Hunger Costing Poor Countries $450 Billion a Year : ActionAid Report
14 September 2010 at 11:11 am
A major international report by Not for Profit group ActionAid has revealed that hunger is costing poor nations $450 billion a year, with Australia failing to meet Millennium Development Goal targets.
According to ActionAid the $450 billion figure is ten times the amount needed to halve hunger by 2015 and meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) One.
The report Who’s Really Fighting Hunger? by ActionAid, an international anti-poverty agency, found that Australia is failing both in relation to its agricultural aid funding and its efforts to reduce the impact of climate change on world food supplies in the future.
The report ranked Australia amongst the worst developed countries on climate change policy, a developing crisis that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts could put 50 million extra people at risk of hunger by 2020 and additional 266 million by 2080.
ActionAid International’s CEO Joanna Kerr says fighting hunger now will be ten times cheaper than ignoring it. Kerr says every year reduced productivity, poor health and lost education costs poor countries billions and if governments don’t act now more than a million more children could die by 2015 and half of Africa won’t have enough food in ten years.
The report found that if massive gains in China are excluded from the picture, then global hunger has risen back to the same level in 2009 as it was in 1990.
The report reveals that 20 out of 28 poor nations are off track to halving hunger by 2015 and 12 of these are going backwards.
ActionAid says the hunger goal is going backwards globally largely because of a lack of aid to agriculture and rural development, few legal rights to food in poor nations and little or no support services to help farming communities when harvests fail.
ActionAid Australia’s CEO, Archie Law, says the report reveals Australia provides less than one third of its fair share of overseas aid to agriculture and food security, an area vital to reducing global hunger.
Australia also remains one of a number of developed countries yet to agree to MDG target of committing 0.7% of GNI to overseas development.
But its not all bad news – the report also found global hunger can be reduced, with Brazil, China, Ghana, Malawi and Vietnam reducing hunger by dramatically scaling-up investments in small farms and introducing social protection schemes. Malawi has reduced the number of people living on food handouts from 1.5 million to 150,000 in just five years while Brazil has halved the number of underweight children in less than 10 years.
Law says while it’s disappointing that Australia has not fared better in several key areas, the report does show Australia can make a significant difference in the future by making some relatively modest commitments.
ActionAid was formed in 1972 and says it has helped over 13 million of the world's poorest and most disadvantaged people in 42 countries worldwide.
The report has been released as world leaders prepare to meet next week at the United Nations in New York to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals.
To find out how ActionAid calculated the $450 billion, visit www.hungerfreeplanet.org