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Investing in Food, Insuring Against Famine
Alex Steffen, 11 Dec 04

Hunger costs. People who do not have enough to eat are often less able to work, for obvious reasons, while children who suffer long-term malnutrition often also find themselves afflicted with long-term developmental difficulties. Furthermore, people who are hungry also find themselves more vulnerable to epidemic disease and less able to adapt to climate disasters.

Therefore, investing in hunger relief is, in fact, making an investment in the society's future as a whole. As the UN says:

"Hunger and malnutrition kill more than 5 million children every year and cost developing countries billions of dollars in lost productivity, yet the resources needed to effectively prevent this human and economic tragedy are minuscule when compared to the benefits, according to the report. Without the direct costs of dealing with the damage caused by hunger, more funds would be available to combat other social problems. A very rough estimate suggests that these direct costs add up to around $30 billion per year.

Now, the Economist tells us, the World Food Program (WFP) is exploring ways of using derivatives to create insurance against bad harvests.

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Also, when you're worried where your next meal is coming from, you don't care as much about human rights, politics, and other "high brow" stuff. The basic fundamentals of human activity (food, shelter) must be firmly settled BEFORE a population can become a modern nation.

Posted by: Brock on 11 Dec 04



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