global food crisis

November 5, 2009

And what use is a blog if you cannot promote something important?

I was listening to ABC radio national – my favourite program Life Matters, the other day and an expert was talking about the Global Food Crisis. Here we are, the rich fat cats of the West, moaning about some losses on our share investments! Sure, perhaps the financial crisis is really affecting people in the West but to me it just looks like we are having to survive on a few less pairs of shoes. After all as someone said on the radio, our grandparents used to recycle string – we haven’t reached that level.

Anyway, the point of it is the REAL crisis in the world today is this – and it seems to me this is a greater problem right now than even climate change. The greatest impact of climate change is yet to come and will mainly affect less developed, vulnerable, already poor and starving nations.

So I am trying to inform myself about the global food crisis and thereby get the word out to others also. Herewith a few informative websites.

Compassion says 800 million people are now struggling to find their daily bread. 300 million children are now starving and the global food crisis threatens another 100 million people. Four children die from hunger every 30 seconds. In many developing countries the cost of rice and beans has doubled in the past year. So if you are already starving what does that mean if rice and beans double in price?

Mothers in many nations are facing impossible choices such as between feeding their children and buying medicine for a sick child.

People in the West are dying of excess, while the world starves. We face impossible choices, like what style of take away to buy for dinner. Obesity & cardiac disease, diabetes – the major killers today – are all related to lifestyle and dietary choices. I include myself here as someone who consumes far too much and is overweight.

And this is what the United Nations has to say:

“We consider that the recent dramatic escalation in food prices worldwide has evolved into an unprecedented challenge of global proportions that has become a crisis for the world’s most vulnerable, including the urban poor.”

UN World Food Program

And now I have copied in the explanation from Compassion’s website:

WHAT IS THE GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS

Like a ‘silent tsunami’ the global food crisis has caught the world off-guard and left millions of people struggling to survive.

Throughout almost every region of the developing world people are experiencing localised food insecurity, lack of access to food, or shortfalls in production or supplies. According to the World Bank, in the last three years global food prices have increased overall by 83 per cent. In many developing countries the cost of food staples like rice, wheat and corn has more than doubled in the last 12 months.

One sixth of the world’s population, nearly one billion people, already live on less than $1 day—the common measure of absolute poverty. Of those, 162 million struggle to survive on less than 50 cents a day. Rising food prices have the greatest effect on those people already struggling with food insecurity who spend 60 per cent or more of their income on food. According to the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation Jacques Diouf, there are now over 862 million people in the world without adequate access to food.

UPDATE ON THE GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS

Partly due to the global economic downturn, food prices have started to drop slightly after record spikes during 2008. However, it is expected that prices will remain substantially higher than pre-2005 levels and will continue to cause families living in poverty to decrease both the quantity and quality of nutrition. As global economies begin to recover again, pricing pressures—particularly in developing nations—could even accelerate. Any decrease in food prices will most likely take longer to flow through and make a difference to the poor and will be less substantial than those seen in the markets of developed nations. The current macro-economic environment may be therefore be providing some broad temporary relief, but not a permanent reprieve from food price inflation, particularly for the poor.

WHAT CAN WE DO

If you are concerned about this I would recommend

a) Doing some research – become informed

b) Start by donating money to a recognised charity – the major ones would be World Vision, Compassion (Christian) or Oxfam (secular)

c) Talk to your friends, post on facebook, blogs etc – raise awareness

d) Get larger organisations such as churches, workplaces & business involved

e) Lobby the government for greater contribution from Australia

More links:

Here is a photo essay from Time magazine

Just search Google – there are many links available!

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