Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't forget world hunger urge development NGOs

Concord press release, 15 October 2008

On the eve of the World Food Day and the World Day Against Poverty, CONCORD, the European Confederation of Development and Relief NGOs, called for a swift and strategic response by the European Union to the global food crisis.

“Whilst the attention of European decision-makers is concentrated on the turmoil in the financial markets, they would do well to remember that the “other” crisis - that of 1 billion people facing hunger - requires their urgent attention as well,” commented Olivier Consolo, CONCORD’s Director.

“We believe that the 1 billion euros promised by the European Commission towards a Food Facility must be additional to the existing aid funding*. In the last week we have seen governments pull out all stops to raise hundreds of billions to bail out banks, so the 1 billion proposed by the European Commission is spare change in comparison and there can be no excuse for member states to cry poor,” he added.

But CONCORD drew attention to the fact that simply throwing money at the problem is not enough. “The money must be spent wisely, which means it needs to go to the small scale farmers and producers who are our only real hope for eradicating hunger,” Olivier Consolo continued.

Unless they are adequately targeted, CONCORD fears that measures to boost production may lead to investments in large-scale agricultural exploitation, working with technologies and providing markets not accessible to small-holders.

“As well as finding the additional 1 billion, the European Union must therefore engage in developing a new agricultural agenda which gives priority to local control and helps people realize their Right to Food. The real problem is less one of food shortage but of insufficient purchasing power. We need to produce food in order to raise not just the supply of food, but also the purchasing power of those who produce it,” he concluded.

CONCORD will mobilise its 1600 member and affiliated organisations to take its message to the General External Relations Affairs Council on November 11 which will make a decision on the shape and form of the proposed food facility.

(*) The funds need to meet the principle of “double additionality” ie. they must be additional to Heading 4 of the European Commission funds and additional to the development aid budgets of member states.

Contact: Andrea Maksimovic – International Cooperation Coordinator- Solidar – - + 32 (0)2 500 10 27; Ester Asín Martínez – Policy Coordinator – CONCORD: +32 2 743 87 81 / /

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