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A woman receives cans of oil at a food distribution in South Sudan

A woman from the Murle ethnic group receives cans of oil during a food distribution by United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Gumuruk, South Sudan, on June 10, 2021. (Photo: Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP via Getty Images)

UN Food Chief Details How Mega-Rich Like Elon Musk Could Spend Just $6.6 Billion to Avert Deadly Famine

"This hunger crisis is urgent, unprecedented, and avoidable," said the head of the World Food Program.

Julia Conley

Less than three weeks after SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk suggested that he and other billionaires are powerless to help the tens of millions of people across the globe who are suffering from hunger—and dared experts to prove him wrong—the executive director of the World Food Program did just that, providing a detailed proposal for how Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and other billionaires could prevent 42 million people from starving with a tiny fraction of their vast wealth.
 
David Beasley called on Musk to look at the United Nations agency's "one-time appeal to billionaires" for $6.6 billion, which the WFP says could save 42 million people from starvation in 2022.

"While there's $400 trillion of wealth in the world today, shame on us that we let a single child die of hunger."

 
"Elon Musk, you asked for a clear plan and open books," tweeted Beasley on Monday. "Here it is! We're ready to talk with you—and anyone else who is serious about saving lives."
 
Under the proposal, $3.5 billion would be used to purchase, deliver, and store food for people across 43 countries, and $2 billion would go towards cash and food vouchers, supporting local economies and helping "those most in need to buy the food of their choice."
 
For only $700 million, Musk and other billionaires could pay to design and manage "the implementation of efficient and effective programs for millions of tons more food and cash transfers and vouchers," and $400 million would go towards long-term global and regional operations management including "coordination of global supply lines and aviation routes... global monitoring and analysis of hunger worldwide; and risk management and independent auditors dedicated to oversight."
 
"The $6.6 billion required would help those in most need in the following way: one meal a day, the basic needed to survive—costing $0.43 per person per day, averaged out across the 43 countries," reads the WFP's plan. "This would feed 42 million people for one year, and avert the risk of famine."
 
As Common Dreams reported last month, when Beasley first appealed to the exorbitantly wealthy few, the cost of staving off the global hunger crisis amounts to 0.36% of the wealth amassed by U.S. billionaires since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
 
"This hunger crisis is urgent, unprecedented, AND avoidable," tweeted Beasley on Monday.
Musk, whose net worth is estimated at more than $276 billion, scoffed at Beasley's original plea last month, demanding that the WFP give a full accounting of how $6.6 billion could prevent famine and what the agency would do with the money.
 
"As for getting hung up on the marginal costs of a little wrongdoing here and there, maybe ask yourself how much that compares to the waste at your own company," retorted Disney heiress and economic justice advocate Abigail Disney, adding, "I’m happy to help if you want to do this for real."
 
Beasley's appeal comes amid reports that the number of people on the brink of famine has risen from 42 million to 45 million in less than a year, with Afghanistan the primary source of the increase. With the global community withholding aid funds following the Taliban's takeover, 60% of the Afghan population is suffering from acute hunger, and 3.2 million children under the age of five in Afghanistan are expected to face severe malnutrition by the end of the year.
 
Madagascar is also on the brink of the world's first famine driven almost entirely by the climate crisis.
 
Along with Yemen, Sudan, and South Sudan, the five countries account for 20 million people who are facing starvation.
 
"The world is on fire," said Beasley on Monday. "I've been warning about the perfect storm brewing due to Covid, conflict, climate shocks, and now, rising supply chain costs. IT IS HERE."
 
 
"While there's $400 trillion of wealth in the world today, shame on us that we let a single child die of hunger," tweeted Beasley.

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