Fast to highlight plight of a billion

ROME — Nearly 200 million children in poor countries have stunted growth because of insufficient nutrition, according to a new report published by UNICEF Wednesday before a three-day international summit on the problem of world hunger.

ROME — Nearly 200 million children in poor countries have stunted growth because of insufficient nutrition, according to a new report published by UNICEF Wednesday before a three-day international summit on the problem of world hunger.

The head of a U.N. food agency called on the world to join him in a day of fasting ahead of the summit to highlight the plight of 1 billion hungry people.

Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said he hoped the fast would encourage action by world leaders who will take part in the meeting at his agency’s headquarters starting Monday.

The U.N. Children’s Fund published a report saying that nearly 200 million children under five in poor countries were stunted by a lack of nutrients in their food.

More than 90 per cent of those children live in Africa and Asia, and more than a third of all deaths in that age group are linked to undernutrition, according to UNICEF.

While progress has been made in Asia — rates of stunted growth dropped from 44 per cent in 1990 to 30 per cent last year — there has been little success in Africa.

There, the rate of stunted growth was about 38 per cent in 1990. Last year, the rate was about 34 per cent.

South Asia is a particular hotspot for the problem, with just Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan accounting for 83 million hungry children under five.

“Unless attention is paid to addressing the causes of child and maternal undernutrition today, the costs will be considerably higher tomorrow,” said UNICEF executive director Ann M. Veneman in a statement.

Diouf said he would begin a 24-hour fast on Saturday morning.

The agency also launched an online petition against world hunger through a webpage featuring a video with Diouf counting from one to six to remind visitors that every six seconds a child dies from hunger.

The U.N. children’s agency called for more strategies like vitamin A supplementation and breast-feeding to be rolled out more widely. That could cut the death rate in kids by up to 15 per cent, UNICEF said.

Not everyone agreed.

“It is unrealistic to believe malnutrition can be addressed by any topdown U.N. scheme,” said Philip Stevens, of International Policy Network, a London-based think-tank . “The progress UNICEF’s report points to in improving nutrition is almost certainly a result of economic growth, not U.N. strategies.”

The Rome-based FAO announced earlier this year that hunger now affects a record 1.02 billion globally, or one in six people, with the financial meltdown, high food prices, drought and war blamed.

The agency hopes its World Summit on Food Security, with Pope Benedict XVI and some 60 heads of state so far expected to attend, will endorse a new strategy to combat hunger, focusing on increased investment in agricultural development for poor countries.

The long-term increase in the number of hungry is largely tied to reduced aid and private investments earmarked for agriculture since the mid-1980s, according to FAO.

Countries like Brazil, Nigeria and Vietnam that have invested in their small farmers and rural poor are bucking the hunger trend, FAO chief Diouf told the news conference.

They are among 31 countries that have reached or are on track to meet the goal set by world leaders nine years ago to cut the number of hungry people in half by 2015, he said.

“Eradicating hunger is no pipe dream,” Diouf said. “The battle against hunger can be won.”

FAO says global food output will have to increase by 70 per cent to feed a projected population of 9.1 billion in 2050.

To achieve that, poor countries will need $44 billion in annual agricultural aid, compared with the current $7.9 billion, to increase access to irrigation systems, modern machinery, seeds and fertilizer as well as build roads and train farmers.

Agriculture investment from the private sector is also considered vital, and FAO is hosting a two-day forum in Milan starting Thursday with executives and business representatives to discuss how to co-ordinate such efforts.

——

On the Net:

http://www.1billionhungry.org/

http://www.fao.org/

http://www.unicef.org/

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Saudi Arabia spat affecting Canadians embarking on hajj, community members say

TORONTO — Members of Canada’s Muslim community say recent tensions between Ottawa… Continue reading

Tug carrying up to 22,000 litres of fuel capsizes in Fraser River off Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The smell of diesel filled the air as crews worked… Continue reading

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month