April 13, 2008

The World Bank on Sunday launched a “New Deal” to fight hunger and poverty and urged governments to take action against a food crisis that has sparked deadly unrest in developing countries.

A doubling of food prices over the past three years could push 100 million people in poorer developing countries further into poverty and governments must step in to tackle the issue, World Bank president Robert Zoellick said.

“Based on a rough analysis, we estimate that a doubling of food prices over the last three years could potentially push 100 million people in low-income countries deeper into poverty,” Zoellick said at the end of the World Bank spring meeting here.

“This is not just a question about short-term needs, as important as those are. This is about ensuring that future generations don’t pay a price too.”

Calling on governments to begin tackling the issue, Zoellick said: “We have to put our money where our mouth is now so that we can put food into hungry mouths. It’s as stark as that.”

On the eve of the meetings, Zoellick had said the crisis could mean “seven lost years” in the fight against worldwide poverty.

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