I feel like I need to start this post by acknowledging how out of place it will seem on this blog. Broken down, this blog is really about the fact that I eat too much food; it’s about the fact that I’m a glutton who has too much access to some of the most incredible food in the world. It’s also about my (failed) attempts to eat less and stop being so greedy and fat.
So…yes. It’s certainly a strange place to be writing something about world hunger, but I went to an event last week which was put on by Save the Children in conjunction with Emily O’Hare and Danny Bohan, Head Sommelier and Head Chef respectively at The River Cafe. The event, #foodiesvhunger, was to tell food bloggers about the “Enough Food For Everyone IF” campaign. Apparently, 1 in 8 people in the world is hungry, yet there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone. Two million children die every year because they are hungry. If I’ve done the maths right, that’s 1 child every 20 seconds.
My friend Brie, who is a campaigner for Save the Children, has just returned from Ethiopia where she met people who had either been helped by Save the Children or were on a waiting list to be helped. Zenebu Meresa (below) is 22, divorced and has a 10 year old daughter. Zenebu had another daughter but when the baby became sick and needed food to survive, Zenebu was unable to provide it. Her baby died when she was 18 months old. Zenebu is on the waiting list to receive 5 sheep and training in sheep rearing, but until she gets them, she and her daughter survive on, at best, 2 meals of ugali per day.
Photo credit Jiro Ose/Save the Children
Brie also met Abadit, shown below, who is a widow with 7 children. Up until two years ago, Abadit struggled to feed her children; they ate 2 meals a day made up of cereals with no protein or vegetables. She had a small plot of land which she was unable to maintain on her own so she couldn’t grow anything on it. Two years ago, Save the Children gave Abadit a dairy cow and training in animal husbandry. She now has 2 pregnant dairy cows and makes milk and butter which she sells. From the income from the milk and butter, she can now employ men to work her land and she now grows vegetables and grains. Her children are no longer hungry.
Photo credit Jiro Ose/Save the Children
While Brie was telling us about the people she had met, we were invited to try the ugali. Ugali is maize meal mixed with water. It is pure carbohydrate and has pretty much no nutritional value, yet it is what many people survive on. I can honestly say that I have never tasted anything before that tasted of absolutely nothing. Water has more flavour than ugali. It was a very stark reminder of how lucky I am.
So, Save the Children is doing some amazing work by providing people with the means to generate an income and make their own food, but the simple fact is that they can’t give everyone a cow or sheep – it’s just not possible. And that’s where the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign comes in. Sarah excitedly told us that with the G8 summit taking place in a couple of weeks’ time (which the UK is hosting) we are the closest we’ve ever been to ending world hunger. She outlined the 4 main issues that the campaign is tackling, in short:-
- Aid – the UK has committed to spending 0.7% of its gross national income on life-saving aid. The campaign wants the UK to put pressure on the other G8 nations to put more into life-saving aid.
- Land – big companies are forcing poor farmers off their land and are growing crops for fuel rather than food, leaving millions hungry.
- Tax – close the loopholes that stop big corporations from paying the tax that they owe in poor nations and enable the countries to support their farmers to grow enough food to feed everyone.
- Transparency – apparently there are corrupt practices between governments and companies which, ultimately, lead to children going hungry.
On Saturday 8 June, a week before the G8 Summit, David Cameron is hosting a Hunger Summit in London. While it’s going on, the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign is holding an event in Hyde Park called the Big IF to raise awareness and make some noise, to show people that world hunger can end IF changes are made.
I sat down to an incredible meal which included probably the best prosciutto I’ve ever tasted, a beautiful tomato and pecorino risotto, rabbit with borlotti beans and a ridiculously decadent chocolate nemesis cake and drank delicious champagne and wines and reflected on how lucky I am to not have to worry about where the next meal will come from, let alone whether there will even be a next meal.
I’m guilty of having become desensitised to the global hunger situation. Over the years, we have been exposed to so many pictures of small children with distended stomachs caused by malnutrition, that it ceases to make an impact. This new campaign is stepping away from that and presenting the facts: that we can end world hunger and that, right now, we’re in a better position than ever to do so.
So go forth and spread the word! If you’re at a loose end on Saturday, sign up and go down to Hyde Park and lend some people power. Volunteer to help make and plant spinning flowers (the symbol of the Big IF event) on Thursday 6 June or Friday 7 June here. Otherwise get tweeting #BigIF and #IFCampaign – get it trending to get people talking.
Wouldn’t it be an incredible thing if we could bring an end to world hunger in our lifetimes?