To get a sense of Africa's unrelenting hunger, look no further than the fever-bright eyes of 17 severely malnourished infants languishing in a West African hospital.
Worse-than-normal food crises raging all but unaddressed in parts of Mali and elsewhere in Africa this year have focused new attention on the politics and geography of hunger across the world's poorest continent, as well as on how rich nations respond.
"Hot spots come and go due to crisis and drought, but the vast majority of (Africans) are just too poor to feed themselves when there's a slight disruption of their environment," said Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program.
"As you can see from Niger, you have a long period with nothing, then the camera crews arrive and it becomes a political issue. Then aid arrives," Smerdon said. Still, across Africa, "the vast majority of people are forgotten," he said.
One in three of Africa's 900 million people lack enough food each day, the United Nations said. African hunger is "a chronic problem, particularly in chronically impoverished places. It takes only something small to push people into the position where they need food aid," Smerdon said.
Eight of the 17 emaciated babies at the local hospital arrived from the city center where markets are full of food -- but many nearby residents are too poor to buy it.
[From an AP article written by Edward Harris]