Transformative change to end hunger in our world

February 2, 2013 11:00 am

The launch of the ‘Enough Food IF’ Campaign to eradicate hunger worldwide is an important reminder that even the most basic of necessities remain out of the reach of many.

In a world where there is enough food to feed each and every one of us it is deplorable that  one in eight people go to bed hungry each night and over two million children a year die from malnutrition.

The campaign’s call for the government to show global leadership and generate action to eradicate global hunger has my wholehearted support. Hunger is a powerful lens which illuminates uncomfortable truths about the continued inequalities in our global society. This was a point made painfully clear in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis when those with the least lost the most.

It is vitally important to increase public engagement, raise awareness about the factors that contribute to food insecurity and increase pressure on the government to make progress.

In the past food crisis after food crisis has been reported in the media and there is always another breaking news story waiting to take its place. We have an opportunity to do better and we must seize it.

Last year I was personally involved in highlighting the food crisis in the Sahel which demonstrated the varied interventions needed to address the chronic problem of hunger; from short term disaster relief to long term investment. Four of the Sahel countries, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali are in the bottom 15 of the Human Development Index and even in a good year, without exceptional weather or political unrest, Oxfam have reported that 300,000 children will die from malnutrition. Tackling child nutrition could add billions to the global economy as children are able to fulfil their potential. It makes sense morally to take action now but it makes economic sense as well.

What is particularly exciting about the ‘Enough Food IF’ campaign is its strong focus on the transformative change that is needed to end reliance on aid through long term improvements to transparency, building strong institutions and addressing the significant problem of tax accountability. Alongside this the campaign’s call for more effective interventions to support small-scale farmers, improvements in land governance and adequate finance for climate adaptation highlights the key issues which can make a difference.

As part of the Millennium Development Goals we promised to halve hunger by 2015. Improvements have been made. The Proportion of those hungry in Ethiopia fell from nearly two thirds to under half. Yet the truth is that we have little chance of achieving this target.  I am pleased to see that the campaign asks for the government to make good on its broken promise to legislate its commitment to spend 0.7 percent of GNI on development and it is vital that this finance is spent on interventions to prevent hunger.

The UK must use its role as chair of the G8 and co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on a post 2015 framework to lead the global response to hunger. We need lasting transformative change to make the world a more transparent and a more accountable place. This campaign tackles the issues at the heart of the problem and calls on the UK to lead the world in much needed action. A world without hunger is a world in which everyone has a more equal chance of success and survival.

Tony Cunningham is a Shadow International Development Minister. This post is part of International Development weekend on LabourList – you can join the debate on these issues at YourBritain

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