Monday, 6 June 2011

POVERTY: India: Oxfam drive to fight poverty

STAFF REPORTER Guwahati, June 1:

Oxfam, an international confederation of 14 organisations working worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice, launched its anti-poverty campaign, Grow, in the state today.
Talking to the media, Oxfam’s national humanitarian hub manager, Zubin Zaman, said the organisation would work for food sovereignty of the small farmers and try to explore the factors that contribute to hike of food prices in Assam, as a part of the campaign.
Oxfam has undertaken sanitation works in disaster-prone areas of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Majuli and Morigaon, along with the local NGOs.
Grow, a global campaign, aims to fight poverty in collaboration with governments, companies and international bodies like G20.
In India, the campaign was simultaneously launched today in Guwahati, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Mumbai and Patna. Zaman said the campaign has been launched for four years initially.
Oxfam observed that despite Indian economy having grown considerably between 1990 and 2005, the number of hungry people increased by 65 million, more than the total population of France. This was because economic development excluded the rural poor and social protection schemes failed to reach them
“Around 60 years later, unfortunately, hunger and malnutrition remain major issues in India. About 44 per cent of children under the age of five are underweight and 48 per cent are stunted. Because of the country’s large population, India is home to 42 per cent of the world’s underweight children and 31 per cent of stunted children,” Zaman said.
He, however, said the condition of Assam was not as bad as the other states of the country in terms as food availability. However, continuous erosion and population increase point to tough times ahead. Zaman said in the agricultural field, they would give emphasis on research activities in a bid to make farmers dependent on their own seeds rather than imported ones. Besides, they would also examine the role of the imported cost factor in increasing food prices in Assam.
Zaman said Assam would be affected by the imminent global food crisis in the coming days. According to the projection of Oxfam, demand for food will rise by 70 per cent by 2050 globally while food production capacity will steadily decline.

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