UN: 22 countries face protracted food crises
The United Nations on Wednesday identified 22 countries facing "protracted" food crises due to a combination of natural disasters, conflict and weak institutions, DPA reported.
The findings are contained in the "State of Food Insecurity in the World 2010" report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) together with another Rome-based UN agency, the World Food Programme (WFP).
Last month FAO said the number of hungry people in the world has declined to around 925 million from the 1.023 billion registered in 2009.
The decline was primarily attributable to better economic prospects in 2010 and the fall in food prices since a spike in mid- 2008, FAO said.
The figure however, remained "unacceptably high," in a world where every six seconds a child dies of a hunger-related disease, FAO said.
On average, the proportion of people who are undernourished in the countries facing protracted crises is almost three times as high as in other developing countries, according to the latest report.
The countries are: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
FAO said a protracted crisis also exists in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which are "extremely vulnerable to changes in the Israeli labour and goods markets".
A "protracted crisis" is defined by the WFP and FAO, in part, as a food crisis extending for more than eight years in a country that receives more than 10 per cent of foreign assistance as humanitarian relief.
The two UN agencies said in a statement that "a significant rethinking" is needed of how assistance is delivered to countries in protracted crises.
Official assistance needs to refocus attention on longer-term solutions by boosting those countries' ability to support "life saving and livelihoods protection activities," the agencies said.
FAO and WFP noted that nearly two-thirds of countries in protracted crises receive less development assistance per person than the average for least-developed countries.
"More importantly, agriculture receives just three to four per cent of development and humanitarian assistance funds even though it accounts for around a third of their gross domestic product and is the main source of food and income for nearly two thirds of their population," FAO and WFP said. dpa pwm sg hl Author: Peter Mayer