Help the world's hungry
By William M. Wehrbein on June 28, 2009
© Journal Star
An article in the June 20 Journal Star, “U.N.: World hunger reaches 1B mark,” reported that the current financial meltdown has resulted in an additional 100 million hungry people worldwide compared with last year, pushing the ranks of those who consume fewer than 1,800 calories per day above 1 billion for the first time.
This isn’t just a matter calling for private charity. Hungry people rioted in more than 30 countries last year, and soaring food prices led to deadly food riots in Haiti that culminated in the overthrow of the prime minister. “A hungry world is a dangerous world,” said the head of the World Food Program, a U.N. agency. Yet current assistance from the United States to reduce international poverty represents only one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget, and assistance to achieve American political and security-related goals outweighs poverty-reduction assistance by about 50 to 1.
The structure of the United States foreign assistance system was established in 1961 and needs revision. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to better coordinate foreign assistance so it will become more effective in fighting poverty. It would require greater input from those served by the program or project to make sure they have a stake in its success. Right now, our foreign assistance program has 33 goals, 75 priority areas and 247 directives.
This legislation would require simpler and clearer objectives and focus on outcomes. Finally, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 calls for a coordinated strategy for implementation that would encompass our federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, international agencies and the efforts of other nations.
As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, our congressman, Jeff Fortenberry, is in a position to affect the future of the world’s poor, and hence global security, in a very significant way.