Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 22:49:39 -0600 (CST)
From: email@example.com (Rich Winkel)
Subject: FOOD: Hunger Index Creeps Steadily Up
/** ips.english: 527.0 **/
** Topic: FOOD: Hunger Index Creeps Steadily Up **
** Written 3:08 PM Nov 29, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
ROME, Nov 26 (IPS)’The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned Thursday the world financial crisis is threatening improvements in food security seen in Latin America and Asia.
FAO said since the beginning of the decade the number of people suffering from hunger in the world has never stopped growing, despite a reduction in relative terms.
In its annual report on the State of the World’s Food and Agriculture, this UN agency attributed the increase in hunger to scarce advances made in reducing poverty.
According to the report, there are 828 million chronically malnourished people in the developing world, six million more than estimates for the 1992-1994 period.
The worsening of the situation was not only due to damage caused to harvests by climatic phenomena, but also to foreign trade restrictions which ban the importation of foodstuffs to balance the national deficits.
FAO said other factors must be taken into account in this situation, including demographic growth and the resulting increase in number of the young population, bringing a series of changes to minimum food needs.
Although the percentage of malnourished human beings has fallen from 20 to 19 percent over the same period, this descent was not enough to make up for the increase in population, according to the report.
The FAO report warned the global financial storm was now threatening some of the achievements, including the better food security situation of many countries in Latin America and Asia.
Negative impacts of the crisis in national economies, employment, and agricultural production and trade outlooks could lead to falling food security for millions of people.
Director of the FAO Department of Analysis of the Development of Agriculture and the Economy, Jacques Vercueil, said ’’the most pressing objective, and that requiring the greatest effort, is to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger in the world in 1996 by 50 percent between now and 2015.’’
This was one of the targets set in the World Food Summit held by the FAO in 1996.
In southern Asia, from 1994-1996, hunger affected 254 million people, compared with 237 million in the 1990-1992 period. In SubSaharan Africa, the 196 million suffering from hunger in 1990- 1992 swelled to 210 million between 1994 and 1996.
The report attributed part of the hunger in many regions to the increasing imbalance in income distribution.
According to the report, the bulk of the hungry population lives in Asia, while in relative terms, as a percentage of the population, the most serious situations are seen in SubSaharan Africa.
Contrary to the tendency seen in the developing world as a whole, the group of poorest nations has been unable to reduce the number of malnourished people and the percentage of the population suffering from hunger since 1969.
The number of countries facing food emergencies increased from 29 in 1997 to 36 in 1998, especially due to the effects of the El Nino climatic phenomenon.
According to FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System, the number of nations facing a food emergency in the world today has now passed the 40 mark.
In 2005, more than 50 percent of the world population will be living in the cities and food insecurity will become and increasingly urban problem, it added.