The G-7 countries want to take joint action against world hunger and make an additional 4.5 billion euros available for this purpose. From the point of view of Mathias Mogge, Secretary General of Welthungerhilfe since 2018, that alone will not be enough. In an interview with WELT, the agricultural engineer and environmental scientist, who has already worked in several African countries, explains which measures are urgently needed in the acute crisis.
Welthungerhilfe’s voice carries weight here in Germany: the institution, founded in 1962, is one of the largest private aid organizations in Germany. Patron is the Federal President.
WORLD: The G 7 want to fight world hunger with around 4.5 billion euros. Does that solve the problem?
Mathias Mogge: From our point of view, the money is not enough. After all, over 300 million people are currently suffering from acute hunger. We have long been calling for $14 billion in addition to the $12 billion already provided by major international donors for food security and food security.
WORLD: Well, not all the money has to come from the G-7 countries alone.
Mogge: Of course not. But the G7 are the biggest donors, so they are the first addressee for the demand – especially the US and Germany.
WORLD: In most cases, just throwing away a lot of money doesn’t solve a problem. Why is it different with world hunger?
Mogge: It’s no different in this case, but it won’t work without money either. First of all, the money is a sign of the political will to seriously try to get the hunger problem under control.
WORLD: How does emergency aid work?
Mogge: Wherever possible, food is bought locally to boost the local economy and agriculture. It is even better and much more efficient to give people cash so that they can take care of themselves in the markets. At the moment the main problem is not that there is not enough food in the countries, but that the prices are so high that too many people cannot afford it. So there is an access problem.
WORLD: But would there still be enough for everyone?
Mogge: At the moment there is enough for everyone, but it is too expensive. In the coming year, however, it could be tight.
WORLD: Why is that?
Mogge: Climate change is bringing extremely high temperatures and drought, for example in India and parts of Africa. The effects are not foreseeable – especially since they add up to the consequences of the war. That’s not just my personal opinion, it’s also what the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concludes from its global observations.
WORLD: That means that it is no longer enough to simply make a lot of money available?
Mogge: Then we will have an even bigger problem. That is why we must reduce the massive dependencies of some countries on imports. It’s all about Africa.
WORLD: The war is blocking exports from Ukraine. At the moment, Russia is allowing the price of grain to rise as a result of the war – and as a large exporter, it is benefiting greatly from this. Isn’t that a moral issue?
Mogge: There are always profiteers. Such is the reality.
WORLD: A wheat embargo against Russia would not be conceivable?
Mogge: We are very much in favor of the markets remaining open and everyone who can export. Anything else would be a fatal signal to the market – and the price would continue to rise. We have already seen this when India, Ghana and Ivory Coast announced export restrictions.
WORLD: Doesn’t the price also increase if so much G-7 aid money is now entering the market and demand is growing?
Mogge: That can certainly happen in isolated cases. The biggest buyer of grain will actually be the World Food Program (WFP), including oil, legumes, salt and sugar. The experts of the WFP will carry out a good market research in each case. However, because of such effects, cash transfer is the better way.
WORLD: Why isn’t it always done that way?
Mogge: In countries like Afghanistan there isn’t enough supply on the markets. We can’t avoid food deliveries.
WORLD: How does the World Food Program prevent the cash from falling into the wrong hands?
Mogge: When selecting partners, the World Food Program takes great care to ensure that there is no abuse. There are numerous scientific studies showing that these cash transfers are spent by people on food. This instrument started about 15 years ago. A lot of things are now cashless – for example via wallets on cell phones. There are big successful social programs like in Ethiopia or India.
WORLD: Is that enough?
Mogge: No, the food system has to change, i.e. the way we produce what we produce. For example, the strong dependence on mineral fertilizers – or on only very few crops worldwide. Above all, the system must become more climate-resilient. Just look at the Horn of Africa, where four rainy seasons in a row have failed. That is why more must be done for adaptation programs in developing countries at the next world climate conference in Egypt. It’s not as simple as distributing food, but fighting hunger is a complex matter.
WORLD: What responsibility do German farmers have, some of whom could now earn quite well from the wheat prices?
Mogge: I think one should rather ask what responsibility do we have in the Global North? We still eat far too much meat, we still waste far too much food, we put too much food in feeders and biofuel.
WORLD: Do you think there will be a quick recovery when the war in Ukraine ends?
Mogge: No, food prices were very high even before the war – also because of the expensive energy. In addition, the pressure on land as a resource is incredibly great. Countries like China are securing large areas of cultivation for palm oil and rubber, for example. Hunger is an ongoing problem.
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