Rising Food Prices
Food is the most fundamental need in daily lives. This need even comes before clothing, shelter or social interactions. Without food, the human body cannot function properly, and without balanced nutrition, children are unable to develop at a healthy rate. The recent increase in food price has tremendously negative effect on everyone, especial people in poverty.

Global food prices for meats and dairy products have been rising over the last five years. According to the Bank’s Food Price Index, the price of food in October 2013 was six percent lower than last year, but was still not far from the food price peak in August 2012. However, food price peaked again in December and became the third highest on record (United Nations agency.)  The food price increase makes it more difficult for people in poverty to finance the household. With high unemployment rate along with high inflation rate in developing countries, many people lost their ability to support the household when their incomes remain unchanged.

The reason for the increased food price is the sharp increase in demand. However, the supply for food has stayed the same. Most of food supply comes from developing nations. The increase indicates the inability to meet the demand for food in developing countries. In regions heavily affected by poverty, farmers do not have access to sophisticated machinery and seeds needed to effectively make use of their resources.

The first step will be to help farmers get proper equipment and knowledge. This is essential to solve this crisis. In the long run, they can produce food more efficiently and more effectively and drive up the food supply and the food price will decrease as the result. The second step is to help them allocate their income to better improve their farming equipment without further income support. The third step is to create a network to connect them to one another so they can share experience and form alliance to deal with crisis as a whole and not as separated entities.

Agriculture is one of the major exports in developing countries. By improving agriculture, the developing countries are not only able to have food for domestic concern but also able to spur economic growth.

– Phong Pham

Sources: New York Times, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Bank, United Nations
Photo: The Guardian

On September 26, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed the United Nations General Assembly, discussing his initiatives to create Japanese “womenomics,” an economic theory that posits the advancement and success of women in a society as directly correlated to the country’s larger growth rate.

The idea of utilizing Japan’s greatest resource—its women—is not entirely new. In 1999, Kathy Matsui, along with a variety of other employees at Goldman Sachs addressed a similar topic, suggesting that Japan could significantly increase its gross domestic product (GDP) by about 15 percent by better integrating its women.

In order to implement “womenomics,” the Japanese government will contribute over $3 billion by 2016 to increase female participation in society, aid in female healthcare costs, mitigate violence against women, and further empower women in a variety of other realms.

In a country with a rapidly shrinking population and a remarkably low birthrate, a successful implementation of “womenomics” is crucial. By introducing large numbers of women to the workforce, Japan will vastly benefit both economically and demographically. Clearly, women are the key to Japan’s future.

Of course, “womenomics” also exists as a crucial necessity in the rest of the world, particularly in developing regions like Africa. Fortunately, the Japanese government has recognized this and is now providing enormous support to Africa’s women.

Instead of working within the donor culture of international development, Japan is striving to help transform agriculture in Africa, a domain primarily characterized by female laborers. Japanese efforts have already proven successful, as many farmers’ incomes have doubled in regions of Kenya.

Tellingly, African and Japanese women—as well as their female counterparts everywhere—are the key to a thriving economy. Yet, without egalitarian access to governmental resources and support, they cannot be empowered economically. Thus, it is the responsibility of governments everywhere to support their female citizens, and thereby, support themselves.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: United Nations, Wall Street Journal
Sources: Japan Today

G-20 stands for “Group of 20 [nations]” that come together every year in a different place to discuss solutions to global issues, mainly economic issues. The 20 nations included in the G-20 summit are: Australia, Japan, South Africa, France, Turkey, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Mexico, Korea, China, Canada, Italy, Indonesia, India, the EU, Germany, the UK, Brazil, and Argentina.

At their summit once a year, these nations discuss various problems whose solutions can only be reached with international cooperation. The first G-20 session (conducted in Washington D.C., USA) dealt with the economic crisis of the time.  Ever since then, the G20 has taken the responsibility of preventing further economic meltdowns with international cooperative measures. The G20 summit is also a great place to address poverty. Helping stabilize the economy and encouraging growth will result in a better economy even in poorer nations. It would help improve infrastructure, and allow smaller nations to build their nation and economy.

This year, the G20 summit, hosted by Russia, will again tackle financial and economic problems. Russia has organized its main priorities for growth in three main categories: Regulation; Jobs and Investment; and Trust and Transparency. One of the main recommendations to ensure economic growth is to confront corruption. Corruption effectively holds back progress. Especially in smaller nations, or nations where aid is necessary to build infrastructure and economy, corruption prevents funds from reaching their destination. The G-20 committee will address the issue of corruption in October. In a solution to, and an active fight against, corruption, lies the future of the fight against global poverty.

Solving economic problems will directly impact poverty; fighting poverty will result in a stronger global economy. Attempting to address economic issues with this in mind will help the international economy, and the national ones as well. The G-20 summit, which meets mainly to address these economic issues, has the potential to greatly impact the fight against global poverty.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: G20, U.S. Department of State
Photo: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

When people ask how to help the poor, child sponsorship often is suggested. Indeed, for a small amount of money each month, organizations allow individuals to sponsor a child and help to provide education, food, and clothing for them. In return, the sponsors get a picture of the child and quarterly or annual updates from the organization regarding their child.  It has long seemed like an easy way to make an impact. The question many people ask, however, is does it really work? One development economist decided he was going to find out.

It seemed no one had ever been interested in finding the answer despite the fact that 9 million children are sponsored worldwide and more than $5 billion dollars per year is invested in child sponsorship programs. For organizations, obviously the stakes were high. If they allowed researchers to study the effectiveness of their programs, what would they do if they came back ineffective? After several years, one organization decided to allow themselves to be studied under one condition: anonymity.

The study initially looked at individuals in Uganda, studying 809 individuals including 188 who were sponsored as children. The results from the first study were any economist’s dream. The data clearly showed large and statistically significant impacts on the educational outcomes of sponsored children. It appeared the program was actually working! To solidify the results, the study was conducted in six other countries: Uganda, Guatemala, the Philippines, India, Kenya and Bolivia. Data was obtained on 10,144 individuals and the results were consistent with the first study. 27 to 40% more sponsored children complete secondary school and 50 to 80% more complete a college education. In addition to effects on education, the study found that sponsored children were also more likely to gain meaningful employment.

As a result of the study, the sponsorship organization removed the anonymity clause. Compassion International was the organization that allowed its program to be scrutinized; the results were clear that child sponsorship works. It helps lift kids and families out of poverty and provides them with hope. For more information about child sponsorship, visit Compassion International at

– Amanda Kloeppel
Sources: Christianity Today, Compassion International

Can we really end global poverty? Earlier this year, World Bank announced that we can virtually end extreme global poverty by 2030, meaning that the number of people in the world living on $1.25 per day or less would be reduced to 3%.

But while that would be a huge victory for the world, we should set our standards higher. Right now, extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 per day, and poverty is $2 per day. But even many of those with $2 to live each day don’t have access to other essentials such as drinking water and electricity. In rural areas of the poorest countries, 1 in 10 children die before their first birthday from easily preventable diseases, and $2 per day cannot afford these children the medication or vaccines they need.

Furthermore, the people who make more than $2 in poor countries (i.e. those not living in poverty) still have five times higher infant mortality rates than the poorest and most deprived areas of rich countries, which shows the gap between poverty in rich and poor nations.

Some economists suggest that the “global middle class” earns approximately $10 per day. But if we were to change the definition of “poverty” to living on less than $10, rather than $1.25 or $2 per day, we would find that 98% of people in sub-Saharan Africa would be living in poverty.

But is it really feasible to get everyone in the world living on more than $10 per day?

Economists crunched the numbers and say yes. By 2050, the population will be around 9 billion and global GDP will quadruple. They predict that the GDP related to getting everyone to the $10 per day mark would take less than 1/5 of the $300+ trillion output. In other words, it’s entirely possible if we raise our goals and fight harder to end global poverty. $1.25 will get most people the bare necessities they need to survive, but $10 will give them a much better standard of living.

Katie Brockman

Source Businessweek

Are US farmers hurt by food aid reform? The short answer: No.

President Obama’s proposal to allow the food aid supplied by the United States to be purchased more locally has obvious benefits: less travel time and expense to feed those in the greatest danger, bolstering local economies, investing in local agriculture to create a sustainable supply, and the potential of feeding 2-4 million more people.

These are obvious benefits unless you are an American farmer, packer or shipper, the three main interested parties (other than the millions of hungry around the world). These minders are not without questions of their own.

For example, one might wonder how purchasing a larger percentage of the food aid from non-US farmers is reconciled with USAID’s mission of expanding external markets for US goods?

The food crises require immediate response. According to the World Food Program, hunger kills more people than AIDs, Malaria, and TB combined. Preventable deaths per year due to malnutrition are measured in the millions. A shipment from the United States can take many weeks — time the vulnerable simply do not have. Purchasing local produce reduces the time from farm to mouth by 11-14 weeks and feeds an extra 2-4 million people.

Preventing deaths by malnutrition and all the suffering, humiliation, and diseases that go along with it allows for medium and long-term development. Medium to long-term development expands peace and US markets of goods, services, travel and tourism.

How, one may also wonder, do American farmers benefit when their jobs are outsourced and market share displaced?

US farm exports are worth around $145 billion. The US government spends $1 billion on food aid programs—a “drop in the market” compared to the enormous figure of US farm exports. Even an economist from the American Farm Bureau Federation admits, “Our concern is less about decreasing an important revenue stream for U.S. agriculture. It’s more about the loss of a sense of pride.” Despite the minimal impact, the reform proposal includes $25 million to ease the transition of US farmers affected.

Are US farmers hurt by food aid reform? With no significant job losses and no significant market share loss, US farmers’ pride cannot justify denying food to 4 million hungry people deserving of the same dignity and opportunities as them.

Katherine Zobre

Sources: USAID, The Economist, World Food Program, Reuters