Anti-hunger petition goes to Downing Street

 
Malnourished children outside hospital in Gao, Mali More than one million children in the Sahel region are at risk of severe malnutrition, charities say

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Petitions from aid charities, signed by 500,000 people, calling for government action to combat global hunger have been handed in to Downing Street.

They want action in regions including Sahel, West Africa, where more than 18 million people are suffering from the impact of drought and high food prices.

They say Britain should use its 2013 G8 presidency to tackle hunger and try to save a million lives a year.

PM David Cameron has convened a global hunger summit in London on Sunday.

The gathering - on the last day of the Olympic Games - will bring together world leaders, business figures, non-government organisations and development campaigners in an effort to generate renewed momentum behind tackling malnutrition in Africa and other parts of the world.

'Next meal'

The Guardian has reported that British 10,000m gold medal winner Mo Farah - who was born in Somalia - is to attend the summit, although Downing Street has refused to confirm this.

The prime minister told ITV's Daybreak programme the world "needed to put its money where its mouth is" to save the lives of children in developing countries.

The UK could be "proud" of its record on overseas aid, he added, but the global attention on London at the moment gave the UK an opportunity to show it "cares about the poorest in the world".

"I wanted to do this during the Olympic Games. We are all thinking about the next gold medal, but there are millions of children around the world who are thinking, 'am I going to get the next meal?"

David Beckham outside Downing Street David Beckham has told Mr Cameron progress on hunger could be a lasting legacy of London 2012

Last week, Save the Children and World Vision warned that more than one million children in the Sahel region were at risk of severe malnutrition.

The Sahel region is an impoverished area that includes Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Chad.

The charities said the main cause was a lack of protection against shock price rises, and said they wanted more investment to protect against food insecurity.

The deaths of 200,000 children each year could be linked to malnutrition, they added.

At the end of last month, ex-England footballer and Unicef ambassador David Beckham met Mr Cameron at Downing Street to urge the UK to ensure child hunger remains a global priority.

He handed the prime minister a letter, signed by 50 sports and film stars, urging him to "pick up the pace" on the issue when the UK takes over leadership of the G8 group of nations next year.

Unicef's UK director, David Bull, said things could be done immediately such as increasing the advice given to parents and stressing the importance of breastfeeding as a source of vital nutrients.

"We know what the solutions are - some of them are terribly simple," he told the BBC. "In the long term, we need to tackle the poverty and inequality that causes under-nutrition."

He added: "We believe that it is the right time to raise the issue and we are so excited that we have had so much public support."

 

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 212.

    @ 211 "I would far rather we supported the poorest in the world who have no choice about their circumstances than fund those who choose to exploit the society that supports them."

    In principle, I too have no objection to helping these people providing we are helping to provide a sustainable answer, not prolonging the suffering to generation after generation endlessly which we are doing now.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 211.

    In the UK there are 120,000 failing families that cost us, the taxpayer, £9B a year in support for no value whatsoever, live a life many working people couldn't afford and create gun toting psychos who murder without remorse. I would far rather we supported the poorest in the world who have no choice about their circumstances than fund those who choose to exploit the society that supports them.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 210.

    Many comments that billions of aid over decades has not solved Africa's problems so stop throwing money in that direction and focus on UK problems. Lousy argument. By the same token, vast spending on the welfare state (much more than on aid) has only entrenched welfare dependency. Priority should be needless deaths. Income support + child benefit + free school lunches does not equal malnutrition.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 209.

    200.
    I get that food aid hasn't solved the problem - it's not really meant to - but I don't see how it's "extending" it. I know people talk about dependency on handouts, but you have to fix the root cause *before* you withdraw them, surely? Otherwise, you'd be no better than David Cameron.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 208.

    #205 In one respect China's 'one child' policy suggests what you propose has some merit (its not 100% successful or trouble free) but where your plan totally falls down is that its unenforceable. China's policy only works because the govt has such overwhelming power & control. You simply don't have that level of admin in any African nation never mind the Sahel belt I presume you're talking about.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 207.

    Cant afford to feed'em ?
    THEN DONT BREED'EM

    People in the West put off having kids till they have the money - Africa take note.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 206.

    Once upon a time Africa supported the population it held. Then came food aid and we helped boost the population not realising that all these mouths we fed would just have more mouths to feed and the cycle goes on.

    Invest in more farming and education rather than breed and join petty warlords then sit begging to us when the resources run out again. 50 years later were still feeding them..

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 205.

    @ 201.PatBenatar

    "Nature's non-sentient nature notwithstanding, how is x number of people being starving *and* needing somewhere to live an improvement?"

    Our beleifs differ. Mine is finding a relatively quick solution to a problem within a decade or so which breaks the cycle of endless suffering, not feeding these mouths only for them to go on and create a bigger problem by further breeding

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 204.

    @ 185. PatBenatar

    Absolutely right we cant make contraception mandatory but they'll soon start using it if we say we only provide help for up to 2 kids.

    As for large western families... that too will end if we stopped giving benefits or child payments beyond 2 kids, any more you are on your own. Folks will soon figure out the game, they did when they decided to have large families.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 203.

    A few points, I think.
    1) Unchecked reproduction - birth control education needed, along with AIDS awareness programmes.
    2) Harshly dealing with the corrupt - in most African nations - who hive off food and financial aid for their own purposes.
    3) Educate and help these countries to make the most of their environment/resources - using modern engineering and farming techniques.
    4) Remove Mugabe!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 202.

    #200 (and others on about population control). The entire population is Africa is far below that of China or India. It has the biggest rivers in the world and almost unlimited empty land which largely has a great climate. Spend enough money on enough irrigation schemes & 100,000 combine harvesters and you feed the continent 3x over. Egypt grows & exports potatoes in the desert for us!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 201.

    199. "Problematic thinking!!?? If they cannot grow food in their own countries due to it being desert then nature is telling them something - DON'T LIVE THERE!!!"

    Nature's non-sentient nature notwithstanding, how is x number of people being starving *and* needing somewhere to live an improvement?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 200.

    50 years of sending food aid hasn't solved the problem. It's extended it, that's all, condemning one generation after another to suffer the same misery of hunger.

    This is not what I call compassion. It might make us feel better but that's about all. Solving the problem is only possible if we tie the solution to reality: namely, reducing overpopulation. I'm sorry to say it but I can't see a choice

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 199.

    @ 196.PatBenatar

    "So ideally they should have no kids.
    You see why this is a problematic line of thinking? I would say the problem is a lack of food far more than a surfeit of people."

    Problematic thinking!!?? If they cannot grow food in their own countries due to it being desert then nature is telling them something - DON'T LIVE THERE!!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 198.

    195. Simpletics
    How can Africa improve when its best people are leaving the continent.
    We in Britain are taking their brightest and best to make a better future for ourselves.
    ---
    I think they come here to better THEMSELVES too.

    To be fair I agree with you pretty much but if we did do what you suggest we'd be accused of racist immigration policies and interfering in Africa!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 197.

    Help in a crisis; with education and the means to improve their own food resources. Helping them to help themselves. It's curruption and war thats preventing it happening and the brain drain to prosperous countries by those who could do it if they had more support against the 'Mafia' of that country.Aid then help.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 196.

    "Yes, I think you can blame the fact that they are starving on the number of kids these people are having - there is not the food in the local vicintity to feed them. Fewer kids means less people starving."

    So ideally they should have no kids.

    You see why this is a problematic line of thinking? I would say the problem is a lack of food far more than a surfeit of people.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 195.

    How can Africa improve when its best people are leaving the continent.

    We in Britain are taking their brightest and best to make a better future for ourselves. If we keep on creaming off their most talented people they will never move forward.

    In the past African chiefs sold millions of their fellow Africans as slaves, the British stopped them doing that

    We must now stop the modern day exodus

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 194.

    How about cutting down the number of mouths to feed?

    Birth control is the way forward, not to mention the effect it would have on helping combat the spread of AIDS.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 193.

    @ 185.PatBenatar
    "179. Birth control won't necessarily have the effect you seem to think it will. You can't make it mandatory."

    No, you cannot make it mandatory but to keep throwing money/aid at millions of people decade after decade when the problems remain is solving nothing but creating more births and the next generation of starving babies creating an ongoing cycle of suffering.

 

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