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AFRICA: Annan calls for "green revolution" to reduce hunger
July 6, 2004
This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

© Lusa News

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

ADDIS ABABA, 6 Jul 2004 (IRIN) - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday that halving hunger in Africa by 2015 under global anti-poverty goals seemed more of a "far-off fantasy" than an achievable target. He called for a "green revolution" if the lives of 200 million people suffering from chronic hunger on the continent were to be radically changed.

"Africa is the only continent where child malnutrition is getting worse rather than better," Annan said. "Tragically, the past decade has seen very little progress."

Addressing an audience which included seven African leaders, scientists and development experts, he said the green revolution in Asia had tripled food productivity there. "Africa has not yet had a green revolution of its own," he told told a seminar on reducing hunger at the UN Conference Centre in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Women often bore the brunt of shortages, Annan noted, adding that they also did "the lionís share" of agricultural work, preparing food and gathering water and firewood. However, they lacked access to credit and technology training, and were often denied legal rights, including the right to own land, he said.

Girls, Annan noted, suffered disproportionately in terms of nutrition, with the result that they gave birth to underweight children. "Thus the plight of poverty and disease is carried forward to the next generation," he said.

"We are here today to end this pattern, and ensure that Africaís children enjoy a different inheritance," he stressed.

He argued that by applying scientific and technological know-how, the continent could generate its own green revolution for the 21st century. This would involve the expansion of small-scale irrigation, the improvement of soil health, electrification and the provision of access to information technology and hunger early warning schemes.

Annan also dwelt on the AIDS pandemic, which is claiming 6,500 African lives a day, thereby robbing the continent of a generation of farmers. "In Africa, fighting hunger and fighting AIDS must go hand in hand," he said.

The seminar addressed by Annan was jointly sponsored by the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger and the Ethiopian government, and was entitled "Innovative Approaches to Meeting the Hunger MDG in Africa".

Participants in the high-level gathering will focus on practical and innovative steps to halve the number of hungry and malnourished people in Africa by 2015. They aim to address ways of improving agriculture, health care and nutrition, and of rectifying weaknesses brought about by poor infrastructure, weak markets and massive environmental degradation.


Source: IRIN

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