Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

14 posts from August 2011

Haitian Women Photograph Their Lives

My professional background is in photojournalism, so I'm a sap for stories in which people learn photography and then document their lives. In this short film from the Dominican Republic, Haitian migrant women talk about how learning and doing photography changed their perceptions of the world. For some women, it also changed the way the world perceived them.

This story is part of our Wednesday ViewChange video series.

"Kenyans for Kenya" Leads Homegrown Famine Relief Effort

You've probably seen the stories about East Africa's worst food crisis in 60 years: Hungry and parched Somali children and adults are streaming into refugee camps in eastern Kenya, itself hit by a drought, along with Djibouti and Ethiopia, the other countries that make up the Horn of Africa.

But there's one story you probably haven't seen: Kenyans themselves raising money for famine relief. In a country where 46% of the population lives below the poverty line, Kenyans have donated almost $2 million in the past two weeks to the Kenyans for Kenya campaign, according to its website counter.

Onepercentblog wrote about the enterprise last week:

The initiative has brought together a number of organizations among them Safaricom Foundation, KCB Foundation and the country’s leading media houses operating under the umbrella of the Media Owners Association (MOA). The effort will be administered by relief agency Kenya Red Cross Society. Other corporate have also joined the band wagon and progress is being noted.

The initiative: Kenyans who’re standing together to help Kenyans who are in, extremely, need of help and have employed the use of mobile phones to transfer funds at no cost. This will ensure that even the smallest donation (as low as Sh10 (€0,07)) is harnessed, as this will go a long way in improving the situation of millions of Kenyans currently staring starvation and death in the eye.

A police constable donated his whole salary for the month of July. Nine-year-old Rose Nasimiyu, a cancer survivor and minor Kenyan celebrity, saw off Kenyans for Kenya food shipments over the weekend. With so much success in so little time, the people behind the campaign are now pushing to raise Sh1 billion, or about $10.5 million.

While most have commended this fundraising, some have pointed out that longer-term solutions are needed to solve the food crisis. Ikal Angelei, a program officer at Friends of Lake Turkana, a Kenyan nonprofit, said in an Associated Press story that the real causes of hunger need to be addressed.

"My only problem is when people are not starving, food security is no longer an issue and no one sees the need to discuss the root causes and the structures needed to tackle the issues," Angelei said. "So really it is a great effort but unfortunately may be repeated again in a year."

Mapping the Global Food Crisis

This interactive map from Oxfam helps explain the global food crisis in a format that most anyone can understand. The crisis is complex, as you can see, particularly in the Horn of Africa. To say that drought, climate change, or rising transportation costs were the famine's main triggers there is to simplify the situation.

And just as investment in some types of preventive health care is more effective and less expensive than treating illnesses later, so too investment in communities and agriculture systems can be more effective and less expensive than responding to a food emergency down the road. As my Bread for the World Institute colleague Faustine Wabwire wrote earlier this week:

The importance of promoting community stability and resilience cannot be overemphasized. Multi-sectoral programming to address the impacts of limited food availability, high food prices, asset losses, and malnutition, is imperative. ...

What we forget is the haunting fact that we have only two options: to pay less now, or to pay dearly later.

VIDEO: Mobile Classrooms Foster Hope in Uganda

We've often reported that one of the best predictors of lifetime earnings is education. But in northeastern  Uganda, children must watch over their family's cattle. A new UNICEF-supported mobile education initiative allows children to attend school and help their families.

This story is part of our Wednesday ViewChange video series.

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