The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that 50 to 100 million additional people will become hungry in light of the ramifications of the global financial downturn. Dr. David Nabarro, Coordinator of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis (HLTF) explains, “The evidence that we have, still anecdotal, is that the problem is starting up.”
As jobs in poor countries are eliminated and remittances from abroad decrease, the economic situation for many becomes more tenuous. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), two years of a global economic crisis could mean 50 million more people will be unemployed. This new challenge comes in the wake of last year’s global food crisis, the repercussions of which – high food prices, low food stores, volatile markets – are still affecting people in the developing world.
This new burden threatens to push more people over the threshold into hunger and poverty. Nabarro warns, “’We’re anticipating that, with the reduction of their purchasing power as a result of this unemployment, they are going to be facing extreme problems with ensuring that they could feed themselves and their families. As well as the many other difficulties that people of the world are facing… they’re also going to be heading into another period of hunger’.
These projections come just before G8 agriculture ministers meet in Italy to discuss the issue of food security and develop a proposal for addressing the global food crisis. The meeting begins on Saturday with ministers from the G8; it then continues on Sunday and Monday with representatives from other countries including Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Australia, and Egypt. Global bodies such as the FAO, World Food Program, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Bank, the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, and African Union have also been invited.
We at ONE will be tracking the agriculture meetings; look out for updates next week.