May 18, 2012 | By Roger Thurow

Fighting the Injustice of Hunger

President Barack Obama issued an “all hands on deck” command to combat chronic hunger and malnutrition, which he said was “an outrage and an affront to who we are.”

Speaking at the Chicago Council’s Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, the president said the G8 – while dealing with global problems like job creation, the struggling Eurozone, and sustaining economic recovery – would also “focus on the injustice of hunger, and the need for long-term food security.”

He said the G8 leaders would open another front in the fight: a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. It is an alliance that will foster partnerships between governments from the rich world and the poor, donor countries and the private sector.

Governments, President Obama said, will agree to take the lead in building on the plans designed by developing countries to improve their agriculture. Donor countries will agree to more closely align their assistance to further these plans. And the private sector will agree to make concrete and continuing commitments to boost their investments.

The G8, he said, would sustain its commitments of three years ago to invest $22 billion in agricultural development, “and to speed things up.” Things like the development of new innovations, such as better seeds, better storage facilities and better communications for smallholder farmers to better deal with changing prices and changing climate.

He said the first three focus countries under the New Alliance will be Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania; in coming months, six more countries will be added.

And he said 45 companies, ranging from multinationals to local African enterprises, are kicking off the private sector contributions with investments of more than $3 billion.

The focus of the New Alliance, President Obama said, will be on boosting farmers’ incomes so that during the coming decades 50 million men, women and children will be lifted out of poverty. And equal focus, he said, would be on boosting nutrition along with incomes.

The New Alliance, the president said, “would put the fight against hunger where it should be, at the forefront of global development.”

“True development,” he added, “means not only delivering aid but promoting broad-based economic growth.” The purpose of aid, he said, should be to create the conditions where assistance is no longer needed; this, he noted, is the aim of his Feed the Future initiative, which seeks to create the conditions for smallholder farmers to grow enough food to feed their families and their communities so food aid isn’t needed to begin with.

Ending hunger, he said, was imperative on three fronts: moral, economic and security. A surging global population, he said, needs to be “matched by surging food production.”
Fifty years ago, he said, Africa was a food exporter. “There is no reason why Africa shouldn’t be feeding itself and exporting food. No reason at all.”

Archive


| By Roger Thurow

My Moment of Great Disruption

In a 2013 TEDxChange talk, Roger Thurow talks about the smallholder farmers of Africa and the potential for good news in agricultural development.


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Hay Festival 2013: a look at the effects of famine

In the first year classroom of Shemena Godo Primary School, in Boricha, Ethiopia, three dozen children study the alphabet. On a black chalkboard, teacher Chome Muse highlights the letter B and writes the combination with each vowel. Ba, be, bi, bo, bu.

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A Mother's Day parable from Uganda

A mother knows. “This child is brilliant,” Harriet Okaka says about her one-year-old son, Abraham.  She isn’t bragging, just observing.  “I can tell, just by looking at him,” she says, “the way he plays, the way he is.”

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1,000 Days Project

Roger Thurow’s next book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

| By Roger Thurow

Imagine this: food aid reform

As word spread earlier this week of the food aid reform section of President Obama’s 2014 budget, I wondered how Jerman Amente would greet the news.


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Give peas a chance

As the ballots were being counted in the recent Kenya election, I saw photos of people displaying the encouraging message: Give Peace a Chance.  So far, that sentiment seems to be holding.


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Forward ever

The young man from the farm was looking smart in an olive green suit, salmon tie and cufflinks.  His black shoes were a bit scuffed, but his English was polished.  “We are moving forward,” he said.  “Forward ever, backward never.”

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Learning to Fish

In the vast assembly room at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, overlooking one of the nation’s premier food banking facilities, Drexton Granberry joyfully came to the end of his speech.  


| By Roger Thurow

A Thanksgiving Tale: The Hungercloth

I often write and speak about the awful oxymoron, "Hungry Farmers." How can the smallholder farmers of Africa suffer through an annual hunger season when every morning they rise with one task: grow food for their families?


Multimedia

Videos


 


Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

» Learn more.
» Order your copy of the book.

Books

The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

Learn more »

The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

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EnoughEnough

Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

Learn more »