Hunger and poverty have to be tackled together, says Annan

Kofi Annan

18 October 2006 – In a week marking both World Poverty Eradication Day and World Food Day, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for simultaneous action on both issues, warning that it will be impossible to eradicate one blight without the other.

“Hunger and poverty are ugly siblings. You cannot get rid of either unless you tackle the other as well… Hunger, after all, is both a source and a consequence of extreme poverty. A hungry man cannot think beyond his next meal… This has devastating consequences for the economic and social development of society as a whole,” Mr. Annan told government representatives and other officials at UN Headquarters.

“The world has the resources and the know-how to make hunger history. What we need is political will and resolve. Let us renew our pledge to work together towards the day when no man, woman or child goes to sleep hungry. Let us resolve to win the fight against hunger once and for all. And I think that, with determination, resolve and will, it can be done.”

The UN marked World Food Day on Monday, and Mr. Annan repeated that this year’s theme is the need to bolster agriculture, noting that more than two thirds of the world’s hungry live in rural areas, and increased investment in agriculture is one of the most effective means to help them.

Yesterday, the UN also marked International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, with Mr. Annan warning that the world has made insufficient progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly goal number one for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa of Bahrain echoed similar concerns today, saying that while “steady progress” had been made toward achieving the first MDG, it was not “fast enough to realise this goal.”

“The causes of food insecurity are complex, investment in agriculture alone will not be enough to take in this challenge. Rather we need to integrate health, education and environmental concerns into our approach. This can only be achieved by establishing a stronger partnership between the private and the public sector,” she told the gathered officials.

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