Due to having a very busy few weeks at work this has been my first opportunity to write about my frustration at the lack of progress made by world leaders to tackle the problem of world hunger at the recent G20 summit in Cannes.
This year has illustrated more than ever why we need urgent action from our governments on this important issue. The world was shocked by the horrific images that came from East Africa where thousands of people starved to death as a result of overwhelming food shortages. Unfortunately, the situation in East Africa is not unique with the latest figures showing that nearly a billion people in the world go hungry each night.
However, despite a pledge to put hunger at the forefront of this year’s agenda, the G20 Governments still failed to put forward any concrete proposals for solving this ongoing problem.
Many commentators would argue that this lack of progress was due to the focus of the summit having to shift towards responding to the global economic crisis. While no one could argue with the merits of using the summit as a means of finding a solution to the problems in the Eurozone, there is no excuse for an important issue like the world hunger crisis being ignored at such a high profile conference.
It is therefore more important than ever that individuals put pressure on governments for action. The best way to do this is by supporting Concern Worldwide’s excellent Unheard Voices campaign.
Concern works with farmers in 25 developing countries. Through their work on the ground they understand the problem of hunger and argue that the best way to solve the problem is through more international funding for agriculture.
With more support, farmers can eat and grow more food, which creates employment and helps people to access low-cost staple food.
This investment in agriculture proved highly successful in Rwanda. Concern launched programmes in three regions of the country, which offered smallholding farmers training in appropriate agricultural techniques from the gardening of vegetables to distribution of livestock.
This resulted in an increased production and consumption of food as well as greater crop and dietary diversity. Though, most importantly for the farmers involved the programme brought them confidence and empowerment as they felt that they had been responsible for growing more food and improving their quality of life.
It is clear that investment in agricultural programmes is the best method to tackle the hunger crisis, though in recent years the UK‘s investment in agriculture has fallen – in 2008 it formed only 4% of the international development budget.
The UK has always led the way in international development. Despite cuts in this country, the UK Government kept its promise to maintain the aid budget at 0.7%. Though, it is important that this money is channelled in the right direction towards agricultural programmes that will truly make a difference in the developing world.
So, I recommend that you support Concern Worldwide’s Unheard Voices campaign. You can do this by writing to your MP to demand that he presses his party to commit to more aid for smallholding farmers. As someone who has worked in politics for many years these letters do not go unnoticed and are vital in building momentum for a campaign. It is important that we do all we can to end the injustice of nearly a billion people in our world going hungry.
To find out more about the work that Concern Worldwide does you can visit their website at www.concern.net.