U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, chaired a hearing Wednesday to examine the effectiveness of current U.S. global food security programs and future opportunities. He noted that "roughly 870 million people go to bed hungry each night, down from one billion a year ago, making the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the prevalence of undernourishment in the developing world by 2015 within reach."
Senator Cardin: "Ending global hunger and poverty is a monumental task. Addressing the challenges posed by global food insecurity requires a multifaceted approach. It requires strengthening strategic coordination to harness the power of the private sector and use our development aid in the most effective and transparent way possible. It requires investments in cutting-edge agricultural and sustainability technologies. It requires policy changes by developing country governments to correct land tenure and natural resource management problems, especially water resources. And it requires a commitment to gender integration and the development of programs that support women farmers.
"What we are trying to do is much bigger than simply giving food to the poor and hungry--we are trying to change economies by transforming how people farm and what people eat. Through our Feed the Future Initiative and the G-8's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, I believe we are making great strides in global food security. Feed the Future focuses on small farmers, particularly women. It helps countries to develop their agriculture sectors to generate opportunities for broad-based economic growth and trade, which in turn support increased incomes and help reduce hunger.
"By investing in agriculture and nutrition, we are investing in prosperity--and not just other people's prosperity but our own. In our globalized economy, if developing countries do better, we do better. We also do better when we make smarter decisions about how to spend our critical foreign assistance dollars. USAID Administrator Shah has said that it is eight to 10 times more expensive to feed people when they are in crisis than it is to help farmers feed themselves and build better resources. An end to global hunger and poverty will not happen tomorrow, but if we continue to, we will have much better outcomes for individuals and for nations, including the U.S."
Witnesses at the Wednesday hearing included Conor Walsh, Tanzania Country Director for Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services (CRS).