It can be easy to forget that one in seven people will go to bed hungry tonight. To mark World Food Day on October 16, we find out why mothers and children are being targeted in the fight against hunger.
SOURCE: LIZZY WOOD | MINDFOOD.COM -
World Food Day provides a timely opportunity to remember the 925 million undernourished people living in the world today. As famine continues to affect millions of people living in the Horn of Africa, hunger has emerged as the world's number one health risk with one in seven people not receiving sufficient food to lead a healthy, active life.
But each year, millions of hungry adults and children are helped by organisations such as the World Food Programme (WFP), whose food assistance supports communities struggling in the wake of humanitarian crises and natural disasters.
“Across the world, we are the bridge between hunger and hope for millions of people,” says WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. “WFP is providing life-saving food assistance in the midst of crises like the drought in the Horn of Africa. In countries like Libya, we are supporting communities that are striving to recover from crisis, and in places like Haiti, we continue to work with governments and civil society to build resilience so that the vulnerable are better able to cope when the next disaster strikes.”
Often caused by natural disasters, poor agricultural infrastructure and conflict, hunger not only impacts the individual. It can also impose a huge economic burden on whole regions, and despite their aim to halve the proportion of hungry people in the world during the 21st century, the United Nations states that hunger has been on the rise since the early 1990s.
This year the theme for World Food Day, which falls on October 16, is 'Food Prices – from Crisis to Stability'. The aim is to underline the role that food assistance, like that provided by WFP and other organizations, can play in protecting communities vulnerable to food price volatility.
Working in more than 70 countries around the world, WFP focuses on 'the three defining pillars' of relief, recovery and resilience in order to bring food assistance to almost 100 million people every year.
SOURCE: China Daily -
According to the UN, world food prices surged to an all-time high in February. Even though many items have fallen in price since then, food prices are still high and have doubled over the past five years. The trend for food prices is clearly up.
Demand is rising. Supply is not keeping pace. Several factors explain this worrying development. One positive is that as emerging economies grow, more people are moving out of poverty, finding jobs and are able to feed themselves or spend more on food.
As they do, families are changing their diets because they have access to a greater variety of foods. Rising demand for meat is just one example. Global food consumption per person has risen on average by one fifth since the 1960s.
The trouble is not everyone has been prepared for this. There are widespread concerns about dwindling crop yields and greater scarcity of fertile land. These concerns are not eased by infrastructure development and rapid urbanization.
There is still much that needs to happen to eradicate poverty, find jobs and see living standards rise. As this happens, food demand is likely to keep rising. The world's population is expected to rise from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050. Food demand is likely to rise, in both quantity and quality.
What needs to happen to meet this challenge? Many things. There is likely to be a price, quantity and technology response. The price response has already been evident as food prices rise. This is a concern as the poorest spend a greater proportion of their income on food, and they are least able to cope with higher prices. In some rapidly growing economies, rising food prices can feed general inflation, explaining why many central banks have been tightening policy. World Food Day will have rising food prices at centre stage.
The World Bank recently highlighted high rates of malnutrition among young children in India and parts of Africa. But many countries have issues. For instance, Vietnam, the Philippines and China are among the countries in East Asia that are vulnerable to food price inflation.
Throughout this year, the Group of 20 major economies has been seeking ways to curb speculative activity from pushing commodity prices higher. This issue still needs to be addressed.
Perhaps the most interesting questions are whether supply can respond and how technological progress can help. There is cause for optimism.
It is only in recent years, as prices have risen and prospects for emerging economies have improved, that the need and the potential to boost supply has grown in prominence. Admittedly it is not just about food. Supply of energy and metals has also attracted attention. There is now a desire from the private sector to invest more in commodity producing countries. There are many winners in this. Just look at the increased interest and investment in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years.
The winners from the current shift in the balance of power affecting the world economy will be those countries that have the cash, the creativity or the commodities. Food producers should be at the forefront of the winners from commodity rich countries.