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More arms, less food for people

Apr 27, 2010

Instead of allocating funds to address poverty, close to 5 billion euro were issued by the Italian Government in arms export authorisations in 2009. Italy’s foreign policy has regressed overtime. Unimondo will launch a campaign at the end of May to encourage politicians to take right steps in meeting MDGs.

“Let's Empty the Arsenals and Fill the Granaries” said Sandro Pertini, President of the Italian Republic, the highest office, from 1978 to 1985. Instead of making a step in the right direction, Italian foreign policy has regressed and seems to be going in a completely different direction. 2010, in fact, marks two records.

The first: in 2009, almost 5 billion euro of arms export authorisations were issued by the Government.
The second: Italy allocated fewer funds for public development aid than any other western country. OECD, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development states that: Italy in 2009 allocated only 0.16% of national wealth, against the promised 0.56. We have touched bottom. The amount allocated for cooperation funds instead of being increased was cut to a third of last year’s, exactly 31.1%.

Italian broken promises will damage commitments towards Millennium_Development_Goals and, weaken significant programme commitments to reduce poverty in poor countries that UN member States set to meet by and no later than 2015.

OECD’s report, as the Guardian points out, accuses Italy’s overall system of public aid. Development aid Coordination, in fact, has reminded Italy of all 16 recommendations already put forward in 2004 and it added another 19: only by achieving all 35 objectives – states the Report – can Italy re-establish development cooperation in line with the best procedures of OECD Countries.

On top of this, overseas, Obama, fiercely fighting against lobbies, hopes to see an American mission on Mars by 2035. If need be he will allocate 6 billion dollars for the next 5 years. Frankly, it is hard to understand why one would make such an investment on Mars when a billion people are, simply, hungry on Earth. They don’t have bread. Not only in Kenya but also in Washington.

All of this between one G8 and another; between a past and future promised commitment. The economic crisis has become an excuse to warrant taking grain away from the poor but not metal from the rich while in almost every corner of the earth the shame of having to line up for a piece of bread can be seen.
But another world is possible. WHO gives us 10 good reasons to make this our challenge:

1. Save lives. Poor nutrition is the largest single contributing factor to child mortality, more than HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined. 

2. Why it is possible. The world has enough knowledge, abilities and means to prevent child malnutrition in less developed countries.

2. It’s doable. We have the knowledge, ability and means to prevent child undernutrition in developing countries.

3. Irreversible effects. Without the right nutrition in the first two years of life, a child’s physical and mental development is compromised irreversibly.

4. Key in emergencies. Getting vital nutrients to the hungry in emergencies means you can save more lives.

5. Stave off disease. Malnourished bodies are more vulnerable to diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

6. Prevention best. Acting before malnutrition becomes severe makes sense.

7. Reduce stunting. Chronic undernourishment often results in stunting – or lower than average growth.

8. The economic cost. Malnutrition has a significant economic cost, representing up to 11.4 % of a nation’s GDP.

9. New products. There is a range of simple solutions now available for fighting malnutrition. For example, micronutrient powders, or ‘Sprinkles’, are sachets containing a powder that can be sprinkled onto food to ensure people get all the micronutrients they need.

10. Building foundations. Combating malnutrition means ensuring that those in the next generation – the very future of our planet – are able to reach their full potential by having healthy minds and bodies.

At the end of May Unimondo will be at Terra Futura, a fair-meeting where “good practices” of social, economic and environmental sustainability, in all fields, from daily life to social relations, from the economic system to public administration can be discovered and achieved together. We will launch a campaign to encourage politics to make a step in the right direction and promote useful choices in favour of the many, not the few. As Raoul Follereau, we will ask Heads of States for less bombers and more welfare. Those who wish to come can sign the petition. Each signature will help deploy arsenals and fill granaries.

Source : Unimondo
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