Sunday, November 30, 2003

The following are my edited version (cutting out things that are not relevant to Armenia) of Radio Free Europe's Nov 28 2003 article titled "UN: Despite Pledges, Report Finds More People Going Hungry", written by Askold Krushelnycky

A United Nations report published this week says more people than ever are going hungry, despite pledges to reduce by half the number of the world's malnourished by 2015. The UN report says that noble ambition is probably now unattainable.

Prague, 28 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- More than 840 million people, one out of every seven people on Earth, will go to sleep tonight gnawed by hunger.

That was not supposed to happen following a 1996 UN conference where the world's richest countries vowed to halve the number of the world's malnourished by 2015. However, a report published on 25 November by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concludes that goal is now unattainable by the original deadline.

The report finds the number of hungry people actually increased by 18 million in the second half of the 1990s. Most of those who are malnourished are from the Third World, Africa and Asia. But 34 million live in the former communist countries of Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

FAO spokesman John Riddle says someone who is malnourished does not have enough caloric intake to expend the energy necessary for a normal productive life. He said malnourishment can lead to death but that it is difficult to measure how many deaths it causes directly.

"They can die from undernourishment, but generally they die from other things caused by the fact that they weren't healthy enough to fight off those other things. So they get sick or they get an infection or something along these lines, and they're not really well fed enough to deal with it," Riddle said.

The report says Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia had levels of malnourishment of between 20 percent and 35 percent of their populations. The worst affected were Armenia, with around half of the population regularly undernourished, and Tajikistan, with 70 percent not getting enough to eat.

Gurkan says the study shows hunger declined in countries where the economies are developing well. "This report indicates that there have been a number of factors that have been instrumental in differentiating between those who have done well and those who have not done as much or as well as the others," he said. "And amongst them is indeed the economic performance, not only of the overall economy, but also of the agricultural sector, which suggests that those who have achieved higher growth rates -- as far as agriculture and overall economics are concerned --- have done better."

He says the FAO has proposed a new antihunger program that learns from past mistakes and targets assistance more accurately. The proposals include improving agricultural productivity in poor rural communities, developing and conserving natural resources, expanding rural infrastructure and market access, and ensuring access to food for the most needy.


According to everything you read with economic development and growth in Armenia and Artsakh today according to government statistics, we should be doing much better than Georgia and Azerbaijan, but as you can see, they have 20 to 35 percent malnourished, while we have around 50 percent.

So where do these inconsistencies come from?

Well to start with, Armenia has too many clans and monopolies that are directly tied to the government that control all sectors of industry. They are headed by persons who are only looking for their own personal gains, are usually uneducated and in most cases, exploit the common person. For the most part, they pay starvation wages, thus you end up with around 50 percent of malnourished persons.

One thing I'm not sure of from the UN report is what number about 50 percent represents? I say this as if they use the official population figure of 3.5 million (?), then this would mean that our malnourished rate would be much higher (which is what I suspect since there have been other reports reflecting higher numbers).

I can only conclude and have always felt that the Robert Kocharian/Serge Sarkisian government needs to go. The big problem is who should replace them so that we can turn things around? And if you think irregardless of who we bring in, things can't get better, your wrong. We need leaders that are not thinking of their personal wealth like Kocharian, Sarkisian and their clan. With leaders that are only thinking of the well being of our people, just from the natural resources our country has, we can eradicate the problem of malnourishment in Armenia and Artsakh.

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