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World Bank Paints Grim Hunger Picture Better Economies, New Jobs Needed More Than Handouts

Some 750 million people around the world go hungry every day, but they need economic help more than they need food handouts, the World Bank said in a strategy statement Wednesday.

“If we want to reduce hunger effectively, we have to reduce poverty,” bank President Lewis T. Preston said in a foreword to “The World Bank’s Strategy for Reducing Poverty and Hunger.”

Reducing poverty, the World Bank’s basic task, requires helping governments make their economies grow and provide jobs for the poor while avoiding practices that undercut local farmers, he said.

Except for those who grow their own food, the strategy statement said, avoiding hunger depends primarily on getting money. The poor spend up to 85 percent of incomes on food, it said.

“They are not wasting their money,” said the bank, the world’s biggest source of aid loans to poor countries. “People will meet their nutrition needs more cost effectively if they receive the money equivalent of the commodities supplied from food aid.”

Third World governments sell to their citizens most of the food given them as aid except in emergency situations. Sales prices are often lower than available in markets, and that discourages local farmers, the bank statement said.

Critics say governments providing food aid often buy grain and other items to help their own farmers and business people, which means the needs of poor countries come second. The U.S. government, the biggest donor, has run out of food surpluses it acquired to keep up market prices and also is reducing amounts it will spend in the market to buy food for aid.


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