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One billion now hungry, says report on ‘right to food’

October 20, 2009

By Stephen

ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONAL Geneva: Failure by governments and international institutions to ensure people have access to food means that for the first time more than 1 billion people are undernourished, according to  a coalition of religious, human rights and development groups.
“Despite record grain crops worldwide, the number of undernourished people in the world reached in 2009 the historically high figure of 1.02 billion people, about 100 million more than in 2008,” states a report released in Geneva on Oct.12  by groups including the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, the Swiss Protestant agency Bread for All, and the FoodFirst Information and Action Network, FIAN Switzerland.
“With the onset of the global financial crisis in mid-2008, the world food crisis was pushed aside in international and even national political agendas,” states the report, Who controls the governance of the world food system?, the 2009 edition of the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch.
The Watch aims to put public pressure on policy makers at the national and international level to take the right to food seriously. It annually provides a systematic compilation of best practices for the realization of the right to food, while documenting where violations take place.
The launch of the report coincides with the October 11 to 18  Churches’ Week of Action on Food, which unites churches, Christian organizations and people of faith around the world in prayer, study and action.
The report says that while trillions of dollars were allocated to save banks and insurance companies, only between 10 and 15 percent of the $20 billion dollars pledged in 2008 to support smallholder agriculture in developing countries has been allocated.
Articles written by experts in the areas of food, nutrition and agriculture, examine why “the present world food system has proven unsuccessful in eradicating hunger and severe malnutrition.”
Reports focus on the state of the implementation of the right to food and nutrition in nine countries: Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua, Uganda and Zambia. The country reports highlight how the right to food and nutrition are connected to such issues as agro-fuel production, poverty or the right to land.
“Right to food violations and chronic hunger are closely linked. Most victims of hunger and malnutrition are also victims of discrimination and exclusion, with no voice to be heard,” said Ester Wolf, a policy advisor on the Right to Food for Bread for All and member of the board of directors of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
The alliance is an international network of more than 50 churches and Christian organizations committed to joint action on critical issues facing the world. In May, it launched a global campaign on food.  Visit the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance Food for Life website.

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