News Room / News and Events
World Food Day comes as millions suffer during famine in Somalia
15 October 2011
"World Food Day 2011 and the coming G20 meeting in Cannes is an opportunity for the leaders of the world’s richest countries to demonstrate their concrete will and commitment to eliminating global hunger...so that the surviving generation of children in Somalia and other parts of Africa do not have to experience the indignity of famine ever again", Shabel Firuz, Islamic Relief
The 16th of October is World Food Day, an international day aimed at raising awareness of the problem of global hunger. It comes this year as millions of people continue to suffer during the famine in Somalia, with hundreds dying every day from starvation.
“World Food Day is an opportunity to draw people’s attention to the fact that so many people around the world don’t have access to a sufficient amount of food - a problem that we can see most clearly right now in Somalia”, said Shabel Firuz, Islamic Relief’s Head of Region for Africa.
East Africa has been hit recently by the worst drought in 60 years, with 13.3 million people affected across the region.
In Somalia the UN has declared famine in 6 regions of the country - 4 million people are food insecure and 640,000 children are malnourished.
But the crisis in Somalia is part of a wider problem facing people in some of the world’s poorest nations – the instability of food prices, which is the theme of this year’s World Food Day.
In developing countries – where 98% of the world’s hungry people live – many people spend most of their income on food. When food prices rise the increased cost of buying food severely affects the ability of people to feed themselves and their families.
“In Somalia people are fleeing to places like Kenya and Yemen in the hope of finding food and water, that’s how food insecure they are – they decide to leave their homes, their country”, added Firuz.
Food prices have become increasingly volatile after decades of stability and this worrying trend may continue, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). After three decades of falling food prices, prices have been steadily increasing since 2002 and have seen great hikes and volatility since 2008.
The most vulnerable are the poor in places like Africa where there are countries that depend heavily on imported food.
“In Somalia famine was not just caused by drought - which devastated livestock across the region of East Africa - it was also caused by conflict and high food prices”, added Firuz.
The situation in Somalia is catastrophic; so many people are dying every day. The death rate in some areas is well above the famine threshold.
“Without a massive and immediate surge of resources and assistance to those areas and people most in need, over 750,000 people are at risk of death from starvation in Somalia in the coming months”, added Firuz.
It’s clear that the problem of food price rises poses a massive threat to the future of some of the world’s poorest people. Somalia is just one example of the kind of human devastation it can help to bring about.
With climate change threatening more extreme weather and the increasing integration of food commodities in to wider commodity markets, including those linked to the energy sector, without urgent global action food price volatility and inflation is set to increase significantly in the coming decade.
“World leaders in the coming G20 summit in November need to act urgently to put in measures to stabilise global food prices and put in measures for controlling and regulating speculation in food commodity markets”, added Firuz
“Over fifty years ago, President John. F. Kennedy said “We have the ability, we have the means, and we have the capacity to eliminate hunger from the face of the earth. We need only the will."”
“World Food Day 2011 and the coming G20 meeting in Cannes is an opportunity for the leaders of the world’s richest countries to demonstrate their concrete will and commitment to eliminating global hunger, stabilising global food prices and restricting speculation on food commodities so that the surviving generation of children in Somalia and other parts of Africa do not have to experience the indignity of famine ever again.”