Magazine article UN Chronicle

Can the World Spare $2,000,000,000 a Month?

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Can the World Spare $2,000,000,000 a Month?

Article excerpt

An additional public investment of $24 billion annually must be made in poor countries to halve the number of hungry people by the year 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAOI has said. Without this investment, it fears that there would still be 600 million hungry people in 2015. Hence, the target of halving the number from 800 million to 400 million, set by the World Food Summit in 1996, would not be reached. FAO stressed that the public investment should be accompanied by sufficient private resources. Halving hunger is expected to yield additional benefits worth at least $120 billion a year, resulting from longer and healthier lives for all those benefiting from such improvements, according to the FAO "Anti-Hunger Programme". Almost one person in seven does not have enough food to eat, it said. Most of the hungry people live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Heads of State and Government, international agencies and non-governmental organizations met in Rome from 10 to 13 June for the World Food Summit: five years later, to take stock of progress made towards ending hunger and identify ways to accelerate the process. More rapid progress in cutting chronic hunger in developing countries is possible if the political will can be mobilized. Enough is known about how to fight hunger, the FAO report said.

The "Anti-Hunger Programme" combines investment in agriculture and rural development with measures to enhance direct and immediate access to food for the most seriously undernourished. It focuses mainly on small farmers and aims to create more opportunities for rural people, representing 70 per cent of the poor, to improve their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.

In particular, the FAO Anti-Hunger investment package includes:

* Start-up of a process of on-farm innovation in poor rural communities. This would mobilize capital for raising farm productivity through investments in seeds, fertilizers, small irrigation pumps, school gardens and legal services to broaden access to land. A plausible target is to benefit 60 million households worldwide by 2015 through a start-up capital of $500 per family, on average. The total cost would be $2.3 billion per year.

* Development and conservation of natural resources. Additional investment should be made in irrigation systems and the conservation and use of plant genetic resources and aquatic ecosystems. More funding is also needed to ensure that the world's fisheries and forests are used in a sustainable way. Estimated costs are US$7. …

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