Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

26 posts categorized "Development"

Have You Thanked a Farmer Today?

Have You Hugged a Farmer

The new Food Resource Bank T-shirt inspires Dulce Gamboa, who had an opportunity to thank many farmers at the FRB annual meeting.

by Dulce Gamboa

Well, I hadn’t had the chance to thank a farmer until I read the slogan on a Foods Resource Bank (FRB) staff T-shirt last Saturday during the FRB annual meeting in Kidron, Ohio. Thankfully, I was in a room full of farmers! It was a good reminder about the key role that they play in our daily lives.

The Foods Resource Bank connects farmers locally and globally as a Christian response to end hunger. Through community growing projects, FRB members and volunteers raise money in the United States to sustain agricultural projects overseas.  The model is straightforward: farmers support farmers.

At the FRB annual meeting, farmers talked about the challenges of small-holder agriculture. Arlyn Schipper, from Iowa, explained common problems, such as excess or scarcity of water, soil erosion, and price volatility.

This year Arlyn is praying for rain on his own land. He needs five to seven inches of rain to maintain his cattle and crops, but so far has gotten only around three inches. Arlyn stressed that he will be okay even if he doesn’t get more rain, thanks to his insurance. But farmers in developing countries don’t have the same support. That is why the FRB partners with 15 organizations, like Catholic Relief Services and the Mennonite Central Committee, to make sure that small-holder farmers around the world have access to credit, new technology, and best farming practices.

Arlyn’s efforts on behalf of fellow farmers extend to Washington, DC.  He has made Heart of the Hill visits to the nation's capital. This joint effort of FRB and Bread for the World fosters interaction between farmers and their members of Congress. These visits delivery two strong messages at the core of the FRB: local ownership increases the sustainability of agricultural projects overseas and U.S. farmers support an increase in productivity and sustainability by all small-holder farmers.

For example, during the FRB annual meeting, Rory Lewandowski, a Wayne County extension agent, talked about his work in Central America, where he has been working side by side with small-holder farmers.  From earning their trust to implementing and adapting the latest technology under challenging environments, Rory is living proof of what farmers are doing now to end hunger in our time.

Dulce Gamboa is a project coordinator for the church relations department at Bread for the World.

PEPFAR's Vital Role in the Fight Against AIDS

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U.S. foreign assistance programs like the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has helped reverse the growth of HIV/AIDS in many developing countries and could provide tactics for reducing the epidemic in the United States. Photo courtesy The Bill and & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To a large degree, the International AIDS Conference under way in Washington, DC, is a celebration of life. Yes, the deadly disease continues to loom over our world, with no known cure, but HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence—for those who realize that they have the disease and have access to life saving medicines. After doctors began treating HIV with powerful combinations of antiretroviral drugs in 1996, life expectancies for those infected changed from months to a full, normal spans.

Around the world, the number of people newly infected has steadily declined in recent years as has the number of AIDS-related deaths. According to Dr. Diane Havlir, U.S. Co-Chair of AIDS 2012, new scientific breakthroughs have given leaders in the AIDS movement hope that we may be beginning to see an end to the epidemic.

Progress against HIV/AIDS has been a remarkable achievement in which diverse communities worked together to apply political pressure, find funding, conduct research, and share tactics. U.S. foreign assistance programs like the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has provided support to tens of millions of people through prevention, treatment, and care. Bread for the World members have advocated for funding for PEPFAR since it was launched in 2003.

In 2009, Bread for the World shared the story of Florence Chakulya, a midwife in Zambia who is preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child, one pregnancy at a time—with resources provided by PEPFAR. Although she often must work by candlelight, Chakulya is able to give each of her clients an HIV test and adminster Nevirapine, a drug that helps to prevent transmission of the HIV virus from a mother to her baby during delivery. In this way, the battle against AIDS is being won.

Continue reading "PEPFAR's Vital Role in the Fight Against AIDS " »

How Can We Get There Without a Map?

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Photo by Anne Poulsen/ World Food Programme

Did you ever try to get to a far-off destination without a map?  It’s not easy.

Today, Bread for the World will join a coalition of 50 faith-based, humanitarian, and advocacy groups to present A Roadmap for Continued U.S. Leadership to End Global Hunger. At a Capitol Hill event later this afternoon, members of Congress, policymakers, and NGO leaders will officially unfold the Roadmap, charting a course for a hunger-free world through smart investments.

The document reviews progress over the last three years towards the goals set out in the original Roadmap and offers recommendations to ensure continued effectiveness of U.S. global food security programs.

The Original Roadmap

In the wake of the global food price crisis of 2008, a broad-based coalition of non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, and faith-based organizations developed a document titled the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, which was endorsed by over 40 organizations and became the basis for legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2817).  The Roadmap presented a vision for a comprehensive and integrated U.S. strategy to increase global food security, including suggested levels of financial support for emergency, safety net, nutrition and agricultural development programs over five years. 

Hunger remains one of the world's most pressing challenges, with almost a billion people—or one in seven worldwide—suffering chronic hunger.  In addition, each year up to 100 million more may face acute hunger brought on by natural disasters and conflicts.  Women and children are disproportionately affected by hunger and malnutrition.  With population growth placing a strain on a limited natural resource base, and changing weather patterns creating more droughts and floods, feeding the world of the future presents a serious challenge.

Continue reading "How Can We Get There Without a Map?" »

Upholding the Bipartisan Consensus on Development

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ACDI/VOCA's Kenya Maize Development Program nearly tripled maize yields for small-scale farmers in Kenya, about a third of whom are women. New technologies like improved seeds helped farmers realize these gains. Photo by ACDI/VOCA.

Ambassador Mark Dybul, former U.S. global AIDS coordinator, writes that a battle is brewing in Congress over whether or not to uphold an existing bipartisan consensus on health and development. At issue is U.S. support for self-sufficiency programs in developing countries, setting the goal for those countries to take primary responsibility for their citizens’ health and well-being.  

Fortunately, the brewing battle is not between Republications and Democrats.

“The reason for the strong bipartisan agreement is rather simple: it’s the right thing to do for the American taxpayer to save and lift up more lives with the highest return on investment—and that, in turn, is good for our national economy and security,” writes Ambassador Dybul in a recent op-ed in The Hill.

Those who favor this consensus argue that local organizations are closer to the ground and, thus, can accomplish more with less money. The days of paternalistic development are over, say supporters; developing countries no longer welcome support run by foreign governments or development institutions.   

Those who are against increased support to self-sufficiency programs often cite corruption as an issue. They also argue that local organizations cannot manage large, complex development projects.

“A change in mindset is needed," writes Ambassador Dybul, a leader of the Consensus on Development Reform (a project of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network). “U.S.-based organizations should begin to shift from being primary implementers of programs to agents of technical support and exchange.”

The result of this battle will affect two major programs, in particular, for which Bread for the World activists advocated—and which they continue to support: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the  Millennium Challenge Corporation. Both were started by Republicans and continue to be supported by Democrats. Such programs are keys to our efforts to modernize U.S. foreign aid

Adlai-amorAdlai J. Amor is director of communications of Bread for the World.

The Jamay Jalisco Club

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The Jamay Jalisco Club in Los Angeles raises money for community projects in the town of Jamay, Mexico. Screen shot from video by Jon Vidar for Bread for the World.

Across the United States, people like Pedro Ochoa are raising funds for community projects in poor Mexican towns they left behind when they migrated (watch video below). Ochoa, vice president of the Jamay Jalisco Club in Los Angeles, is part of a vast network of U.S.-based Hometown Associations that send money — remittances — to Mexico and Central America. Ochoa's latest project is getting a school bus to Jamay, Mexico, his hometown, so children there don’t have to walk far to school.

“Our plan is to do what they do here in the States: pick up the kids from wherever they are,” said Ochoa. “I don’t have much family in Jamay but I have my heart to help people in it.”

But while remittances can improve community infrastructure, they rarely result in jobs or investments that give people alternatives to migrating from their countries for work. There’s a growing recognition in the diaspora that there need to be more projects resulting in sustainable income in hometowns. Agencies like the Inter-American Foundation are already working with diaspora investors to support small businesses and agricultural enterprises in high-migration countries like El Salvador. Larger agencies like the Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID can expand these programs to places like Jamay in Mexico and throughout Central America.

To learn more about the links between remittances, immigration, and development, read my colleague Andrew Wainer's latest paper on the topic and visit Bread's immigration web page.

Laura-pohlLaura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World. Follow her on Twitter @lauraepohl.

 


Africa on the Ground: A Reflection by Rev. Derrick Boykin

In October 2011, Bread for the World hosted a delegation of religious leaders during a visit to three African countries -- Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania -- that are known as SUN countries for their commitment to "scaling up nutrition." The group was able to witness, first-hand, small but mighty successes on the ground. Rev. Derrick Boykin, Bread's associate for African American leadership outreach, was among the group. In this video reflection on his journey, he asks African-Americans to join him in speaking up for Africa.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Donald M. Payne International Food Assistance Improvement Act of 2012. This bipartisan-supported legislation is one of the first bills to highlight the importance of nutrition during the critical 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child's second birthday.

If passed into law, this bill will significantly benefit women and children in developing countries, especially those in Africa. That this legislation was even introduced demonstrates the growing understanding among congressional leaders that good nutrition is critical to improving the lives of poor people around the world.

African countries are also taking nutrition and development into their own hands. An exciting example of this is the growing number of African leaders who recognize the devastating impact of malnutrition during the 1,000-day window. Twenty African countries have committed to turning the tide on malnutrition by joining the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement — a committed effort to reducing malnutrition in the developing world.

 

Racine-tucker-hamiltonRacine Tucker-Hamilton is media relations manager at Bread for the World.

 


The Agricultural Gold Rush for Africa

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Jane Sabbi, left, is a farmer with 12 acres of land in Kamuli, Uganda and a mother of seven children. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl.

At this year’s G8 Summit, which was chaired by President Obama, the G8 nations committed themselves to maintain this focus on food security and nutrition.  But they put new emphasis on the private sector.    

International investment in Africa is already increasing rapidly.  Ten percent of all the foreign direct investment in the world last year was in Africa.  A score of international companies have worked with political leaders in Africa to develop “Grow Africa,” a framework for international investment in African agriculture.  These companies have committed themselves to invest in African agriculture in ways that increase production, reduce poverty, and also reduce greenhouse gases.

Then last month, the G8 announced a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.  Simultaneously, 45 international companies announced $3 billion in planned investment in Africa.  Three African governments – Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana – committed themselves to new private-sector oriented reforms, and the G8 government said that they will focus some of their increased funding for agricultural development in these and other countries that become part of this New Alliance.

In effect, African governments and G8 governments are jointly committing themselves to facilitate a major expansion of private investment in African agriculture.

There’s a lot we don’t yet know about the New Alliance.  It will be led by a high-level committee of government and private-sector leaders.

But African leaders, certainly Africa’s ambassadors to the United States, have repeatedly said that what they most want from the U.S. government is help in attracting trade and investment, and this initiative is a major new step in this direction.  The planned expansion of investment will presumably also increase trade.

Civil-society groups have important roles to play as this New Alliance takes shape.  Some NGOs can help international companies connect with African farmers in ways that really do contribute to development.  NGOs will also need to monitor the expansion of international investment in Africa.  It can do a lot of good, but it’s also likely to do some harm.

The expansion of international investment in African agriculture is a bit like a gold rush.  World demand for agriculture is expanding rapidly, and sixty percent of all the undeveloped arable land in the world is in Africa.  Africans can benefit from the expansion of private-sector investment in African agriculture, but civil-society groups will need to monitor what’s going on and be active in advocacy. While I believe this effort to facilitate international private-sector investment in agriculture is an opportunity, it is also a risk, and that is why monitoring and advocacy by civil-society groups will be important.

David-beckmannDavid Beckmann is president of Bread for the World. This blog post is taken from remarks that Beckmann made at the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Civil Society Forum about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

 

Postcard from Bangladesh: Healthy Kids

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Kaleda Begum holds her friend's child Adia Akter (left), 17 months, and  her own daughter, Akkee (right), 18 months, in Char Baria village, Barisal, Bangladesh, on Thursday, April 19, 2012. These children are healthy and overall the rate of stunting fell among Bangladeshi children from 51 percent to 43 percent between 2004 and 2007, according to USAID. However, more than 10 million children under age 5 suffer from malnutrition in Bangladesh. It's an issue being addressed by the Bangladeshi government and donor partners incuding the United States. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

Postcard from Bangladesh: Front-Line Health Workers

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Mukul Begum, a shasthya shebika (community health worker) for BRAC, stands in front of her home in Barisal, Bangladesh. Begum delivers basic health care, counseling, and treatment to people in her community.

Text by Molly Marsh / Photos by Laura Elizabeth Pohl

BARISAL, BANGLADESH---Mukul Begum reaches into a plastic jar for tuberculosis medicine and brings it to 70-year-old Amjed Ali Sikder, who sits on a bench outside her front door. She pours a glass of water from a clear pitcher, watching closely as he puts the pill in his mouth and swallows it. Satisfied, she gives him the water.

Begum, 37, is a shasthya shebika, one of about 80,000 health workers trained by BRAC, an international nongovernmental organization, to deliver basic health care, counseling, and treatment to people in their communities. BRAC’s social, health, and economic empowerment programs operate in each of Bangladesh’s 64 districts, reaching about 110 million people.

Shasthya shebikas such as Begum are the engines of BRAC’s work—in 2010, they treated 1,650,673 people, the vast majority in rural areas where medical information and care is limited.

For five years, Begum—a formidable but jolly woman—has made door-to-door visits to counsel people in Barisal, a district of Bangladesh, about safe sanitation, basic hygiene, and nutrition. She currently looks after 263 households; 2 percent of these receive what BRAC calls “Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course.” In other words, if Sikder hadn’t come to her house to take his medicine, she would have gone to his to make sure he took it.

People in the community also visit Begum’s house, a low concrete building that sits under a thick canopy of coconut trees, for help with a variety of ailments. Begum listens and then reaches for a shasthya shebika’s constant companion—a small blue plastic bowl that holds medicine for fever, dysentery, diarrhea, gastric ulcers, skin diseases, and allergic reactions. It also contains home pregnancy tests and pills for calcium, vitamin B, and birth control.

Begum purchases the medicine from her local BRAC office, which she can then sell to her patients at a slight profit. She also receives money when pregnant mothers deliver their babies in a hospital or when patients complete treatment—for example, she’ll receive 500 taka (about $6.50) when Sikdar finishes his 6-month treatment for tuberculosis.

Before they embark on their caregiving, shasthya shebikas receive 15 days of training at a BRAC learning center on health basics and communicable diseases. They also gather for refresher classes once a month, in which they and shasthya kormis (health supervisors) review training themes and discuss issues that have arisen in their communities. Shasthya shebikas also meet once a month with a BRAC manager to report their activities.

It’s a role Begum seems to enjoy. “In the community, people believe I’m a doctor,” she said through a translator. She stands in her front doorway; behind her a clothesline stretches down the hallway, filled with colorful clothes. To the left of her house sits a small shack with items for sale, including toilet paper, candy, bread, and snacks.

BRAC’s main health program, called Essential Health Care, targets poor people—especially women and children—with medical care using seven different components. They include programs that focus on malaria, tuberculosis, and vision problems, and on the needs of pregnant mothers, infants, and children.

Shasthya shebikas are critical to each of these efforts, in many cases receiving additional training to be able to diagnose and treat malaria, for example, or identify vision problems. Begum and others are the front line of care in their communities—not just in dispensing medicine but also referring people to clinics when ailments are beyond their expertise.

Molly Marsh is managing editor and Laura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World. You can follow Laura on Twitter at @lauraepohl.

Postcard from Bangladesh: A Day in a Mother’s Life

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Tohomina Akter washes pots and dishes in a pond near her home on the morning of Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Char Baria village, Barisal, in southern Bangladesh. Tohomina participates in a maternal and infant nutrition program called Nobo Jibon administered by Helen Keller International. The program stresses proper nutrition in young children.

Photographs by Laura Elizabeth Pohl / Text by Molly Marsh

BARISAL, BANGLADESH---The afternoon hours are Tohomino Akter’s favorite time of day. That’s when she can take a break from her household tasks, rest, and play with her 17-month-old daughter, Adia. Like any toddler, Adia much prefers movement.

Adia runs through the four rooms of their home, her pink sundress and plastic pink shoes contrasting against the gray tin walls. First is her parent’s bedroom, then the room where her father’s parents and brothers sleep. Then a small room that contains clothes and dishes, and finally the kitchen, a skinny corridor that opens to the outside on one end, where her mother prepares their food over a fire.

Adia stops suddenly at the front steps, looking out at the familiar faces of Char Baria, a village in the Barisal district of Bangladesh. In front of her lies Tohomino’s garden, a 25-foot square of spinach, amaranth, chili, and pepper plants, an important source of nutrients for Adia and her family. Spinach and red amarinthe are Adia’s favorites.

Tohomino planted the garden after receiving training in “Nobo Jibon,” a program administered by Helen Keller International, a nongovernmental organization that works in several Bangladesh districts. The vegetables she harvests have increased the nutrients available to her family, especially her daughter. What’s more, the extra money the family earns selling the surplus vegetables goes toward buying additional food for Adia.

In the program, Tohomino learned why a diverse, healthy diet is important, and also about the importance of breast-feeding her daughter. Tohomino attended classes for almost two months, hearing from health workers the benefits of giving Adia only breast milk during her first six months of life.

Tohomino has stuck to that schedule, introducing supplementary foods only after the initial six-month period, and she’ll continue to breast-feed Adia until she is 2.

“I did not do many things [before taking the class],” Tohomino said through a translator. “But after learning, I am keeping things clean and hygienic to prevent diseases, and cooking nutritious foods to keep me and my family healthy.”

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Tohomina Akter grows amaranth, spinach, peppers and other vegetables in her garden. The vegetables are enough to feed her family and have enough left over to sell in the local market.

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The neighborhood well is a 30-second walk from Tohomina Akter's home. Here she rinses vegetables with the help of Khaleda Begum (right).

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Tohomina Akter prepares spinach and borboti, a long bean, in her family's kitchen as her 17-month-old daughter Adia attempts to help her.

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Dry leaves fuel the fire in Tohomina Akter's kitchen.

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Tohomina Akter feeds her 17-month-old daughter Adia. The nutrition programTohomina participates in stresses exclusive breast-feeding until six months and breast-feeding plus supplementary feeding from six months until 24 months.

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Neighbors stop by Tohomina Akter's kitchen to talk.

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Adia, 17 months, is reluctant to be washed by her mother.

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Tohomina Akter cleans herself at the neighborhood well.

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After washing herself and her daughter, Tohomina Akter attempts to dress a squirming daughter Adia, 17 months.

Molly Marsh is managing editor and Laura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World. You can follow Laura on Twitter at @lauraepohl.

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