At least one in six - 17% - of the world’s population is going hungry, a level of undernourishment last seen in 1990, said ActionAid reacting to new hunger figures released today by the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The number of hungry people rose to 963 million in 2008, forty million more than in 2007. The FAO said that the increase in hunger was primarily due to higher food prices and that the world economic crisis could tip even more people into hunger and poverty in 2009.
Poor people in Africa and Asia are telling ActionAid that basic staples remain unaffordable and as investment in agriculture falls the charity is already seeing the influence of hunger, job losses and loss of earnings in the countries in which it works.
Alex Wijeratna ActionAid campaigner said: “Today’s hunger figures are horrendous, but this is just the beginning. As the financial crisis starts to bite it is likely that there will be a billion hungry people by next year.
“One in three in sub Saharan Africa is now chronically hungry and it is the poorest and often female-headed households that are being hit hardest.
“Only US$30 to 40 billion is needed to tackle the global food crisis. That’s peanuts compared to the trillions that are being used to bail out the world’s banks.”