High inflation increases hunger in South Asia: UNICEF

NEW DELHI, June 2, 2009 (AFP) – The global financial crisis and a spike in fuel and food prices have left 100 million more people without adequate food in South Asia compared to two years ago, according to a UNICEF report Tuesday.

More than 400 million people face hunger in a region where over 75 percent live on less than two dollars a day, the document said.

Titled “A Matter of Magnitude: The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Women and Children in South Asia”, it blames the so-called “Triple F” factor, which refers to food, fuel and the financial crisis.

“The eight countries in South Asia have been shaken by the shocks and turbulence in commodity and financial markets over the last two years,” the report said.

A sharp rise in the price of global fuel increased the costs of transport, freight, fertiliser and energy and eventually basic food staples such as rice, wheat and cereals, according to the report.

Daniel Toole, UNICEF’s Regional Director in South Asia, called the levels of malnutrition in the region “scandalous.”

South Asia includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Inflation has had a sharp impact on rural areas, where those earning less