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Almost a billion people undernourished worldwide, according to annual Red Cross report

posted 22 Sept 2011, 05:24 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 22 Sept 2011, 05:28 ]

'World Disasters Report 2011' released by Red Cross states that about a billion people were undernourished in 2010, primarily due to poverty and failure of global food system.

NEW DELHI, INDIA (SEPTEMBER 22, 2011) ANI - About a billion people worldwide were undernourished in 2010, primarily due to poverty and 'failure' of global food system, according to the 'World Disasters Report 2011' released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Thursday (September 22) in India's national capital New Delhi.

'World Disasters Report 2011' highlights the alarming levels of malnutrition in Asia resulting to possible instability in many countries.

Taking evidence from Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the report categorically states that 925 million people worldwide were undernourished in 2010, especially in the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa.

The report also mentions that while 15% of world's proportion sleep hungry every night, 30% of all food crops get wasted annually.

"One major contrast is, the world produces enough food for everybody but at the same time we have almost a billion people going to bed hungry. At the same time, we have more than 1.5 billion people who are overweight. So the World Disaster Report really looks into this issue and it argues that the existing food system has somewhere failed when there is enough food. 1 billion people are hungry and more than 1.5 billion people are overweight. It really argues that the system needs to be looked into, debated, discussed and we need to seriously fix this system," said Jagan Chapagain, Director, Asia Pacific-IFRC.

Incidentally, the report also mentions that 1.5 billion people are overweight around the world, with the United States of America recording the highest prevalence of obesity- 26.7 per cent of the adult population.

Chapagain said that poverty and a 'failed' global food system were the main causes leading to increasing food disparity.

"Lack of food is not the problem. There is enough food produced. It is clearly the lack of access to the food. That's been the problem. So, the people who really need the food are somehow not getting access to that food and one of the reasons is poverty. Poor people do not have enough money to buy the food, especially since 2008, when food prices skyrocketed. So that's where, even the report uses the word, that the current food system has 'failed'," said Jagan Chapagain.

Meanwhile, there are some two billion people around the world, not restricted to rural population, whose diet does not provide essential vitamins and minerals resulting in serious health risks.

"The issue is not only in the villages or rural areas. It is also in urban slums. The basic cause is not only of nutrition, in the traditional sense, but also of micronutrients; 'hidden hunger', as I said. This results in iron-deficiency, anaemia, and a iodine deficiency. One needs only a teaspoon of iodine for your whole life and even if this in micro-quantity is not available, then it leads to mental retardation, development defects and a large number of other things," said Dr. S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General, Indian Red Cross Society.

Earlier, in 2004, the Jharigaon and Dongriguda villages in India's eastern state of Orissa were in the headlines due to a large number of deaths among malnourished children.

According to the report, new inflation in 2010-11 confirmed the world is facing a major problem of unstable agricultural markets and volatile food prices. 13 people were killed in food riots in Mozambique while 'Arab spring' was triggered primarily due to increase in food prices.