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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Hunger on the rise
6/24/2009
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More than 50 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from hunger.

The number of malnourished individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean increased by nearly 13 percent last year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO. The body estimates that some 53 people in the region — 9 percent of the total population — is suffering from hunger.

“A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. “The silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security.”

The FAO estimates that the number of hungry people this year will rise to more than 1 billion.

A drop in hunger rates in Latin America and the Caribbean have been cancelled out by higher food prices and the global economic crisis, the organization said.

At the end of 2008, basic food prices were 24 percent higher than at the end of 2006.

“For poor consumers, who spend up to 60 percent of their incomes on staple foods, this means a strong reduction in their effective purchasing power,” said the FAO in a statement.

In response to the economic crisis, many poor households have reduced the number of meals and increased their consumption of foods that are cheaper and of poorer nutritional value, as well as skimming health and education budgets.

The FAO recommended the creation or improvement of social security programs, and called for increased investment in the farming sector, the only way to eradicate hunger and poverty.
—Latinamerica Press.


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