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57 posts categorized "Good Governance"
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)
During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 12, President Obama reiterated his promise to address climate change in his second term. The president said:
“Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods -- all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it’s too late.”
The president is right to make climate change a priority for his second term. Climate change-- the long-term shifts in temperature now taking place, and the results of those shifts-- alongside persistent poverty and inadequate policies and institutions, are all placing serious pressure on scarce natural resources. Food security is now inextricably linked to developments in the water, energy, and land sectors.
It is increasingly clear that preparing to feed 9 billion people—the projected world population in 2050 – in a sustainable way requires our urgent attention now, not when all 9 billion of us are already here. Recent events—drought, scrambles to invest in farmland around the world, shifts in energy prices, and shocks in energy supplies— underline the scarcity of resources we depend on to produce the world’s food supply. The complex reality is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources. Eliminating wasteful practices and policies is essential.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by 2085, climate change could result in the loss of 11 percent of arable land in developing countries. For Africa, the FAO estimate is far higher since its rain-fed agriculture systems are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.
This is another perfect storm brewing for the world’s poorest people. Rising energy prices, for example, have recently been raising farmers’ costs for fuel and fertilizer, increasing the demand for biofuel crops at the expense of food crops, and raising the price of water use. Additionally, the already high food prices in many low-income countries are intensifying the risk of hunger and malnutrition -- especially among the poorest households, who spend two-thirds of their income on food.
Can today’s situation get a lot worse? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” The number of people at risk of hunger is projected to increase by 10 percent to 20 percent by 2050. According to projections by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the number of malnourished children is likely to increase by up to 21 percent by 2050.
Given the far-reaching nature of the impact of climate change on livelihoods, efforts to mitigate these adverse effects must be holistic.
Developing countries need financial as well as technical support for both adaptation and mitigation. For example, understanding the interactions between agriculture and climate well enough to know how to respond effectively will require major improvements in data collection, dissemination, and analysis. These will help to promote community resilience and boost ongoing efforts such as Feed the Future and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Targeted investments in adaptation measures that include agricultural research and extension, rural infrastructure, and strengthened social protection programs are also critical. Within countries, extension programs can help farmers adapt through new technologies, build farmers’ knowledge and skills, and encourage them to form networks for sharing information and developing other community-based adaptation options.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on February 15, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Just three weeks in, the domestic priorities of President Obama’s second term are already firming up. Prodded by a still less than assuring economic recovery, energized by a sudden political opening for immigration reform, and compelled by the staggering mass murder in Newtown, CT, the president’s agenda appears to have almost been decided for him. Yet tomorrow’s State of the Union Address (or SOTU, as acronym-loving political Washingtons call it) offers a prime opportunity for the president to look beyond recent headlines and re-widen our national field of vision.
The problems still being overlooked may sound less urgent, because they are longstanding and systemic. But they are slowly destroying our country’s prospects for growth and our people’s ability to cope with whatever the future may hold.
I’m talking about the embarrassing fact that United States still has the highest poverty rates and the widest income disparities in the entire developed world.
Wake Forest University political science professor David Coates recently published an article expressing his hopes for this SOTU—in particular, a clear leadership response on U.S. poverty, which he calls “the greatest domestic failure of this would-be progressive president.” Coates correctly points out that the scandal of growing poverty in 21st-century America was absent from all four of Obama’s previous SOTUs.
Despite the fact that it has yet to be featured as a presidential topic, poverty in America has reached its highest levels in over 50 years. In fact, nearly one in three U.S. children now participates in SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps). One in seven Americans lives in poverty – and that’s using federal poverty guidelines that, economists agree, significantly understate the cost of basic necessities. The prospect of the president discussing the true state of our union without mentioning the ever-expanding elephant in the room is more astonishing every year.
In his second inaugural address last month, the president gave encouraging nods to key causes and effects – such as growing income inequality, the need for stronger social safety nets, and the value of living wage jobs. His rhetoric was encouraging, too, leaving us with inspiring quotes such as, “We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.”
If Obama’s second inaugural address was any precursor to the 2013 SOTU, it’s reasonable to expect that the president will at least mention U.S. poverty and hunger. But real solutions will take far more than lip-service—they will require an absolute presidential commitment to policies that alleviate poverty by eliminating its root causes.
Bread for the World Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report gives the evidence to back up our contention that persistent poverty and food insecurity in the United States are simply unnecessary. The country came close to eliminating them as long ago as the 1960s, when a presidential administration made it a priority and set specific goals. President Obama has a second chance to accomplish this. He can start by publicly acknowledging the problem and committing to tackle it head on.
For more on national policy to end U.S. hunger, read Chapter four of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
Legalization, a path to citizenship, and secure borders—these are perhaps the most notable elements of recent immigration reform proposals, proposals that seem to be moving with surprising swiftness after a long period of inaction. The growing prospect of comprehensive immigration reform will finally allow the U.S. government to “hit the reset button” and legally recognize the 11 or so million people who live and work in this country without legal status. Yet, much like the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the current legislative proposals offer few answers for the next wave of Latin Americans who are sure to arrive —whether over, around, or through the tighter U.S. borders.
So far, none of the proposals effectively address the glaring reason immigrants have always come, and why they’ll keep coming — opportunity. Persecuted English or Dutch people in the 17th and 18th centuries, famished Irish potato farmers in the 1840s, or European survivors of World War II—all were willing to leave their familiar homelands for opportunity. For 20th and 21st century Hispanics the motive has not changed.
We don’t hear much these days about unauthorized immigration from Western Europe. That’s because economic opportunities there are comparable or better than those in this country. Yet very little attention has been paid to the conditions that drive people in Latin America to enter the United States illegally. Migration for economic opportunities is a time-honored strategy for escaping poverty. Despite the hazards of life as an unauthorized immigrant, and the less than dazzling jobs such immigrants are able to secure, the United States still offers far better work prospects than the rural areas of Mexico and Central America where the majority of migrants are coming from.
Until economic opportunities improve in Latin America, we can expect immigrants to keep coming. Solutions to the complex questions of legal amnesty, pathways to citizenship, and border security are long overdue. But these efforts must be accompanied by serious conversations among U.S. leaders about Latin American development and economic growth. The U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have shaped efforts to improve the lives of poor people for 13 years now, with half-hearted U.S. participation. If the United States is serious about finding better answers to the immigration question, it is time for us to step up our commitments to global development, particularly in the poorest rural areas of Mexico and Central America.
For more on development and immigration policy, read the 2013 Hunger Report: Within Reach, Global Development Goals.
Climate change -- the long-term shifts in temperature now taking place, and the results of those shifts -- is expected to increase the frequency of shocks such as flooding and drought. The threat associated with climate change is both real and global. This infographic shows some of the evidence.
The 2012 U.S drought, which covered almost 62 percent of the land area of the 48 contiguous states, is said to be second in size only to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. A report from a unit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that 2012 was the warmest year ever documented in records that go back to 1895 for the 48 states. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. corn production fell 13 percent (to 272.4 million metric tons) in 2012-2013, while the soybean harvest fell 4 percent (to 80.9 million tons). As of January 1 of this year, parts of Iowa -- a state that produces almost twice as much corn as Argentina and almost as many soybeans as China-- was still in extreme drought.
Around the world, climate change is damaging food and water security in significant and highly unpredictable ways. There are strong indications that developing countries will continue to bear the brunt of the consequences -- largely because they have high poverty rates and weak capacity to adapt to the changes. In sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture — the mainstay of rural livelihoods — is already under threat because the adaptive capacity of poor rural smallholders is extremely low. The agriculture sector is, of course, particularly vulnerable to climate change. The success of farming has always depended heavily on weather conditions, and African farming is still primarily reliant on rainfall -- not irrigation.
All of these factors and more make climate change an urgent problem. Responding effectively demands strong and organized political leadership, infrastructure, and resources at all levels -- local, regional, national, and international. Investments in strengthening local capacity to create and implement informed, effective adaptation measures will help poor communities build the resilience they need to cope with climate shocks. It's difficult to imagine any of this happening, however, as long as local capacity remains limited and communities are perpetually in crisis mode.
One sign of hope is President Obama's promise, in the inauguration address for his second term, to “respond to the threat of climate change” lest we “betray our children and grandchildren.” This year’s State of the Union address, to take place February 12, would be a great platform to turn this ambition into action.
In London this week, a coalition of more than 100 U.K. nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) launched the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign. Its mission is to urge the U.K. government to use its 2013 presidency of the G-8 to push for more action on food security and nutrition in the developing world. Events will be held between now and the G-8 summit in June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, and the campaign will reportedly extend into the autumn with work around the U.N. General Assembly in September and World Food Day in October.
Here is how the IF campaign describes its primary goals:
The ‘IF’ movement challenges the leaders of the G-8 countries to tackle 4 big IFs to provide everyone in the world with access to food:
- IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.
- IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.
- IF governments stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.
- IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.
It is encouraging that such a broad coalition in the United Kingdom has seized this opportunity and rallied around specific “asks” that ensure that the next G-8 summit advances progress on global hunger. The call for member countries to honor their previous commitments to increase development assistance, particularly those made at the 2008 G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy is important both to continued progress toward the Millennium Development Goals and to the G-8’s credibility.
The Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report stresses the need for such national and international coordination, reminding us of the kind of progress the world is capable of under globally shared initiatives like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Posted by Bread on January 25, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Yesterday we, the people of the United States, ceremoniously entrusted President Barack Obama and his administration with four more years to guide our country. That is a significant amount of time—even in Washington, where decisions always seem to take longer than they should. It’s enough time to determine and establish a realistic goal and deadline to end hunger and poverty at home and extreme hunger and poverty abroad. Yesterday in his second inaugural address, the president gave both direct and indirect nods to the growing number of poor and hungry people in the United States and abroad:
Income Inequality: “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
Living Wages and Jobs: “We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work, when the wages of honest labor will liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American .”
Social Safety Nets: “We remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm.”
Partnership for Global Development: Around the world, “we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.”
Immigration: “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”
The diversity of issues acknowledged in the address indicates the president’s attention to the multifaceted causes of hunger and poverty and the required set of tools to address them. Acting on many fronts to solve such complex problems is a necessary step. But it must be followed by measurable goals—namely a goal to end hunger at home. The 2013 Hunger Report reminds us of a time when our country successfully waged an effective war on poverty—an effort that was galvanized by unapologetic presidential leadership. We need that leadership again. We need a goal.
Posted by Bread on January 09, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Hunger and poverty are cumbersome, tangled, and unruly concepts—that much is clear on the surface. The hundreds of millions of people who struggle to disentangle themselves for the sake of daily survival know this in their bodies, minds, and souls. And those of us who work on hunger and poverty each day share just a portion of their frustration. Whether you labor at a food bank to meet the endless lines of need, confront deadly international phenomena like food insecurity and malnutrition, or even brave the policy front to sort out the root causes—you understand the moments of disappointment. And if you are honest, you’ll admit that they can at times bring you to the troughs of exhaustion and despair, where you doubt the utility of your work and even the basic truths that inspired it.
Last week, I was in a trough—around the same time that I attended the Society for International Development’s annual Gala Dinner here in Washington, DC, an event held to honor the dedicated work of development superstars who live out the basic truths that we sometimes doubt. This year the spotlight rested on the person of the State Department’s Maria Otero (Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights) and with her, on the concept of human dignity. Webster defines dignity as “the quality of being worthy…” We say every human being is worthy because every human being possesses an innate capacity to flourish—to live a robust, productive, and fulfilling life—and to contribute to the greater flourishing of all humanity.
Every human being.
If you accept, really accept, this concept, then an assessment of things as they are can and should outrage you. The injustice—that the place and time of one’s birth are the most important factors in determining how life will unfold—seems to stand in direct defiance of human dignity. But, as Otero reminded us, we can’t ever settle for this injustice. She is a person who fully understood the ongoing conflict between reality and our ideals—but creatively worked to coerce the former into submission to latter. As president of ACCION International, she introduced the world to microfinance, now considered a fundamental poverty-fighting tool that empowers people with few material resources with loans to build their own productive businesses. She says it’s an idea she was once considered crazy for, because it rests entirely on human dignity. It says that a loan to a materially poor person can work, because that person is worthy of it—capable, creative, and dedicated.
Today, more than 70 million of the world’s poorest families have access to microcredit, and that number has been growing by more than 35 percent each year. The story of microfinance is a story of human dignity. Otero and people like her have bet their lives on it. We must too, if we are to meet the problems of hunger and poverty with the seriousness, determination, and hope that they demand.
So thank you, Maria Otero, for pulling me out of the trough.
Posted by Bread on December 20, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Sometimes the best way to communicate information is through pictures instead of text. And our new 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, offers a good balance for the eyes. Enjoy this colorful gallery of photos that tells the graphical tale of hunger and the ongoing struggle to end it across the world (I fully endorse viewing it full screen). Then maybe dive deeper into the Report to encounter the incredible stories and struggles waiting just behind the faces. Maybe download it to your e-reader?
On Twitter? Follow @BreadInstitute and stay current on hourly hunger-fighting news, data, stories, and solutions.
Posted by Bread on December 14, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)