Thursday, 16 October 2008

WORLD FOOD DAY: £26 BILLION PACKAGE NEEDED

By JULIA DAY, STEPS Centre member

As today's World Food Day dawns, new research reveals £26-£48 billion package is needed to alleviate seasonal hunger - a fraction of the proposed $700 billion package to bail out Wall Street.

Food issues are likely to get higher profile coverage today than preceeding World Food Days thanks to almost constant headlines over the past year about food shortages, soaring prices, food riots, food security and hunger. Where once these issues were percieved to be applicatble only in certain places in the developing world, today they are recognised as global problems.

A new book published today, Seasons of Hunger by Stephen Devereux, Bapu Vaitla and Samuel Hauenstein Swann, looks at the seasonal issues causing food crises, challenges compounded by high and rising food prices.

The authors believe no single intervention is adequate; instead a comprehensive approach is needed. The Institute of Development Studies, Action Against Hunger, and the Future Agricultures Consortium - the authors' organisations - propose a “minimum essential intervention package to fight seasonal hunger”. The package includes: community-based management of acute malnutrition; employment guarantee schemes (recently legislated in India); social pensions; and community-based growth promotion.

The total estimated global cost is £26-£48 billion - not cheap, but considerably less than the proposed $700 billion package to bail out Wall Street. Mr Devereux said: "Seasonal hunger is intensifying in the face of the global food price crisis, but it can be overcome if political will is directed to mobilising the resources needed to eradicate it."

You can read more about the book, and order it on the IDS website. Food is one of the STEPS Centre's key areas of research, you can find out more about our work on food and agriculture, and our project about maize and climate change in Kenya, on the website.

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