With malnutrition already well past dangerous levels, some 10 million Africans will face extreme hunger over the next few months as the threat of famine floats across West Africa amid a drought that killed off last year’s crops and has left the region’s agricultural economy in ruins.
A drought in southwestern China, where it has not rained in more than five months, is putting a damper on the lives of 50 million people, while costing the national economy $3 billion and leaving more than 20 million people without enough potable water.
A World Bank report, held from public view for several months, finds strong evidence that increased production of biofuels such as ethanol has caused a sharp climb in the price of foodstuffs worldwide. “The report stands as a blistering rebuke to the Bush’s administration’s unchecked biofuel boosterism,” argues environmental writer Tom Philpott.
Zimbabwe’s president plans to stop by Rome for a food summit sponsored by the United Nations, a fact that Australia’s foreign minister finds “frankly obscene.” He’s not alone in his disdain for Robert Mugabe, who has transformed Zimbabwe from one of Africa’s bread baskets into a place of chronic hunger.