5 June 2002

Africa: Additional US $24 Billion Needed to Reduce Hunger

An additional public investment of US $24 billion must be made each year in poor countries to halve the number of hungry people by the year 2015, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday.

Without this investment, FAO fears that there would still be 600 million hungry people in 2015, and the target of halving the number of hungry people from 800 to 400 million, set by the World Food Summit in 1996, would not be reached, the agency said in a news release.

It stressed that public investment should be accompanied by sufficient private resources.

Halving hunger is expected to yield additional benefits worth at least US $120 billion a year, resulting from longer and healthier lives for all those benefiting from such improvements, FAO said on Tuesday as it proposed a new global Anti-Hunger Programme.

"Fighting hunger is not only a moral imperative, it also brings large economic benefits", FAO reiterated, adding that almost one person in seven does not have enough food to eat and that most of the hungry people live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Heads of state and government, international agencies and NGOs will meet in Rome on 10-13 June at the 'World Food Summit: Five Years Later' conference to take stock of progress made towards ending hunger and to identify ways to accelerate the process.

FAO noted that more rapid progress in cutting chronic hunger in developing countries was possible if the political could be mobilised, adding that enough was known on how to fight hunger.

The Anti-Hunger Programme combines investment in agriculture and rural development with measures to enhance direct immediate access to food for the most seriously undernourished, the release said.

It focuses mainly on small farmers and aims to create more opportunities for rural people, representing 70 percent of the poor, to improve their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.

The FAO "Anti-Hunger Programme" can be found at: http://ww.fao.org/worldfoodsummit/english/index.html

Further information on the World Food Summit: Five Years Later is available at: http://ww.fao.org/worldfoodsummit/english/index.html

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