Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

19 posts from July 2010

A New Approach to Global Development

The White House issued a number of statements and press releases during the recent G-8 and G-20 summits in Canada. But for those of us who’ve been following the push to reform foreign assistance—and make it more effective in reducing poverty—one of them stands out.

On Friday, June 25, the White House released “A New Approach to Advancing Development,” a statement that looks at what the administration has in mind for a broader, improved framework for international development. All of the development assistance commitments the United States has made—including those from the G-8 summit—should fit into this overall framework.

If development is to be elevated as a key component of foreign policy—an idea supported by Bread and put forward by the administration itself—President Obama needs to provide details on what his “new approach” entails.

We’ve gotten a few peeks from the administration’s new National Security Strategy and the draft copy of the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development that was leaked to the media in May. But it’s time for the whole enchilada. Hungry and poor people around the world need the United States to start implementing its plan.

Adopting a new overall framework for development may sound more like a bureaucratic matter and less like something that will improve the lives of hungry people. But it can affect low-income people profoundly.

Here’s one example: In a small town in Kenya, U.S. assistance was providing life-saving antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive people, but limitations on what program funds could buy meant that many patients couldn’t get the nutritious food they needed for the medications to be effective. This might have been avoided with a broader plan that took into account all the elements necessary for the program to succeed—which would have ensured that our assistance did more to help HIV-positive Kenyans stay healthy enough to work and care for their children.

As we approach the two-year mark of Obama’s presidency, it’s important that President Obama’s studies of U.S. development policy be released soon. They should explain how his administration will work to make the United States more effective in reducing hunger and poverty around the world.

Just as importantly, the president should make clear that his administration will work with Congress to modernize U.S. foreign assistance programs by rewriting the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act. After all, the law is 50 years old—better suited to the Cold War era than to the present day.

Rewriting this legislation is another important step in ensuring that U.S. foreign assistance programs do a better job of reducing hunger and poverty around the world.

Top Hunger News: Microlending Builds Community and Security in U.S.

Domestic

The Poor Always Pay. An Asian bank for low-income women is out to teach Wall Street a lesson. [Newsweek]

Farmers Struggling to Cultivate Markets. Vendors contending with low-income and ethnic communities see business withering. [The Chicago Tribune]

Huge Increase in Islanders on Food Stamps. One out of every 10 Staten Islanders now shops with food stamps. [SILive.com]

Five Myths about America's Homeless. Last month, the Obama administration released a plan designed to end homelessness in 10 years... [that was] fueled by recent research debunking a number of long-standing myths about homelessness in America -- and showing that many of our old policies were unwittingly making the problem worse. [The Washington Post]

International

Haitian Farmers Reaping Hard Times as Hunger Grows. In Haiti's rocky northern hills, Joseph Jean has planted seeds donated by U.S. aid group Trees for The Future hoping to reverse the deforestation that has washed away soil and impoverished farmers. [AFP]

China Moves from Aid Recipient to Aid Donor. When Britain announced it would stop giving public money to China as part of a plan to direct financial aid to countries in greater need, it was symbolic of China’s shift from aid receiver to aid giver. [IPS]

Malawi: There is Food but No Money to Take it to the People. Another year with a surplus harvest of maize, the staple food, is good news for Malawi, but dry spells in the south have left around 700,000 people in need of food assistance. [IRIN]

Africa: Help Out Small Farmers, Report Urges. Small-holder farmers, who make up almost all of Africa’s agriculture sector, need more support to reduce over-dependence on increasingly costly food imports, states a new report. [IRIN]

Cameroon Fears Imminent Hunger. There are fears of an imminent and unprecedented hunger and reduced farmers' income in most parts of Cameroon, particularly in the North West and South West regions as a cocoyam is spreading. [AfricaNews.com]

Climate Change/Environment

Oil Spill Has Not Spurred Change. For environmentalists, the BP oil spill may be disproving the maxim that great tragedies produce great change. [TheDay.com]

Plan to Save Indonesia's Forests Hits Snags. Environmentalists warn of loopholes as industries lobby for land rights. [The Wall Street Journal]

Top Hunger News: Ugandan War Survivors Rise from Poverty

International

Uganda: War Survivors Take the Poverty Bull by the Horns. Eunice Odok is a well-known woman in Abilonino village, Apac district. The 26-year-old mother of four is known for her high pitched voice, which has been her signature for a long time. [AllAfrica.com]

DRC: 'Food and Livelihood Crisis' in the West. Millions of people in parts of the western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are facing a “food and livelihood crisis” brought on by structural causes such as the dependence on the mining sector and a poor road and livelihoods infrastructure, say officials. [IRIN]

U.N. Agency Opens Up Access to Largest Database of Hunger Statistics. The world’s largest and most comprehensive database on food, agriculture and hunger is now open to the public, free of charge, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced today. [UN News Center]

Domestic

Center Hired to Find Food Stamp Recipients. Corinne Reese says the Shoals Family Success Center is all about trying to make sure families with needs are connected with resources. [TimesDaily.com]

Federal Government Eyeing Free Lunches for All Students in High-Poverty Areas, Rules for Vending Machines. The federal government could soon be paying for lunch for entire communities of children under a new plan in the U.S. House of Representatives. [Mlive.com]

Climate Change/Environment

Biotech and Breeding - Glimpses of the Agricultural Future. Agricultural production in the developing world could be among the hardest-hit by climate change, but new research shows that food security can be improved by biotechnology and adapting traditional farming techniques, experts say. [IRIN]

Zambia: State, Brazil Seal Deals to Reduce Hunger. Zambia and Brazil have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) in the fields of bio-fuels production and food services aimed at reducing hunger in the two countries. [AllAfrica.com]

Top Hunger News: Baltimore Engages "Food Czar"

Domestic

Food Czar Hopes to Change the Way Baltimore Eats. While Holly Freishtat's directive may be straightforward — get more healthy food on the tables of the people who need it — accomplishing it may not be. [AP]

Initial Jobless Claims Dip, Lowest Since May. New claims for unemployment benefits dropped sharply last week, signaling that layoffs are slowing but not enough to signal strong job creation. High unemployment remains one of the biggest obstacles to a strong, sustained recovery. [AP]

U.S. Recovery Seen as On Track, But Will Slow. In a 2010 review of U.S. economic conditions released Thursday, the IMF attributed the economic recovery to a "powerful and effective policy response" as well as improved financial conditions. "While still modest by historical standards, the recovery has proved stronger than we had earlier expected," the IMF said. [CNN]

Minnesota Effort Seeks to Ease Rural Poverty Through 'Agripreneurship.’ Immigrants who have flocked to rural communities following the dream of putting their agricultural backgrounds and expertise to good work have run into a road block. According to advocates for people with limited income and resources, large scale, conventional farming has left most of them in poverty, and taken its toll on the land as well. [Public News Service]

International

Hunger Crisis Update for Niger and Haiti. Severe drought has struck in Niger and the resulting food shortages have sent child malnutrition rates soaring. For any country, a child acute malnutrition rate over 15 percent is considered an emergency. In Niger, the rate is currently 16.7 for children under five. [The Washington Examiner]

Burkina Faso: Vital Role for Local Food. ...Sesame, tamarind and certain leaves are vital tools in the fight against malnutrition, say aid workers training families in northern Burkina Faso. [IRIN]

Nigeria: Gearing Up to Fight Food Shortages. Severe water shortages, plummeting livestock prices and rising grain costs would affect each of the northern states, according to an assessment in May 2010 by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. [IRIN]

Climate Change/Environment

Could Be a Busy Season for Disasters. The La Niña phenomenon has officially arrived and disaster response teams around the world might need to brace themselves for heavier monsoons, bigger and more frequent hurricanes, and angrier cyclones. [IRIN]

Top Hunger News: New U.N. Agency Addresses Women's Rights

International

After 65 Years, a U.N. Agency for Women. ...The General Assembly on July 2 created a new agency dedicated to promoting women's rights and involvement in development, peacemaking, politics and economic activity. [The Nation]

Prevent the Sahel's Next Food Crisis. Another food crisis is unfolding in West Africa's arid Sahel region, putting 10 million people at risk of hunger. Preventing such a scenario, or even better, avoiding it altogether, would be a noteworthy goal. [IRIN]

Asia Needs More Farm Investments to Feed Hungry. Asia and the Pacific, home to two-thirds of the world's 1 billion hungry people, need increased investment in agriculture of $120 billion a year for the next 40 years to contain hunger and future spikes in food prices, United Nations and Asian Development Bank officials said Wednesday. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

Domestic

Special Savings Accounts Can Help Break Cycle of Poverty. Programs provide matching funds for the poor who put money away for expenses such as education, a home purchase, or starting a business. [The Baltimore Sun]

Poverty, Dropout Rates Bode Grim Future for State. Forecast shows Texas incomes plunging if nothing is done. [The Houston Chronicle]

Marriage Loses Ground as Anti-Poverty Panacea.The Bush administration pushed marriage as a panacea for fighting poverty but a recent government study confirms the view of skeptics who say money problems must be solved first, since they destroy and destabilize relationships. [Women's eNews Inc.]

Climate Change/Environment

Rice and Climate Change. Rice plays a central role in feeding more than 3 billion people, including most of the world’s 1 billion poor, and any significant negative effect on rice production caused by climate change would be devastating for efforts to achieve global food security and address poverty. [IRRI]

Top Hunger News: Three Determined Women Break Cycle of Poverty

Domestic

African-American Women Struggle to Overcome Wealth Gap. Call it a tale of three women. In the most hard-scrabble parts of South Carolina, Kenya Williams, Natisha Boston, and Germaine Jenkins are all struggling to overcome personal hardship and overwhelming odds. [BBC]

Child Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences. Using the PSID, this study finds that 49 percent of children who are poor at birth go on to spend at least half their childhoods living in poverty. In addition, children who are born into poverty and spend multiple years living in poor families have worse adult outcomes than their counterparts in higher-income families. [Urban Institute]

[Blog] As Food Prices Rise, How Will Retailers Respond? The reality is that many food prices, due to late plantings, weather conditions and natural disasters, are on the way up. [Supermarket News]

International

[Blog] Poverty is Destiny. The World Bank estimates that there are more than 1.4 billion people in the world who live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. It will be interesting to see what happens to children born in poverty: to follow them from womb to tomb, the entire life cycle. [The World Bank Institute]

Rust in the Bread Basket. A crop-killing fungus is spreading out of Africa toward the world’s great wheat-growing areas. [The Economist]

Two Faces of Asia, Ultrarich and Desperately Poor, Hound Economists. Philippine policymakers and other developing-country planners must rewrite their economic plans into what the Asian Development Bank calls “inclusive growth,” or the scaling down of the gap between the rich and the poor. [Business Mirror]

After World Cup Euphoria Fades, South Africa’s Poverty Will Remain. For many citizens, the $5 billion sports extravaganza will generate little more than pride. [The Globe and Mail]

Climate Change/Environment

Conservation Can Be a Weapon Against Poverty. The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Mexico shows how local people can be paid for protecting their environment... [The Guardian]

Dispatch from Kirehe, Rwanda

“We need to build warehouses! We need markets!”

Agnes Kalibata, Rwanda’s determined minister of agriculture, carried this emphatic and urgent message to the Kirehe district in the eastern part of the country. The bountiful maize harvest had overwhelmed the district’s storage capacity; bags of maize are piled up in farmers’ houses, crowding kitchens and bedrooms.

It was a good problem to have, so much food after not enough for so many years. But the minister was also seeing the dark side of the situation. Spot prices were falling below the costs of production. The potential of massive spoilage loomed. Farmers’ enthusiasm was waning. They needed markets for their produce, and, as the minister told buyers who had been called to a meeting with her, they needed them right now.

“How can I tell the farmers to plant more maize? Unless we sell this, how we can we get them to grow more?” she asked. “That’s the challenge of creating food security.”

Starting an agriculture revolution in Africa has been hard enough; keeping it going may be even more difficult.

Continue reading "Dispatch from Kirehe, Rwanda" »

Black and Brown Pastors Unite in Call for Immigration Reform

A coalition of African-American and Hispanic pastors from across the United States announced support for immigration reform that transcends divisions and honors this country’s interests and values. The pastors plan to send a letter to President Obama and Congress urging immigration reform.

The pastors said that both Hispanic and African-American churches are united in their support and will continue the effort in lobbying for immigration reform. The coalition has called for a comprehensive immigration reform policy and greater border security and emphasizes the need for immigrants to learn English and pay taxes.

“We have to join forces and show a united front. We are going to mobilize people and our churches to seek immigration reform,” said Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., president of Esperanza Group.

The pastors downplayed divisions related to concerns about the effect of immigration on jobs in the African-American community, indicating that immigration reform would lead to more equitable pay and prevent abuses by employers.

Andy Fisher, a spokesman for Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), told the Washington Post that the senator thinks it is simply the wrong moment for reform. "There really is not the political landscape to proceed with it at this time," he said.

But the pastors believe that President Obama's address on the topic indicates that it remains a priority for the government despite the political environment surrounding the mid-term elections in November.

The pastors vowed to continue to seek support from other churches and explain to their communities why immigration reform should be a priority for the country.

Reverend Harvey Clemons of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Houston, TX, said, "We all want secure borders" and the rule of law, but "We don't want divided communities" due to the present system.

Top Hunger News: Sudanese Refugees Forced to Flee to Area Already Hungry

International

Hunger Fears Grow Amid Mass Sudan Exodus.Thousands of Sudanese are being forced to leave their homes and walk for days into an area already severely affected by food shortages. [BBC]

Asia Leads World With Sharp Drop in Poverty. The sharpest reductions in poverty worldwide continue to be recorded in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, where the Millennium Development Goals target of halving extreme poverty has already been met, while most of Southern Asia is in danger of missing the target, says a United Nations progress report released on Thursday. [The Daily Times]

2010 World Cup: Boon or Bane for South Africa? The 2010 World Cup is all about legacy, and this is what this sporting event will leave to South Africa as the country hosts the game, according to FIFA. [Seer Press News]

Domestic

High Cost of Living Works against City's Hungry. The number of San Franciscans on food stamps has grown by some 55 percent in the past 17 months. [The San Francisco Examiner]

Viewpoint: A Solution for Hunger and Poverty. Access to food and other resources is not a matter of availability. Rather, it’s connected with one’s ability to pay. [The Daily Universe]

Poverty Trumps Education Gains. Despite state improvements, regional board report cites toll of economics on progress. [The Commercial Appeal]

Children Born Poor More Likely to Be Dogged by Poverty. Using data from a University of Michigan program that has been tracking the same families for more than 40 years, economists at the Urban Institute found that 49 percent of children who are born into households below the poverty line spend at least half of their first 18 years in poverty. [The Wall Street Journal]

Climate Change/Environment

Indonesia: Deforestation Leading to Fewer Resources, More Disasters. Wisnawati used to make three million rupiah (U.S. $325) a month tapping rubber trees, but now, after years of rampant deforestation, she farms rice and coffee and is lucky to bring in half that each month. [IRIN]

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