Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

32 posts categorized "Development"

Refugees in Jordan Face Increasing Hardship

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Syrian refugees receiving U.K.-funded food vouchers in Amman, Jordan through the U.N. World Food Program. Russell Watkins/U.K. Department for International Development via Wikimedia Commons.

By Jacob Chew

Jordan is currently host to 620,000 of the 3.8 million Syrians who have sought refuge from the ongoing conflict in the country. This is the largest ever refugee population received by Jordan, a developing country with limited economic resources and a high unemployment rate.

In January, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a report highlighting the growing challenges faced by the more than 520,000 Syrian refugees residing outside UNHCR camps in Jordan.  “Living in the Shadows: Jordan Home Visits Report 2014” found that these refugees will face increasing difficulty in sustaining themselves as the four-year civil war in Syria continues unabated into 2015.

The UNHCR report highlighted the following:

Two-thirds of Syrian refugees live below the Jordanian poverty line of U.S. $96 per month. Female-headed households face higher levels of poverty than male-headed households.

•Many Syrian families spend an average of 1.6 times their income in order to meet their needs. In order to do so, they have had to rely on their savings, sell their jewelry, borrow money from family and friends, and even pull their children out of schools in order to sustain themselves. Such strategies are unsustainable in the long term.

One in ten refugee families live in informal housing such as tents, caravans, basements, and rooftops. Almost half (47 percent) of refugee households are in living conditions regarded as bad or urgent, while 40 percent live with poor sanitary conditions.

•The Jordan government has issued most refugees with a service card that provides them with free access to public services and education. However, the influx of refugees has stretched existing public infrastructure to the seams. Overcrowded schools coupled with financial constraints resulted in only 53 percent of Syrian refugee children enrolled in school in 2014.

•Currently, UNHCR provides cash assistance to 14 percent of Syrian refugees living outside the camps. This has reduced the number of beneficiaries below the program’s poverty threshold by 20 percent. However, lack of international funding has prevented it from scaling up this program.

With no resolution to the Syrian conflict in sight and a lack of financial support for UNHCR’s work, we can expect levels of hunger and poverty among refugees to increase in the immediate future.

In the long term, competition for resources could increase tension between refugees and host communities. Continuing uncertainty and high school dropout rates could lead to the emergence of a lost generation of Syrians living in despair, which could affect peace and stability in the region.

Bread for the World members are urged to contact their members of Congress and ask them to increase funding for poverty-focused development accounts, including those that fund programs to alleviate poverty and hunger among Syrian refugees in Jordan and refugees elsewhere, and also urge Congress to pass important reforms to the food-aid system. With common sense reforms to make food-aid programs more flexible, efficient and effective, these programs could reach millions more people in Jordan and around the world.

Jacob Chew is an intern in the government relations department at Bread for the World.

What Comes After the Millennium Development Goals?

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Women’s empowerment is the focus of this year’s Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger.  Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank.


By Robin Stephenson

In 2000, governments across the globe agreed to make ending hunger a priority. They established measurable goals and a common framework that would drive policy decisions and ultimately cut extreme poverty in half by 2015.

Like me, you may have first heard about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through your church.

In 2008, as part of its Offering of Letters workshop, my church’s advocacy committee set up eight stations in our sanctuary to teach us about the hunger-reducing goals. After learning about each MDG, our task was to write our members of Congress and urge them to act.

The first station was a pedestal with a bowl of rice on it. As I let the individual grains sift through my fingers, I reflected on a question written there: Can we cut extreme poverty in half?

I’ll admit that I was more of a skeptic than an optimist. Extreme poverty means living on $1.25 a day. In 1990, that was the wage that 43 percent of the world earned each day. The question seemed overwhelming and the solution impossible.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

By 2010, the number of people who lived on $1.25 a day dropped to roughly 21 percent. In other words, we achieved the first goal and cut extreme poverty in half five years before the 2015 deadline!

Still, nearly 1 billion people continue to live on $1.25 a day. There is more work to do, but the MDGs expire in a little over 300 days.

Overall, the strategy was a success, and we have learned some surprising things. The world can and will galvanize around a plan to end hunger. We increase our impact when we have a shared strategy. By defining measurable goals, we now have data–even missing data–that can better inform a path forward.

Even when results were less than stellar, we gained valuable information. For example, women’s empowerment has been slow and uneven. In areas where the MDG framework helped empower women, progress against hunger is accelerated.

Fouzia Abdikadir Dahir, a Mandela Washington Fellow and native of Kenya, is one of those empowered leaders transforming her community.

Dahir founded the Northwestern Organization for Social Empowerment in her country. She contributed to this year’s Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger. “Being a pastoral woman from this region who has made it this far,” she writes, “I plan to use every opportunity to advocate for the rights of these women and girls.”

Now the question is what happens next. After another round of consultations with the world’s governments, the answer is coming in the form of a new framework: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs, expected to be adopted at a summit this coming September in New York, will set international development priorities through 2030. The suggested 17 goals aim to do more than halve extreme poverty – but end it.

Can we end hunger by 2030? After seeing what the world did in 15 short years, my answer is an emphatic yes!

In 2015, Bread invites you to learn about hunger and to join us in our effort to end hunger by 2030.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Policymakers Should Study Existing Models to Develop Migration Strategy

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Guatemalans begin heading home after a Sunday evening mass. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World. 

By Andrew Wainer

Bread for the World pushed hard in 2014 for Congress to address hunger, poverty, and violence in Central America - factors that drove the spike in child migrants to the United States earlier this year. Congress finally listened and tucked $130 million for a basket of poverty-reduction programs into the $1.01 trillion spending bill it passed in December.

In addition to the funding, the spending bill calls for “a strategy to address the key factors…contributing to the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the United States…Such strategy shall include a clear mission statement, achievable goals and objectives, benchmarks, timelines, and a spending plan.”

In simple terms, Congress looks like it is getting serious about addressing the root causes of immigration in terms of funding, research, and analysis. But much will depend on how the new funding is implemented. The U.S. Department of State and USAID will be responsible for implementing the migration and development strategy. However, there are few details right now on how the strategy will be developed, where the funding is coming from, and how it will be used.

The needs of the region are great. Violence is endemic in the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, where much of the recent unauthorized immigration has originated. Inequality is rampant, and, in some cases, more than half of the population of these countries lives in poverty.

But there are innovative pilot programs and models that should be considered as part of the migration and development strategy. Although a small agency, the Inter-American Foundation is a pioneer in implementing development programs in Central America that include evaluating their impact on deterring undocumented immigration. 

There are also partnerships including philanthropic organizations like the Ford Foundation that have worked with towns in El Salvador, the Salvadoran diaspora in the United States, and Salvadoran municipalities to create livelihoods for women and mothers left behind by husbands who have migrated to the United States.  

The Millennium Challenge Corporation has the potential to play a major role in reforming development policy in Central America. With investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in El Salvador and the approval of new grant money in Guatemala, any development strategy targeting migration in Central America should include the MCC in a central role.

Bread for the World will continue to watch developments on this front. And when needed, we will mobilize to ensure that Congress lives up to its commitment of addressing the migration issue in the United States.

Andrew Wainer is a senior immigration policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

Tweet Congress: #FeedtheFuture

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Kenyan Farmer. (ACDI/VOCA)

By Robin Stephenson

Since 2010, Feed the Future programs have helped millions of farmers increase the amount of food they can grow and the the ability to feed their families. It is time to codify the program into law. With enough pressure from constituents, bills introduced in the House and Senate last month (H.R. 5656/S. 2909) could be voted on and passed during the lame-duck session. These bills would permanently authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.

Learn more: Bread’s Bill Analysis: Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014.

Both bills have been introduced into committee. For H.R. 5656 and S. 2909 to move forward, the committee leadership must schedule a mark-up. Committee members then vote on the marked-up version, and if passed, the bill moves out of committee and is eligible for a floor vote.  Leadership then determines if there is sufficient momentum to pass the bill and if so, will put the bill up for a vote from the full chamber. 

Cosponsorship implies a commitment to vote in support of a bill and helps build the momentum for a floor vote.  Help us build momentum.  Look for your state, and if you have a member of Congress on one of the committees considering the Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014, click on his/her name to automatically load a tweet. If you do not have a Twitter account, email or call your representative at (800) 826-3688 and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 5656.  And email or call your senators, and ask them to cosponsor S. 2909. 

Senate Foreign Affairs: 113th Congress Committee Members
*members in bold have cosponsored S. 2909: Global Food Security Act of 2014

State

Majority Member

State

Minority member

New Jersey

Chairman, Robert Menendez

Tennessee

Bob Corker, Ranking Member

California

Barbara Boxer

Idaho

James Risch

Maryland

Benjamin Cardin

Florida

Marco Rubio

New Hampshire

Jeanne Shaheen

Wisconsin

Ron Johnson

Delaware

Christopher Coons        

Arizona

Jeff Flake

Illinois

Richard Durbin

Arizona

John McCain

New Mexico

Tom Udall

Wyoming

John Barrasso

Connecticut

Chris Murphy

Kentucky

Rand Paul

Virginia

Tim Kaine

 

 

Massachusetts

Edward Markey

 

 

House Committee on Foreign Affairs:  113th Congress Committee Members
*members in bold have cosponsored H.R. 5656: Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014.

State

Majority Member

State

Minority Member

California

Chairman, Edward Royce

New York

Eliot Engel, Ranking Member

New Jersey

Christopher Smith

America Samoa

Eni Faleomavaega

Florida

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

California

Brad Sherman

California

Dana Rohrabacher

New York

Gregory Meeks

Ohio

Steve Chabot

New Jersey

Albio Sires

South Carolina

Joe Wilson

Virginia

Gerald Connolly

Texas

Michael McCaul

Florida

Theodore Deutch

Texas

Ted Poe

New York

Brian Higgins

Arizona

Matt Salmon

California

Karen Bass

Pennsylvania

Tom Marino

Massachusetts

William Keating

South Carolina

Jeff Duncan

Rhode Island

David Cicilline

Illinois

Adam Kinzinger

Florida

Alan Grayson

Alabama

Mo Brooks

California

Juan Vargas

Arkansas

Tom Cotton

Illinois

Bradley Schneider

California

Paul Cook

Massachusetts

Joseph Kennedy III

North Carolina

George Holding

California

Ami Bera

Texas

Randy Weber Sr.

California

Alan S. Lowenthal

Pennsylvania

Scott Perry

New York

Grace Meng

Texas

Steve Stockman

Florida

Lois Frankel

Florida

Ron DeSantis

Hawaii

Tulsi Gabbard

Georgia

Doug Collins

Texas

Joaquin Castro

North Carolina

Mark Meadows

 

 

Florida

Ted Yoho

 

 

Wisconsin

Sean Duffy

 

 

Florid

Curt Clawson

 

 

 Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

 

 

Recap: #WorldFoodDay Twitter Town Hall

Join Us on Twitter for a World Food Day Town Hall

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Every year on October 16, the global community pauses to celebrate World Food Day and raise the profile of the ongoing struggle to end hunger and poverty. This year’s celebration will focus on the 500 million small family farms, which help feed the world. 

The majority of these family farms are in developing countries, and most are run by women. They contribute in critical ways to local economies, support sustainable development, and provide nutritious food to billions of people. They are crucial partners in the effort to end hunger by 2030. That’s why @Bread4theWorld and @WorldFoodPrize are encouraging our supporters and partners to do their part to advocate for and on behalf of small farmers.

In honor of World Food Day, October 16, @Bread4theWorld and @WorldFoodPrize Foundation will moderate a Twitter Town Hall at 11 a.m. CT (12 noon, ET). Our chat will focus on the critical role small farmers play in the fight to end hunger by 2030 and how each of us can play our part, too. 2010 World Food Prize laureate and Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann (@davidbeckmann) and 2014 World Food Prize laureate Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram (#RajWFP) will lead this public discussion with partners, bloggers, and leaders who are working together to end  hunger once and for all.

Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter on Thursday, October 16 at 11 am CT (12 noon ET) using #WorldFoodDay. And please share about the Twitter town hall with your network through social media channels, blogs, websites, and emails before the event.

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.

Many Faiths, One Purpose

By Eric Mitchell

New Testament: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

Qu’ran: “the destruction of one innocent life is like the destruction of the whole of humanity and the saving of one life is like the saving of the whole of humanity.” (Al-Ma’idah ”the Tablespread” 5:32)

Hebrew Scripture: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? . . (Isaiah 58)

Today, leaders from various faiths and from across the country have come to Washington, D.C., to share their commitment to promoting the dignity of all people, including the world’s most vulnerable.

Representatives of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, as well as heads of religious organizations, will be on Capitol Hill to speak out in support of funding for lifesaving humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance programs.

Will you also be part of these efforts and call (800-326-4941) or email your members of Congress today?

Urge your members to robustly fund humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance accounts within the International Affairs budget as these programs support agricultural development and nutrition, emergency humanitarian assistance, global health, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, and more.

Collectively, as faith leaders and fellow believers alike, motivated by our shared moral beliefs, we can make a difference in advocating for limited federal dollars for these programs. They make up less than 1 percent of the federal budget but are invaluable inlifting millions of people around the world out of hunger, poverty, and disease.

Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.

Discussing Development, World Hunger, and Advocacy at the University of Kentucky

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University of Kentucky One Campus volunteers Ibitola Asalou (l) and Liz Renzaglia (c) with Lesly Webber-McNitt of the Farm Journal Foundation at the April 2 development and world hunger panel. (Courtesy of Deborah Charalambakis)

By Deborah Charalambakis

How can food-aid reform and agricultural investments help feed people around the world? And what can advocacy to do help make those things possible? On April 2, residents of Lexington, Ky., college students, and faculty gathered at the University of Kentucky for an engaging, thought-provoking discussion that explored these questions, as well as others related to development and world hunger.

Jon Gromek, regional organizer with Bread for the World;  Dr. Jerry Skees, president of  GlobalAgRisk; Abby Sasser,  regional field director at ONE Campaign; and Lesly Weber-McNitt director of government relations and program development at Farm Journal Foundation, were the participating panelists. Amanda Milward, field representative from Rep. Andy Barr’s office (R-Ky.-06), was a special guest.  

Among the topics tackled during the panel discussion were agriculture and food-aid reform. Many people don’t realize the importance of investing in agriculture and smallholder farmers, something all of the panelists touched on. Both Gromek and Dr. Skees spoke about the need for U.S. food-aid reform, and the ways we can improve food security for Africa’s most vulnerable people. Investing in farmers and agriculture not only increases income and food security for those populations, it reduces poverty significantly. This has been documented in both Ghana and Burkino Faso, two of the countries profiled in the ONE Campaign report “Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricultural Transformation.” Ghana has seen a decrease in poverty by 44 percent, and Burkino Faso created 235,000 jobs—all because those countries’ governments invested in their agricultural sectors.

The panelists also talked about advocacy, and how it helps make such success stories possible. When I asked our panelists why advocacy is important, they all dove in to answer. Sasser, Weber-McNitt, and Gromek – who all work in advocacy— stressed that our members of Congress represent us; when groups of hard-working advocates contact their senators and representatives about issues such as protecting foreign assistance programs (which account for less than 1 percent of  our federal budget), those elected officials listen. The more politicians hear from their constituents, the better the chance that they will act on the requests of their constituents. . When we become aware of  issues of agriculture, poverty, and development and we continue to stand on the sidelines, this not only skews our view of justice, but calls into question our concern for humanity all together.  That was something the audience truly understood in our advocacy discussion.

Though the event was a great success, and many people had questions for our panelists, it doesn’t end there. When it comes to issues of agriculture, development, and world hunger, let us be persistent in educating those around us about these issues, and become powerful advocates for the world’s poor.

Deborah_one_crop

 

Deborah Charalambakis is president of the ONE Campus chapter at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. ONE was created with assistance from Bread for the World. To learn more about what’s happening in ONE in Kentucky, follow the group on Twitter: @ONE_uky

#StopTheMyth That the U.S. Sends All Its Money Overseas


Watch Bill Nye, the Science Guy, dispel more poverty myths in this short Gates Foundation video.

By Robin Stephenson

Three facts:

  • The United States does not send "all" of its money overseas.
  • We invest a small amount of our budget in international poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) programs.
  • That investment does not increase poverty in America. 

Programs categorized as poverty-focused development assistance, or PFDA, help alleviate hunger and poverty abroad, and also support trade, national security, and job creation here in the United States.

In the fiscal year 2014 budget spending bill, overall PFDA got a modest boost over last year's funding levels, although some programs saw reductions. The increase is good news, but PFDA remains mired in misunderstanding, where the general public is concerned. PFDA myths must be debunked in order to support continued investments in global hunger and poverty reduction.

One PFDA myth I've previously written about was recently addressed by Joe Cerrell of the Gates Foundation on Devex, in the piece, "It's our responsibility to #stopthemyth on foreign aid." Cerrell, like most anti-hunger advocates, has defended PFDA investment in response to the false belief that we send all our money overseas while America's poor go without. It's simply not true.

Cerrell thinks the myth's persistence is due to public misunderstanding of the size of overseas investment and what it provides. In a recent survey, a large number of Americans said they believe 28 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid, which is a gross inflation of the actual number. PFDA comprises less than one percent of the federal budget, and has a tremendous impact. 

With benchmarks such as the Millennium Development Goals and program design that includes country participation and partnership, more progress was made against hunger and poverty in the 2000s than during any other decade in history. With smart investments, we will continue to see a global exodus from hunger — unless we pit domestic and international investments against one another and reduce PFDA funding.

"Quite simply," Cerrell writes on Devex, "if 1 percent of the budget was redirected back to domestic issues in a donor country, it would only be a drop in the bucket — but invested in the developing world, it is helping to spur historic progress and prosperity."

In our churches and communities, faithful advocates must remove the shroud of misunderstanding surrounding PFDA. A study commissioned by Bread for the World in 2013 makes it clear that ending world hunger is something Americans care about. In fact, 37 percent of Americans think the U.S. government is doing too little to end hunger in developing countries around the world. Only one in five of those polled believe we are doing too much.

“Americans want to help their brothers and sisters end hunger, and become self-sufficient," said Rev. David Beckmann at the time of the study's release. "Congress should embody and reflect this compassionate spirit as it deliberates on our federal budget.”

As we move forward in addressing 2015 funding levels for PFDA, we must focus on development assistance programs in particular. Through faithful advocacy, we can ensure these programs are robustly supported, thereby ensuring thousands of people throughout the world have the opportunity to enjoy a more prosperous future.

Robin Stephenson is Bread for the World's national lead for social media and senior organizer, Western hub.

 

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