For many readers, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving means leaving work early and travelling to our friends and families homes, all in preperaration for a giant meal tomorrow. This seems like an opportune time to remind people that there are over a billion undernourished people in the world. Here are some statistics on global hunger from the World Food Program. If these stats are as offensive to you as they are to me, joining the WFP’s Fill the Cup campaign is a good way to make a difference. GLOBAL HUNGER 1.02 billion people do not have enough to eat – more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union; (Source: FAO news release, 19 June 2009) The number of undernourished people in the world increased by 75 million in 2007 and 40 million in 2008, largely due to higher food prices; (Source: FAO news release, 9 Dec 2008) 907 million people in developing countries alone are hungry; (Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008) Asia and the Pacific region is home to over half the world’s population and nearly two thirds of the world’s hungry people; (Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008) More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women; (Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2006) 65 percent of the world’s hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. (Source: The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008) CHILD HUNGER Every six seconds a child dies because of hunger and related causes; (Source: State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2004) More than 70 percent of the world’s 146 million underweight children under age five years live in just 10 countries, with more than 50 per cent located in South Asia alone; (Source: Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006) 10.9 million children under five die in developing countries each year. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the deaths; (Source: The State of the World’s Children, UNICEF, 2007) The cost of undernutrition to national economic development is estimated at US$20-30 billion per annum; (Source: Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006) One out of four children – roughly 146 million – in developing countries are underweight; (Source: The State of the World’s Children, UNICEF, 2007) Every year WFP feeds more than 20 million children in school feeding programmes in some 70 countries. In 2008, WFP fed a record 23 million children. (Source: WFP School Feeding Unit) MALNUTRITION It is estimated that 684,000 child deaths worldwide could be prevented by increasing access to vitamin A and zinc (Source: WFP Annual Report 2007) Undernutrition contributes to 53 percent of the 9.7 million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries. This means that one child dies every six seconds from malnutrition and related causes. (Source: Under five deaths by cause, UNICEF, 2006) Lack of Vitamin A kills a million infants a year (Source: Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency, A Global Progress Report, UNICEF) Iron deficiency is the most prevalent form of malnutrition worldwide, affecting an estimated 2 billion people.6 Eradicating iron deficiency can improve national productivity levels by as much as 20 percent. (Source: World Health Organization, WHO Global Database on Anaemia) Iron deficiency is impairing the mental development of 40-60 percent children in developing countries (Source: Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency, A Global Progress Report, p2, UNICEF) Vitamin A deficiency affects approximately 25 percent of the developing world’s pre-schoolers. It is associated with blindness, susceptibility to disease and higher mortality rates. It leads to the death of approximately 1-3 million children each year. (Source: UN Standing Committee on Nutrition. World Nutrition Situation 5th report. 2005) Iodine deficiency is the greatest single cause of mental retardation and brain damage. Worldwide, 1.9 billion people are at risk of iodine deficiency, which can easily be prevented by adding iodine to salt (Source: UN Standing Committee on Nutrition. World Nutrition Situation 5th report. 2005) WFP-supported deworming reached 10 million children in 2007 (Source: WFP Annual Performance Report 2007) FOOD & HIV/AIDS In the countries most heavily affected, HIV has reduced life expectancy by more than 20 years, slowed economic growth, and deepened household poverty. (Source: 2008 UNAIDS Global Report on the AIDS Epidemic) In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the epidemic has orphaned nearly 12 million children aged under 18 years. (Source: 2008 UNAIDS Global Report on the AIDS Epidemic). WFP and UNAIDS project that it will cost on average US $0.70 cents per day to nutritionally support an AIDS patient and his/her family. (Source: Cost of Nutritional Support for HIV/AIDS Projects, WFP, July 2008) Assistance for orphans and vulnerable children is estimated at US$0.31 per day. (Source: Cost of Nutritional Support for HIV/AIDS Projects, WFP, July 2008) Here is an inside look at how the WFP reponds to a global crisis.