Vienna, 17 October 2011 – The recent report on “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011” describes a continued deterioration of the worldwide food situation over the past two years. “We have to step up our efforts to counteract this trend. Industrialised and developing countries both have to contribute to this fight”, said Wolfgang Waldner, State Secretary in the Foreign Ministry.
The famine in East Africa is yet another proof of how urgently structural reforms are required, he said. “The order of the day is to join forces and help the destitute people at the Horn of Africa immediately. More than 13 million people are suffering from the effects of the drought and are now facing a desperate struggle for survival. Austria has responded by increasing its help six times and is to provide additional emergency relief funds of seven million euros”, Waldner said referring to a resolution taken by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. The funds will reach the people directly via projects of international and Austrian humanitarian organisations.
The long-term work of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) will continue to focus on sustainable water and sanitary management, health and food security.
The current report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme on the current food security states that some 925 million people were suffering from hunger in 2010 – which means a nearly 10 percent increase compared to 2008. In addition to climate-related crop failure, it was increasing demand, mainly in Asia (China and India), the boom in biofuels and the sale of productive land to foreign investors that have triggered a further increase in food prices. This in turn has entailed further deterioration of the food situation as a whole. “People who are already disadvantaged suffer most from this development”, Waldner said relating to the World Food Day on October 16 and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17.
The reasons for food insecurity and poverty are manifold and always go hand in hand. “In contrast to international tendencies, Austria has consistently promoted rural development and supported mainly small-scale and organic farming. This approach has proved to be successful – as is shown by the example of North Gondar in Ethiopia or the province of Sofala in Mozambique – and has reduced the probability of food bottlenecks”, Waldner concluded.
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