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Oxfam: You Can’t Eat Promises

Oxfam: You Can’t Eat Promises

May 10, 2010

International agency Oxfam today issued a stark challenge to over 100 countries meeting in Rome at the UN’s ‘World Food Summit + 10 this week to discuss progress on halving global hunger: act now on your 10 years of promises or put an end to the gabfests.

At the World Food Summit a decade ago, governments signed up to a plan of action to halve global hunger by 2015. Since then aid to agricultural development has fallen by half and the number of hungry people in the world has risen by 54 million. It now stands at 854 million.

“We’ve had ten years of promises that global hunger will be halved but the number of hungry people in the world continues to rise, said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. ‘As hungry people know better than anyone, you can’t eat promises.

Statistics illustrate the failure of the international community to tackle the global hunger crisis:

  • One person in seven on the planet goes to bed hungry, half of them children.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa the number of hungry people has increased by some 20 per cent since 1996.
  • Over 200 million people in sub-Saharan Africa more than a third of the population are hungry.
  • In Ethiopia 11-12 million people face hunger today. The1984 Ethiopian food crisis that shocked the world struck 5-7 million people.

Three quarters of the world’s hungry live in rural areas. Yet international aid to agricultural development has slumped from 17 per cent of total aid in the mid-80s, to a mere 8 per cent in 2001. In sub-Saharan Africa, aid to agriculture fell by 43 per cent from 1990-02 to 2000-02.

‘CIDA spends barely half what it spent fifteen years ago on aid to rural development. With a little help and a favourable economic environment, most hungry people could feed themselves, Fox said. ‘That’s why aid to agriculture and fair trade rules are so essential.

Trade rules still allow the United States and Europe to dump subsidized food in poor countries, ruining poor farmers by the thousands.

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