The Billionth Hungry Person In The World?

Gulandam, first on left holding her son, could be the billionth hungry person in the world.

(Copyright: WFP/Susannah Nicol)

Gulandam didn’t use to need food assistance in order to feed her family. Her husband, earns about 100 Afs (US$2) a day, working as a porter in Kabul City, and this was enough to get by. It isn’t any more.

KABUL -- Gulandam and her family are among the many millions of people who have been pushed into hunger recently. She’s actually one of the luckier ones in that she’s receiving WFP food regularly.

The number of hungry people on the planet will this year reach a historic high of 1.02 billion. Announcing this new figure recently, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization put the blame for the latest increases on the global economic slowdown and stubbornly high food prices in many countries. Read news release

How can the online billion help the hungry billion?

Find out

Receiving assistance for first time

Both of these are factors in Gulandam’s predicament. “I started to get food assistance from WFP four months ago – for the first time ever,” she said, as she waited with her 5-month-old boy for her bag of WFP wheat. “Before that, even though we couldn’t afford luxuries such as meat, we had just about enough when my husband managed to get work.”

When food prices peaked in 2008, the money earned by Gulandam’s husband only bought a bit of bread and unsweetened tea. And if he didn’t get work, the family of eight went hungry and the children often cried themselves to sleep. These days, amid a global economic slowdown, her husband’s lucky if he manages to get three days work a week.

Ashamed

The family has sold possessions such as their rugs and a sewing machine to buy food.  Gulandam said sometimes she had no choice but to beg at local bakeries, although she covered her face as she was ashamed.

Although prices in Afghanistan have come down since last year, wheat remains over fifty percent higher than in 2007.  “We rely on this food assistance”, says Gulandam.

When the work comes, at least they can spend their money on vegetable oil, sugar and sometimes potatoes, she adds.

Read story: Number Of World's Hungry Tops 1 Billion