In 2008 food prices went through the roof. The cost of bread, milk, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, meat – you name it – became so expensive for the world’s poor people – who spend nearly all they’ve got on food – they could barely afford to eat.
And so the world’s most powerful leaders came together at a summit on an island off the coast of Italy called L’Aquila in 2009 to discuss the problem. 13 countries then stepped forward and agreed to pledge a combined $22 billion over three years to help people cope with high and rising food prices.
These 13 countries were the G8 (Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus the European Commission, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
But here’s where this tale starts to sour. It is now 2012 and there are nearly 1 billion people who remain hungry and hindered by high food prices. There was also a famine in Somalia in 2011 and another major food crisis is brewing in the Sahel as I write this.
While there are a lot of reasons why these crises occur – drought and conflict to name a few – there’s really only one main reason why people are not resilient enough to withstand these shocks: failure to invest adequately in agricultural development and nutrition.
By most accounts, the L’Aquila promises made in 2008 have expired or will do so by the end of this year. (It’s a bit hard to give an exact date because each of the donors made pledges based on different time periods). But when they measured themselves in a self-assessment exercise call the G8 Accountability Report at the 2012 Camp David G8, these 13 countries no longer looked like heroes. They managed to disburse just 58% of the $22 billion.
And what makes this story even sadder is that these 13 countries promised to finance country investment plans if countries developed them. And over the last 3 years at least 30 country plans have been put in place, but they remain just 50% funded. Worst of all, 6 of these countries are in the Sahel.
Financing these plans wouldn’t make the crisis in the Sahel disappear, but investing for the long-term makes economic sense. By fully funding the country investment plans of the 6 crisis- affected countries in the Sahel, for instance, nearly 10 million people could be lifted out of poverty.
So what are you waiting for? Sign ONE’s Crisis in the Sahel petitionand tell these world leaders to live up to their commitments and fund the UN’s humanitarian appeal in the Sahel while also supporting their plans for long-term investment in farming to help end the cycle of crisis.
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