For me, one of the most significant findings is that 91% of Americans want to focus on fixing problems at home rather than addressing international challenges. That’s up nine points from 82% in the 2008 poll. The survey found that 60% of Americans think economic aid to other nations should be cut back while only 7% think it should be expanded. And concerning our urgent priority at Outrage and Inspire, only 42% say that combating world hunger should be a “very important” foreign policy goal of the U.S., which is down four points from two years ago.
These attitudes stand at odds with others revealed in the survey. For instance, 51% of Americans would like to see homeland security expanded, and 30% favor expanding defense spending. These same people, who obviously value security, should also be pushing for an expansion of the war on global hunger, which requires more aid for agriculture development in the developing world not less. For surely a world with nearly one billion chronically hungry people can’t be seen as safe and secure. The rioting in dozens of countries during the shortages and high prices of the food crisis of 2007-2008 proves that.
Speaking on a panel earlier this year, I was outlining the gathering momentum in the fight against hunger: The push of the Obama administration to create Feed the Future, the commitments of the G8 and G20 leaders to increase support for agriculture development, the greater involvement of philanthropists, corporations, universities and humanitarian agencies.
“We are at a moment of great opportunity,” I said.
Tom Arnold, head of the Irish humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide, wisely interjected: “Potential opportunity.” The word “potential” came out of his mouth underlined and bold-faced.
Tom was absolutely right. The momentum was still too shaky, the commitments too unfulfilled, that adding a tone of wariness to the hope was not only prudent but necessary. Potential also summed up the high stakes involved: the forces were gathering for an historic strike against hunger, and we mustn’t let this opportunity pass.
To honor this year’s winners of the World Food Prize, this column will go easy on the outrage and heavy on the inspire.
That’s not to say David Beckmann of Bread for the World and Jo Luck of Heifer International aren’t fueled by a high level of outrage. They most certainly are, for they have been shouting the loudest from the ramparts that hunger in the 21st Century is totally unacceptable and that nearly 1 billion people going to bed with an empty stomach every night is the shame of our civilization.
agriculture, animal husbandry, Bread for the World, David Beckmann, Des Moines, Feed the Future, foreign aid, Heifer International, hunger, Iowa, Jo Luck, Norman Borlaug, nutrition, Obama administration, plant breeder, poverty, Rajiv Shah, smallholder farmers, USAID, World Food Prize
We – “we” being the rich world -- asked the poorest countries to draw up comprehensive agriculture investment plans and tell us which were the highest priority projects to boost food production. Do that, we informed them, and we will help finance the projects from a new multi-donor trust fund called the Global Agriculture Food Security Program, or GAFSP.
Twenty-two countries, many in Africa, have done what we told them. They drew up investment plans, vetted them with regional agricultural development authorities, and submitted top priority projects to GAFSP for funding in next month’s scheduled allocation. Together, the projects add up to nearly $1 billion.
But there’s only about $130 million currently available in GAFSP. That means only a handful of countries will receive substantial funding of $40 million or more. The rest will be sent away empty handed.
Africa, agricultural development, agriculture, Bangladesh, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, Congress, Europe, food production, GAFSP, Global Agriculture Food Security Program, green revolution, Haiti, House, hunger, investment plans, Mariso Lago, Millennium Development Goals, poverty, Rwanda, Senate, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Togo, U.N. General Assembly, U.S. Department of Treasury, United States, World Bank
In addition to penning his weekly Outrage & Inspirecolumn, Roger Thurow, senior fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy, has been busy raising awareness on the importance of increasing Africa's agricultural productivity in other mediums.
Click here to read Roger's recent op-ed in Canada's Globe & Mail, published during the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit.
Also, click here to read Roger's interview with Five Books, where he recommends readings on global hunger and poverty.
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