23 posts categorized "Climate Change"
Producing High Quality Seeds (USAID).
We often use the phrase “an act of God” to describe natural catastrophes. Would it not be more appropriate, however, to refer to the work we do to mitigate hunger before and after disaster hits as an act of God? In the United States, we have a set of programs categorized as poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) that is doing just that. When we help our neighbors build resilience against future crises in poor countries, we are acting out God’s compassion for humanity.
Recent reports on climate change indicate we are facing an increase in global food-insecurity, which makes programs that build resilience even more critical. Currently, both chambers of Congress are writing spending bills that determine fiscal year 2015 funding for foreign assistance. The Senate plan could cut funding by 7 percent from current base funding levels.Such cuts would hinder our ability to continue making progress against worldwide hunger.
In “Morality of preparation,” a piece published in The Hill this week, Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, and Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, urge Congress to fund programs at levels comparable to, or higher than, those enacted in the previous year. They also call funding foreign assistance a moral imperative.
“We don’t believe there is a choice here," they write. "How can we stomach the desperate looks on children’s faces and refuse to help when we know we are able?” McCullough and Beckmann stress that advocates must reach out to Congress and show their support for foreign assistance. “Each of us, citizens and elected representatives, reflect the priorities of this great nation and among the most important is hope and compassion for all God’s children.”
U.S. programs addressing long-term solutions to poverty have been instrumental in making progress against global hunger over the last decade. The reduction in child mortality rates are evidence that smart nutrition investments work. Increases in global literacy rates are a result of injecting aid into primary-school education.
These small investments have huge returns. Increases in a country's literacy rate correlate with increases in its economic productivity. Sixty years ago, South Korea, now an example of the power of effective aid, was one of the world’s poorest countries. U.S. foreign assistance helped South Korea become Asia’s fourth-largest economy, as well as a major consumer of U.S. goods.
In May 2009, a cyclone devastated Bangladesh. In the village of Sutarkhali, Mohammad Mofizul Islam Gazi saw his livelihood disappear when the small plot on which he grew rice to support his family was ruined. “Cyclone Aila nailed the last pin in the coffin,” he tells USAID Frontlines. “There was nothing left.” In 2012, as the village was struggling with malnutrition, a U.S. funded program supplied Gazi and other farmers with a special rice seed that could withstand future cyclones. Today, the community produces 50 percent more rice than before the disaster.
In urging our members of Congress to fully fund PFDA, we are moving toward the sacred vision of a world where everyone has enough. Helping neighbors escape hunger and poverty – helping when we are able – is a true act of God.
Last night, David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, appeared on PBS NewsHour to discuss the drought in the United States and its impact on food prices around the world.
Here's a highlight from the interview:
Ray Suarez: David Beckmann, is there any give in the world food system than there used to be? Some food experts are referring to a post-surplus world, where the number of mouths more closely matches the amount of food we're making.
Does this kind of event, this unusual drought, worst in 56 years, put more people in risk than we even realize?
David Beckmann: The system has changed in that world's population is growing wonderfully. A lot of people are getting out of poverty around the world. And so they are eating more food.
And there's going to be a growing demand for food, already is, all over the world. So that change has taken place. I think one thing that we're doing right as a world is investing in agriculture in poor countries around the world, helping poor farmer produce more, take advantage of higher prices to make a living and also meet local needs.
Ferries wait to transport people across the Payra River in southern Bangladesh, about six miles north of the Bay of Bengal, on Saturday, April 21, 2012. This area was devastated by Cyclone Sidr in 2007, the latest in a series of natural disasters that often hit the country due to its unique location. Bangladesh, inhabited by 150 million people in a land mass the size of Wisconsin, is in the largest river delta in the world. It could be the country with the most people to be negatively affected by climate change, which exacerbates threats to food security, according to a 2010 USAID report. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World
Photo by Flickr user likeablerodent
Feed the Future has the potential to be a major step forward in U.S. foreign assistance, but it is not the first effort to adopt a country-led development approach. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency, uses a country-led approach in its work with developing countries. The MCC is widely regarded as one of the more innovative examples of U.S. foreign assistance, and it provides a compelling model for establishing a country-led development approach for Feed the Future.
MCC’s approach to country-led development puts participating governments in the lead on both program development and program implementation. To secure U.S. funding, or in MCC parlance to sign an aid “compact,” developing country governments are invited to propose projects that reflect their own development priorities. Partner governments are required to consult with key stakeholders in their country, including civil society groups, the private sector, and communities slated to benefit directly from the assistance. MCC is a partner in the process of developing the compact; its role includes ensuring that proposed investments have good potential to spur growth and reduce poverty, and that the government consults with stakeholders who will benefit from the compact and who can help make the program successful. Just developing and signing the compact can take one to two years.
Before governments submit a project proposal, they must conduct rigorous analysis to identify their country’s key barriers to economic growth and poverty reduction. Based on the analysis, they propose programs to help overcome these barriers, and MCC helps them select and design investments that show greatest promise for increasing incomes among beneficiaries. It’s rare for MCC not to help countries sharpen their proposals. MCC’s objective is not economic growth by any means that works—nor is it to support just any project that will help poor people. The agency will only fund investments that do double duty: stimulating growth and lifting people out of poverty.
An example of how MCC tries to make projects both country-led and successful comes from the Philippines. Water shortages in one district led the government to propose using MCC funding to build a system of reservoirs. Farmers in the district blamed their low productivity on a lack of year-round access to water. When MCC technical specialists analyzed the situation, they determined that the water shortages were caused by inadequate delivery mechanisms rather than storage capacity (which would have required the reservoirs). Thus, MCC did not change the problem identified by the community as a priority, but the solution was adapted based on MCC’s analysis of its causes. MCC’s strengths include its access to such technical expertise. Is this inconsistent with a country-led approach? MCC doesn’t see it that way. Rather, the process works as a partnership, with both parties working to identify the investments with the greatest potential for poverty reduction.
Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies, the 2012 edition of Bread for the World Institute's annual Hunger Report, was released today, November 21. This is the Institute's 22nd annual report. Few of them have been as timely, considering the looming budget cuts Congress is negotiating.
The report argues that U.S. farm policies need to shift toward production of healthy foods. We say bluntly that current farm policies are doing a poor job of contributing to a healthy food system. There is too much support for ingredients used to produce cheap junk foods, and not enough support for foods that promote good health.
The greater share of government support to the farm sector goes to the biggest producers. Smaller producers and producers of healthy foods — i.e., fruits and vegetables — get little or no support. It's been this way for decades, but Americans are expressing more concern than ever about what we're eating and what we're getting for our tax dollars to the farm sector. The local food movement, with its emphasis on "smaller is better," is helping to reshape the farm policy debate. Farm policies are not solely to blame for Americans' low consumption of fruits and vegetables — but U.S. farms don't even produce enough healthy foods for our population to get its recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals. We need to ask, what are farm policies really trying to accomplish?
The report is not a diatribe against large-scale farming. We recognize the value of production agriculture in lowering food costs. The biggest beneficiaries of low food prices are low-income people – the people most vulnerable to hunger, who are therefore Bread for the World's main concern. Food production could also be a key component of the country's economic recovery strategy, a potential source of jobs. In tough times with so many people out of work, the hobbling U.S. economy simply can't afford to ignore these possibilities.
The greatest economic challenge facing the United States, bar none, is the rising cost of health care. Obesity as a contributor to these costs is getting more attention as the problem affects more and more Americans. Hunger, on the other hand, is often overlooked as a health issue—but hungry people are by definition in poor health. Together, the costs of obesity and hunger run into the hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This calls for a much stronger tie between the foods government encourages farmers to produce and the foods government should be encouraging people to eat.
We need bolder, more determined thinking about how policies can better meet the needs that the world is now facing. The 2012 Hunger Report has plenty of ideas to move us in the right direction.
+View or order the 2012 Hunger Report at www.bread.org/hungerreport.
Kiribati is an island nation in the Pacific facing the effects of climate change.
When I think about the impact of climate change on Washington, DC, where I live, I imagine a far-off time in the future when the Potomac River overflows its banks and eventually floods my home. The key phrase there is "a far-off time." But for the people of Kiribati -- an island nation in the Pacific -- the effects of climate change are imminent. Drought, rising sea levels, and an increase in storm surge are just some of the factors threatening Kiribati's existence. The country's government has even set up a climate change website where people can keep up with the latest news on how this phenomenon is affecting their nation.
"Previously I thought 2060 would be safe, maybe getting too close to the edge," says Anote Tong, the president of Kirbati, in the video below. "But now it seems that it might be a lot earlier; I think 2030 might be more realistic. But I think the response has to be much earlier than that."
Climate change is already impacting agricultural production around the world and threatening people's livelihood, particularly women. Learn more about climate change and Kiribati's situation by watching the ViewChange video below.
This story is part of our Wednesday ViewChange video series.
I am terrible at grasping scale. Ask me how many people were at a concert and I couldn't tell you if it was 1,000 or 10,000. So when I try to conceive of 7 billion people living on this earth, it's enough to give me a splitting headache.
But this is an important concept for all of us to understand. Why? Because 7 billion people means that the hunger crisis in our global community has the potential to get worse. According to a United Nations report, the expected growth has increased concern that the number of hungry and poor people around the world will rise, particiularly as grain and global food prices continue to increase.
This NPR video provides a visual demonstration of how population growth was accomplished in some countries struggling to survive. It's fascinating to note that food, medicine, and better health care--essentially, higher standards of living--are able to stop the constant "drip" of death, disease, and starvation in developing nations.
And that is what our goal should be. I celebrate our growing planet, and I hope that this will only encourage globally conscious people to fight even harder to keep foreign aid and poverty-focused development assistance in our nation's federal budget.
+Act now and protect foreign aid for hungry people around the world.
Watch the video below, and share your thoughts in the comments section:
In this next installment of hunger resources, I've gathered a collection of articles on how people suffer from hunger and the overall cost of hunger in a society. Got any hunger resources of your own? Share them in the comments section below.
- On the Brink: Who’s Best Prepared for a Climate and Hunger Crisis? (Casey, Leora and Alex Wijeratna. Actionaid, Oct. 2011):
"Accelerating climate change, growing population and rising food prices pose a triple crisis that could lead to a collapse in global food systems."
- Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2011. Claiming Human Rights: The Accountability Challenge. (Brot fur die Welt, FIAN and ICCO, Oct. 11, 2011)
"Despite the growth of a worldwide Right to Food movement and the existence of international frameworks and mechanisms to protect human rights, an unacceptable number of violations remain unpunished, according to the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2011, an annual publication released today that monitors food security and nutrition policies from a human rights perspective."
- Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming the Global Food System. (Branford, Sue. War on Want, Oct. 2011.)
"The scandal of global hunger stands as a rebuke to humanity. The fact that record numbers of people are classified as hungry, at a time when there is unprecedented wealth in theworld, challenges the very concept of human progress."
- Farmers Facing Loss of Subsidy May Get New One (Neuman, William, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2011)
"It seems a rare act of civic sacrifice: in the name of deficit reduction, lawmakers from both parties are calling for the end of a longstanding agricultural subsidy that puts about $5 billion a year in the pockets of their farmer constituents. Even major farm groups are accepting the move, saying that with farmers poised to reap bumper profits, they must do their part."
- Hunger In America: Suffering We All Pay For (Shepard, Donald S … et al, Center for American Progress & Brandeis University, Oct. 2011)
"The Great Recession and the currently tepid economic recovery swelled the ranks of American households confronting hunger and food insecurity by 30 percent. In 2010 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, meaning they were hungry or faced food insecurity at some point during the year."
- Interactive Map: Costs of Hunger (Cooper, Donna, Center for America Progress, Oct. 4, 2011)
An interactive map on the costs of hunger created by the Center for American Progress.
Chris Matthews is the librarian at Bread for the World Institute.
Bread for the World President David Beckmann appeared in a video for 30goodminutes.org and spoke about the difficulties Americans are facing in this economy, and how many people in our nation and abroad are struggling to put food on the table.
In his talk, he told a fascinating story about his recent visit to Bangladesh:
I recently visited Bangladesh, and I got to go back to the little village called Goreya where I worked thirty years ago. People are still really poor, but I saw a lot of improvement: better roads, better houses, more foods in the markets. The children are clearly better nourished, and the women are not as confined as they were thirty years ago. Back then, I lived in a thatched house with the local schoolteacher, Mr. Bari. But there’s been lots of construction in Goreya, and I couldn’t even find the house.
Finally, a young woman who used to be Mr. Bari’s student told us where to look, and I spotted him walking along the road. I jumped out of our van, and he recognized me right away. Mr. Bari’s life has turned out better than he ever expected. For example, he’s been able to fill in the ditch next to his house, where mosquitoes used to breed when I lived there. He rightly thanks God for the progress that Bangladesh has made against poverty.
After David Beckmann's talk, he also gave an interview to Daniel Pawlus. In the interview, Beckmann tackled the link between poverty and obesity:
Lillian Daniel: I think one of the issues about identifying hunger in America is that a lot of voters look around and they say, “I don’t see hungry people. I see an obesity problem. I see other issues. I can’t believe that one in five households are hungry.” Can you unpack that for us?
David Beckmann: The incidence of obesity is actually higher among low-income people and it’s often the same folks. So for people in our country, the kind of hunger that’s very widespread is intermittent hunger. People eat cheap food if they don’t have much money and then at the end of the month they run out. So especially moms, they may protect their kids so they may go for days without virtually any food. When they get food, then they may binge eat. And little kids who don’t get enough food have their metabolism messed up for the rest of their lives, so that they are likely to get obese.
Watch David Beckmann's talk below, and click here to watch the interview.
Former President Bill Clinton made waves during the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting this month by sharing that he had gone vegan for health reasons. The former president, notorious for eating fatty foods and McDonald’s Big Macs, now dines solely on fruits, vegetables, and legumes – and likes it. In an interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, Clinton said, “I like the stuff I eat. I like the vegetables and fruits. I like the beans.”
While President Clinton went vegan for health reasons, eating a mostly vegetarian or vegan diet could also help alleviate the causes of climate change, according to many food advocates like Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Ann Cooper, and others. Mark Bittman, a house favorite on the Bread Blog, gave a compelling TED lecture in December 2007 on this very issue. As a confessed meat eater, Bittman proposed that Americans try to curb the harmful effects of the beef industry by eating less meat for social justice and global survival:
Eighteen percent of greenhouse gases are attributed to livestock production. How much livestock do you need to produce this? Seventy percent of the agricultural land on earth, and 30 percent of the earth’s land surface is directly or indirectly devoted to raising the animals we all eat, and this number is predicted to double in the next 40 years or so.
There is no good reason for eating as much meat as we do, and I say this as a man who has eaten a fair share of corned beef in his life.
He goes on to admit that while he will never stop eating animals, he will advocate that people stop raising them industrially, and stop eating them thoughtlessly. He asks progressive people to vote with their forks by eating less meat, less junk, and more plants.
The most important takeaway for me here is that food and hunger issues are incredibly complex and intertwined, and require all of us to choose carefully what we put into our grocery carts, refrigerators, and bodies. Yes, there is the issue of personal health, as Bill Clinton exemplifies. But there are also the issues of greenhouse gases, climate change (from which the most vulnerable members of our global community suffer most), global food insecurity, and more.
Have you made conscientious decisions with your daily diet? Share your stories in the comments section below.
Posted by Jeannie Choi on September 29, 2011 in Climate Change, Foreign Aid, Global Hunger, Hunger and the U.S. Budget, Hunger in the News, Solutions to U.S. Poverty, U.S. Hunger / Comments (1) / TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: agricultural industry, Alice Waters, Ann Cooper, beef, Bill Clinton, climate change, greenhouse gases, lifestock production, Mark Bittman, meat, Michael Pollan, TED, vegan, vegetarian
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