22 nations said to be in hunger crisis

Associated Press / October 7, 2010

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ROME — UN food agencies said yesterday that 166 million people in 22 countries suffer chronic hunger or difficulty finding enough to eat as a result of what they called protracted food crises.

Wars, natural disasters, and poor government institutions have contributed to a continuous state of undernourishment in the 22 nations, including Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan, the Food and Agriculture Operation and the World Food Program said in a report.

A country that reports a food crisis for at least eight years and receives more than 10 percent of its foreign assistance as humanitarian relief is considered to be in a protracted food crisis, the two agencies said — offering the first definition of the term in hopes of improving aid response to these nations.

“Protracted crises can become a self-perpetuating vicious cycle,’’ said a report by the two agencies. “Recovery may become progressively more difficult over time.’’

Among the 22 nations, the proportion of people who are undernourished is almost three times as high as in other developing countries. UN officials say that 1,800 calories per day is considered the minimum energy intake on average. Anyone regularly without that intake would be considered undernourished, or “chronically hungry.’’

Countries in protracted crisis require targeted assistance, with the focus not only on emergency relief but also on longer-term tools, such as providing school meals or implementing food-for-work programs, the report said.

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