As you walk into a coffee shop and order a latte in the morning, or customize your lunch order, it may sometimes cross your mind that being able to choose food is a luxury. In many parts of the world, food itself is a luxury.
Around the world, one in nine people do not have enough food to eat and 45 percent of deaths of children under the age of 5 can be linked to poor nutrition. When this is the case, you do anything to save a child – emergency supplementation, food rations for the family. And to solve the problem long term – hunger has been halved over the past two decades – you help provide the community members with the tools they need to change the course of hunger and malnutrition.
In 2009, the United States government launched Feed the Future, an initiative to support agriculture development in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia – and by doing so, poverty and malnutrition has been reduced as well. Feed the Future helps to fight hunger by empowering women, implementing new science and technologies, and creating strong partnerships. You can read more here. Earlier this month, a progress report on Feed the Future was released. Here are just a few of the highlights.
When a child is stunted, it means that they are in the bottom percentile for height compared to other children their age – most likely due to not having the nutrients they need to grow and develop. Beyond physical appearance, stunting has lifelong, irreversible effects, including a delay or break in cognitive development and a drop in productivity as an adult.
- In Cambodia, data show a 21 percent reduction in childhood stunting in Feed the Future programs.
- In Bangladesh, there was a 14.4 percent reduction in childhood stunting across the two major regions where Feed the Future programs are concentrated.
- Feed the Future helped families grow stronger by reaching nearly 9 million children under 5 through nutrition programs in Africa.
When comparing indicators of poverty, including the number of small businesses, the amount of land used to grow food using improved technologies, and the dollar value of farm sales – numbers are significantly higher in regions where Feed the Future has been implemented. See the comparisons for Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.
- In Honduras, incomes of Feed the Future beneficiaries increased by an average of 55 percent, and incomes for extremely poor families – approximately 125,000 people – nearly doubled.
- According to preliminary estimates, Bangladesh has experienced a nearly 16 percent reduction in poverty in areas where Feed the Future works.
- In Uganda, there has been a 16 percent decrease in poverty in rural areas, including where Feed the Future works, from 27.2 percent in 2009–2010 to
22.8 percent in 2012–2013. National poverty levels declined from 24.5 percent in 2009–2010 to 19.7 percent in 2012–2013.
- In 2014, Feed the Future helped nearly 2.5 million African farmers use new technologies and management practices and spurred over $306 million in new sales over the 2010 baseline on the continent.
Real Lives Changed
- In Haiti, a quarter of a million children under age 5 received vitamin A supplements through Feed the Future, and more than half a million children were reached with nutrition programming.
Hadija Ramiya’s first child, Sam, was sickly and vulnerable to ailments since birth. Without access to diverse foods or information, Hadija relied on local wisdom to guide his early nutrition. After participating in a Feed the Future nutrition program, she’s gained tools and knowledge that have helped put both Sam and her second child, 3-year-old Tunda, on a healthier path.
How can you support Feed the Future? By supporting the Global Food Security Act [this action has expired].
The Global Food Security Act (S.1252/HR. 1567) is a bipartisan effort to address chronic food insecurity and malnutrition. This legislation would further advance the recent gains made as part of the Feed the Future initiative, and the Global Food Security Act would authorize this whole of government approach to food security, ensuring this initiative remains a U.S. development priority far into the future.
Both the House and Senate bills call for a comprehensive U.S. food security strategy that will further reduce chronic hunger and malnutrition, all while promoting a country-led approach to development that leverages unique partnerships with non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector, and educational institutions.
Specifically, the bills advance:
Country Ownership, Accountability, and Transparency
- The Global Food Security Act ensures close partnership with the governments of the 19 Feed the Future countries. Through collaboration with these countries, Feed the Future supports national agricultural development strategies and furthers productivity and market-based economic growth. These efforts help to ensure programs are sustainable over time which helps to lessen dependence upon international foreign assistance. The Global Food Security Act also promotes accountability and transparency, ensuring US investments in the Feed the Future initiative are being thoroughly evaluated as well as monitored, tracked, and reported.
- The Global Food Security Act seeks to increase agricultural production and the incomes of both men and women in rural areas who are reliant on agriculture for their livelihoods. By promoting improved agriculture development, families will have greater tools and resources to combat poverty and hunger. And, studies have shown that for every one percent increase in agricultural income per capita, the number of people living in extreme poverty is reduced anywhere from 0.6 to 1.8 percent. Further, by investing in long-term agriculture development, countries are better able to feed their own people and absorb various shocks to its food systems thereby reducing the need for emergency food aid and other assistance.
Women’s Empowerment and Nutrition
- The Global Food Security Act recognizes the significant role female farmers play in ending hunger and malnutrition. Currently, nearly half of smallholder farmers are female, but unlike their male counterparts, they often lack access to proper tools, effective seeds, financial services, and land tenure rights, which severely limits their output and reduces economic opportunities. If women had the same access to these inputs, they could increase their farm yields by 20-30 percent, which could help reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million. Additionally, the Global Food Security Act also prioritizes nutrition for women and children, and in just last year alone more than 12.5 million children benefited from nutrition interventions.
Photo: Lillian, age 9, helps her father harvest maize in Uganda, a Feed the Future country. © 2015 World Vision