World Food Crisis: Will the G8 Take Up the Challenge of Hunger and Malnutrition?

International NGOs ask Group of Eight for adequate funding to tackle world food crisis

Members of the “Group of Eight” (G8)—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the US—have recently announced the creation of a working group to address the global food crisis, a tentative sign of hope for the nearly 860 million people faced with hunger around the world. The challenge, however, is immense: behind the current food crisis looms the threat of a broader humanitarian emergency that could push already vulnerable populations closer to starvation. Action Against Hunger / ACF-USA, CARE International, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) call on the G8 member states to launch the creation of a Global Fund to fight hunger and malnutrition.

Despite global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, it is clear that socioeconomic conditions are worsening for a growing part of the world’s population and the global rise in food prices can only exacerbate these conditions. As we witness the effects of this emerging crisis, we must remember that some 20 million children were already on the brink of starvation before this spike in prices. We must address the current food crisis while redoubling efforts to eliminate acute malnutrition.

Action Against Hunger, CARE International and GAIN call on the leaders of the richest countries in the world not to forget its most vulnerable populations—those communities already affected by hunger and malnutrition. Thus far, discussions among the G8 have centered on global economic and agricultural trade policies, only partially addressing the need to invest in local agriculture and household food security. While these issues are critical to addressing the causes of the current crisis, malnutrition already threatens the lives of millions of children and concrete measures are urgently needed.

Recent analyses conducted by the United Nations, FAO, and WFP highlight a lack of funding for tackling the global food crisis—whether for short-term measures to improve food distribution in rural and urban areas, or longer-term efforts to support sustainable agricultural policies and small-scale family farming. Governments must rapidly address this funding shortage if we are to mitigate this emerging humanitarian crisis.

There are many professional organizations effectively addressing hunger and malnutrition around the world—each with specific skill sets and areas of expertise—and reinforcing these efforts is one way to improve conditions for vulnerable communities around the world. Without a formal commitment to funding, however, we will see significant setbacks in global efforts to eradicate malnutrition, let alone in the ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We therefore call on the G8 for a commitment to an international structure like the Global Fund to fight hunger aimed at reducing malnutrition while addressing the underlying causes of hunger.

Private companies and NGOs are up to the challenge. Are governments?