World Food Day '08 marked by continued global food shortages and soaring prices; Millions remain at risk of malnutrition
The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, which founded World Food Day, estimates the number of people around the globe who are undernourished at 923 million. The World Food Program estimates 15.7 million of those in need of assistance are in the Horn of Africa; 8.6 million in Afghanistan and 3.7 million in North Korean. UNICEF reports that 143 million children under the age of five in the developing world are underweight. Worldwide, the price of staples, such as wheat, flour and cooking oil have tripled and even quadrupled.
"As food prices continue to rise, and sources of food continue to dwindle, the nutritional status of millions of people unable to afford basic stapes is being compromised," said Stephen Tomlin International Medical Corps' Vice President of Program, Policy and Planning. "Many are at risk of having nothing to eat at all. It has never been more urgent that the international community and donors focus on this epidemic that is not going away."
To combat malnutrition, International Medical Corps operates more than 215 supplementary and therapeutic feeding sites in some of the world's most food-insecure environments, including Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Uganda.
In DRC, for instance, International Medical Corps has admitted 3,500 new children to its supplementary feeding centers in just the last two months. "At one center for severely malnourished children we have a 35-bed capacity, but are accommodating 82. Plus there are 30 children still awaiting treatment," said IMC program coordinator Woseh Gobeh.
Recovery rates at International Medical Corps' feeding sites top 90 percent. IMC's prevention and treatment programs focus on creating sustainable solutions. This includes providing education to communities on how to treat malnutrition, identify warning signs, and intervene before malnutrition worsens; educating health care workers and parents on proper diet and hygiene; increasing food diversity by enabling communities to grow fruits and vegetables; and raising household income through livelihood projects.
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