Tag Archives: The Hunger Project

Getting Smart about Food

When I first started putting together this blog I referred to my second indicator as simply “Food.” But after writing the initial post, I had to change it to “Good Food” as I realized that unless you are in an emergency famine situation and there is no other alternative, sending massive quantities of rice, wheat, and corn to developing countries is about as good an idea as stuffing Americans full of donuts, potato chips, pizza, and drinks laden with corn syrup. (If we’re looking for clues to the global obesity and related diabetes epidemics, there might be a few there.)

Recent news stories have been (in typical panicky media style) focusing on projected food deficits and the need for a second “Green Revolution” to increase the quantity of global food production. More food needs to be grown, the experts seem to be saying, and more land needs to be more productive.

We don’t need More Food. What we need is Better Food and Better Education (We also need Better Distribution. Much of the world’s food simply gets wasted through either inefficient systems or outright corruption both in the developed world and in the developing world. But that is a subject for another blog!)

At a recent Hunger Project gathering in New York, John Coonrod summed up our misunderstandings bluntly, pointing out that one thing both the developed and the developing world have in common is that, “We are all stupid about nutrition, rich and poor!”

The predominant theory across the planet still seems to be that there’s not enough quantity but fortunately there are more and more people out there advocating for quality.

You can watch this short series of discussions sponsored by the BBC on how to eliminate poverty to see one particular person, Vandana Shiva, a scientist and grassroots activist from India, explain how empowering small farmers (and not empowering large corporations) is a big part of increasing quality while eliminating poverty and hunger.

Trees_for_LifeIn Africa, the Moringa tree, found to be unusually rich in vitamins, is being cultivated in several countries providing a reliable nutrition source to stave off famine.

In the U.S., people are also questioning the large food companies and their methods, given the evidence of obesity rates climbing.

And there is a growing movement to simply grow your own which tends to be higher in nutrition. I am not the world’s best gardener but I have managed to grow a few tomatoes and some herbs this past summer on my small porch. (Maybe if we all grew one thing, there would be no “food deficit”?) This TED talk also sums up how small groups of people might be able to grown some of their own food, learn something about nutrition, and make their community a better place to live!

Like John said, we’re all stupid about nutrition, but it’s time to get smart!

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC


Talking Our Way to a Better World

I think I’ve figured it out. The way to a more equal world for both men and women I mean. It’s really simple.

Talk. Then talk more. And keep talking!

And network, market, exchange ideas, information, maybe even recipes or photos, but keep communicating. Sometimes it’s at a networking meeting, sometimes it’s a conversation on an elevator. Sometimes it’s even via Facebook chat, or Skype, or Twitter. (Chellie Campbell, author of The Wealthy Spirit, had a great piece on the value of talking/networking recently.)

There are, always shocking to we women in the West, countries where women are not allowed to speak very much. I suspect, besides the myriad of political, cultural, religious and discriminatory reasons for this, there is another one lurking underneath, and that is that, when women start really talking and communicating, wow, can we get things done!

One of my favorite examples of what happens when women are empowered and speak out is very visible in this short video from The Hunger Project:

THP recently started a Cause on Facebook to encourage people to have one conversation about how empowering women can help end poverty. All you have to do to participate is talk.

I have to admit that sometimes talking and speaking out is a challenge for me. A lot of times I just assume that the people around me are on the same page as me, and it comes as a huge surprise when I suddenly discover they aren’t! I’m also shy, afraid of making mistakes, of looking like an idiot, of being hurt, all those and more. But watching the video of the woman above puts all those excuses into perspective.

And I took the THP pledge and have had several conversations already!

So, talk, talk more, and then talk some more!

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC

Self-reliance and Sustainable Change to End Hunger

I’ve watched this new video from The Hunger Project Australia several times now and am just so impressed each time about how clearly and concisely the basic principles of self-reliance, empowerment, and vision are explained. In 5 minutes, Dr. Badiul Majumdar, Country Director of THP Bangladesh, and the THP-Australia group, mostly business people, encapsulate the basics of how we really can end hunger, not just in Bangladesh, but world-wide.

I will be going to a presentation by Dr. Majumdar in June — please let me know if you are going too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Heather McC

An Abundance of Energy

I’m going to start linking my posts to Facebook from now on — not sure yet about the rest of the social mob! (I’ve been keeping this blog under wraps as I try to figure out where it’s going as well as get it into decent enough shape, so apologies to those of you who didn’t know about it!) I will also be donating $5 to every non-profit I highlight in my posts the day I post, and linking to the Causes app in Facebook. (I anticipate that some of them will be featured multiple times so this will be ongoing.) Please feel free to join in if you want and not if you don’t! This is just one way I thought I might make a tiny bit of a dent in moving our planet closer to 100%!

Sometimes I wonder if in all of our panic to avert global warming by coming up with alternative energy sources, that we haven’t inadvertently invented so much that we will actually have an over-supply of energy in the not-too-distant future.

I know it sounds crazy but: solar energy farms are popping up in deserts from north Africa to the Mojave to the Atacama high desert in Chile; wind power is going gangbusters in the U.K. (especially Scotland which is currently getting 35% of its electricity needs through alternatives including wind), in Texas, and in China; hydro-power is also on the upswing with lots of new dams planned, albeit with quite a bit of controversy surrounding them — Chile wants to build a huge dam across some of its rivers; China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan are all arguing about how to manage both the water and energy resources of the great rivers that wind down from the massive mountain ranges in Central Asia; and in Africa, a proposal for a huge dam in Ethiopia is on the agenda (which will also affect neighboring Kenya); and methane, biofuels, biomass plants, wave and tidal energy, geothermal, all are moving forward.

And all of this isn’t even taking into account the constantly accelerating pace of technological development in energy science. Batteries (able to store wind energy) are becoming likelier by the minute; harnessing the simple difference of electric potential between seawater and freshwater may soon become a reality; and there are too many others to put them all down here. Beyond all that, many energy efficiencies are being implemented (particularly in lighting, where there are huge amounts of waste to that are being rapidly eliminated with new LED bulbs.)

Alternative energy is also swiftly becoming an integral part of development in rural areas of the world, leap-frogging older power technologies altogether in some cases. Some examples of this include The Hunger Project‘s epicenter programs in Africa: in Senegal at the Namarei epicenter where solar panels are providing power for patient care; in Mozambique at the Zuza epicenter to pump water and provide light; and at Iganga Epicenter in Uganda (in partnership with AHEAD).

Yes, we will probably still need oil, gas, and nuclear for a while. But I am not really sure any more how much longer that will be the case!

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC

Ending Hunger

Wouldn’t it be great to end hunger worldwide once and for all? For a long time, this seemed like an impossible dream. Then, in the latter half of the 20th century, the Green revolution in agriculture began, aid organizations began to look at what really worked, and infant mortality began dropping. Today, a little over half the people who were dying of hunger or hunger-related causes 40 years ago, are lost each day. And that’s with a significant increase in world population!

So what about Somalia? This is about as broken a country as you can find. But, on February 3, the U.N. announced that the famine was “over” (though acknowledging that huge amounts of work still needed to be done). The rains had returned, and people began returning to their homes to plant crops and put their lives back together as best they could.

What seems to have been overlooked in the whole crisis by the media is that, despite the large numbers of deaths and the initial slow response of the international community, the reaction, when it happened, was actually quite quick and effective. Refugee camp space with neighboring countries, Kenya and Ethiopia, was secured; aid organizations even reached out to Al-Shabab and succeeded in getting into previously off-limits territory; the capital, Mogadishu, was re-taken by African Union troops, and the Somali government, previously in exile, moved back in.

Just a couple of decades ago, Ethiopia was enveloped by famine and it took years to get under control. Whatever the international community’s failings this time around, the fact that this famine was relatively under control in less than a year, speaks volumes about changes in the approach of the aid community. Lessons were learned and lives were saved in Somalia, which gives me much new hope that we really can end global hunger and poverty.

Thanks for stopping by,

Heather McC

P.S. For a great piece on current trends which are heading towards ending hunger, see this excellent summary by The Hunger Project’s John Coonrod!