Food security refers to always having physical and economic access to a sufficient amount of food for leading a productive and healthy life. An individual is “food secure” when he or she does not have to live in hunger or fear of hunger. However, this not a reality for nearly 1 billion people worldwide. These individuals represent the world’s “food insecure” population, living in chronic hunger. Food insecurity has devastating consequences for productivity and health, especially for children. Each year more than 3.5 million children die from undernutrition, and those who manage to survive it still suffer from severe physical and cognitive problems.
The great injustice of global hunger is that at a given moment, there is enough food in the world to feed its entire population. The problem isn’t one of scarcity, but rather availability and access. In that respect, hunger is intricately linked to poverty and the structural political, economic and social inequalities that create it. As such, creating food security is a crucial part of any efforts at international development.
Our work on food security is led by our student Hunger Campaign Team. Find out more about their priorities for 2011-12 below.
Why we should care:
Here in the US, the consequences of food insecurity, though serious, may appear limited to those countries in which it is most rampant. But in reality, achieving food security serves our most vital national interests.
- National economic interests: Food security is fundamental to sustainable economic development worldwide. It allows individuals to create their own livelihoods, build thriving communities and markets and lift entire communities and nations out of poverty. This can stabilize the global economy and the global food market, generate demand for US goods and build stable trading partners, all factors that reinforce a healthy economy in the US.
- National security: Food security lays the groundwork for stable and peaceful societies. When food prices inflate, civil unrest often follows, and in 2008, the food crisis led to protests and riots in North Africa and the Middle East. Such uprisings can lead to collapse of political and social structures, making countries vulnerable to radicalism, totalitarianism and violence.
- Moral leadership: As the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world, the United States recognizes its moral imperative to use its resources to protect human rights and promote democracy around the world. The devastating consequences of hunger deserve the compassion of the American people, and intervening showcases our good will to the rest of the world and paves the way for similar responses from other developed nations. Our commitments to food security have leveraged billions of dollars from other donors. In that sense, international cooperation to end chronic hunger begins here. As a young adult in America, you have the power to reduce poverty and injustice around the world!
How is hunger being addressed?
The most recent food crisis reminded the international community that chronic hunger is a global problem requiring global solutions. In particular, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals include a commitment to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015.
At the 2009 G8 Summit, President Obama pledged $3.5 billion through the Feed the Future Initiative (FTF) to support agricultural development and food security programs over a three-year period. FTF specifically aims to accelerate the achievement of MDG1 by comprehensively addressing the underlying causes of hunger and under-nutrition through investing in country led-plans, strengthening strategic coordination of agricultural development efforts, leveraging the benefits of multilateral institutions like the IMF and World Bank and making sustained and accountable commitments.
This year, Americans for Informed Democracy’s Hunger Team is teaming up with ActionAid’s global Activista network to campaign against global hunger. Together, we will be providing opportunities for you to take informed action around crucial moments for achieving food security worldwide including:
- Protecting foreign aid, in particular money for Feed the Future
- Speaking out about harmful biofuel subsidies
- Demanding investment in poor country ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change
- Demanding US action around the famine in the horn of Africa
Get involved! Join the conversation on our blog. Host an event or run a campaign on your campus. Speak to your decision-makers. Find our more on our Take Action! page. We accept applications for our Hunger Campaign Team on an ongoing basis. Find out more on our Opportunities page.