Friday, 19 September 2008

Number of people needing [food] aid in Africa doubles (IHT)

Thursday, September 18, 2008
LONDON: The number of people living "on the edge of emergency" in Africa has nearly doubled to 220 million in just two years, a leading charity said on Thursday.
CARE International said emergency aid to the impoverished and strife-ridden continent continued to arrive too late, was short-term and policies were targeted too heavily on saving lives rather than building resilience in the population.
"The world's inaction on food emergencies has proved costly and it is the world's poorest people -- stripped of enough to eat -- who are paying the price," said Geoffrey Dennis, the charity's chief executive.
"Governments, the U.N., donors and aid agencies must take this opportunity to deliver the long-term structural reforms to the aid system that will protect the most vulnerable from emergency and build their resilience to food price rises, drought and other shocks."
CARE's report "Living on the Edge of Emergency -- Paying the Price of Inaction" is timed to coincide with a summit in New York next week dedicated to the fight against poverty -- one of the key Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for 2015.
It called for donors to fulfil existing aid commitments and then add some, focus on disaster risk reduction, early warning systems, food production and support for the poorest and make emergency aid and long-term development better coordinated.
It also highlighted the more recently emerged threats to security and welfare that have added to older woes.
Prices of staple foods have surged by an average of 83 percent in the past three years, climate change has already hit some of the poorest -- and therefore less resilient -- countries, biofuels have replaced food crops and increasing urbanization has compounded the problems.
"It is a disgrace that, despite warnings, money is still being spent in the wrong ways," said Dennis.
"Leaders at the MDG meeting must ensure that the aid system can rise to the challenge of the global food crisis or they will measure the cost in billions of wasted emergency funds and the suffering of millions of people pushed to and beyond the edge of yet more needless emergencies."
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell)

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