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May 23, 2012

Are the World's Wealthiest Nations Doing Enough to Fight Hunger?

Groups appear less enthusiastic after the G8 summit’s position on food security and nutrition programs.

G8 leaders gathered at Camp David over the weekend where President Obama announced the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, striving to move 50 million people out of poverty by 2022. Organizations who work to reduce hunger and poverty commended U.S. leadership on food security, but some criticized other G8 nations for falling behind on their commitments to help the world's poor.

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Three years ago the leaders from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., the U.S., Canada, and Russia gathered in L’Aquila, Italy. In a global recession, the world's wealthiest nations promised to assist the world's poorest countries, pledging $22 billion by 2012 to improve agriculture and food security. The U.S. is on track to meet its L'Aquila commitments by the deadline, but the G8 nations as a whole have given only 38 percent of their contributions, according to World Vision.

Adam Taylor, World Vision's vice president for advocacy, said the G8 nations need to fulfill their promises and distribute the remaining funds.

“While we applaud the real progress that has been made on food security and nutrition, if we had to give the G8 a grade right now, it would be ‘incomplete',” Taylor said in a statement.

Neil Watkins of ActionAid USA commended the U.S. for increasing its commitment to fight hunger, but he criticized other nations that have fallen behind on their commitments and have not promised to continue them into the future.

“Without a clear pledge to sustain L’Aquila public funding levels, this year’s G8 will be remembered as the summit that buried the L’Aquila pledge to fight hunger,” Watkins said.

Food security was not the top economic issues for the G8 nations that face their own recessions, a looming currency crisis, and austerity measures. With belt-tightening at home, G8 nations are less willing to provide aid to the world's poor.

Oxfam's Gregory Adams said the G8 nations are using the classic break up line, “It's not you, it's me,” as the reason for not fulfilling their commitments.

“Breaking up is never easy,” said Adams, “but the G8’s unwillingness to sustain their promises comes as the challenges facing poor people around the world are only getting harder.”

Obama also announced the New Alliance, a partnership between G8 nations, African countries, and private enterprise.

World Vision President Richard Stearns said that the New Alliance will be a success only if it helps children and others in need.

"Greater private investment is needed, but so is greater investment from developing country governments and donor countries. This investment is required in both agricultural development and basic health services for mothers and children if we are to ensure adequate nutrition for all children,” Stearns said.

The G8 nations represent about one-eighth of the world's population, but their economies make up about half of the world's wealth, according to the World Bank.  According to World Vision, 18 million people in West Africa face hunger, and three million include children under five.

Comments

Christians should support governmental action to feed the hungry but we shouldn't be waiting for others to act. We are the richest people in the world and God expects us to measure up to that responsibility with generosity from the heart. Instead, we are buying bigger cars than we need, living in houses bigger than we need, taking more cruises than we need and eating more in restaurants than we need, not realizing that someone in the world is starving because we are not sharing.

Yes Lloyd, pleasure is a sin, God hates it when we enjoy the fruits of our labor. Just kidding, but seriously Americans give more than any other country, but often the restrictions in other countries limit the effectiveness of that giving. And if we do away with capitalism how will we have the ability or initiative to earn money to give?

Nearly every time this subject of the poor and hungry of the world comes up the writers neglect to enclude the real problem that needs taken care of before any real progress can be made.... The rapid population groth is far outstriping the ability of the earth to provide the needs and wants for all the people. If the pop0ulaion is not reduced drastically the problem of not enough will become normal for us all.

Population growth is not the main problem of why people are starving, there is still plenty of food. People forecasted that by the year 2000, half the world would die of starvation, but there is still plentiful food. But just like in the US, corruption is the name of the game.

Many tons of bushels of wheat have been sent to India and other countries, and it has been allowed to go to waste because the the rats eat it. They can't kill rats according to their religion, because they believe their grandmother or someone may be reincarnated into that rat, so there goes the food and the resultant famine. Even in other countries, there is not an adequate method of distribution of donated food and supplies. The reason that the poor often don't get the food is because their leaders are criminals, and they sell off the food that has been donated to the poor to the highest bidder. There is tremendous criminal actions by the leaders of most third world countries (and by politicians in general), at the expense of their own people starving. And you don't see the billionaire sheiks donating and helping their own people with all of their wealth. There is no need for their people to be starving and without housing, and living in garbage dumps, which they are doing. It's mainly due to corruption.

I would humbly request that we all prayerfully remember that this “subject,” in the abstract, is ultimately about people – of infinite worth. Jesus succinctly summarized God’s greatest commandments. “The bottom line” is to love (sacrificially and agape) God and people. Mr. Stearns, an MBA, explains this interrelation clearly, simply, and sincerely, yet eloquently in “The Hole in the Gospel,” associated assignments, suggestions and materials. Though I stop short of an “endorsement” of any fallen human Leader and organizations consisting of us, upholding His special revelation, I would also echo his recommendation to consider “The Poverty and Justice Bible.” Neither Mr. Stearns, nor the President, a born-again Christian, is forcing a choice between Capitalism OR Government. As in any endeavor, this is another example of BOTH-AND, not the oft used false dichotomy of EITHER-OR. Any sincere exegesis of Scripture reveals that, in general, God’s heart and will consistently demonstrate deference for “the least of these,” the poor, sick, oppressed, outcast, etc. This is consistent with World Vision’s mission statement. Fulfilling our commitment first is the very essence of “leadership by example.” By doing so is, at the very least, a good-faith effort that honors God and thus increases the possibility that the U.S. (re)gains/maintains some semblance of our moral authority in crucial, potentially explosive, international affairs. Likewise, “The Circle of Protection” unified professing Christians, liberal, conservative and mainline Protestants as well as Catholics within the U.S. This was in stark contrast to the priorities in the partisan budget passed by the U.S. House, estimated by “Bread for the World” to transfer “about $50,000 dedicated to feeding people every year for the next 10 years.” For Christians, in and of itself, this is - in a word - UNACEPTABLE!

That said, I affirm the genuine concerns of Tom, Eve and Loyd. Although, foreign aid is a relatively small part of our budget all taxpayer-funded aid in comparison with DOD expenditures and the consequential military overextension (and the priceless cost of human life). This has once again been proved by the ill-advised, so-called “wars of choice,” as well as “private enterprise” for that matter; all must be continually scrutinized. This requires the accountability built into our “system of checks and balances,” that functions best with our exceptional democratic-republic government and, at this time, effective public-private-non-profit partnerships. After all some, but not all functions, like foreign policy, are best addressed at a Federal level, others at the state and local level and still others by small business, and some by multinational corporations. But ultimately, as Loyd emphasized, the ideal is for the people of God’s Church to do what the worlds’ most influential radical, Jesus did.”

Casey, I think we can move past stereotypes of India, Hindus and the Middle East. India is self-sufficient in food and many, many Hindus are perfectly okay with killing rats. That said, there are problems with distribution and cost of food. In some Muslim countries like Saudi and UAE, there is a central fund for zakat (alms to the poor- one of the five pillars of Islam) that is taken out of income like a tax. But wait- there are hungry people in Saudi Arabia and the UAE? I'm pretty sure there are more in the USA. That said, corruption is a major issue in solving hunger issues!