Today marks World Food Day 2009 – originally proclaimed in 1979 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (the FAO) the aim of the Day is to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The theme for World Food Day 2009 is “Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis”.
The FAO says: At a time when the global economic crisis dominates the news, the world needs to be reminded that not everyone works in offices and factories. The crisis is stalking the small-scale farms and rural areas of the world, where 70 percent of the world’s hungry live and work.
With an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009, there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, meaning that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.
Both public and private investments are needed, more specifically through targeted public investment to encourage and facilitate private investment, especially by farmers themselves.
On the occasion of World Food Week and World Food Day 2009, let us reflect on those numbers and the human suffering behind them. Crisis or no crisis, we have the know-how to do something about hunger. We also have the ability to find money to solve problems when we consider them important. Let us work together to make sure hunger is recognized as a critical problem, and solve it. The World Summit on Food Security proposed by FAO for November 2009 could be fundamental for eradicating hunger.
One of the ways Excellent Development, our project partner in Kenya is attempting to relieve the food crisis in drought ridden rural areas is through the construction of sand dams (above). These raise the local water table, increasing agricultural productivity in neighbouring areas. Excellent has also set up seed banks and encourages community self help groups and farmers to plant drough-resitant crops and to use farming techniques that can safeguard against crop failure.