Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

122 posts categorized "Millennium Development Goals"

Double Your Impact: Protecting Food Aid and WIC

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At Bread for the World, ending malnutrition is an essential part of the work to end hunger at home and abroad.

Globally, an estimated 165 million children under the age of five are stunted. Inadequate nutrition during the 1,000 day-window from a woman's pregnancy through her child’s second birthday impairs development. Research shows that adults who did not receive adequate nutrition as children can lose up to 10 percent of their lifetime earnings. In the United States, child poverty rates are on the rise, yet the WIC program, proven to lower infant mortality rates and improve school performance, is in danger of losing funding because of sequestration. When a nation’s children begin their lives with challenges created by malnutrition and hunger, it becomes more difficult to make good on the promise of a prosperous future.

But faithful advocacy has the power to change the future.

To advance the millennium development goals of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty while also reducing child mortality and malnutrition, food aid with improved nutrition that targets vulnerable mothers and children must be central to development programs—and it must be properly funded. Yet, unless Congress acts to end sequestration it is estimated that more than 571 thousand children could lose food interventions that can prevent the irreversible damage caused by malnutrition.

God’s kingdom is without borders; nutrition during the first 1,000 days matters as much if you live in Bangladesh or Baltimore. The WIC program provides nearly 9 million pregnant or nursing mothers and vulnerable children access to adequate nutrition, education, and health care referrals.  As sequestration continues, it will erode the effectiveness of the program.  Congress must replace the automatic cuts with a balanced plan that includes revenues.

Both chambers of Congress are working on spending bills, and the House numbers assume sequestration is here to stay. And unlike the provision in sequestration whereby cuts are split evenly between defense and non-defense programs in the budget, the House proposal moves all cuts to non-defense programs. A unified and faithful chorus of voices must again tell Congress that the federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.

Being faithful advocates during one of the most polarized political periods in history, with a constant barrage of proposals to cut programs for poor and hungry, is difficult, but we know that your advocacy on behalf of hungry and poor people works. Even with $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction already enacted, programs that help hungry and poor people have been largely protected. Calls and emails helped stop a recent proposal to cut the SNAP program by $20.5 billion, protecting the program at current levels, for now.

These victories and the challenges ahead in the journey to end hunger are possible because of the engagement and support of Bread for the World members. Please consider joining our summer effort to help hungry people by making a gift to Bread. Because of a few generous donors, between now and July 12 your donation will be doubled!

Could Crickets Help End Hunger?

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Fried crickets for sale at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar in Thailand, by flickr user avlxyz.

By Nina Keehan

How would you feel about eating a cricket muffin? Cricket bread? A cricket tortilla?  Well a team of students from McGill University are vying for a chance to make cricket-infused food a worldwide sensation.

McGill University is one of five finalists in this year’s prestigious Hult Prize competition, which gives MBA students a chance to solve some of the world’s greatest problems. This year, teams are tackling the global food crisis. The competition works something like this: groups of 4-5 students from universities across the globe develop social enterprises that can successfully and substantially reduce hunger. The students focus on urban slums, where over 200 million people worldwide are food insecure. Whichever team has the best idea will receive $1 million to actually make it happen.

The facts about global hunger are sobering. Nearly 1 billion people are hungry or suffer from malnutrition and every five seconds a child dies from hunger-related causes. That’s partially because extremely poor families spend more than 70 percent of their income on food, trapping them in a cycle of hunger, poverty, and illness.

If you're squeamish about the idea of buttering up a piece of cricket-infused bread, know that you're in the global minority. The UN Food Standards Authority states PDF Icon that about 2.5 billion people around the world already incorporate insects regularly into their diets, with grasshoppers being one of the most popular. They are low-fat, high-protein, high in omega-3, and much easier to mass produce than other sources of protein.

The McGill team’s basic idea is to produce crickets on an industrial scale, starting with urban dwellers who would raise them, eat them, and sell them to the local market. Families would be provided with a light, collapsible metal cylinder that attracts and traps crickets--up to 11 pounds in two months. Whatever was left after local sales and consumption could to be made into cricket flour that would then be subtly added to the local diet staple, whether that be corn, rice, or wheat.

The idea of consuming bugs for protein has grown in popularity over recent years. In fact, in 2011 the EU promised up to €1.5m in funding for research on producing “purified or partially purified insect protein,” and other alternative protein sources to help meet the Millennium Development Goals, eradicate famine, and improve environmental sustainability.

So get ready, because the key to solving hunger might just include tapping this market. One of the McGill students, Zev Thompson, told the Examiner.com, "Having now eaten them [crickets], it [now] seems normal...I wonder if crickets today are what sushi was 20 or 30 years ago--a weird exotic thing that breaks into the mainstream."

Only time will tell.

Nina Keehan, a media relations intern at Bread for the World, is a senior magazine journalism and public health dual major at Syracuse University.

A Recap of the MCC and Bread for the World #HungerHall

The 2013 Hunger Report Is Here

Hunger-Report-2013-Cover-blogsizeThe 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals has arrived.

This year's report focuses on meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets and setting the next round of global development goals once the MDGs expire at the end of 2015. The 2000s were a decade of extraordinary progress against poverty and hunger, but with just three years left before the deadline of the MDGs, a final push and a strong finish will be critical to build momentum for what comes next.

The report (hard copies of which are now available for sale in the Bread store) is accompanied by the launch of an interactive website. Below is a list of just a few of the web features to explore:

Infographics

The Hunger Report website includes a large infographic on stunting, as well as smaller visuals depicting key issues in the report sprinkled among our issue pages.

Video

"Tohomina: Fighting Malnutrition in Bangladesh" tells the story of Tohomina Akter of Barisal, Bangladesh, who is working to keep her 17-month-old daughter, Adia, healthy and nourished so that she can become a doctor one day. Child malnutrition that results in stunting is one of many issues targeted by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Guest contributors

Read guest pieces on from a wide range of topic experts, including U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Michal Challenge International Director Joel Edwards.

The Report in Photos

See the 2013 Hunger Report through a series of photographs highlighting key issues.

Social Good Summit, By the Numbers

When famed statisitician Hans Rosling presented UNICEF child mortality numbers at the Social Good Summit in New York on Monday, he said the figures are among "the most serious statistics we have, as well as the most motivating." The child mortality rate has improved dramatically over the last 20 years, but 19,000 children around the world still die each day. Who can hear that and not feel compelled to act? 

The Social Good Summit, a three-day conference held during UN Week and sponsored by Mashable, the UN Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundtion, examined how social media can be used to solve our greatest global challenges. One of the most interesting things about the summit was the widespread sharing of statistics about hunger, poverty, education, public health, and foreign aid across various social media platforms.

Some of the data was sobering, other figures were inspiring, but all of the numbers should serve as motivation to continue the fight to help the world's poor and hungry people. As Rosling said, "The world is getting better, but is not yet good."

Upholding the Bipartisan Consensus on Development

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ACDI/VOCA's Kenya Maize Development Program nearly tripled maize yields for small-scale farmers in Kenya, about a third of whom are women. New technologies like improved seeds helped farmers realize these gains. Photo by ACDI/VOCA.

Ambassador Mark Dybul, former U.S. global AIDS coordinator, writes that a battle is brewing in Congress over whether or not to uphold an existing bipartisan consensus on health and development. At issue is U.S. support for self-sufficiency programs in developing countries, setting the goal for those countries to take primary responsibility for their citizens’ health and well-being.  

Fortunately, the brewing battle is not between Republications and Democrats.

“The reason for the strong bipartisan agreement is rather simple: it’s the right thing to do for the American taxpayer to save and lift up more lives with the highest return on investment—and that, in turn, is good for our national economy and security,” writes Ambassador Dybul in a recent op-ed in The Hill.

Those who favor this consensus argue that local organizations are closer to the ground and, thus, can accomplish more with less money. The days of paternalistic development are over, say supporters; developing countries no longer welcome support run by foreign governments or development institutions.   

Those who are against increased support to self-sufficiency programs often cite corruption as an issue. They also argue that local organizations cannot manage large, complex development projects.

“A change in mindset is needed," writes Ambassador Dybul, a leader of the Consensus on Development Reform (a project of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network). “U.S.-based organizations should begin to shift from being primary implementers of programs to agents of technical support and exchange.”

The result of this battle will affect two major programs, in particular, for which Bread for the World activists advocated—and which they continue to support: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the  Millennium Challenge Corporation. Both were started by Republicans and continue to be supported by Democrats. Such programs are keys to our efforts to modernize U.S. foreign aid

Adlai-amorAdlai J. Amor is director of communications of Bread for the World.

USAID Launches Fifth Birthday Campaign

According to USAID, this year more than 7 million children will die before reaching their fifth birthday. This shocking fact is the basis for a new campaign aimed at ending child deaths from preventable causes such as disease, hunger, and extreme poverty.

Watch the video below to learn more.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Announces the Zero Hunger Challenge

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Screenshot of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon taken from UNICNetwork video.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, recently issued the Zero Hunger Challenge, a tool to initiate high-level advocacy to create significant advances in food security. Ban Ki-moon is careful to note in his video address (below) that he is not issuing a new challenge, but is extending an invitation for others to join in the fight to end hunger through five objectives: worldwide access to adequate food; and end to stunted children under 2 years old; sustainable food systems; 100 percent growth in smallholder productivity and income; and zero waste of food.

The most compelling point in the UN Secretary General's address is when he shares a memory from his childhood:

"When I was a child in war-time Korea, many families faced starvation and shortages. Many countries, including my own, took bold steps to end hunger. But almost 1 billion people still do not have enough to eat. I want to see an end to hunger everywhere, within my lifetime."

Watch Ban Ki-moon's brief video address below, and stay tuned to the Institute Notes blog for further analysis of the Zero Hunger Challenge.

JCHOI_SMWKNDJeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World. Follow her on Twitter @jeanniechoi.

 


Africa on the Ground: A Reflection by Rev. Derrick Boykin

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.

 

Racine-tucker-hamiltonRacine Tucker-Hamilton is media relations manager at Bread for the World.

 


The Agricultural Gold Rush for Africa

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Jane Sabbi, left, is a farmer with 12 acres of land in Kamuli, Uganda and a mother of seven children. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl.

At this year’s G8 Summit, which was chaired by President Obama, the G8 nations committed themselves to maintain this focus on food security and nutrition.  But they put new emphasis on the private sector.    

International investment in Africa is already increasing rapidly.  Ten percent of all the foreign direct investment in the world last year was in Africa.  A score of international companies have worked with political leaders in Africa to develop “Grow Africa,” a framework for international investment in African agriculture.  These companies have committed themselves to invest in African agriculture in ways that increase production, reduce poverty, and also reduce greenhouse gases.

Then last month, the G8 announced a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.  Simultaneously, 45 international companies announced $3 billion in planned investment in Africa.  Three African governments – Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana – committed themselves to new private-sector oriented reforms, and the G8 government said that they will focus some of their increased funding for agricultural development in these and other countries that become part of this New Alliance.

In effect, African governments and G8 governments are jointly committing themselves to facilitate a major expansion of private investment in African agriculture.

There’s a lot we don’t yet know about the New Alliance.  It will be led by a high-level committee of government and private-sector leaders.

But African leaders, certainly Africa’s ambassadors to the United States, have repeatedly said that what they most want from the U.S. government is help in attracting trade and investment, and this initiative is a major new step in this direction.  The planned expansion of investment will presumably also increase trade.

Civil-society groups have important roles to play as this New Alliance takes shape.  Some NGOs can help international companies connect with African farmers in ways that really do contribute to development.  NGOs will also need to monitor the expansion of international investment in Africa.  It can do a lot of good, but it’s also likely to do some harm.

The expansion of international investment in African agriculture is a bit like a gold rush.  World demand for agriculture is expanding rapidly, and sixty percent of all the undeveloped arable land in the world is in Africa.  Africans can benefit from the expansion of private-sector investment in African agriculture, but civil-society groups will need to monitor what’s going on and be active in advocacy. While I believe this effort to facilitate international private-sector investment in agriculture is an opportunity, it is also a risk, and that is why monitoring and advocacy by civil-society groups will be important.

David-beckmannDavid Beckmann is president of Bread for the World. This blog post is taken from remarks that Beckmann made at the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Civil Society Forum about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

 

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