A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Ten years after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed by world leaders became the greatest-ever commitment for a ‘more peaceful, prosperous and just future', progress is slow and many hard-won achievements have been undone after the global food, fuel and economic crises.
Unless an urgent rescue package is developed to accelerate fulfillment of all the MDGs, we are likely to witness the greatest collective failure in history.
Along with the goals on maternal health and water and sanitation, MDG 1 – eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – is one of the most off-track MDGs. In 2009, the number of people going to sleep hungry every day reached an all-time high of more than 1 billion – most of them children and women. The fact that these goals remain so far from success puts the whole MDG initiative at risk. Halving hunger must be one of the top priorities for urgent action at this year's MDG Summit in September.
The only chance of avoiding failure is a rescue plan for all MDGs that includes the necessary measures, both political and financial. Because halving hunger is still possible. Some countries have achieved tremendous advances in hunger reduction through a combination of effective policies and investment. Malawi, for example, is no longer dependent on food aid and has even become an exporter after it facilitated access to subsidized seeds and fertilizers to small producers. And Brazil has made the fight against hunger a state policy, combining social protection programs with support for family-based agriculture.
To achieve the target of halving hunger by 2015, Oxfam recommends:
- Developing countries to lead a revitalized global effort to halve hunger by adopting the right policies and plans and increasing their own public investment in key sectors, including agriculture.
- Support the reformed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) as the key forum for policy guidance and co-ordination of global action to address global food governance and the root causes of hunger and malnutrition.
- Both developed and developing countries to reach an annual increase of $75 billion to invest in agriculture and rural development, food security, social protection, nutrition programmes and food assistance. Donors should provide half of this amount as ODA, with developing countries contributing the other half from national budgets.
- Recognize and strengthen the fundamental role of women in food security and nutrition.
- Regulate food commodity markets, to reduce speculation and price volatility.