The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged donors on Sunday to take immediate action to help countries seriously affected by the surging food prices.
"We urged donors to provide the needed assistance to the World Food Program to enable immediate support for countries most affected by the high food prices," said a communique released after the meeting of the Development Committee of the Bank and the IMF.
"The impact of higher commodity prices is mixed across countries depending on whether they are net importers or exporters," said the communique. "Within countries, large groups of poor people are severely affected by high food and energy prices across the developing world."
The Development Committee thus asked the World Bank and the IMF to respond to developing countries' requests for advice on management of natural resource revenues, and "to be ready to provide timely policy and financial support to vulnerable countries dealing with negative shocks including from energy and food prices."
"We welcomed the call by the World Bank President to the world community to combat hunger and malnutrition through a 'New Deal for Global Food Policy'," which combines immediate assistance with medium and long-term efforts to boost agricultural productivity in developing countries, according to the communique.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick also urged the international community "to put our money where our mouth is" and act now to help hungry people.
"It is critical that governments confirm their commitments as soon as possible and others begin to commit," Zoellick said at a press conference after the Development Committee's meeting.
"Hunger, malnutrition and food policy have formed a recurrent theme at this weekend's meetings, and I believe that we have made progress," said the World Bank chief. "But it will be important to continue to retain the focus on this as we leave Washington."
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF, also warned of the surging food prices, noting the high food prices can lead to starvation and shake the stability of governments, even if they have nothing to do with the increase in food cost.
"We are facing a huge problem," he said. "Thousands, hundreds of thousands of people will be starving. Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives."