25,000 Die from Hunger Every Day

News Abroad

Mr. Lambers is the author of the The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Imagine living off little or no food, day after day. In the Sudan there are at least several million people at risk for hunger after fighting in that country between rebels and the government.

But Sudan is not alone. Hunger claims 25,000 lives every day across the globe. The war against hunger needs to escalate. The United States must lead the international community in this fight.

The fight against hunger is crucial to the United States as it actively promotes freedom and democracy worldwide. Freedom is the right to sustenance. It was President Roosevelt who labeled one of the four essential freedoms as the “Freedom from want.” The struggle for freedom worldwide begins with the fight against hunger.

The international community needs to increase funding to the United Nations World Food Programme, the organization at the front line of feeding the hungry. It was failure to fund the World Food Programme that led to a tragic cut in food rations for the war refugees in the Sudan during May. Today, it is feared that food shortages in the Sudan will jeopardize a recent peace agreement that ended fighting between rebels and the government.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo hunger is also a threat to a nation trying to recover from years of civil war. According to the World Food Programme “humanitarian assistance is essential to reinforce the peace process” in the Congo where democratic elections are scheduled for later this year.

Afghanistan is another new democracy struggling to survive. Droughts and fighting between the Taliban and the coalition are a constant risk to that impoverished nation’s food supply. Can we be certain that enough funding will be available to meet emergency food requirements in Afghanistan? Hunger and poverty in Afghanistan will harm a country that is vital to the war on terrorism.

In Kenya millions more are at risk of starvation from a major drought. The list of nations suffering from hunger goes on and on. The World Food Programme states that 800 million people suffer from hunger. The international community has to properly fund these humanitarian crises around the globe.

Back in the 1960 it was President Eisenhower who called for international cooperation in fighting hunger. When President Kennedy took office he expanded the U.S. Food for Peace program started under President Eisenhower. Food for Peace sent U.S. surplus food overseas to needy countries. Kennedy wanted to make an international version of Food for Peace that all able countries could contribute to. Kennedy stated that “International cooperation, international organization, and international action are indispensable” in the fight against hunger. Other nations followed the United States lead in funding and developing what would become the United Nations World Food Programme, the largest food aid organization in the world. The U.S. Food for Peace program is a major donor to the World Food Programme.

United States leadership is again needed to rally the world in increasing funding for the World Food Programme to avoid tragedies such as the cutting of rations in the Sudan. Timely funding to the World Food Programme is crucial because it takes several months for donations to find their way through bureaucracy and shipping before translating into a meal. The resource pipeline of food aid must be kept flowing.

 Road being constructed in Southern Sudan (Courtesy of WFP/photo by Norken Ltd.)Increased donations will also help build infrastructure in underprivileged countries. In the Sudan, the World Food Programme is helping construct roads for a faster movement of supplies. Other aid programs improve food security and storage to preserve stock.

Efforts to eradicate disease are also bolstered by increased food supplies. A case in point is the AIDS virus which is ravaging areas where hunger exists. James Morris, director of the World Food Programme, states, “Without a healthy diet, their fight to survive this plague is being fought with one hand tied behind their backs.”

Hunger is the most potent enemy for the international community to overcome. It is an enemy that is unrelenting. Disasters, both natural and manmade, are constantly reappearing around the world creating new humanitarian nightmares. It is clear that more resources are needed to meet the massive challenge of fighting hunger. For the United States, leading an escalated assault on hunger will save millions of lives and help fulfill everyone’s right to “freedom from want.”

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Michael Barnes Thomin - 7/13/2006

My bet is that Mr. Thomas made a simple mistake, and did not intend to misrepresent the article. The number quoted in the article is easily verifiable, although is it somewhat inaccurate and outdated. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 25,000 die every year from hunger AND poverty, as the 2000 World Health Report states.

"FAO says that 25 000 people are dying of hunger and poverty every day. How do you count the number of hunger victims?

The data is from the World Health Report 2000 (WHO). The main causes leading to the estimates include diseases and lack of safe drinking water and sanitation. The estimate is a relatively conservative estimate, amounting to a little over 9 million deaths per year, of whom 6 million are children under the age of five who die prematurely, as a direct or indirect result of hunger."


Frederick Thomas - 7/11/2006

Neocolonialism is the preallocated excuse you and other apologists use to let simple murderers off the hook. This permits you to blame the developed world. You do this because you wish to maintain the disastrous leftist model in the third world which has impoverished it more than any other cause.

If India and China have not proven it to you, Capitalism works, and Communism don't. Stop flogging a dead horse, and permit these people to at last enjoy a decent standard of living for a change.

Bill Lambers - 7/11/2006

The article states "Hunger claims 25,000 lives every day across the globe."
The previous post by Mr. Thomas misrepresented the content of the article and the intent of the author.

adam richard schrepfer - 7/11/2006

If he admits that neo-Colonialism is a problem, will you admit that Islam is a problem?

Lorraine Paul - 7/10/2006

You don't see a connection with post and/or neo-Colonialism in many of these conflicts, Frederick? Pity.

Frederick Thomas - 7/10/2006

Catchy title, but that adds up to over 9 million dead per year. In Darfur alone? Don't think so. There would have been none left by now.

This would not be the first time that a "historian" made up numbers for dramatic effect. Don't overreach, Mr. Lambers. 25 per day is bad enough. Leave the extra zeroes home and build some credibility.

Frederick Thomas - 7/10/2006

In the case of Sudan, the bad guys, those seeking to kill their political opponents by bullets and starvation, are Muslim, the targets other tribes.


In Northeast Africa, particularly Somalia, the same thing has gone on for many years. Islam and tribalism mixed to the point of mass murder. In West Africa it is often the same.



Europe had such conditions during the high middle ages - constant war, deliberate starvation and mass killing of civilians, but that was 800 years ago. We had our Normans, Angevins, Capetians, Plantagenets and today's Africa has its Islam in many guises.


Nancy REYES - 7/9/2006

Alas, most hunger is man made.

Most of the African hunger is from bad government. Look at Mugabe's destruction of budding middle class entrepeneurs (who were undermining cheap Chinese goods and opposing him politically) by operation cleanup.

And look at all those civil wars...who is funding these people?

The dirty little secret is that Africa has great wealth. Angola's oil... The Congo's riches in minerals could lift that country out of poverty...the riches of the rain forest are not even realized.

And agriculturally, if you got rid of the tse tse fly, and Africa could be another Kansas (a place which was once called the Great American Desert). But the relationship of the Tsetse fly and wildlife makes this impossible (rinderpest, anyone?)...

The UN has already been stymied in peacekeeping: China's economic expansion by coddling up to dictators will veto any meaningful action, as we see in the Sudan. And their failure in pressuring Zimbabwe to stop destroying houses (which continues to this day) is embarassing...

There is a dirty little secret called subsidarity by Catholics and local action by others.

You do not remove hunger or poverty or corruption by throwing money at a problem, but by working thru grass roots organizations: Churches, mosques, clinics, local councils, encouraging business investment.

The US, who is often accused of being "cheap" because it won't fork over money to the UN, actually encourages their citizens via tax breaks to work thru these grass roots organizations--
not to mention the economic development from the much hated "globalization", i.e. investment in local industries that result in jobs for local people.

Personally, I will send money to Oxfam or to the SJI Sisters in Zimbabwe rather than to give it to the UN to pay some bureaucrat a large salary to "supervise" paperwork.

The UN does a lot of good (their help with vaccination funding and training, for example), but portraying it as a monolithic answer is wrong.