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Fight against hunger hit by economic crisis: UN

United Nations, June 24, 2010

Efforts to cut hunger worldwide have been undermined by the global economic crisis, a UN report showed.

Reducing the number of hungry people is one of several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000 that include halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of AIDS and ensuring primary education for all children by 2015.

A midterm report on progress toward the goals was a 'mixed report card,' UN officials said.

'Progress against hunger has been impacted more severely (than other goals) by economic troubles,' a UN statement said. 'The ability of the poor to feed their families was hit consecutively by skyrocketing food prices in 2008 and falling incomes in 2009.

'The number of malnourished, already growing since the beginning of the decade, may have grown at a faster pace after 2008,' it said.

The 76-page report said that the goals remain achievable, though it suggested that donor countries needed to fully live up to aid promises.

'Unmet commitments, inadequate resources, lack of focus and accountability, and insufficient dedication to sustainable development have created shortfalls in many areas,' it said.

Some of those shortfalls, it said, were aggravated by the poor economic climate.

'It is clear that improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow, and some hard-won gains are being eroded by the climate, food and economic crises,' UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Ban is expected to bring up the MDGs and aid shortfalls at a Group of 20 meeting in Canada this week.

Leaders of UN member states are expected to agree on an action plan at a summit meeting in September in New York to ensure that the MDGs are met. A draft document to be adopted at that summit said aid to Africa is lagging.

Progress made in some areas

As a whole, the world is on track to meet the 2015 deadline to cut poverty by at least 50 percent, largely due to robust growth in the first half of the decade and increased prosperity in the developing economic powers China and India.

The report predicts that the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day will drop from 1.8 billion in 1990 to 920 million in 2015.

Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southeast and East Asia are a different story. Because of the economic crisis, tens of millions of people who would have climbed out of poverty there will remain below the poverty line for some time.

The report said the number of deaths of children under the age of five dropped to 8.8 million in 2008 from 12.6 million in 1990. Infant mortality was down 28 per cent to 72 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008, from 100 in 1990.

A push for malaria and HIV control and measles vaccinations was partially responsible, it said. – Reuters

Tags: UN | United Nations | economic crisis | hunger | MDG |

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