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6 posts categorized "Liberia"

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

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Gyude Moore. (Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inset photo:  Liberian road. (USAID)

Changing the World With the Power of Girls

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A Liberian girl sits on her mother's lap during church. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl.

As a 21-year-old woman in the United States, I have many opportunities to share my opinions, ideas, and thoughts.  Sadly, many women and girls live in countries where they are not allowed to speak their minds -- places where their freedom of speech is repressed. However, organizations such as the G(irls) 20 Summit are working to change this as they invite young women, ages 18 to 20, from around the world to voice their opinions as they gather to freely discuss issues relevant to them and their countries. 

A delegate from each of the G-20 countries and the African Union are selected to participate in the event. At the G-20 Summit, the leaders of powerful countries discuss global economics and the policies that govern them. The girls invited to attend the G(irls) 20 Summit will have a similar agenda. The delegates discuss innovative ideas that will help empower girls and women globally. While the agenda is the same for the G20 Summit and focuses on economic advancement, all of the participants are girls. What an amazing opportunity for these young women! It is such a wonderful chance for them to make a difference despite their youth, race, or gender.

As an intern at Bread for the World, I see first-hand the importance of economic stability in order to break the shackles of hunger and poverty.  As a woman, I also understand how a society’s treatment of women can affect its economy. When women are respected and educated, poverty decreases.  As Elizabeth Gibbons said in a speech several years ago, “Education for girls is the key to the health and nutrition of  populations; to overall improvements in the standard of living;  to better agricultural and environmental practices; to higher Gross National Product; and to greater involvement and gender balance in decision-making at all levels of society.”  Although great strides are being made around the globe to provide equal opportunity for women, there is more work be done.

Bread for the World is proud to partner with the G(irls) 20 Summit this year. One of the issues the young women will be discussing is food security. Nearly 1 billion people in the world don’t get enough to eat and many of them are women and children. Food insecurity is also very closely linked to malnutrition, which is a key issue for Bread for the World. Children, especially those younger than 2, are at special risk of hunger and malnutrition. The 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday are the most crucial for a child’s development. But many women around the world don’t have access to proper nutrition for themselves or their children. Without proper nutrition during this critical period, children can suffer permanent cognitive and physical delays.

Even though I won’t be attending the G(irls) 20 Summit, I’m still planning to support people intent on changing the world, one girl at a time.           

Jael-kimballJael Kimball is media relations intern at Bread for the World.

 

 

FAQ's About Poverty-Focused Foreign Assistance

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120316-questionsGot 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.

+Click here for more questions and answers about poverty-focused foreign assistance.

+Learn more about the mini-campaign on poverty-focused foreign assistance for the 2012 Offering of Letters.

Photo by Flickr user alexanderdrachmann

More than 900 million People Suffer from Chronic Hunger

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120312-janesabbiGlobally, 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

Molly-marshMolly Marsh is managing editor at Bread for the World.

 

 

+Send an email to Congress now and ask them to protect funding for poverty-focused foreign assistance.

+Learn more about the mini-campaign on poverty-focused foreign assistance for the 2012 Offering of Letters.

My First Visit to Lobby Congress for the 1,000 Days Movement

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Photo by Flickr user VinothChandar

Earlier this month Bread for the World hosted more than 50 religious leaders from around the country to help strengthen the advocacy voice of the church in the 1,000 Days Movement. Representing a variety of national church partners including Catholic, evangelical, mainline Protestant and traditionally African-American denominations, participants included bishops, leaders from religious women’s organizations, and advocacy and development experts. The participants attended meetings with high-level U.S. government officials including USAID Administrator Raj Shah and Lois Quam, executive director of the Global Health Initiative. The group also met with two members of Congress, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nita Lowey (D-NY). Claudette Reid, coordinator for women’s ministries, Reformed Church in America, has these reflections on her visit to Rep. Lowey’s office:

This was my first visit to Capitol Hill, so I didn't know what to expect. One thing was for certain: I was a bit apprehensive. I can’t explain why exactly -- perhaps it was because I knew visiting Rep. Nita Lowey was an important visit. We only had a few minutes to persuade one of our key leaders that protecting funding for proper nutrition is the key to saving lives and could also assist her in being an effective steward of her budget.

We arrived at the Capitol a bit early so it gave us time to huddle in the cafeteria and review our talking points, which was extremely helpful, especially since the others decided that I should lead off the discussion. Me? Were they crazy? Did this stellar group of advocates---veteran lobbyists--- temporarily lose their collective minds in asking this neophyte to frame this discussion?

Our short walk from the cafeteria to the congresswoman's office was a blur. All I can recall is being nervous and worried that I was going to make a fool of myself. We arrived at the congresswoman’s office and after the usual pleasantries and introductions, my colleagues all looked at me with the non-verbal command to "go ahead." 

I can't remember everything I said, but I know I began by sharing our collective thanks/gratitude for everything that the congresswoman was already doing on behalf of women and girls and marginalized peoples both locally and globally. Then our group launched into our presentation on the importance of reinforcing our commitment as people of faith to bring awareness and sensitivity to the plight of those who cannot speak for themselves. 

Our presence at this meeting was a continuing response to the exhortation to take care of the "least of these" -- a moral and religious responsibility and privilege -- as we partner with Christ. Staff representative Erin Kolodjeski was quite gracious and engaging. She entertained our comments and questions and emphasized that faith communities like ours are key to the work that they are trying to accomplish. We bring life to the data and statistics they already have in abundance. 

By the time our time had come to a close, I realized that I had just completed my first 'lobbying' experience, and the earth did not fall in, and my nervousness had disappeared. I’m ready for my next round!

Claudette-reidClaudette Reid is coordinator for women’s ministries at the Reformed Church in America.


Good News from Africa

'Africa in hearts' photo (c) 2008, futureatlas.com - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

What could have possibly caused the notoriously high-brow magazine, The Economist, to admit regret? Africa's economic growth.

In a Dec. 3, 2011, article, “Africa’s Hopeful Economies: The Sun Shines Bright,” The Economist noted that a decade ago, they had regrettably labeled Africa “the hopeless continent.” But today, signs of economic growth had The Economist telling a different story.

While reporting from Africa tends to focus on the dire circumstances of famine, poverty, war, and disease, The Economist is bringing attention to the good news about Africa: business in some parts of the continent is expanding, forming a small, increasingly stable middle class.

Of course, the signs of Africa’s economic growth need to be tempered with caveats that the continent still has a long way to go. But national economies are growing faster than any other region of the world. The article points to Ethiopia as an exemplar.

At least a dozen have expanded by more than 6 percent a year for six or more years. Ethiopia will grow by about 7.5 percent this year, without a drop of oil to export. Once a byword for famine, it is now the world’s tenth-largest producer of livestock. Nor is its wealth monopolized by a well-connected clique. Embezzlement is still common but income distribution has improved in the past decade.

Another hopeful sign is the decrease in Africa’s child mortality rate.

As for Africans below the poverty line – the majority of the continent’s billion people – disease and hunger are still a big problem. Out of 1,000 children 118 will die before their fifth birthday. Two decades ago the figure was 165. Such progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, a series of poverty-reduction milestones set by the United Nations, is slow and uneven. But it is not negligible.

Bread for the World is committed to advocating for policies that will help nations achieve the Millennium Development Goals precisely for the kind of progress that The Economist is reporting out of Africa. Famine, war, drought, and disease continue to plague African nations, but there are glimmers of hope. With a healthier generation of 20- to 30-year-olds, a bona fide economic boom that lifts all boats and draws more people out of poverty might not be far off.

Jeannie-choiJeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World.

 


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