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G20: Soaring food prices put 400,000 children’s lives at risk

Rising food prices over the last year have put the lives of 400,000 children at risk, in advance of the G20 summit in Cannes our director of policy has warned.

In new research published today, we analysed the relationship between rising food prices and child deaths, concluding that a rise in cereal prices – up 40% between 2009 and 2011- could put 400,000 children’s lives at risk.

With the current crisis in the Eurozone dominating the agenda at this year’s G20, we’re calling for world leaders to ensure the world’s poorest children are not forgotten and are protected from the soaring costs of food by keeping their funding promises for agriculture. 

Unfulfilled promises

At the 2009 G8 summit, 13 countries – 11 of them represented at the Cannes Summit – pledged $22 billion to help the poorest farmers. But the majority of funds are yet to be delivered, despite the scale of the hunger crisis. One year to the deadline and only 22% of promised funding has materialised.

Brendan Cox, Director of Policy and Advocacy said:

 “There is now a real risk that the crisis in the Eurozone may squeeze the global food crisis off the G20’s agenda altogether. While it is understandable that the most recent crisis gets the most attention, the G20 must not forget the on going impact of the food crisis. According to our research 400,000 children’s lives are at risk, linked to recent food price rises. 

Remember children

“On the opening day of the G20 summit rising global food prices mean millions of children will wake up hungry.   In extreme cases we are seeing children left with no choice but to eat leaves and hay. The G20 must not forget their plight and should deliver on their promises to address the crisis.” 

Malnutrition already contributes to just under a third of deaths of children each year, whilst one in every three children living in the developing world is stunted, leaving them weak and less likely to do well at school or find a job.

The food crisis has worsened the situation making is harder for parents to give their children nutritious and healthy food. 

Soaring prices

Globally, staple foods like rice and wheat have increased by a quarter, while maize has increased by three quarters. In some countries price rises have been even more severe – for example in Bangladesh in the second half of last year, the price of wheat increased by 45%.   

Brendan Cox continued: “Rising food prices are making it impossible for some families to put a decent meal on the table.  The G20 must use this summit to agree an action plan to address the food crisis and in doing so prove that the world’s poorest are not at the bottom of their agenda.”

Save the Children is responding to the food crisis by presenting G20 leaders with an action plan to tackle hunger.  The plan calls on rich and poor governments to:

  • Keep their funding promises and protect small scale farmers
  • Ensure every child has access to a nutritious and healthy meal by joining the global Scaling Up Nutrition Movement
  • Sign the Charter to End Extreme Hunger, linked to East Africa which contains five key actions governments should take to stop widespread hunger as a result of drought, high food prices and conflict

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