2000 : WHAT IS TODAY'S MOST IMPORTANT UNREPORTED STORY?

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Science Writer; Consultant; Lecturer, Copenhagen; Author, The Generous Man
A Dollar a Week Will End World Hunger

It's now a billion to a billion: Of the six billion human beings currently alive on this planet, one billion live with a daily agenda of malnutrition, hunger and polluted drinking water, while another one billion — including you and me — live lives where hunger is never really an issue.

The number of really rich and really poor people on the planet now match. That makes the following piece of arithmetics very simple indeed:

If all of us who are rich (in the sense that starvation is out of the question and has always been) want to provide the economic resources necessary to end hunger, how much should we pay? We assume that all existing government and NGO aid programs continue, but will be supplemented by a world-wide campaign for private donations to end hunger (feed your antipode).

The cost of providing one billion people with 250 kilograms of grain every year is approximately $40 billion dollars a year. That would seem to be a lot of money, but with one billion people to pay, it is no big deal: $40 a year! An even more moderate estimate is provided by the organization Netaid: Just $13 billion dollars a year and the basic health and food needs of the world's poorest people could be met.

With $50 billion a year as an estimated cost of ending world hunger, the expense for each well-off person is one dollar a week. It is the growth in the number of rich people on the planet, while the number of poor has not grown, that results in this favorable situation, unprecedented in human history.

The advent of the Internet makes this proposal practical and conceptually clear:

Living in a global village makes it meaningful to help end global hunger, just like the populations of most industrialized countries have already done on a national scale.

The Internet provides a simple way of collecting the money (this writer broke the embargo on his own unreported story and sent $100 to www.netaid.org to pay the global tax to end hunger for himself and one child). The money flowing through organizations such as netaid.org and hungersite.org will attract public attention and scrutiny of their efficiency in turning money into food for the hungry.

Also, the Internet makes it perfectly clear who should consider her/himself as part of the rich billion on the planet and hence pay a dollar a week: Every user of the Internet. In few years time the number of users will be one billion and we could see the end of hunger on this planet.

Obviously, once the money to end hunger is available, all sorts of obstructions will appear before those in need are fed: bureaucracies, mafias, corruption, waste. But is it not then time that we deal with them? A very important effect of annual donations from a billion people is the resulting global awareness of the embarrassment involved in the present unnecessary situation.