Thursday, October 16, 2008

(Not so) Happy World Food Day

October 16 is World Food Day. Not so much to celebrate this year, as food and energy prices have skyrocketed for the world's poor. Estimates are that 100 million more people worldwide have fallen into poverty in the past year and are vulnerable to extreme hunger (especially the urban poor).

And now we have the global financial crisis to make things worse. Jeff Sachs actually argues that the crisis won't hurt the extreme poor that badly, since they're not very tightly integrated into the global banking system anyway. The bigger threat is that the wealthy countries will use the crisis as a reason to renege on their foreign aid commitments. But Sachs makes a key point:
"the idea of $25 billion for Africa suddenly doesn’t sound like so much after a $700 billion bailout in the United States or $2 trillion in bank guarantees in Europe. We’ve just been making choices to ignore the poor rather than calculations based on real resources available. We made a choice to let millions of people die and not honor our commitments. The crisis doesn’t change our quantitative ability to follow through."
Two words: ONE Campaign.

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