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#5318: Haiti and hunger (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>


   LONDON, Oct 16 (AP) -- Somalia, Afghanistan and Haiti rank as the
hungriest countries in the world, according to a new measurement introduced
Monday by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
   In an effort to better quantify hunger as the world struggles to reach
goals set at the 1996 World Food Summit, the FAO unveiled a "depth of
hunger" measurement in its annual food security report.
   Comparing the average dietary intake of the undernourished in a given
country with the minimum requirement needed to maintain body weight under
light activity, the FAO found that hungry Somalis are missing 27 percent of
their minimum requirement.
   The hungry of Afghanistan are missing 26 percent of their minimum
requirement and of Haiti 24 percent.
   The three countries also rank highest in terms of percentage of
population undernourished -- Somalia at 75 percent, Afghanistan 70 percent
and Haiti 62 percent.
   A total of 826 million people -- nearly one in six in the world -- do
not get enough to eat, according to the report. The vast majority of these
-- 792 million -- live in developing countries.
   Nations attending the World Food Summit pledged to reduce the number of
hungry people to 400 million by 2015, but the FAO report says progress has
been so slow that it now predicts the target cannot be achieved before
   Asia has the most hungry people, but food insecurity is most severe in
sub-Saharan Africa, with notable deficiencies in 19 out of 46 countries.
   High hunger causes high infant mortality rates and low life expectancy,
but this year's report also found that women tend to suffer the most.
   Women are generally smaller and less muscular than men, requiring less
dietary energy per day, but the FAO found that a woman's more demanding
physiology requires an equal amount of nutrients.
   The result is that women -- even when not pregnant -- require more
nutritious food and suffer more in times of hardship.
   Pointing to recent success stories in Ghana and Thailand, the FAO
advocated a mix of political stability, sustainable economic growth and
agricultural research to eradicate hunger.
   In Ghana, agricultural research identified new market opportunities for
farmers growing cassava. Between 1990 and 1998, annual consumption of
cassava in Ghana rose from 282 pounds to 510 pounds per person.
   Undernourishment in the country fell from 29 percent to 10 percent
during that period.
   In Thailand, poverty and malnutrition fell dramatically over the last
two decades as the country focused on sustainable rural development.
   Nearly 37 percent of Thais lived below the poverty line in 1988, but by
1996 poverty had been reduced to 11.4 percent.