International aid agency Oxfam on Monday called on world leaders to redouble their efforts to fight the impact of rising food and fuel prices, which it said were eroding real gains in poverty reduction.
Oxfam said in a statement ahead of a crucial United Nations meeting in New York this week to assess the state of the world's fight against global poverty that higher food prices indirectly affect progress towards many of the other goals as well, not least because hunger negatively impacts on peoples' ability to work, stay healthy and for children to go to school.
"In the face of these new and daunting challenges we need a dramatic shift in political will and ambition. This meeting must deliver concrete plans on how to keep these anti-poverty targets in our sights," Alison Woodhead, Oxfam International's Spokeswoman, said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The latest UN estimates suggested that the number of malnourished people worldwide has increased by 75 million, to 925 million, reversing progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving world hungers by 2015.
Oxfam urged world leaders to treat this as an emergency summit and step up their efforts in the fight against poverty.
"Leaders must not just re-issue empty promises, with their fingers crossed behind their backs. This is a poverty emergency that requires exactly the same attention and response as the financial crisis grabbing the headlines. Significant progress has been made but much more needs to be done," said Woodhead.
The organization said remarkable progress is possible, even in the poorest countries. "In Rwanda the number of children dying from malaria has been cut by two-thirds in the last two years alone," it said.
"A boy born in Tanzania today is 25 per cent less likely to die by his first birthday than his sister born just four years ago," said Oxfam.