THE Prime Minister's commitments to tackling global hunger, made
at a Downing Street summit convened on the closing day of the
Olympic Games, risk "entrenching the root causes of hunger",
campaigners have warned.
At the summit last weekend, attended by athletes such as the
Somali-born gold medallist Mo Farah, Mr Cameron and the
Vice-President of Brazil, Michel Temer, announced three new
initiatives as part of the Games' "lasting legacy".
The British Government will back the creation of
drought-resistant and vitamin-enriched crops, and invest in
HarvestPlus, a biofortification venture.
Mr Cameron also said that UK companies, such as Unilever, would
"work to find ways to make nutritious food available to poor
families at prices they can afford"; and the Government would
"support new schemes to improve government accountability across
The chief executive of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth,
welcomed these "important commitments", but urged the Government to
push for commitments from countries with the highest levels of
malnutrition, such as India, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Mr Cameron will
assume presidency of the G8 next year.
Save the Children's 2012 report on global child-development said
that undernutrition was holding back progress on child well-being,
mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. The charity called on
the international community to "tackle the global drivers of
undernutrition - such as high food prices and inequality", and to
invest in the development of smallholdings, priorit-ising women
farmers, and sustainable farming methods.
A global target to reduce stunted growth in children - said to
cause one third of child deaths - by 40 per cent by 2025 has been
agreed by the World Health Assembly.
A statement by Oxfam and nine other charities urged him to go
further. The head of policy at Oxfam, Max Lawson, said that his
commitment "must be a first step towards real reforms".
But Amy Horton of the World Development Movement warned that the
Government's approach "risks further entrenching the root causes of
hunger: it focused on encouraging big business to market its
products to the 'bottom billion' of poor consumers, alongside
technical fixes such as fortifying food with vitamins."
War on Want blamed record global hunger on "a food system
hijacked by agribusiness corporations". Its report Food
Sovereignty argues for "food sovereignty": "the right of
peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through
ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to
define their own food and agriculture systems".
"David Cameron's suggestion that the problem can be solved
through handing out high-energy biscuits to children is a
distraction from the seriousness of the issue," the charity's
executive director, John Hilary, said.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index
was up in July by six per cent on June, after three months of
decline. The cereal price index rose by 17 per cent. Amid the worst
drought in the United States for 50 years, corn prices rose by
almost 23 per cent.
The German Commerzbank has removed agricultural products from a
commodity index after speculation was blamed for rising food
Oxfam warned last Friday that a rise in food prices would "force
millions more people to go hungry". It would be felt most in
countries, such as Yemen, that rely heavily on food imports.
Progressio has reported that almost half Yemenis lack enough food
Mr Cameron defended the spending of 0.7 per cent of the Budget
on international development after a cancer patient speaking on LBC
radio challenged him about lack of funding for medication in the
THE "desperate" situation in the Sahel, where more than
19 million people are facing food shortages, is deteriorating,
Christian Aid reports.
Andrew Hogg, head of media, has recently returned from
Mali, one of the worst-affected countries, where an estimated 4.6
million people are in need. Cereal shortages have been compounded
by conflict in the north. As a result, there are more than 174,000
internally displaced people and more than 200,000 refugees in
neighbouring countries, most in areas where food and pasture were
already in short supply.
Mr Hogg heard about sexual abuse, disappearances, the
seizure of property, and the imposition of sharia law in towns in
the north, much of which has been seized by rebels. Christian Aid's
Sahel appeal is halfway to its target of £975,000.
Even in a non-crisis year in the Sahel region, 645,000
children will die of largely preventable causes, a third of them
due to malnutrition, says a report by World Vision and Save the
Children: End the Everyday Emergency. It calls on
governments, NGOs, the UN, and others to work together to break the
The chief executive of Save the Children, Justin
Forsyth, said: "We will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis
unless we address the underlying drivers of hunger that children in
the Sahel face every single year."