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World Food Day: food security in times of crisis

October 16, 2009

By debraf

October 16th, World Food Day, is a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and year-round action to alleviate hunger.
Food Day theme: “achieving food security in times of crisis”
World Food Day, commemorated on October 16, comes with a sobering statistic this year: for the first time, the number of people going to bed hungry has crossed the one billion mark. Even accounting for population growth, the proportion of poor in the world is higher than it has ever been, up from about 850 million just two years ago.
Because of the recent global recession, food prices continue to rise, making it even more difficult for the world’s poor to be properly nourished, explains Naba Gurung, Humanitarian Response coordinator for The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).
Disasters such as Typhoon Ketsana, which swept over the Philippines in late September, killing 240 and leaving many people homeless, only compound the issue of food security. PWRDF sent an initial $15,000 to the Philippines through Action by Churches Together (ACT), an international umbrella agency. Then, in early October, when an earthquake hit the South Pacific, followed by tsunamis, killing about 1,000 people in West Sumatra alone, PWRDF sent another $10,000, also through ACT.
In most parts of the world, “In terms of the food availability, there is still enough food, but distribution is the problem,” Gurung explains. Severe droughts in East Africa have been an ongoing challenge in recent years. PWRDF is responding to the drought in Kenya by partnering with ACT, Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to provide about $1 million in food and seed aid.
The immediate need there is food aid and coupled with seeds for planting it should help farmers through the coming months. “October-November is planting season for the short rain,” says Gurung. “If (farmers) are able to plant then, they will have some food by January-February.” In the interim, food aid will help to keep them going.
In Tanzania the focus is on children. PWRDF is working to provide food programs in two districts, making sure not only school children are fed but also children under five who are not yet in school.
In Pakistan PWRDF is working with the Presbyterians who are taking the lead in helping Pakistanis who have been affected and displaced by Taliban attacks in the Swat Valley.
World Food Day was established in 1979 by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. This year’s theme is “achieving food security in times of crisis.”
While attaining food security and sustainability are the ultimate goals, the times of crisis — disasters, droughts, wars — are what bring the need for security into sharpest focus.
In partnership with CFGB, PWRDF also supports “Fast for Change,” a program that invites individuals and churches to fast, pray and reflect on issues of food and hunger around the time of World Food Day October 16.  

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