Where: Rome, Italy
June 22, 2009 : The global financial meltdown is responsible for pushing the figure for the world’s hungry people to a record one billion. This means hunger now affects one in six people. These depressing figures, which show a rise of 100 million over 2008, were released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). A human being who consumes fewer than 1,800 calories a day is certified hungry.
War, drought, political instability, high food prices and poverty were cited as the causes that spread hunger over so many millions. The financial meltdown has contributed to a “devastating combination for the world’s most vulnerable,” according to the FAO. “No part of the world is immune,” FAO’s Director-General Jacques Diouf said. “All world regions have been affected by the rise of food insecurity.” The FAO officials stressed the link between hunger and instability, pointing out that soaring prices for staple foods like rice triggered riots in the developing world last year. An official of the World Food Program, another UN food agency also based in Rome, said hungry people rioted in at least 30 countries last year. He added, “Without food, people have only three options: They riot, they emigrate or they die. None of these are acceptable options.”
Asia and the Pacific, the world’s most populous region, has the largest number of hungry people – 642 million. The figure has risen by 10.5 percent from last year. Sub-Saharan Africa has 265 million undernourished, and even in the developed world, undernourishment is rising. It appears highly unlikely that the goal set by the wealthiest nations to cut hunger in the world in half by 2015 will be met. The issue will be discussed by world leaders at the Group of Eight summit gathering in Italy in July, 2009.