World Banks says high food prices threaten mean 44 million increase in global hungry
High food and fuel prices will increase the number of malnourished people around the world in 2008 by 44 million to reach a total of 967 million, a report from the World Bank says.
While food and fuel price increases may have moderated in recent months, prices remain much higher than previous years and show few signs of declining significantly, according to the report entitled “Rising food and fuel prices: addressing the risks to future generations.” Poor families around the world are being pushed to the brink of survival, causing irreparable damage to the health of millions of children. As families cut back on spending, there are also grave risks for the educational performance of poor children.
“While people in the developed world are focused on the financial crisis, many forget that a human crisis is rapidly unfolding in developing countries. It is pushing poor people to the brink of survival,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “The financial crisis will only make it more difficult for developing countries to protect their most vulnerable people from the impact of rising food and fuel costs.”
The report says the food and fuel crisis could have long term effects on poor people and countries. Malnourished children cannot develop into healthy adults and become productive members of society who can contribute to the growth needed to lift themselves and their country out of poverty.
The World Bank says priority should be given to a series of targeted measures. These include:
In May, the World Bank launched a $1.2 billion rapid financing facility to help poor countries cope with the food crisis. Since then, around US$850 million has been committed to finance seeds, plantings, and feeding programs. In April, Zoellick called for a New Deal for Global Food Policy that included short, medium and long-term measures to provide immediate help to poor people and farmers while increasing food production.