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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fighting Hunger Right: IFPRI Findings and Your Donation

If you are in the businesses of caring about the world’s poorest people, you know that they have entered into a new and very scary phase of allocating more and more of their wages towards buying food.

We’ve talk about the food crisis often. High food prices are something the wealthy grumble about; for the poor they translate into actual hunger pangs and undernourished bodies.

A report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reiterates a lot of what we already know. The food crisis is caused by “growing demand for biofuels, extreme weather and climate change, and increased financial activity through commodity futures markets…These challenges are exacerbated by historically low levels of grain reserves, export markets for staple commodities that are highly concentrated in a few countries, and lack of timely, accurate information on food production, stock levels, and price forecasting, which can lead to overreaction by policymakers and soaring prices.”

While Asian countries have taken great strides in lowering the incidences of malnourished people since 1990, Africa remains a place where people struggle to get enough to eat. However, one nation, Ghana, has lowered its ‘Hunger Index score’ (meaning it has become a place where more people get enough to eat and fewer children are malnourished die before the age of five).

How did Ghanaians do it? The IFPRI attributes it to “a combination of investments in agriculture, rural development, education, and health, including strong increases in the rate of immunization against common childhood diseases.”

This particular finding is encouraging to us, and should be to you. Think about it. Your donations constitute precisely these kinds of investments. Your donations mean that agriculture, rural development, education, and health are being bolstered in small villages across the world where hunger is a serious problem. Where governments might be failing to make these kinds of investments, you, as a compassionate and active friend of the poor, are stepping in. You are getting the job done. Even if you do it more slowly than a national government with the political will to make good policy decisions could, you are doing it. You are on the right track.

Our feeling has always been that we shouldn’t wait for any government to take care of what we are ready and able to accomplish. When we read reports like the IFPRI’s, we can be encouraged - and hopefully even more motivated - to stay the course of solving the problem of hunger by making the right kind of investments.

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