Media Relations Intern, Save the Children
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The 2011 Hunger Report is a “200 page hooray” for U.S. leadership and focus on global food security, said Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann. Nodding in agreement were Mr. Beckmann’s fellow panelists, Dr. Rajiv Shah of USAID, Roger Thurow of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Inger Andersen of The World Bank, and Carolyn Miles of Save the Children.
Each night, 925 million people go to bed hungry. This number, which has increased in past years due to a spike in food prices in 2007-2008, is unacceptable. In a world of plenty, how is it that so many have to suffer through malnutrition and hunger pains on a daily basis?
This is the question the panelists addressed today as they discussed the key focus points of the Hunger Report and the programs that will help to reduce the number of malnourished children. According to Inger Andersen, one in five children worldwide is malnourished. Save the Children’s Carolyn Miles emphasized that child malnutrition creates lifelong and generational impacts: growth is stunted, immune systems are compromised, and cognitive function is negatively affected. The first 1,000 days – from pregnancy to age two – is the critical time for child development.
In an effort to eradicate hunger, the 2011 report has outlined various programs that focus on linking agricultural practices with good nutrition. Dr. Shah highlighted ways to introduce farmers to crops such as drought-resistant corn and more nutritional grains, increasing family income as well as improving health. Carolyn Miles recommended that these programs happen on the ground in an integrated way to ensure that families grow foods packed with nutrition, citing the example of a family in Guatemala that she recently visited. The family has two sons with a three year age difference, yet both children are the same height and weight because the younger son had the benefit of a Save the Children integrated agriculture, nutrition, and livestock project.
During the question and answer session, one reporter asked Dr. Shah how participating organizations will measure the success of these anti-hunger programs. Dr. Shah responded by expressing that hunger will not be eradicated in five years. This is just not feasible. However, the main goal right now is to target five to ten countries, decrease the number of people who go hungry every day, and use those examples to prove that this can be done on a larger scale.
As the discussion came to a close, the panelists highlighted the most important points to take away from the well received report. According to Carolyn Miles, it is “critical that we focus on the most vulnerable families.” In perhaps one of the most powerful statements made Monday morning, Dr. Shah concluded the discussion by calling the fight against hunger the “challenge of our time.”