Thursday, 10 March 2011

South Asia Struggles with High Food Prices and Chronic Hunger

Facts :




Asia is home to half of world's hungriest children

Price hikes hit the poorest of the poor in the few countries mentioned below, as it is they who typically spend up to 70% of their household income on food.

A staggering 100 million people were pushed into a state of hunger 2008 - 2009

As the world population is expected to hit 7 billion and 925 million people do not have enough food to eat, food security remains one of the most critical health issues of our day.

About 50% of all underweight children in the world live in South Asia



Excerpts from Child Charity News (Sos Children's Villages)

9/3/2011 - South Asia has been particularly affected by mounting food prices across Asia. The region is currently home to half of the world's hungriest children. 
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – a specialized United Nations agency – has called on the world’s leaders to come together to solve Asia’s mounting food crisis. For some staple foods, prices have reached their highest-ever levels.
Speaking today from Bangkok, Thailand, the FAO announced that the retail price of rice in Bangladesh has risen 33% from last year, and 23% in China and Indonesia. Such price hikes hit the poorest of the poor the worst, as it is they who typically spend up to 70% of their household income on food.

The food crisis the world experienced in 2008, compounded with the global economic recession that followed in 2009, pushed 100 million people into a state of hunger.

South Asia is home to 26% of the global population. Ensuring that the region’s vast population has sustainable access to food is a vital challenge of this generation.

Representatives from 20 Asian countries, international organizations (as well as the United States, and Japan) are presently attending a two-day FAO conference in Bangkok. One solution identified in combatting the region’s hunger is to create emergency reserves of staple food-grains such as rice. Trade-related solutions have also been proposed. In addition, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has plans to open a seed bank.

Food security is certainly not a new challenge. Academics and policy-makers have been concerned with issues of food production, distribution, prices and population for centuries.  Today, as the world population is expected to hit 7 billion and 925 million people do not have enough food to eat, food security remains one of the most critical health issues of our day.

At present, malnutrition is a major obstacle to the good health of children in particular. About 50% of all underweight children in the world live in South Asia. A third of children in the region are still born with very low birth weights.

In response to the region’s mounting challenges from its high disease burden (which is related to chronic food insecurity) the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been calling for greater regional cooperation to improve the South Asian health sector.

In pursuit of this goal, the WHO has also convened a conference. The “Partners for Health in South-East Asia” conference will take place next week over March 16-18. Representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste are expected to attend the conference.

Representatives from donor countries, international organizations, charities and foundations are among other anticipated attendees.

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