Hospitals & Asylums
The State of
“We pledge our political will and our common and national commitment to achieving food security for all and to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015.” (Rome Declaration, 1996)
“We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty …”. (Millennium Declaration, 2000)
1. Only ten years now remain before the 2015 deadline by which world leaders have pledged to reduce hunger and extreme poverty by half and to make substantial gains in education, health, social equity, environmental sustainability and international solidarity. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2005 examines progress towards the World Food Summit goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), focusing on the critical importance of reducing hunger, not only as the explicit target of MDG 1 but as an essential condition for reaching the other MDGs. The report presents compelling evidence that hunger and malnutrition are major causes of the deprivation and suffering targeted by all of the other MDGs. Progress towards those targets has lagged, particularly in the countries and regions where efforts to reduce hunger have stalled. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2005 emphasizes that most, if not all, of the MDG targets can still be reached. But only if efforts are redoubled and refocused. And only by recognizing and acting on two key points: without rapid progress in reducing hunger, achieving all of the other MDGs will be difficult, if not impossible; and the fight to eliminate hunger and reach the other MDGs will be won or lost in the rural areas where the vast majority of the world's hungry people live.
2. Without stronger commitment and more rapid progress, most of those goals will not be met hunger and malnutrition are major causes of the deprivation and suffering targeted by all of the other MDGs:
• Hungry children start school later, if at all, drop out sooner and learn less while they do attend, stalling progress towards universal primary and secondary education (MDG2).
• Poor nutrition for women is one of the most damaging outcomes of gender inequality. It undermines women’s health, stunts their opportunities for education and employment and impedes progress towards gender equality and empowerment of women (MDG 3).
• As the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths, hunger and malnutrition are the greatest obstacle to reducing child mortality (MDG 4).
• Hunger and malnutrition increase both the incidence and the fatality rate of conditions that cause a majority of maternal deaths during pregnancy and childbirth (MDG 5).
• Hunger and poverty compromise people’s immune systems, force them to adopt risky survival strategies, and greatly increase the risk of infection and death from HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases (MDG 6).
• Under the burden of chronic poverty and hunger, livestock herders, subsistence farmers, forest dwellers and fisher folk may use their natural environment in unsustainable ways, leading to further deterioration of their livelihood conditions. Empowering the poor and hungry as custodians of land, waters, forests and biodiversity can advance both food security and environmental sustainability (MDG7).
3. Given the importance of hunger as a cause of poverty, illiteracy, disease and mortality, given the fact that 75 percent of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas, it is hardly surprising that these same rural areas are home to the vast majority of the 121 million children who do not attend school, of the nearly 11 million children who die before reaching the age of five, of the 530 000 women who die during
pregnancy and childbirth, of the 300 million cases of acute malaria and more than 1 million malaria deaths each year. Clearly, to bring these numbers down, to reach the MDG targets, priority must be given to rural areas and to agriculture as the mainstay of rural livelihoods, through sustainable and secure systems of production that provide employment and income to the poor, thus improving their access to food.
After years of dwindling support to agriculture, the countries of the African
Union have committed themselves to increasing the share of their national
budgets allocated to agriculture and rural development to 10 percent within
five years. The Commission for
5. Cross-country analyses conducted across the developing world suggest, however, that economic growth alone, in the absence of specific measures to combat hunger, may leave large numbers of hungry people behind for a long time, particularly in rural areas. These analyses have also shown that economic growth has a far greater impact on hunger when it occurs in rural areas and in countries that have already created fertile conditions through rural and human resource development. As might be expected, the group of countries where hunger increased during the 1990s also registered the worst economic performance. Far from growing, their per capita gross domestic product (GDP) shrank at an average rate of 1.4 percent per year. Every other group recorded gains. Among these other groups, there is no evident correlation between the pace of economic growth and the rate of progress in reducing hunger. Paradoxically, the group that made the most rapid progress in reducing hunger registered relatively slow economic growth.
7. United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan has called educating and empowering women “the greatest weapon in the war against poverty”. Research confirms that educated women have healthier families. Their children are better nourished, less likely to die in infancy and more liable to attend school. A recent study of 63 countries concluded that gains in women’s education made the single largest contribution to declines in malnutrition during 1970–95, accounting for 43 percent of the total progress. The entire family also benefits when women are able to work and earn on an equal footing. In the developing world, women commonly use almost all of their income to meet household needs, while men use at least 25 percent for other purposes.
8. Every year, nearly 11 million children die before they reach
their fifth birthday. Almost all of these
deaths occur in developing countries, three-quarters of them in sub-Saharan
Lack of essential vitamins and minerals also increases the risk of dying from
childhood diseases. Vitamin A
deficiency, for example, increases the risk of death from diarrhoea, measles
and malaria by 20 to 24 percent. For children whose diets lack sufficient zinc,
the risk of dying from diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria is increased by 13 to 21
percent. In many regions of the developing world, more than one third of all
children suffer from deficiencies in these and other micronutrients. Shortages
of vitamin A and zinc alone cause the deaths of more than 1.5 million children
each year. The rate of death among
children under five by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. But progress in
reducing child mortality has been slowing, not accelerating. Between 1960 and
1990, the number of child deaths fell at a rate of 2.5 percent each year. Since
1990, the baseline year for the MDGs, the pace has slowed to just 1.1 percent.
Among developing regions, only
10. No segment of humanity depends more directly on environmental resources and services than the rural poor, who make up an estimated 80 percent of the world’s 800 million hungry people. They make daily use of soil and water for farming and fishing, of forests for food, fuel and fodder, of the biodiversity of a wide range of plants and animals, both domesticated and wild. Their lives are interwoven with the surrounding environment in ways that make them both particularly valuable as custodians of environmental resources and particularly vulnerable to environmental degradation. Worldwide, an estimated 350 million people depend on forests as their primary source of income and food. Wild plants, animals and other forest foods are important to the diets and food security of an estimated 1 billion people.
12. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2005 explains the daunting task involved in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals in regards to reduce hunger in half by 2015. The world population is expected to grow by approximately two billion between the baseline period (1990–92) and 2015. So, even if the proportion of that larger population who are undernourished is reduced by half, nearly 600 million people in the developing world will still suffer from chronic hunger. To reach the WFS target of 400 million, the proportion of the population who are undernourished would need to be reduced not by half, but by two thirds. A recent study of 63 countries concluded that gains in women’s education made the single largest contribution to declines in malnutrition during 1970–95, accounting for 43 percent of the total progress. Hunger and malnutrition are the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths, killing nearly 6 million children each year studies of children under the age of five found that the proportion of deaths that could be attributed to being underweight ranged from 45 percent, in the case of measles, to more than 60 percent, for diarrhea. Children who are mildly underweight are about twice as likely to die of infectious diseases as children who are better nourished. For children who are moderately to severely underweight, the risk of death is five to eight times higher. Between 1960 and 1990, the number of child deaths fell at a rate of 2.5 percent each year. Since 1990, the baseline year for the MDGs, the pace has slowed to just 1.1 percent. A study of trends in 59 developing countries found that much of the success in reducing child mortality between 1966 and 1996 could be credited to improved nutrition. To resolve food insecurity around the world the practice of farm subsidies will obviously need to be implemented in the developing world. Governments in developing nations will need to plan and subsidize agriculture with foreign assistance and tax dollars to meet the food needs of the populace while keeping market prices low and ensuring that extremely poor people are supplied with enough free food to protect them from starvation and malnourishment. The World Trade Organization should stop criticizing farm subsidies in the developed world where most people enjoy a balanced diet and start advocating for government subsidized agricultural development in developing nations. It is integral to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals that International development dollars are sufficiently invested in agriculture as the foundation of the socio-economic development of an educated egalitarian society.