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Hartwig de Haen, FAO assistant director general
"Hunger is mainly a problem of poverty"
 real 28k

The BBC's Paul Harper
"Not all doom and gloom"
 real 28k

Monday, 16 October, 2000, 09:45 GMT
UN warns on world food
Malnourished children in Ethiopia
Food is not scarce but it is badly distributed
The world is not doing enough to fight hunger, a United Nations agency has said in a report issued to coincide with World Food Day.



It is not necessary to have hunger at all because there is enough food for all

FAO official Hartwig de Haen
It said the international community had made little progress towards meeting a 1996 target to halve within 15 years the number of people who do not have enough to eat.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that more than 800 million people worldwide were undernourished, although there was enough food in the world.

The head of the FAO, Jacques Diouf, said public opinion and world leaders needed to do more to fight hunger, or the world would miss its target of halving the number of hungry by 2015.

"We are reducing the number of hungry people by eight million a year, but the necessary investment that has to go into agriculture is just not there," he said.

Farming funds

He added that governments were not investing enough in farming, while conflict, drought and floods, were adding to the problems.


Jacques Diouf
Jacques Diouf: World needs to act
"If you look at the level of national budgets going to agriculture in relation to populations in the rural sector, you will see that there is no consistency," he said.

One of the worst-affected areas, said Mr Diouf, was the drought-hit Horn of Africa, North Korea and Iraq.

About 19 million people in the Horn of Africa, mainly Kenya and Ethiopia, now need emergency food assistance, he said. Despite international aid organised by the World Food Programme, he said the situation remained critical.


FAO sit-rep
1996: World Food Summit pledged to cut hungry to 400m by 2015
Progress so far neutralised by world population growth
2000: Out of 6bn population, 826m still hungry
2015: 580m still likely to be hungry
400m target unlikely to be achieved before 2030
"Only 1% of the arable land in the Horn of Africa has water control [irrigation]," he said. "Compare it to the figures for Asia - 38%, China 50%.

"How can you have a serious development [of agriculture] in an area where 99% of the land has no water control and is entirely dependent on the vagaries of the climate?"

And in North Korea he said food aid was needed as following a drought, although he did not think there would be a famine.

But he was very concerned at two years of drought in Iraq, where there was a shortage of fertilisers.

"The only bright spot is the improvement of the poultry sector, helped by heavy investment by the government using the oil-for-food mechanism," he said.

Poverty

Hartwig de Haen, an assistant director at the FAO, told the BBC: "It is not necessary to have hunger at all because there is enough food for all".

He defined malmourishment as being too hungry to lead a healthy and active life, and in the case of children, being physically and mentally handicapped by hunger.

Mr de Haen said that poverty was the main cause, with the hungry lacking jobs or land on which they could grow food.

Last month the FAO said that people in 36 countries worldwide were currently facing serious food shortages.

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See also:

01 May 00 | South Asia
Analysis: A man-made crisis?
29 Jun 00 | Africa
Horn should help itself - UN
06 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan boosts N Korea food aid
26 Sep 00 | Africa
Aid makes impact in Ethiopia
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