Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

389 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

Women Can Help 'Feed the Future' and Much More

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Martha Akol is a former refugee who returned to her home several years ago in South Sudan. She is one of Africa's millions of women farmers who works hard to feed her family. Stephen Hovick Padre/Bread for the World

By Beth Ann Saracco

Earlier this month, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a day to acknowledge women's economic, political, and social achievements. Around the world, improvements in the lives of women and their families have resulted in fewer maternal deaths, more educational opportunities, and increased political participation. What does this teach us? When women are healthy, empowered, and able to pursue educational and employment opportunities, everybody benefits.  

This is the primary message of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger. In order to end extreme hunger and poverty by 2030, we need to achieve greater gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women and girls. Unfortunately, in the U.S. and around the world, harmful cultural practices, national laws, and societal norms often leave women marginalized and unable to make decisions, especially ones that impact their own lives and those of their family and community.

The Hunger Report recommends that, in order to improve women’s empowerment and end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide, women should have more economic bargaining power.

If women had more control of their income and assets, their bargaining power in both the household and the market economy would increase, as well as their ability to feed and provide for themselves and their children. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, if women in Africa and elsewhere had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could grow 20 to 30 percent more food. This could move roughly 150 million people of out hunger and poverty!

To achieve this, the U.S. government must increase its investments in agricultural-development programs like Feed the Future. And it should place a stronger emphasis on programming that supports women smallholder farmers when it implements projects.

Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers grow more food and providing nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.  

Feed the Future is helping to create countries that are more food-secure and eating more nutritious food. But this program could do more.

In order to ensure greater participation of women in Feed the Future programs and continue the initial progress, this initiative must be made a permanent program that continues beyond the Obama administration. While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official statutory authorization, Feed the Future may not have a future of its own. H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act, was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would permanently codify and authorize a comprehensive approach to global food security, and it would build upon the successes the U.S. government has already achieved through Feed the Future.

What can you do?

Contact your representative, and urge him/her to cosponsor H.R.1567, the Global Food Security Act. Now is the time for policymakers to authorize a program that has a proven ability to address the complex problem of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

Beth Ann Saracco is the International Policy Analyst in Bread's government relations department.

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.

Let's Keep the Momentum on Food-Aid Reform Going This Year

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Indian women and children bundle grain stalks after the harvest. Margaret W. Nea/Bread for the World.

By David Gist, Jon Gromek, and Zach Schmidt

The purpose of U.S. international food aid is to provide food to people who need it, so let’s do it well.

Bread for the World members wrote letters, made phone calls and met with their members of Congress last year as part of the annual Offering of Letters. They urged senators and representatives across the country to reform U.S. food aid so we could help more hungry people overseas and better utilize U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Our efforts paid off. Modest reforms were included in the 2014 farm bill, and as a result of our persistent advocacy, we won important victories that ensure more food aid will reach the people who need it. That’s good news! But more work remains to be done, and as people of faith, we continue to call on Congress to reform U.S. food aid to help our brothers and sisters around the world.

It’s a message that’s worth repeating. Greater flexibility in food-aid policies would allow more food to be purchased closer to where it’s needed, helping millions more people receive life-saving food aid up to two months faster. Not only that, but purchasing food locally means our government helps farmers and their communities around the world become self-sufficient and, therefore, less likely to need U.S. aid in the future.

So, more food to more hungry people at no extra cost. Faster delivery. Food that’s more nutritious and culturally appropriate. And local farmers and local economies getting stronger. In the fight against hunger, food-aid reform is a no-brainer. We just need a few more members of Congress to join the movement.

So where are we in 2015? Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading supporter of food-aid reform, recently introduced the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015. This bill would make the kinds of reforms Bread has been advocating for possible and is a positive sign that Congress wants to address food-aid reform this year. We will likely see other approaches to food-aid reform in the coming weeks and months, and Bread policy analysts stand ready to follow these developments closely.

Stay tuned! Your voice is needed as we continue to pray and advocate for food-aid reform and for a world in which everybody has enough to eat.

David Gist, Jon Gromek, and Zach Schmidt are regional organizers at Bread for the World.

 

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.

Prioritize Hunger in the State of the Union Tonight

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Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons. 


By Robin Stephenson

Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address – a time-honored tradition – and outline his priorities for next year. Immediately afterward, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) will deliver the Republican response. Will hunger and poverty rank as priorities?

“The State of the Union matters to those of us working to end hunger,” says LaVida Davis, director of organizing and grassroots capacity at Bread for the World. “Both the president and the response will give clues as to what will be prioritized in next year’s budget. If they aren’t talking about ending hunger, they won’t fund the programs that will.”

Although the economy is improving, millions of families still struggle to make ends meet - 45 million Americans live at or below the poverty line. Policies that marginalize groups of individuals increase food insecurity in the United States. Laws passed with the aim of ending hunger make an impact. Internationally, the implementation of smart policies has achieved dramatic progress against hunger and poverty; the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half since 1990. We believe that we can end hunger and poverty by 2030 if our nation’s leaders make it a priority.

Tonight we will listen for hunger-ending key words. Below is a list of the words or phrases we hope to hear. Positive reinforcement helps, so we will praise each mention as we live tweet the speeches from @bread4theworld.

Child nutrition: When one in five children lives in families that struggle to put food on the table, passing a child nutrition bill with improvements will give more children at risk of hunger access to healthy food. Protecting SNAP (formerly food stamps) will also be key to reducing child hunger.

The earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit:  Low-income tax credits pull more children out of poverty than any other government program. It is time to make the credits permanent.

Paid family leave: The president will take executive action to extend paid leave to federal employees, reflecting a key recommendation in the Bread for the World Institute’s 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America. Congress should follow suit with policy changes that will benefit all U.S. workers

Mass incarceration: Policies that regulate our criminal justice system are increasing hunger and poverty in low-income communities, especially communities of color. Passing smarter sentencing laws and improving the re-entry process for returning citizens would help restore fairness in our justice system.

Immigration reform:  An estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants live in the shadows where hunger and poverty persist. Reform should include a path to citizenship and also address the root causes of migration to the United States.

Feed the Future:  A global hunger and food-security initiative, Feed the Future  is a driver behind recent progress against global hunger. It is time to codify the initiative into permanent law.

Food-aid reform:  By updating our food-aid policies, we can help feed millions more with no additional tax dollars.

AGOAThe African Growth and Opportunity Act seeks to increase mutually beneficial trade ties between the United States and Africa and can help move millions out of poverty.

Join the conversation on Twitter, and help us empower our leaders tonight. When they talk about hunger, make sure they hear us applaud with a tweet. Let’s start by asking them to talk about hunger now. 

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

 

The Blessing of a Grocery Store

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Ashoka Jegroo/Wikimedia Commons.

By Fito Moreno

As snow covered Washington, D.C., yesterday, I sighed. I should have done my grocery shopping on Saturday and not indulged in Netflix. After work, I had to traverse a city that falls apart after only 2 inches of snow to grab milk, bread, and cereal, and walk on poorly shoveled sidewalks to get home.

Yet the mere fact that I live in a city where I can walk to the store to get groceries would be a blessing to millions living in conflict areas such as eastern Ukraine.   

Food reserves in that part of the country are fully depleted, and infrastructure is partly destroyed, including transportation routes and city markets, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The simple task of buying a loaf of bread has become almost impossible in some areas due to the damage done by the conflict.

It is estimated that 5.2 million people are currently living in the conflict-affected area and a little over 1 million having been displaced.

The World Food Program is one of the major aid groups providing assistance to the region. It depends primarily on voluntary donations from national governments. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gave $3 million directly to the WFP in November to assist 120,000 Ukrainians affected by conflict.

Last year, Bread advocated to ensure that food aid was more flexible. With help from our members, we halted passage of a provision in a Coast Guard Reauthorization bill that would have increased the percentage of food aid required to be shipped on U.S. vessels from 50 to 75 percent. If it had passed, it would have reduced the reach of food aid programs by 2 million people annually.

Our advocacy also helped increase funding for poverty-focused development from $24 billion to $27 billion, which specifically goes toward international disaster assistance, global health, and USAID.  

Making legislative changes on government policies might not be the sexy side of politics that trends on Twitter, but it allows us to respond efficiently to our brothers and sisters around the world when they need us most.

As I unpacked my eco-friendly grocery bag last night, I was thankful that I live in a conflict-free zone. I will continue to talk with my members of Congress to ensure families don’t go hungry because of conflict.

As the 114th Congress begins its work, we’ll need your help to ensure that food-aid reform is a priority. Bread will continue to work on this issue and urge Congress to pass legislation that helps those who need food the most to get it. Learn more: U.S. Food-Aid Reform.

Fito Moreno is acting manager of media relations and a media relations specialist 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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