Do more to combat hunger, say NGOs


(Oct 16 is World Food Day)

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New Delhi : On the eve of World Food Day and in the backdrop of the release of the Global Hunger Index report 2010, civil society organisations Friday said India should focus on inclusive growth with special focus on malnourished children to combat hunger.

“The Global Hunger Index report highlights the fact that children form the largest chunk of victims of hunger worldwide, accounting for almost half of those affected. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia were shown to have the highest levels of hunger,” an official of the NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) said.

Sharing some of their case studies, the official said: “We found two-and-a- half year old Suraj Basfore living on the platform of the Kalyani railway station in Kolkata along with his five-year-old sister. Their combined earning was Rs.20-25 a day which is duly handed over to their father, a leprosy patient, who begs for a living.”

Breakfast for the kids is a chapati which the two share, lunch is about two handfuls of rice and dal and another two handfuls of the same accounts for dinner.

“The total calorific value of both the kids put together is 1,000 calories. In other words, both the kids, surviving on throw-away food on the railway platform, were facing chronic starvation,” the official said.

“India alone accounts for a large share of the world’s undernourished children. In 2005-06, about 44 percent of Indian children under age five were underweight and 48 percent were stunted. Because of the country’s sheer size, these numbers mean that India is home to 42 percent of the world’s underweight children,” the official added.

Urging the government to take necessary action, Sandeep Chachra, executive director of ActionAid India, said: “The dark side of India’s economic growth has been that peasants, workers and excluded social groups have been further dispossessed, compounding malnutrition, hunger and even leading to starvation deaths.”

“Access to basic rights and social inclusion are critical in advancing participatory democracy and addressing chronic poverty and hunger,” he added.

In his message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that for many, World Food Day will be just another ‘No Food Day’.

“Although the number of hungry people has fallen from last year’s historic high of more than one billion, there are still 925 million hungry people in the world. We are continually reminded that the world’s food systems are not working in ways that ensure food security for the most vulnerable members of our societies,” he said.