British Prime Minister David Cameron was to call on world powers on Sunday to boost their efforts to tackle malnutrition across the globe.
Taking advantage of the large number of foreign officials gathered in London for the Olympic Games, Cameron was to urge international action to save 25 million children from stunted growth over the next four years.
The “hunger summit” at his Downing Street residence is being co-hosted by Vice President Michel Temer of Brazil, which will host the next Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“While people around the planet have been enjoying and competing in these Games there’s another world where children don’t have enough to eat,” Cameron was to say.
“The figures are shocking. One in three child deaths are linked to malnutrition. And 171 million children are so malnourished by the age of two that they can never physically recover,” he added.
“Even if malnourished children are able to fight off sickness and infection in their earliest years, their bodies and minds never fully develop.
“It is a tragedy for them, and it’s a tragedy for their societies they live in. Children who could grow up to become doctors, farmers, engineers and entrepreneurs or great Olympians are left far behind.”
Cameron was set to pledge £120 million ($188 million, 153 million euros) from Britain to fund research into drought-resistant and vitamin-enhanced crops for Africa and South Asia.
The research could help the regions grow 11 million more tonnes of cereals, feeding up to 45 million people for a year, Downing Street said.
Cameron was also due to announce British funding for a joint program with Switzerland and Ireland helping people in developing countries to hold officials to account over food aid.
Another programme in Kenya will support a mobile texting scheme to allow early warning of “hunger hotspots,” so that food supplies can be delivered more quickly, Downing Street added.
World sport stars including Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie and Brazilian footballer Pele were due to attend the summit, along with ministers and international organizations.
The conference comes ahead of the closing ceremony for the London Olympics on Sunday, which will see the Olympic flame extinguished in the British capital and organizers hand over to the Rio 2016 team.
[image via Agence France-Presse]