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Thursday:  July 31, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Hunger (8)

Tuesday
Oct162012

High food prices top UN agenda on World Food Day (REPORT) 

(Video: World Food Programme)

Rome: Global governance of food security and a so-called new world food order were on the table at World Food Day talks held by the United Nations on Tuesday in the face of drought and high prices.

The United Nations focused the talks in Rome on lowering food prices which have been pushed up by droughts in Australia and the United States and a drop in harvests in Europe and the Black Sea region.

A meeting at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization chaired by French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll brought together ministers from 20 countries including major producers and import-dependent developing countries.

“The key is to ensure global governance on food issues,” Le Foll said.  “Discussions were held on transparency in agricultural markets, the coordination of international actions, response to the global demand for food and the fight against the effects of volatility,” he added.

FAO chief Jose Graziano Da Silva said: “Food prices and volatility have increased in recent years. This is expected to continue in the medium-term.”

He said new mechanisms for stronger global governance of food security that are being set up were part of “a new world order that needs to emerge.”

(PHOTO: YemenFoxNet)But there were divisions among participants at the meeting, with the United States voicing strong opposition to the proposal of setting up strategic food reserves in particularly vulnerable countries, to be tapped when prices spike.

Graziano Da Silva said establishing reserves could be “an instrument to avoid poor countries paying the price” of price rises — although FAO’s official position is only in favor of setting up “small emergency stocks”.

“If you bolster the size of the stocks, you increase difficulties in terms of costs and management,” said FAO’s David Hallam, who is in charge of markets.

Millions go hungry

Around 870 million people in the world suffer from hunger, even though gains have been made in recent years when the United Nations estimated 1 billion people on the planet were not getting enough to eat. Still, the number is troubling.

FAO said the talks were aimed at boosting “the effectiveness of measures to address food price volatility and to reduce its impact on the most vulnerable.”

Global food prices rose by 1.4 per cent last month, after holding steady for two months, as cereals, meat and dairy prices climbed, the FAO said earlier.

The food import bill for poor countries is therefore estimated to rise by 3.7 percentage points from last year to $36.5 billion.

The FAO estimates that about 870 million people in the world - or one in eight humans - suffer from hunger, saying the figure is “unacceptably high” even though it has gone down from more than a billion in the early 1990s.

The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, said that figure rises to 1.5 billion people if you include malnourishment which hampers the physical and psychological developments of children.

(PHOTO: Agriaim)When global food prices rise as they are doing now “it is not just that there are fewer meals but the meals are also less varied,” De Schutter said, adding: “This threat is not really seen as a priority but it should be.”

Graziano Da Silva said it was vital to help small farmers as a way of combating hunger and World Food Day events highlighted the crucial role played by farming cooperatives in the developing world.

He underlined the fact that the figure of the number of people suffering from hunger had stopped going down over the past five years.  “The numbers are increasing in Africa and the Middle East,” he said.

“We cannot tolerate this in a land of plenty where production is sufficient for everyone,” he said, adding that the funds for aid and agriculture budgets had gone down over the past three decades, stranding small farmers.  “They have had to fight to adapt,” he said.

Graziano Da Silva added that promises made by governments to eradicate hunger made when prices hit record highs in 2007 and 2008 had not been kept.

The non-governmental group Action Against Hunger said that “some 100 million more people have become under-nourished” due to the price rises of 2008.

In a message to mark World Food Day, Pope Benedict hailed cooperatives as “an expression of true subsidiarity” and urged the international community to come up with legal and financial mechanisms to strengthen them.

The pope also emphasized the “vital role” played by women in cooperatives.

- This article appeared in GulfNews.

Tuesday
Mar062012

World's Smallest Territory/World's Hungry, Benefit From Biggest Anticipated Movie (REPORT) 

Hungry no longer?  

 

(HN, March 6, 2012) -- Next month brings the launch of one of Hollywood's most anticipated `book-turned-film series' of 2012, The Hunger Games.  In the spirit of others before it - "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" - author Suzanne Collins's bestselling young-adult adventure book trilogy features teenaged heroine Katniss Everdeen and depicts a remade North America, run by a dystopian dictatorship.

Renamed Panem and ruled by the governing body called `The Capitol' a highly advanced metropolis which holds absolute power over the rest of the nation, The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding `The Capitol' are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.  

(PHOTO: The Hunger Games, 1st edition, 2008/Scholastic) Since its initial publishing in 2008, the novel has been translated into 26 different languages and rights of production have been sold in 38 countries. "The Hunger Games" is the first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, followed by Catching Fire, published on September 1, 2009, and Mockingjay, published on August 24, 2010.

The film adaptation, which will be released on March 23, was written and produced by Collins herself and directed by Gary Ross. The cast features Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale with cameo's by notable's Wood Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and singer Lenny Kravitz.  

Collins has said that the inspiration to write The Hunger Games came from channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on another she saw footage of the invasion of Iraq. The two "began to blur in this very unsettling way" and the idea for the book was formed.

PITCAIRN

So where on Earth would a Hollywood producer film a futuristic Panem that would live up to the enormous interest in the storyline of The Hunger Games and be believable?  North Carolina, USA of course.  In fact, The Hunger Games was shot almost entirely on location in the southern US state - Asheville, Charlotte, Concord, DuPont State Forest, Hildebran, North Fork Reservoir, Pisgah National Forest, and Shelby.

The US is obviously one of the biggest nations on the planet. And, if The Hunger Games premise were to come true, would be taken over by a New `North American' order in Panem. 

But it's one of the world's tiniest territories that is reaping the rewards of one of the most waited-for movies of the year.

Which territory is this?  Pitcairn of course.

(MAP: Pitcairn Islands/Wikipedia) The Pitcairn Islands are a group of 4 volcanic islands Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean which stretch between Tahiti, and Easter Island. The islands are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total land area of about 18 square miles.  Only Pitcairn, the second largest island with only about 48 people, is inhabited; and only from 4 families: Christian, Warren, Young, and Brown.

Pitcairn is the least populous jurisdiction in the world (though it is not a sovereign nation). The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The islands are a British Overseas Territory and have alternately been `found' by both Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 1600's. The original settlers of the Pitcairn Islands were Polynesians.

(DRAWING: A depiction of the British HMS Bounty arriving at Pitcairn, circa 1700's/Wikipedia) As far as Hollywood goes, the islands are best known as home of the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers (British, who came to the islands in the 1700's);  and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films.

But now, with The Hunger Games, Lionsgate, the film's distributor has expanded its promotional campaign to be as `experiential' for fans as possible. As if Panem actually existed

And what would a fictitious Panem have as its web address?  Likely something with the .PN URL - which just happens to be, the web domain of the smallest populated territory on the planet, Pitcairn.

According to Movieline, this unique designation was a "happy coincidence with a financial benefit"  to Bill Haigh, the governmental registrar for Pitcairn's domain offices, which provides the web affiliation for companies to protect their brand, and he says the proceeds "go a long way toward the islands' infrastructural upkeep".

(PHOTO: Pitcairn postage stamp, superimposed with Jennifer Lawrence's photo/TaimiOnline) The island’s internet domain name sales are reportedly now bringing in as much income as Pitcairn postage stamps or the islands other export, honey; equaling "tens of thousands of dollars", he says.

Again, Movieline reports that, "While it's impossible to know how many .PN's will be registered, an online registry  shows already established PN's as Capitol.pn, and CapitolCouture.pn; there are registrations for Panem's various districts (District1.pn, through District13.pn), and each of the main characters have their own addresses (e.g. PresidentSnow.pn)". 

 At approximately $75 per registrar the islands could go a long way towards creating revenue for real things it needs support for such as telecommunications, supply shipping, children's education, and medical care among other modern day staples. 

ACTUAL, GLOBAL HUNGER

In an interview with Suzanne Collins, she stated that the books "challenge the reader to explore issues such as severe poverty, starvation, oppression, and the effects of war among others".  

(GRAPH: Global hunger, 2010/FAO) The starvation and need for resources that Panem citizens experience both in and outside of the `Hunger Games' arena create an atmosphere of survival that the main characters try to overcome in their fight for self preservation. She goes on to say, "The choices the characters make and the strategies they use are often morally complex."

So it's no surprise then that a film called "The Hunger Games" is a perfect fit for messaging around the poverty, hunger and famine issues plaguing many countries and millions of people across the world.

In fact a month before the release of the film opening on March 23, the cast and producers teamed up with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Feeding America to raise awareness about global hunger - launching a public service video and a new website wfp.org/hungergames with the movie’s stars urging fans of the film to help end hunger and malnutrition.

Hunger affects 1 in 7 people in the world – almost one billion men, women and children who go to bed every night not having enough to eat or enough nutrition to sustain them.  "The Hunger Games" campaign states that for just $5 a month, Feeding America and WFP will help to provide at least 20 meals to someone in need.

“This partnership will help us spread the word that hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem,” said Nancy Roman, Director of Communications of WFP, adding that millions of readers identified with the characters in The Hunger Games trilogy and are excited about the upcoming movie.  “We want to tap into that excitement." 

 Said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America, "There is enough food to feed everyone living in the US, but it’s not getting to millions of low-income people who need it”.

On the website users can watch the public service announcement; participate in a Hunger Quiz; or make a donation to actively become a part of the solution and help solve world hunger.

CATCHING FIRE

With early projections of $100 million dollar success already being hyped in Hollywood for The Hunger Games launch - the cast has set out on a mall tour speaking to thousands of people ahead of the movie's release.

Looking towards the future, Suzanne Collins, her directing partner Gary Ross and Lionsgate aren't waiting for the film to open to begin the next chapter. They are already anticipating that The Hunger Games will `Catch Fire' - and the only way to keep a flame burning, is to keep going. 

(PHOTO: Catching Fire, published 2009/Scholastic) So weeks before The Hunger Games even arrives in theaters, the script for "Catching Fire" - the sequel - has already been written and is being reviewed by Collin's herself according to the NY Daily News.

Lionsgate has already announced a release date of November 22, 2013 for the sequel and filming is set to begin rolling in the fall, with stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson all returning. 

Indeed, "Catching Fire" is also what the The Hunger Games beneficiaries hope will happen too.

A three film trilogy that could potentially bring worldwide awareness of the inequity of life which the millions who face hunger and poverty around the world deal with every day?  A blockbuster, made in North Carolina which brings global awareness to the world's least populated territory?

Perhaps,  the real legacy of "The Hunger Games" could mean `Hunger no longer'.  Now that's a blockbuster.

--- HUMNEWS

Wednesday
Feb022011

Hunger fuels discontent in the Middle East (Opinion) 

Weeks of street protests across Tunisia culminated in the dramatic ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ali after 23 years in power. photo courtesy PressTVby Joel Brinkley

(HN, February 2, 2011) When the Middle East tumult began in Tunisia two months ago, demonstrators had barely a thought in their heads about throwing their president out of office. No, they had a larger problem. They were hungry.

Next door in Algeria, meantime, youths were setting government buildings afire and shouting "Bring us Sugar!" And after people first took to the streets in Jordan, Finance Minister Mohammad Abu-Hammour promised to lower commodity prices to "help the poor and middle class cope as global food prices rise."

The world is heading into a food crisis again, barely three years after the last one in 2008. That, not political reform, animated the riots and demonstrations across the Arab world and beyond -- until Tunisia's president fell from power on Jan. 14. After that, hungry demonstrators aimed higher.

Now, whatever the final results in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and other states that have been under siege, millions of people in these places still will not be able to afford enough food for their families.

The United Nations office that monitors global food supplies announced last month that world prices for rice, wheat, sugar, barley and meat have reached record levels and will probably continue to rise in the months ahead. That list of affected foods is far broader than last time. In 2008, the demonstrations were called "bread riots" because of the high price of grains.

Late last month, the World Bank warned that Yemen was "particularly vulnerable" to food-price shocks because the country is desperately poor and imports most of its food. A few days later, thousands of protestors took to the streets, and the government finally announced it would institute price controls. But Middle Eastern nations aren't the only victims.

Thirteen people were killed in Mozambique last fall during riots over the price of bread. Sri Lanka's president warned his people that they couldn't import food to mitigate the crisis because so many other nations are in serious trouble, too. In Kenya, five people actually starved to death, local media reported.

Around the world, the U.N. reports, nearly one billion people live at the edge of starvation. These are the people who live on something like a dollar a day, and when the prices of staples, like rice and corn and wheat, shoot up, they can no longer afford to buy any.

In Sri Lanka, for example, prices for those staples rose by 30 percent in recent months. Already, 15 percent of Sri Lanka's infants suffer from "wasting," Unicef says. That means they are starving to death.

Who's to blame for all of this? America and other wealthy nations, in large part. When commodity prices begin to rise, Western speculators start buying commodity shares, driving prices even higher. After hearing about poor wheat crops in Russia and Ukraine last August, speculators drove the wheat price up by 80 percent.

At the same time, when gasoline prices are high, as they are now, demand for ethanol increases. Ethanol is made from corn, and Washington offers subsidies for corn's use as fuel. The U.S. is the world's largest corn producer, but now 40 percent of the crop is converted to ethanol. As a result, corn prices have risen by 66 percent.

Unusually violent weather also played a role. Floods, droughts, storms and wildfires in Australia, the Philippines, Russia, Ukraine and South America, among other places, reduced crop yields. Agronomists blame climate change and predict worse in the years ahead.

But other villains hold responsibility, too. They are the past and current leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and others of their ilk. They've had little control over global food prices. But they've wielded imperial control of their nations.

The Egyptian president lives in one of the world's most sumptuous palaces, once a luxury hotel with 400 rooms and a 6,340-square-foot ceremonial hall. Living there for nearly three decades, Hosni Mubarak knew full well that his people were hungry and desperate; 30 percent of the state's children grow up "stunted" because of malnutrition during the first years of life.

Regularly, union members and others held angry demonstrations over low wages, hundreds of them. To mollify them, sometimes Mubarak raised salaries a few pennies. But as successive food crises devastated his people, Mubarak, like his fellow dictators throughout the region, did little if anything to alleviate his peoples' misery -- watching their suffering from high windows in his grand manse. During the 2008 food crisis, his government actually cut bread rations.

Mubarak and the others brought this on themselves.

Joel Brinkley, a professor of journalism at Stanford University, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times.

This article first appeared on StAugustine.com

Wednesday
Nov032010

(PEACEMEAL) `Tackling World Hunger Can Be Confusing. Addressing the Problem with Small Bites Might Make it More Manageable’

--- Commentary by Cynthia Thomet

You may not have heard about an individual named David Beckmann, president of the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Bread for the World, whose focus is to urge decision makers to “end hunger at home and abroad.” I hadn’t, until he was awarded the World Food Prize at the 2010 Laureate Award Ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa.

As a 501(c)4 organization, Bread for the World is a little different from other nonprofits, because of its ability to devote its time, resources and energy not only to educating decision makers about ending hunger, but also to advocating specific policy change, or directly lobbying policy makers on this issue. Beckmann recently published a book called, Exodus from Hunger: We Are Called to Change the Politics of Hunger.

In one commentary I wrote for PeaceMeal, entitled “Billions Undernourished” was on the eve of World Food Day, and I learned a lot about what world hunger means in a nutshell: nearly one billion people in the world suffer from chronic hunger. The 1 Billion Hungry awareness campaign by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations called upon us to tap into our anger over this piece of information and do something to change this sad reality.

One billion people is alot of people.

  

Rick Steves, a well-known travel guide writer and public television travel host, wrote in an inspired blog post about his recent trip—not to Europe, but to the World Food Prize ceremonies: “With all my travel experience, I've gained empathy for the struggles of people in developing nations, but my concern used to be confused and directionless.”

Indeed, humanitarians and world leaders are challenged with suggesting solutions and introducing policy to balance the forces that have wreaked havoc on the earth—from the natural disasters that have emerged as a result of climate change to the laws of capitalism that are still beholden to the cold realities of supply and demand, and the sometimes colder political motivations that tamper with the international trade economy’s so-called “invisible hand”.

Earlier this week, a headline in The Guardian announced, “Scramble to meet shortfall in food aid: Tens of thousands in Swaziland to miss out on food aid as lack of donor funding forces the WFP to cut assistance.”  

Tens of thousands. That’s a lot of people, too.

The article elaborates on some of the elements that complicate delivering food aid in Swaziland:

In one anecdote from Steves’ blog post, he describes a discussion panel about keeping young people interested in farming. When asked about this, Afghanistan’s minister of agriculture, Mohammad Asif Rahimi said, “Remember, in your society one percent of the people are farmers. In Afghanistan, 80 percent of our people are farmers. Encouraging young people to farm is not an issue for us.”

Still, the Guardian spoke with Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agriculture Development who would like to see countries investing in agriculture, making the sector “more attractive to youth and less dependent on rainfall for irrigation.”

It appears that the causes of, and approaches to, addressing world hunger are as numerous as its victims. An approach that would seem reasonable in Afghanistan and Swaziland might seem ludicrous in the United States, or vice versa. But this should not stop you from taking at least one step towards doing good.

Campaigns such as “1 Billion Hungry” have the potential to raise eyebrows, but they also have the potential to overpower and devastate action with crushingly huge numbers that reduce the individual to feelings of helplessness—or directionlessness. As we approach the end of the year, please do not allow your concern to feel directionless. Hopefully, a growing awareness of our global interconnectedness can help us feel obligated to move into a future where undernourishment is just a scientific definition, not a human reality. 

--- The author is Cynthia Thomet, a humanitarian, and co owner and doyenne of the award winning downtown Atlanta, Georgia; US restaurant, Lunacy Black Market.

Tuesday
Oct262010

(Report) Tackling hunger in Nicaragua 

(photo: UN News) (HN, October 26, 2010) -- In an effort to check rising rural poverty and hunger in Nicaragua, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is helping the country’s government to support small-scale farmers boost their production of beans, maize, rice and other staple crops.

The agency said that there are 52.5 million hungry people in Latin America, citing high food prices and the global recession as among the main reasons for the region’s increasing food insecurity.

Although Nicaragua has made strides in the fight against hunger and poverty, it is still the second poorest country in the region after Haiti. In 2009 the GDP fell by almost 3% due to decreased export demand in the US and Central American markets, lower commodity prices for key agricultural exports, and lower remittance growth – remittances are equivalent to almost 15% of GDP.

In Nicaragua, poverty is a rural phenomenon, with two out of three people in the country-side living on less than $1 a day.

FAO is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and the European Union (EU) to help farmers’ associations increase their yields through a two-year, €3 million scheme which will, among other activities, focus on the delivery of high-quality seeds as well as the provision of technical support and marketing assistance  

During the planting season which lasted from May to June, nearly 5,000 hectares of land were planted with improved bean, maize and rice seeds provided by FAO to more than 4,000 farmers.

No results are available yet, but looking back on the harvest of late last year, Leonard Fagot, the agency’s project coordinator, said he is optimistic.  At the time, FAO assistance led to productivity increases of up to three times the national average in the central area of Jinotega.

Drought and pests hit the department of Nueva Guinea in south-eastern Nicaragua, and yields remained slightly under average. Nevertheless, Fagot is looking forward to the upcoming season. Many farmers will come and work with us again.

Related economic information

The US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many agricultural and manufactured goods. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60% of Nicaragua's exports, but increases in the minimum wage during the ORTEGA administration will likely erode its comparative advantage in this industry. Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal- and external-debt financing obligations. Foreign donors have curtailed this funding, however, in response to November 2008 electoral fraud. In early 2004, Nicaragua secured some $4.5 billion in foreign debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and in October 2007, the IMF approved a new poverty reduction and growth facility (PRGF) program.

- HUMNews Staff (sources: UN, FAO, IMF)

Monday
Oct182010

Starved for Attention - India: Invisible 

One in every three malnourished children in the world are in India. In this documentary focusing on the state of Bihar, India Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and VII Photographer Stephanie Sinclair bring to our attention the magnitude of malnutrition in the world and the challenges of addressing the problem of malnutrition in a place like India where the problem is so large and more often than not goes unnoticed.

The “Starved for Attention” series produced by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and VII Photography captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.

Wednesday
Oct132010

(REPORT) The Origins of World Food Day

(Photo credit: Franco Pagetti/VII) Democratic Republic of Congo, 2009 (HN, October 13, 2010) -- October 16th has been declared World Food Day which is observed in remembrance of the launching of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945.

In November 1979, the FAO’s member countries launched World Food Day (WFD) at its  20th General Conference. The Hungarian Delegation, headed by the former Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Dr. Pal Romany had suggested the idea of celebrating the WFD across the world and ever since, this day has been observed every year in more than 150 countries, highlighting awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.

The Objectives of World Food Day are to:

  • Encourage the increase of agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, transnational and non-governmental initiatives to this end.
  • Catapult economic and technical coordination among developing nations.
  • Enhance and nurture the participation of rural people, particularly women and the under privileged, in decisions and events impacting their living conditions.
  • Expand public awareness of the issue of hunger in the world and who and how many people it affects worldwide.
  • Advocate the furtherance of agriculture technologies to the developing world.
  • Revitalize international and national collaboration in the combat against hunger, malnutrition and poverty; and support positive attention to accomplishments in food and agricultural development.

The Actual Worldwide Hunger Scenario Today:

According to the 2010 Global Hunger Index (GHI), out this past Monday on October 11th, malnutrition among children under two years of age is still one of the leading challenges to reducing global hunger and can cause lifelong harm to health, productivity and earning potential.

-       Malnutrition is the result of an inadequate intake of food, either in terms of quality or quantity and of the poor utilization of nutrients due to infections or other illnesses, or a combination of these two factors.

-       The state of malnutrition causes a lack of energy, protein and/or essential vitamins and minerals in human bodies.

GHI gives developing countries scores based on three indicators:

-       the proportion of people who are undernourished;

-       the proportion of children under five who are underweight; and,

-       the child mortality rate of a country.

The worst possible score is 100, but in practice, anything over 25 is considered “alarming”.

Since 1990 the overall level of the index has fallen by almost a quarter - two-thirds of the 99 countries counted in 1990 have reduced their populations' hunger levels.  Kuwait, Malaysia, Turkey and Mexico have been the most successful, cutting their scores by over 60%. Those where hunger has increased include North Korea, Comoros and Congo. Congo's GHI score fell by over 60%, the worst of any country.  Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continue to suffer from the highest levels of hunger.

A New Committee on World Food Security Begins Now:  

A five-day high-level intergovernmental meeting of the newly re-formed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) began on Monday in Rome. The meeting takes place against a background of recent increases in international food prices which pose additional challenges to global food security including production, distribution and availability of safe, quality food stocks. 

“This week marks the launch of a strategically coordinated global effort to draw on the combined strengths of all stakeholders engaged in the fight against global hunger,” said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. “With recent volatility in commodity prices and increased global demand for food this comes not a moment too soon. The reformed CFS has an opportunity and a responsibility to rally nations of the world to respond effectively, efficiently and coherently to provide vital humanitarian assistance when disasters strike and build long-term food security.”

The “Starved for Attention” Campaign:

In June of this year Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and VII Photography co-produced and presented “Starved for Attention,” a multimedia campaign exposing the neglected and largely invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition. “Starved for Attention” aims to rewrite the story of malnutrition through a series of multimedia documentaries that seamlessly blend photography and video from some of the most accomplished and award-winning photojournalists working today. “Starved for Attention” captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.

Beginning today HUMNews will focus on a variety of global food issues and will feature a different “Starved for Attention” film each day for the next seven days.  

You can show your support for the millions of malnourished children around the world and demand that food aid meets the nutritional needs of young children by signing the “Starved for Attention” petition, here.

- Written by HUMNEWS Staff

Wednesday
Oct132010

Starved for Attention - Djibouti: Frustration 

The “Starved for Attention” Campaign: In June of this year Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and VII Photography co-produced and presented “Starved for Attention,” a multimedia campaign exposing the neglected and largely invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition.  “Starved for Attention” captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.  You can show your support for the millions of malnourished children around the world and demand that food aid meets the nutritional needs of young children by signing the “Starved for Attention” petition, here.