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

    Comment number 232.

    Keep hearing the term 'entrenched' welfare dependency.
    Most 'welfare' money is going straight into the pockets of landlords - the tax payer is subsidising their portfolios.
    Many profitable businesses are subsidised by tax payers - because the wages are so low in relation to the cost of living.
    How exactly, are we expecting people to climb out of poverty in these circumstances?

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Why are we giving aid to oil-rich Nigeria? Why are Nigerians so poor when they have vast oil wealth? Same goes for other African nations where the leaders are fabulously rich (after getting our aid) but the ordinary people live hand-to-mouth! We should stop sending money! Instead, send farm equipment and seeds and experts to show local people how to grow their own food.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    #210 I think it was in Victorian times that politicians were first warned about welfare creating welfare dependency and nothing has changed since. Indeed the areas of greatest poverty in Victorian times are the same areas as now (mostly) Simply throwing money at the problem is not solving it. That does not mean you stop all money but that money is merely part of the solution not the whole of it

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    We are throwing good money after bad in Africa. Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of Southern Africa but Mugabe wrecked agriculture. In other African nations, vast sums in aid are siphoned off by corrupt politicians i.e. Rwanda. Africa is a rich continent but its peoples need to help themselves, not rely on handouts. Yes, we need to end the welfare dependency in UK too! And stop African wars!

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    I know that the absurd cost of housing is a key factor in welfare spend and that our landlords do very nicely thank you....but I'm struggling to understand how each problem family can be costing an average of £75k pa - does anyone have a breakdown of these costs - does it include cost of imprisonment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Is it appropriate that the Minister for overseas aid is a morally repugnant offshorer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.


    I read a while ago that over 95% of Nile water is used by humans before it reaches the sea. Piping water from the Nile to the Serengeti is thus a) unworkable, and b) would wreak havoc on the Serengeti ecology. Besides which, Serengeti soil is very thin, and not much use for farming, hence why it's used for cattle.

    In short, it would do more harm than good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    "No, my solution is to stop the ongoing cycle of suffering which famine relief provides"

    The worst you can say about famine relief is that it *could* lead to dependance. But I don't accept that without evidence, any more than I would if you said it about, say, Child Benefit in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    shortshrift Hmmm. Priority - by definition - means some get dealt with earlier than others"

    Priority is about the relative allocation of resources. We spend about 15% of GDP on "welfare" and less than 0.7% on foreign aid. So we are clearly placing addressing "relative poverty" ahead of "absolute poverty" and the distribution of playstations as opposed to basic foodstuffs makes the point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.


    I have it... we ship the 120k problem families to Africa where its cheaper to support them, we replace with 120k Africans who I guarantee will will work their socks off given the chance and actually contribute to UK society as opposed to them holding a hand out and our own holding their hands out. We get rid of one set of hands held out. Fab...

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    shortshrift Hmmm. Priority - by definition - means some get dealt with earlier than others. Again I ask you, are you saying "put our own problems after others". The playstation comment is specious. Do you really think all the poorer people here have such things? You've been watching too much Eastenders. We have some seriously poor folk here and your "prioritise" comment is offensive to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.


    "..your "solution" is to move people out of Africa (because you think it can't sustain them?), but you say nothing about where they should go *to*, let alone how."

    No, my solution is to stop the ongoing cycle of suffering which famine relief provides and make tough decisions which prevent famine in the first place. I said nothing about displacing people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    At some point in the future self serving politicians and corrupt Governments will need to address the real issue - an ever increasing world population. Until that happens its all a waste of time and money and just exacerbating the real problem. Not nice to talk about when people are starving but its the only long term solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    205. "Mine is finding a relatively quick solution to a problem within a decade or so which breaks the cycle of endless suffering"

    I guess breaking a cycle is easy if it doesn't matter what situation you end up in. As far as I can tell, your "solution" is to move people out of Africa (because you think it can't sustain them?), but you say nothing about where they should go *to*, let alone how.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    #213 Actually I was thinking of ploughing up the entire Seringeti & irrigating it with canals from the nile (and yes I know that would cost about the same as the Apollo program). Bunny hugging apart if there is a shortage of food you either grow more food or let a huge chunk of the population die. As Africa's population is lower than India I see no reason why we don't grow more food.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    214. "Are you suggesting we should cease dealing with our own - relative - poverty?"


    Glad we could clear that up.

    I used the term "priority". And I do think we should prioritize tackling unnecessary death over the inequitable distribution of PlayStations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    In principle, I too have no objection to helping these people providing we are helping to provide a sustainable answer"

    A sustainable future depends on ensuring a level playing field in trade. As long as the US and EU subsidise rich farmers to produce surpluses that get dumped on "3rd world" countries, their own farmers cannot compete and have no incentive to produce their own surpluses

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.


    bang on the nail.... its same with welfare in the UK, by giving, welfare or food aid endlessly we discourage self reliance and effort to become self reliant. Not suggesting we stop and watch them die but we need to give with some strong messages about, this is not forever, so sort yourselves out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    shortshrift Are you suggesting we should cease dealing with our own - relative - poverty?
    What a bizarre creature you are.
    The problem is moving Africans into the 21st century.
    There should be, as I said before, a concerted effort by the west in providing birth control aid and education - along with removing corruption. If Africa rejects our intervention, then starvation's inevitable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.


    Africa has lost vast amounts of topsoil these last 50 years. Rainforest has been stripped and water reservoirs tapped out. With hunger still rampant, your suggestion is... create MORE farmland? Strip more forest and lose more topsoil?

    Not a solution I think, since it hasn't worked so far.


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