World Hunger and Malnutrition Continue:

Slow Progress in Carrying Out World Food Conference Objectives

ID-80-12: Published: Jan 11, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 11, 1980.

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The World Food Council was created as the coordinator and implementor of resolutions passed at the 1974 World Food Conference in Rome. The Council is responsible for publicizing the needs, encouraging actions, seeking support, and coordinating the participation of nations and international organizations regarding world food problems. The billion-dollar International Fund for Agricultural Development began operations in 1977 with commitments of $436 million from oil-exporting countries, $200 million from the United States, and $367 million from other developed countries.

Although a great deal has been accomplished to alleviate world hunger and malnutrition since the 1974 Conference, increases in food production have not reached the modest goals which were set. Attitudes of complacency and lack of political will are evident; calls to reduce military expenditures have not been successful; continued population growth has worsened the balance between food supplies and population growth; and efforts to include women in food and development projects have been minimal. Moreover, a unique situation exists wherein available funds tend to exceed suitable projects. Food production assistance increased 3.1 percent in 1976, with only a 1.2 percent increase in the most needy countries. Malnutrition is even more prevalent in the world today due to a lack of understanding of nutrition, the low priority it receives, and lack of an overall assessment of nutritional problems. A long overdue international wheat agreement and a food aid convention are needed. Little has been accomplished in the area of food trade due to export restrictions in developing countries, and fear of political and economic repercussions. Although funds for agrarian reform and rural development have increased impressively since 1973, progress has been slow because identification and preparation of suitable projects has not kept pace with the available funds. The issues of hunger and malnutrition no longer have the visibility or priority they had at the time of the 1974 Conference, despite the fact that the problem is just as serious now as it was then.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Agriculture and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID), working with other concerned executive agency officials, should: (1) increase their commitments on behalf of world hunger especially through greater cooperation and accomodation with their developing- country and international-organization counterparts, and by fostering the political will needed to significantly reduce the level of global hunger and malnutrition; (2) encourage donor countries to unite in urging developing countries to prepare food and agricultural development plans and projects which include measures to remove deterrents to increased food production; and (3) urge developing countries to make increased food production one of their highest development priorities, and significantly increase their own capital, labor, and related resources. In addition, the heads of U.S. agencies involved in development activities, particularly those of Agriculture and AID, should direct that more of their administrative resources and funds allocated for food and agriculture be devoted to assisting those countries needing more technical aid in the design of suitable development proposals and strategies. A small, high-level office should be established to lead and coordinate U.S. efforts in overcoming world hunger and malnutrition.

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