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379 posts categorized "Global Hunger"

Congress Recommends Cuts to Poverty-Focused Development Assistance Funding

FY15 Funding Recommendations No L.HHS

Recently, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed their annual funding legislation for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other related agencies, known as the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPs) bill.  

Each year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees meet to determine funding levels for vital programs that affect hungry people here in the United States and abroad. On the international front, Bread for the World specifically follows the parts of the budget known as poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) accounts, which includes funding for various programs related to food and nutrition security, global health, basic education, water and sanitation, maternal and child care, refugee assistance, and emergency humanitarian response, to name just a few. 

While the House and Senate decided to recommend the same overall funding level for PFDA programs ($21.9 billion), this funding is slightly lower than current levels ($22.3 billion). Both the House and Senate made recommendations to cut global health programs, which includes funding for maternal and child health, nutrition, family planning, vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis, and tropical diseases, and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

The Senate specifically approved a $100 million cut to Feed the Future. In the House, a 21 percent cut to International Organizations and Programs was also made. Funding in this account is used to support U.S contributions to international organizations like the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Program.

Thanks in large part to Bread for the World members and their advocacy efforts, we have helped prevent even more severe cuts from being recommended, but we continue to call on Congress to provide additional funding for PFDA programs before finalizing funding levels for the next fiscal year.

Additional resources will help us support humanitarian aid efforts in places in conflict like Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Looking beyond emergency aid, we hope to not backtrack on the many investments we have made to long-term development programs over the years, such as with child survival.

These programs save lives. Due in part to American commitments, the number of deaths of children under five has dropped by half since 1990. In the past 12 years alone, 700,000 fewer children have died from pneumonia, 300,000 fewer children from malaria, and 100,000 fewer children from AIDS.

As these children grow into adults, their survival has the potential to translate into even greater stories of improved economic and social well-being, with benefits felt far beyond their households and country borders—even back on American shores. Congress must continue its vital role in ensuring this becomes a reality by increasing PFDA funding levels in the upcoming fiscal year.  

 

Wheat Scientist Awarded World Food Prize

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Dr. Rajaram and Dr. Borlaug work in wheat fields in Mexico. (Photo courtesy of CIMMYT)


Bread for the World is joining the anti-hunger movement in congratulating wheat breeder Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram as this year’s World Food Prize laureate.
 
Rajaram was named the 2014 laureate this morning at a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C., where Secretary of State John Kerry gave keynote remarks.
 
The award is known as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.” It’s given annually to a person who has worked to improve the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world.
 
“When you do the math, when our planet needs to support two billion more people in the next three decades, it’s not hard to figure out: This is the time for a second green revolution,” Kerry said. “That’s why Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram is being honored with the World Food Prize. We are grateful for the hundreds of new species of wheat Dr. Rajaram developed, which deliver 200 million more tons of grain to global markets each year and feed millions across the world.”
 
Born in India and a citizen of Mexico, Rajaram is being honored for his work in creating more than 480 varieties of bread wheat that are grown in 51 countries. Both small and large-scale farmers around the world have benefitted from Rajaram’s work with high-yielding wheat. Rajaram conducted the majority of his research in Mexico at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). His work there led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons during the 25-year-period known as the “golden years of wheat” – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution.
 
Rajaram is a protégé of Dr. Norman Borlaug, who in 1987 created the prize that Rajaram received today. Borlaug, who would have turned 100 years old this year, was a board member of Bread for the World.
 
Bread for the World’s president, Rev. David Beckmann, received the World Food Prize in 2010.

World Cup 2014: Players Who Are Fighting Poverty

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By Bianca Brown

Saturday, June 14: Colombia v. Greece; Uruguay v. Costa Rica; Cote d'Ivoire v. Japan

The upcoming World Cup has many people anticipating a series of well-played matches. But soccer fans may not know that many of their favorite players are just as dedicated to helping their communities as they are dedicated to helping their teams win. Salomon Kalou (Cote d’Ivorie), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), and Keylor Navas (Costa Rica) are all shining examples of how talented athletes are using soccer as a way of giving back to help their countries, and helping to end hunger and poverty.  

These players are involved in addressing hunger and poverty for a reason: each of their countries has a high number of residents living below the poverty line. In Cote d’Ivorie, the rate is 42.7 percent; in Colombia, 32.7 percent; and in Costa Rica, 20.7 percent, according to recent data.

Salomon_kalou_2007Many of the citizens in these countries rely on their governments’ Poverty Reduction and National Development strategies to alleviate poverty and hunger. However, in recent years, due to economic imbalances, social inequality, and lack of employment opportunities, government applications of these plans have left the growth of these countries stagnant. With local support, Kalou, Falcao, Navas, and other athletes are using their abilities, faith, and high profiles to inspire advocacy and further the movement to end hunger.

During recent interview sessions, the players gave their perspectives on what being part of this movement means to them. Kalou, along with his older brother and fellow soccer player Bonaventure Kalou, created the Kalou Foundation, which provides social services and recreation facilities for vulnerable populations. Falcao is an avid supporter of progressive steps to help his country to rise out of poverty; he has said that with continual government reinforcement of poverty as a priority, citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated. Navas has spoken of looking forward to the chance to continue working to end hunger in Costa Rica.

Extreme poverty and the need to make ending hunger a priority drives Kalou, Falcao, Navas, and other athletes to not only be outstanding role models at the World Cup, but to be advocates and philanthropists in the fight against hunger. These stars stand out for their work both on and off the field. 

Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.

Photo: Salomon Kolou, playing during in a 2007 match. (Flickr user Jean-Marc Liotier)

Bread Helps Win Important Nutrition Victories

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Dabora Nyibol prepares sorghum for her family at her home in South Sudan. A new nutrition strategy for the U.S. Agency for International Development will help ensure that people like Nyibol in poor countries will receive better nutrition from the assistance they receive from U.S. food-aid programs. (Stephen H. Padre)

May was a good month for nutrition.

At the Chicago Council Global Food Security 2014 event May 22 in Washington, D.C., National Security Advisor Susan Rice delivered on a promise by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch the agency's first-ever global nutrition strategy. The release of the strategy came just one year after being announced at an event cohosted by Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide.

Bread has been an active participant in the development of the strategy, along with other institutions that share a concern over nutrition, including advocacy and operational partners of USAID.

Improving maternal and child nutrition has been a major part of Bread's non-legislative advocacy efforts for the past three years. The USAID strategy comes after Bread’s successful efforts to clarify exactly where nutrition programs are funded within the federal budget, to persuade the administration to identify a high-level spokesperson for nutrition in the U.S. government (USAID administrator Raj Shah was named), and to help win needed reforms in U.S. food aid policies and programs. Also, the 2014 farm bill authorized changes that will increase the efficiency of food-aid programs and delivery, allow greater flexibility to purchase food for distribution closer to where it is needed, and provide additional options for using new specialized food products that have been fortified with vitamins and minerals.

"The fact that USAID has developed an agency-wide nutrition strategy is another sign of U.S. leadership in efforts to scale up maternal and child nutrition globally," said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “It reflects a strong commitment to augment the effectiveness of its programs, especially those in the Feed the Future Initiative, and to hold itself accountable to improving nutrition, particularly in the critical 1,000-day window of opportunity between pregnancy and age 2."

Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food-security initiative that connects federal government agencies and departments that have hunger-related programs and the 19 partner countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean that are in the initiative.

According to the strategy, undernutrition contributed to 3.1 million (45 percent of all) preventable child deaths in 2011. That same year, stunting impacted more than 165 million people worldwide—including 52 million children under five. The USAID nutrition strategy recognizes the essential role that nutrition plays in human development and the devastating personal, social, and economic impacts of chronic malnutrition on an individual, a community, and a country.

The strategy will support commitments the United States made as part of the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact agreed at last year’s Nutrition for Growth Summit, including reaching 500 million pregnant women and children under two by 2020; averting 20 million additional cases of stunting by 2020 (a World Health Assembly milestone); and preventing 1.7 million deaths by 2020 through efforts to reduce stunting, increase breastfeeding, improve zinc supplementation, and boost coverage of treatment of severe acute malnutrition.

"In the year since announcing the strategy, USAID has engaged a broad set of stakeholders, resulting in a stronger finished product and more effective, efficient implementation," added Lateef. "This has also laid the groundwork for the forthcoming 'whole-of-government' plan from the Obama administration. We look forward to continued cross-agency coordination to help improve nutritional outcomes for women and children around the world."

[This article originally appeared in the June edition of Bread for the World's e-newsletter.]

David Beckmann: "Now is the time to invest more in programs like Feed the Future"


Chili is an all-year crop that provides an alternative and sustainable source of income to Kenyan farmers due to its resiliency to drought. To expand the productivity of chili farmers in Siaya County, a USAID project in Kenya is engaging in new partnerships with farmer/producer organizations to enhance access to credit that would enable farmers to obtain high-quality farm inputs and adopt modern farming methods. (Feed the Future/Antony Okonji)

Feed the Future, the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) initiative to address global hunger and poverty, is now four years old. It is, by all accounts, a success: its programs have helped 7 million smallholder farmers and saved 12.5 million children from hunger and poverty, according to its recently released progress report. Yesterday, at the Feed the Future forum— a Washington, D.C., gathering of global leaders from the public and private sectors —Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann lauded the initiative and U.S. leadership in work to end hunger. “With 842 million people around the world still going hungry every day, now is the time to invest more in programs like Feed the Future," he said, adding that it is a "model of effectiveness."

But Beckmann also warned that Congress is currently poised to undo progress that has been made in addressing worldwide hunger and poverty.

A little-known provision slipped into a recent House bill increases something called "cargo preference," which effectively raises the transportation costs for food aid. This move benefits a few foreign-owned shipping companies, but takes away $75 million per year from U.S. international food-aid programs. This would limit the food aid our nation can provide in times of crisis.

“Now is not the time to reverse reforms to U.S. food-aid programs,” Beckmann said.

“We won some reform in this year’s farm bill, but in other legislation, the subsidized shippers managed to increase their subsidies at the expense of 1.4 million fewer people receiving food aid every year,” Beckmann continued. “Recently, the shipping lobby managed to convince the House of Representatives to increase their subsidy by directly taking away food aid from another 2 million hungry people. It is unconscionable to steal food from 3.4 million people hungry just to give more subsidies to three of the world’s largest shipping companies.”

While U.S. food aid does a lot of good in the world, requiring that nearly all the food commodities come from this country and be shipped by a few U.S.-flagged ships is not only a waste of taxpayer dollars, but puts the profits of shipping conglomerates before the needs of millions of people suffering from hunger and living in dire poverty.

Read Bread for the World's press release on the Feed the Future forum for more on Beckmann's remarks, and visit blog.bread.org/food-aid/ for updates on food-aid reform and cargo preference.

Pope Francis and Obama: When Faith and Government Meet

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Pope Francis meets President Barack Obama at the Vatican on Thursday, March 27. (Getty)

By Billy Kangas

For President Obama, leader of the one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, to come together to discuss the need to address poverty and income inequality is historic. But what exactly does last Thursday’s meeting at the Vatican mean for hungry and poor people? Will it help shift Obama’s narrative on income equality from a focus on the struggling middle class to one on the hungry and impoverished in the United States and around the world? Does the fact that the two men were able to set aside any differences in opinion and find common ground in a desire to help the poor hint at a larger sea change?

The meeting raises many questions, but it also underscores the pope’s enormous potential to impact global politics, global leadership, and global priorities—including hunger and poverty. Exactly what does the so-called "Francis factor" contribute? Here are some observations to put Francis in perspective, and give some context to the life and ministry of this cleric, who is changing the world through small acts done with great love.

He's a leader from the developing world

This point is so key to understanding Francis. His voice has continually reminded me to look beyond my own cultural concerns and obsessions to see who the truly marginalized in this world are. As much as disparity and inequality remain significant and heart-wrenching issues in the United States, the inequality that ravages so many U.S. communities is often more acutely felt in the communities of the developing world. It is from these places that Francis emerged; it is in these places that he has spent his life of ministry. He reminds us to take our gaze away from our navels and to look into the pleading eyes of those who suffer under our indifference. 

He brings a different narrative 

Our political system often only gives us two stories to choose from: the narrative from the left, and the narrative from the right. The stories from these two sides can become all-consuming, blotting out all else and creating an environment in which one is judged solely on where they fall on the continuum of conservative to liberal. Francis emerges with a different kind of story—it is not one driven by politics, wealth, or power, but humility, grace, joy, and sacrifice. It cuts us to the heart, and brings a challenge. His message is simple: God's glory; neighbor's good. There is little room for self-aggrandizement in that equation, and I have been convicted time and time again of my own sin and of my need for the transforming Grace of God in my life.

He has a different kind of power

Francis wields a significant amount of power, but it is not the kind of power that we have grown accustomed to in our contemporary world. He does not have the power of the nation-state, he does not have the power of a global corporation, he does not even have the power of a radical revolutionary. His power lies in his ability to remind millions that their allegiance is to the God who demonstrates love in Christ laying down his life. Francis has been a great communicator of that message. He has been an example of what Christ looks like, and that is a power we have rarely had to contend with in this modern age.

He is bringing to bear a tradition

Another reason the “Francis factor” must be taken seriously is that he is more than just a prophet, he is a pope. As a pope, he brings with him a tradition that is deep and rich and beautiful. He does not bring ideas that are his alone, which will flash in the pan of world history and be forgotten, but represents a movement grounded in 2000 years of theology, philosophy, and social teaching, from which countless others have given their lives to demonstrate the radical love of God in Christ. Francis will not be pope forever, but we can be sure he will not be the last to bear this radical call. The message Francis preaches is not his own, and it will continue long after he has gone. It is the message that continues to sustain us.

It remains to be seen exactly how the “Francis factor” might influence the agenda of Obama—and vice versa. But hopefully, at the very least, last week’s meeting signaled to the world the importance of coming together to address issues of hunger and poverty in our world. 

*

Living out the mandate to work for God’s glory and neighbor’s good includes ensuring that all are fed. Bread for the World’s 2014 Offering of Letters, “Reforming U.S. Food Aid,” seeks smart forms to U.S. food aid programs—changes that would help feed millions more each year, at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers. Visit http://www.bread.org/ol to learn more.

Billy Kangas is Bread for the World's Catholic Relations fellow.

Working to End Maternal and Child Hunger Year-round

Mother_daughterBy Kristen Youngblood Archer

“I fall, I stand still… I trudge on. I gain a little… I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory.” – Helen Keller

Today is March 31, the official end to National Women’s History Month. Like so many other months that have been assigned an issue of national or international importance, this month was dedicated in the late 1970s, around International Women’s Day, for the purpose of celebrating the achievements and contributions women have made to society, science, government, and our world at large.

The trouble with these months is that, well, they end. Once they’re over, we’re on to the next month or issue, and have forgotten all of the great things we learned, celebrated, and promised to do in the month prior.

At Bread for the World, we like to look at these important months as a time not only to celebrate, but to reflect on what has been done among specific communities of people to end hunger, and what more there is to accomplish. While these designated months (African-American History Month, Older Americans Month, Hispanic Heritage Month) serve as official rallying cries, we must pursue relevant issues and challenges throughout the year if we are to effect lasting change.

While Women’s History Month ends today, poverty, malnutrition, and hunger among women and children around the world continues. There’s still work to do.

With this in mind, Bread for the World has just completed two new “Hunger by the Numbers’ analyses on women and children.

The international analysis takes a look at the important role women play in development and ending hunger worldwide, particularly with regards to nutrition in the first 1,000 days from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. The domestic analysis highlights some key issues brought to light in the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America. From wages to childcare, this document evaluates some of the main factors that contribute to the hardships of workers in the United States.

We hope these analyses will not only provide valuable information, but that they will encourage us to keep working to end hunger among women and children all year long.

Kristen Youngblood Archer is Bread for the World's media relations manager.

Photo: A mother and daughter in Nicaragua shell peas from their garden. (Margaret W. Nea)

Happy 100th Birthday, Norman Borlaug

Borlaug_field"Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world," —Norman Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009)

Dr. Norman Borlaug—scientist, father of the Green Revolution, and Nobel Peace Prize receipient— would've been 100 years old today.

Borlaug's work transformed modern agriculture and fed billions of people in the process. His development of high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat and other crops doubled the world's food production, prevented famine across the globe, and showed the world that ending hunger is within our reach. 

In honor of Borlaug's great achievements , there will be celebrations of his life around the world today, including the unveiling of a Borlaug statue in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. The state of Iowa, Borlaug's birthplace, commissioned a 7-ft. bronze statue in his likeness to be displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Borlaug had special ties to Bread for the World, and served as an early board member of the organization. "No single person has contributed more to relieving world hunger than our friend, the late Norman Borlaug,"said Bread for the World President David Beckmann, in 2009. "Norman was truly the man who fed the world, saving up to a billion people from hunger and starvation."

The World Food Prize, which Borlaug founded, is collecting pledges from people around the world, who have vowed to continue Borlaug's work, in ways both big and small. Some have said they will  reduce their personal food waste, others have said they will work with small-scale farmers.

"Nothing could pay greater homage to the life's work of Norman Borlaug and his Green Revolution than to eradicate hunger around the world,"said Beckmann, who received the World Food Prize in 2010.

While the number of hungry people has dropped significantly over the past two decades, 842 million people continue to struggle with hunger every day. So, advocacy on any scale, whether calling your member of Congress and asking him or her to protect domestic nutrition programs, or sending handwritten letters in support of U.S. food aid reform, is an important, worthy tribute to Borlaug's legacy.

Photo: Norman Borlaug in 1964, scoring wheat plants for rust resistance in wheat breeding plots near Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, northern Mexico. (The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center/CIMMYT)

Breaking the HIV-Hunger Trap

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Around the world, more than 400 million children live in extreme poverty and many suffer from malnutrition and illness. In countries hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, this combination can be fatal. (Mariella Furrer/Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation)

This article originally appeared on the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation blog.

By Chelsea Bailey

Around the world, more than 400 million children are living in extreme poverty. Subsisting on less than U.S. $1.25 a day, these children are often plagued by malnutrition and illness. In countries hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, that combination can be fatal.

HIV has often been referred to as the “wasting disease,” because, if  left untreated, the virus wreaks havoc on the immune system, leaving the person emaciated  and making exposure to even the most common infections deadly. Similarly, prolonged hunger and malnutrition deprive the body of essential nutrients that support the immune system, making it that much more difficult for the  body to properly defend itself against infections.

When given the choice between being able to afford food or antiretroviral medications (ARVs), many choose to have food in their stomach. Nutritionists at the World Food Programme (WFP) have dubbed this cycle the “HIV- Hunger Trap.” 

But it is possible to break the cycle. In Lesotho, many children suffer the dual challenge of living with HIV and coping with hunger. Recognizing this, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) integrates nutrition programs into all maternal, neonatal, and child health services in EGPAF-supported hospitals and health centers.

These “Nutrition Corners” are designed to improve the growth, development, and overall health of HIV-positive and HIV-exposed children.

Undernourished children do not receive enough food to lead healthy and active lives, if this condition progresses it can lead to malnutrition, a physical state that makes it difficult for the body to resist disease.

Mothers and caregivers enrolled in Nutrition Corners can attend cooking demonstrations to learn about healthy eating and food preparation using locally available fare, such as sorghum porridge, beans, peas, vegetables, and fruits. Nutrition Corners also help EGPAF identify HIV-exposed children who are still breastfeeding and HIV-positive children who are younger than 2, so they can receive optimal support for HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

Monthly growth monitoring sessions identify undernourished children with low weight-for-age and weight-for-height. Mothers, caregivers, and children with unknown HIV statuses receive HIV counseling and testing services.

Caregivers and parents whose children do not nutritionally improve in three consecutive visits are given one-on-one counseling—while the parents and caregivers who have seen improvements are invited to talk to the entire group about their positive experiences.

The Nutrition Corners are part of the larger effort by EGPAF and the  Partnership for HIV-Free Survival (PHFS) program to reduce malnutrition in Lesotho, especially among HIV-positive women and HIV-positive children. PHFS is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). [Editor's note: Bread for the World advocated, and continues to advocate for PEPFAR and also supported the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013. which extended important provisions and reporting requirements that will help strengthen the program.]

We will not be able to see the end of pediatric HIV/AIDS without strong and sustainable health systems. Integrating nutrition programs into maternal, neonatal, and child health services brings us one step closer to ensuring a viable and efficient health system that not only eliminates pediatric AIDS, but also improves the overall health of women, children, and their families.

Chelsea Bailey is media relations coordinator at Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Women: The Missing Link in Ending Hunger


Faustine Wabwire, senior foreign assistance policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute, appears on Africa 54, a Voice of America program about economic growth in Africa and the rural and urban divide. 

When you think of agriculture, is the role of women one of the first things that come to mind?  It should be, especially if you're thinking about agriculture in the context of global development. In developing countries like Bangladesh and Tanzania, women produce the majority of food. They are champions working hard to keep hunger at bay for their families and communities. Faustine Wabwire, senior foreign assistance policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute, calls women "the missing link" in the fight to end global hunger and poverty.

In the paper "A Global Development Agenda Toward 2015 and Beyond," Wabwire, a global affairs expert and frequent guest on Voice of America TV and Radio, says that to increase agricultural outputs, we must also increase gender equality for women. “Startling research findings show that, in fact, almost 55 percent of the reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995 can be attributed to improvements in women’s status in society," she writes, adding that it's "more than agricultural or technological advances contributed.” Gender equality, she goes on to point out, is a precondition for overcoming poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

This Saturday is International Women’s Day, which offers a perfect opportunity to start up conversations about women’s empowerment as a solution to ending hunger. It's an issue that Wabwire and the rest of Bread for the World Institute are exploring for the 2015 edition of the Hunger Report, an annual report that helps educate opinion leaders, policy makers, and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. 

You can talk to Wabwire, and other members of the Institute staff, today between noon and 1 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT) during a special Twitter chat on women's empowerment and ending hunger. They will answer questions and talk about the conditions and policies will help foster gender equality, and how can faithful advocates can support this work. Follow the hashtag #IWD2014 to join the conversation.

 

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