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Launching the 2011 Hunger Report
At the launch of Bread for the World Institute’s 2011 Hunger Report, Our Common Interest: Ending Hunger and Malnutrition, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah called the report, “the best statement he’s read about the importance of Feed the Future to U.S. efforts to combat global hunger and malnutrition.”
The launch of the report took place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on November 22nd and featured a panel discussion that included Shah, Inger Andersen, Vice President of Sustainable Development for the World Bank, Carolyn Miles, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Save the Children, and David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute. The panel was moderated by Roger Thurow, a senior fellow on global agriculture and food policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
In his remarks, Dr. Shah added, "The 2011 Hunger Report aptly reminds us that in order to tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, we need to invest in smallholder farmers and focus on integrating nutrition and agriculture development through a country-led approach." Shah used the occasion of the launch to unveil USAID’s new Bureau of Food Security, “charged with driving the collective action necessary to end world hunger.”
David Beckmann praised Shah and other members of the Obama administration for their leadership, focusing much needed attention on food security programming and development more broadly. He also praised the Bush administration’s leadership, reminding everyone there that hunger is not a partisan issue.
Carolyn Miles emphasized the lifelong consequences of malnutrition on young children, drawing special attention to the first 1,000 days of life, when good nutrition is most critical to human development. Save the Children has been extremely helpful to Bread for the World Institute on trips to parts of the world where the effects of malnutrition on children can be seen in stark terms. In the 2011 report, a visit to a therapeutic feeding center for children in rural Ethiopia with Save staff is described.
Much of the panel's discussion focused on volatile food prices, echoing a major issue in the report. The rise in food prices from 2007-08 illustrated how vulnerable poor people are to such fluctuations. The problem has hardly gone away. US$ wheat prices rose more than 70% in five weeks this summer. Corn prices swung through a 30% up and down cycle in a 7 day period in the last month.
“Volatility in food prices is deeply troubling for those living in poverty,” remarked Inger Anderson. “Traditionally even the poorest countries have been able to count on stable and low international food prices to import enough food to handle local shocks. That changed in late 2007 and has not come back. Continuing international food price volatility has underscored the vulnerability of poor countries to unpredictable local events.”
Roger Thurow underscored the opportunity that Feed the Future presents andthat this was an important message highlighted in the report. “It is in our common interest – far above the divisions of politics and the tensions of budget cuts -- to reverse the neglect of agriculture development, to push for progress against hunger and malnutrition and to avoid a repeat of the food crisis. To squander this historic moment would be our common tragedy.”
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