Wales can help make hunger history

Lila Haines unveils a Wales-wide campaign to tackle the world’s broken food system

When he visited us last October Archbishop Desmond Tutu thanked the people of Wales for the support they had given to those oppressed by the apartheid regime in South Africa. He reminded us that things can get better. He told us to “go on dreaming” of a better future. One better future would be one in which everyone has enough to eat. As he said:

“Hunger is not an incurable disease or an unavoidable tragedy. We can make sure no child goes to bed hungry. We can stop mothers from starving themselves to feed their families. We can save lives. We can do all of this, IF we are prepared to do something about it.”

There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. Yet nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night and over two million children die from malnutrition annually. Hunger and malnutrition in childhood will trap almost a billion young people in poverty by 2025. Food prices are high and set to rise further, hitting poor people hardest both here at home and around the world. The current goal to halve hunger by 2015 is way off track.

There are three opportunities in 2013 for us to take a lead:

  • We should finally fulfil our historic promise of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on aid.
  • The UK holds the presidency of the G8.
  • The world will begin to debate a new set of global development goals which will set the ambition and vision for the next decade.

This year will see the biggest ever campaign to tackle hunger and its causes. Many organisations in Wales are already signed up to the campaign, including CAFOD, Christian Aid Wales, Fair Trade Wales, Islamic Relief Wales, Oxfam Cymru, Save the Children Wales, Tearfund, Wales Africa Community Links and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. Together, we launched the campaign in the snow outside Cardiff Castle this week.

The campaign aims to reach hundreds of thousands of people across Wales and put pressure on our politicians to take action. It will harness the power and immediacy of twitter and the reach of Facebook. It will mobilise people online in a way that hasn’t been seen before.  People will be taking to the streets, but also to their iPads, laptops and smart phones in support.

To fix the broken food system and reduce the millions currently going hungry, we need a step change. We can only do this by building a movement of millions to pressure leaders to act. Governments and companies have the power and opportunity to do the right thing. The solutions lie in more of the right kinds of investment – for example to stop children going hungry and help poor women farmers grow enough food and adapt to the devastating effects of climate change. These have been rated among the most cost-effective interventions in development.

The solutions are also about changing the reasons which currently mean that too many poor people do not have enough food. This is about enhancing poor people’s access to natural resources like land, and improving governance so that investment leads to everyone getting enough food. It is about transparency to ensure that companies pay the taxes due to developing countries – helping these countries to mobilise more of their own resources in the fight against hunger – and so that poor people can hold companies and governments to account. 

We also need the Welsh Government and the Welsh public to play their part:

  • We should ensure that the money we spend – as consumers and through government – supports fair trade, tax transparency and environmental sustainability.
  • The Welsh Government should maintain its support for the Wales for Africa programme and introduce a Sustainable Development Bill that will commit Wales to seriously fighting climate change.
  • Wales should help protect the land rights and improve the food security of people in developing countries. The Welsh Government should enshrine these objectives in its Wales for Africa programme.
  • The Welsh Government should press for the abolition of EU and UK policies to promote biofuels which drive up food prices, cause land grabs and harm the environment.

Above all, an increased understanding of the complex root causes of hunger will help people in Wales understand their role in tackling it. The Welsh Government should renew its commitment to Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship.

If our campaign’s demands are met, big strides can be made towards a world where everyone has enough food to eat, now and in future.  Getting enough of the right food gives people their future. It saves millions of lives and builds the potential for all societies to prosper. The time to act is now.

Lila Haines is Policy and Advocacy Officer with Oxfam Cymru and Chair of the IF Campaign in Wales.

One thought on “Wales can help make hunger history

  1. This article is very uplifting. And this is totally possible, providing Governments everywhere act now. But they must act with reason – and support the sustainable solution. Look at biofuels. When grown on an agricultural or plantation scale, as we’re seeing in South America and Indonesia, these are called agrofuels and are hugely damaging to both the environment and local communities. Companies are forcing people off their land, razing the rainforest and planting (often) genetically modified crops to be grown as fuel.
    Agrofuels result in replacing food for fuel. So poor people go hungry just so others can drive their cars, and bleat about being sustainable because they’re using ‘biofuels’. The UK Government and the EU support policies for using biofuels in transport. This has got to stop.

Comments are closed.

Also within Politics and Policy