Since 1979, the United Nations has observed World Food Day on 16 October. It is first and foremost a reminder that many people suffer from hunger around the world. The Federal Government is working to alleviate the situation of those people, with humanitarian aid that is coordinated by the Federal Foreign Office.
The Global Hunger Index 2016 that was published this week shows that the international community has made great progress in the fight against hunger. However, much remains to be done. For example, the number of people who are suffering from hunger in developing countries has decreased by 30% since the year 2000. Yet, worldwide, some 795 million people are still affected by malnutrition. The growth of every fourth child under the age of five is stunted to some extent due to hunger or malnutrition, while some 8% of all children suffer from emaciation. It is assumed that malnutrition is to blame for nearly half of all child fatalities worldwide. In 50 countries – above all in sub‑Saharan Africa and in South Asia – the nutrition situation is either a “concern” or a “serious concern.”
Food aid – more than merely distributing food products
Food aid is a key component of humanitarian assistance. Its primary aim is to help prevent disease and fatalities due to hunger and malnutrition in crisis situations, with a view to protecting and re‑establishing the livelihoods of those who have been affected. It is closely linked to other areas of aid, for example the provision of healthcare. It is not just the amount of aid, but also the quality of that aid, which makes a difference. Hunger and malnutrition, that is, the insufficient provision of proteins, vitamins and minerals during crisis situations, results in both short‑term and long‑term damage to the affected population groups, especially in weak individuals such as children and the sick.
Humanitarian food assistance is frequently provided to mitigate the effects of sudden natural disasters or violent conflicts. For instance, the Federal Foreign Office is currently providing assistance in the amount of 1.6 million euros, some of which is food aid, to the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. But also in drawn‑out and complex crises such as in Yemen or the Congo – some of which can be considered forgotten crises – food security is a key part of humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian aid in the fight against hunger
2016, the Federal Foreign Office has provided over 1.1 billion euros to respond to humanitarian crises around the world. Many of the supported projects include food security measures. The Federal Foreign Office supports the humanitarian aid projects of the UN organisations, the organisations of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and many NGOs, with a view to fighting hunger where it occurs. As part of this, it insists on the observance of international standards and respect for local conditions.
One of Germany’s most important partners in implementing humanitarian aid measures, above all in Syria and the neighbouring countries, is the World Food Programme (WFP). All in all, Germany has this year provided a record sum of 570 million euros for WFP programmes in Syria and the neighbouring countries. Thanks to this support, four million people in Syria and almost two million people in the neighbouring countries can be supplied with food each month.