According to International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI, of the world’s 34 most food-insecure countries, 22 had average annual growth rates ranging from 5 to 16 percent between 2004 and 2006.Developing economies in Asia, especially China and India, continues to show strong sustained growth. Real GDP in the region increased by nine percent per annum between 2004 and 2006. Sub-Saharan Africa also experienced rapid economic growth of about six percent in the same period. However, many of these countries with strong growth rates have high incidences and prevalence of hunger.
At the same time, food aid is shrinking. Global price increases has also affected the availability of food aid. Food aid now represents less than seven percent of global official development assistance and less than 0.4 percent of total world food production. Food aid flows, have been declining and have reached their lowest level since 1973. In 2006, food aid was 40 percent lower than in 2000 (WFP 2007). Emergency aid continues to constitute the largest portion of food aid. Faced with shrinking resources, food aid is increasingly targeted to fewer countries—mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa—and to specific beneficiary groups.
Where does that leave the poor in the developing economics? IFPRI research has shown that 160 million people live in ultra poverty on less than 50 cents a day (Ahmed et al. 2007).Many of those who are the poorest and hungriest today will still be poor and hungry in 2015, the target year of the Millennium Development Goals.
Unless we address hunger, the most fundamental of human needs, high levels of economic growth means little. As a society, do we recognize it?
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- Ipsita Basu