Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

231 posts categorized "Foreign Aid"

Women: The Key to Ending Hunger

By Beth Ann Saracco

I recently traveled to East Africa to learn how international development policies in Washington, D.C., such as Feed the Future, impact and improve people’s lives on the ground in Uganda and Tanzania.

A powerful takeaway from the trip is that women are truly the chief agents the world relies on to fight hunger. But we need more women to be empowered.

That’s the message of our 2015 Hunger Report. And in celebration of Women's History Month, we’ve launched a new video that explains why. Watch the video.

Almost 60 percent of the world’s 805 million chronically malnourished people are women and girls. But if they are among the most vulnerable to hunger, they are also the best solution to the problem of hunger. The majority of the dramatic reduction in child malnutrition made in the developing world over the past few decades is due to improvements in the status of women. For instance, providing girls with just one extra year of schooling can increase individual wages by up to 20 percent.

Supporting Feed the Future can also empower women. It is a proven development program that can help the United States invest in women in agriculture worldwide. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support upcoming Feed the Future legislation to improve global food security and better combat chronic hunger and malnutrition.

Learn more: Visit HungerReport.org to read the full report and explore interactive data tools that explain the crucial role of women in ending hunger.

Beth Ann Saracco is a policy analyst at Bread for the World.

Swedish Soccer Player Spreads Word About Hunger

By Jennifer Gonzalez

It’s not usual to see a soccer player covered in tattoos. But what about covering your body with the names of 50 people you don’t know?

May sound extreme, but that’s exactly what Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović did as part of the 805 Million Names campaign promoting the World Food Program. Ibrahimović, born to a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother, both of whom emigrated to Sweden, revealed the tattoos during a Valentine’s Day match between Paris Saint-German and Caen at Parc des Princes.

The campaign’s aim is to show the world that millions of people are going hungry. The names adorned on the soccer player are all people living with hunger.

At Bread for the World, we know the importance of ending hunger – it’s our life’s work. Today, there are 805 million chronically undernourished people around the world, according to a new policy briefing paper by the Roadmap Coalition, a group of organizations advocating for an end to hunger and malnutrition. Bread for the World Institute is a member of the coalition.

This is unacceptable. The briefing paper provides a roadmap to ending global hunger. The U.S. government’s primary contribution to improving global food security is through the Feed the Future Initiative.

The initiative improves the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, strengthens maternal and child nutrition, and builds capacity for long-term agricultural growth. In fact, seven million small farmers grew more crops and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children in 2013 alone under the program.

Traditionally, the program has been funded by Congress through annual spending legislation. Last year marked the first time Congress introduced legislation to authorize the program, which has been a long-standing Bread priority.

Unfortunately, the legislation did not pass and the future of this program remains in the balance without official statutory approval by Congress. Congressional champions have indicated a commitment to introduce and pass legislation in 2015.

Bread will continue to work hard to make sure that Feed the Future becomes law in 2015. Continue to read Bread Blog throughout the year for the latest information on how you can help. Learn more: Feed the Future.

 Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor 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.

2014 Victories: Feed the Future Authorization/Global Food Security Act

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Women farmers tending to their crops in Kamuli, Uganda. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: Bread Blog is running a six-part series highlighting Bread for the World’s legislative wins in 2014. Today’s post looks at the Feed the Future Authorization/Global Food Security Act.

By Bread Staff

Feed the Future, a global hunger and food-security initiative, improves the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, strengthens maternal and child nutrition, and builds capacity for long-term agricultural growth. In fact, seven million small farmers grew more crops and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children in 2013 alone under the program.

The initiative was created in 2009 by the Obama administration. However, components of the initiative began during the George W. Bush administration as a U.S. response to the rapid rise in global food prices that occurred in 2007.

Traditionally, the program has been funded by Congress through annual spending legislation.  Last year marked the first time Congress introduced legislation to authorize the program, which has been a long-standing Bread priority.

On Sept. 18, 2014, H.R. 5656, the Global Food Security Act, was introduced by Reps. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), and Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced the companion bill (S. 2909) in the Senate.

This bipartisan legislation moved quickly through Congress, and on Dec. 17, 2014, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5656 by voice vote, a one-year authorization of Feed the Future. In a Congress known for gridlock, this was a major victory. While this bill did not pass the Senate, congressional champions have indicated a commitment to introduce and pass legislation in 2015.

The future of this program remains in the balance without official statutory approval by Congress. The bipartisan bills in the House and Senate would permanently codify and authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.

 “Our legislative wins aren’t always grabbing headlines, but they’re significant and affect millions of lives,” said Amelia Kegan, deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World. “This list of legislative accomplishments reminds us that sustained, faithful advocacy really works and really does bring change. We’ve got our work cut out for us in 2015, but let these successes of 2014 motivate, inspire, and energize us for the path ahead.”

Bread will continue to work hard to make sure that Feed the Future becomes law in 2015. Continue to read Bread Blog throughout the year for the latest information on how you can help. Learn more: Feed the Future.

 

 

Urgent: Tell Senators to Pass the Global Food Security Act

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By Eric Mitchell

Thanks to your calls, letters, and emails, the House of Representatives just passed the Global Food Security Act late last night. The Senate has two days left to pass this bill into law.

People told us Congress was too gridlocked to pass this bill, but we proved them wrong. As people of faith, we spoke up with a united voice and convinced Democrats and Republicans alike to authorize Feed the Future, the program under this law. Last year, this program reached 12.5 million children.

Feed the Future is improving the lives of millions of people around the world, ensuring that young children receive the proper nourishment that enables them to grow and thrive. It also gives smallholder farmers access to new tools and technologies that improve yields and boost incomes.

If the Senate can pass the Global Food Security Act (S. 2909) in the next two days, Feed the Future will become law. We need the Senate to vote on this bill before leaving for the holidays. With only a couple of days left in the 113th Congress, we need you to act now!

Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. senators today. Urge your senator to pass the Global Food Security Act (S. 2909)!

God is moving in our time to end hunger, and the legislation Congress considers is a part of that movement. You are a part of this movement! A bill that once appeared blocked by gridlock is so close to becoming law. Call your senators today, and push S. 2909 over the finish line.

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

 

Being Free of Hunger and Poverty is a Human Right

FreedompicBy Will Coupe

Bread for the World celebrates today the 66th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights it set out. As a voice for and with people who are marginalized, we hold these rights closely and believe in the worth and dignity of all human beings.

Ensuring that all people have the right to live free of hunger and poverty is the reason Bread supports anti-poverty programs like the earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit (CTC), international food aid, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The UDHR grew out of the Four Freedoms adopted by the Allied powers as basic war aims during World War II. The Four Freedoms are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The freedoms were based on a State of the Union address delivered by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. FDR proposed that these freedoms were fundamental freedoms which everyone in the world ought to enjoy.

A major emphasis in FDR’s speech, coming during the Great Depression, is the freedom from want, which establishes a minimum entitlement to food, clothing, and housing. FDR began his speech with "freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world."

Article 25 in the UDHR recognizes the freedom from want and reads partially as “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing…”

FDR’s speech became the inspiration for the much-heralded “Freedom from Want” oil painting by Norman Rockwell. The painting, also known as “The Thanksgiving Picture” or “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” depicts a family around a dinner table preparing to share a holiday meal.

The painting is the third in the Four Freedom series by Rockwell. The painting is an idyllic representation of family values and clearly illustrates the concept of the freedom from want. The painting, which was first published in “The Saturday Evening Post,” included a companion essay written by Carlos Bulosan, a Filipino immigrant and labor organizer.

Today’s anniversary is great cause for celebration and to reflect on the progress that has resulted from it. But at the same time, further push must continue to end hunger. Every year we produce more than enough to feed every single person in the world, yet nearly 1 billion go to bed hungry every night. This is the greatest scandal of our age. The problem is not a shortage but rather that undernourished people, who need food most, do not have access to it.

As the world’s largest donor of food aid, the United States can free up even more food resources and prioritize nutrition. A bill in the Senate, The Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 2421), addresses reform, and we are urging senators to cosponsor the bill. Celebrate the UDHR by advocating for the right to live free of hunger and email your senator today.

Will Coupe was a fall intern in the communications department at Bread for the World.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons 

 

Urgent: Critical Hunger-Related Bill Up for Vote Now

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By Ryan Quinn

Thanks to your recent calls and emails, Congress looks to be voting on the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656) this week.

This act would put in place a framework for the federal government that is a smart approach to providing assistance to people who are hungry. It recognizes that, in order to end hunger, we don't just need to make more food available, but we need quality, nutritious food and systems to get it to the people who need it most.

The program this act would put in place would work on a local level to empower small farmers, growing local economies while feeding hungry people. It's a win for everybody.

Congress has only a few days of work left in this session. With this bill coming to the House floor, passage of the Global Food Security Act becomes critical. We need you to act now. Call (800/826-3688) or email your U.S. representative today. Urge your U.S. representative to pass the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656)!

Let Congress know that in a world in which nearly 805 million people — one in every eight — grapple with hunger on a daily basis, U.S. leadership is vital in the fight against hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty over the long-term. This legislation is a big step on the road to conquer the challenge.

Ryan Quinn is a senior policy advisor at Bread for the World.

A Potentially Deadly Question: What Will Syrian Refugees Do With No Money to Buy Food?

By Beth Ann Saracco

“I ask the U.N. not to leave us. We need food, diesel, and clothes…Soon it will start to snow. What do we do?”

These questions and this desperate plea were voiced by Aisha, a Syrian refugee, in an article by The Associated Press, who painted a picture of a dire situation coming together for people like her who have fled their war-torn country. Recently “60 Minutes” covered the Syrian refugee crisis and how essentials like access to food could soon dry up.                              

On Monday, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) announced it would suspend its food voucher program due to a severe cash shortfall, a decision that will leave nearly 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey struggling to pay for food. Prior to the program’s suspension, the WFP was providing refugees with $15 to $45 monthly voucher cards to purchase food in local markets. The suspension couldn’t have come at a worse time – as winter approaches. 

The demand for humanitarian aid around the world is unprecedented at the moment. In fact, the United Nations has declared “Level 3” humanitarian emergencies – the highest U.N. classification for the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises – in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and West Africa.

 The WFP made the decision to suspend the Syrian refugee program due to the complex nature of the Syrian crisis and a shortfall in funding from pledges not received. At a pledging conference earlier this year in Kuwait, more than $2 billion was pledged by donor countries, but only about 40 percent has been committed, leaving a shortfall for this month of $64 million. Refugee operations in Kuwait cost approximately $35 million a week.

To fill the gap, the WFP is calling on major donor countries like the United States and Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain to make good on their pledges.  While the U.S. has met a large portion of its commitment, it needs to place this issue at the top of its diplomatic agenda and use its leadership to urge other nations to meet their own pledging commitments.

Furthermore, Congress needs to take action and pass President Obama’s Ebola supplemental request of $6.2 billion. The request is critical because the money supports the International Disaster Assistance account which funds not only the U.S. response to Ebola overseas, but also some of the U.S. contribution to the WFP. We urge Bread for the World members to call Congress and ask their senators and representative to pass President Obama’s Ebola supplemental request and include funding for the International Disaster Assistance account.

Beth Ann Saracco is an international policy analyst at Bread for the World

Former Bread Staffer Gyude Moore Takes On Liberia's Roads as Public Works Minister

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Gyude Moore. (Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

Former Bread for the World staffer and board member Gyude Moore is paving the way for a more food-secure Liberia. Bread is pleased to learn that Moore, a native of Liberia, was confirmed today as the West African nation’s new Minister of Public Works. 

Leading the government agency responsible for fixing Liberia’s road system, Moore faces a daunting, but not insurmountable task. The nation is still recovering from a 14-year civil war – recovery that is now complicated by the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

The Ebola virus, affecting several West African countries, is expected to leave a full-blown food crisis in its wake. More than 3,000 Liberians have died from Ebola, leaving harvests endangered, markets disrupted, and food prices high. Increased food insecurity adds urgency to fixing Liberia’s highways and byways, conduits to move life-saving resources throughout the country. The deplorable state of roads makes reaching quarantined communities with food and health services unnecessarily difficult and time consuming.

Moore is ready for the challenge. “Ebola has re-emphasized the need for these roads as they are the major connection between rural communities and health facilities,” he wrote in an email to Bread after his confirmation. “I am excited about the opportunity of expanding these roads into parts of the country that are yet without roads.”

Roads-Liberia1Liberia has 66,000 miles of roads, but less than 7 percent are paved. USAID reports, “it is cheaper, by volume, to ship rice the 7,500 miles from Thailand to Monrovia than it is from Gbarnga, a leading agricultural community just over 100 miles away.”

Although the resource-rich nation remains one of the poorest, Liberia has made steady economic progress through hard work and strategic partnerships.

“Our road infrastructure development is a critical portion of our poverty reduction and development strategy,” Moore said in the email.  “This is especially true for our farm to market-feeder road programs.”

The West often takes roads for granted, but for fragile post-conflict countries like Liberia, an impassable thoroughfare is a roadblock keeping agricultural products from markets with dire consequences for farmer’s livelihoods.

Agriculture accounts for 61 percent of Liberia’s GDP, and strengthening the industry is a key component in overcoming high rates of hunger and malnutrition. Investments from U.S.-funded Feed the Future and companion programs are critical to Liberia’s efforts to build agricultural resiliency. Feed the Future takes into account the entire agricultural value chain – all inputs required to move a product from farm to consumer.

Earlier this year, Feed the Future helped farmers produce a rice surplus in Lofa County. But surpluses won’t lead to economic self-sufficiency if farmers can’t reach a market to sell them. Passable roads are an important link in the agriculture value chain.

Moore’s days as a grassroots organizer may seem like a lifetime ago, but he has never forgotten them. “In essence, I never really left Bread,” he said in the email, “because even in this role, I’m doing the same things we did at Bread, except now in a different capacity.”

Read more about Moore’s path back to Liberia in this 2012 Bread for the World interview

You can support legislation to make Feed the Future permanent by contacting your member of Congress today and urging them to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act of 2014.

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

Inset photo:  Liberian road. (USAID)

It's #GivingTuesday, Give Your Tue-Cents!

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By Ryan Quinn

As a countermeasure to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. Giving Tuesday reminds us to give to people who need it most. Thousands of organizations across the world are taking part in this new holiday tradition of generosity.

Today we are asking you to give your Tue-cents in two ways: At Bread for the World, we welcome your generosity and gifts to support our mission. But today we also encourage you to give back through your advocacy.

In fact, your giving and advocacy efforts toward ending hunger have been working already. Right before Thanksgiving, a House committee unanimously approved the Global Food Security Act (HR 5656). It still needs to pass through a Senate committee before being voted upon in the full House and Senate.

With only 10 days left in Congress’ schedule this year, now is the time for it to act to improve global food and nutrition security. We need you to email your members of Congress today. Tell Congress to pass the Global Food Security Act!

In passing this legislation, we can help solidify U.S. leadership in fighting poverty and claim another victory in our fight against hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty over the long-term. We look forward to a day when 805 million chronically undernourished people in our world becomes zero.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today, and urge them to support the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656 and S. 2909)!

Ryan Quinn is a senior policy advisor at Bread for the World

 

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