April 30, 2014

Combating Global Hunger

Mr. CARDIN.  Mr. President., today I would like to discuss global hunger.  From April 28 to May 2, people across the United States and across the globe are participating in the “Live Below the Line” campaign to raise awareness for global hunger and to show support for the critical programs that seek to alleviate hunger.  Participants in the “Live Below the Line” campaign, including many of my constituents in Maryland, are subsisting on $1.50 a day to demonstrate the challenges faced by millions of people each day.  Right now, more than 1.2 billion people involuntarily live on less than $1.50 a day for food and drink.

 

Children are particularly vulnerable to hunger and undernourishment.  Studies show a child’s entire life is shaped by whether or not she or he receives proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of her or his  life.  And tragically, 3.1 million children under the age of 5 die each year as a result of poor nutrition and hunger.

 

When we think of global hunger, we often think of Sub-Saharan Africa where 223 million people (24.8 percent of the population) face food insecurity.  Or we think of Asia, where more than 500 million people suffer from hunger.  In Laos, for example, 50 percent of children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished.  And in Burma, it is estimated that about 35 percent of children are undernourished and stunted.

 

But hunger is not just a problem for developing countries.  Families across America and in my home state of Maryland are also struggling.  According to the latest U.S. department of Agriculture report on Household Food Security in the United States, 12.5 percent of all households in Maryland were food insecure between 2009 and 2011, and more than 27 percent of children in Maryland are living in poverty.

Proper nutrition is not just important to individual health, it is critical to the long-term health and success of nations.  Poor nutrition and rampant hunger results in a less healthy and less productive workforce, hampers economic development and growth, and ultimately perpetuates the cycle of hunger and poverty for successive  generation.  It shouldn’t be that way; every child should have the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.

 

Thanks to organizations like the World Food Program USA and the United Nations World Food Program, who together work to solve global hunger, the number of hungry people in the world has fallen by 17 percent since 1990.  And in 2013, the World Food Program provided 24 million school children in 60 different countries with meals at school.  This not only reduces undernourishment and hunger, but also incentivizes school attendance.  We need more programs like this, and we need more people to be aware of this issue, both here in the United States and abroad.

 

With the world population expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, transforming how people farm and what people eat is the only way, I believe, to ensure food security for future generations.

We are making great strides in global food security, particularly through the U.S. Feed The Future Initiative, which focuses on building sustainability and resilience into communities by transforming how people farm and what people eat.

 

In 2009, then-Secretary of State Clinton said, “We have the resources to give every person in the world the tools they need to feed themselves and their children.  So the question is not whether we can end hunger.  It's whether we will.”

 

Ending global hunger and poverty will not happen tomorrow, but if we continue to coordinate with our global partners, harness the power of the private sector and the NGO community, and use our development aid in the most effective and transparent way possible, we will have much better outcomes.  The United States must be relentless in striving to assure that no one goes hungry.

 

 

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