Imperfect Storm For World Hunger

The American dollar has been declining. And while we know it affects the U.S. economy and American tourists traveling abroad, there is another consequence. CBS Evening News Saturday anchor Thalia Assuras reports.

"World hunger is the leading global health problem in the world. There's 852 million people who go hungry every night," says Jordan Dey, a spokesman for the World Food Program, which distributes more aid to the hungry than any other body. He's a worried man.

"The U.S. budget for food aid and humanitarian assistance has remained stagnant over about the last three years. What that means is for every dollar we have, we can buy less," said Dey. "and we need donor governments to provide more resources."

He calls what is happening the perfect storm: A confluence of increasing food costs, the sinking dollar, increasing transportation costs caused by spiraling gas prices, and global warming responsible for floods in some areas and drought in some farming regions.

The numbers show how bad it's become. The U.S. gives $1.2 two billion in U.S. aid. In 2005, that fed 105 million people. Last year the same amount fed only 70 million people.

That means difficult choices will have to be made about who gets food and who doesn't.

"It will be those people who are in high profile emergencies, the tsunamis, the droughts, the earthquakes," he said. "And yet those people who live in the shadows, who aren't in the high profile emergencies, will be left out."

Congresswoman Rosa Delauro chairs the committee that sets the amount of food aid given by the United States.

"We were told 1.2 billion dollars is what we need," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. "Well we met that request. It would appear that it's more than that, and we will try in the interim to do what we can."

The government is also wrestling with the effects of other policies on aid, such as developing the bio-fuel ethanol. It's siphoning off part of the country's corn crop.

"Ethanol affects the price of corn," said Dey. "Corn is one of the main commodities we distribute around the world. ... We're now projecting that the cost of commodities for us will increase about 35 percent over the next two years."

It's estimated that 25,000 people a day die from hunger; Eighteen thousand are children.

"When you see a child at 4 or 5 years old, who can't eat or who can't walk or who can't hear because of severe malnutrition," said Dey, there's no other emotion other than severe -- just severe pain."

The world food program says that of the 850 million hungry people around the world, only about 10 percent get any help.
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