Tag Archives: hungry

Hindering the hungry

Rich nations may not have caused the food crisis, but their policies add to the suffering of the poor and starving

Strange things are happening in Rome. The head of the World Bank Robert Zoellick is here talking about the importance of helping small farmers in developing countries (forgetting to mention that his organisation has helped to put a lot of them out of business over the last 20 years) and the world’s leaders and media are suddenly fascinated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

It’s impossible to get a seat in the press room. Frustrated people tap grumpily on BlackBerrys while overwhelmed FAO staff attempt to fix the only photocopier. The last time they had a summit like this no one noticed or cared. This time the eyes of the world are on those gathered across the road from the ruins of ancient Rome.

There’s a food crisis and everybody’s trying to figure out what to do about it. Continue reading

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Filed under Food Security, Poverty

Global food prices rise and famine increases

By Barry Mason

The United Nations body World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the rise in global food prices will reduce its ability to feed hungry and malnourished people.

Speaking last month in Rome, where the WFP is based, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, “Our ability to reach people is going down just as needs go up…. We are seeing a new face of hunger in which people are being priced out of the food market…. Situations that were previously not urgent—they are now.”

In a press release, the WFP gave a new estimate for the funds needed for its work this year at nearly US$3.5 billion, half a billion more than estimated last year. This money is for approved projects to feed 73 million people in 78 countries throughout the world. It notes that this money is for projected feeding schemes and does not include unforeseen emergencies that may arise.

It also notes that the poorest people on earth will have to spend an increasing portion of their meagre income on food. The WFP warns that these people will be forced to buy less food, or less nutritious food, or rely on outside help.

The countries that will be most affected include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Djibouti, the Gambia, Togo, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Senegal, all on the African continent. Also affected will be Haiti, Myanmar (Burma), Yemen and Cuba. Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, Development, Food Security, Globalization, Poverty, Social Protection, World

Amid mounting food crisis, governments fear revolution of the hungry

By Bill Van Auken at WSS
15 April 2008

Last week’s meetings in Washington of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Group of Seven were convened in the shadow of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. While Wall Street’s turmoil and the deepening credit crunch dominated discussions, leaders of the global financial institutions were forced to take note of the growing global food emergency, warning of the threat of widespread hunger and already emerging political instability.

The seven major capitalist powers in the G-7—the US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada—made virtually no mention of the global food crisis, referring in only one brief reference to the risk of “high oil and commodity prices.” Instead, they focused on the stability of the financial markets, promising measures to shore up investor confidence.

The IMF and World Bank, however, felt compelled to acknowledge the emerging worldwide catastrophe, in part because while these agencies are instruments of the main imperialist powers, they must posture as responsive to the needs of all countries. It would be too revealing for them to focus exclusively on the fate of major finance houses, while ignoring the fact that hundreds of millions across the planet are being threatened with starvation.

More decisive, however, is the realization that this crisis confronting the most impoverished countries and poorest sections of the world’s population is threatening to unleash a revolution of the hungry that could topple governments across large parts of the world.

Even as the IMF and World Bank were meeting, the government of Haiti was forced out in a no-confidence vote passed in response to several days of demonstrations and protests against rising food prices and hunger that swept all the country’s major cities. Clashes between protesters and United Nations occupation troops left at least five people dead and scores wounded and saw crowds attempt to storm the presidential palace.

Food prices in Haiti had risen on average by 40 percent in less than a year, with the cost of staples such as rice doubling.

The same essential story has been repeated in country after country, from Africa to the Middle East, south Asia and Latin America. Continue reading

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Filed under Inequality, International Aid, World