CARE and Oxfam organize a forum to rethink the international response to world hunger
Rome – Despite years of international relief efforts, hunger is on the increase, an estimated 10 million people die from the effects of malnutrition each year, and 850 million suffer
from hunger worldwide, the number is increasing by four million people a year. Recently, the World Food Programme (WFP), which feeds 73 million people in the world, said that if it does not get
an extra $500m this year to cover the hike in food and fuel costs, its food aid will have to be rationed.
The World Bank President, Robert B. Zoellick, has said that the crisis of surging food prices could mean ‘seven lost years’ in the fight against worldwide poverty and has called for a ‘new deal
on global food policy’.
This week more than 60 policy experts from 30 leading international aid organizations will meet at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome to take a hard look at what
needs to be done to solve the problem. «What we are really talking about is how to address the underlying causes of hunger,» says Dr. Robert Glasser, Secretary General of CARE
International, who will give the opening speech at the forum on Wednesday.
The three-day conference, entitled Rethinking Food Security in Humanitarian Response, is organized by two leading international relief and development organizations, CARE and Oxfam. The
discussions will tackle a number of issues raised by a new report from Tufts University, which is embargoed until Wednesday. The study notes that while fewer people are dying today from major
disasters, a greater number are being affected by food shortages resulting from smaller events, droughts and civil unrest which often fail to make international headlines, but have a
devastating cumulative impact on the economies of developing countries. Right now, for example, we see distressing signs of another serious hunger crisis in central Somalia affecting hundreds
of thousands of people.
Increased focus on disaster risk reduction, agricultural production – particularly for small farmers, the creation of social safety nets, and targeted protection of livelihoods of those who are
economically vulnerable are needed to enable people to get back on their feet.
Until now most of the aid response to hunger has been mobilized in reaction to disasters that have already taken place. While we must continue to respond urgently to immediate food crises, both
donors and humanitarian agencies need also to focus on eliminating the underlying causes that create the crisis. How best to do this will be the major topic of discussion at the Conference in
Rome later this week.