Welcome to the October 2015 issue of the Global Washington newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE
- Letter from our Executive Director
- Question of the Month
- In the News: The Injustice of Food Insecurity
- In the News: What are the “Fundamentals of Food Security,” really?
- Featured Organization: Adara Development
- Changemaker: Christopher Shore, World Vision
- Welcome New Members
- GlobalWA Member Events
- Career Center
- GlobalWA Events
Letter from our Executive Director
Today is World Food Day, which serves as a good time to reflect on the conditions of hunger worldwide. While rising rates of obesity and diabetes plague the U.S., people in other parts of the world are dying from hunger-related causes. The issue of food security is more complex than simply sending our surplus overseas. But with our level of innovation and the ability to mobilize resources, we should be making progress towards reducing global hunger.
And we are. According to the United Nations, the proportion of people who are undernourished in developing countries has fallen by almost half since 1990. Increasingly, people have more income to buy food and fuel local economies. Small-holder farmers are being recognized as central to the solutions. But there are still 795 million people worldwide who go to bed hungry.
Last month, the United Nations solidified the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Goal #2 is to end hunger by 2030. It will take a multitude of solutions to make this happen and several Global Washington members are working to achieve this target. There are also U.S. government programs such as Feed the Future and proposed reforms to food aid to support local procurement. I encourage you to read on to learn more.
Congratulations to GlobalWA member Landesa, recipient of the 2015 Hilton Humanitarian Prize
Read the press release.
Question of the Month
Have you seen the agenda for our annual conference on December 10? What session and/or speaker are you most excited about?
In the News
The Injustice of Food Insecurity
By Kaitlin Marshall
In 1996, the World Food Summit defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” Though the definition of food security is broad, the concept can be broken down into three specific pillars: availability, access and safety. A lack of sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis, an absence of resources to maintain a nutritious diet and unsanitary living conditions are all causes of food insecurity. Today, there are approximately 795 million people who are undernourished because of one or more of the aforementioned conditions. The global food and agricultural system must be reformed to nourish the world’s hungry.
From the 1960s to 1980s, the “Green Revolution” swept across Asia and Latin America. The immense effort to improve farming methods helped to double food production and saved hundreds of millions of lives. Following the Green Revolution many governments and donors, believing that the developing world now had an adequate food supply, turned away from the issue of food security. The approaches that were successful for farmers in Asia and Latin America, however, failed in Sub-Saharan Africa. Even certain places that did reap the benefits of the Green Revolution are now plagued by food insecurity because the new farming techniques were not sustainable long-term.
Population growth, rising cost of living, dwindling natural resources and climate change have put a strain on agricultural productivity, causing food prices to rise. Millions of families are at risk for poverty, malnutrition and hunger. In developing countries, 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished. Poor nutrition causes nearly half of the deaths of children under age five each year.
The majority of those affected by food insecurity are smallholder farmers. Most of these farmers struggle to get by as they combat drought, pests, unproductive soil and other obstacles. Even after a successful harvest, a lack of reliable markets and supportive government policy make profits elusive. Three-quarters of the world’s poorest people get their food and income by farming small plots of land. Improving the food and agriculture sectors of developing countries is essential to eliminating hunger and poverty.
Smallholder Farmers – The Key to Food Security
Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 percent of today’s global population. 500 million small farms worldwide provide up to 80 percent of food consumed in a large part of the developing world. When farmers grow more food and earn more income, the positive effects are immense. Secure farmers are better able to feed their families, send their children to school, and invest in their farms. This results in the farmer’s communities becoming more prosperous and stable. Helping farming families increase production in a sustainable way will be critical to reducing global hunger and poverty.
What Needs to be Done?
There is much work to be done if we hope to reach Sustainable Development Goal 2 of ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030. Global development professionals must listen and work with farmers to understand how to best address their specific needs. Increasing farm productivity will require a comprehensive approach that includes access to heartier seeds, more effective tools, improved farm management practices, locally relevant knowledge and reliable markets. As climate change and population growth continue to strain natural resources, the world must embrace sustainable practices that grow more with less cost. To keep up with the ever growing demand for food, the world is in need of innovative yet lasting solutions to end hunger. Several Global Washington members are working tirelessly to support farmers in the developing world, bolster food production and ensure that the world’s hungry achieve food security.
Global Washington Members Working in Food Security
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the world and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals globally. Agricultural Development is one of the largest initiatives of the Foundation. The Foundation supports research to develop more nutritious varieties of stable crops grown by farming families, efforts to increase access to global markets, and more.
Grameen Foundation – The Grameen Foundation believes that all of us – even the poorest among us – can reach full potential if given access to the right tools and information. The Foundation works with governments and the private sector to empower farmers with relevant, timely and actionable information and financial services. Through the use of human networks and mobile technology, the Foundation is helping smallholder farmers improve their livelihoods.
Landesa – Landesa partners with governments and local organizations to secure legal land rights for the world’s poorest families. When families have secure rights to land, they can invest in their land to sustainably increase their harvests and reap the benefits — improved nutrition, health, education and dignity. Secure land rights are a critical, but often overlooked, factor in achieving household food security and improved nutritional status in rural areas of developing countries.
Lift Up Africa – Lift Up Africa supports programs that encourage self-reliance and provide solutions to disease, hunger, unemployment and lack of education. They strive to use local labor and materials whenever possible and concentrate on basic needs such as clean water, health care, adequate food supplies and dependable energy sources. Lift Up Africa aims to assist with projects that lead to independence and community ownership; to provide a hand up and not a hand out.
Literacy Bridge – Literacy Bridge is dedicated to empowering the world’s most underserved communities with life-changing knowledge to reduce poverty and disease. This is done through the Talking Book, an innovative low-cost audio computer that provides life-saving information in the form of actionable instructional messages. The ultimate goal of the agriculture messages is to increase crop yield through the adoption of best practices in farming. Farmers who had access to the Talking Book had an average increase in crop yield of 48 percent.
Marine Stewardship Council – Marine Stewardship Council aims to transform the world’s seafood market by promoting sustainable fishing practices. Half of the world’s seafood comes from developing countries, where millions rely on fish as a vital source of nutrition and income. The council’s vision is for the world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded.
Mercy Corps – Mercy Corps believes, even in the world’s most challenging places, people have the power to transform their own lives when they have the right resources. The organization responds to food shortages by providing rations and working with local suppliers to speed delivery, save money and boost local economies. In addition to emergency responses, Mercy Corps is invested in building future food security. Mercy Corps helps farmers manage their land, increase their harvests, as well as helps connect them with new markets and technologies.
One Equal Heart Foundation – One Equal Heart Foundation supports the work of the Tseltal Maya in rural Chiapas, Mexico, as they build healthy and sustainable communities. In Chiapas, most families are food insecure with almost three-quarters of indigenous people suffering from malnutrition. It is the leading cause of death and illness in Chiapas and children are especially vulnerable. Foundation partners respond to the short-term needs of malnourished children by tracking their growth and development while they are treated with nutritional supplements.
Oxfam America – Oxfam America tackles the injustice of food insecurity and hunger by unlocking the potential of small-scale farmers – particularly women. Helping small-scale farmers be more productive can lift families out of poverty and end the cycle of food insecurity that threatens communities and nations. Oxfam’s agriculture and food security programs and advocacy promote locally sustainable solutions that meet the needs of small-scale producers, particularly women. Through focused and targeted advocacy, they also tackle the underlying policies and power imbalances that keep people in poverty.
PATH – PATH strives to deliver measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. In contrast to many other health-related issues, malnutrition is completely preventable. That’s why PATH develops and promotes inexpensive and innovative health interventions aimed at making sure mothers-to-be, babies and children get the nutrients they need.
RESULTS – RESULTS is a movement of passionate, committed everyday people using their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. They work to effectively advise policy makers, guiding them towards decisions that improve access to health, education and economic opportunity. With every hour of their time, their impact is multiplied through advocacy – whether helping change policy to support millions of families putting food on the table or helping raise billions of dollars for the most vulnerable children.
The Borgen Project – The Borgen Project believes that leaders of the most powerful nation on earth should be doing more to address global poverty. They’re an innovative, national campaign that is working to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy. By meeting with U.S. leaders to build support for life-saving legislation and effective poverty-reduction programs, they mobilize people across the globe behind efforts to make poverty a political priority, including food security.
U.S. Fund for UNICEF – UNICEF does whatever it takes to save and protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Recognizing that the health, hygiene, nutrition, education, protection and social development of children are all connected, they work to ensure that children not only survive, but thrive. UNICEF battles food insecurity by tackling childhood malnutrition, stabilizing high food prices and providing short and long term responses to community food crises.
In the News
What are the “Fundamentals of Food Security,” really?
By Jim French, Senior Advocacy Advisor for Agriculture, Oxfam America
What are the necessary actions to create a just, sustainable, and resilient food system for everyone?
This Friday, October 16 is World Food Day – a day when people around the globe consider the essential role that bountiful, nutritious, and accessible food either does or doesn’t play in their lives. Unfortunately, for the majority of world’s population, having adequate, nutritious food is not a certainty.
Each year around the time of World Food Day, the World Food Prize is awarded to a person or persons who have made a significant contribution to improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. Plant breeder and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Norman Borlaug , established the award, and each year the ceremony is accompanied by a three day international symposium attracting almost 2,000 guests from around the globe to Des Moines, IA.
Since 2010, Oxfam has worked to make sure that the innovations, concerns, and voices of small-holder farmers are represented at the symposium. This year will be no exception as Tanzanian Female Food Hero, Bahati Muriga , arrives to speak in this Midwestern city thousands of miles away from the Horn of Africa and surrounded be fields of ripe corn and soybeans.
The theme of the 2015 symposium is Fundamentals of Food Security . I have been thinking about that theme and considering what “fundamentals” there are when it comes to creating food security. I suppose too many of the people attending the Prize conference it means good seeds, fertile soil, labor saving machinery, and good agronomic practices. Being a farmer in Kansas myself, I would acknowledge that these things are necessary.
But are there other parts of the food system just as fundamental to creating a world where everyone is well-fed?
Some questions come to mind: What do good seed, fertilizer and tools mean if climate change contributes to unpredictable weather, and poor harvests? What do the components of producing food mean if the market is rigged, and a farmer can’t meet her costs? What do the means of production mean if a farmer is never sure that her land will not be taken away in the next season?
These are the questions that the majority of the world’s farmers face each year – those small-holder farmers producing up to eighty percent of the food in in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. And it is in the rural areas of these regions where the greatest poverty is also concentrated.
Food production doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is built on knowledge, markets, infrastructure, investments and policies. So building a food secure world means more than buying the right seed, fertilizer or tractor. It means concentrating action where there is the greatest number of farmers and where the greatest concentration of hunger exists.
So in this World Food Day season, and when bountiful crops of corn, soybeans, and sorghum are being harvested in Iowa and my state of Kansas, it is my hope that our focus on fundamentals will include these three steps for building a productive and sustainable global agriculture system:
STEP 1: Take action on climate change. And while we are doing that, countries like the US must honor its commitment to the Green Climate Fund set up to help poor countries prepare for climate change and cut their emissions. So far, 28 countries have pledged a total of $10.2 billion to get the Green Climate Fund up and running. On behalf of the United States, President Obama has pledged a total of $3 billion to help establish the Green Climate Fund , and has requested $500 million in his current budget. Congress now must follow-through on the first installment of this pledge.
STEP 2: Reform food aid. When disaster strikes and chronic hunger occurs in specific regions, food aid should be delivered in a way that does not disrupt the markets and livelihoods of farmers within the region. One of the most efficient and effective ways of fighting hunger is procure food from local and regional sources. In the US, the bulk of food aid comes from US commodities and half of the money spent on aid goes to shipping and overhead. We can do better, by passing legislation like the Food Aid Reform Bill of 2015.
STEP 3: Focus on small-holder farmers. Those that produce the majority of the world’s food each day but face the greatest challenges of poverty and hunger – should be empowered. And more importantly, a focus on women farmers should be a priority. For example, across Africa, eight out of ten people who work in farming women, says the World Food Program.  In Asia, six out of ten are women. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that if “women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.” 
Right now, US policies that govern foreign agricultural development have prioritized gender and increased the focus on small-holder agriculture through Feed the Future administered through USAID. There is a unique opportunity to build on and make Feed the Future permanent by passing the Global Food Security Act of 2015 in both the US House and Senate.
Yes, food security needs seeds, soil, and technology. But without women farmers, like Tanzania’s Female Food Hero Bahati Muriga, feeding the world will be an almost impossible task. So on this World Food Day, don’t just thank a farmer. Take the actions necessary to create a just, sustainable, and resilient food system for everyone.
Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development, FAO, 2011
By Kaitlin Marshall
Adara Development partners with communities in remote areas of Nepal and Uganda to improve people’s lives through health and education. Adara has been in Nepal since 1998, working in the isolated district of Humla throughout that entire period. Nestled in the Himalayas in the northwestern part of the country, Humla is plagued by poverty and can only be reached by small aircraft or by hiking. “We’ve been working there since the very beginning,” said Debbie Lester, Adara’s Clinical Programs and U.S. Country Director. “We do a lot of basic health, sanitation and hygiene programs in Humla. It really started right at the bare basics.”
Forty percent of Nepali children have their growth stunted by malnutrition, and in Humla malnutrition is an even more serious problem. “As Humla is in such a remote and mountainous part of Nepal, malnutrition is a huge problem there. There is a 60% prevalence of stunting, and a 4.4% prevalence of severe acute malnutrition,” said Pralhad Dhakal, Adara’s Nepal Country Director. In the winter, temperatures frequently fall below zero and food shortages are common. To alleviate malnutrition in Humla, especially during the harsh winter months, Adara launched food security initiatives in 2004 firstly through providing families with nutritious porridge for the children.
In 2013, Adara focused on providing farmers with what they need to build and maintain a greenhouse. “What we do is a lot of different training on greenhouse construction and repair, and we supply the necessary materials to farmers,” explained Angjuk Lama, Adara’s Humla Program Manager. The greenhouses allow the farmers and their communities to supplement their diets with fresh vegetables during the winter when nutritious food is scarce. To date, Adara has assisted in the construction of 239 greenhouses and repair of about 49 that have been damaged by snow.
Adara works with farmers in each target village and provides them with the necessary materials and technical assistance to build a greenhouse, as well as the technical training. “We provide materials like the plastic sheets, garden pipes and watering cans, and then the seeds to grow in the greenhouse” said Lester. While Adara continuously improves the design of their greenhouse technologies to meet community needs, there are a number of materials that the farmers provide for themselves. “We always believe in partnering,” said Lester. “The farmers bring their labor and also core materials that are available to them. We insist that farmers construct the greenhouses themselves in partnership with Adara.”
Educating the villagers to rely on themselves is a critical component of Adara’s model of collaboration. Every village is visited regularly by Adara’s agricultural assistant. “He trains the villagers on how to use, manage and repair the greenhouses and solar dryers to ensure that they are used properly,” said Lester. Since 2013, Adara employees have led eleven training sessions to educate the farmers of Humla.
In addition to teaching the farmers how to construct and care for their greenhouses, Adara is supporting the Humli people with tree plantation and fruit orchard development. The organization also provides key technologies that allow the farmers to harvest the most from their greenhouses and orchards. Solar dryers, for example, allow farmers to “dry out their food for the cold winter months…it’s easier and more hygienic to dry vegetables and fruits without losing nutrients [this way].” Having nutrient-rich food to last through the winter has resulted in lower levels of malnutrition in children in the villages where Adara has a presence.
Adara will continue working with the Humli people to create systems that strengthen infrastructure and lead to sustainable lifestyle improvements. “There’s some new roads going in that are bridging access to Humla,” said Lester, “so that could change the food security issues going forward.” As roads are introduced, access to food increases. These foods, however, include such items as white rice “that aren’t as nutritiously dense as some that you may grow yourself.” Adara is committed to Humla for the foreseeable future, no matter what changes may come.
“The great thing about the areas we work in is having that really long-term investment and commitment, because when you are fast tracking through programs you often lose that relationship piece,” said Lester. For the Humli people, knowing that Adara is not going anywhere has led to a trusting relationship. “That goes a long way in terms of what you can achieve together.”
Christopher Shore, World Vision
By Kaitlin Marshall
There are approximately 795 million people worldwide who are undernourished due to lack of a secure food supply. A lack of sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis, an absence of resources to maintain a nutritious diet, and unsanitary living conditions are all causes of food insecurity. World Vision partners with communities to address immediate food needs and to help people learn to grow a sustainable food supply. In 2014, the organization provided $263.9 million in food assistance to 8 million people in 35 countries. At the forefront of World Vision’s efforts is Christopher Shore, the organization’s Chief Development Officer of Economic Development, Resilience, and Livelihoods.
Shore, who holds degrees in finance and business, has spent the last 25 years working in microfinance and economic development. Since joining World Vision in 1997, he has prioritized transforming the economic status of food insecure populations. “One of the basic definitions of development is that people are food secure,” said Shore. Otherwise, “we don’t have development happening.”
Shore focuses his team’s work on building improved and resilient livelihoods for the world’s 500 million small-holder farmers. Despite depending on agriculture for their living, small-holder farmers are often the least food secure population. Degraded land, unpredictable markets, and erratic weather patterns caused by climate change threaten to hinder the crop production and profits of farmers on a daily basis. “Their economic returns are so low,” said Shore, “that they do not create a buffer to be able to deal with shocks. Any shock can decapitalize them, leaving them even more vulnerable, and more food insecure.”
A crucial component of creating sustainable farming practices is teaching farmers how to adapt to climate change. World Vision’s environmental projects include reforestation, soil quality improvement, and improving water irrigation. “The farming system has to, [for example], be able to cope with the ups and downs of rainfall,” said Shore. The farmers “have to have boosted their productivity enough so that the normal variations in prices aren’t going to wipe them out.”
In addition to preparing farmers to handle environmental changes, World Vision is equipping them to handle market fluctuations. By providing agriculture and business education and microfinance opportunities, Shore has developed a model to help smallholder farmers lift themselves out of poverty. One of World Vision’s tactics for teaching financial expertise is inviting smallholders to join savings groups. As the groups save, they lend the money to each other and charge interest. The savings groups build financial capital and human capital because the farmers learn financial literacy. “They learn how to save, they learn how to borrow, they learn how to do the lending, and they understand those financial processes,” said Shore. Through the savings groups, farmers earn more money and realize they can work together to improve their agricultural prowess. World Vision also assists smallholders through financial services and access to microfinance lending. Under Shore’s leadership World Vision has built one of the largest networks of microfinance institutions in the world, which is increasingly focused on agricultural lending.
All of Shore’s strategies, from the savings groups to microfinance lending, are helping World Vision reach one goal: “to move smallholder farmers completely out of poverty.” Farmers, according to Shore, are critical to the global issue of food security because their productivity has the potential to increase massively. “We can help them be more productive, more profitable, more resilient, all at the same time.”
Shore describes himself as an economic development guy who began understanding the issues of climate change and realized how much the environment affects smallholder farmers. By working with farmers on environmental and economic issues, he wants to provide smallholders with the greatest economic transformation of their lives. “This sounds absolutely audacious, but our goal really is to end poverty in those places we are working, said Shore. “We’re aiming to use market mechanisms to make that happen.”
Welcome New Members
Please welcome our newest Global Washington members. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with their work and consider opportunities for support and collaboration!
The Mifos Initiative
The Mifos Initiative aims to speed the elimination of poverty by coordinating a global community that builds, supports and uses Mifos X, a free and open source platform that enables financial service providers to more effectively and efficiently deliver responsible financial services to the world’s 2.5 billion poor and unbanked. www.mifos.org
October 15-25: Tasveer Seattle // South Asian Film Festival
October 22: Shoreline Community College // How to Believe in Universal Human Rights Without Being a Moral Imperialist
October 24: NPH USA // Gala Dinner and Auction
October 24: Women’s Enterprises International // Harambee 2015 – 15th Annual Dinner and Celebration
October 25: Living Earth Institute // Annual Fundraiser Dinner
October 29: Global Partnerships // Annual Luncheon
October 29: Sahar // Annual Fundraising Dinner: A New Day, A New Voice
November 4: International Foster Care Alliance // Appetizers and Wine Fundraiser
November 7: Water1st International // 2015 Give Water Give Life Benefit
Software Developer, Lead, Mobile Health Innovations – Grameen Foundation
Application Development Manager – SightLife
Monitoring & Evaluation Manager – Splash
For more jobs and resources, visit https://globalwa.org/resources/careers-in-development/
October 22: Networking Happy Hour
December 10: GlobalWA 7th Annual Conference