Friday, June 26, 2009

Ban tells US students about challenges of food security

Early last week on June 15, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon told a gathering at St. Louis University in Missouri about the “bottom billion,” the one billion people around the world who live on less than $1 a day, many of whom are children suffering from starvation and malnutrition.

The talk about food security at the American University was part of the Secretary-General’s campaign to increase awareness of the UN and its goals to promote peace, security, development and human rights. Besides St. Louis, Ban has paid visits to other cities including Jackson Hole, Chicago and Atlanta.

Ban mentioned the effect of souring food prices on the bottom billion who already spend two-thirds of their income on food. With staple food costs doubling in the time span of a few months just last year, the daily reality for one third of the world’s population include choosing which of their children gets to eat, and which don’t.

“No one should face such choices,” said Mr. Ban. “No one should face such privation, not in a world of such wealth.”

The Secretary-General said that many families can’t afford to eat two meals a day and end up eating only one. Ban explained how children’s growth becomes stunted because of a lack of nutrition and become too weak to learn. As families spend more of their income on food, less goes into health and education, leading to a downward spiral for the whole society.

Because of this negative trend, Ban believes the issue of food security requires immediate attention. He stresses areas of focus including the need to strengthen agricultural infrastructure, increase productivity and remove unfair terms of trade.

“It is good that the UN’s World Food Programme [WFP] enjoys excellent ties with the United States and its farmers,” said Ban. “It’s impossible to think we can succeed without the support of the United States.”

-- Jaimie Hwang

Source: UN News Centre