In 2007, 854 million people do not get enough food each day to sustain a normal life even though there’s plenty of food for everyone! Hunger and malnutrition are actually “the underlying CAUSE OF MORE THAN HALF OF ALL CHILD DEATHS”. Hunger is also INCREASING in the world instead of decreasing. Read this story for details and weep (and then get angry and consider what should be done). I let the food & hunger experts speak for themselves:
“Our planet produces enough food to feed its entire population. Yet, tonight, 854 million women, men and children will be going to sleep on an empty stomach.”
-Address by Dr Jacques Diouf, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the World Food Day Ceremony inRome on October 16, 2007, at http://tinyurl.com/3yfszk on page 2.
“Every five seconds one child under the age of 5 dies from hunger or malnutrition-related disease. Every four minutes, one person loses his or her eyesight for lack of vitamin A. More than 852 million people do not get enough food each day to sustain a normal life. This is a shame on humanity. It is time to enforce the right to food.”
-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 20 at: http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz
“The Special Rapporteur is gravely concerned to report to the Commission that global hunger is continuing to increase. At least 852 million children, women, and men are gravely and permanently undernourished. Millions of people die every year for lack of food.”
-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 2 at: http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz
HUNGER CAUSES MORE THAN HALF OF ALL CHILD DEATHS:
“As the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths, hunger and malnutrition are the greatest obstacle to reducing child mortality.”
–State of Food Insecurity in the World – 2005, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, page 4 at
ALL THE DEATH IS UNNECESSARY – THERE IS ENOUGH FOR ALL
“Hunger and famine are not inevitable, and are not acceptable in a world that is richer than ever before.”
-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 18 at: http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz
“We already produce more than enough food to provide an adequate diet for everyone.”
-From The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at http://tinyurl.com/366pve .
“In a world overflowing with riches, it is an outrageous scandal that more than 826 million people suffer hunger and malnutrition and that every year over 36 million die of starvation and related causes . We must take urgent action now.”
–Jean Ziegler, April 2001, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, at http://www.righttofood.org/.
“What is the State of Hunger in the World Today?
The shocking news is that global hunger increased yet again this year. The FAO’s latest report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2004, reports that hunger has increased to 852 million gravely undernourished children, women and men, compared to 842 million last year, despite already warning in 2003 of a “setback in the war against hunger”. Important recent progress in reducing hunger has been made, but the overall trend is now one of regression, rather than the progressive realization of the right to food. In fact, it appears that hunger has increased every year since the 1996 World Food Summit.
Many of the women, men and children suffering from chronic undernourishment suffer from what the FAO calls ‘extreme hunger’. This means that their daily ration of calories is well below the minimum necessary for survival. Many people die on a daily basis from starvation. Malnourishment also heightens vulnerability to other illnesses and almost always has serious physical and mental effects – the lack of brain cell development, inadequate growth. Serious malnutrition can also be hereditary, as many malnourished mothers gives birth to malnourished and seriously affected babies.”
-The above 3 paragraphs are copied from the Home page of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food at: http://www.righttofood.org/ .
“Hunger and famine are never inevitable, but usually result from the action or inaction of Governments.”
-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 2 at: http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz
“In a world richer than ever before, it is unacceptable that people can be left to die of starvation.”
-Copied from the report of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, March 16, 2006, page 8 at: http://tinyurl.com/38rdgz
“We do not have the excuse that we cannot grow enough or that we do not know enough about how to eliminate hunger. What remains to be proven is that we care enough, that our expressions of concern in international fora are more than rhetoric, that we will no longer accept and ignore the suffering of 840 million hungry people in the world . . . We already produce more than enough food to provide an adequate diet for everyone.”
-From the Foreword of the State of Food Insecurity in the World – 2002, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations athttp://tinyurl.com/2f667h .
“Despite the promise made by Member States to halve hunger in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals, the shocking news is that globally, hunger is continuing to increase. . . In fact, it appears that hunger has increased every year since the World Food Summit in 1996 (FAO, 2004), even though the world is richer than ever before and can already produce enough food to feed more than double the world’s population.”
-Statement by Jean Ziegler, United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food on the Occasion of World Food Day, 16 October 2005 at http://tinyurl.com/yt8o9e
“[W]hy have we allowed hundreds of millions of people to go hungry in a world that produces more than enough food for every woman, man and child? Bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas of the developing world, far from the levers of political power and beyond the range of vision of the media and the public in developed countries. Except when war or a natural calamity briefly focuses global attention and compassion, little is said and less is done to put an end to the suffering of a “continent of the hungry.”
-From the Foreword of the The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2003, Report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations athttp://tinyurl.com/2yma7b.
Now on this website, in which I seek to bring front page attention to the most serious problems affecting humanity as news should do, I have not comprehensively analyzed the problems’ possible causes or proposed solutions and their current status. I leave that to better and more well read and informed minds than mine – but that is exactly what should be in each newspaper on oh, pages 2 through 10, every single day, and what should take up the most time in televised news programs before national and local news is mentioned. Maybe you, reading this now, will create a website containing some of that, or turn us on to websites which are already out there doing so. Why not you? And, so although there will be no comprehensive analysis of causes and proposed solutions here on this site, I will endeavor to update these webpages & the blog on this site with tidbits here and there which I do come across in that regard, or which people email me about.
With respect to hunger for example, I note that recently the New York Times reported on an internal evaluation of the World Bank criticizing itself on its role regarding agriculture in Africa. The 10/15/07 article entitled “World Bank Neglects African Farming, Study Says”, at http://tinyurl.com/2tdwxy , starts off as follows:
“The World Bank, financed by rich nations to reduce poverty in poor ones, has long neglected agriculture in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa, where most people depend on the farm economy for their livelihoods, according to a new internal evaluation.”
Neglected? The World Bank merely neglected agriculture? Nope, not true. Reading on in the Times article which summarizes the World Bank’s internal evaluation, we see that the World Bank actually AFFIRMATIVELY PUSHED African governments to devote less to agriculture for their citizens:
“In the 1980s and 1990s, when African governments faced severe fiscal crises,the bank pushed for the public sector — often badly managed and inefficient — to pull back from agriculture, incorrectly assuming that market forces would jump-start agricultural growth.”(Emphasis supplied).
Hmmm, with people starving, and with most people depending on the farm economy for their livelihood, the plan was to, well, maneuver governments away from helping their farmers grow food. I see. So, how did that work out? The article indicated:
“In most reforming countries, the private sector did not step in to fill the vacuum when the public sector withdrew,” the evaluation found. One result, it said, is that farmers face practical obstacles: exorbitant fertilizer prices and shortages of credit and improved seeds.
Following mention of such admission of the World Bank’s own internal evaluation, the Times article indicates that those who conducted the evaluation are now advising the World Bank to change its course and do an about face:
“At a time of growing debate about how to combat hunger in Africa, the evaluation team recommended that the bank, the single largest donor for African agriculture, concentrate on helping farmers get the basics they need to grow and market more food: fertilizer, seeds, water, credit, roads.”
So, let’s see. First, the World Bank coerces African governments into hindering their farmers from getting the very basics they need (and coercing is exactly what it was as you’ll see below in World Bank admissions), and now they indicate, well, oops, maybe assisting farmers in getting fertilizer, seeds, water, functioning roads, etc. would actually lead to the growing of food which people could eat to stave off their hunger, not to mention maintain their livelihoods. Interesting.
The World Bank coerced unbelievably impoverished African governments which were in the midst of “severe fiscal crises” to “pull back from agriculture” by making such behavior a requirement before they would grant loans to these desperate countries. This was the World Bank’s “structuraladjustment” arms twisting policy. Let’s go now, not to the Times article again, but to the very World Bank internal evaluation report that the Times’ article was written about. It’s called “World Bank Assistance to Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa – An IEG Review”, on the internet at this address: at http://tinyurl.com/2us557 . There, in the World Bank internal evaluators’ own words you’ll find the following:
“In the era before adjustment lending, many African countries relied on subsidies to get fertilizers to farmers at a reasonable price. With the removal of subsidies, fertilizer prices have soared.” (page 15)
“What followed was an era of structural adjustment reforms when, under pressure from the Bank and the IMF, several governments undertook major reforms.” (page 40)
Why was pressure necessary? Apparently the pressure was necessary because these African governments weren’t stupid and realized that withdrawing their governments’ support from farmers when their livelihoods depended upon it and they already had people starving in their lands was likely only to worsen their problems. They didn’t want to go along with the withdrawal of support to their farmers and so had to be forced into it. As the World Bank’s internal evaluators note:
“The lack of initial enthusiasm for policy reform by African leaders probably reflected doubts about how responsive the economy would be to these reforms (Jayne and others 1997). Hence, reforms were often undertaken because they were a condition of a Bank loan.” (page 40).
“[A] significant part of this reform was attempted in the late 1980s and 1990s through policy advice and structural and sectoral adjustment credits (now called development policy lending)” (page 63)
“Since 1980 more than 30 countries have undertaken agricultural policy reforms as part of the broader adjustment agenda” (page 63)
“In most African countries, Bank-supported adjustment investment projects sought to phase out the provision of agricultural services” (page 64).
And what did the World Bank’s own internal evaluators find to be the results of this plan it had “pressured” the African Governments to implement:
“In the literature there is consensus that the reform program fell short of achieving its expected outcome.” (p. 64)
“Fell short of achieving its expected outcome”. Wow, they sure know how to put words together, don’t they? I guess by that they mean their structural adjustment reform policy FAILED. Hmm and what does failure mean in this context?
“Perhaps the biggest shortcoming is that the reform process had limited impact on food production. The average annual growth rate for agriculture value added was negative throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In most reforming countries, the private sector did not step in to fill the vacuum when the public sector withdrew.” (Page 65)
“Limited impact on food production”? There they go again. The World Bank coerces the governments to create an agriculture VACUUM, nothing else kicks in to fill the vacuum thus created, and the result is a “limited impact on food production”? Oh, but the evaluators did note that the annual growth rate for agricultural throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s was, what was that again? Oh yeah, it was “negative” . Which means in World Bank-speak, I guess, that not only did agricultural in these starving countries not improve on average year after year during this 20 year period, it got worse! For other examples of “relief” efforts we’re told will help that in fact HURT the most desperate of human beings, see “Why There Are No AIDS Statistics on My Site”.
“Bank policy advice appears to have had far reaching implications for the direction of agricultural development in African countries, in particular its policy advice associated with the adjustment agenda.” (page 27)
“[R]esults have fallen short of expectations because of weak political support and insufficient appreciation of reality on the ground, among other things”. (page 27)
“Insufficient appreciation of reality on the ground”? I get it. This apparently means they didn’t have the facts, didn’t know what the hell they were doing, and didn’t listen to those who did have an “appreciation of reality on the ground”.
Alright already, that’s all water under the bridge though, anyway, right? The World Bank is now back on course and will now actually try to fulfill its stated mission of being “a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world . . . in our mission of global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards”(http://go.worldbank.org/3QT2P1GNH0 ), won’t they? In your dreams only. Of course, the World Bank and others will continue to give their mission lip service. A week after they released their internal evaluation report, for example, the World Bank released another report. The New York Times wrote about this new report in a 10/20/07 article entitled “World Bank Report Puts Agriculture at Core of Antipoverty Effort” at http://tinyurl.com/265eoq. The Times notes that:
“For the first time in a quarter century, the World Bank’s flagship annual report on development puts agriculture and the productivity of small farmers at the heart of a global agenda to reduce poverty. . .”
More broadly, the report crystallizes an emerging consensus among wealthy countries, philanthropists and African governments: Increased public investment in scientific research, rural roads, irrigation, credit, fertilizer and seeds — the basics of an agricultural economy — is crucial to helping Africa’s poor farmers grow more sorghum, corn, millet, cassava and rice on their miniature plots. . .
“[t]he bank, the world’s leading development institution and financier of antipoverty programs, plays a unique role in advising poor countries, and its return to agriculture is likely to influence practical policies across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where hundreds of millions of farmers and landless laborers are still mired in poverty.”
Sounds promising, right? Seems like they’re finally putting two and two together. You know, mmmm, functioning roads good. Irrigation and seeds, good. But please don’t get your expectations up for even a second because the New York Times continues:
“In the effort to bring an agrarian revolution to Africa, much of the debate from now on will focus on the role that African governments should play in spurring farm productivity. Economists who have read the World Development Report said there was clearly still a great deal of ferment and disagreement within the bank about many of the particulars. For example, should African governments give farmers subsidies to buy fertilizer, and under what conditions?”
And then, the Times’ quotes one of the two authors of this new World Bank report, Professor de Janvry. He told theNew York Times that:
“Professor de Janvry said the report was not meant to settle the complicated and difficult policy questions, but “to change the conversation.”
People are right now DYING of starvation, people whose numbers have been exacerbated by his bank’s policyand he’s . . . – well you read what the report’s co-author said. Can you believe these people?
The text of the new report itself (World Bank’s 2008 Development Report entitled “Agriculture for Development” at http://tinyurl.com/2fbkl4 ) should also divest you of any hope. It explicitly, in fact, states you shouldn’t have any:
“It cannot be assumed, however, that the agriculture-for-development agenda will succeed even if conditions are better now.” (page 265)
Why not? One of the reasons is probably because, as the report’s conclusion continues:
“Sound agricultural development strategies require stronger capacity for policy analysis and evaluation, and a commitment to evidence-based policy making. “ (page 265)
Evidence or fact-based policy making, ah oh. We know the World Bank doesn’t do fact-based policy making, remember? They operate for decades at a time without an “appreciation of reality on the ground”.
For a recent African agriculture success story, see this 12/7/07 article in the New York Times athttp://tinyurl.com/24sow3 . The headline really says it all: “Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts”. Here’s just a small excerpt:
“But this year, a nation that has perennially extended a begging bowl to the world is instead feeding its hungry neighbors. It is selling more corn to the World FoodProgram of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe. In Malawiitself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly. Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa— with one word: fertilizer. Over the past 20 years, the World Bank and some rich nations Malawi depends on for aid have periodically pressed this small, landlocked country to adhere to free market policies and cut back or eliminate fertilizer subsidies, even as the United States and Europe extensively subsidized their own farmers. But after the 2005 harvest, the worst in a decade, Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s newly elected president, decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.”
Also, of course, none of this discussion on agriculture concerns how to get emergency food to those hungering for it right this minute, without waiting for a harvest. There is already enough food for everyone and we are capable of doing that. See this link.
In the meantime, let’s us “change the conversation”, to spread the word about what the news should be and decide on necessary IMMEDIATE ACTIONS so we’ll never again have to read World Bank and other so-called relief efforts’ Self-Assessment reports which demonstrate they’ve actually HURT the people they promised us they were going to help. They’ve got blood on their hands and the same people are in charge, you know “debating” stuff. As long as these so-called relief efforts continue without our daily front page attention, there will always just be more of the same. 20 years ago, for example, there was this:
“In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projectsaudited -almost 60 percent -had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time.”
The above quote was copied from a CBS-5 news article of 12/18/07 entitled “Road Reflects Why $568 Billion in Aid to Africa has largely failed” which also notes that:
In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent $568 billion on Africa. Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, and much of the money has ended up on the road to nowhere.
Yes, the conversation (and the action) simply cannot be left to them anymore. It’s so clear. They’ve already shown their incompetence. They’ve already shown that they truly, no matter what they say, have no concept that they’re dealing with immediate life and death, and as you can see, there’s no end in sight to their, at best, continuing incompetence, no hope from them, internal studies or no internal studies, as people continue to die unnecessarily of hunger.
The news media too are totally desensitized to the magnitude of the life and death stories they report on only periodically. This is FRONT PAGE stuff here, news which should be and REMAIN on the front page until the unnecessary death and suffering of huge chunks of humanity is a thing of the past. It’s what News Should Be. Pass it on.
**Update – see how hunger is being covered in the U.S. news media in July & August, 2011, after a “famine” was officially declared in parts of Somalia at: