ISLAMABAD: The cost of combating hunger in poor nations could reach as high as $450 billion per year, estimated a report by ActionAid. This is more than 10 times the amount that was originally estimated in the Millennium Development Goal One (MDGI) as being needed to ‘half hunger by 2015’.
In its report titled Who’s really fighting hunger?, the international anti-poverty agency calculated the actual time required to meet the MDGI and showed how the nations were faring in their efforts to curb hunger and poverty.
The report has been released and now world leaders are preparing to meet the United Nations in New York to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals.
Joanna Kerr, Chief Executive of ActionAid said: “Fighting hunger will now be 10 times cheaper than ignoring it. Every year reduced worker productivity, poor health and lack of education costs poor countries billions of dollars.”
Kerr added that the cost was not just financial as it was affecting potential progress on health and living standards in poor countries. Talking about the recent floods in Pakistan, she said that the catastrophe was a reminder that poor countries could not rely on the unstable food markets. Rather, efforts were required to nurture local farms where the world’s hungry lived.
Contrary to claims made by UN, the report further showed that 20 out of 28 poor nations were ‘off-track’ with regards to achieving the goal of reducing hunger by half come 2015. If China, the most successful economy, was removed from the scoring, the percentage of hungry people in the world was same as it was when the goals were set two decades ago.
Even India, a country which has experienced massive economic growth in recent times and introduced drastic measures to support the small farmer, did not score well in fighting hunger. Nearly half of the country’s children are malnourished and one in five of the population is without food.
ActionAid said that the world was moving in the opposite direction to their set goals. The primary reason for this, according to the report, was lack of aid and attention to agriculture and rural development.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2010.