It is a sorry state of affairs that even though there is enough food to feed everyone in the world, 1 in 8 continue to go to sleep hungry every night. It is equally heartbreaking that 3 million children are denied a future for this reason and die every year from hunger and malnutrition. Growth stunting is rife in infants; some 165 million infants in the developing world will grow up to lead lives which are permanently impeded by this ghoulish food deficit.
This is why on Saturday me and 45,000 of my fellow compatriots assembled in Hyde Park at the Big IF, to rally the G8 leaders meeting in Northern Ireland at the end of the week to think long and hard about issues such as these, and to come up with solutions to the problems posed by hunger.
The Big IF itself is made up of over 200 organisations, many of whom were exhibiting on the day, which lent the event a real festival-like atmosphere. As I walked around before the main event I was impressed by the range of organisations on show, from your typical development stalwarts such as Concern Worldwide, UNICEF and our own GPP, down to Fairtrade clothing brands and even the Vegan Society. What's more, everyone seemed empowered with the kind of vigour that manifests itself only at these sorts of events. You could smell passion in the air.
Once the main event started we were treated to a number of talks from Danny Boyle, Bill Gates, Natasha Kaplinsky, ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and many others. Danny Boyle commended us all in carrying on a proud national tradition of “people in parks” fighting for change, all the while confident that this is “a fight that will be won”.
Bill Gates was also full of praise, commenting that “The UK is keeping its promise to the world's poor, largely because all of you remind your leaders regularly, and loudly, that this stuff matters.”
Bill Gates was on the money. After a touching segment led by Daniel Roche and Charlie McDonnell (of Outnumbered and YouTube fame respectively) and two young Tanzanians who had encountered growing up the very hunger we are all vying to end, we were then led by musician Angélique Kidjo in a mass singalong featuring a message of love and compassion she hoped would reach the spires of the Houses of Parliament.
It seems like our calls were heard. During the day's events, it broke through that at the Hunger Summit that morning, David Cameron had pledged an additional £375 million of funding towards fighting hunger. Applause erupted from the crowd. This was the icing on the cake, which certainly left me feeling vindicated that we had each accomplished something bigger than ourselves. A fantastic result.
The hard work is not over, however. There's another Big IF in Belfast this coming weekend, ahead of the G8 summit, and if anything today's event has driven into the public consciousness that we should open up the discourse around hunger. Hunger is awful, even unnecessary, and there are real solutions out there. It's just up to us to come together and speak up, to send a message to the G8 that it is not only possible to defeat hunger, but we cannot and will not abide it.
Each year, two million children die before their fifth birthday from preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and low cost ways to prevent such diseases, and so in the last 10 years, Lifebuoy has taken its handwashing behaviour change programmes to millions of people around the world. It is now aiming to change the handwashing behaviour of a whole village in central India- Thesgora.
The programmes, directed at school children, new mothers, neo-natal nurses and community groups, aim to have a significant impact on the health of the community and consequently the futures of the children in the village.
This new film highlights the significant milestone of a child reaching their 5th birthday.
The Development and Aid World News Service (DAWNS) and the advocacy platform GlobalCitizen.org, today announced the winners of the Humanitarian Reporting Grant Competition. The Competition honored independent projects that focused on telling stories related to humanitarian issues.
Over the course of three weeks, nearly 700 voters cast their ballots for 12 finalists to receive one of two $1,000 grants funded by GlobalCitizen.org and subscription sales to the DAWNS Digest global news curation service.
The two winners of the Humanitarian Reporting Grant Competition are:
Regina's project, ‘know herStory,’ will narrate 15 personal and unique stories of grassroots women leaders involved in community mobilization, HIV/AIDS, peace building, social justice, and human rights advocacy in Cameroon. Shanoor will document the lives of sexworkers in Mumbai, India, to tell the stories of their lives with a particular focus on the relationships these women have with their children.
“Our goal is to create a community of news consumers who will support compelling storytelling on critical global issues that do not often make headlines,” said DAWNS co-founder Mark Leon Goldberg.
"We hope these stories inspire Global Citizens to discover the diversity of skills and passions that are needed to end extreme poverty,” said Jordan Hewson, editor of GlobalCitizen.org. “We each can find a role to play in this movement, and these candidates have done exactly that."
The finalists included journalists, photographers, and documentary filmmakers from around the world who wanted to tell a range of stories, from gender discrimination in Gambia, to the problem of female foeticide and abandonment in India.
“It is becoming increasingly hard for reporters to bring stories to wide audiences as the journalism industry faces further and further cuts,” said Tom Murphy, co-Founder of DAWNS. “We have to find ways to report more, not less, on the global issues of poverty, violence and disease. These grants seek to support journalists and storytellers so that these important stories can be told.”
More information about the Humanitarian Reporting Grant Competition can be found at www.GlobalCitizen.org.
For further information please contact Jane Atkinson, GPP Global Director of Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org or for media inquiries: Gingold@sunshinesachs.com
In 2005, Tony Blair delivered a speech which showed in his view the importance of education in Britain, delivering the famous “Education, Education, Education” slogan. My guess is he had a vision of British children continuing to lead the world with their invention, entrepreneurship and social values.
Many times I hear educated children in Uganda talking about “being left behind the rest of the world” and how they see this as being unfair, when they have the same abilities as children elsewhere in the world. Bill Gates recently stated the importance of nutrition in developing strong cognitive abilities in children, particularly in the first 1000 days of life, closely advising how agricultural development is intertwined with family productivity and energy levels. Logic suggests, then, that a good education is central to the needs of a developing country, as creativity, problem-solving, initiative and empathy for others can help solve the issues in these countries. Right now, Africa is threatened. The presence of internet is making business there much more attractive, but with this comes exploitation and we also know how our own use of technology is giving a market that presses children to mine for components in our mobile phones.
So, this is where education can come in – it can protect Africa’s rural areas from land acquisition; it can protect mine workers from inhumane working conditions and communities from the acquisition of children into slave labour. Most of all it empowers people to take charge of their own lives. But is it working?
The Millennium Development Goals have done wonders for children in education. In the field in Uganda you can find far more children who can speak English than adults showing that the Universal Primary Education (UPE) plan has worked, at least to some extent. However, the standard of education in Primary is still extremely poor in Uganda, and surely this is down to the low level of investment in education– well below 1% of what is spent in the UK.
Let me introduce you now to Charles Obuk, who is a member of a unique project, known as the Butterfly Project in Uganda, which builds up the capabilities of young people, encouraging them to become social entrepreneurs. Charles lives in one of the most remote villages in Uganda, near the border with Sudan in the mountains. He is 15 now and he has a greater understanding of education in Uganda than you or I. His recent video on Youtube shows us the risks of investing simply in Primary education and his vision for establishing secondary schools in rural areas. Also, he elaborates on some of the other unsavoury practices in villages, which we hear too little about and he experiences firsthand. Charles believes in the power of drama to raise the awareness of these key issues in Uganda and he has run very many sessions with children, explaining their rights, but also encouraging them to become changemakers themselves.
In January 2013 Charles started a new club on his own initiative, called the Young Achievers Club, which is designed to train up other children in how to use the internet to enhance their education and how to blog to raise issues that are important to them. You can read his own latest blog here.
Charles can Skype, use Office Packages and email, present, manage a project and account for it – all at age 15 and after just two years on the Butterfly Project. He also knows about farming, how to research to reduce risk and solve problems and how important it is to be selfless in one’s life. Every member of the project can do these things and thousands more are ready and waiting to learn these same skills, now available through technology that can transform the future of Africa.
The Butterfly Project demonstrates that with just 10% of the budget allocated to educated British children, these Butterflies can learn the skills to transform their communities. For £800 per year, you can plant the seed of change in a whole community and provide a link to the rest of the world for that most remote place. Francis Ssuuna, at 17 one of the older members who is already implementing local development programmes, explains how this works here.
Children in slums and rural areas have grown up in hardship and many understand that a future without poverty and hardship for their own children and their communities is possible. Until we invest in their futures effectively, though, they will never know how to create this change.
On 23rd January, The Global Poverty Project together with over a hundred development organisations launched the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign.
Devised to build momentum and inspire action to end global hunger ahead of the UK Presidency of the G8 in June, The IF campaign brought together charities, policy-makers, politicians and celebrities for its launch event in Central London, at Somerset House last week.
The purpose of the IF campaign is to fight hunger, calling for a concerted focus on its underlying causes, namely: insecure development assistance, land grabs, tax dodging, and a lack of transparency over investments in poor countries. These issues were in turn brought to life through a 3D animation projected onto Somerset House, and presented by Lauren Lavern who introduced influential guest speakers such as Bill Nighy, Olympic athlete Mark Foster and GPP Ambassador Bonnie Wright.
We have made great strides in human progress. From halving the number of people who live in extreme poverty (the equivalent of £1 per day) since 1990, to reducing the incidence of polio by 99.9% since 1988, and enabling more than 50 million children to start going to school in sub-Saharan Africa in past 10 years, we are measurably improving the lives of our global citizens.
But in spite of these incredible achievements, an important issue still remains:
In a world where there is enough food to feed everyone, why do 1 in 8 people live with the pain of hunger? Why does hunger continue to kill more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined?
The answer, whilst complex and multi-faceted, broadly lies in the actions of our governments and corporations. We can be the generation to end global hunger, and strive for greater human well-being, IF we choose to fix the problems inherent in our global food system:
Firstly, in persuading richer nations to secure Official Development Assistance (ODA) (otherwise known as ‘aid’).
This is crucially important, as it finances the ability to meet a range of development goals, including tackling hunger and food insecurity. UK aid, for example, will help to reach 20 million pregnant women and children under the age of five with nutrition programmes by 2015.
Mobilising greater international support to secure aid is therefore vital to honour existing commitments and is importantly financially feasible. For example, to provide half the funding to tackle global malnutrition (an exiting obligation), which kills more than 2 million children every year, represents a mere 0.015% of G8 countries’ collective national income.
Secondly, there must be a global imperative to prevent irresponsible investment into the purchase of land (‘land grabs’). Although foreign investment can be a major driver of development, according to recent UN analysis, the current wave of land deals, which represents an area the size of London being sold or leased every six days ‘is damaging food security, incomes, livelihoods and environment for local people’.
Lastly, in order to effectively tackle hunger, the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign looks to encourage action on tax, and transparency. Ensuring companies do not dodge tax owed, which currently represents 3 times more than developing countries’ receive in aid each year, could raise enough public revenues to save the lives of 230 children under the age of 5 every day.
Combined with guaranteeing greater transparency in the operation of governments and corporations; creating an open forum for dialogue with local communities and small-scale producers surrounding public sector contracts, will further ensure that decision-makers are held to account for their actions.
With the upcoming Food and Hunger Summit coinciding with the UK Presidency of the G8 Summit in June, as well as the UK Prime Minister David Cameron playing a lead role on the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals, 2013 could truly represent the beginning of the end for hunger…IF we choose to act now.