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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hunger Rarely Shows Up Uninvited.

Previously, we acknowledged that hunger threatens the present and robs the future. But are we willing to take the next step in our journey through the not so obvious and acknowledge that hunger rarely shows up uninvited?

We, through our decisions, either invite hunger into the lives of the poor or force it to leave.

Follow the money, or as is so often the case, the breadcrumbs that fall from the table.
In nearly every situation where chronic hunger is present and busy laying waste to families, countries, and regions, we observe that hunger’s presence, more often than not, originates in decisions made by people. Sometimes the decision-makers are affected by their decisions. Most times, however, they are not.

The problem for the poor of our world is that a marginal decision, made either directly or indirectly by someone else, can have dire consequences. The poor can be forgiven for making decisions that end up harming them – in nearly every situation, they simply do not have the resources or knowledge needed to make beneficial decisions in an environment that has become increasingly hostile and marginally livable. The same, however, cannot be said of others, whose decisions are based solely on profitability or power.

For example, someone decided that food would be no different than a barrel of crude oil and should be traded as such.
The commoditization of food contributes to the persistence and broad presence of hunger in our world. The extraordinary concentration of power and dollars within the global grain trade is but one example. Estimates show that as few as four massive transnational corporations control somewhere between 70 to 90 per cent of the global grain trade. Billions of dollars are up for grabs. One of these corporations alone generated 62 billion dollars in earnings in one year. With billions of dollars at stake and millions of people at risk, it is not hard to guess which number will win out in the end.

In the end, the common element  is people and the decisions they make.

Next week... Caused by people, solved by people.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hunger – The Real Story is in the Not So Obvious.

Even the infrequent news watchers among us can grasp the obvious - hunger is and will continue to be a major threat to the well-being of families in the developing world. In fact, hunger is firmly entrenched in first place on the list of the world’s top ten health risks.

What is not so obvious, however, is the scale of the threat, let alone the long-term consequences.

In moving from the obvious to the not so obvious we discover that worldwide, nearly one billion people live in a state of chronic hunger. This means that 1 of every 7 of us is going to bed hungry tonight. Narrow the geographic scope a bit and you find, in sub-Saharan Africa for example, that 1 in every 4, or 240 million people, will go to bed hungry tonight.

Focus on the plight of children in the developing world for a moment and we discover a very sobering fact. Hungry, undernourished children will account for at least half of the 10 million child deaths worldwide this year.

Mothers are not spared the suffering of their children. While women make up just over half of the world’s population, they account for more than 60 per cent of the 1 billion hungry people in the world today.

What happens to mothers happens to their children. Mothers who are undernourished often give birth to underweight babies. These babies are 20 percent more likely to die before the age of five. And when we consider that as many as 17 million children are born underweight every year, the consequences come into sharp focus.

Drilling down a bit deeper, we find that chronically undernourished children suffer up to 160 days of illness annually. Their bodies, beaten down by hunger, are simply unable to cope with the relentless assault of poverty.

Delving a bit deeper still, we see tangible evidence of the long-term ramifications of hunger in that more than 178 million children under the age of 5 are well below the average height for their age - their growth stunted by chronic hunger and undernourishment.

Without taking anything away from the tragedy that is the short-term consequences of hunger, the long-term consequences are equally troubling. Hunger impairs learning and human development in all age groups. It feeds hopelessness, and it enables a status quo that no person of conscience can abide.

In essence, hunger threatens the present and robs from the future.

Even economies are negatively impacted by hunger. In countries with elevated levels of child undernourishment, the loss, in economic terms, can be as high as 3 percent of gross domestic product.

You know the situation is well beyond tragic and well within the realm of the unconscionable when the number of people killed by hunger worldwide pales in comparison to the number of people who survive but remain in a state of chronic hunger and risk.

Next week... Hunger Rarely Shows Up Uninvited

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Putting Tools in Hands, Hope in Hearts, and Food on Tables

Decades of poverty and war has left the families of Bogalengba, in Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo, trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Hunger is the norm and earning a livable wage is as rare as having enough food to eat, or a child not being terribly sick every second or third day.

The years have not been kind to these families. Poverty has prevented them from attaining the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to coax both a bountiful harvest and livable income from the soil. This despite the fact that the soil beneath their feet is fertile enough to grow almost anything you can imagine.

In essence, the soil is incredibly rich and the people are incredibly poor.

Unable to grow enough food to feed themselves, chronic hunger and severe malnutrition are considered a way of life.

But thankfully, with your help, we can put tools in their hands, knowledge in their minds, and a sustainable supply of nutritious food on their tables.

With an armload of sturdy gardening tools, a huge bag of seeds, and agricultural training specifically developed to help families learn how to do everything from planning for a bountiful harvest right through to transporting and selling a portion of the harvest at the best price possible, families will be able to free themselves from poverty.

Their desire and your support will ensure that the families of Bogalengba become as rich as the soil they walk upon every day. And by rich, we mean having enough food to eat, earning a livable wage, and having hope in their hearts.

Learn how you can help the families of Bogalengba today.