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Hunger costs poor nations $450 billion annually: ActionAid

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By Julius N. Uma

September 17, 2010 (JUBA) - Developing countries require about $450 billion US to address hunger problems every year - more than ten times what is needed to halve the number of hungry people and meet the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) by 2015, ActionAid said in a recent report.

The report released on 14 September, “Who’s really fighting hunger” precedes the New York summit, where UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will meet world leaders to review progress so far made on the United Nations (UN) – initiated MDGs, next week.

According to the ActionAid report, the world is failing on its promise to tackle hunger - over a billion people going hungry every night. The mammoth human cost, it further says, is eclipsed only by the shocking fact that developing economies are losing vital billions of dollars each year because their people are too hungry to work.

"On the eve of the most important development summit for five years, a billion people will be going to bed hungry. Despite promises to the contrary, one sixth of humanity doesn’t get enough to eat. But we grow enough food to feed every man, woman and child on the planet,” Meredith Alexander, Head of Policy at ActionAid said in a communiqué.

"The real cause of hunger isn’t lack of food; it is lack of political will. In Brazil, President Lula made beating hunger a personal priority and the country has cut child malnutrition in half,” he added.

Acknowledging the UK as having been at the forefront of tackling global poverty, Meredith challenged its Deputy Premier to show the same kind of leadership on hunger as the country demonstrated on education, HIV and Aids and debt relief.
ActionAid’s research also shows the real dates on which countries are likely meet MDG1 and scores nations on their efforts to fight hunger so far.

For instance, the report reveals that 20 out of 28 poor nations are unlikely to halvie hunger by 2015, as was hoped, and 12 of these are said to be regressing.

Globally, the report says, 20% more people are going hungry now than when the goals were conceived, urging that more investments are needed in agriculture and rural development to alleviate the hunger problem.

In Africa, countries like Malawi, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda are reported to have made considerable strides towards achieving the 2015 MDGs. Malawi reportedly reduced the number of people living on food hand-outs from 4.5 million to 150,000 in just five years.

Last year, the G8 nations [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G8] nations pledged $22 billion to fight hunger, yet ActionAid, according to the report, estimates that $14 billion of this is in fact old aid promises, repackaged and it is still unclear when or how the money will be spent.

(ST).

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