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Iraq: Number Of Hungry People Has Dropped Steeply

Number Of Hungry People In Iraq Has Dropped Steeply, Says UN-Backed Report

New York, Nov 12 2008 10:10AM

The number of people without adequate access to food in Iraq has been slashed by three-quarters, according to a new assessment conducted jointly by the war-torn nation’s Government and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment (CFSVA) – carried out last year with support from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – found that the 930,000 people were hungry in 2007, down from some 4 million in 2005.

But Edward Kallon, WFP Country Director for Iraq, said that he could only give a “cautious welcome” to the figures “because 930,000 is still far too many for a relatively wealthy country.”

He added that there are an additional 6.4 million people who would go hungry were it not for safety nets such as the Government-run Public Distribution System (PDS).

Under that mechanism, all Iraqis are entitled to a monthly food basket, but frequent shortfalls and distribution delays have hurt vulnerable families.

Mr. Kallon credited increased economic activity in Iraq, triggered by improved security conditions and the humanitarian efforts of the international community, to the reversal of food insecurity.

“But the situation remains volatile and any deterioration could undermine the whole process,” he noted.

The Assessment surveyed the food security situation of 26,000 people across the country. It also looked closely at the nutritional status of children under the age of five, and found an improvement in national acute malnutrition rates, little change in chronic malnutrition rates and alarming stunting rates in five districts.

The new study called for continued food aid to those most in need and ongoing collaboration with the Government to reform the PDS.

It also urged bolstered nutrition and caring practices for mothers and children, as well as scaling up micronutrient programmes and providing food education in the poorest areas, focusing on girls’ school enrollment and attendance.

ENDS

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