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179 posts categorized "Hunger Report"
Todd Post for Bread for the World, 2011
Hilary Rodham Clinton may be remembered for many things she said while Secretary of State, but one of the most oft-quoted things she said during her tenure at State was when she spoke at an event in July 2012: Evidence and Impact: Closing the Gender Data Gap. Clinton said, "Data not only measures progress, it inspires it."
She repeats this statement quite often, or at least some permutation. Thank heavens. Since it appears she may be running for president of the United States, we need leaders who recognize that data is more than about numbers and charts—it’s a public good, no less a public good than the food system, clean air and water, or children. Yes, children are a public good - who else but them will produce the future leaders of our nations and whom all nations will eventually depend on to address the catastrophe of climate change. Today's leaders certainly have all the data they need to get started; what they lack is the courage and political will. Here's hoping our kids are more inspired than we adults have been.
You may have heard something about the fanfare around Big Data. A Data Revolution appears to be taking place. Something akin to data available to everyone, anywhere, any time, and about aloost anything – a click away, two at the most. The so-called data revolution is very much a gender equality issue, and here on International Women’s Day let’s try to understand why.
In the business I'm in, i.e. ending hunger, we frequently say that hunger is predominantly a woman’s issue. We think women experience hunger at a higher rate than men. I’d bet that is probably correct, but the fact is we really don’t know for sure because the way we collect data doesn’t allow us to arrive at a definitive conclusion.
“Are women and girls more likely than men and boys to be undernourished?” asks a 2011 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the institution charged with collecting and publishing data about undernutrition, or what we more commonly call hunger. According to FAO, “A positive answer to this statement is not supported by available evidence.”
Here’s the problem: Poverty and hunger are normally measured in terms of income or consumption at the household level, not for individuals, so separate hunger and poverty rates for men and women cannot be calculated. Gender disaggregated data are needed to arrive at clear conclusions.
The Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015, are likely to be succeeded by another round of development goals. One of the most anticipated improvements to the MDGs will be more gender disaggregation in how progress on the new goals is measured. UN Women has a lot to say about this, so I would steer you there if you’re interested in knowing more about this.
Another example may help to clarify why this issue matters so much. According to UN Women, “the lack of data [on gender-based violence] saw one of the most serious human rights violations excluded from the [MDG] framework. It's critical that we use the post-2015 framework to push the data and evidence base forward, rather than allowing the data we have available to us frame the priorities we set ourselves.”
Today, everyone wants to pledge their allegiance to evidence-based policymaking. I attended an event earlier in the week here in Washington, DC commemorating the upcoming International Women’s Day. The event was hosted by one of the most prominent development organizations in the world, which also happens to specialize in women in development. The event included release of a new paper and as the president of the organization introduced it and the researcher who would present the paper, she made clear to emphasize that this organization, hers, was driven by evidence-based research - not ideology, not opinions, not anything I guess you could say that smacked of the subjective.
The room was packed with women, and as one might expect, the ratio of women to men was no less than nine to one. In the room were some of the most respected thinkers and leaders in the development sector’s work on gender inequality. I looked around the room and the thought crossed my mind that when these women (and the men also) decided to focus so much of their life’s work on overcoming gender inequalities, few of them I'll bet based that decision on a thorough analysis of the evidence base.
This so called data revolution, like any revolution, is the means to an end—what we know to be the right thing to do, the elimination of gender inequality and the championing of human rights for all. As for that, we don't need to consult the data.
Gender bias is a principal cause of hunger. Women produce well over half of the global food supply and are more likely to spend additional income on food. We won’t be able to end extreme poverty by 2030 without tackling gender inequality around the world. This is why women’s empowerment will be the focus of Bread for the World Institute’s (@breadinstitute) upcoming 2015 Hunger Report, currently being developed.
Join Bread for the World Institute Senior Policy Analyst Faustine Wabwire (@fwabwire) for a Twitter chat on the linkages between hunger, poverty, and women’s empowerment this Friday, March 7—the eve of International Women's Day. We want to hear your recommendations and stories to help answer the question:
What can we absolutely not leave out of the 2015 Hunger Report on women's economic empowerment to end hunger?
Be sure to include the hashtag #IWD2014 in your tweets. Here are the details:
What: Twitter Chat on Women’s Empowerment to end Hunger and Poverty
When: Friday, March 7, 2014
Time: 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. EST
Chat Hashtag: #IWD2014
Primary Twitter Accounts:
@asmalateef (Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute)
Faustine and the Institute will start the conversation with a few questions—but we hope to do a lot of listening. We look forward to hearing from you!
Posted by Bread on March 05, 2014 in Africa, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Gender, Global Hunger, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Nadine poses for a portrait. Click this image to view a video of Nadine's story. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
Nadine is a registered nurse, low-vision therapist, and former school teacher in Philadelphia who lost her job as a health service administrator when a debilitating medical condition struck without warning. Left with no job, drained savings, and limited assistance, the safety net is the only thing keeping Nadine from homelessness.
Food insecurity in the United States is much more common among members of society who have faced social exclusion, either due to a vulnerability like age or disability, or to discrimination by race, gender, or some other characteristic (see the chart below). Unfortunately Nadine has endured exclusion for all of these reasons.
As an African American woman, even in her healthiest years, Nadine had to hurdle serious barriers in order to attain the educational and employment opportunities that more men, and more women of other racial groups, enjoyed—opportunities that helped provide her with a steady, well paying job. But now, as a disabled senior, her physical inability to work, has left her teatering on the edge of poverty, homelessness, and food insecuirty.
African American females are least likely to earn a high school or college degree, yet most vulnerable to fatal health conditions like hypertension and various forms of cancer. African American women also have higher rates of unemployment than white women and continue to have lower amounts of weekly usual earnings and median wealth compared to their male counterparts and white women. In 2010, African American women earned, on average, 64 cents for every one dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic male. White women made 78.1 cents to the same dollar.
We can get close to ending hunger in America by making improvements in economic policies as regularly discussed on Institute Notes. But we cannot end hunger altogether without confronting knottier social issues that tie down people like Nadine. Ending hunger requires ending discrimination so that all people can have access to the educational and job opportunities that allow an individual to earn enough money to keep her family out of poverty. But it also requires a strong federal safety safety net--made up of programs like Social Security, SNAP (food stamps) and disability insurance--so that physical inability to work does not remain a condemnation to chronic homelessness and hunger.
This blog was submitted by Pirbhu Satyani, who is an intern in Bread for the World Institute. He has a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship through American University and comes from Tharparkar/Sindh, Pakistan.
Pakistan, a middle-income country, has taken the significant step of becoming the 46th member country of the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) Movement. An important role of SUN member countries is to collaborate with each other in making the issue of nutrition a top priority. SUN helps member countries design nutrition-focused policies and use resources efficiently to achieve improved nutrition, especially among women and children.
In my country, malnutrition is a serious issue with many causes, including ineffective government policies, a poor health infrastructure system, food insecurity, and widespread poverty. In terms of Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), Pakistan is still far behind in reducing its under-5 child mortality rate. Every year, 800,000 children die in Pakistan -- 35 percent due to malnutrition. The risk of death is nine times higher for a child suffering from malnutrition than for a child with a balanced diet. Pakistan’s National Nutrition Survey in 2011 indicated that 58.1 percent of households were food insecure. The government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working on small projects, but there is no comprehensive and focused long-term plan or strategy to address the situation, to scale up successful programs with a goal of reducing the child mortality rate. The provincial governments (there are four) have been trying to make changes in policies and practices to improve the health and nutrition system since the 2010 introduction of the 18th Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution, which empowered provinces to take action.
Malnutrition arises when people have little access to food and limited health services. In Pakistan, the majority of the population (around 63 percent) lives in rural areas, where health services are very limited. The main livelihood of most people is agriculture – even though it would seem that being a farmer and being malnourished contradict each other. In Pakistan it is lack of access to a diversified diet that causes malnutrition. An unprecedented natural disaster (flood) in 2010-2011 made poor communities even more vulnerable. An estimated 20 million people were displaced, millions of acres of land were damaged, and there was widespread damage to crops, mostly wheat and rice. Farmers were unable to feed their families and malnutrition increased rapidly.
Malnutrition in Pakistan can only be addressed through collaborative efforts -- by engaging the international donor community and by initiating long–term, sustainable programs such as food security, women’s empowerment, agricultural safety nets, early childhood development programs, and quality health service at the grassroots level (meaning reaching to rural communities). Pakistan hopes that best practices and effective government policies around the world can be shared with and imitated in Pakistan as it seeks ways to scale up successful nutrition actions via the platform the SUN movement has provided.
The commitment of Pakistan’s government to join the SUN movement may open more opportunities for technical support and may mobilize resources by engaging international donors to invest more in improving policies and strategies in the health and agriculture sectors, and in building the capacity of human resources and systems. If that is achieved, effective implementation of services can be ensured at all levels to improve health and nutrition for all in my country.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on February 26, 2014 in Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This graph from the CBO’s minimum wage report shows the estimated broadly shared income gains that a $10.10 minimum wage would bring. (Congressional Budget Office)
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a federal nonpartisan agency, heralded good news for America’s working poor families with the release of a report confirming the net positive economic impact of raising the federal minimum wage to the president’s proposed $10.10 per hour.
News agencies and opponents of raising the minimum wage, however, mostly ignored the good news of positive outcomes not only for working poor people, but for the vast majority of Americans. That’s why I’ve decided to recap them here:
If the minimum wage is raised to the proposed $10.10 an hour by 2016, the CBO estimates that…
- 16.5 million low-wage workers would earn higher wages.
- A net 900,000 people (i.e., factoring in potential job losses) would no longer be working full-time yet living in poverty.
- The American workforce would see a $31 billion increase in income — the majority of it going to families earning at or below twice the poverty threshold.
- Families with earnings below the poverty threshold would have an average 3 percent increase in income.
- Only America’s top earners (with incomes six or more times the poverty threshold) would see a decrease in their income, and this decrease would be small.
Opponents of a higher minimum wage trumpeted the only statistic in the entire report that suggested a potentially harmful effect on low-wage earners – an estimate that there is a two-thirds chance that raising the minimum wage would lead to a loss of about 500,000 jobs (0.3 percent of total U.S. employment).
But the benefits I’ve just listed, for millions of low-wage workers and for the entire economy, overwhelmingly outweigh the possible loss of 500,000 jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
The idea that higher wages necessarily result in fewer jobs is simplistic and short-sighted. Higher wages do not operate in a vacuum. Raising the minimum wage produces many other positive results — most obviously, a rise in people’s earnings. And as people make more money, they spend more, they pay more in taxes, the economy grows, and more good jobs are created.
Thanks to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. policymakers have a small mountain of evidence that raising the federal minimum wage is the right course of action — for the nation's economy, and especially for its most vulnerable families.
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, recommends a $12 minimum wage — what it takes for a single breadwinner in a family of four, working full-time, year-round, to pull her or his family just over the federal poverty line. Read more about the rationale behind that recommendation at hungerreport.org.
Ofelio prepares Tamales in his kitchen. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
Ofelio left his home in rural Mexico almost 30 years ago with no family in the United States, no knowledge of English, but a strong work ethic and determination to find a better life. He hasn't been able to return to Mexico for more than 20 years, even though his parents, both in their 80s, would like to see him for what would likely be the last time. He still wonders if it was a mistake to come to the United States. Like most immigrants, he wanted the things for his children that are harder to come by in much of Latin America: a secure home, plentiful food, and an education to prepare them for success. He did find some of these things in the United States, but it cost him dearly in health and well-being.
Ofelio’s first job in the United States was washing dishes in a New York City restaurant at a sub-minimum wage. To keep his job he was expected to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day with no sick days, vacation time, or promise of job security. His employers often asked him to work extra hours without pay. He knew that if he objected they wouldn’t think twice about replacing him. Ten years of life on poverty level wages drove Ofelio into a state of deep depression that he says almost killed him.
Ofelio started making tamales out of his home nine years ago for people at his largely Latino church. After a few months, he was getting orders on a regular basis, and the prospect of making a living from tamales grew as he built up a client base in the city’s Latino community. With a lot of hard work and the help of a local nonprofit, Ofelio was able to obtain all of the necessary permits and certifications to legitimize his catering business. He now has insurance, a bank account, and even a website and business cards. As a single father of three, Ofelio knows that the business is his family’s lifeline, and his income still provides little more than essential needs. He combines tamale order drop-offs with school pick-ups and prepares tamales and family meals in the same kitchen.
If you ask Ofelio about his ideas for the future of his business, his eyes light up. He has many, like renting a commercial kitchen to increase production, purchasing a delivery vehicle, and hiring full-time help. Beyond the business, he’d love to take classes to improve his English and be able to provide quality childcare for his two youngest daughters. These kinds of investments are only possible with the help of a business loan. But Ofelio has been denied that help from banks, which deem his business too small and too much of a risk. Without access to capital, Ofelio has no means of moving his business—and his family—beyond just barely making it.
A federal bond program established under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 authorized the issuance of long-term bonds at low-interest rates to fund community development finance institutions (CDFIs), which in turn provide small loans to businesses like Ofelio’s. The program was supposed to operate from 2011 to 2014, but was held up in Congress for more than two years pending approval on how it should be run. The delay resulted in $2 billion less in loans to support entrepreneurs like Ofelio. Congress should have moved more quickly and the administration should have been a stronger advocate for the program to overcome the delays. Entrepreneurs in low-income communities are the bedrock of the workforce. Investing in them grows opportunity for all of us and enables more people to work their own way out of poverty and hunger.
Fostering micro-entrepreneurship is one critical piece of the 2014 Hunger Report’s jobs agenda—the first pivotal step toward reversing record hunger rates in America.
Meet Nate: a young dad striving to provide for his family after serving a prison sentence for passing bad checks. He looked high and low for a job for three years but even temp agencies wouldn’t accept him. As far as employers were concerned, he was defined by his response to one question: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
SNAP (food stamps) helped Nate keep food on the table when the promise of steady work failed him. With the support of those at the HELP program, Nate was finally able to overcome the employment barrier, and now works to feed his family.
After paying their debt to society, many like Nate face tremendous barriers to putting their lives back together upon returning to their communities. Poor people of color, particularly men, are victims of a discriminatory criminal justice system that seems intent on keeping them in poverty. The stigma of having a criminal record means that ex-offenders—returning citizens is the term preferred by advocacy groups—are already one of the groups most vulnerable to hunger.
In most states, policies that make millions of returning citizens ineligible for nutrition assistance programs like SNAP only exacerbate the problem—while studies show that access to public services that improve economic security, especially soon after people are released, reduces recidivism rates. The policies are counterproductive, go on punishing people long after they’ve completed their sentences, and turn their children, other family members, and communities into collateral damage.
Italicized text is excerpted from the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America. You can read more about social exclusion and hunger in chapter three, and explore the data related to Nate's story and others' with our interactive tool, Stories in the Steps.
There may not be a lot left to say about the $8.6 billion in cuts to SNAP in the farm bill—but I’ll try to make one salient point.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that SNAP spending over the next decade will be $764 billion. (This number has to be taken with a lump salt, as nobody knows for sure what the economic conditions in the country will be a decade from now.) If we assume this number is accurate, then reducing the cost of the program by $8.6 billion is not going to take a significant bite out of it. Meanwhile, approximately 850,000 households will see their benefits cut by an average of $90 per month.
In terms of the fiscal impact, what is the effect of cutting $8.6 billion out of a $764 billion program? To be blunt, it will amount to little more than nothing. The federal budget is considerably larger than the SNAP program, which accounts for only 2 percent of federal spending. Altogether, the SNAP cuts will shave about 0.04 percent off the federal budget deficit. That scarcely qualifies as a rounding error.
Both the Senate and the House are trumpeting the farm bill for its contribution to cutting the federal deficit. This is just silly and a diversion from the much bigger problem they’ve been unwilling to address. With nearly 50 million people using SNAP, and more than four years since the end of the recession, anybody can see that something is horribly wrong with the U.S. economy.
SNAP is perhaps the best indicator we have about the state of the economy. The unemployment rate, which would seem to be a reliable indicator, is actually quite flawed because it doesn’t count the people who are so discouraged by the job market that they’ve given up looking, or all the people who are working part time involuntarily. When you include those numbers, the actual unemployment nearly doubles.
In a talk I gave to colleagues at Bread for the World recently about the 2014 Hunger Report: Ending Hunger in America, the subject of rising income inequality in the United States came up, and I was asked what has been driving it. There are many contributing factors, but it was a short talk so I needed a concise answer. I zeroed in on the decline of the labor movement in the United States.
I pulled the above graphic from a new briefing paper by Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva and Nicholas Galasso of Oxfam, Working for the Few: Political Capture and Inequality. Why are unions so important to maintaining a basic level of equality? Well, it’s all about bargaining power. When workers are organized, they have more bargaining power with their employers to negotiate fairer wages and other compensation such as flexible scheduling, maternity and paternity leave, and such. A worker by herself, especially one in a low-wage job, is expendable. If she requests better pay or benefits, her boss can tell her to take what she’s got or quit. The boss knows if the worker quits, it won’t be too much of a headache to replace her. But if the entire staff threatened to quit, that would be far more than a headache. It would be quite costly to hire many new staff quickly and make sure everyone was trained. Also, there would surely be some customers who found the firing of an entire staff a little disquieting and they might not want to do business with the company anymore.
The decline of union influence has also contributed to a rising problem known as wage theft. A 2008 survey of low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York—the three largest U.S. cities, with a combined labor force of more than 11 million workers—found that 26 percent were paid less than the minimum wage, 76 percent had been underpaid or not paid at all for overtime hours, and 70 percent had worked off the clock before or after their paid shift. On average, the 4,387 workers in the survey were not paid for 15 percent of their time; an average of $2,634 was stolen from their annual earnings. The vast majority of these workers were supporting at least one child. The wage theft meant that every month, families had $219.50 less to buy food and meet other expenses.
In an interview I did with Kim Bobo, executive director of the Interfaith Worker Justice Network and author of Wage Theft in America, she said there is no comprehensive study of wage theft across all 50 states, but that based on regional or city studies such as the one in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, she estimates that the total value of wages stolen from workers could easily reach $100 billion a year. Imagine how much nutritious food and safe housing $100 billion would buy for families living in poverty in this country.
The bottom line is that unions serve as watchdogs, ensuring that employers comply with workplace regulations. As union membership has fallen, workers find themselves more dependent on government inspectors to enforce the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, business interests are quite hostile to government regulation, and this hostility has visible effects. Between 1980 and 2007, for example, the number of inspectors enforcing federal minimum wage and overtime laws declined by a third—while the labor force grew by half.
I tend to believe that “everything that goes around comes around.” Between 1933 and 1954, union density in the U.S. labor force rose from 7 percent to 28 percent, and there is little reason to believe that unions could not rise again. After all, $100 billion is an amount worth trying to recapture.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, known as UNICEF, released an important report that reminds us of progress being made and challenges still before us as we work to see every child grow to his or her full potential.
The State of the World’s Children 2014 in Numbers is appropriately subtitled “Every Child Counts,” and is an impressive accumulation of data, information and published tables updating this report that was first published 30 years ago.
There are 2.2 billion children in the world, and while much has changed in those three decades, the need for credible data about their situation is more important than ever. It is being used by governments, donors, program implementers and policy makers across the globe as the basis for making decisions about investments and taking actions that are directed to children, especially those who are most vulnerable.
By itself, data changes nothing. But when it is accurate, transparent and widely available it can help decision makers identify needs, support advocacy efforts and measure progress toward stated goals.
What this data enables is a visit to the lives of children in any country you choose, behind the numbers. In an easy-to-view manner, the report provides info graphics that reveal the circumstances under which a child is born, their lives growing up, and the quality of their lives as they enter adulthood.
- About 90 million children have beaten the odds against them according to 1990 predictions, and have in fact reached their fifth birthday
- Improvements in nutrition have led to a 37% drop in stunting since 1990
- Primary school enrollment has increased from 53% in 1990 to 81% in 2011.
But many challenges remain. Eleven percent of girls are married before their 15th birthday. Fifteen percent of children are engaged in labor practices that compromise their rights to protection from economic exploitation and their right to learn and play. And, some 6.6 million children under age 5 died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes.
Whether you are a policy analyst, a data geek who loves infographics, interested in international development, or just someone who wishes to see all children grow to their full potential, I suggest a look through this very interesting report by UNICEF.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on January 30, 2014 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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