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Hunger Sits Beside Every Anxious Mother Three Times Each Day

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As you scan the world situation, the great crisis that emerges is child hunger and malnutrition. For right at this moment, there are mothers in developing countries who have little or no way to provide food for their children.

It’s a desperate situation for infants as the first 1,000 days of life are critical.  Without the right food, lasting physical and mental damage will occur, if not death.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says, “Poor nutrition is the largest single contributing factor to child mortality, more than HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined. It is the underlying cause of more than one-third of deaths in children under five. That’s 3.5 million a year.”

This child hunger crisis reaches many corners of the globe. WFP lists these crisis points on their web page.  In Yemen, half of the children are chronically malnourished and one out of 10 does not live to reach the age of five. Half of Nepal’s children under five are stunted or chronically undernourished.

In Cambodia, almost 40 percent of children are chronically malnourished. In Pakistan infant mortality rates are as high as 97 per 1,000 live births. In Afghanistan, more than half of children under the age of five are malnourished, and micronutrient deficiencies (particularly iodine and iron) are widespread. More of these descriptions, listed by country, are available on the WFP site.

What can be done about it?  It would be relatively inexpensive to provide life-saving foods like plumpy’nut and save millions of children. Why is it not happening? Why is it that every time you turn around, a food program is facing a severe funding shortage?

There is no great political interest in fighting child hunger, and with that comes lack of funding for food aid operations. This lack of funding also prevents the stability necessary to enact long-term food security for developing countries.

When political leaders ignore hunger, it causes great harm to everyone’s security. Herbert Hoover, who organized food relief after World Wars I and II, described the terror hunger brings on a social and political level. He said, “Hunger is a silent visitor who comes like a shadow. He sits beside every anxious mother three times each day. He brings not alone suffering and sorrow, but fear and terror. He carries disorder and the paralysis of government.”

Yet this powerful force, which can make or break international peace, receives very little attention at the highest levels of government. There is some, from time to time, but it goes away quickly. It’s a case of great expectations never fulfilled.

Princess Haya Al Hussein said in an article earlier this year, “…except for the occasional rhetorical flourish, most politicians remain out of touch, uncomprehending of life for those living at the brink of starvation. They have failed to put food first in global economic development and aid funding.”

Yet, just a fraction of the world’s total military spending in a year would elevate the fight against hunger dramatically. Millions of children would be saved and the prospects for peace and economic development grow much brighter.

Next month there is a conference in Egypt being hosted by WFP’s director Josette Sheeran and Egypt’s First Lady Suzanne Mubarak. There is another conference being held almost simultaneously in London about the malnutrition crisis in Yemen. The lead-up to both of these conferences offers an opportunity for government leaders and the public to find ways to fill the food shortage gaps now existing.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.
  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Great Article…

    Though, my only concern is that the crises in those particular countries is nothing new, so, why would someone bear children knowing full well that they probably wouldn’t be able to provide for their own?!

    I understand that we could change all that with cuts to Military spending and I applaud those puppets who would dare to make that dream a reality, but, when will people take responsibility for themselves??

    It’s not realistic or practical to have children when you can’t take care of yourself!!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    It’s not realistic or practical to have children when you can’t take care of yourself!!

    Brian, you are absolutely wrong. It is very realistic and entirely practical.

    Families in the Third World tend to have a lot of children because then there is a greater chance that at least some of them will survive to adulthood.

    There’s not much point in being able to feed yourself if you’re not going to have anything to show for it later.

    Better medicine, among other factors, means that more children are now surviving. However, tradition hasn’t yet caught up with reality. One major reason for this is the periodic humanitarian disasters which expose just how fragile the new paradigm still is, especially in poor countries with weak infrastructures.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “Families in the Third World tend to have a lot of children because then there is a greater chance that at least some of them will survive to adulthood.”

    How does this mentality make any sense?! You are gambling with human lives at the expense of others!! And, where does the health of this planet fit in with that kind of ignorant attitude. I guess “Global Warming” only concerns the actions of us Western working-class schmucks, right?

    “There’s not much point in being able to feed yourself if you’re not going to have anything to show for it later.”

    Really?! How American of you. One person doesn’t matter if they don’t pass on their natural heritage?! How about spending those resources on educating the people that already exist so that they can change their government, thus, changing the way finances are being used in those countries for betterment of all people!

    These people mainly procreate because of deep-seeded religious beliefs that do not work in this modern era. AND, A supportive mentality of co-dependency & superstition doesn’t provide a positive progression for anyone’s life!

    Like I said, I’m all for helping the needy by any means necessary,BUT, those necessary means need to be re-examined. We need to incorporate a positive foundation of support so that these people can stand on their own two feet. We don’t need to foster a cycle of degradation!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    How does this mentality make any sense?! You are gambling with human lives at the expense of others!!

    The biological imperative, Brian. It makes sense in terms of perpetuating your genes. Look at species that have high rates of predation and/or attrition. You’ll find that they almost always produce large numbers of offspring. It’s an insurance policy.

    How American of you.

    I’m not American.

    One person doesn’t matter if they don’t pass on their natural heritage?!

    Biologically speaking, no.

    Look, I’m not saying that I think folks in impoverished nations should continue having families the size of rugby teams. Certainly we need to persist with education in terms of family planning and disease prevention. Not to make that effort only makes things worse.

    But you’re not looking at it from their point of view. You’re in a socioeconomic position where you can look at things on the meta scale, you can enjoy your life for its own sake, and you don’t have to worry about whether there’s actually going to be a next generation at all.

    I’d say yours is the “American” reaction, not mine.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “You’ll find that they almost always produce large numbers of offspring. It’s an insurance policy.”

    Yea, I guess, if you’re an amoeba or a creature that doesn’t have the ability to reason. But, these are Human Beings and if they are shown a better way then more than likely they will change their own situation.

    “Look, I’m not saying that I think folks in impoverished nations should continue having families the size of rugby teams.”

    Really? Are you sure? I think you should re-read your own words in comment #2…

    “But you’re not looking at it from their point of view. You’re in a socioeconomic position where you can look at things on the meta scale, you can enjoy your life for its own sake, and you don’t have to worry about whether there’s actually going to be a next generation at all.”

    Typical defense from someone who doesn’t have a real argument. “I’m not as bad off,so, how could I ever understand what it is like?!” You have no clue about my “socioeconomic position” But, that’s your misconception!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    But, these are Human Beings and if they are shown a better way then more than likely they will change their own situation.

    Yes, more than likely. But you can’t expect them to change generations of tradition overnight and then howl accusations of craziness at them when they don’t.

    I think you should re-read your own words in comment #2…

    I was stating a fact, not an opinion.

    Typical defense from someone who doesn’t have a real argument.

    Accusing me of not having a real argument when I’ve made rational and reasoned responses to your every point is an ad hominem. As far as I can see we both have real arguments. Let others judge whose is better.

    “I’m not as bad off,so, how could I ever understand what it is like?!”

    A misrepresentation of my position (or if you prefer, a straw man). I never said you couldn’t understand what it’s like. I’m saying that you don’t. Subtle but important difference.

    You have no clue about my “socioeconomic position”

    You live in the United States, right? Therefore, without knowing all that much about you, I can reasonably conclude that there is a better than 99% chance of your lifestyle being nothing like that of, say, Precious from Uganda.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Brian, you’re arguing against Third World facts. Let’s not be confusing now our idealism with certain realities.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “when I’ve made rational and reasoned responses to your every point”

    I didn’t realize you were so good at satire…

    “I was stating a fact, not an opinion.”

    Telling me that I am wrong then presenting a fact about any third world country makes it a shallow fact not a valid argument against my point which was, “It’s not realistic or practical to have children when you can’t take care of yourself!!”

    “I never said you couldn’t understand what it’s like. I’m saying that you don’t.”

    You qualify to say this because you do?? Please clarify… Is it that I don’t know or don’t understand?? Because, if I could understand then I most certainly do! But, you’d be right to say that I don’t know 100% what it’s like, though, I have been in quite a few scary situations myself.

    BUT, I do know one thing. You’re guessing that because I live in a modern society that I don’t have to worry. That I am, immediately, well off & I am unaware of the dire situations that faces people in many countries! And, buddy, you’re wrong!
    Honestly, I’m not going to get into a pissing match with you. I was merely stating that there are other possible solutions to the problem (ones that I think would work for the better) &
    I never said that this could happen overnight!!

    Roger,
    I’m not confusing anything. Most of these operations are merely to provide aid & when that aid dries up, the problem hasn’t been resolved. But, I’m no longer going to discuss any solutions here because it becomes an attack session… I’ve said all that I wanted. Adios!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Brian, I wasn’t attacking you. And I agree with you about one thing: adopting a stance of reasonableness in the face of what is, at bottom, an unreasonable situation, is not very constructive. We must go beyond mere understanding and do what can and must be done.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Brian, I stated that families in poorer economies tend to have a lot of children in order to ensure the survival of at least some of them. That, as any student of anthropology should know, is a fact.

    And while it is rational and practical (from an environmental standpoint) not to procreate as if there were no tomorrow, it is also rational and practical (from a biological standpoint) to maximise the chance of posterity.

    Life is still precarious in places like Bangladesh. It’s all very well if young Ahmed survives a polio epidemic because he’s been vaccinated, but that isn’t going to do his family much good if he drowns in the next monsoon because the government doesn’t have the resources to construct adequate flood defences.

    My opinion is that you don’t understand this. I hope that clarifies things a bit.

    I never disagreed with you that family planning solutions are a more practical solution to the problem of overpopulation and resource pressure. I merely postulated that having more, rather than less, children is a different rational response to the challenges poor populations face.

    It’s a shame that you took it personally.