Information and news about food aid

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

US-food-aid-Ethiopia-1_opt
Changes to the US Food Aid policy may be in the works for this fiscal year’s budget. President Obama recently proposed that the US shift its food aid policy from one of sending US-grown food products abroad to sending cash instead. This would be the largest change in the history of US food aid policy since programs were initiated in 1954.

Food aid groups, international development organizations, and US businesses are at odds over the proposed reform. Anti-hunger groups including Oxfam and Bread for the World, as well as the Modernizing Foreign Aid Network and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, issued a joint statement this week in support of reforming US food aid policy. US farm, shipping, and labor groups, members of Congress’s Agriculture Committee, and the Alliance for Global Food Security are against any proposed reform.

The proposed policy changes have both benefits and drawbacks. One benefit is that by sending cash instead of food, the money can be used to purchase food locally. This would save both time and energy, and support local agricultural economies. A 2012 Cornell University study on food aid found that local purchasing “can often afford valuable cost and time savings.”

Opponents of the proposed reform argue that the Obama administration intends to cut funding to programs across the board, which would hurt aid recipients and US food providers alike. Producing, shipping, and transporting US-grown food overseas creates jobs and supports the economy of the United States. Sending food abroad that is marked with the US flag also serves as a low-cost form of national security, by providing physical evidence of US good will and assistance.

Since the inception of programs such as Food for Peace, some international development experts have argued that the programs were more concerned with developing a market for American food products and providing benefits to US farmers and agribusinesses, than with feeding the hungry. The former executive director of the World Food Program, Catherine Bertini, stated in an email, “I am one who welcomes a 21st century proposal that is more responsive to the needs of the hungry and a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

The United States is the largest food aid donor in the world, providing over $2 billion a year in food aid. Conflicts over its role in international aid are nothing new. While the possibility exists for beneficial changes to US food aid policy, any proposed spending cuts to food aid programs should be considered with the 925 million people across the globe who suffer from hunger in mind.

Kat Henrichs

Sources: National Journal, Reuters
Photo: Stephen Raburn

Gaming That Benefits the Global Poor

This is truly unique – a virtual trivia game that benefits the global poor. With every participant’s correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to a collective pool of food aid. Five correct answers means that 50 grains are donated, and so on. The more you play, the more rice can be donated to help reduce global hunger.

Freerice.com is a non-profit website that is owned and operated by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). All food aid resulting from the gaming is delivered through this UN agency. The entire project is made possible through sponsors who advertise on the site, and it is their money that is actually being used to buy the rice.

The mission of Freerice.com is two-fold:

  • Provide education to everyone for free
  • Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free

The questions themselves serve as the educational element of the site. Players can choose the category of questions they want from math, science, or even test preparation for the SATs. Questions get harder as as the game continues, forcing players to research the answers.

The website has tracked its progress, noted by grains of rice donated, since it started in 2007. 2008 was its first full year, and the site donated a total of 12,255,121,230 grains. To date, the total is 98,290,121,816 grains – feeding millions of people. WFP averages that about 400 grams of rice are needed to feed one person for a day (two meals). There are about 48 grains of rice in a gram, so by answering 40 questions correctly, a player can have the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped another person eat for a whole day.

As the game is played, and correct answers are given, a small bowel pictured on the screen fills with rice, which fills progressively to match the progress of the player. This serves to illustrate the importance of the project, and the player’s involvement in it. Best players and top group participation and impact are also posted on the site.

There is no register or sign-in for the game, and no need to do anything other than play the game with no strings attached. Freerice.com does have over a million registered gamers who are literally helping feed the world. Perhaps even greater than the immediate benefits of alleviating hunger is the residual impact of enabling people to fully function and be productive once their extreme hunger is no longer an issue.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Freerice.com

 

Preventing A Haitian Food Crisis
Last year, Haiti experienced “the perfect storm for a genuine food crisis.” From April to August, a severe drought had hit, preventing a good harvest and causing up to 60% losses in overall food production. Increasing global food prices made it difficult for those still recovering from the 2010 earthquake to buy basic food supplies.

And then Hurricane Isaac hit in August followed by Hurricane Sandy in October and extreme flooding in the north in November. In 2011, around 800,000 or 8% of the Haitian population were suffering from chronic malnutrition. Now, that number has nearly doubled at 1.52 million and we are on the verge of an emerging Haitian food crisis.

The people of Haiti have been thrown into a difficult situation, having to work with high living costs and surviving on one meal a day. Key to speeding up this recovery and preventing a Haitian food crisis is ensuring that farmers are able to sell their produce.

As of yet, government and private businesses are slow in their response to assist the agricultural sector. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Haitian government have appealed for $74 million to help the country’s agricultural sector. As of December, less than 5% of that amount had been received.

One solution would be to have a seed bank allowing for farmers to sell their seeds while making them available to others that would need them. Another idea would be to properly utilize water as a resource by constructing dams for irrigation and electricity. Investment in seed banks and water management are just a few ideas that could help prevent an oncoming Haitian food crisis. Medium and long-term solutions making use of resources already at hand are what is necessary for a sustainable Haiti.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: The Guardian