The global population is expected to grow as large as 9.7 billion by 2050. We must be able to produce more food, not only to feed larger numbers of people, but to provide more variety, protein, and nutritious foods. As people’s incomes rise, especially from poverty levels to modest incomes, they seek more diverse diets. Thus, future food production must improve in both quantity and quality, and of course, availability. Much of the potential for agricultural growth and opportunity is in the developing world. Supporting the hopes and needs of small holder farmers is a key to improving livelihoods, production, and economies.
There is nothing more important than insuring that all girls are educated, because an educated female population impacts positively on every other aspect of society. Educated women are healthier and have heathier children; their children are more likely to go to school; they start their families later and give birth to fewer children and, because their husbands are closer to their own age, they are less likely to contract HIV/AIDS. Educated women have better, higher paying jobs, they are more successful farmers, and they contribute considerably more economically to their families, communities, and indeed, to their countries.
Catherine Bertini is passionate about this issue. She taught a graduate course on Girls Education in the Developing World at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University; many of her former students have created schools for girls and been involved in literacy projects. When Bertini became the World Food Prize Laureate in 2003, she asked that the entire $250,000 prize be used to create a fund to support this mission. The World Food Programme matched that contribution and many others have donated. The fund has supported girl’s education and women’s literacy projects around the world.
Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls' Education
The Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education improves access to training and education for girls by supporting innovative efforts to reach and empower girls. As the host of this initiative, World Food Program USA stewards the evolution of the Fund based on Ms. Bertini’s vision. Click this link to donate.
Ensuring that people throughout the globe have adequate nutritional access is key to improving health outcomes worldwide. Having the right foods at the right time is critical to a person’s health. For instance, pregnant women must have access to appropriate diets in order to give birth to healthy babies. Children, at least through age two, cannot grow properly – physically or mentally – without adequate diets. Children and adults must consume balanced diets or risk obesity. Trend lines are such that the numbers of obese people in the world will soon overtake the numbers of those suffering from undernutrition.
Millions of people struggle every day just to exist – some due to wars and internal conflicts, some who are overcome by floods or droughts or earthquakes, and most because they live in desperate poverty.
Humankind has reached out to help others for centuries. This work became more organized and international once Swiss businessman Henri Dunant created what is now the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. Today there are multiple United Nations organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, the Red Cross Movement and individuals and governments who act urgently to help those in need.
Their dynamic is constantly changing as individuals live through shifting challenges. Providing food, shelter, water, education, health care, security, protection is key and listening to and interacting with those in need is essential. All of this work is voluntarily funded, which means agencies are constantly reaching out to governments, foundations, the private sector, and individuals to support their efforts to keep people alive.
Understanding gender roles and expectations is key to appreciating a culture and critical to creation of any program that is designed to improve the well being of individuals in a community. For instance, at WFP, the mission was to "End Hunger, " but family members only alleviate hunger if they eat food that someone cooks; most often, the cook is a woman or girl. Understanding the needs of cooks, then, became crucial to successfully providing the correct food options. That required listening to cooks/women, which required having communications opportunities, which also required recruiting enough women staff members to achieve the goal of communication and thus, of more effectively ending hunger. Ultimately, this is also key to women's empowerment.
Effective, transparent, responsive governance structures are key to delivery of benefits to people in great need. Continual review and reform is essential for international humanitarian organizations to insure the most impactful programs are available to assist millions of people living in life threatening circumstances throughout the world.