New Delhi: As the world leaders prepare for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) review meeting next week, a new report says hunger could be costing poor nations as much as $450 billion a year.
The report `Who`s Really Fighting Hunger`, published by non-governmental organisation ActionAid, reveals that the amount that is being lost due to hunger is double of what will be needed to halve hunger by 2015.
"Fighting hunger now will be ten times cheaper than ignoring it. Every year reduced worker productivity, poor health and lost education costs poor countries billions," said Actionaid director Joanna Kerr.
The report shows that 20 out of 28 poor nations are off track to halve hunger by 2015 and 12 of these are going backwards, despite UN claims that the world is on track to meeting the MDGs.
It adds that if China, the most successful growing economy is removed from the scoring, the percentage of hungry people in the world is the same as when the goals were set two decades ago.
According to the report, Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Pakistan and Lesotho are some of the countries with the lowest rank in eradicating hunger.
India, though not at the bottom, lags far behind. It ranks 21 in its overall performance towards hunger eradication, while Brazil ranks first, followed by China.
"Despite a radical and rapid increase in India’s economy, drastic cuts in agriculture and support to small farms, means nearly half of the country’s children are malnourished and one in five of the population is hungry," the report said.
China, it said, will meet its hunger goal five years early.
Brazil has halved the number of underweight children in less than 10 years.
Notably, African country Malawi has reduced the number of people living on food handouts from 1.5 million to 150,000 in just five years.
"The cost is not just financial. If governments don’t act now over a million more children could die by 2015 and half of Africa won’t have enough food in ten years," said Kerr.