International Development Committee Announcement

NEW PUBLICATION: THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME AND GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY

DONATIONS TO WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME MAY NEED TO DOUBLE TO PREVENT MILLIONS FACING HUNGER

A report released today by the International Development Committee warns that aid levels must rise in order to ensure that recent food price rises do not undo years of progress in reducing poverty.

Up to 20 million additional tonnes of food may be needed to feed new groups of people being pushed into poverty by food price rises. The World Food Programme (WFP) is the UN agency responsible for assisting people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. The Committee warns that annual donations of around US$3 billion to the WFP may need to double to US$5-6 billion. Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“Recent food price rises have greatly exacerbated the difficulties poor people face in accessing nourishing food. The World Bank has warned that up to 100 million people are at risk of being dragged back into poverty. The Department for International Development (DFID) should do all it can to compensate for rising prices in its contributions to the WFP, which is carrying out a crucial role at the frontline of hunger, and encourage other donors to do the same.”

Malnutrition is responsible for one-third of child deaths. Yet the Committee’s report argues that nutrition is under-funded and under-emphasised by the UK Government, the international community and the UN system. Malcolm Bruce MP said:

“Only $250 million is spent on nutrition aid globally, compared with the $3 billion spent on HIV/AIDS. This is despite the fact that malnutrition is responsible for at least 5 times more child deaths than the AIDS pandemic. We are shocked that DFID lacks both a specific nutrition policy and measurable targets for assessing progress in reducing malnutrition. This must change.”

The Committee believes that the international community must look beyond the current food crisis to address the long-term factors that cause hunger and malnutrition. For instance, donors should support agricultural development so that further crises can be prevented.

The Report commends DFID’s new support for agricultural research but argues that it must be accompanied by efforts to assist poor farmers in entering markets. The Committee believes new technologies such as biofuels and genetically modified crops offer both challenges and opportunities to developing countries.

The Committee calls for a more united response from the wide range of UN agencies whose remits include hunger and malnutrition. Quick implementation of the action plan developed by a UN taskforce on food security must be ensured, the Report argues. The Chairman said:

“Reforms to the UN system are essential to improving international responses to hunger. The three Rome-based UN agencies working on food security should integrate their work more effectively. Identifying the WFP as the lead UN agency on hunger would be a positive step in securing a more decisive and coherent international approach.” 

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Committee membership is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Stephen Crabb MP (Con), Daniel Kawczynski MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Jim Sheridan MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Sir Robert Smith MP (Lib Dem).

Committee Contact: Chloe Challender, 020 7219 1522, or [email protected]

Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, 020 7219 1589, or [email protected]

Committee website: www.parliament.uk/indcom

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv 

Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474)