As the Olympics draw to a close on Sunday 12 August, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is holding a ‘Global Hunger Event’ with other world leaders. The aim of the summit is to urge action on the food crisis in poorer communities round the world, as prices rise in response to poor harvests. Acute malnutrition rates in places such as Yemen and West Africa are causing deep concern.
The summit is also being supported by Olympic champion Mo Farah. His impressive win in the 10,000m was loudly celebrated by his family in Somaliland, our team there were excited to share earlier this week. It comes at the end of a fortnight spent celebrating those who, like Mo Farah, have reached their full sporting potential, training their bodies to be faster, stronger and better than their rivals. It is a reminder that a proper diet is crucial for athletes. But the escalating food crisis in poorer areas of the world is still depriving hundreds of millions of people from reaching their full potential, trapping them in a cycle of ill health and poverty.
Yemen is one of the countries Progressio works, and where food needs are particularly acute right now. Even before recent shortages hit, half of Yemen’s population were living on less than $2 a day. Political and economic turbulence has exacerbated this situation with the prices of basic food supplies increasing dramatically and clean drinking water becoming scarce. Almost 50% of Yemenis lack sufficient access to food and water.
Progressio has a long history of working in Yemen and so is well placed to assist local partners as they respond to this worrying situation. But meeting the immediate needs is only one part of the story. Long term solutions will be needed if we are to avoid future emergencies. That is why we are focussing our efforts on building resilience - to improve access to food and water in the long term. You can support Progressio’s vital work in Yemen.
Yemen is by no means the only country at risk. Around the world one billion people go to bed hungry every night. “This is an unacceptable situation, and world leaders need to do more,” said Tim Aldred, Progressio’s Head of Policy. “We need an ambitious plan to combat immediate needs in Yemen and elsewhere. And we need a long term commitment to improve food security for the long term, including tackling the volatility on world food markets”.
This is why Progressio has welcomed the move to press action now. “The Olympic Games reminds us that we are all one human family, wherever we are from. This summit is a real opportunity to agree ambitious plans to tackle hunger in Yemen and around the world” said Tim Aldred. “There will be many legacies from the Olympics, and this could be one of the most important” he concluded.