Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

379 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

The Changing Story of Women

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Nimna Diayte. (Stephane Tourné/USAID)

By Robin Stephenson

The narrative of women is often a story of discrimination and marginalization. The face of poverty is disproportionately female. But as we write history, we have the power to change the story by empowering women.

New models of development show investing in women increases food security.

Programs, like Feed the Future, that make women’s capabilities a central component to agriculture and nutrition investment are yielding some impressive results: Seven million small farmers increased crop production and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

Nimna Diayté, a mother of six from Senegal, is one of those farmers. Diayté was barely making a living farming five acres of maize. A year later, she increased her acreage to 13 and tripled her income. Feed the Future helped create a collective so that farmers in Diayté’s community could increase their bargaining power. Diayté didn’t just benefit from the farming collective; she now leads it! Her knowledge and experience are transforming her community from one of scarcity to bounty.

She writes, “[t]he Feed the Future initiative helped us help each other, leading to the formation of a federation of some 3,000 producers who last year produced and sold 13,000 tons of corn on 5,000 hectares of land to feed our families and plan for next season.”

Bread for the World recommends Congress make Feed the Future permanent law.

In developing countries, most women work in subsistence farming. When women organize to work within groups, they are better able to overcome the gender discrimination they experience as individuals. Empowering women like Nimna Diayté as agents of change in the fight against food insecurity is the theme of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger.

The report, which will launch November 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., looks at discrimination as a cause of persistent hunger and makes policy and program recommendations that would empower women both in the United States and around the world. Increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor directly contributes to ending hunger.

Before the turn of the 19th century, women’s work in the United States was confined to the home and was often unpaid. Women's work has long been a vital force in the U.S. economy and, with fair polices, may finally be free from entrenched and interconnected racism and sexism. With the recent elections, women's voices – a historic 100 voices in Congress - are an increasing influence in U.S. politics.

The story of women is unfinished, and the conclusion depends on what we do today. However, one thing is clear: empowering women benefits everyone.

To learn more about the 2015 Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger, read the executive summary. And join us Monday, November 24, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM EST, as we live Tweet the launch with the hashtag  #Hunger Report.

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

Bad Connections: Ebola, Fear, and Growing Hunger

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(USAID/Flickr)

By Stephen Padre

With the latest death of another Ebola patient in the United States this morning, we seem to be entering another round of media frenzy over the virus. Even though we've been through the frenzy before, the stigma around it, both here and abroad, hasn’t gone away.

The Gospel of Luke contains the story of Jesus’ encounter with ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). In the story, Jesus commits a double social faux pas—he interacts with people with leprosy and people who were also Samaritans.

In biblical times, lepers were shunned and sent to live on the edge of town, away from everybody else. And Samaritans were those “other people,” despised by the Jews because of their heritage and practices. Both groups were to be avoided by “true” Jews. But Jesus delivered a double whammy and healed the lepers in the Samaritan neighborhood!

A similar thing has happened recently in the United States. As one example, health care workers who have traveled to West Africa to help treat patients with Ebola have come home and been stigmatized. Rather than viewing them as medical heroes, we have regarded them out of our fear of this disease. They have been portrayed as contaminated and careless, when clearly their intentions were to assist in places that do not have the means to adequately treat a deadly disease.

Jesus sets the example in his interaction with the lepers. He crossed social and health boundaries to help. While all of us can’t do something directly in West Africa like doctors, nurses, or public health professionals, we can follow Jesus’ example and pray, act, and give out of support for what others are doing to address Ebola.

For Bread for the World, the Ebola crisis is also a hunger issue. A Nov. 12 article in the Washington Post, “As Ebola takes lives in Liberia, it leaves hunger in its wake,” tells about the ripple effects of Ebola there. As people have fallen ill with Ebola, workplaces have closed, and people have been out of an income. The activities of normal life in Liberia—buying and selling food at the market, planting and harvesting on subsistence farms—have been disrupted, and hunger has reared its ugly head.

“We need assistance. We need food here in Foya,” said Joseph Gbellie, commissioner for a rural, largely agricultural district in Liberia’s northwest, quoted by the Post. “If we don’t get help, it’ll be serious, I tell you.”

The federal government is still working to address Ebola—on behalf of the American people. Last week, President Obama requested $6.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa and protect the United States from its spread.

Bread supports these types of U.S. government efforts and expenditures as part of its foreign assistance. If government funds—from taxpayer dollars—can assist in halting the spread of Ebola in places like Liberia, then hunger, as part of the closely associated fallout from the disease, can also be curbed.

Stephen Padre is the managing editor at Bread for the World.

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.

 

 

Quote of the Day: Raj Shah on Feed the Future

 

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A mother holds her child in a model home in Tigray, Ethiopia. (Nena Terrell/USAID)

"Through Feed the Future, we are harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation to unlock opportunity for the world's most vulnerable people. By creating and scaling cutting-edge solutions to our most pressing agricultural challenges, we can help the world's most vulnerable people move from dependency to self-sufficiency and out of the tragic cycle of extreme poverty."

USAID administrator Raj Shah quoted in a Nov 6, State Department press release, “U.S. Government Announces Child Stunting Rates Drop in Ethiopia, Maize Yields Increase in Zambia.”

Feed the Future programs in Zambia helped smallholder farmers increased maize production by 32 percent in one year. In the past three years, 160,00 fewer children under five in Ethiopia are malnourished because of Feed the Future and other United States Government initiatives.

Legislation that would authorize Feed the Future was introduced in Congress in September. If passed, the Global Food Security act (H.R. 5656/. S. 2909), would give the U.S. government the tools and resources it needs to better fight chronic hunger and malnutrition as well to expand and better coordinate U.S. investments in improving global food security.

Feed the Future Acts Introduced in Congress

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Feed the Future is helping increase opportunities for smallholder farmers like Alice Monigo in Uganda by providing trainings for women. (CNFA/Feed the Future)


New legislation in Congress, if passed, would give the U.S. government the tools and resources it needs to better fight chronic hunger and malnutrition as well to expand and better coordinate U.S. investments in improving global food security.

On Sept. 18, H.R. 5656 was introduced by Reps. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) in the House. S. 2909 was introduced by Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) in the Senate. These bills would permanently codify and authorize this comprehensive approach to global food security, ensuring the initiative continues beyond the current administration.

Background

Feed the Future was created at the end of the George W. Bush administration and early in the Obama administration as the U.S.’s response to the rapid rise in global food prices that occurred from 2007 until 2009. Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers increase crop production and providing nutritious foods to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official authorization, the future of this program remains in the balance.

Gains for Farmers

“We are delighted to see bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and Senate,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “This proves that ending hunger is not a partisan endeavor but a priority that should be held by everyone.”

By authorizing Feed the Future, further gains will be made in improving the livelihoods of small-holder farmers, strengthening maternal and child nutrition, and building capacity for long-term agricultural growth. While there are differences between the House and Senate bills, they are considerably alike in purpose. Specifically, both bills would require the administration to develop a whole-of-government strategy to address global food insecurity and malnutrition. This strategy is designed to help hungry nations around the world develop smart, long-term, country-specific agriculture policies and to ensure these nations independently meet the nutrition needs of their people.

Both bills stress the importance of good nutrition, especially during the critical 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday. This helps to reduce stunting, life-long poor health, impaired cognitive and physical development, and diminished productivity. There is a strong emphasis in the bills on working with local farmers to improve their techniques, helping to stabilize food production and improve self-sufficiency.

Both bills also focus strongly on women’s economic empowerment, a significant component, considering that women are often heads of households and small-holder farmers, making them especially vulnerable to food insecurity. By further engaging women, Feed the Future aims to increase women’s farm yields and total food output and close the significant 20 to 30 percent yield gap that currently exists between male and female farmers.

“Eliminating barriers for women farmers will not only help to sustain their long-term economic prosperity, but will also help to improve their children’s nutrition, health, and lifelong potential,” added Beckmann.

This post originally appeared in Bread for the World's November online newsletter.

Bread Challenges the Newly Elected Congress

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Bread for the World members in front of the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. (Bread for the World)


By David Beckmann

On Tuesday, while the Senate shifted to Republican control, 18,000 children around the world died unnecessarily. Nearly half those deaths were caused by hunger. And in the United States, 16 million children still live in families that struggle to put food on the table.

Bread for the World’s members work for justice for hungry people in the United States and around the world regardless of how power shifts between our nation’s political parties. We pray that all our nation’s leaders will work to end hunger.  

The number of people in extreme poverty in the world has been cut in half since 1990, and there has been progress in all kinds of countries, from Bangladesh to Brazil to Great Britain. If Congress and the president make opportunity for everybody a priority, we can end hunger in the United States and support continued progress toward ending hunger worldwide.

Bread for the World’s top priority for the 114th Congress will be the scheduled reauthorization of the nation’s child nutrition programs. Republicans and Democrats should work together to strengthen school and summer nutrition programs.  But House Republicans have been pushing for deep cuts in SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). Churches and food banks across the country have been unable to make up for the groceries that Congress took away from hungry families last year.

Bread for the World also notes with optimism bipartisan interest in other issues important to people in poverty:

  • When Congress returns later this month, the leaders of both houses seem inclined to steer away from another budget crisis and finalize appropriations for the current fiscal year.

  • The parties should be able to work together on continued progress against world poverty–the fight against Ebola and bills to reform food aid, strengthen agriculture and nutrition in poor countries, and promote trade with Africa.

  • Leaders in both parties are calling for reforms to correct injustices in the criminal justice system that have crowded U.S. prisons and deepened the poverty of many communities.

  • Tax credits for low-wage workers reduce poverty while encouraging work.

God has made it possible in our time to virtually end hunger in our country and around the world, so Bread for the World is pushing with urgency to make hunger, poverty, and opportunity for everybody a priority for our political leaders. We will push for change over the next two years and in the next round of elections for president and Congress.

Rev. David Beckmann is the president of Bread for the World.

Recap: #WorldFoodDay Twitter Town Hall

An Individual’s Connection to the World’s Hot Spots Today

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Relief supplies to Central African Republic. (USAID)


The news has seemed especially distressing recently, like the world is falling apart all at once. There are troubling reports of violence in Syria/Iraq, Gaza, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and then there's Ebola in West Africa.

What can one person — an individual American — do to create peace and calm in far-away places and in such large, complicated situations? It's easy to feel helpless in times like these.

These crises are political, military, diplomatic, humanitarian, and health in nature—or sometimes a complex situation with a few of these aspects at play at once. They are seemingly fit for only national governments to deal with on a large scale. However, individual Americans are connected to these situations every day. Our federal government is acting on our behalf, with our tax dollars, and because of the positive influence of Bread activists in the legislative process of our Congress.

In all of these countries, desperate people are at least getting food to eat, and that is partly because of Bread for the World's work on food aid from the U.S. government this year, namely through Bread's 2014 Offering of Letters: Reforming U.S. Food Aid. The U.S. is the world's largest food donor, and much of the food aid from the U.S. government is given to and distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP), part of the United Nations.

WFP reported recently that it is responding to five level-3 emergencies, the highest level on its scale of severity. There were six level-3 emergencies until recently, when Cameroon was downgraded to level 2.

"This is the first time ever that the international humanitarian community has been dealing with five humanitarian crises of this scale at the same time," said Rev. David Beckmann, Bread's president. "We must continue to advocate to Congress on behalf of the millions of people experiencing hunger and poverty during this unprecedented time of suffering."

What's happening in these places

In South Sudan, the crisis ravages on as 1.8 million people have been displaced since conflict broke out between President Salva Kiir's government forces and rebels allied to his former deputy, Reik Machar. Over 10,000 people have already died. The outlook remains grim as food security may deteriorate sharply into next year. A famine is declared when at least 20 percent of households face life-threatening food shortages with an inability to handle the problem.

South Sudan has already received $1.2 billion this year from aid agencies, but an estimated $345 million more is needed to support the U.N.'s response there.

The Ebola crisis continues to deepen in West Africa as over 3,000 people have died from the infection in the region. The WFP has already reached more 180,000 people in Ebola zones with vital food assistance. Over the next 3 months, the WFP will be targeting 1.3 million people with food assistance, but it needs $107.7 million more.

Recent violence has affected nearly the entire Gaza strip. Nearly 1 in 4 people in Gaza have been displaced from their homes, but 350,000 Palestinians living in U.N. and public shelters are receiving ready-to-eat emergency rations of food on a daily basis. Food needs are increasing, and the chaos in Gaza requires U.S. aid to prevent starvation.

In Iraq, 1.2 million people are being targeted for food assistance. In August, over 190,000 people received family food parcels, which consist of food essentials, including rice, lentils, and vegetable oil.

In Syria, the conflict rages on without a solution, and humanitarian needs are increasing. Seven million Syrians are in need of food assistance. It is estimated that nearly 3,000 Syrians are fleeing every day to neighboring countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The WFP needs approximately $35 million a week to assist over 7 million Syrians in urgent need of food assistance. 

In the Central African Republic, approximately 175,000 people are displaced and an estimated 416,000 have fled the country. The persistent violence has affected the entire population, and 1.7 million people are at risk of hunger. But so far this year, WFP has assisted nearly 1 million people.

These simultaneous crises have stretched not only the WFP, but also other international humanitarian agencies, to their limits.

"Remember that U.S. food assistance, including our country's support for the World Food Programme, is providing help and a bit of security for desperate people in these situations," said Beckmann.

This post originally appeared in Bread for the World's October online newsletter.

Two Billion People Suffer from ‘Hidden Hunger’

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A student who benefits from a USAID funded feeding program in Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)


By Kimberly Burge

According to a new report released this week, a staggering 2 billion people do not get the essential vitamins and minerals from the food they eat. They remain undernourished, suffering from the “hidden hunger” of micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies.

The annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) is released jointly by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe (one of Germany's largest private development organizations), and Concern Worldwide. The 2014 report finds that, while great strides have been made to feed the world, 805 million people are still chronically undernourished because they do not get enough to eat. Even those who get sufficient calories can suffer from hidden hunger, an often overlooked yet critical aspect of hunger and nutrition.

Hidden hunger is often hard to detect, but is potentially devastating. Hidden hunger weakens the immune system, stunts physical and intellectual growth, and can lead to death. It wreaks economic havoc as well, locking countries into cycles of poor nutrition, lost productivity, poverty, and reduced economic growth.

Bread for the World Institute has explored the issue of hidden hunger in several previous Hunger Reports. Frontline Issues in Nutrition Assistance: Hunger Report 2006 recommended food fortification and the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements to nutrition programs to help boost the health and nutritional status of those who are malnourished. For example, iodine deficiency causes problems with cognitive development and remains the world’s single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation. But developing countries are making efforts to add iodine to household salt, efforts that are paying off. Between 1997 and 2002, 67 percent of all households in sub-Saharan Africa were consuming iodized salt, along with 53 percent in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa; 80 percent in East Asia; and 91 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

“Particularly in countries facing a high burden of malnutrition, hidden hunger goes hand in hand with other forms of malnutrition and cannot be addressed in isolation,” said Welthungerhilfe president Bärbel Dieckmann. “In the long-term, people cannot break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition without being granted the basic right to nutritious food.”

Hidden hunger is not found exclusively in developing countries, however. It crosses borders and exists here in the United States as well, as the Institute’s Senior Editor Todd Post saw while researching Hunger Report 2012.

“In Philadelphia, I visited emergency rooms with Dr. Mariana Chilton, head of Witnesses to Hunger, who recruited women to participate in Witnesses first by targeting mothers who brought their babies to the emergency room for something they thought was unrelated to hunger,” recalls Post. “The children were suffering from a condition known as ‘failure to thrive,’ a precursor to stunting, which was malnutrition related.”

“Failure to thrive” is the clinical term for a child severely underweight for her age. Witnesses to Hunger was born out of Children’s HealthWatch, a multi-city research project that is studying the effects of hunger on the health and well-being of young children. The project screens children in emergency rooms and ambulatory care clinics at five medical centers across the country, since undernourished children have higher rates of hospitalization.

To read more about Witnesses to Hunger and Dr. Chilton’s work, see p. 52-53 of Rebalancing Act: 2012 Hunger Report.  

There was good news to be found in this year’s Global Hunger Index. The number of people going hungry has steadily decreased in most developing countries. Since 1990, hunger in the developing world has fallen by 39 percent, and 26 countries have reduced their scores by 50 percent or more. Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand, and Vietnam have seen the greatest improvements in their scores between the 1990 GHI and the 2014 GHI.

And bad news, too: Levels of hunger are still “alarming” in 14 countries, and “extremely alarming” in two, Burundi and Eritrea.

Kimberly Burge is the interim associate online editor for Bread for the World.

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.

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