STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 GMT SEPT 14 2010
HUNGER COSTS POOR COUNTRIES $450 BILLION A YEAR
(London, 14 Sept 2010) A new report by ActionAid has today revealed that hunger is costing poor nations
$450 billion a year - more than ten times the amount needed to halve hunger by 2015 and meet Millennium
Development Goal One. ActionAid’s report Who’s Really Fighting Hunger?, which shows the real dates
countries will meet MDG1 and scores nations on their efforts to fight hunger, is released as world leaders
prepare to meet next week at the UN in New York to discuss progress on the Millennium Development
ActionAid’s CEO Joanna Kerr said:
“Fighting hunger now will be ten times cheaper than ignoring it. Every year reduced worker productivity,
poor health and lost education costs poor countries billions.”
“And the cost is not just financial. If governments don’t act now over a million more children could die by
2015 and half of Africa won’t have enough food in ten years.”
“Recent food riots are a sharp reminder that poor countries can not rely on unstable global food markets.
Investing in local farms where the world’s hungry live is the best way to avert another food crisis.”
ActionAid’s report reveals that 20 out of 28 poor nations are off track to halving hunger by 2015 and 12 of
these are going backwards, despite UN claims that the world is on track to meeting the Millennium
Development Goal. If China, the most successful growing economy is removed from the scoring, the
percentage of hungry people in the world is the same as when the goals were set two decades ago.
DR Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Pakistan and Lesotho rank bottom on the score card. But surprisingly
not just the poorest, war-torn or disaster-struck countries rank low. Despite a radical and rapid increase in
India’s economy, drastic cuts in agriculture and support to small farms, means nearly half of the country’s
children are malnourished and one in five of the population is hungry.
ActionAid says the hunger goal is going backwards globally largely because of a lack of aid to agriculture
and rural development, few legal rights to food in poor nations and little or no support services to help
farming communities when harvests fail.
Brazil, China, Ghana, Malawi and Vietnam, who top ActionAid’s scorecard slashed hunger by dramatically
scaling-up investment in small farms and introducing social protection schemes such as public works
employment, cash transfers, food rations, and free school meals. Malawi has reduced the number of
people living on food hand outs from 1.5 million to 150,000 in just five years. Brazil has halved the number
of underweight children in less than 10 years. China will meet its hunger goal five years early.
Rich nations also scored. Luxembourg, France, Spain, Sweden and Canada who pledged agricultural aid
to help fight the 2009 food crisis scored top as donor nations. Portugal, Korea, Greece, New Zealand and
Austria ranked bottom. G8 nations pledged $22 billion in 2009 to fight hunger, yet ActionAid estimates $14
billion of this is in fact old aid promises repackaged and it is still unclear when or how the money will be
ActionAid’s Africa Hunger Free Coordinator Henry Malumo said:
“Times are hard and budgets are tight, so now more than ever it’s important for governments to invest in
the right places. Rich countries must stop pulling statistical tricks and show us how and when the money
they have promised will reach the people who need it most.
“Malawi and Ghana are shining examples of how supporting small scale farmers is key to halving hunger.
With only five years left and a billion people hungry it’s critical the world follow their example,” he added.
For more information, interviews, photos and case studies contact:
(In London) Natalie Curtis on +44 (0) 203 122 0641 or +44 (0)7931787025 or Natalie.Curtis@actionaid.org
(In Dar es Salaam) Manja Kamwi on +255 (0) 22 2700596 or 0684 009342 or Manja.Kamwi@actionaid.org
and Sekela Kyomo +255 (0) 22 2700596 or Sekela.Kyomo@actionaid.org
Download a copy of the report here at 00:01 GMT 14 Sept 2010: http://bit.ly/MDGReport
ActionAid will be at the MDG summit 20 – 22 September 2010 and available for interview in every
region of the globe.
Notes to Editors:
Developing countries (scored best to worst):
(1)Brazil, (2)China, (3)Vietnam, (4)Malawi, (5)Ghana, (6)Bangladesh, (7)Mozambique, (8)Uganda,
(9)Guatemala, (10)Ethiopia, (11)Rwanda, (12)Nigeria, (13)Cambodia, (14)Nepal, (15)Tanzania, (16)Kenya,
(17)Senegal, (18)Liberia, (19)Zambia, (20)Haiti, (21)India, (22)South Africa, (23)Gambia, (24)Lesotho,
(25)Pakistan, (26)Sierra Leone, (27)Burundi, (28)DR Congo.
Donor nations (scored best to worst):
(1)Luxembourg, (2)France, (3)Spain, (4)Sweden, (5)Canada, (6)Germany, (7)UK , (8)Australia, (9)Norway,
(10)Ireland, (11)USA, (12)Netherlands, (13)Belgium, (14)Denmark, (15)Finland, (16)Switzerland,
(17)Japan, (18)Italy, (19)Austria, (20)New Zealand, (21)Greece, (22)Korea, (23)Portugal.
What does the report do?
This HungerFREE Scorecard aims to evaluate countries on progress in fulfilling their commitments to end
global hunger. Twenty eight developing countries and 23 rich nations, which are members of the OECD’s
Development Assistance Committee are analysed in the report.
The indicators are based on the actions that the UN has identified as most critical to reverse growing global
Developing countries have been graded on their performance on hunger and child nutrition and on three
areas of public action: legal commitment to food as a right, investment in agriculture and social protection.
Developed countries have been ranked on two sets of indicators: 1) On their aid to agriculture and aid to
social protection measures (their ‘aid indicators’). 2) The extent to which their domestic policies (their
‘policy’ indicator) contribute to current and future hunger in developing countries, especially through
incentives for biofuels use and carbon emissions.
The first section of the report synthesises the data from the indicators and the country by country progress,
to summarise key policy lessons and hunger trends. The second section, HungerFREE Country
Scorecards, takes a closer look at each country with at-a-glance information. The final section outlines the
methodology and data indicators in greater detail.
How has ActionAid calculated $450 billion?
A recent UN and World Food Programme cross country analysis of the economic impact of child
malnutrition in Central America, determined that the opportunity cost of child malnourishment amounted to
between 2% - 12% of GDP annually. Ninety per cent of this impact was loss of productivity due to early
deaths and lower education levels caused by hunger. A further ten percent came from the cost of treating
hunger-related diseases and from more children repeating school grades.
Projecting the lower end of this loss only for the regions with highest child hunger levels (sub-Saharan
Africa and developing Asia), a conservative 3.5% reduction in GDP due to child malnutrition could cost
these regions as much as $462 billion a year. Rounded down, this is approximately $450 billion.
Who is ActionAid?
ActionAid is a leading aid agency in the fight against hunger. It works with farmers in 30 countries and has
spearheaded a global campaign aimed at ensuring governments deliver on the first Millennium
Development Goal: to halve extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. The ActionAid HungerFREE campaign
aims to put the issue of hunger to the top of the political agenda. For more information on HungerFREE go
What is Millennium Development Goal One?
Target 1c: Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
1.8 Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age
1.9 Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption