Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

25 posts categorized "Climate Change"

Hunger in the News: Climate Change, Catholic Charities, and Poverty

BlogphotoA regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.

Iowa View: Climate change affects global challenges,” (Editorial) by Rev. Susan Guy, Special to the Des Moines Register. “When I was ordained more than 21 years ago, climate change was not an issue that was even remotely on my mind. Throughout my years of ministry in local churches and as an organizer, there was one key issue that occupied my heart and mind, and which led me to specific acts of charity and justice. That issue was hunger.”

Head of Catholic Charities USA leaves knowing talk on poverty shifting,” by Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service. “After a decade as president of Catholic Charities USA, Father Larry Snyder planned to step down Jan. 31 and return to his beloved Minnesota.”

12 Days, 12 Things You Can Do to Fight Poverty” by Greg Kaufmann, Moyers & Company. “BillMoyers.com is proud to collaborate with TalkPoverty.org as we focus on poverty coverage over the next two weeks. Every day, visit BillMoyers.com to discover a new action you can take to help turn the tide in the fight against poverty.”

Let’s Address the State of Food,” (Commentary) by Mark Bittman. New York Times. “The state of the union, food-wise, is not good. The best evidence is that more than 46.5 million Americans are receiving SNAP benefits – formerly food stamps – a number that has not changed much since 2013, when it reached its highest level ever.”

Poverty stems from unjust economic system, not big families, pope says,” by Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service. “Families who have lots of children do not cause poverty, Pope Francis said. The main culprit is "an economic system that has removed the human person from its focus and has placed the god of money" as its priority instead, he said Jan. 21.”

Destiny’s story: 'Once you get in poverty, it’s kind of hard to get out,'” by Jenny Brundin, Colorado Public Radio. “Destiny Carney, 18, grew up in poverty and was often homeless but now leads classes at Project Voyce. The program helped Carney turn her life around.” 

World Bank President Praises Bread at Annual New York City Gala

World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim speaking at an annual World Bank meeting (photo courtesy of The World Bank).

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Earlier this week, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, lauded the work of Bread for the World and its goal of ending hunger by 2030 at the 11th Annual Gala to End Hunger in New York City. However, he made it clear that numerous forces such as climate change, especially extreme weather events, will make achieving the goal a challenging one.  

Kim said scientists are predicting that about 40 percent of the arable land in Africa will be gone by 2040. At the same time, the demand for food will increase as the world’s population continues to grow.

“If the predictions are correct about what is going to happen with agriculture, we are in big trouble on the hunger front,” he said. “Setting a target of 2030 is great.  “It will force us to look at all the interconnected aspects of our life and the world today to get to that target.”

He made his remarks during an interview conducted by Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, at the gala. The event was hosted by Bread for the World, Bread for the World Institute, and the Alliance to End Hunger.

Kim suggested that one way to solve the agriculture issue is to implement climate-smart strategies, such as alternatively growing rice during wet and dry seasons. That, he said, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the process of arable land loss in Africa.

Kim urged Bread and its allies to continue their work, especially convincing U.S. legislators on the need to stamp out food insecurity here and abroad. He said he’s worried that the issue of food insecurity will only grow worse as extreme weather events intensify.

“These events always cut hardest on the poorest people,” he said. “What do we know about Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone? Twenty-five percent to as high as 40 percent of farmers have stopped working. They are eating their seed corn. We are looking at potential famine in these counties on top of the Ebola outbreak.”

For its part, Kim said the World Bank is looking into creating financial instruments that could help alleviate the impact of famine in poor countries. He said the notion of ending hunger by 2030 is a plausible goal as long as there is an understanding that it needs to be confronted on multiple fronts.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

Helping Neighbors in Need Is an Act of God

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.

Drought and Famine in the U.S.: David Beckmann on PBS NewsHour

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.

Continue reading "Drought and Famine in the U.S.: David Beckmann on PBS NewsHour" »

Postcard from Bangladesh: The Payra River


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

World Water Day: In the Philippines, Country-Led Effort Toward Water Access

Photo by Flickr user likeablerodent

[This blog is an excerpt from the 2011 Hunger Report. Read the full article here.]

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.

+Explore more Hunger Reports from Bread for the World Institute.

The 2012 Hunger Report is Here!

111117-hungerreportRebalancing 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.

Todd-postTodd Post is senior editor with Bread for the World Institute.



Facing Climate Change in Kiribati

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.

Laura-elizabeth-pohlLaura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World.


7 Billion: How Did We Get Here? And Will We Survive?


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:

Jeannie-choiJeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World.


Hunger Resources: Climate Change. Human Rights. Farmers.

Bread for the World Librarian Chris Matthews curates a list of resources for readers who want to stay on top of the latest information about hunger.

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.

  • 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."

+Click here for a full list of what we're reading at Bread for the World.

Chris Matthews is the librarian at Bread for the World Institute.

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