In 2000, 189 countries endorsed the 8 Millennium Development goals. First on the list was to cut in half the proportion of the world’s poor and hungry by 2015. Progress has been made on poverty, but we are actually losing ground on hunger. Donors have substantially boosted development assistance, setting a new record of nearly US$80 billion in 2005. But how much of it reaches the world’s hungry?
Hunger remains one of the most important and urgent challenges facing the international community. Tackling it requires a “Food First” policy that targets more Official Development Assistance (ODA) on addressing nutritional problems, especially in the “Least Developed Countries” (LDCs) and particularly in Africa. Assistance to the poorest countries necessarily involves a greater focus on aid to Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. Since 34 of the 50 LDCs are in Africa. In 2004, 50% of the World Food Program’s total operational expenditure was spent in the sub-Saharan region. World Food Program’s expenditures in LDCs grew from 2002-2004, and were the largest in the United Nations system.
Pervasive global poverty and hunger, the most critical challenges facing the international community, prompted a strong international commitment to the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. But if implementation efforts are to be successful in halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, humanitarian and development efforts must focus more on the poorest people especially in Africa.