LONDON - On the 20th anniversary of the Band Aid single, which is being re-recorded this weekend, it is worth remembering that hunger and malnutrition remain the biggest risk to health around the world, more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. The chorus line of the original Band Aid single recorded against the backdrop of the Ethiopian famine in 1984, was "Feed the World". That message is as important today as it was two decades ago.
Today, 1.6 million people are dependent on food aid in the Darfur region of western Sudan. They are not the only ones. In Africa, millions of people still suffer from the ravages of war and drought and HIV, from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe. In North Korea, up to a quarter of the population is dependent on food aid. Across the world, more than 800 million people know what it is like to go to bed hungry.
A commitment to eradicate global hunger and poverty was the first Millennium Development Goal that world leaders committed themselves to when they gathered for the millennium summit at the UN headquarters in New York in 2000.
Their pledge was to halve the proportion of hungry people in the developing world by 2015. Unfortunately, apart from progress made in China, the number of chronically hungry people has actually risen by 60 million people since 1992.
This is why it is important to remind ourselves of the latest facts about global hunger:
1) Hunger and malnutrition kill more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
2) Every five seconds a child dies because he or she was hungry.
3) There are more than 800 million people around the world who know what it is like to go to bed hungry.
4) The world produces enough food to feed everyone but still these 800 million remain chronically hungry.
5) In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are 198 million hungry people.
6) More than 2 million people are likely to be dependent on food aid in the Darfur region of western Sudan by next year.
7) Almost 10 million people are killed around the world each year by hunger and malnutrition. That is more than the total number of people who died in World War I.
8) One out of every three people in Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from hunger.
9) Almost a quarter of the world's hungry people live in Africa.
10) Good nutrition helps prolongs the life of HIV sufferers.
11) Africa has already lost more farmers to AIDS (7 million) than there are farmers in Europe and North America.
12) By 2020, HIV is expected to have killed 20% of southern Africa's farm workers.
13) HIV and hunger work together. Malnutrition accelerates the progress of HIV. HIV worsens malnutrition.
14) There are 11 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. Most never learnt how their parents grew or prepared food.
15) 10 pence a day is all it takes to feed a hungry child at school.
16) Hunger is inherited. Each year 17 million children are born underweight because their mothers are malnourished.
17) Providing pregnant mothers with nutritionally balanced food can reduce the likelihood of an underweight baby by 32%.
18) In the 1990s, global poverty dropped by 20% but the number of undernourished people around the world increased.
19) The World Food Programme devotes a larger proportion of its assistance (on average half) to Africa than any other UN agency or individual government donor.
20) Food aid from the World Food Programme has reached 1.2 billion of the world's poor over the past 4 decades - that's almost the equal to the population of India.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school -- a gift of hope for a brighter future.
For more facts and information on hunger and malnutrition, visit our website: www.wfp.org
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Deputy Director Communications,
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