Hunger in the news

A daily selection of news reports from the world's media dealing with hunger and responses to it.
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Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

World must double food production by 2050: FAO chief

Global food production, already under strain from the credit crunch, must double by 2050 to head off mass hunger, the head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Monday. The food crisis pushed another 40 million people into hunger in 2008, Jacques Diouf said here at the start of a two-day international conference on food security. That brought the global number of undernourished people to 973 million last year out of a total population of around 6.5 billion, he said. [...] Ireland's Minister for Overseas Development Aid, Peter Power, said the hunger crisis had not been given the same level of attention as the fight against AIDS, the global financial crisis or climate change. "This silent tsunami is completely unacceptable," he said to applause from delegates. But Josette Shearan, the head of the UN World Food Program, the world's largest humanitarian agency, warned the world will only be able to produce enough food for everyone in 2050 if food security is made a top priority. "If we have to produce twice as much food and we are already in a situation where one out of every six people can't get access to adequate food, this compels us to put it at the top of the agenda," she said.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Zimbabwe Summit Begins as E.U. Imposes Fresh Sanctions

After southern African leaders held marathon talks on the Zimbabwe crisis that ended early Tuesday morning, the president of South Africa announced that Zimbabwe’s opposition had agreed to join a government with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. But an opposition spokesman said there was no such agreement. [...] Zimbabwe has plunged deeper into crisis amid massive unemployment and crippling hyperinflation, with half the population dependent on food aid.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
25 January 2009

Japan to provide $9.5 mln food aid to Philippines

Japan will provide an emergency food aid amounting to 9.5 million U.S. dollars to the thousands of war-displaced persons in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, its embassy in Manila said on Sunday. The assistance will cover the distribution of 7,500 metric tons of rice to affected civilians through the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP).
Xinhua
Dossier: Food out of reach
25 January 2009

Our forgotten crisis

We do not see many references to the food crisis in the news these days. Headlines are dominated by the economic slowdown. Forgotten though it may be, however, the food crisis has not gone away. Millions of people still experience it every day. Prices may have fallen on global markets, but they nonetheless remain close to their 2008 peaks in many poor countries. The sheer volatility of prices makes it difficult for farmers to invest and plan; the global credit crunch compounds the problem. Across the developing world - and even in wealthy nations - the purchasing power of poor and middle-income families has declined with slowing economic growth. The numbers of hungry people unable to exercise their right to food stands near one billion. Fifty million are malnourished children.
International Herald Tribune
Hunger in the news
25 January 2009

Peace feels frail to displaced Ugandans

[...] A peace initiative launched in 2006 with LRA commander Joseph Kony brought a de facto cease-fire in Uganda, and there hasn't been an LRA attack here in two years. Emboldened by the security, thousands of families have been going home. Displacement camps that once held 90% of northern Uganda's population today house only a quarter, according to figures from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. [...] As soon as residents left, government workers tore down their huts, pockmarking the camp with rubble circles. Most aid groups have left. The United Nations' World Food Program has halved its distributions in northern Uganda since 2006, a spokeswoman said. And government soldiers who protected and patrolled the camps are deploying elsewhere. Camp and village children, once dubbed "night commuters," no longer walk each evening into the cities to sleep under armed guard to avoid being abducted. "The change has been dramatic," said Richard Todwong, an advisor to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Los Angeles Times
Hunger in the news
25 January 2009

West African Villagers Stake Their Fortunes on the Future Price of Rice

[...] Hoping to take advantage of high global food prices that brought many poor nations to the brink of chaos last year, farmers across West Africa are reaping what experts say is one of the best harvests in recent memory. But after investing and borrowing heavily to expand their production, these farmers also run the risk of being wiped out as global food prices plummet.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
24 January 2009

U.N. considered suspending food aid to Somalia

The United Nations considered suspending delivery of food to areas of Somalia after the recent killings of two aid workers, said a spokesman for the organization's World Food Program. Gunmen shot and killed the workers in early January, causing the U.N. agency to worry about the safety of its staff. "We initially considered suspending WFP food distributions until security improves," said Ramiro Lopes da Silva in a statement released this week. "But such a step would hurt the very people we seek to help, especially women and children suffering the most from this merciless conflict." The agency still plans to deliver enough food to feed 2.5 million people in the next two months, but aid workers had concerns about their safety, Lopes da Silva said.
CNN
Hunger in the news
24 January 2009

UN set to double food aid in 'catastrophic' Kenya

The United Nations is aiming to double food aid for Kenya to reach at least four million people because of a situation the World Food Programme described Friday as "catastrophic". President Mwai Kibaki declared a "national disaster" in Kenya a week ago, saying 10 million people faced food shortages and launching an appeal for 400 million dollars (312 million euros) in foreign aid. [...] "We will certainly have to more than double the number of people who are benefitting," Burkard Oberle, the UN food relief agency's representative in Kenya, told journalists in Geneva. [...] Southeastern and coastal areas of Kenya, which only have one harvest a year, are particularly hard hit, according to the World Food Programme.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
24 January 2009

WFP: Kenya Facing Catastrophic Food Shortages

The World Food Program warns Kenya is facing a catastrophic decline of food and the agency will have to more than double the number of people it feeds there to over four million. WFP says drought and erratic rains following three successively poor harvest seasons have resulted in widespread crop failure. [...] WFP representative in Kenya, Burkard Oberle, says this post-election crisis set off a whole chain of instability, which has increased food shortages. He says southeastern and coastal areas of Kenya are particularly hard hit. "I have been traveling through the area myself and have seen very shocking pictures of crops having wilted, of whole fields not producing a single kernel of grain, of livestock migrating now into more distant regions in search of water," said Oberle. "Diseases for livestock are also on the increase. Rift Valley fever is also a threat that is spreading."
Voice of America News
Hunger in the news
23 January 2009

Kenya's parliament okays funds for maize

Kenya's parliament has given the government the green light to seek 7.9 billion shillings (about 99.1 million U.S. dollars) to buy food for the hungry citizens. The plan faced failure after lawmakers on Wednesday refused to allow the government to guarantee a loan to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) for the purchase of relief food for the hungry. [...] Some 10 million Kenyans need food aid because of shortages and the government has appealed for emergency funds to deal with the matter. The UN World Food Program (WFP) said on Thursday it will increase food aid to 3.2 million hungry Kenyans who are facing food crisis. WFP spokeswoman Gabrielle Menezes told journalists in Nairobi that the UN agency plans to provide food aid for 3.2 million adults and infants and 850,000 school students. Menezes said the organization is currently carrying out an assessment in the affected parts to determine the extent of the famine and drought that has left about 10 million people or more starving.
Xinhua

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