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PIA Press Release

Feature: World Food Day is "No Food Day" for 1 billion people

Rome (17 October) -- As the number of hungry people worldwide shoots past record levels, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called on the world to remember the more than one billion urgently hungry people with inadequate access to food.

"World Food Day is actually'No Food Day' for almost one out of every six people around the world this year," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. "Let's remember that more than one billion people won't get enough nutritious food to eat today.

We can change this - so our challenge is to turn'No Food Day' back into'World Food Day' for the hundreds of millions without food on their table tonight." Sheeran added.

Last year, governments responded with record donations to WFP, contributing more than US$5 billion to support us at a time when high global food prices were spreading misery, and threatening instability as hungry communities took to the streets in protest.

"Many nations, despite facing their own economic challenges, have prioritized support to the urgently hungry and have kept their contributions at record highs," added Sheeran.

"While the needs are indeed overwhelming, make no mistake this generosity is saving millions of lives. We give thanks and urge all those who can help even more to do so."

This year, as the number of hungry people passes one billion for the first time in human history, support from key donors is vital. Once again, WFP has been able to depend on their support, and many of our traditional donors are striving to maintain the admirable levels of funding they have committed in the past. Some have even exceeded the amounts they have given in previous years.

Sheeran added that for decades, WFP has been able to feed around ten per cent of the world's hungriest men, women and children, but this year, for the first time, the agency is unlikely to reach that target. As an agency that responds to emergency needs, WFP has also had to meet many unforeseen demands in 2009, such as the response to the recent floods in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, 17.5% or an estimated 3.2 million families have experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months, according to the most recent Social Weather Station Survey. Since its return to the Philippines in 2006, WFP has been supporting the Government of the Philippines national efforts to address hunger by assisting vulnerable people in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao where people are particularly food insecure.

The organization has established a number of programmes, including school meals, food-for-work and food-for training activities, maternal and child nutrition and food assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs). At the same time, WFP is always ready to support national disaster response efforts, as demonstrated by our ongoing emergency operations to assist the victims of tropical storms in Greater Manila and Luzon.

In keeping with the theme of this year's World Food Day-Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis-WFP's ceremonies focussed on the communal garden that the organization has developed in Lanao del Norte to assist returning families who were originally displaced by the Mindanao conflict in August, 2008.

A youth forum on hunger mitigation and food insecurity issues was conducted by Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), with some 200 students from Iligan City participating.

"WFP needs more partners to meet our commitment to fight hunger at these critical times," said WFP Country Director Stephen Anderson. "The needs are rising as the available funding is falling, so we have to reach out to as many people as possible."

"In Mindanao," he continued, "we are working closely with the Government and our private sector partners to ensure that the food and nutrition needs of beneficiaries in the conflict-affected areas are fully supported. We don't want anyone to go hungry, neither the victims of conflict in Mindanao, nor the victims of nature's fury in Greater Manila and Luzon." (pr-WFP) [top]

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