G8 leaders will promise to feed the world, again

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Newly arrived Somali refugees await medical examinations for their children at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya Photo: REUTERS/Kabir Dhanji

There is nothing new about G8 leaders promising to feed the world.

Encouraged by celebrity campaigners, the goal at Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005 was for the industrialised nations to "make poverty history". They didn’t of course - despite bold commitments on development, nutrition and aid.

Four years later, at L’Aquila in Italy, a new strategy committed the major powers to $22billion of investment to end hunger. The result was, largely, the same. Most of those objectives have not been met.

Now, the leaders of the major powers are meeting again, and Africa is on the agenda... again.

ITV News' Rohit Kachroo reports.

World leaders stand for a family photo during the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy in 2009 Credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

This time they will talk hunger, poverty and agriculture at the palatial fortress of Camp David in the United States.

No-doubt, countless, urgent-sounding statements will be uttered from behind podiums; chins will be stroked; some African leaders will be invited into the meeting room, and then asked to leave for the serious stuff.

The host, President Obama, will commit world leaders to a "green agricultural revolution" to help the poor, hungry African. It will be a "major food security initiative" (not to be confused with the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative of 2009).

Same old, same old. But in many ways Camp David will be different. It has to be:

The impact of global hunger is more visible than it has been for years. The recent famine in East Africa killed an estimated 100,000 people, most of them children.

The sun sets over the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

This year, a hunger crisis has struck Western Africa, where 15 million people are threatened with starvation in countries like Niger, Mali and Mauritania. Conflict was a factor in both cases, but many of those deaths were avoidable.

Second point: With food prices rising, campaigners believe that the meeting leaders must do more to unleash the potential of African agriculture to put food on the tables of the whole world, rich and poor.

Some are calling not just for more money, but for more imaginative schemes to get farmers growing. One impact, they argue, would be lower prices in British supermarkets.

Then there is the most defining element of this unique backdrop: the world economy. Recession and fragile governments might make firm commitments to foreign countries much more difficult. Leaders risk being seen as having prioritised morality over hard reality.

Many campaigners feel that once they are on their flights home, leaders will quietly dismiss the choices made. But rarely has more been at stake.

The promises that emerge from Camp David might sound familiar, this time the consequences, for all of us, might be far greater.