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Founder of BRAC Wins World Food Prize-TBP

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has won the 2015 World Food Prize for his incomparable efforts in reducing both poverty and hunger primarily in Bangladesh and several other nations. BRAC, Abed’s organization founded in 1972, stands for the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. BRAC was created to help alleviate Bangladesh from economic struggles brought on by a war with Pakistan and destruction from a tropical cyclone. Since its inception, BRAC has blossomed into the largest nongovernmental organization on the planet.

Abed was selected as the 2015 recipient of the World Food Prize specifically because of BRAC’s unprecedented success in pulling people out of poverty. According to The Guardian, BRAC has alleviated approximately 150 million people from poverty since it began in 1972.

The organization’s effectiveness comes from an extreme hands-on approach spearheaded by Abed himself. He is quoted as saying, “We went to every household in Bangladesh teaching mothers how to make oral rehydration fluid at home to combat diarrheal deaths. That also made it possible for BRAC to become a very large organization very quickly and to expand our programs throughout the country.” By taking a grassroots approach, Abed has integrated BRAC with the everyday problems of poverty and drawn out solutions.

What sets BRAC apart from other relief agencies, as well as makes Abed a unique individual, is the empowerment it gives to those in poverty. Specifically, BRAC gives the most power to women and young girls.

Abed explains this rationale in an article published by Agri-Pulse. He said, “In situations of extreme poverty, it is usually the women in the family who have to make do with scarce resources. Only by putting the poorest, the women in particular, in charge of their own lives and destinies will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the earth.” Abed’s thinking has been a clear success as BRAC has only become more effective in the 43 years it has been serving the poor around the world.

– Diego Catala

Sources: Agri Pulse, The Guardian
Photo: World Food Price

global_hunger

Currently, the number of people who face hunger is around 750 million people. The number of people living in hunger has been reduced by about 167 million people in the past 10 years. In the past year alone, the number of hungry people dropped by 10 million people.

This is incredible progress!

One of the main focuses of the Millennium Development Goals is to eradicate global hunger. Global hunger has dropped considerably, and this is a moment to recognize all that has been accomplished.

In South America, less than five percent of the population faces hunger. The number of hungry people has dropped by 50% in the past 25 years. Central and South East Asia, as well as Northern Africa, have seen a drop in the number of hungry individuals.

However, 44 percent of countries did not accomplish the Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger by 50 percent in the last 15 years. South Asia still has 281 million people who suffer from hunger. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 23 percent of people do not get enough food.

Political instability in Sub-Saharan Africa may contribute to why hunger is still a problem. Twenty-four countries in Africa are currently experiencing food crises. This number is up from the 12 countries who were experiencing food crises in 1990.

Recently, bountiful food harvests and low oil prices have made the price of food drop considerably. These factors could have played a role in why hunger has been dropping.

Beyond economic growth, countries also have to focus on inclusive growth. For example, social investments, such as cash transfer programs, employment projects, food distribution schemes, healthcare and education could all reduce the number of hungry people.

Food is a basic necessity. It is extraordinary news that global hunger has dropped below 800 million. We need to continue to prioritize eradicating world hunger. If we continue progressing in this way, it is conceivable that world hunger could be eliminated.

– Ella Cady

Sources: Reuters, Deseret News,
Photo: Flickr

phone_app_feed_the_hungry
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, ranking behind paper, food is the second largest source of waste.

Twenty-five-year-old Komal Ahmad, who graduated from the University of California at Berkley in 2012, is solving this problem by feeding millions of people with her phone app, Feeding Forward.

In 2011, Ahmad was approached by a homeless man who asked her for money. Instead of cash, Ahmad offered to take him to lunch. As they ate, she discovered he was a returned soldier who, after some bad luck, now made his living begging on the streets.

Ahmad was overwhelmed by his situation. Determined to help others like him, she started a program at UC Berkley where cafeterias donated excess food to homeless shelters. Soon after, the program expanded to 140 colleges across the United States.

But Ahmad didn’t stop with the food recovery program.

“Imagine a football stadium filled to its brim,” Ahmad says. “That’s how much food goes wasted every single day in America.”

In 2012, Ahmad collaborated with a developer and they launched the Feeding Forward mobile app in 2013. The app originally targeted restaurant owners and event planners in San Francisco who could use the app to donate leftover food to homeless shelters. By entering their location into the app, a Feeding Forward driver picks up the leftover food and delivers it to shelters in the area.

In addition to the app, Feeding Forward has its own website.

Since Feeding Forward launched, Ahmad has recovered more than 691,896 pounds of food, which fed more than 570,000 people.

Now the CEO of her nonprofit organization, Feeding Forward, Ahmad says, “We need to figure out how to establish sustainable solutions that can distribute the food we already have faster and get it to people who need it faster and safely.”

Ahmad’s mobile app is proof that quick and successful distribution can feed the hungry.

In early June 2015, Feeding Forward partnered with the Bite Silicon Food Valley food-tech conference in Santa Clara, California. Over the course of three days, celebrity chefs prepared a wide range of meals. After the event, Feeding Forward collected 5,135 pounds of food which fed more than 4,279 people in eight different homeless shelters.

Around the world, the Feeding Forward app is praised and desired.

“I didn’t expect it to blow up,” Ahmad says. “People as far as Nairobi, Bangalore and Hong Kong have wrote us asking us to expand Feeding Forward to their cities and countries. They’re like, ‘Tell me what I can do to get it here.’”

The mobile app is currently being revamped. It will be available again in August 2015. The website, however, is still up and running.

Feeding Forward offers hope for other countries struggling with hunger and food distribution.

Ahmad says, “These are huge cities that have absurd amounts of food thrown away every day. We are trying to make the Bay Area a case study to say ‘Hey, if it works here, it can work anywhere.’”

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: CNET, Daily News, Feeding Forward, News Everyday
Photo: Architect Africa

history of hunger
The presence of chronic hunger and the highest rates of obesity is one of the greatest paradoxes of our time. According to a study done at Ohio State University, “It is part of a single global food crisis, with economic, geopolitical, and environmental dimensions. It is perhaps the starkest, most basic way in which global inequality is manifest.” While world hunger is proliferated by unequal resource distribution, the mechanisms of interconnected societies offer viable tools to alleviate suffering.

A myriad of non-governmental actors exist today to combat world hunger, including the World Food Program, Action Against Hunger, Doctors Without Borders and the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. While these international mechanisms have developed to meet recent needs, world hunger has existed throughout the course of human history.

 

World Hunger: Tale as Old as Time

 

There have been a variety of food systems over time. For a large portion of history, humans hunted or grew food for their own consumption, and food traveled only short distances from source to stomach. This does not mean, however, that long distance food exchanges were not present. From spice trades to acquiring “exotic” foods from colonies, a “mercantile food system” was present from 1500-1750. This was replaced by the “settler-colonial” regime during the nineteenth century in which white settler colonies traded luxury and basic foods and goods in return for European manufactured goods. The “productivist” food regime emerged after World War II which was characterized by food industries and the re-emergence of European and American agricultural protectionism. The idea that the entire world can experience a “food crisis” was coupled with the idea that one can foment a world free from hunger.

A neoliberal food regime has developed since the 1980s. Characterized by multinational and corporate power, this system has promoted a “global diet” that is high in sugars and fats at the expense of traditional or local diets. This trend in food is caused in part by globalization, and creates an intricate relationship between the individual and multinational corporations, local and distant farms and the environment.

Chronic hunger and food security are inherently connected. Citizens of the most industrial places on the planet still experience hunger on a massive scale. According to the vice president of the Poverty and Prosperity Program of the Center for American Progress: “people making trade-offs between food that’s filling but not nutritious…(this) may actually contribute to obesity.” Regarding larger scale suffering, extreme causes of world hunger include poverty, powerlessness, armed conflict, environmental overload and discrimination.

While hunger is understood differently across time, space and culture, it is important to alleviate this problem of chronic hunger. One must investigate sustainable solutions to the root causes of the problem, and these long-term solutions should be implemented by local peoples.

Neti Gupta

Sources: Freedom from Hunger, National Geographic, Ohio State University
Photo: Flickr

food riot
Throughout history, food shortages have led to civil unrest. Most notably in recent history, the Global Food Crisis of 2008 spurred an outbreak of food riots around the world. Now, with food prices increasing at the highest rate since 2008, political leaders are concerned that a similar outbreak of food riots may be on its way.

In the beginning of 2014, international food prices rose 4 percent. In the time between January and April, food prices spiked to a level just short of their all-time high in August 2012. The rapid increase is similar to the surge in food prices in 2007 and 2008 that led to so many food riots.

If history repeats itself, the recent food price hikes give government officials adequate reason to worry.

The difficulty with monitoring food riots is that the term is loosely defined. In broad terms, a food riot is some sort of public disturbance raised in response to food’s availability. Interpretations of this definition, however, are as varied as the riots themselves, leading to a great deal of confusion surrounding the topic of food riots.

How severe must the disturbance be to earn the title of a riot? A food riot is generally a violent protest. Participants have been known to harm other citizens or police forces. In return, police forces respond with brutality to control the situation. Some news articles will only cite occasions that have resulted in casualties as food riots.

Other news sources believe that any public response to food-related issues falls in this category. They report even the most peaceful demonstrations as food riots.

Where is the proper balance? How can the media successfully educate the public on these world events without an accepted definition of a riot?

In the wake of recent food pricing inclines, The World Bank has developed a widely accepted definition to guide examinations of these conflicts. Their 2014 Food Price Watch defines a food riot as “a violent, collective unrest leading to a loss of control, bodily harm or damage to property.”

The definition has helped The World Bank determine which episodes in the recent past were actually food riots. A database of food riots between 2007 and 2014 has since been collected, revealing that 51 riots have taken place in 37 countries.

The cause of food riots also prompts confusion. Increasing food prices are not the only cause of riots. In Vietnam, decreasing prices of coffee have resulted in violent outbreaks in the past. A decline in value of major exports can have just as strong of an impact on a nation as unavailability of food and other resources.

The World Bank has also established guidelines for the causes of food riots, saying that they are “motivated by a lack of food availability, accessibility or affordability,” whether directed at the government or other groups.

There are two types of food riots. In a Type 1 incident, the riots are directed at the government. Distress takes its form in public protests outside of government buildings, often in response to rising food prices. It is the most common form of food riot reported in the media because their causes often have international implications.

In a Type 2 episode, rioters demonstrate near food suppliers because they are not politically driven. They attack supply trucks, stores or refugee camps. These riots are more locally focused and occur during times of drastic food shortages.

Defining food riots helps aid organizations determine how to best help areas experiencing food shortages to prevent violent outbreaks. Government officials know how to respond to rising food prices by studying food riots of the past. By alleviating causes of global hunger, aid organizations and government officials can increase peace in underprivileged nations.

– Emily Walthouse

Sources: Food Price Watch, Global Issues, Slate, The World Bank
Photo: NPR

Bread_For_The_Word
Bread for the World, a Washington D.C. based nonprofit organization, is urging government leaders and communities of faith to end hunger.

Every day, around 16,000 children die from hunger related causes. 1.5 billion people live in extreme poverty in developing nations around the world, but developed nations are not exempt from the problem of hunger – nearly 15 percent of those living in the U.S. have struggled with food insecurity at some point in their life.

Motivated by the belief that ordinary people can do “plenty” to end global hunger, Bread for the World seeks to empower U.S. citizens to voice their support of hunger-fighting policies to their elected representatives. A bipartisan “collective Christian voice,” their network includes thousands of individuals, churches and denominations – therefore creating an impact that reaches far beyond their local communities.

After analyzing policy, Bread for the World creates strategies to move toward their ultimate goal – to end hunger at home and abroad. The movements they create within churches, campuses and other organizations help build political commitment to overcome poverty. Bread for the World accomplishes their work with integrity, earning a four star Charity Navigator rating and spending an impressive 82.9 percent of their budget on deliverable programs and services.

Bread for the World Institute, the educational wing of Bread for the World, exists to conduct extensive research on food policy and provide information to Bread for the World’s advocacy network. Their studies empower constituents with information to ultimately change the politics of hunger.

For 2014, Bread for the World is focusing its efforts on reforming U.S. food aid, calling for the economically powerful U.S. government to use their resources more efficiently and effectively. Bread for the World estimates that with improvements and changes, 17 million more people could benefit from food aid each year without any additional costs to taxpayers.

Find more information and extensive educational materials, visit www.bread.org.

– Madisson Barnett

Sources: Bread For the World, Charity Navigator
Photo: Food Tank

end_world_hunger
Out of every eight people, one of them will go to sleep hungry tonight. Ending world hunger takes many different forms, including donations, volunteering and education. Those who suffer from chronic hunger are more likely to be affected when famine hits or when they fall ill. To alleviate chronic hunger and food insecurity, it is necessary to come up with sustainable solutions that empower small farmers, women and locals.

1. Target Food Producers
Focusing on small farming communities has been the focus of Heifer International for nearly 70 years. This organizations helps small farmers increase productivity in order to create a surplus that can be sold or provided to hungry people. Heifer was established on the philosophy, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

2. Connect Farmers to Markets
In Gulu, Uganda, small farmers can bring their corn to a warehouse built by the World Food Program, have it cleaned, dried and stored, and the farmers can then sell their cleaned corn for $400 a ton. Normally, these farmers would only be able to sell their corn for $100 a ton. The Purchase for Progress program links the WFP’s demand for food commodities with the expertise of partners to support smallholder farmers. By providing a market for smallholder farmers, Purchase for Progress has helped farmers increase crop quality and sales.

3. Empower Women
Women often have unequal access to resources, education and income, making them more susceptible to hunger than men. However, when resources are given to women, they use it more effectively than their male counterparts, ensuring that food gets to their children. In many countries, women make up the majority of farm laborers – in Africa, eight out of 10 people engaged in farming are women and in Asia, six out of 10 are women.

These three solutions to ending world hunger are part of a larger solution: improving production and access to food for the hungry. By helping smallholder farmers, connecting local farmers to each other and to the marketplace, and empowering women, progress can be made in terms of ending world hunger.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: CNN, Freedom From Hunger, Huffington Post
Photo: UN

World Hunger Facts
You have been asked to write a school report on world hunger.  What kinds of information would you find and possibly include?  Well, as a start, hunger is defined as “the continuing deprivation in a person of the food needed to support a healthy life.”  For millions of people around the world, food insecurity and hunger are a daily part of their lives.  Millions of human beings, young and old alike, are not getting enough vitamins and minerals their bodies need to properly function, causing damage to their health and ultimately destroying their lives.

World hunger is a problem that can be solved.  The first step is being educated on what it is.  Below is a list of ten world hunger facts to help get you started.

1. Out of the nearly 7 billion people in the world, there are roughly 870 million who are hungry (more than the populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union combined).  This means that around 12 percent of the global population is undernourished, consuming less than the minimum amount of calories necessary for strong health and growth.

2. Causes of hunger include: natural disasters (accounting for less than eight percent of victims), conflict, poverty, poor agricultural infrastructure, environmental exploitation, climate change, harmful economic systems and unstable markets.

3. The majority of hungry people (nearly 98 percent) live in developing countries, with over half in Asia as well as the Pacific and a quarter in Sub-Saharan Africa.

4. In the developing world, 66 million primary school-age children go to class hungry.  The United Nations World Food Programme calculates that $3.2 billion is needed annually to reach these children.

5. Women account for 60 percent of the world’s hungry.  The number of those hungry could be reduced by up to 150 million people if female farmers had equal access to resources.

6. Each year, 17 million children are born undernourished, due to the mother’s lack of nutrition during pregnancy.  Roughly 100 million children (1 out of 6) are underweight.

7. Annually, 15 million children die due to hunger-related causes.  Poor nutrition, specifically, accounts for nearly 3.1 million children’s deaths.

8. The world produces 10 percent more food than is needed to feed the entire globe. International trade and distribution imbalances affects poorer countries the most, as food tends to get distributed to those with the most money.

9. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 people in developing countries face vitamin and mineral deficiencies, with deficiencies in vitamin A, iron and zinc ranked among the leading causes of death through disease.

10. Effects of hunger include: high infant-mortality rate, susceptibility to common illnesses, increased risk of infection, increased vulnerability in times of disaster, stunted development and stunted economic growth

The above statistics are meant to serve as a preliminary overview of world hunger.  When writing any report, it is important to think critically about the statistics and facts you come across.  A critical thinker will dig deeper into the causes and consequences of an issue, and what can or should be done to address it.

Stand out among your classmates and focus on a specific aspect of world hunger that allows you to develop a meaningful analysis and conclusion.  The first step to becoming an advocate for change starts with knowing your cause and all the factors that surround it.

Rifk Ebeid

Sources: World Food Programme, Do Something Org, United Nations Resources for Speakers on Global Issues, Womenaid International, World Hunger Education Services, Freedom from Hunger, The Hunger Project, World Food Programme Hunger
Photo: Food Navigator

food_sovereignty_agribusiness
This past Thursday, the World Food Prize, given in honor of those who fight global hunger and foster sustainable agriculture, was awarded to Monsanto. This company and others like it claim that their practices and the goal of these practices – to produce more food – will ultimately end world hunger. However, Monsanto’s policies – which include resource grabbing, creating genetically modified (GMO) seeds and lobbying for questionable free trade agreements – do more harm than good.

Monsanto and other agribusinesses regularly expand into developing countries where their seeds create cycles of dependency for farmers, many of whom are women, while failing to alleviate the burden of hunger or poverty in these countries.

According to the United Nations’ recent Trade and Environment Review for 2013, “the world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development from a ‘green revolution’ to an ‘ecological intensification’ approach.”

In other words, the world needs sustainability, which can’t be obtained through Monsanto seeds that limit or eliminate plant diversity. Rather it is smaller farms, using organic farming practices and diverse crops, that will improve soil health and sustain communities. And there are many such farms doing just that.

The Food Sovereignty Prize, like the World Food Prize, is also granted to companies that fight hunger and promote sustainability. Unlike the World Food Prize, however, the Food Sovereignty Prize this year went to groups that fight against GMO foods, free trade agreements and resource grabs made or supported by agribusinesses. Their winners included Haiti’s Group of 4 and South America’s Dessalines Brigade.

Group 4, in particular, has led the movement against agribusiness likes Monsanto. Representing over a quarter million rural farmers, Group 4 was formed in 2007 to provide a place for Haitian farmers to mobilize and to voice concerns. After the earthquake in 2010, Monsanto offered the country over $4 million worth of seeds. Group 4 made it a priority to stop those seeds from reaching fruition.

It was also Group 4, alongside Via Campesina, the global peasant movement, that coined the term “food sovereignty.” Adding to the spectrum of security and sustainability, food sovereignty is the idea that people have a “right to define their own food and agricultural systems.”  Rather than working under corporations or policies that displace farmers into foreign countries or force mass production of certain crops, food sovereignty is about prioritizing the farmer, the distributor and the consumer.

– The Borgen Project

Sources: AlternetHuffington Post
Photo: DailyMail UK

ending_global_hunger
Ending global hunger, to many, seems like an impossible goal. The thought of every human on earth going to bed with a full stomach is preposterous. But why should it be? For every child that goes to bed hungry, there is some food being thrown away in another part of the world. We live in a world of excess, yet 1.4 billion people live under the poverty line. It is entirely possible to address the issue of global hunger.

One organization that is bringing awareness to the causes and the solutions to global hunger is Millennium Villages co-founded by the Earth Institute at Columbia University. They focus on helping individual villages increase the production of food; this would not only help feed all the villagers, but would also stimulate the economy. They also provide villagers with essentials that will maximize crop yield: seeds, fertilizers, wells, and other essentials. While they seem like small additions, such things can significantly affect villages in the long term.

Seeds and fertilizers will help ensure the crops that have the most potential are the ones that are planted. The importance of wells cannot be stressed enough. Especially in extremely hot areas, wells can provide access to water to help take care of crops. A good crop yield will feed not only the populations of the villages, but would also decrease the rates of infant mortality, if pregnant women and children receive appropriate care. Also, allowing schools access to safe meals will ensure that students stay healthy and in school.

With more educated children, families have the opportunity to rise out of poverty, as well. In addition to helping villages with crop production to deal with global hunger, Millennium Villages also provides health care for pregnant women and children, makes sure that education and gender equality receive great importance, and creates access to technology and funds for small businesses. All of these measures will invigorate the environment, helping those living in poverty rise from it, while simultaneously addressing global hunger.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: Earth Institute, Millennium Villages, The Borgen Project
Photo: Women Thrive