Hunger in the news
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28 April 2009

The first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) calls for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Food security, or rights to food, is defined as access to sufficient and affordable food which can relate to a single household or to the global population. Despite political commitments to reduce world hunger, the number of people lacking access to the "minimum dietary energy requirements" (2,000 kilocalories per day) has risen from 824 million in the baseline year (1990) to 963 million in 2008. (…) The number of poor people is growing. Most of these people are small scale farmers (petani gurem) with less than 0.25 ha of land, or agricultural-wage laborers. In accordance with the World Food Programme (WFP, 2005), poor and malnourished people in Indonesia will almost certainly not be able to escape poverty unless drastic changes are made to policies.


2 April 2009

Hunger and malnutrition are the biggest threat to health around the world, more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Across the world, nearly a billion people, many of them children, go to bed hungry each night. These are sobering and tragic facts. World leaders committed themselves to eradicating hunger and poverty from the face of the globe under the 2000 Millennium Development Goals but that objective remains a distant dream. Hunger continues to stalk the world and is by far the biggest contributor to child mortality. [...] According to the Ministry of Health, Indonesia has reduced malnutrition levels over the past decade from 25 percent to 18 percent, but that is still significantly higher than the World Bank’s ideal standard of under 10 percent. In 2008, the World Food Program estimated that 13 million children in Indonesia suffered from malnutrition. Those are startling numbers given that there is enough food in the country to feed everyone. The problem, say experts, lies in the fact that many parents do not understand proper nutritional habits and what best to feed their children. Malnutrition is thus caused as much by the lack of proper education as it is by poverty.


16 February 2009

The merits, or otherwise, of embedding yourself with a military force and seeing their very one-sided view of the world, has been the subject of some debate in recent years. But against all expectations, I recently found myself gathered around a cage of bunny rabbits with a group of combat-hardened US soldiers, cooing as they petted the cuddly balls of fur. It was all part of a friendship building visit to a local agricultural initiative organised by their Thai counterparts. Could this be the new face of the US military under the Obama administration? [...] Under exercise on the training grounds in central Thailand, Indonesian troops guarding a convoy of supplies for the World Food Program come under ‘attack’ by insurgents in a scenario designed to teach them not only the best methods of defence, but how to work with civilian agencies who have strict rules about engagement and neutrality. After the exercise is completed, an overseeing US officer rebukes them mildly for loading their 'dead' and wounded comrades into the back of the WFP truck without asking permission of the UN agency, thus invalidating the neutrality of the vehicle.