The head of the United Nations food agency is calling for a global “food-first policy” after a new survey revealed that the deliveries of food aid slid by 30 per cent last year despite rising numbers of hungry people and record levels of money from donors.
The global food aid figures for 2004 released by the World Food Programme (WFP) paint a grim picture for the hundreds of millions of malnourished people: total food aid delivered from all sources dropped to 7.5 million tons, down from 10.3 million tons in 2003 and continuing a general decline in food aid volume since 1999.
During that same period, the number of chronically hungry people rose by nearly 8 percent – from an estimated 790 million to 852 million. The disturbing trend has prompted WFP to appeal for food aid to take priority over infrastructure.
“Hungry children don’t get any sustenance from the roads, ports and factories we build with the increases in development aid,” Executive Director James Morris said, adding: “It’s time for a food-first policy…the cost in human suffering is just too high and it keeps going up.”
Total food delivered through the WFP went from 4.9 million tons in 2003 to 3.7 million tons in 2004 – a drop of 25 per cent, somewhat less than the global trend.
“All the major donors have been building up their development assistance over the last few years and it is at a record level of nearly $80 billion. So the money is there. More of it must make its way to hungry people,” Mr. Morris said.