“Many children are abandoned because their parents know they can’t feed them and can’t stand to watch them die in their arms,” Bridget Flynn, senior education major, said about children in Ethiopia, Africa. She spent the summer there as an intern with Catholic Relief Services.
“Even abandoning a child in a stranger’s garden is better (than keeping them), because then it at least has hope – hope for survival.”
As you can see, “the food crisis has hit very hard in Ethiopia.” Flynn explains her experience working at a center for malnourished children and seeing firsthand the effect the current rise in food prices is having.
Food prices all over the world have risen drastically. Increased cost is forcing more that 100 million people into extreme poverty, according to reports from the World Food Bank. The hike in food prices is affecting everyone, but the poor in developing counties are being hit the hardest. Relief agencies are not financially equipped to handle the need.
World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran has called high food prices a, “silent tsunami for the world’s hungry.”
The urgency is that poor families in poor countries spend 60 to 80 percent of their budget on food whereas people in the developed world spend 10 to 20 percent of income on food and can adjust easier to the increase in food prices.
Flynn explains, “People are also getting less for their money. Besides living on much less than a dollar a day, their money goes so much faster. The average cost of rice has tripled in the past year while income has more or less stayed the same.”
The rise in the cost of food has resulted from a plethora of factors working together, making it difficult for the world’s hungry to provide food on their own.
These factors include the increase in energy costs, the demand for animal protein, the use of grain for biofuel and especially floods, droughts and natural disasters.
“The food crisis is just beginning. By early next year, it will be deeper and broader as more segments of society are pushed into poverty by the combination of higher prices for food and energy worldwide. We must act now,” Catholic Relief Service (CRS) President Ken Hackett said.
CRS has committed an additional $1 million in private funding for projects over the next two months that will help the poor in a half a dozen countries deal with the food crisis.
Bruce White, CRS policy adviser for food security and hunger, said private funding is crucial for sponsoring food aid relief because of limited government funding.
“The food crisis caught the world off-guard and no one was prepared to fund the extra need,” White said.
White explains that prices are not expected to go down to where they were before – but are predicted to level out around 2015. Still, the prices will be much higher than previous years and relief organizations need to adapt to the new behavior changes in hunger seasons around the world.
“The hunger crisis is grabbing people’s attention to look at hunger in a different way,” White said. “We need to remember that although media attention is shifting, this crisis still exists.”