After Niger, Rich Countries Ignore Southern Africa Food Crisis: Oxfam
September 8, 2005
Ahead of next week's UN World Summit in New York, the British charity Oxfam on Thursday urged wealthy member states to help prevent food shortages in developing nations. Despite a plea by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for assistance, the World Food Program warned last week of a $187 million shortfall to feed the hungry in southern Africa, a crisis caused by drought and HIV/AIDS.
"Niger was forecast six months in advance, yet rich countries did almost nothing until the 11th hour," said Neil Townsend, Oxfam's regional coordinator for southern Africa. "People died as a direct result."
"Rich countries spend $1 billion every day on supporting their farmers," said Townsend. "If they pledged the same amount every year to a permanent emergency fund at the UN, preventable crises like Niger and southern Africa would not happen because money would be available as soon as a country needed it."
Drought, poor agricultural yields, and HIV/AIDS are placing in jeopardy an estimated 4 million people each in Malawi and Zimbabwe, 1 million in Zambia, 400,000 in Mozambique, 500,000 in Lesotho, and 200,000 in Swaziland. The hunger season is expected to peak between November and February.
To prevent the southern African food crisis from worsening, Oxfam said, "money is desperately needed now." "Unlike Niger, this crisis is about HIV/AIDS as much as drought. Food is needed now, but the root causes of the crisis, HIV/AIDS and poverty, must also be tackled," said Townsend.
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.