid has released their report revealing the cost developing nations face in the fight against hunger, an estimated $450 billion a year - more than ten times the amount needed to halve hunger by 2015.
“Fighting hunger now will be ten times cheaper than ignoring it. Every year reduced worker productivity, poor health and lost education costs poor countries billions. And the cost is not just financial. If governments don’t act now over a million more children could die by 2015 and half of Africa won’t have enough food in ten years” said Joanna Kerr, ActionAid’s CEO. “Recent food riots are a sharp reminder that poor countries cannot rely on unstable global food markets. Investing in local farms where the world’s hungry live is the best way to avert another food crisis.”
The report Who’s really fighting hunger?, emphasizes the obstacles and actions many countries must take in an effort to control the growing number of hungry people. ActionAid’s report discusses when many of the outlined countries will meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and scores nations on their efforts in combating hunger.
“Times are hard and budgets are tight, so now more than ever it’s important for governments to invest in the right places. Rich countries must stop pulling statistical tricks and show us how and when the money they have promised will reach the people who need it most” said Henry Malumo ActionAid’s Africa Hunger Free Coordinator.
ActionAid’s report reveals 20 out of 28 poor nations are lacking the progress to meet the MD goal of halving hunger by 2015. Twelve of the 20 are falling backwards, despite the United Nations claim that the world is on target.
As the Food and Agriculture Organization revealed the number of hungry people in the world has dropped ActionAid’s Head of Policy Meredith Alexander had this reply. “This is hardly time for celebration. Hunger is still no better than it was before the global food crisis and the goal to halve hunger is decades off track. The fact remains hunger is still costing poor countries $450 billion a year. As the spectre of the global economic crisis continues to loom large governments must remember it is ten times cheaper to halve hunger than ignore it.”
DR Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Pakistan and Lesotho rank bottom on the score card. Despite a radical and rapid increase in India’s economy, drastic cuts in agriculture and support to small farms, means nearly half of the country’s children are malnourished and one in five of the population is hungry.
“Lack of food really is a matter of life and death. Hunger will contribute to the deaths of 100,000 mothers this year alone. The eyes of the world will be on New York to see if leaders will rise to the challenge and offer solutions equal to the size of this very real problem,” added Meredith Alexander to Salem-News.com.
ActionAid reveals the hunger goal is going backwards globally due to lack of investment in agriculture and rural development, few legal rights to food in developing nations and little or no support services to help farming communities when harvests fail.
Ms. Alexander explained, “Emergency food and vitamins alone cannot take down the Goliath that is global hunger. Hunger also needs to be tackled at source. We look forward to the day that women farmers, who produce 80 per cent of food in poor countries are able to grow their way out of hunger. For this to happen rich nations must deliver on their promise to scale up investment now.”
G8 nations pledged $22 billion in 2009 to fight hunger, yet ActionAid estimates $14 billion of this is in fact old aid promises repackaged and it is still unclear when or how the money will be spent.
"The UN summit was an expensive side-show that offered everything to everyone and nothing to no one. An avalanche of warm sentiment cleverly concealed the fact that no fully funded plans of action for tackling poverty were actually announced. With the world still reeling from a global food crisis and the threat of another looming, world leaders should have initiated an emergency response here at the summit. Instead for yet another year nearly a billion people will go to bed hungry and the world will be $450 billion poorer,” Ms. Kerr expressed to Salem-News.com.
Brazil, China, Ghana, Malawi and Vietnam, all top ActionAid’s scorecard, slashed hunger dramatically by increasing investment in small farms and introducing social protection schemes such as public works employment, cash transfers, food rations, and free school meals. Malawi has reduced the number of people living on food aid from 4.5 million to 150,000 in just five years. Brazil has halved the number of underweight children in less than 10 years. China will meet its hunger goal five years early.
Ms. Alexander urged the international leaders, “Today almost a billion people won’t have enough to eat. Their chance of a better future rests on the world leaders if they can find the political will to act, they could throw a life line to the world’s hungry, who with the right support can feed themselves.”
Who’s really fighting hunger? bit.ly/MDGReport
Developing countries (scored best to worst):
(1)Brazil, (2)China, (3)Vietnam, (4)Malawi, (5)Ghana, (6)Bangladesh, (7)Mozambique, (8)Uganda, (9)Guatemala, (10)Ethiopia, (11)Rwanda, (12)Nigeria, (13)Cambodia, (14)Nepal, (15)Tanzania, (16)Kenya, (17)Senegal, (18)Liberia, (19)Zambia, (20)Haiti, (21)India, (22)South Africa, (23)Gambia, (24)Lesotho, (25)Pakistan, (26)Sierra Leone, (27)Burundi, (28)DR Congo.
How has ActionAid calculated $450 billion in losses to GDP?
A recent UN and World Food Programme cross country analysis of the economic impact of child malnutrition in Central America, determined that the opportunity cost of child malnourishment amounted to between 2% - 12% of GDP annually. Ninety per cent of this impact was loss of productivity due to early deaths and lower education levels caused by hunger. A further ten percent came from the cost of treating hunger-related diseases and from more children repeating school grades. Projecting the lower end of this loss only for the regions with highest child hunger levels (sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia), a conservative 3.5% reduction in GDP due to child malnutrition could cost these regions as much as $462 billion a year. Rounded down, this is approximately $450 billion.
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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