As the CEO of an organization working on the frontlines of hunger in 25 of the world’s poorest countries and a recent appointee to the United Nations’ SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) Lead Group, it is a responsibility I must bear as well, and I feel it deeply.
I traveled last year to the Horn of Africa during the height of the drought that pushed 12 million people to the brink of crisis. I had witnessed suffering and death caused by hunger before, but I was nonetheless shocked. We are at a point in human history when famine should no longer be in our vocabulary, and food security and hunger should no longer be viewed strictly as a “poor country” problem. We can and must correct these deadly errors.
Concern this week has released a report, “The Time is Now: The G8’s Opportunity to Make Undernutrition History,” that details our recommendations on how the G8 funds should be distributed so that they have maximum impact.
We call on the G8 to renew its food security initiative and target women smallholder farmers in particular. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, if women had equal access to productive resources, yields could increase by 20 to 30 percent in low-income countries, a jump that could greatly reduce food insecurity and increase purchasing power among small-scale farmers.
The G8 should also expand its investments beyond smallholder farming to also include other interventions such as social safety nets and protection systems, increased access to direct nutrition services and stronger health care systems. Social protection systems in countries like South Africa, Brazil and Mexico have helped lift the poorest out of extreme poverty and sustainably increase their food security.
It should, of course, also place particular focus on scaling up nutrition during that crucial 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and a child’s second birthday.
Let us all commit to meeting again some 1,000 days from now, having actually taken ‘decisive action to free humankind from hunger’ and to report on the evidence of the millions of lives saved and futures changed by the commitments that must be made by the G8 at Camp David. There is too much at stake.
CONCERN EVENTS AROUND THE G8 SUMMIT:
Tom Arnold will be speaking at three events around the 2012 G8 summit. This includes two events that Concern Worldwide is hosting along with fellow NGOs, academic institutions, for-profit companies and other stakeholders to push the G8 to renew its commitments to food security and nutrition. The first was on May 17 in Washington, DC and the second is on May 21 in Chicago. He will also be speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Third Annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on May 18 in Washington, DC, where President Obama will also be a speaker.
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