Monday, October 11, 2010

'Alarming' numbers go hungry in 25 countries: report

Karin Zeitvogel
Source: Smh.com

Poverty, conflict and political instability caused some billion people to go hungry this year, many of them children in Africa and Asia, according to the Global Hunger Index report released Monday.

Out of 122 countries included in the annual report, 25 have "alarming" levels of hunger and four countries in Africa have "extremely alarming" hunger, said the report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

The results did not surprise researchers, who pointed to data by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that found the overall number of hungry people surpassed one billion in 2009, even though it decreased to 925 million in 2010.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) fared the worst in the hunger index, which is based on data from 2003-2008.

"Protracted civil conflict since the late 1990s led to an economic collapse, massive displacements of people and a chronic state of food insecurity" in the DRC, the report said.

"Food availability and access deteriorated as food production levels dropped, and remote areas became even more isolated as a consequence of very poor infrastructure."

Three quarters of the population in the vast central African country is under-nourished, and the DRC also has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world.

The proportion of undernourished people and the child mortality rate in each country studied were among two of the three factors used to compile the index.

The third, the prevalence of underweight children, is the most important to address when trying to wrestle down hunger in a country because it accounts for nearly half the global hunger score, said report co-author Marie Ruel, director of IFPRI's Poverty, Health and Nutrition division.

"In order to improve their hunger index, countries have to accelerate efforts to reduce child under-nutrition," with a particular focus on the 1,000 days from conception to the age of two, Ruel told reporters.

"Those 1,000 days... are a key time because damage done by under-nutrition in early life is largely irreversible."

Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, noted that if a child is not properly nourished during that period, there is "absolutely cast-iron, empirical proof" it will have "profound" long-term consequences.

"That is ultimately going to have an impact on a country's capacity to grow economically and socially in the future," he added.

The index ranked countries on a 100-point scale, with zero being the best score -- no hunger -- and 100 being the worst. A score higher than 20 indicated "alarming" levels of hunger and above 30, "extremely alarming" hunger.

The DRC was the only country in this year's index with a score above 40.

The other three countries with extremely alarming hunger levels were Burundi, Eritrea and Chad. All have been involved in simmering or open conflict for many years.

With the exception of Haiti and Yemen, all 25 countries with "alarming" levels of hunger were in sub-Saharan Africa or Asia.

Ranked from least to greatest levels of hunger, they included: Nepal, Tanzania, Cambodia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Djibouti, Mozambique, India, Bangladesh, Liberia, Zambia, Timor-Leste, Niger, Angola, Yemen, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, the Comoros, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.

Hunger mitigation programs that failed to focus on children under two helped land India in the "alarming" hunger index despite its relatively high gross domestic product per capita, said Ruel.

Yet progress was found elsewhere, especially in southeast Asia and Latin America, which both slashed their hunger indices by more than 40 percent since 1990.

A handful of African countries also substantially reduced hunger -- Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambique -- but in most of sub-Saharan Africa, the problem worsened or remained stagnant.

Eight of the nine countries in which the hunger index went up between 1990 and 2010 were in sub-Saharan Africa. The ninth was North Korea.

"There is poor governance and lack of political interest in nutrition, and stimulating demand could result in problems" because many African countries do not have the necessary infrastructure to meet increased demand for health care and other services that go hand-in-hand with anti-hunger programs, said Ruel.

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Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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