Hunger is so much more than a state of being.
“Hunger defiles human dignity, destroys lives and deprives nations of future wealth and their human capital, too.”
That’s Dr. Assefa Bequele’s take on it in the report, For Lack of Will: Child Hunger in Africa. The founder of the African Child Policy Forum — which released the report, and is a Christian Children’s Fund of Canada partner organization — understands that all too well.
And, although the world has made strides in addressing the issue, the weight of the problem is still crushing millions of children. The Lack of Will report highlights that hunger contributes to approximately 45 percent of childhood mortality in Africa.
Although so much attention has been brought to the issue, it’s still a crippling reality for millions.
Consider just five challenges holding Africa’s poor back:
- recurring conflicts and fragile community contexts
- a rise in droughts, floods and other natural disasters
- fractured food distribution and management systems
- lack of good governance and adherence to food rights
- a lack of political will and commitment
It’s why I gathered with many in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia late last month to discuss a collective action plan to combat child hunger at the International Policy Conference on the African Child.
Hosted by ACPF, the conference united global leaders and international development minds — from Her Excellency, Sahle-Work Zewde (top, left), President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Graça Machel (top, right), founder of the Graça Machel Trust, and chair of ACPF’s International Board of Trustees; to Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International; to Dr. Tegegnework Gettu, former UN under-secretary-general.
It solidified the need to partner with agencies to facilitate a robust discussion aimed at finding solutions that will demonstrate political will but that are also pragmatic.
But, it doesn’t have to be as complex as it sounds. At its core, it’s really about simple gestures and projects that can make a big difference.
I’m reminded of one of our school feeding programs in Burkina Faso. Mahamoudou Bikienga, head of the local school district, has told us how lunch provided by support through Christian Children’s Fund of Canada donors has improved children’s academic success.
“This year, the school district ranked top. This is why the provision of food is as important as the provision of educational material,” said the administrator.
Now imagine what we can do if we all put our heads together for children in need? There’s no denying the issue of poverty is mammoth, but we can all make change in our corner of the world, multiplying the effect over time.
Of course, it won’t happen overnight, but it does take a commitment. In upcoming blogs, I’ll share more about what this means for Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, for peers I met in Addis and for the global community of people dedicated to ending poverty in Africa and around the world.
After all, the United Nations challenged the global community — you and me — to steward a world where there is zero hunger by 2030. What can we all do to make our small commitment that will collectively create big change? I challenge us all to hold everyone to account for this goal. If we don’t stand up and speak up, who will?