Concern is growing that the looming world recession will not only hurt business, but also charities working with some of the world’s poorest people. Slumping economies mean less money in people’s pockets, and lower donations to charity.
“If there is a recession, naturally it will be more difficult to mobilise the resources for agriculture in developing countries,” said Jacques Diouf, the director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. “But also the income of people will not increase in a recession and therefore we may have more poor people and more hungry people.”
The message is stark this World Food Day: lives are at risk. And unless the West does something to help the hundreds of millions of the most vulnerable people, a humanitarian disaster is looming. Charities are begging people to keep donating to good causes despite the economic challenges.
The United Nations has pledged to cut hunger in the world in half by 2015. But for the moment, the numbers appear to be going the other way. Most of those without enough food are in the Asia-Pacific countries, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. At the same time, budget-stretched Westerners are ignoring the calls for help.
“The world is reeling from a triple whammy of three crises in a row – food prices, fuel prices and now financial,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme. “This is hurting everyone, but for those who live on less than a dollar a day it is a matter of life and death. It is a matter of whether their children will have a meal or not that day. On World Food Day it is critical that we remember that, as we honour those who have stepped up to the plate and helped.”
Asina Ahmed lives with her six children in Kibera township, on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Food prices are rising all the time, and she never knows whether they will be able to eat from one day to the next: “When we eat lunch, sometimes having dinner in the evening is a gamble. A gamble whether we can afford food or not. If you get some, it is ok. If you don’t, you don’t.”
The European Union has found an additional 15 million euros for the Horn of Africa, on top of the 135 million already earmarked this year. But aid workers say at least 22 BILLION euros is needed every year to save those facing starvation around the world.