Monday, August 22, 2005

600 million Asian kids living in poverty

BANGKOK - From the garbage dumps of New Delhi to the tsunami-hit coast of Indonesia, nearly 600 million Asian children, or half the region's young population, are living in poverty, a leading child charity said yesterday.

"What is happening here is catastrophic," said Michael Diamond, Asia director for Plan, an international development agency, at the launch of a "Growing up in Asia" report on child welfare in the region.

Despite rapid economic growth in many countries, many Asian children are being left behind and lack access to basics such as food, clean water, shelter, healthcare, education and sanitation.

If nothing is done by rich and poor countries alike, the lost potential - and lost lives - could be one of the most tragic failings of modern times, Diamond said.

Outlining a strategy to spend US$1 billion ($1.45 billion) in 12 Asian countries in the next decade, the 68-year-old agency said it would try to give children a voice and change the attitudes of many societies towards their treatment of the under-18s.



If American-type countries would reduce their meat consumption by just 10%, enough grain would be saved to feed 60 million people. This figure is close enough to the number of people that die from hunger-related diseases each year. It would also free enough land and resources to grow over 12 million tons of grain annually -- enough to feed all those who died of starvation. This happens while millions agonize over one diet after another. Changing patterns takes one step at a time by one person at a time, but no one wants to go first.
Worldwatch states that 75% of the Third World imports of corn, barley, sorghum, and oats are fed to animals and not people. "In country after country, the demand for meat among the rich is squeezing out staple production for the poor." The demand for meat among the rich takes precedence over grain production for the poor since "cash" crops come first. Two-thirds of the grain exported from North America goes to feed livestock which then filters back to only feeding the ones who can afford that type of food.
Everyday, enough grain is fed to animals to provide two loaves of bread to every human being on earth.
In the US alone, the daily consumption per capita is 102 grams of protein, most of which is of animal origin. Americans alone consume about 2.6 billion pounds of dairy cow meat annually. The USDA confirms that roughly two-thirds of all cattle slaughtered are from spent dairy stock.
Twenty-five years ago, livestock consumed only 6% of Mexico's grain. Today, that figure is more than 50%. The same trend can be seen in South America, North Africa, and the Middle East. The demand for beef is more lucrative, and farmers succumb. While a typical acre of land in Latin America can easily produce over 1200 pounds of grain every year, that same land is used to graze cattle and barely yields fifty pounds of edible food.
In the US, 230 pounds of animals are consumed by each man, woman, and child per year, while in India animal consumption is less than 5 pounds per person. Forty-one million metric tons (2200 pounds per metric ton) of plant protein is fed to animals in order to produce 7 million metric tons of animal protein.
According to the World Bank, the number of people unable to meet their basic subsistence needs has reached 1.1 billion, with 14 million children dying every year from hunger and related causes. All the while, large quantities of grain and dairy products continue to be stockpiled in the US, Canada, and the European Economic Union. more here...

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