, ROME, Nov 16 – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva accepted an award Monday for his efforts to combat hunger on the sidelines of a UN summit on food security.
"The Brazilian experience and that of other countries shows that the fight against this problem requires above all political will and determination," Lula said as the anti-poverty group ActionAid honoured him for "successfully reducing hunger in Brazil."
Accepting the award at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Lula criticised the indifference of the international community to the plight of the hungry.
"Many seem to have lost the capacity for indignation over such suffering," he said, calling hunger "the worst weapon of mass destruction on the planet."
"Millions and millions of dollars are being wasted on saving failed banks," he added. "With less than half of these sums we would have made it possible to wipe out hunder in the world."
ActionAid’s research found that Brazil ranked first among 30 developing countries, the group said, adding that Lula has reduced child malnutrition by 73 percent and child deaths by 45 percent since assuming office in 2003.
"President Lula has shown the world that it is possible to take dramatic steps to fight hunger by supporting smallholder farmers and implementing welfare programmes directly benefiting the poorest," said Adriano Campolina, ActionAid’s regional director for Latin America.
"This should be a lesson for other leaders at the world food summit today. The most important thing is directing political will behind fighting hunger," Campolina said.