Trade News: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Food Access Key as Horn of Africa Crisis Worsens, Say Agencies: The UN has officially declared a famine in parts of Somalia, as the food crisis in the Horn of Africa continues to worsen. Aid agencies are warning that allowing food to move freely in the region is key to preventing the humanitarian situation from deteriorating further. “There is food in the region, but it’s not moving around” Ruth Kelly, Economic Policy Advisor at the aid agency Oxfam, told Bridges. “This is partly because of high transport costs and the sheer remoteness of the areas affected, but also because some local markets are not working.”

Commodities and Sustainable Development: The world is producing more food than ever before. However, after decades of declining numbers of hungry in the world, the number of people who go hungry is increasing. Between 1997 and 2001, the number of hungry people globally increased by 18 million to a total of 798 million, most of them landless. The World Food Program provides food to about 90 million people every year, but the remainder simply are beyond the reach of the international community. Some of the poorest people on the planet spend upwards of 75 percent of their income on food but still go hungry. Producing more food will not necessarily feed more people. Market access is hampered by infrastructure and other problems. Click the link above to read more about this interesting and sobering article. 

Food Aid Impacts:  The United Nations World Food Programme is facing an ‘unacceptable’ choice of either providing 40 percent less food per recipient or reaching out to 40 percent fewer people due to a budget gap of US$500 million for 2008. The shortfall was mainly caused by a 40-percent rise in commodity prices since 2007. Citing a 41-percent increase in the cost of running its Food for Peace programme over the last six months, the US Agency for International Development is scaling back emergency food aid which potentially affects up to eight million people.

Facts and Figures:  Purchasing parity data shows that 26 percent of the population in developing countries lived below the poverty line of US$1.25 a day in 2005, down from 52 percent of in 1981. In middle-income countries, 2.6 billion people lived on less than US$2 a day in 2005, although the poverty rate had fallen.  What is it like now, 6 years later!?

World Bank Report Casts Wary Eye on Asian Development: The gap between rich and poor in East Asia is growing according to a World Bank report, despite unprecedented prosperity. “Inequality is back on the agenda,” the report’s author, economist Michael Walton, said at a press conference last week. Walton remarked that for the entire East Asian region there is “concern that certain groups are being left out” of economic growth, most prominently in Thailand and China. Mongolia has the highest poverty rate with 81.4 percent of the population living in poverty. Vietnam and Laos follow, with slightly over 40 percent of their populations living on less than one dollar per day.

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