Category Archives: Food shortages

Projects for Fiscal Year 2017–18—Part 1

by BGR Staff

At the BGR board’s annual projects meeting on May 7, the board approved 28 projects for partnership grants in the next fiscal year, at a total cost of $480,000. Most are renewals of repeated annual projects, while others are new. In addition to our long-term partners, we also formed new partnerships. Several project applications that did not arrive in time for the meeting will be considered later. Besides our grants, the BGR board voted to donate $20,000 to the World Food Program to provide food relief to four countries afflicted by near-famine conditions: Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen.

 This is the first of a multi-part series of posts giving brief summaries of the BGR projects approved at the meeting. Projects are arranged alphabetically by country. Thanks are due to Kim Behan, BGR Director of Programs; Patti Price, Chair of the Projects Committee; David Braughton, Vice Chair; Chot Elliott, Board member; Ayya Santussika, Board member; Tom Spies, ED; and Jessie Benjamin, Carla Prater, and Jennifer Russ, who helped prepare the material used in this series of posts.

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1. Bangladesh: Food Support for School of Orphans  

 

Our partner, the Bangladesh Buddhist Missionary Society, was founded in 1977 by Ven. Jivanananda Mahathera, a Buddhist monk who has dedicated his life to the service of suffering humanity. BBMS is a non-sectarian, non-communal, non-governmental organization officially registered in Bangladesh in 1979. Its purpose is to provide humanitarian assistance to the needy, especially orphans and widows. The Orphan’s Home Complex is located at Betagi in the rural Chittagong Hills region, near the Karnaphuli River.  This year’s BGR grant to the Orphans Home Complex will help to feed 54 children for 12 months. Annually renewable project

2. Bangladesh: Educating Ethnic Buddhist Minority Girls

The Jamyang Foundation (founded 1988) supports innovative education projects for indigenous girls and women in two of the neediest and most remote parts of the world: the Indian Himalayas and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. For the second year, BGR will be sponsoring Jamyang’s School Lunches for Marma Girls in Bangladesh, a project to support the nutritional requirements of 121 students studying at Visakha Girls’ School in the remote village of Dhoshri and the surrounding villages. Because Dhoshri is so hard to reach, the parents and village elders never dreamed that their children would be able to study. The goal of the School Lunches for Marma Girls in Bangladesh is to provide healthy food at least once a day for the 121 girls who are now receiving schooling at Visakha Girls’ School. The objective is to help the girls maintain good health, so they don’t miss classes and can sustain their concentration. Whereas earlier the students were so malnourished that they had trouble concentrating and often dropped out, they are now healthy and happy and are able to focus on their lessons. Their parents are glad that their daughters get a good lunch at the school and are encouraged to send their other girls to study. Annually renewable project

3. Bangladesh: A Permanent Dormitory for Boy Students in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

Our project partner, Moanoghar, was founded in 1974 by a group of Buddhist monks to provide shelter to children of the Chittagong Hill Tracts affected by conflict or living in remote areas. There are currently 805 residential children at Moanoghar, 55% boys and 45% girls. Many of these children have lost one or both parents in the decades-long conflict that plagued this backward part of Bangladesh, a poor region in an extremely poor country. While the girl students have a permanent dormitory, the dorms for boy students are built with bamboos and wood poles and are all more than 15 years old. These are temporary structures that require constant repair and maintenance. To help solve this problem, BGR is sponsoring the construction of a boys hostel—a three-story building, to be called Shanti Bhavan (House of Peace), that will house 120 boy students in total. Each floor will be able to accommodate 40 boys. The BGR grant for the first year (September 2016 to August 2017) sponsored the construction of the foundation and the ground floor. Work is currently in progress. It is expected that this stage will be completed by August 2017. The second phase is the construction of the first floor of the building, to be started in September 2017. It is expected that the first floor will be completed by February 2018. Second year of a three-year project

4. Burma (via Thailand): Supporting the Education of Children of Backpack Medics over the Thai Border      NEW PARTNER

This will be BGR’s first project in partnership with the Burma Humanitarian Mission (BHM), a U.S.-registered 501(c)3 organization based in Utah. BHM supports community-based backpack medics who administer village healthcare services in Burma (Myanmar), grass-roots education projects that empower youth, and projects that promote cross-cultural sharing and collaboration for refugees from Burma living in the U.S. On account of Burmese military attacks upon ethnic minorities, over 450,000 villagers in Burma are internally displaced, sheltered in the jungle.  The result is a horrific health crisis among the minorities. 135 infants out of 1,000 do not survive their first month.  Malaria, dysentery, and pneumonia are the leading causes of death.  In response, the Burma Humanitarian Mission teamed up with Backpack Health Worker Teams (BPHWT) to provide mobile medical care to isolated villages and internally displaced person camps.  The backpack medics are recruited from the people and villages they will serve.

For security purposes, the families of the medics live over the border in Mae Sot, Thailand, where they are safe from the violence in Burma. This project, in collaboration with BHM, funds education for the medics’ children—56 children in 2017. The school is located in Mae Sot. Thirty-one students are children of medics working in Burma’s conflict zones, 25 are children of backpack medics who staff the office in Mae Sot.  The students will attend an established migrant “school” known as the Child Development Center (CDC).  There are 19 students in the 4th grade and below and 37 students in the 5th grade through 12th grade. Eight children 4 years of age and younger will receive day care. Classes start in June and continue through May of the following year. Without this program, these students would have no educational opportunity.

The BGR grant will fund the students’ tuition, food budget, uniforms, and school materials.  BPHWT purchases school supplies locally in Mae Sot and pays the tuition to the CDC school.  Students attend classes throughout the year. After their final year, students take the exit exam (also known as the matriculation exam).

5. Cambodia: Food Scholarships for Girls to Stay in School

Lotus Outreach, a trusted BGR partner since 2009, is dedicated to ensuring the education, health, and safety of at-risk and exploited women and children in the developing world, especially in Cambodia. The long-standing BGR-Lotus Outreach partnership provides rice support to primary, secondary, and tertiary students receiving scholarships via the GATE and CATALYST programs (see below). The GATE program provides educational scholarships to girls pursuing primary and secondary education. CATALYST builds on this by supporting girls who have graduated high school and are pursuing higher education at universities and vocational training institutes across Cambodia.

Rice support is a critical feature of both programs. The provision of food aid, in the form of dry rice, will ensure that the girls will not be distracted from their studies by the uncertainty of where their next meal is going to come from. Moreover, the students’ families will also be provided with rice support. For the rural poor of Cambodia, nutritional sustenance makes up a substantial portion of the family budget, and eliminating or greatly minimizing that cost is a major contribution. With the financial and nutritional impact of their daughter’s absence mitigated, their parents become much more receptive to the long-term investment of education. In turn, the parents place far less pressure upon the student to dropout of school to return home to help with household duties or go to work.

With BGR’s funding, Lotus Outreach plans to provide food aid on a monthly basis to students currently enrolled in both GATE and CATALYST, and also to their families. The food aid will have a positive impact on 109 families and 428 individuals. Annually renewable project

 6. Cambodia: Catalyzing the Potential of Girls at the Margins          

Lotus Outreach’s Cambodian Tertiary Education and Leadership Youth Training (CATALYST) program evolved out of LO’s GATEways program, which provided qualified  graduates of GATE with university scholarships and related assistance. During the upcoming academic year, CATALYST will provide services to sixteen young women: three already enrolled in a nursing program, and an additional thirteen newly enrolled university students who graduated high school through GATE last year. Food aid, in the form of 15 kg dry rice, will be provided (under the previous program) to every girl to ensure they have enough food. CATALYST will cover their school supplies, including textbooks and all necessary writing materials, computer training, and special language tuition (in French and English). All housing and school funding is provided as needed before the start of the new school year in September. Additionally, monthly stipends will be provided to the girls to support their cost of living.

By facilitating access to higher education, the program activates the social and economic potential of those at the margins. Young women who gain experience and job qualification through CATALYST attain security, self-sufficiency, and fulfillment. In so doing, they also raise themselves up as role models for future generations, and combat damaging class and gender norms on a societal level. Annually renewable project

7. Cambodia: Rice Intensification and Training in Agro-Ecology

The project, with long-term BGR partner Rachana, will help ensure sustainable communities in Koh Andeth in Takeo province (southern Cambodia) through the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), vegetable and cash crops cultivation, installation of household-level water harvesting techniques, fund-saving in groups, and educating secondary school students in the creation of innovative vegetable gardens through agro-ecology—the application of ecological principles to the design, development, and management of sustainable agricultural systems. The project will build the capacity of poor and vulnerable families for climate change resilience and disaster risk reduction, improving food security.

This year’s project will establish twelve demonstration fields for SRI and vegetable/cash crops. It will engage 180 farmers (117 of them women) in the SRI demonstration fields and 120 farmers (78 women) in the vegetable/cash crop demonstration fields; it will also provide educational study trips for farmers to other SRI fields (150 people) and vegetable/cash crop fields (150 people) for instruction on these adaptive techniques. The project will train 300 secondary school students (195 women) in establishing innovative vegetable gardens through agro-ecology techniques and create three vegetable gardens in secondary schools, with follow-up at these locations. Annually renewable project

 

 

 

BGR Provides Emergency Relief to Countries Facing Food Crisis

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, announced that the world is facing the most serious humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the United Nations. More than 20 million people in four countries—Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria—are suffering from extreme food shortages, with millions at risk of starvation, a large percentage of them children. Speaking to the UN Security Council last Friday (March 10), O’Brien warned that “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.”

Photo: World Food Program

The gravest  crisis is in Yemen, where  17 million people are facing dangerous levels of food insecurity and will fall prey to famine without urgent humanitarian assistance. Seven million people are deemed to be in a state of emergency – one step away from famine. In South Sudan more than a million children are acutely malnourished, including 270,000 who will die if aid does not reach them in time. In Somalia close to 3 million people are struggling with severe food shortages and need immediate help to survive. Close to a million children under five in Somalia are expected to suffer from acute malnourishment this year. In northeast Nigeria, a seven-year uprising by the armed group Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and driven 2.6 million from their homes. Malnutrition in this region is so severe that some adults are too weak to walk and some communities have lost all their toddlers.

These food shortages, while due partly to drought and crop failures, are largely precipitated by regional conflicts. The conflict may be internal, as in South Sudan, where fighting between rival factions prevents food supplies from reaching those in need. Conflict may also be external, as in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been unleashing relentless aerial bombardments against Houthi rebels, attacks that claim the lives of many civilians. According to O’Brien, in Yemen “all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicize aid.”

One of the biggest obstacles to relief aid is inadequate funding. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that this year humanitarian operations in the four countries require more than $5.6 billion, with $4.4 billion needed by the end of March to avert catastrophe. However, he added, “just $90 million has actually been received so far—around two cents for every dollar needed.”

Although the U.S. has consistently been a major supporter of the UN’s humanitarian projects, reports suggest that the Trump administration intends to slash its contributions to the organization as a whole as well as to the three agencies on the front line in responding to the crisis: the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program, and UNICEF. These cuts, if implemented, will increase the need for nongovernmental actors and private philanthropies to come to the rescue.

While BGR is not an emergency relief organization, when crises erupt that require immediate aid, we have often responded with special donations from a fund  maintained to meet urgent demands for food aid. In response to the present crisis, this past week BGR made an emergency donation of $10,000 to the World Food Program, to be divided equally between the four affected countries–$2,500 each to Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria. This, of course, is a mere drop when measured against the amount needed, but we have to respond in a way that fits our capacity, monitoring the situation with a view to future aid.

This donation brings to $58,000 the amount that BGR has so far contributed in emergency aid over the past fiscal year, which extends from July 2016 to June 2017. Previous emergency donations went to relief organizations working for flood victims in Assam, India; for people living in famine stricken areas in Eastern and Southern Africa; for relief aid in Haiti following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew; and to provide food aid to Syrian refugees.

Note: BGR makes emergency donations from its own special emergency fund and does not solicit contributions from the public for such purposes. Readers who wish to donate to support food relief in these four countries can do so through the website of the World Food Programme. There are separate windows for each country.

BGR Provides Emergency Aid to Haiti After Hurricane Matthew Hits Hard

BGR Staff

(Photo : NASA/Public Domain) Hurricane Matthew as captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite hours after the storm hit the southwestern region of Haiti.

BGR began its relationship with Haiti in 2010, when we launched a partnership with the US-based What If Foundation to provide meals to hungry children in the Tiplaz Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince–children who were left mostly homeless by the powerful earthquake of 2010. Since then our relationship with the island-nation has grown ever closer, and we have formed partnerships with several other organizations working in the island, including Oxfam America, the Trees That Feed Foundation, and the Arts Creation Foundation in Jacmel. This past April, our vice-chair and treasurer, David Braughton, visited the country to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Father Jeri School established by the What If Foundation to provide free education to children who would otherwise never have had the chance to attend school.

Just last week, Haiti was slammed hard by Hurricane Matthew, which swept over the island, leaving in its trail widespread devastation, shortages of food and fresh water, power failures, and a death toll of over a thousand. BGR responded immediately to the disaster. Meeting by email, we decided to provide emergency aid to three organizations. We made a $5,000 donation to the What If Foundation for food assistance through its partner on the ground, Na Rive, in Port-au-Prince; a $5,000 donation to CARE for emergency relief to the Jeremie and Southwest regions of the island, which were hit especially hard; and a donation of $3,000 to BGR partner, Trees That Feed, to assist with its feeding program and general recovery.

Though BGR is not an emergency aid organization but sponsors long-term development projects, we will closely monitor recovery efforts in the country after the hurricane to see how we can help most effectively in ways that correspond to our mission of combating hunger and malnutrition.

Climate Change and Food System Shocks: Threats of Cascading Catastrophe

Charles W. Elliott

Food System Shocks
A global pre-eminent insurance market is waving red flags about the risk of climate-change shocks to our world food system that could quadruple the price of basic food commodities, cause widespread famine and social instability, and  bring down governments. Are world capitals paying attention?

Adding to the chorus of voices warning of threats to the global food system caused by climate change is global insurer Lloyds, which recently issued its report, “Food System Shock: The insurance impacts of acute disruption to global food supply“.  Food System Shock is one in a series of Lloyd “emerging risk” reports that address risks that are “perceived to be potentially significant but which may not be fully understood or allowed for in insurance terms and conditions, pricing, reserving or capital setting.”  This is not the first risk report on climate change issued by Lloyds (see, Lloyds’ Catastrophe Modelling and Climate Change (2014)), nor the first to address global food security (see, Lloyds’ Feast or Famine (2013)).  But it is the first by Lloyds to connect these two, explicitly addressing the impacts of climate change on food production and follow-on effects to society in a globalized economy.
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Without a Doubt – It’s Time to Get to Work on Climate Change

Ven. Santussika Bhikkhuni

A couple of weeks ago, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a report intended to dispel the fog of disinformation about the reality of climate change and to impress on us the urgency of taking action. What we need to know is what we ourselves can do about it.

consensusproject_97percent

One day, when I was talking about the importance of taking immediate action on climate change, a good friend of mine said, “I just wish the scientists would get together and tell us whether they think climate change is happening.” Well, my friend, there is a paper I want you to see.
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Like Moths Circling a Flame

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute, points out that earlier civilizations often collapsed because of food shortages brought on by unsound agricultural practices.[1] The Sumerian civilization sank because their soil was ruined by rising salt levels, the result of a design flaw in their irrigation system. The Mayan empire fell due to soil erosion, caused by excessive land clearance to feed their population. We now stand in a similar position, facing an acute threat to our own food system, and the immediate danger comes from a changing climate. But there is a major difference between our civilization and earlier ones: we have a clear scientific understanding of the roots of the crisis and are thus in a better position to respond to it. Collapse is not inevitable. The big question we face is not a “why” but a “whether”: whether we will act effectively before it’s too late.

Brown also says, in the same context, that economic and social collapse was almost always preceded by a period of environmental decline. This indicates that there is generally a margin of time in which we can pull back from the brink. We’re now in that phase of decline, and the need to act promptly and decisively to preserve the world’s food system cannot be overemphasized. We’ve already delayed too long. At present close to a billion people suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition. If the food system fails to produce enough food to feed the planet, millions more, mostly children, will be consigned to a life of perpetual want, even to death by starvation. In countries stricken with food shortages social chaos will erupt and food riots break out. Migration will increase from poor countries to more affluent ones, triggering a backlash of resentment. States in the poorest regions will totter and fail, perhaps unleashing more waves of violent terrorism. Continue reading

Buddhist Global Relief Makes Emergency Donation To Feed Syrian Refugees

Moved by the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled the ongoing conflict in Syria, Buddhist Global Relief has made an emergency donation of $10,000 to the World Food Programme (“WFP”) to help feed families forced from their homes.

According to the WFP, over 1.2 million people are displaced inside Syria and some 250,000 people have fled the country and become refugees in neighboring countries. Many fled the conflict zones with their families under shelling and gunfire from both government and rebel forces, often able to bring along only the clothes that they were wearing. Harsh conditions in refugee camps—including plummeting temperatures and flooding—are making for a life of intense suffering. Many families living in tents lack heaters and winter clothing.

Food for these families is the most critical need. It takes only $72 to provide a month’s worth of food for a Syrian refugee family. BGR’s donation will feed 138 families for an entire month during the difficult winter season.

The WFP is the food assistance branch of the United Nations, and it is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing global hunger. It is funded entirely by voluntary donations.  To read more about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and to make a personal  donation, go here.

We are thankful to BGR’s generous donors who are making this emergency food donation possible.