mcdermottmeeting
Today, The Borgen Project team paid a visit to Congressman McDermott’s district office in Seattle. They advocated for a stronger international affairs budget, passing the Food Aid Reform Act and the Electrify Africa Act, and other issues related to global poverty.

Laurie Goodman, a PR Intern, said, “This was my first time lobbying in a congressional office and it was a great experience. I definitely suggest that others to contact their local leaders.”

The Borgen Project encourages everyone to schedule a meeting with their local congressional offices and advocate for eradicating poverty.

– Abby Stewart 

Foreign Aid is Practical

While some may make the argument that a plethora of domestic issues overshadow the need to invest in foreign aid and that foreign aid should be cut, the fact is aid is connected to US prosperity. Many who support foreign aid cuts, up to 48% of Americans, according to a February poll by the Pew Research Center, might not know that foreign aid only comprises less than 1% of the federal budget, and any cuts would make a very small impact on deficit reduction.

In fact, US investments in foreign aid have contributed to the development of some of our top trading partners such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Poland. By creating jobs and stable economies in developing countries, the US is working to create new markets for their products and services. Making long-term investments in these places results in plenty of economic and structural benefits for the U.S. as well as positive global impact against poverty and corruption.

For those worried if “aid is truly well spent” in places where political and military corruption are common, aid programs have ways to circumvent this and be sent directly to those in need. According to Clint Borgen, the founder of The Borgen Project, “In recent years, experts have developed numerous strategies for bypassing corruption and ensuring that the world’s most vulnerable people receive assistance. The United States even set up a funding program that requires countries to address corruption before they can receive assistance. This ensures that aid coming from the United States goes directly to the people.”

It has already been seen that small investments can give big returns in terms of future trading partners. These investments also help directly reduce global poverty and hunger. In this way, the growth that can occur from foreign aid given by developed to developing countries benefits not only the countries receiving the aid, but those giving aid as well.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: IVN,Huffington Post,The Borgen Project
Photo: Internationalist

Neglecting Environment Prolongs Global Poverty

The actions and decisions of humans have had negative effects on the environment and the world’s natural resources. However, research suggests not all humans deplete resources unnecessarily; the poor are often best at sustaining the environment because they recognize its direct connection to their survival. According to The Centre for Science and Environment, wealthier nations are to blame. The Centre speculates that if impoverished nations developed and consumed at the rate of the West, two more planet Earths would be needed to produce enough resources and absorb the waste.

So, if wealthy nations are consuming at an alarming rate while poorer nations excel at sustaining their environment, why is the latter suffering economically?

The answer is simple, but sad; industry frequently exploits less developed countries. They send their most environmentally unfriendly ventures to the Third World to circumvent the high cost of doing such work in the developed world. As a result, large-scale deforestation occurs to make land available for lease to international companies. Prime agricultural land is damaged by harsh pesticides and fertilizers to produce cash crops for wealthier countries and ten times the amount of water a typical Indian family should consume in one day, if they get water at all, is used for meat breeding for richer nations.

Disregarding the environment when addressing poverty leads to an incomplete solution because the two are directly related. The natural resources needed to lift people out of poverty, though sustainable, are not unlimited. Thus the environment can only sustain us for as long as we sustain it.

– Dana Johnson

Source: Global Issues
Photo: UN

Fight Global Poverty on Less than a Dollar A Day

Fighting global poverty might seem like an overly-lofty goal, something left to the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, or at the very least, the government.  But the truth is that just about anyone can become an effective contributor to the fight against global poverty.  Wealth, age, and ability have little to do with it.  There is something for everyone to do.  To show how true that is, here is a list of ways you can fight global poverty on less than a dollar a day.

1. Call or e-mail your Senators and Representatives and tell them you want increased government investment on global anti-poverty measures. Find their contact information here on The Borgen Project site.  All you have to do is call, say you live in their jurisdiction, and ask them to support global anti-poverty legislation.  It is a simple and 30-second call that makes your representatives pay attention. Learn more about calling Congress by watching this video.

2. Get friends to call too. This increases your impact exponentially.  If representatives receive as few as 7 calls in a week about the same issue, they and their staffers pay attention to that issue when they review call logs.   More calls equal greater likelihood that the senator or congressperson will see the issue as important to their constituents.

3. Use your social media presence to help spread the word about poverty statistics, effects, and most importantly, solutions.  A Facebook post alone is unlikely to bring a poor person in Brazil any closer to clean water (see our article on “slacktivism” here), but then again, it just might (see another point of view here). Many people won’t know and won’t act until and unless somebody tells them.  That somebody could be you—on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever you use. Never underestimate the power of information and advocacy.

4. Turn your talent, hobby, or passion into a one-person fundraiser for an anti-poverty group.  Do you knit, tutor, paint, or make jewelry? Why not sell your creation or service and advertise that you’ll be donating proceeds to an anti-poverty organization?  Do you run marathons? Why not recruit sponsors to turn your next race into a fundraiser?  You supply the time and talent, and your donors will supply the cash—and probably learn a bit more about the issue as well.  There are dozens of worthy organizations out there. (The Borgen Project could certainly be one of them.)

5. Go hungry.  The group Oxfam America helps all kinds of groups organize events they call Hunger Banquets.  Attendees can pay to attend the banquet at which different kinds of meals are served to randomly assigned groups.  Some meals are extravagant (the kind of meal most people in the US have eaten).  Some are barely enough to sustain life (the kind of meal many people in the world survive on).  In addition to raising money, these events help bring awareness of food insecurity in a very vivid and immediate way.  Read about one such banquet at the University of Central Missouri here.  Find out more about organizing a hunger banquet at OxfamAmerica.org.

There they are:  Five relatively inexpensive ways for you and those around you to join the fight against global poverty.

– Délice Williams

Sources: The Borgen Project, Oxfam America
Photo: Social Media and Politics 

Following Seattle's Lead in International Development

The city of Seattle has teamed up with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) to launch the Seattle Ambassador program, a campaign intended to educate residents about how their community is making some pretty amazing strides in the global fight against poverty, and inspire even more locals to pitch in.

Seattle is a leader in international development efforts; over 300 local organizations are working in 144 developing countries. The Borgen Project has been headquartered in Seattle since 2003, and we are honored to be part of a community that cares so much about the rest of the world.

We have more than a few neighbors who are doing incredible things; Literacy Bridge develops and distributes Talking Books so that illiteracy doesn’t prevent education. Ayni Education International began building schools for girls in rural Afghanistan after 9/11, in an effort to counteract growing prejudice on both sides. One By One fights to end Fistula, which is directly related to maternal mortality during childbirth.

Residents who sign up for the Seattle Ambassador program will receive updates on the efforts of these organizations and others, and also learn ways that they can help. As a bonus, registering for the program automatically enters you for a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to Africa, Asia, or Latin America, too see up close how your home is improving the world.

The first winner will be announced in June, so visit Seattle Ambassador or text SEATTLE to 80088 to register. If you don’t live in Seattle, contact your government representatives about following Seattle’s lead. Just imagine what ten, twenty, fifty cities like Seattle could accomplish.

– Dana Johnson

Sources: Seattle Ambassador, Seattle Globalist
Photo: Global Journal

Is Foreign Aid Just Another Wristband?In a recent article about Australia’s giving of foreign aid, writer Chris Kenny wrote that “support for foreign aid can be the fiscal equivalent of Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong wristband – and like that gimmick, its true standing can be just as flimsy.” Is foreign aid wasteful and superfluous? Is it just something that we support so that others will think we are good and sympathetic people? No, not for The Borgen Project and not for many politically-minded Americans.

While there are people who may simply champion the giving of foreign aid to fight world hunger mainly to have others think more highly of them, that group does not represent a majority of foreign aid supporters. Active support for American foreign aid is something that our country is seriously lacking right now but those who keep working for the cause are adamant about the issues that are important to them. Sure, people feel good about helping others; and they should. Yet the primary reason that I’d argue that supporting foreign aid from any developed country is far more than a symbol like the famous rubber wristbands is that aid is not all about altruism. While the primary objective of giving aid is to help the recipients, the exchange also helps the donor. Giving foreign aid allows us to better our reputation in the international community, open and grow new markets for American business, and prevent military involvement. In fact, many high ranking military officials are in favor of continuing foreign aid. General David Petraeus has argued for the funding of USAID programs as he sees them as a crucial asset in the effort to protect the United States and its’ allies.

So, yes, some part of aid makes us feel good. Not that that is such a horrible thing, but the giving of foreign aid is anything but an empty gesture. Donor countries and aid recipients benefit in real ways as world governments and NGOs work to help the world’s poor.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: The Aulstralian
Photo: The Guardian

World Water Day at The Borgen Project HQsOn 22nd March, World Water Day, some of us at The Borgen Project HQs in Seattle, took to the streets to raise awareness about the scarcity of clean water around the world.

Healthy lives with access to clean water are the motto of World Water Day.

As we distributed free water bottles, we informed people about the 800 million people who don’t have access to clean water in the developing world.

Some people stopped to listen – and that’s what we enjoyed most.

The more people pay attention to the global issues we at The Borgen Project campaign for, the more important these issues get and chances improve of them being addressed at the political level, internationally.

Enjoy the video and join our cause!

Mantra Roy

Photo: Flickr

How Can Golden Rice Help End World HungerDr. Gerard Barry, project leader for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is developing a type of genetically modified rice called “Golden Rice.” This rice contains the essential nutrient beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A, which is often lacking in the diets of people living in poverty. The GMO rice is referred to as “Golden” because beta-carotene produces an orange color once added to the rice. Dr. Barry and IRRI are working to address vitamin A deficiency in developing countries and hope that Golden Rice is the answer.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Dr. Barry spoke enthusiastically about engineering new types of rice pointing out that it is the staple food of a couple of billion people. His passion for the crop led to a career at IRRI and he quickly began working on Golden Rice which he explains has the potential to greatly benefit those living in impoverished conditions. IRRI hopes to distribute the GMO rice in Bangladesh and the Philippines, where the institute is located.

Vitamin A deficiency is a result of malnourishment and a limited diet. The consequences of this deficiency include tissue damage, blindness, and a weakened immune system. For those millions of people affected by vitamin A deficiency, one cup of Golden Rice a day could provide half the amount needed for a healthy diet. “This product has the potential to reduce the suffering of women and children and save lives,” said Dr. Barry. IRRI is working with nonprofit organizations to ensure the super rice reaches those who need it most. Once it has passed food and safety regulations, we will begin to see the real impact of Golden Rice.

– Mary Penn
Source: IrishCentral
Photo: Forbes

Ending World Hunger Demanded By BritonsBritish politicians, including MP Andrew Stunell, are pushing the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron to focus more on ending world hunger. Stunell and others have begun making their voices heard by supporting causes like the Enough Food for Everyone initiative.

The U.K., like the United States, committed to giving 0.7% of its national income as international aid. Politicians and citizens in the U.K. continue to stress the importance of keeping that promise. As Britain prepares to host the Hunger Summit this June, at the same time as the G8 Summit, the nation has been paying increased attention to the issue of world hunger and the U.K.’s roll in fighting hunger as well as the many causes of hunger and malnutrition. The most obvious result of hunger and malnutrition is death, yet severe hunger has many other results such as malnutrition that may lead to developmental and growth problems and is also linked to infertility, as outlined in a Yale study on hunger and childbirth.

With enough food being produced each year to feed the world population and yet people are still going hungry, there is reason enough to be upset. As politicians and citizens alike in the U.K. push their representatives to work more towards ending world hunger, we should remember to do the same here at home and ask our elected representatives to do more in the fight against global hunger. Contact your representatives in Congress today.

– Kevin Sullivan

Sources: Mancunian Matters, Yale Scientific
Photo: The Telegraph