20 Jun 2009

Global crisis pushes 100 million into hunger - UN

4:21 pm on 20 June 2009

The global economic crisis will help push 100 million people into poverty this year through lost jobs and lower earnings, leaving one sixth of the world's population living in hunger, a UN agency says.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) forecast the number of people living in hunger would reach a record high of 1.02 billion this year, exacerbated by persistently high prices for staples following the food crisis of 2006-2008.

Not only will the global slowdown destroy livelihoods in the developing world -- where almost all of the world's hungry live -- it will reduce aid spending from wealthy countries by around a quarter, just when it is most needed, the FAO warned.

"The silent hunger crisis ... poses a serious risk for world peace and security," said FAO Director General Jacques Diouf.

The FAO said "substantial and sustained remedial actions" were required to reach the UN's goal of halving the number of hungry people to under 420 million by 2015.

The global economic crisis left little scope for developing countries to adapt, through currency depreciation or borrowing from international capital markets, because it was hitting all parts of the world at the same time, the report said.

Foreign investment in the developing world is expected to fall by nearly one third, while cash remittances from overseas could fall by about 8%, reversing years of steady increases, the FAO said in a report.

The urban poor will be the hardest hit, due to job losses, but food pressure will also mount in rural areas as millions of migrants return to the countryside.