Developing strategies to end hunger
 

191 posts categorized "Millennium Development Goals"

Gender Equality: A Stand-alone Goal in the Post-2015 Agenda?

TohminaPhoto Credit: Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Bread for the World

 The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) are an unprecedented global effort to achieve human development goals that are identified collectively, achievable, and measurable. Globally, substantial progress has been made toward many MDG targets- including cutting in half the proportion of people living in poverty. Every region of the world has made progress.

MDG target 3A aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education level by 2005, and at all levels by 2015. While MDG3 has helped boost political will, and encourage more development groups to invest in resources to promote women's equality, broad progress toward gender equality has wavered, with persistent gender-based inequalities in health, education and politics around the world.

With just two years left to the MDG deadline of December 2015, now is the time for an intensive effort to articulate a goal on gender in the ongoing process to develop a post-2015 global development framework.

Last week, February 3-7, the eighth session of the UN general assembly Open Working Group on sustainable development goals  (SDGs) was held in New York to discuss gender equality and women's empowerment.  These discussions will be included in the UN general assembly report later in 2014, with a proposal for the new 'sustainable development goal' framework. 

A summary of the meeting highlights these points:

  • Gender equality was affirmed as an end in itself and as an essential means for sustainable development and poverty eradication. There can be no sustainable development without gender equality and the full participation of women and girls. Gender inequality is the most pervasive form of inequality in the world. 
  • There was widespread support for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, supplemented by cross-cutting targets under other goals. 
  • Many expressed broad support for a number of priority actions, including: preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls; empowering women legally and economically; and strengthening women’s voice, participation in decision-making and leadership in all areas of life. 
  • The recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work, disproportionately borne by women and girls, was also recognized as an area for action. 

The question is-- what will guarantee that structural constraints to gender equality—whether social, economical or political —are overcome?

"The problem is not a lack of practical ways to address gender inequality but rather a lack of change on a large and deep enough scale to bring about a transformation in the way societies conceive of and organise men’s and women’s roles, responsibilities, and control over resources."  UN Millennium Task Force on Education and Gender Equality

Faustine_Typepad

The State Of The World's Children

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. 

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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.

For example:

  • 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.

Scott Bleggi

SOTU 2014: Obama, Africa, and the Pope

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President Barack Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Macky Sall of Senegal at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

What President Obama says about U.S. global priorities in tomorrow's State of the Union address can set the tone for several upcoming opportunities to forge historic partnerships to make progress on global hunger and poverty.

In March, the president will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The topic of their discussion will be global inequality.  The World Economic Forum identified the rising gap between rich and poor as the greatest threat to global stability for the next decade.

In April, more than 500 young African leaders will be coming to Washington, DC, as part of the president's new Young African Leaders Initiative. The program will provide both leadership training and mentoring in the United States, and opportunities for participants to put new skills to use to build economic opportunity in their communities once they return home.

And last week, the White House announced that the president will host the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on August 5-6. The summit will bring African presidents from across the continent to Washington to strengthen ties and build on the progress made since Obama's visit to three African countries in June 2013. During that trip, the U.S. president focused on commitments to global food security; expanding economic growth, strengthening democratic institutions, and investing in the next generation of African leaders.

This year's SOTU themes can pave the way to strengthen partnerships with these new audiences in the global community -- to the benefit of everyone, but particularly the world's 842 million hungry people.

By Michele Learner and Faustine Wabwire, Bread for the World Institute  

 

Middle-Income Countries and the New Global Development Goals

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At a climate change rally in Mexico - one of the important middle-income countries bringing new outlooks, priorities, and needs to the process of setting post-2915 global development goals. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

At Bread for the World Institute, a major focus of our work on global hunger and poverty is development assistance - making the case for it, developing recommendations on how it can be more effective, supporting country-led initiatives such as the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) movement. This makes sense, of course, because development assistance is one of the main tools available to the United States to help fight global hunger.

But many millions of hungry and poor people live in one of the world's 86 middle-income countries. Here, development assistance is a far less important factor. It makes up just 0.3 percent of this group's gross domestic product, compared to almost 10 percent for low-income countries.

Middle-income countries vary from each other in almost every way - political, social, cultural, geographical, and so on. Even the income range that defines membership in the group is a wide one: the richest countries have per-capita incomes about 10 times as much as the poorest countries. But all of them have more resources than low-income countries, and all still face significant development challenges. Among these is poverty. About one-third of people who live on less than $2 a day live in middle-income countries.

The blog Poverty Matters, published in the leading U.K. paper The Guardian, is a recommended source of information and ideas for Institute Notes readers. Recently, a post in Poverty Matters pointed out the importance of middle-income countries to the process of framing global development goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, saying that middle-income countries, "a group that includes not just the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, but also players like Indonesia, Turkey, and a range of highly influential Latin American countries, including Mexico and Colombia," could have "the casting vote" on how the new global development goals are framed - and, in turn, on whether the world heads toward ending hunger and poverty by 2030.

In 2014, we will have more to say about middle-income countries as the process of setting global development goals and building political commitment to them picks up speed. Happy New Year!

 Michele Learner

President Obama: Inequality Has Put "America's Basic Bargain" in Jeopardy

  Photo for Obama economic mobility post

A father and son return from the farmer's market in the Anacostia area of the District of Columbia. Photo by Eugene Mebane, Jr.

In his speech today on economic mobility, President Obama mirrored many of the main themes of Bread for the World Institute's 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, released just last week. Among these are recommendations to end hunger and extreme poverty by creating good jobs, investing in people, strengthening the safety net, and building community partnerships.

The president focused on the alarming rise in inequality in the United States, the dramatic decrease in economic mobility -- and the harm these are doing to our economy, our families, and our democracy. While he spoke more in terms of a vision than of a concrete goal to reduce poverty and hunger, Obama mentioned a number of the Hunger Report's more specific recommendations, such as making high-quality preschool accessible to every child, strengthening the role of collective bargaining, and increasing the minimum wage so that workers no longer live in poverty.

The president said that America's basic bargain -- that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead -- has been jeopardized.  "Since 1979, when I graduated from high school," Obama said, "our productivity is up by more than 90 percent, but the income of the typical family has increased by less than 8 percent. ... Meanwhile, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country."

The opportunity gap in the United States is now based as much on class as on race, Obama said. A child born into a family in the top 20 percent of income earners is likely to stay near the top -- about two-thirds of such children do. A child born into the bottom 20 percent, on the other hand, has less than a 5 percent chance of making it to the top 20 percent. Also, the president noted, the gap in test scores between wealthy children and poor children is almost twice as large as that between white and black children.

The president's speech fell short in failing to call for no further cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Significant cuts took effect at the beginning of November. Bread for the World President David Beckmann points out that these cuts alone eliminate 10 million meals from SNAP every day, which is more than all U.S. churches and charities combined provide. Even larger cuts -- on top of this most recent one -- have been proposed, but the administration should firmly oppose them, Beckmann said. 
 
President Obama said that government cannot solve every problem and that "ultimately our strength is grounded in our people -- individuals out there, striving, working, making things happen. It depends on community. But government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts. Because government is us. It can and should reflect our deepest values and commitments."
 
 Michele Learner
 

The 2014 Hunger Report in Tweets

The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, was launched just before Thanksgiving. For the past month, Institute Notes has featured a series of posts offering previews of the report. We pointed out that widespread hunger now threatens to become a scandalous “new normal” situation in the United States – it’s risen by nearly 40 percent since 2000.We made the case that not only is it an achievable goal to undo the damage the Great Recession did to U.S. food security, but it is also feasible to eradicate hunger entirely by 2030. We presented a carefully researched four-step plan that leaders at all levels, in partnership with local communities, can use to end hunger in our country. Our most recent post, coinciding with the report launch on November 25, offers a brief recap of these four steps.

In just the few days since the launch, we’ve received a lot of feedback -- on the launch presentation, the report, and the exciting new ways we’re presenting its messages on hungerreport.org. Here’s a quick round-up of what our partners and friends have been talking about: 

1. An Expert Panel of Perspectives

No one has more authority to speak on hunger in America than those who have experienced it. At the Hunger Report launch, panelists Barbie Izquierdo, Dominic Duren, and Sharon Thornberry helped humanize the effects of even a seemingly small change in policy or funding.

2. No Paper Needed

The executive summary is available for iPad and eReader download, and the entire report can now be read in page-flipping book format at hungerreport.org/downloads.

3. Interactive Stories

The policies examined in the 2014 Hunger Report have very real impact for millions of Americans. At hungerreport.org/profiles we present four stories that combine multimedia and interactive data to make that clearer than ever.

4. Infographics to Share

Hunger’s causes and solutions are complex. That’s why we need the full report to give them the space they deserve. But a good place to start is with the 2014 Hunger Report infographics -- to get the top messages of the report in bite-size form, and pass them on through social media. 

5. Hope

The panel of speakers at the launch agreed that it doesn’t have to be this way. Ending hunger is not an impossible dream. With strong commitment and the right tools, we really can end it.

Check out HungerReport.org to explore all of the tools available to Hunger Report readers, and if you missed them, be sure to read  blog posts onetwothree, four, and five of the 2014 Hunger Report series.

Derek Schwabe

All Hands on Deck

What are the top reasons for global hunger? Gender inequality might not be your first answer, but it’s correct. In fact, it's one of the two principal factors behind food insecurity in Africa, according to the 2012 African Human Development Report. (The other is bias against rural areas).

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that it's harder to build a strong economy and provide for all your people if half your workers have one hand tied behind their backs. It was not until recently, however, that there was solid evidence of just how much harder it is.

Photo for DW 8 blog postAnalysts at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) looked back at the years 1970-1995, a period of significant decline in child malnutrition. What made this progress possible? A larger supply of available food per person seems like an obvious answer, and this was, in fact, something that helped. But it was responsible for only about 26 percent of the improvement. Gains in women’s education explained 43 percent of it.

The implications are startling. Women's education contributed significantly more to progress against childhood malnutrition than having more food available.

Bread for the World Institute has long emphasized the importance of investing in smallholder farmers. This has not changed. But producing more food to feed a growing population, while critically important, is only one benefit of such agricultural development.

Another is getting resources -- tools, land rights, access to markets -- into the hands of women. Why? Evidence amassed from research in dozens of countries is conclusive: women are more likely than men to spend additional income to improve household nutrition, health care, sanitation,  etc.               

The Institute's latest essay in the Development Works series, Development Needs All Hands on Deck, offers a closer look at how to boost women's economic empowerment and ensure that they can participate fully in their local and national economies. What are some of the obstacles and how have people been able to succeed despite them? Read our short essay to learn more about this essential component of ending world hunger.

 Michele Learner

Photo: A key to ending global hunger is enabling women to get jobs that can support their children. Photo by Jim Stipe.

The Philippines Is calling. Who Is Listening?

Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, made landfall on the eastern coast of the Philippines last Friday, November 8, 2013. As of today, more than 10,000 lives are known to have been lost. A total of 9.8 million people are now believed to have been affected by the storm as relief and rescue efforts continue to reach new areas along the storm’s destructive path.

Emergency assistance is urgently needed, and you can help survivors by joining the ongoing efforts of  agencies such as Catholic Relief Services.


Typhoon-haiyan
 Photo credit:Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images

It’s also important to look at the bigger picture. Droughts, floods, and other disasters that endanger millions of people at a time are increasingly common. For example, the Philippines is no stranger to typhoons or other natural disasters. But Typhoon Haiyan, the 24th storm to hit the country this year, is the most powerful typhoon in the country’s history. Last year, more than 1,000 people died in a single typhoon.

The increasing frequency of devastating weather events over the past decade is in line with the effects of global climate change as predicted by climate scientists. Extreme events such as Typhoon Haiyan and its impacts are sobering reminders to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.

The feasibility of ending hunger and extreme poverty depends on the world’s ability to manage large-scale disasters linked to climate change as well as economic shocks such as food, fuel, or financial crises. All of these factors pose significant risks to the pace and sustainability of reducing poverty.

As the Philippines and the global relief community face the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, UN climate talks are under way in Warsaw, Poland. The annual Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) runs from November 11-22. The climate change talks in Warsaw must mobilize the political will to begin doing what it will take to limit climate change.

Bold action is needed now.

Developed countries must show they are meeting their commitments under the climate convention. Vulnerable communities will be stuck in a grim cycle of ever-more-frequent, ever-more-destructive natural disasters unless the global community takes emergency measures to prevent the planet from becoming more than 2 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times -- the absolute threshold for preventing the most nightmarish scenarios of the Earth’s future.

Faustine Wabwire

UN Hears One Million Voices on “Development After 2015”

One Million Voices on Development After 2015

In a survey of over 800,000 people globally, access to nutritous food ranked among the most frequently mentioned development challenges. (Source: World We Want, A Million Voices report)

Since last year, leadership at the United Nations has been working very hard to find out what development issues matter most to ordinary people around the world. The process of developing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 has been criticized as not inclusive; the U.N. wants things to be different as the world sets successor development goals for the period after December 2015, the deadline for the MDGs.

So they’ve set out to poll everyday people the world over about their priority issues -- and last week they were proud to report that they’ve heard one million voices. And it turns out people had a lot to say.

The MDGs were created to drive improvement in the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people -- and they have. More progress was made against hunger and poverty in the 2000s than during any other decade in history. But the exclusive group of officials from donor countries and international organizations that came up with the MDGs largely overlooked a valuable resource -- arguably the most authoritative source -- on how to overcome poverty: poor people themselves. You can read more about the MDG process and its implications in the 2013 Hunger Report.

The World We Want 2015 effort reached its one million voices through a combination of 88 open national consultations, 11 thematic dialogues, and an online global survey amplified by social media. The essential question put to global citizens: “What issues matter most to you?” Here’s a brief look at some of the main ideas expressed:

  • Top issues: Education, health care, government accountability, better job opportunities;
  • Top values: Universal human rights, equality, justice, and security (underpinned by more accountable governments);
  • The urgency of improving people’s lives today;
  • Concern about growing inequalities (e.g., income, wealth, access to education);
  • The interconnectedness of issues and the need for a holistic, sustainable set of solutions;
  • The need for data collection methods that measure progress more accurately.

Although The World We Want is particularly focused on hearing from people in developing nations, who are most urgently affected by development problems, it is intended to collect opinions globally and to include a wide spectrum of views. Americans are not yet well represented in the results – only 26,000 of the first million respondents are from the United States. But people here have more reason than ever to be concerned about “the world we want” – and the country we want. During the Great Recession, hunger in the United States grew by almost 40 percent, and it has barely budged since the recession’s official end nearly four years ago. Today, one in six Americans struggles to put food on the table.

The World We Want reminds us that most people around the world want the same things: quality education, jobs, health care, and yes, food. And we’ve learned from the MDG experience that when we set goals whose progress can be measured, we can accomplish more in less time. That’s why more Americans need to speak up about the issues we care about and press our elected leaders to adopt and carry out realistic plans to solve our most critical problems.

The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, will be released in less than three weeks here in Washington, DC. Using lessons from the world’s experiences with the MDGs, it lays out a feasible plan for the United States to confront our high levels of inequality, unemployment, and poverty directly and to end hunger in this country by 2030.

If you haven’t yet, take the time to tell the U.N. about the world you want. We’ll keep you posted on the 2014 Hunger Report release here on Institute Notes. Derek Schwabe  

Resilience Ranks High On 2013 World Food Prize Agenda

Last week in Des Moines, Iowa, the 2013 World Food Prize Symposium brought together more than 1,000 international scientific, business, and policy experts from more than 65 countries. The weeklong dialogue on ending hunger has been called the “premier conference in the world on global agriculture." This year's World Food Prize Laureates are pioneers in biotechnology: Dr. Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Dr. Mary Dell-Chilton and Dr. Robert Fraley of the United States.

Among the many key issues discussed was the need to build resilience: in families, in communities, in nations, and in the world. Bread for the World Institute's recent Briefing Paper, A Global Development Agenda: Toward 2015 and Beyond, emphasizes that responding effectively to climate change means building resilience in communities where people have always struggled to produce enough food. This task demands strong and organized political leadership, infrastructure, and resources at all levels — local, regional, national, and international. At the same time, understanding the interactions between agriculture and climate well enough to know how to respond effectively will require new investments. We need to improve data collection and analysis so that we can create and implement evidence-based adaptation measures that work.

2013WFPDaviD_Turkson

Rev. David Beckmann, president of  Bread for the World,  and Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson,  president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Holy See, The Vatican, at the World Food Prize Symposium. Photo Credit: John Coonrod

Highlights:

  • Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson has served as the president of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in The Vatican since 2009. His remarks focused on the importance of addressing long-term food security issues while respecting both the land and rural populations, and of promoting sustainable agricultural development in poorer countries.
  • Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, is currently Patron of the Africa Governance Initiative. Mr. Blair spoke on a panel entitled 40 Chances in a reference to the number of growing seasons an average farmer has during his or her lifetime. With the theme of “Redefining the Fight Against Hunger, Poverty, and Suffering,” this discussion focused on the drivers of food security, which include aid effectiveness, trade, private sector investment, and technological innovation. Mr. Blair also announced new joint programs designed to foster market-based solutions to global challenges in the areas of hunger, poverty, and conflict.
  • President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland stressed that the need to respond to the problems caused by increasing climate volatility is one of the most pressing current issues worldwide. 

Also last week, the 2013 Global Hunger Index report was launched at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. The report, The Challenge of Hunger: Building Resilience to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security, calls for breaking down the silos between the emergency relief and development communities and for focusing on approaches that enable people and systems to better resist, absorb, and transform in response to shocks such as droughts, floods, and food price volatility.

Click here to watch video footage of 2013 World Food Prize sessions (Note - Footage is grouped by day and time.)

Faustine Wabwire 

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