As part of his continuing efforts to fight hunger worldwide, Microsoft founder Bill Gates this week called on the governments of Germany and all of the European Union to commit to alleviating hunger, despite the region's ongoing economic crisis.
Gates, who devotes most of his time now to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, met with Germany's Development Minister Dirk Niebel today, where his foundation pledged €20 million ($27 million) to help the country's anti-hunger drive. According to the Associated Press, the German government will match the foundation's donation, with another €40 million coming from other businesses. The money will be used worldwide, including southeast Asia and west Africa.
Speaking to the German magazine Vorwärts, which is run by the Social Democratic Party, Gates criticized European governments for cutting back on anti-hunger aid during the economic crisis. "Development aid only counts for a fraction of public spending in most donor countries," Gates said, as reported by New Europe. "Cuts in this area will not solve our budgetary problems." The Social Democrats have pledged to increase anti-hunger funding to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product if they take back control in this year's elections.
According to Gates, nearly 6.9 million children under the age of 5 died from hunger during 2011 — an improvement over the 20 million who died in 1960, but not good enough. "We still have a long way ahead of us to ensure that every child that is born has the same chance of a healthy life regardless of whether it is born in a rich or a poor country," he said.
Gates, accompanied by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, launched a worldwide effort to fight hunger earlier this month. The Enough Food for Everyone campaign is supported by the Gates Foundation, the Church of England, Oxfam, Tearfund, Save the Children and nearly 100 other organizations. In announcing the campaign, Gates and Tutu warned that nearly 1 billion children worldwide will experience hunger and malnutrition by the year 2025. "Hunger is not an incurable disease or an unavoidable tragedy," Tutu said last week. "We can make sure no child goes to bed hungry. We can stop mothers from starving themselves to feed their families. We can save lives."
Over on his foundation's website, Gates wrote that he will release his annual letter on Jan. 30, sharing what the foundation has learned in the past year and what it will be doing in the coming year. "This year," he wrote, "my letter focuses on the catalytic role that measurement can play in reducing hunger, poverty, and disease. Setting goals and measuring progress are obviously not new ideas. But over the last year, I've really been struck by the impact this can have improving the lives of the poorest." He will also be talking about some of the foundation's other efforts, including helping teachers, improving health services, and eradicating polio.
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