Hungry Get Hungrier As Funding For Food Aid Stutters

There are more hungry people in the world today than ever before. In many developing countries the poor cannot afford to buy food. At the same time, economic woes mean that many rich countries have cut back on funding for food assistance. It's a recipe for disaster.

Hunger Crisis In Numbers

  • 1.02 billion hungry people in the world (see hunger graphs)
  • US$ 6.7 billion WFP budget for 2009
  • US$ 3.7 billion forecast contributions
  • US$ 2.9 billion forecast shortfall



World leaders must commit to keep hunger on the map.  It is vital that we address immediate hunger needs and access to food in conjunction with investment in long-term agricultural development.  There has to be a twin-track approach.



Hunger in Kenya

Hunger is on the rise in Kenya where 3.8 million people now need urgent food assistance due to a devastating combination of drought and continued high prices.

Drought has left farmers with empty fields and pastorialists with dwindling herds.

WFP will run short of food supplies in October and is preparing to reduce rations.

Portrait of Hunger


Hunger in Guatemala

The Guatemalan government has declared a “State of National Calamity” due to a shortage of food to feed hungry rural communities.

Almost half of Guatemala's children are chronically malnourished -- the sixth highest level in the world.

WFP’s vital programme providing nutritious food supplements to
100,000 children and 50,000 pregnant and lactating women, is hanging by a thread.

Portrait of Hunger

Hunger in Bangladesh

The country is home to some of the poorest and hungriest people in the world and has the highest prevalence of underweight children in South Asia. 

WFP is currently reaching barely 1 million people out of a target 5 million who cannot afford to buy the food they need for their families. Without more funding, another 1.3 million malnourished women and children will stop receiving rations of fortified blended food.

Portrait of Hunger

LONDON -- At the very moment WFP is needed most, it is being held back by a serious shortfall in funds. Two-thirds of the way through the year, contributions received account for barely a third of the money needed to feed the world's most vulnerable people.

"Donors have been extremely generous, but the fact is that the cost of food is still high, needs have gone up and this requires the world to step up to the plate in a bigger way," said Sheeran at a press conference in London.  Read statement -- Download factsheet

"We are making an urgent plea to the world that as the green shoots of economic recovery are appearing, we do not forget those who are most in need, and who have been hit hardest by this crisis, " Sheeran continued.

The double whammy of the financial crisis and the still record high food prices around the world is delivering a devastating blow to the world's most vulnerable.  They have been squeezed so much that many have lost what few assets they owned, further exposing them to hunger. Now, it only takes a drought or a storm to provoke a disaster.

Three of the countries facing major challenges are Kenya, Guatemala and Bangladesh -- also countries where WFP is facing critical shortfalls. Here are three beneficiaries in these countries explaining how WFP food assistance is helping them now and what it would mean to lose it.

1. Kenya -- Margaret Legei
Margaret has six children that she is struggling to feed. Her husband is on the slopes of Mt Kenya, searching for pasture for what’s left of their drought-ravaged livestock. So far 40 of their 50 sheep have died, and all but one of their 10 cows.


2. Guatemala -- Rosaura Lopez Segura
Rosaura has an eight-month old daughter, Mariana, who has escaped the widespread malnutrition in her country thanks to a nutritious food product called VitaCereal, supplied by WFP. With funds running out, WFP may have to cut the VitaCereal programme in October.


3. Bangladesh -- Samia Begum
Samia has two children and her husband is disabled. Until they started to receive WFP assistance, they lived on a very little rice every day – when they could afford it -- and malnutrition was waiting in the wings. Without support, they will be vulnerable again.