How to end food insecurity worldwide.
The number of undernourished people is still unacceptably high
The three UN agencies dealing with food and development just released their flagshipState of Food Insecurity in the World 2012, which finds that nearly one in eight people around the world--or 870 million -- suffer from food insecurity.
According to the World Food Program, from Africa and Asia to Latin America and the Near East, there are 925 million people in the world who do not get enough food to lead a normal, active life. This map from the World Food Program offers an excellent global overview of the current state of under nutrition worldwide.
It's worth noting that with all this triumphant talk about the Twitter revolution in Iran - especially when it's about a lesser-of-two-evils candidate - we can't summon a fraction of the energy and passion to save abused, raped and battered women across the globe. Nor can we muster the same attention and will to deal with the plight of children who are dying of hunger, deprived of the bare necessities of life.
Here are the brutal facts:
* Millions of women and girls (our mothers, sisters and daughters) endure one or more of the following: intimate partner violence; sexual abuse by non-intimate partners; trafficking, forced prostitution, exploitation, debt bondage, sex selective abortion, female infanticide, and rape.
Perhaps it's boiling frog syndrome, the fact that global hunger and women's rights are ongoing tragedies/travesties without sudden spikes of interest. Or perhaps it's the futility of confronting these intractable issues, a sense that we're powerless to change such pervasive problems.
That's not to say that there aren't many courageous and dedicated people working to alleviate hunger and protect women's rights. There are. But where is the massive outrage, the worldwide focus, the grainy images, the Twitter-mania, the color-coded avatars? Most importantly, where is the urgency, the immediacy?
Clearly, something is happening in Iran with technology that signals a new era in global activism. This is the first period in human history when so many individuals, friends and strangers, can speak to one another simultaneously, on equal footing; there's never been a time when ten million people could converse at once, on the same topic, using the same platform.
That also means they can shout and raise the alarm about injustice together. And as we're seeing with CNN, those millions of impassioned people can pressure the media to get on board, further increasing the level of attention.
So why isn't this happening for oppressed and abused women or hungry and starving children, when their aggregate pain and suffering is far greater and the threat to them more severe than to the (brave) Iranian demonstrators? Where's the intense coverage, the excitement over the potential of Twitter and Facebook to alter the course of history?
I'm not calling for less focus on Iran, but more, much more, on the mortal threat so many women and children face.
I'll conclude with a clip from Channel 4 News in the UK, where I was asked to comment on Gordon Brown's statement that because of the Internet, there will be no more Rwandas. My answer: what about Darfur?
High food prices have pushed another 105 million people into hunger in the first half of 2009, the head of the U.N. World Food Program said Friday, raising the total number of hungry people to over 1 billion. Urging rich nations at a meeting of the Group of Eight's development ministers not cut back on aid, Josette Sheeran told Reuters the world faced a "human catastrophe" as more and more people struggle to eat a decent meal. "This year we are clocking in on average four million new hungry people a week, urgently hungry," Sheeran told Reuters.