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"There can be no sustainable development in the world while millions of people go hungry."
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, January 2013, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States-EU Summit
This summit, which included representatives of about 60 nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the European Union, focused on food security as a key component of sustainable development. In the past decade, Latin America has been a leader in both rhetoric and action to make reducing hunger and poverty a top priority.
Graziano pointed out that Latin America was one of the first regions to take on the challenge of eradicating hunger, launching the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative in 2005. Latin America has been a “policy laboratory” whose anti-poverty and -hunger campaigns include Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) in Brazil as well as the Crusade Against Hunger in Mexico, launched in January 2013.
The political commitment of the past decade has been accompanied by significant progress against hunger and poverty in many countries in the region. Governments have harnessed strong economic growth to support anti-poverty and hunger reduction programs that combine market-based economic growth with an emphasis on addressing social problems and inequality. Brazil has been the most visible example of using strong economic growth to address social problems; its combination of growth and social spending has helped lift tens of millions of people out of poverty over the past decade.
Hunger has also been reduced in the region as a whole over the past two decades. In 1990-1992, 14.6 percent of the population, or 65 million people, were hungry, while by 2010-2012, 8.3 percent, or 49 million people, were hungry.
Graziano said that in Latin America, as a middle-income region, hunger is fundamentally a lack of access to food, not the availability of food. "Latin America and the Caribbean, with a population of 600 million people, produce enough food to feed 750 million people. However, 49 million of the current population still suffers hunger," he said.
As in other regions, women and children in Latin America suffer from poverty and hunger more than men. For example, in Colombia, there are 110 women ages 20 to 59 in poor rural households for every 100 men. In Chile 114 women live in such households for every 100 men.
Despite the progress in Latin America, hunger, poverty, and lack of economic opportunity still push people to look for work in the United States. Historically, a large majority of immigrants to the United States have been men seeking economic opportunity to support their families at home. But today more Latin American immigrants than ever are female – 51 percent – since women, too, often need to support children who remain in their home countries.
Precise, complete, and up-to-date data. Everyone working on hunger policy knows how important it is. In fact, access to it would be a dream come true. Instead of wishing after the fact that we could have done more to prevent or at least mitigate hunger crises large and small, chronic malnutrition in the 1,000-day window before a child’s second birthday, and the micronutrient deficiencies that cause conditions such as rickets and intellectual disabilities, we would have the information available in time to “do something.”
We’re getting closer to that dream, thanks to ever-expanding global networks and the rapid progress of real-time communication technologies. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), arguably the most comprehensive and reliable source of international hunger and food security data, has just unveiled a promising new hunger tracking tool — perhaps its first true hunger tracking tool — which uses the new technology to speed up the collection of accurate data. FAO calls it the Voices of the Hungry Project. The name fits, since the goal is to lend a far more sensitive and responsive ear to people living with hunger.
Even at FAO, existing hunger data collection and analysis methods take as long as two or three years to bring accurate data from its source to world attention. By then it is often too late to respond effectively. Most FAO food consumption surveys are administered only every five years, and they don’t always include individual-level responses.
Twitter was all abuzz over FAO's new tool. Bread for the World Institute was talking about it too.
The Voices of the Hungry Project will select representative samples of 1,000 to 5,000 people per country, depending on the national population. Individuals will be asked to answer eight questions to gauge the depth and frequency of any food insecurity they experienced in the previous year. More specifically, the questions measure whether respondents are experiencing mild, moderate, or severe food insecurity on a “Food Insecurity Experience Scale.”
Respondents are asked to indicate whether, in the past 12 months, there was a time when, because of lack of money or other resources:
1. You were worried you would run out of food.
2. You were unable to eat healthy and nutritious food.
3. You ate only a few kinds of foods.
4. You had to skip a meal.
5. You ate less than you thought you should.
6. Your household ran out of food.
7. You were hungry but did not eat.
8. You went without eating for a whole day.
The survey results will be available in days rather than years, allowing FAO to take an almost real-time snapshot of a nation's food security situation.
Chapter 1 of Bread for the World Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report delineates the high costs of delayed data collection. It tells the story of FAO’s struggle to accurately track rising hunger and food insecurity during and after the food price crisis of 2008-2009. The data was not made available until a year or more after the crisis began. Moreover, some of it was later discovered to be significantly inaccurate.
The effectiveness of nutrition programs, the credibility of statements about progress or lack of progress on hunger, and the integrity of broader development initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) depend on reliable data. Measurable, accurate results provide the crucial backing to show whether a proposed solution is likely to work. FAO’s Voices of the Hungry Project will help get the facts about who is hungry out in a faster, more accurate way.
more about the food price crisis of 2008-2009, changing data collection
methods, and the MDGs in chapter one of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach:
Global Development Goals.
International Women’s Day on March 8 kicked off a conversation about the progress being made in improving nutrition among vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and young children. For good reason, much of the U.S. development assistance for nutrition is focused on the 1,000-day “window of opportunity” from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. Improvements in nutrition during this period can benefit children for a lifetime.
But “breaking the cycle” of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition is difficult for structural, economic, political, and social reasons. Poorly nourished women are more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies who often do less well in school and suffer lifelong health problems. The cycle continues when this generation has its own babies, particularly among girls who give birth when they are still at too young an age. In many countries this cycle has continued for generations, especially among vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities and those who live in remote, hard to reach areas. During my visit last year to Bangladesh, I saw some of these problems but I also noticed signs that the situation is improving. Two factors that are helping are better educational opportunities for girls and women, and a trend toward smaller families. Fewer children generally means more food and better nutrition – it’s more likely that there will be enough food left over for a youngest daughter, even in cultures where men, boys, and older girls eat first.
In South Asia, many women and girls are chronically ill due to a lack of proper nutrition. There are several contributing factors: poverty; lack of proper health care; malnutrition early in life, which leaves its survivors more susceptible to disease; lack of nutritional knowledge; and patriarchal family structures that may relegate girls and women to eating only whatever is left over or primarily less nutritious foods. Ambassador David Lane, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture, recently mentioned the “3 A’s” that affect both the quantity and quality of food consumption. These are availability of a nutritious and diverse supply of food, access to it (it’s better not to be that youngest daughter), and absorption of vitamins and minerals. He called for a multisectoral strategy to find solutions in these three areas.
The impact of all the various factors that make young women likely to be malnourished and chronically ill come to a head during pregnancy -- one of the most vulnerable times in a person’s life. About 60 percent of South Asian women in their childbearing years are underweight due partly to a lack of proper nutrition during their own childhoods. Also, eight out of 10 South Asian women are anemic (lack iron) during pregnancy, and many suffer from chronic energy deficit (lack of sufficient calories).
A lack of adequate nutritional knowledge is a big contributor to malnutrition, carrying with it the risk of improper cooking methods, poor hygiene, and too little variety in the diet. Also a major contributor is a lack of resources to prepare food using safe water and to purchase and consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods. Development assistance programs that recognize the important role of nutrition in various sectors, such as agriculture, health, and gender, offer countries an opportunity to educate families so that the cycle of malnutrition can be broken rather than repeated.
Welcome to week two of our blog-wide celebration of women’s history month and International Women’s Day (#IWD)! In the past week, we’ve done our best to highlight a few (of many) ways that women uphold societies and propel economies forward, while pointing to some of the (also many) areas where inequality persists. One of the most basic of these is getting access to nutritious food.
If you have visited this blog or skimmed our twitter feed at any point in the last year, you will have had to work very hard to avoid terms such as severe acute malnutrition (SAM), the 1,000 Days, and stunting. It’s no secret that a concern with nutrition – the quality of food — needs to accompany any focus on food access and food security. As we’ve mentioned before — often – it’s not just about food, but about good quality, well timed, locally sourced, and sustainably produced food.
Today we add another layer — equally accessible food. If we had a Venn diagram with overlapping circles for hunger and gender equality, the overlap would be equally accessible food. As I said in last week’s Hunger Report Monday, there are many reasons that women in much of the developing world are far more likely to go hungry than men are. This inequity is especially unnerving considering the direct link between the health of a mother and the prospect of a healthy start for her children.
The 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2 is critical to physical and cognitive development. The health and well-being of a child younger than 2 rests almost entirely in the hands of her mother, and an inability to provide the right nutrients can result in lasting damage to both brain and body.
If a woman was undernourished as a child, her own children are far more likely to suffer the same fate. Put more positively, the past two generations of progress against hunger have put women today in a strong position to end the cycle of malnutrition and stunting. But significant social change will be needed for large numbers of women to be able to accomplish this for their families.
Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day. Readers of this blog, I suspect, almost automatically think of somewhere outside the United States—but it’s worth considering why International Women’s Day is relevant right here in our own country.
2013 is the anniversary of Betty Freidan’s celebrated manifesto The Feminine Mystique, turning 50 this year. 1963 was still a time when a book could create a seismic (and reverberating) shock in American culture. Like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which set off the U.S. environmental movement, The Feminine Mystique had a similar effect in launching the “second wave” women’s movement of the 1960s. The first was the battle for women’s suffrage, which was the issue 100 years ago.
Indeed, women have come a long way since the release of The Feminine Mystique, but probably no one is under any illusion that equality of the sexes has been reached. Sexism and racism are often spoken in one breath to convey that equality remains a work in progress. Consider the workplace. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man—much less if the woman belongs to a minority group. African American women earn about a dime less than white women, and Hispanic women another dime less than African American women.
The poorest women in the workforce still face some of the worst discrimination—and a lot of it is legal! For example, the federal minimum wage for tipped workers—mostly servers in restaurants—is $2.13 per hour. The tipped wage has been frozen at $2.13 for 21 years. More than two-thirds of tipped workers are women. Here’s a surprise: they experience poverty at almost three times the rate of the workforce as a whole.
In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama called for raising the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. The current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is almost impossible to live on, but at least it reflects small increases in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Raising the minimum wage to $9.00 would help many workers, although a full-time minimum-wage worker with two children would still be living in poverty. (She would earn $18,720 a year, with the 2013 poverty threshold for a family of three set at $19,530). But raising the minimum wage would not help tipped workers, because they are in a “special category” exempt from minimum wage legislation.
Over the last 50 years, women have opened some doors that were closed before. There are more women who serve in Congress, run companies, lead universities, and head up nonprofits. Some are earning less than equally successful men, but at least at these salary levels, the gap is more galling than frightening. At the bottom of the labor market, however, earning 23 percent less than a male peer is the difference between being able to feed your kids for the whole month and going without food for the last week. That’s just one of the important reasons to consider how International Women’s Day applies to the United States rather than only to developing countries.
March is Women’s History Month here in the United States, and this Friday is International Women’s Day! In celebration of women’s contributions throughout U.S. history and as advocates in the ongoing global movement for gender equality, Institute Notes is launching a two-week series on current women’s issues both at home and abroad. Today – since it’s Hunger Report Monday - we are featuring an excerpt from the 2013 Hunger Report on how civil society in Ghana is tackling the gender gap in hunger. In much of the developing world, structural inequalities mean that women are likely to go hungry before men do. This is true of Ghana, which is a leader in reducing hunger in Africa but nonetheless struggles to make this progress equitable:
The Development Action Association (DAA) provides training to women farmers in Ghana, working in some of the poorest communities in the country. Lydia Sasu is the executive director of DAA, which she co-founded in 1997. Before DAA, Ms. Sasu worked in Ghana’s Ministry of Agriculture and served as the country’s first female agriculture extension agent. Working with women farmers has been her life’s work, shaped by her experiences as a child watching her mother struggle against obstacles that have hardly changed for the women she works with today.
The gender gap in access to education & training in sub-Saharan Africa starts at the primary school level.
In spite of the success Ghana has had in reducing hunger—meeting the 2015 MDG target before any other country in sub-Saharan Africa—progress has not been shared equally by all. Rural women and girls are the most disadvantaged members of society. This remains true of Ghana, even though its record of progress on gender equality is stronger than that of many other African countries. Progress on the MDGs is bound to stall until it is a top priority to confront and correct the structural inequalities that hold marginalized groups in society back.
In recent years, Sasu, now 65, has been invited to speak at international events on women in agriculture, most recently at the United Nations on International Women’s Day 2012. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to incorporate consultations with multiple stakeholders into efforts to develop post-2015 global development goals. Consultations are planned in 50 countries and are supposed to include civil society organizations such as DAA. The participation of civil society is critical in developing a post-2015 development consensus that reflects the views of poor and hungry people themselves.
“It is crucial that grassroots civil society organizations like DAA play a central and meaningful role in framing the U.N. MDG post-2015 goals,” says Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide, one of the leading U.S. advocacy organizations on development issues. “It’s important to emphasize that the participation we’re talking about is from grassroots organizations, which is different than capital-based elite organizations in the [global] South which have some level of access to international processes.”
Visit Hungerreport.org to read more about the intersection points between hunger and gender issues. Keep an eye out this and next week for more Institute Notes posts in celebration of women's history month!
A Place at the Table, a new eye-opening documentary on hunger in America is set to launch nationwide this weekend. It will expose the reality of hunger in America through the lives of three people. Barbie, a young Philadelphia mother, fights to make ends meet and break the cycle of poverty. Rosie, an imaginative fifth-grader, tries to distract her mind from hunger pangs as she learns and grows in rural Colorado. And Tremonica, a sunny Mississippi second-grader, struggles with health problems caused by the poor nutritional value of the food that her mother can afford. Their stories reveal the depth of the hunger crisis in America and the factors that drive it.
You can find a theater near you to view the film here, or watch it instantly via itunes here. But before you see it, hear from the directors, Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson on how working on this film forever changed their view of hunger in America and its solutions:
Over the three years it took to make A Place at the Table, we met people who forever changed our understanding of what hunger in the United States looks like, why it exists, and how it can be fixed. Chief among them was Dr. Mariana Chilton, a Philadelphia physician and anti-hunger activist. Dr. Chilton handed out digital cameras to forty mothers in North Philadelphia and asked them to document their struggle to feed their families, then sent their pictures – stark and stunning – out into the world. This simple act had profound implications, giving the women a political identity as the Witnesses to Hunger, and a voice that has since become part of the national dialogue about hunger.
It was through Dr. Chilton that we met Barbie Izquierdo, a spirited single mother who relied on food stamps (SNAP) while searching for work. Her efforts, as well as her activism with the Witnesses to Hunger, led to a job at the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. What should have been a happy ending, however, was anything but—Barbie’s new income was too high to qualify her for SNAP, but too low to provide adequate healthy food for her own children.
We had expected to find hunger in the inner cities, but were surprised to also find it in idyllic rural towns like Collbran, Colorado, a proud ranching community nestled in a valley of the Rocky Mountains. In the summer of 2010, virtually everyone in town was feeling the impact of food insecurity in some way. The local pastor explained that lately even two-income families were relying on his church’s weekly communal meal and after-school feeding program for kids. Even the town’s sole police officer frequented the church’s food pantry to make it through the month. A local teacher, Leslie Nichols, described how the shame of being a hungry kid still haunted her today; she channeled those difficult feelings into action by distributing bags of food to the families of her hungry students.
In Jonestown, Mississippi, a sultry Delta town of 2,000, we encountered a food desert; despite industrial agriculture all around them, the town’s residents were forced to travel great distances to buy fresh food –a true obstacle for those without access to transportation or sufficient income for gas. Fast food and packaged processed food, the building blocks of an unhealthy diet, were readily available. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves: why does a cheeseburger—whose multiple ingredients must be processed, cooked, packaged, marketed, and advertised—cost less than a fresh peach? The answer is so tightly wrapped up in government farm policy, political horse-trading in Congress, commercial interests, and misguided social planning that unraveling it is more than the media is generally willing to take on, and certainly more than the average voter is able to comprehend without help.
Americans are told we can’t afford to make school meals nutritious or expand the nutrition safety net enough so that everyone can eat. We’re told that charities need to fill the gap. Millions of ordinary Americans are being encouraged to donate cans of food and volunteer their time at food pantries, believing that these efforts will make a significant difference, but a food bank employee quietly confided to us that canned food drives and employee-volunteer days were more valuable for public relations than ending hunger.
Charity is important, but it’s not solving the underlying problem. In fact, it could be making it worse by allowing us to avoid asking the really hard question: Why, in a nation that has the means to feed everyone well and plentifully, are 49 million people not getting enough to eat?
Over the next two years we dared to imagine a system in which food banks become obsolete. If federal agricultural subsidies went toward fruits and vegetables rather than overproduced commodities, would that peach be cheaper than the cheeseburger? Could the substantial expertise of food bankers and community food activists be marshaled to help set up local and regional systems of delivery to food deserts? Could we explore community-based growing solutions through public funding rather than relying on the quixotic arm of charity? If we were to modernize the safety net and base it on the reality of need, would parents like Barbie be able to focus their energies on parenting, studying, and their family’s upward mobility rather than the draining and demoralizing daily quest for food?
Why can’t school meals be highly nutritious and free for all students, like textbooks, thereby erasing the stigma for the millions of kids who need government-subsidized meals? Maybe then young people like Rosie, a struggling 10 year old we met in Collbran, Colorado, would have the energy they need to learn. And why not let teachers like Leslie Nichols teach children about healthy food choices and preparation? If we can teach algebra, why not food smarts?
All these changes would cost money up front, but it seems clear that in the long term we’d recoup our investment in the form of decreased healthcare costs and greater productivity. Doesn’t society prosper when people are healthier and have the money to make real, healthful food choices, thus increasing demand for those items? With increased demand comes greater production, leading to lower prices. Lower prices for fresh food would benefit the very people who need it most.
The true cost of hunger is measured not in dollars but in human suffering and loss of human potential. We made A Place at the Table because we truly believe that when Americans are made aware of injustice in their own backyard, they will demand change from their leaders. When Americans equate ending hunger with patriotism, we know we will solve the problem of hunger in America once and for all.
Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson are co-directors of the documentary film A Place at the Table, about the shocking paradox of hunger in the wealthiest nation on earth, through the stories of three Americans who face food insecurity daily.
This article first appeared in the 2013 Hunger Report: Within Reach Global Development Goals. Read more from the report here.
Here at Bread for the World Institute, we often talk about hunger and poverty as root causes of other social ills. When people don’t have enough money or food, they will take desperate actions they wouldn’t otherwise consider – such as crossing borders illegally, resorting to theft or violence, or no longer providing one or more of their children with an education or even adequate food. Dire necessity brings out the worst in people.
Among U.S. social justice advocates in the 21st century, one particular result of the desperation caused by hunger and poverty has been in the limelight. As evidenced by U.N. initiatives, recent mention by President Obama, and a proliferation of new NGOs, human trafficking — often called modern slavery — has shocked and fascinated people of faith and conscience. The reality that 27 million people are enslaved in 2013 is — and should be — hard to ignore.
In his book Disposable People, the co-founder of Free the Slaves, Kevin Bales, examines the convergence of factors that produced modern slavery and sustains it today. Three major causes are:
- the population explosion of the past three decades, which has flooded the world's labor markets with millions of impoverished, desperate people;
- a revolution in economic globalization and modernized agriculture that has dispossessed many poor farmers and forced them into debt, making them and their families particularly vulnerable to enslavement; and
- rapid economic change that has bred corruption and violence and destroyed social norms that might once have protected the most vulnerable individuals.
Each of Bales’ three factors points a finger at policy failures, macroeconomic shifts, and the widespread poverty that the two combined now allow to continue. The plain fact is that millions of people live in extreme poverty – conditions that leave them with very few options. Sometimes there are only two: enslavement or starvation.
The work of trafficking-focused initiatives and organizations is much needed. Advocates have exposed the blatant violation of human rights that is present-day slavery – a problem that has remained in the shadows far too long. Their faithful efforts are making legal history in countries around the world (just read the stories). But even as these necessary battles continue, so too must the greater war on the root causes that poverty, hunger, and modern slavery have in common.
In the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, we celebrate the exciting successes credited to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), arguably the most unified global development initiative in human history. None of the eight MDGs talk specifically about modern slavery. While this may suggest a historical blind spot for the nearly expired goals, the omission makes sense because the MDGs were made to target prerequisites. Ending hunger and extreme poverty, as well as promoting inclusive economic growth and accountability, are essential to creating opportunities for poor families that enable them to avoid debt and servitude. The MDGs also support the necessary stable legal systems that can effectively prosecute traffickers. Working to eradicate extreme poverty will not free those in slavery today (and for this reason, we support the work of anti-trafficking advocates), but it is necessary if millions of people will have alternatives to enslavement tomorrow.
Explore the 2013 Hunger Report to learn more about the importance of poverty-focused development and MDGs such as universal primary education, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and foreign aid. They are the foundations of the solutions to shocking and dramatic problems such as slavery.
Posted by Bread on February 26, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Malnutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
A veritable “who’s who” of the nutrition community recently gathered in Washington, DC, for a World Bank-sponsored event, Nutrition in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Global policy and advocacy experts discussed the importance of nutrition in the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – more specifically, how to connect the technical aspects of nutrition and development with the political and practical “in order to come up with concrete and actionable principles and recommendations.”
Why this high-level discussion of nutrition, and why now? Nutrition is a key component of reaching MDG 1 (reduce hunger and extreme poverty by half). It’s critical to nearly all the other goals as well. As 2015, the expiration date of the original MDGs, approaches, there's a lot of buzz about post-2015 global development goals. That’s why now is the best opportunity to strengthen nutrition’s place in the existing goals and/ or to come up with a new goal that recognizes the foundational role of nutrition to a range of development goals.
With more than 2 billion people around the world suffering from malnutrition (including more than 865 million children), we have a long way to go to create the future we believe in: one in which everyone, but especially women of reproductive age and children, has access to adequate nutritious food. According to the chair of the U.N.’s Standing Committee on Nutrition, the so-called “burden of malnutrition” takes three forms: undernutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and obesity. We need to focus urgently on easing this burden..
There is a growing consensus that combating stunting in children (measured by significant deviation from the expected height for a child’s age) should be the highest priority. Reducing stunting is one of the six global targets endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2012, which suggested a goal of reducing the number of children under age 5 who are stunted by 40 percent by 2022. This would translate to 40 million fewer stunted kids than there would otherwise be.
Photo credit: scalingupnutrition.org UNICEF/NYHQ2008-1279/Josh Estey
Why stop at a 40percent reduction? Is a goal of zero stunting in children attainable? FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva, in his guidance on ensuring that eradicating hunger and malnutrition and building food security remain high priorities in the post-2015 development framework, urged the international community to commit to “the complete eradication of hunger” in setting country priorities. This follows U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge, which was announced in June 2012 at the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference.
Also recently, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) issued a position paper entitled “A World Free from Hunger and Malnutrition” that calls for zero stunting to be considered “a new benchmark for global development success.” GAIN is a global foundation that assists nearly 670 million people facing malnutrition in more than 30 countries. In recommending that nutrition be at the heart of the post-2015 development framework, GAIN emphasizes that stunting strongly correlates with development -- what happens on stunting offers a good measure of progress on a range of other development objectives. Reaching the specific deliverable goal of zero stunting would be the best indicator that the world’s children are getting the right start in life.
The critical importance of nutrition across nearly all development sectors is being recognized. Global momentum on improving nutrition is growing, especially in the countries most burdened by malnutrition and stunting. Consensus among nutrition experts on the importance of stunting as a nutrition indicator has been reached. What is left is the need to communicate one message to global political leaders in a powerful, unified, and simple way: improving nutrition is key to ending hunger in our lifetime.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on February 25, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
On February 11, Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) treated his constituents yet again to his annual Opportunity: Africa Conference. The half-day conference looked at how Delaware’s businesses, faith communities, and individuals can engage in Africa amid the opportunities and challenges on the continent. The residents of Delaware had the opportunity to interract with some of the nation’s leading voices on sustainable development issues- food security and nutrition, child health and trade in Africa.
Africa today offers the promise for a return on investments. During the previous decade (2001-2010), six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies were in Africa. The continent has shown consistent growth, a trend that is expected to continue. A number of factors account for this growth, including technological innovations, political stability, trade, and investment. Robust growth rates, a new commitment to health and agriculture, and significant advances in science and technology are creating new investment opportunities. The United States has played a role in this progress. Senator Coons reminded participants that through life-changing assistance programs such as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for example, HIV/AIDS infections have significantly declined in Africa.
But challenges remain. Today, half the population in sub-Saharan Africa (an estimated 400 million people) live on less than $1.25 a day. We know that the main driver of poverty reduction in the world is the hard work of poor people themselves. Given the opportunity to improve their communities and provide a better life for their children, they seize it. It is this recognition that makes Senator Coons a champion for foreign assistance. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, Coons echoes President Obama’s view that a strong foreign policy rooted in American values must aim to promote democracy and freedom, protect human rights, defend U.S. interests abroad, while also increasing U.S. investment and trade through mutual partnerships. He stresed that today more than ever, development assistance is critical in reducing poverty and bringing greater stability to our interconnected world.
This conference gave Bread for the World the opportunity to remind participants that moving the aid effectiveness agenda to achieve the MDGs is a complex task, but a necessary one. While more work lies ahead, efforts to achieve the MDGs have already saved lives, helped to lift millions of people out of poverty, and ensured that more children attend school. By investing in local capacity and building strong institutions and infrastructure, U.S. development assistance can help promote good governance, stability, and prosperity. Even as difficult fiscal choices are before Congress, Bread for the World maintains that U.S decision makers should lead the way by protecting and speaking out for investments that build resilience in communities. Making resources available through well-planned programs such as Feed the Future will enable African countries to develop their agricultural infrastructure in sustainable ways and diversify their economies. The 1,000 Days initiative takes advantage of a unique window of opportunity – the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday – to create a healthier future for an entire generation. This is because the right nutrition during this period is critical to a child’s ability to grow, learn, and ultimately rise out of poverty.
In his keynote address, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S, His Excellency Elkanah Odembo also urged that U.S. leadership and commitment to Africa’s development are necessary and that the recent gains on the continent be supported and sustained. The Ambassador stressed that at a time of intense debate over budget cuts, it is helpful to remember that not only do investments save lives, improve livelihoods and promote stability- they also save money in the long run and create markets for local communities as well as strong trading partners for the U.S market. Partnering for development, he noted- would help to identify common ground between different actors and to combine their skills, resources and expertise and engage in win–win relationships around development objectives such as food security, poverty reduction, health, education and access to opportunities.
Sustaining this commitment and others like it, is what will create the future we want for all—a future grounded in prosperity, dignity and mutual respect.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on February 22, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)