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Food is a basic human right, yet around 800 million people in the world still go hungry every day.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) states that hunger is ‘the most critical manifestation of poverty’, designating ‘fight hunger to reduce poverty’ the theme of this year’s World Food Day. Feeding The World reports.

The integral relationship between poverty and hunger may not come as a big surprise, but still the statistics are shocking. Approximately 1.5 billion people live on less than US$1 a day and every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger.

Hunger not only kills people, but it also takes away the ability to work and learn. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), hunger ‘undermines the peace and prosperity of nations and traps individuals in a vicious cycle of poor nutrition, ill health and diminished capacity for learning and work that is passed on from one generation to the next.’

This year’s World Food Day theme, Fight Hunger to Reduce Poverty, gives a voice to the economic evidence contained in recent FAO studies that the single most effective way to reduce poverty is to reduce hunger.

Documenting its fight against hunger, the FAO will also issue its third hunger report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2001.

Speaking prior to the launch of this year’s World Food Day the head of the FAO, Dr Jacques Diouf, outlined the issue at the heart of the campaign when he said:

‘I believe we must acknowledge the intricate connection between hunger and poverty. While hunger is a consequence of poverty, the opposite is also true: Hunger causes poverty.’

Rural funds

However, Dr Diouf remains cautionary about falling into the trap of assuming that hunger will disappear if poverty is eliminated, explaining:

‘A sharper focus is needed on hunger and agricultural development within the broader objective of poverty reduction.’

In developing countries as much as 60% of the population rely on the land for their food. However issues concerning land rights and the poor quality of soil means that millions are going hungry.

Recognising that 70% of the world’s poor and hungry live in rural areas, the FAO insist that governmental and private sector investment is now needed in these regions if the world is to meet its target of halving the number of hungry by 2015.

World Food Day

Apart from providing a platform from which to present the organisations findings and suggested strategies, World Food Day also aims to increase international awareness of the problem of hunger currently facing the world.

First observed in 1981, the day takes its date from the anniversary of the founding of the FAO in 1945.

This year, more than 150 countries have planned a range of events to mark the Day and 30 countries are to participate in a global education project to teach children about the problems of hunger.

Feeding Minds, Helping Hunger involves a coalition of international partners including UNESCO, the World Bank and Newsweek.

FAO’s Ambassadors Programme and the annual TeleFood Campaign also draw famous faces in support of the cause. This year’s celebrity supporters include, amongst others, singer Gilberto Gil, REM, Alanis Morissette, Daniel Lanois, Femi Kuti and Emmylou Harris.

In November 2001, FAO planned to host the World Food Summit. This forum, which brings together NGOs, UN officials and governments has now been postponed.

A spokesperson for the UN has said that this is due to the ‘current international situation’ and has advised that the meeting will now take place in June 2002.(bbc news)


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