16 posts categorized "Horn of Africa"
Fabric for sale at a Tanzania marketplace. (Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World)
by Rev. David Beckmann
Great news for African development today! Bread for the World applauds members of Congress for their support for the renewal of the Third Country Fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA seeks to increase mutually beneficial trade ties between the United States and Africa and promises to lift millions of Africans out of poverty.
Several months ago, African ambassadors met with the chairs and ranking members of the Congressional subcommittees on Africa to discuss the urgency of renewing this provision. It has come at a critical time, as declines in apparel orders (due to the uncertainty of this provision’s renewal) were already leading to job losses in several African countries.
In October 2011, Bread for the World hosted a delegation of religious leaders during a visit to three African countries -- Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania -- that are known as SUN countries for their commitment to "scaling up nutrition." The group was able to witness, first-hand, small but mighty successes on the ground. Rev. Derrick Boykin, Bread's associate for African American leadership outreach, was among the group. In this video reflection on his journey, he asks African-Americans to join him in speaking up for Africa.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Donald M. Payne International Food Assistance Improvement Act of 2012. This bipartisan-supported legislation is one of the first bills to highlight the importance of nutrition during the critical 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child's second birthday.
If passed into law, this bill will significantly benefit women and children in developing countries, especially those in Africa. That this legislation was even introduced demonstrates the growing understanding among congressional leaders that good nutrition is critical to improving the lives of poor people around the world.
African countries are also taking nutrition and development into their own hands. An exciting example of this is the growing number of African leaders who recognize the devastating impact of malnutrition during the 1,000-day window. Twenty African countries have committed to turning the tide on malnutrition by joining the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement — a committed effort to reducing malnutrition in the developing world.
Secretary Hillary Clinton was just one of the many speakers at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs on May 18, 2012. See video of all of the speakers. Screenshot from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs livestream.
This morning leaders in development gathered at the 3rd Annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, held in Washington, DC, by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. During this event, numerous speakers presented on the issue of global development, nutrition, and agriculture, including President Obama, who delivered the first speech on hunger by a sitting president. The G-8 Summit, which meets this weekend in Camp David, MD, also will focus on global food and nutrition security issues. Below, we have culled some of the best quotes from today's event from a variety of speakers:
"For every dollar you invest in nutrition, the payoff is $138 in better health and better productivity. It's about fiscal management because the consequences of not dealing with nutrition and good food, all of the consequential costs of health insurance and drug needs -- all of those consequential impacts that we have to deal with because we haven't invested in nutrition in the critical first 1,000 days, and that period is the most critical." --Beverley J. Oda, Honorable Minister of International Cooperation in Canada
"We need to reduce the number of meetings and learn to act accordingly. Preach water and drink water." --Jacqueline Mkindi, executive director of Tanzania Horticulture Association
"As the wealthiest nation on earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition and to partner with others. So we take pride in the fact that because of smart investments in nutrition and agriculture and safety nets, millions of people in Kenya and Ethiopia did not need emergency aid in the recent drought. But when tens of thousands of children die from the agony of starvation, as in Somalia, that sends us a message we still got a lot of work to do. It's unacceptable. It's an outrage. It's an affront to who we are." --President Barack Obama on global agriculture and food security.
"I think what we are seeking to do with our investments in global agriculture is not just to solve the problem of hunger, we also want to solve the problem of extreme poverty, and agriculture in our opinion may be the best intervention point to do that. Development dollars spent on agriculture have the greatest impact on poverty reduction. More than money spent in any other sector. So if we want to make big gains in the fight against poverty, agriculture is the best way to do that. And there is no place that that is more true than in Africa, where there is such great potential for gains in agricultural productivity." --Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on global food safety.
“We need aid. Of course we still need aid. Of course we do. Does anyone disagree? ... The L'Aquila promises must be kept and must be a baseline going forward. And we've got to keep overall aid budgets on track, which is a really tough sell sometimes. ... Very few countries have been courageous enough to keep their promises on aid. ... If there's one thing I've learned in 25 years doing this stuff, it's that paternalism, the old way we did development, is no match with partnership. It's through partnership we can hasten the day when the developing world will not only feed itself, but feed the rest of us ..." --Bono, founder of ONE and member of the band U2
If you had $75 billion to spend on solving some of the world’s greatest challenges, where would you start? An expert panel of Nobel laureate economists known as the Copenhagen Consensus recently answered that question. After extensive research and consultation, they determined that the single best investment the world could make to advance health and prosperity would be to fight malnutrition in young children.
We have always known that tackling child malnutrition is the right thing to do. Perhaps now that it’s seen by experts as the smartest thing to do, we will be able to mobilize the investment needed to finally tackle a condition that plagues close to 200 million children, robbing them of their health and future potential.
Thankfully, we already know how to prevent the needless suffering and the nearly 3 million child deaths that result each year from malnutrition. Simple interventions such as breastfeeding and inexpensive treatments for diarrhea management in young children could save more than 1 million lives a year.
We also know that proper nutrition early in a child’s life—particularly during the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday—can help break the cycle of poverty by ensuring healthy brain development, stronger immune systems, better performance in school, and higher earning potential.
David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World. Lucy Sullivan is executive director of 1,000 Days.
Photo caption: Constantia and her son Gustavo live in Cobue, Monzambique. Gustavo became severely malnourished after contracting malaria. Constantia took him to a clinic where she learned how to feed him a fortified milk formula with a syringe every few hours around the clock. Soon he was eating Plumpy'nut, a high-protein therapeutic food. A year later Gustavo is healthy and eating normal foods. Photo by Rebecca Vander Meulen.
When you think of food aid you likely think of Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, not South Korea, Brazil and Germany. But the latter are all countries that once benefitted from U.S. international food aid programs and are now thriving economies.
Food aid works. These programs make up less than 1% of the U.S. federal budget and help millions around the world.
Watch the video below to learn more about these programs and how they help people from going hungry.
Laura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World. You can follow her on Twitter at @lauraepohl.
Photo caption: Somali woman and a malnourished child exit from the medical tent after the child receives emergency medical treatment from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), an active regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations. Somalia is the country worst affected by a severe drought that has ravaged large swaths of the Horn of Africa, leaving an estimated 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. UN Photo/Stuart Price
Got any questions about poverty-focused foreign assistance? You're not alone. To help answer your most frequently asked questions, we've put together a nice little questions and answers sheet. Here's an excerpt, but visit our Offering of Letters website for the full document.
I keep hearing that poverty-focused foreign assistance programs address the root causes of poverty. What does that mean?
Addressing the root causes of poverty involves more than simply building a road so farmers can transport their goods to market. It involves teaching a community how to build and maintain that road so it can provide transportation for the harvest of future generations. Building sustainable development takes time, but by investing in programs that serve and partner with communities, we begin to win the battle against hunger and poverty.
Times are tough in the United States. Is now the time to keep investing in poverty-focused foreign assistance?
U.S. investments in developing countries are an important component of our national security and foreign policy. U.S. poverty-focused foreign assistance supports political stability in developing countries and fights the hopelessness that can lead to instability and conflict.
Research shows that economically stable countries are less likely to pose a threat to their neighbors or to the United States. For example, for every 5 percent drop in income growth in a developing country, the likelihood of violent conflict or war within the next year increases by 10 percent.2 In addition, investments in poverty-focused foreign assistance save us from costly interventions later on.
What’s the difference between international food aid and poverty-focused foreign assistance?
Poverty-focused foreign assistance includes a variety of programs that address hunger and poverty, including international food aid programs. International food aid is often an emergency or humanitarian response, while poverty-focused foreign assistance programs seek to address the long-term causes of hunger and poverty.
Photo by Flickr user alexanderdrachmann
Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen by 400 million since 1990. This is mostly the result of much hard work by poor people themselves, but U.S. foreign assistance has played an important role.
Still, more than 900 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger. These numbers are daunting, but U.S. poverty-focused foreign assistance saves lives and helps improve conditions for millions more by giving people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
Funding for these programs comprises only 0.6 percent of the U.S. federal budget. Yet this small amount of money is crucial. Each year, U.S. poverty-focused assistance:
- can save more than 1 million lives by focusing on adequate nutrition during the 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2.
- provides medications that prevent more than 114,000 infants from being born with HIV, and provides counseling to more than 33 million people affected with HIV since 2004.
- saves 3 million lives through immunization.
- helps bring safe drinking water sources to poor communities, impacting 1.3 billion people over the last decade.
These programs don’t provide long-term handouts, but they fight systemic poverty and provide a chance for people to thrive. For example, a U.S.-funded project in Honduras successfully raised participating farmers’ purchasing power by 87 percent, compared to an 11 percent increase for non-participating farmers.
Funding these programs is not only the right thing to do, it also demonstrates U.S. leadership, protects our own national security and economic future, and helps create a more stable world by counteracting the desperation that can lead to political unrest, conflict, and extremism. These programs address the root causes of poverty, which helps ensure new markets for U.S. goods and services.
Check back on the Bread Blog every day this week for tips, stories, and resources on conducting an Offering of Letters at your church or community around poverty-focused foreign assistance.
Photo caption: Jane Sabbi farms some of her 12 acres of land in Kamuli, Uganda. This mother of seven children is a client of VEDCO, a Ugandan NGO that helps people improve agricultural practices and grow more nutritious food. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl
On Sundays during Lent, we invite you to reflect and respond to the weekly prayer and action from our Lenten Prayers for Hungry People resource.
Lectionary readings (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
O Christ, you enable us to worship God with our entire lives. Grant us the courage to expose greed and injustice in our world. Embolden us as we urge our nation’s leaders to change the conditions that allow hunger to persist. Amen.
The most severe drought in 60 years has brought about widespread famine in the Horn of Africa. Contact Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service, Lutheran World Relief, or another church agency to find out about innovative measures to provide water for irrigating crops and safe drinking water for villages.
Earlier this week we pointed to two federal nutrition programs that are in danger of being cut. If you want to learn more about U.S. nutrition programs — what they are, how they operate, and how they can be made better — be sure to check out “Fortifying the U.S. Nutrition Safety Net,” the second chapter of our 2012 Hunger Report: “Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies.”
It’s a meaty chapter that covers basic information about these programs, the serious problems of malnutrition and obesity, and how we can ensure that everyone has access to healthy foods. You can also read about Tianna Gaines-Turner, a Philadelphia mother who is part of Witnesses to Hunger, a research project in which Tianna and others—people who know what it’s like to be hungry—raise awareness about these issues.
The chapter would make a great Bible or group study, and you could also incorporate the Hunger Report’s study guide—specifically session 2, which addresses nutrition. The session begins with a biblical reflection and includes discussion questions and activities.
Last month, news reports indicated that the food crisis in West Africa’s Sahel region was worsening — at about the same time the United Nations declared the famine over in the Horn of Africa.
The countries in the Sahel, which is just below the Sahara and extends from the Atlantic Coast to the Red Sea, are among the world’s poorest. According to the U.N., nearly 23 million people in Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon — including 1 million children — could face food shortages this spring. This isn’t a new phenomenon. For years the region has been challenged by droughts, poor harvests, climate change and the impact of overpopulation.
While we can’t control Mother Nature, we can help the people of this region and others who rely on U.S. food assistance by urging Congress to protect food aid funding and to pass a farm bill that improves the nutritional quality of food aid and reduces costs and inefficiencies. Members of Congress will debate and authorize a new farm bill this year.
Congress should consider a bolder approach to how U.S. food and farm policies can meet our global and domestic challenges. Bread for the World Institute’s 2012 Hunger Report recommends that food aid programs should follow the lead of Feed the Future — a new U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative — by focusing more on improving nutrition for the most vulnerable people, especially pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of 2. This will help achieve the strongest possible nutrition and development outcomes with the limited resources available.
The most critical period in human development is the 1,000 days starting at pregnancy and lasting through a child’s second year. Healthy development, particularly in the brain, depends on getting the right foods during this critical time. Even short bouts of hunger can be catastrophic, because the resulting physical and cognitive damage is lifelong and irreversible. Early hunger and malnutrition is associated with problems later in life, such as chronic illness and poor school attendance and learning.
According to UNICEF (the U.N. children’s fund) more than 1 million children in the Sahel region could experience “severe and life-threatening malnutrition” this year, and more than 300,000 children under the age of 5 in Niger are at risk of severe and acute malnutrition.
The United States should strengthen its leading role as the world’s largest provider of food aid, and also move quickly to improve its nutritional quality. Current regulations should also be restructured and improved to include cash, vouchers and local procurement of food.
New mothers, young children and other vulnerable people — such as those living with HIV/AIDS — can benefit from highly nutritious forms of food aid now available. These cost more than the foods normally included in U.S. food aid, but it is possible to reduce costs by purchasing in or near the countries where the food is needed. By buying food from smallholder farmers in and around the region, we would help reduce poverty, build self-reliant communities and get aid to where it is most needed — more quickly and cheaply.
The longer-term solution to these recurrent food crises is to improve the productivity of farmers in the region, improve the process of getting food from farm to table, and improve access to markets through programs such as Feed the Future.
In crisis situations, food aid is critical. The farm bill gives the United States an opportunity to improve this essential tool and to more effectively help the poorest people in the poorest places, such as West Africa’s Sahel region. Food aid is a crucial tool in combating global malnutrition, and Congress should act before the next famine is declared.
David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.