Budget “a missed opportunity” for famine relief
The Help Fight Famine coalition has labelled the 2023-24 Federal Budget “a missed opportunity” for Australia to devote additional resources to the global hunger crisis.
Australia has allocated an additional $40 million to famine relief, from the 2022-23 Budget. Since then, Help Fight Famine says the global hunger crisis has worsened.
The recent Global Report on Food Crises led by the Food Security Information Network reported that 258 million people across 58 countries are now experiencing acute hunger, meaning their life or livelihood is in danger. That is an additional 65 million people since last year.
In the Horn of Africa, the situation is especially dire. According to the World Food Programme, 90 percent of the Somalian population is battling “insufficient food consumption.”
Among children under five, 11.8 per cent are suffering acute malnutrition and 27.8 per cent have chronic malnutrition.
The sudden onset of conflict in Sudan in April 2023, the mass movement of people fleeing that conflict and risk of disruption to agriculture in the Nile River are likely to make this situation even more dire.
The humanitarian assistance component of Australia’s ODA budget has seen a modest increase of $9 million in 2023-24, focused predominantly on disaster risk reduction in the Pacific ($8.8million) and an additional $0.3million for protracted crises.
However, there are no substantial changes to the overall budget to prepare for
Humanitarian challenges ahead, such as food insecurity and displacement.
The Humanitarian Emergency Fund, the key source of funding for the Australian Government to respond to humanitarian needs as they emerge, remains at $150m and has not increased in the last five years despite a significant rise in global humanitarian need.
“Help Fight Famine acknowledges that the Albanese Government has presided over an increase in the aid budget since it came to office,” said campaign spokesperson, Rev. Tim Costello.
“A specific, additional commitment to prevent famine would have made sense at this Budget. We will push to keep it at the forefront of humanitarian priorities.”
Polling released by Help Fight Famine in March found strong and growing support for Australia’s aid effort. The YouGov survey found that even with a raging cost of living crisis, a growing majority of Australian voters, 60 percent, support the Australian government funding overseas aid to developing countries. That increased from 52 percent in 2019 and 57 percent in 2021.