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08H24 - lundi 17 juin 2013

45,000 at the Big IF Rally Call on World Leaders to Tackle Hunger (article en anglais)

lundi 17 juin 2013 - 08H24

Le 8 juin dernier, 45000 personnes se sont mobilisées contre la faim dans le monde. En participant au ‘Big IF’ des associations anglaises réunies dans la campagne Enough Food for Everyone IF à Londres, la société civile a fait pression sur le gouvernement britannique et le G8 au complet.

Selon une étude récente de The Lancet, plus de 3 millions d’enfants de moins de cinq ans meurent chaque année de malnutrition. Les chiffres alarmants sont de plus en plus connus du grand public, ce qui a permis d’augmenter la pression sur les gouvernements du G8, dont les chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement doivent se réunir aujourd’hui et demain à Lough Erne en Irlande du Nord. Le gouvernement britannique, en partenariat avec le Brésil, a organisé la conférence La Nutrition pour la Croissance le même 8 juin, lors de laquelle il s’est engagé à dédier 500 millions de livres anglaises à la lutte contre la malnutrition. On est encore loin cependant des 6,3 millions requis, selon The Lancet, pour réduire à 1 million le nombre d’enfants mourant de malnutrition.

De nombreuses associations critiquent ces engagements pris par les gouvernements occidentaux, qui ne seraient que des belles paroles non suivis d’actes constructifs. En l’occurrence, selon War on Want, les pays du G8 aident les multinationales occidentales à s’implanter dans les pays en développement, ce qui serait préjudiciable aux économies locales. Avec Monsanto, Syngenta ou Yara, les ressources sont privatisées, et les populations locales voient leur accès à la nourriture réduit. Les pays du G8 ont deux jours pour prendre en compte cette dimension, sans quoi leur tentative de mettre un terme à la faim dans le monde ne sera qu’un coup d’épée dans l’eau.

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The giant installation of spinning flowers in Hyde Park.

On the 8th June Hyde Park in London played host to the Big IF rally, part of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign aimed at highlighting the issue of hunger in developing countries. The rally was organised in a joint effort by more than 200 charities and NGOs and was timed to coincide with the Nutrition for Growth summit of world leaders on the same day. This was the largest rally of its kind in the UK since the Make Poverty History campaign in 2005.

The rally came just two days after the The Lancet published shocking new statistics showing that 45% of deaths of under-fives – 3.1 million children – each year were primarily caused by malnutrition – a 600,000 increase on previously estimated figures. Following these figures British leaders at the Nutrition for Growth summit have pledged a further £500 million to help tackle malnutrition. Campaigners at Hyde Park’s Big IF have called for this to be raised to £1 billion by 2015, however even this will fall far short of the £6.3 billion that The Lancet says will be required to reduce the number of deaths caused by malnutrition among under-fives by one million.

G8 leaders respond to civic pressure

A spokeswoman for Christian Aid, one of the charities organising the Big IF, told OI “We’re expecting thousands of people here today to put pressure on the prime minister, to put pressure on the G8 leaders who are meeting next week in Northern Ireland. We hope to be the generation who ends hunger and we think this is something that we can achieve.” Big IF campaigners also aim to highlight the issue of corporate tax avoidance – which is estimated to cost developing countries more than £100 billion in lost revenue – as well as calling for a halt to the practice of “land grabbing”, whereby precious arable land is bought up for use in the creation of biofuels for western countries.

Among the speakers at the rally was Bill Gates who told the crowd “This is the turning point in tackling what is the biggest killer of children worldwide. The UK is keeping its promise to the world’s poor, largely because all of you remind your leaders regularly, and loudly, that this stuff matters.” Danny Boyle, director of Britain’s successful Olympic opening ceremony, was also in attendance. He said that ending world hunger would be “the greatest gold medal Britain could achieve.”

Civil society must be careful the governments are no hypocrites

G8 leaders’ approach to the issue of hunger in developing countries has however been heavily criticised in some quarters. The human rights organisation War on Want for instance has stated that G8 powers see the developing world “as a possible new frontier to make profits, with an eye on land, food and biofuels in particular.” It notes that land grabs backed by G8 governments such as the ProSavanna project in Mozambique are blatantly forcing farmers off their lands and destroying livelihoods.

War on Want also draw attention to the G8’s support for multinational corporations like Yara, Monsanto, Syngenta and Cargill who profit from the privatisation of African agriculture. “Private ownership of knowledge and material resources – for example, seed and genetic materials – means the flow of royalties out of Africa and into the hands of multinational corporations.”

An estimated 45,000 people attended the Big IF rally, many of whom took part in the creation of a giant collage of 250,000 spinning flowers intended to represent “a giant, artistic petition” from the British people to their leaders – calling on them to tackle the issue of malnutrition in the developing world once and for all.

Freelance journalist