Tag Archives: Oxfam

A New Slate of Projects–Part 2

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

This is the second of a five-part series on BGR projects approved for fiscal year 2013–14. Thanks are due to Patti Price, chair of the Projects Committee, and Jessie Benjamin, Carla Prater, and Jennifer Russ for preparing the material.

 7. Ethiopia: Increasing Yields of Veggies           NEW

Ethiopia-OxfamAmericaSince 1970 the international relief and development organization Oxfam America has worked with local partners to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. BGR will be partnering with Oxfam America on a project to improve food production in the Meki-Ziway area of the Central Rift Valley in Ethiopia. The project aims to apply the System of Crop Intensification (SCI) to such crops as tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage, and potatoes. SCI draws on the methods that have already proved successful in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), extending them to other crops. SCI emphasizes growing bigger, healthier root systems, and enhancing soil fertility with the life in the soil. The method should increase vegetable production while reducing water use and reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Producing more while reducing costs will increase income and enhance household nutritional security among the Ethiopian farmers of the Meki-Ziway area.

8. Haiti: A New Lease on Rice          NEW

Haiti-OxfamHaiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with nearly 90% of Haitians in the countryside living in poverty and two-thirds in extreme poverty. Haiti was once self-sufficient in rice, a staple in the national diet, but rice production has sagged and it now imports over 80% of its rice. To increase the output and income of rice farmers in Haiti, Oxfam America is promoting the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a method of cultivation which lowers inputs but results in rice plants that are more resistant to climate extremes, pests, and diseases. Yields can increase by 50%-150% within one or two cropping seasons. With the collaboration of local partners, Oxfam has been providing SRI training and support to roughly 150 farmers. The grant from BGR will enable them to extend the training to thirty additional farmers, both women and men. The grant will also be used to purchase labor-saving agricultural equipment vital for SRI and facilitate the rehabilitation of 5 kilometers of local irrigation canals, which are critical both to rice production and flood control.

9. Haiti: Meals for Hungry Kids

Haiti-boy-with-bagEvery weekday in the impoverished Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, over a thousand children (and a few adults) line up at the Lamanjay free meals program to receive a plate of hot, nutritious food. The U.S.-based What If? Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lot of poor children in Haiti, has worked in close partnership with members of the Ti Plas Kazo community to sustain the food program since it started in 2000. The urgency of the program increased sharply following the terrible earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010. The community served by Lamanjay includes mostly children who still live in nearby tents with unemployed parents or guardians who cannot provide the children with sufficient, nutritious food.  Other children walk miles to attend. For most of these children, the food they receive at the food program is their only meal of the day. The grant from BGR will cover the meals provided by the food program for 36 days between June 2013 and June 2014. The goal is to ensure that, as they struggle to rebuild their lives, thousands of hungry children and some adults in Port-au-Prince have access to hot, nutritious meals.

10. Haiti: Helping Kids Go To School         NEW

Haiti-WIF-studentsOne specific challenge facing Haitians today is the high cost and inaccessibility of education for the poor.  Attending school in Haiti has long been a privilege rather than a right, and half of school-aged children were not enrolled in school before the January 2010 earthquake struck. The earthquake destroyed thousands of schools, driving school costs up still higher. As a result, thousands of school-aged children in Port-au-Prince still lack formal education. It is only through education that these kids will have a chance to escape the crippling cycle of poverty. The What If? Foundation is currently providing scholarships to 194 youngsters for the 2012–13 school year, covering tuition, transportation, books, uniforms, and other fees. A grant from BGR will provide $115 per student toward the scholarship costs of 87 elementary school students. School costs range between $250 and $350 per year.

Celebrate World Food Day and Help End World Hunger

Charles W. Elliott

Each October 16 is World Food Day, a celebration of the founding of the lead international agency for global efforts to combat hunger: the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). World Food Day has been observed every year since 1979, in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of global poverty and hunger. It serves as a wonderful example of international cooperation and community-building to help the poor, exemplifying our common humanity and basic goodness.

For World Food Day 2012, Buddhist Global Relief joins the FAO and our partner, Oxfam America, to both celebrate FAO’s work and to raise awareness of how much more work must be done to ensure a world in which everyone has enough food. We still confront the unacceptable: one billion people continue to suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition in a time of unprecedented plenty.

The FAO’s tireless work to end hunger is well worth an annual celebration. It has been a central driving force for worldwide fulfillment of the human right to food. It responds to soaring food prices by helping small scale farmers raise their output and providing direct aid. It supports projects in more than 100 countries to enhance food security, providing early warning and emergency response to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on food security. Its Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (AAHM) creates global connections between local, regional, national and international institutions which share a common commitment to the rapid eradication of hunger and malnutrition. FAO “Goodwill Ambassadors” such as Jeremy Irons and Céline Dion attract public and media attention to the problem of hunger. Its online campaign against hunger, www.EndingHunger.org, is a vital networking campaign to build the movement through social networks, presenting world governments with more than three million signatures on a global petition to end hunger.

World Food Day is a wonderful opportunity to share your concern for the world’s poor and hungry with your family, friends and community. You can “walk the talk” and join Buddhist Global Relief’s Walks to Feed the Hungry by walking with us, or simply making a walk donation through our First Giving page.

As Oxfam America suggests, you can host a simple World Food Day dinner on October 16th that “fosters a conversation about where your food comes from, who cultivates it, and how you can take personal actions that will make the food system more just and sustainable.” You can get discussion guides and free materials from Oxfam at: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/campaigns/food-justice/world-food-day. You can organize a “food and fund drive” for local food banks and pantries. In the United States, if you don’t know where your nearest food bank is located, you can find one in the nationwide list at: http://www.feedingamerica.org/Home/foodbank-results.aspx. Food banks help feed tens of millions of people in the United States. They need your support and food donations.

Taking action can be as simple as picking up the phone. Call your political leaders and representatives and ask them: what specific, concrete steps are they taking to end hunger? Each one of us can find our own best way to help on World Food Day.  For more information, visit Buddhist Global Relief’s World Food Day page at http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/active/WorldFoodDay.html

Extreme Weather and the Rising Cost of Food

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

 Last month, the international relief agency Oxfam issued a briefing entitled Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices, which deals with the impact of extreme weather events on global food prices. The briefing, a summary of a longer research report,[1] makes an important distinction between two kinds of effects that climate change will have on food production as our planet grows ever warmer. The first, the one with which agronomists and climate scientists have primarily been concerned, is the incremental decline in average crop yields caused by gradual increases in global temperature and changes in precipitation patterns.

As temperature rises to a certain optimal range, crop yields rise proportionally until a peak is reached, at which point, with further increases in temperature, they start to decline. Studies of rice harvests in the Philippines, for example, show that for each degree Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum during the growing season, yields of rice decrease by 10%. A similar pattern has been noted for other staples. Drops in production inevitably cause food prices to escalate. Research suggests that the average price of staples such as corn could more than double over the next twenty years, with up to half the increase due to changes in average temperatures and rainfall patterns.
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Budget Slashing and Food Aid: Taking the Long View to Help the Hungry

Charles W. Elliott

The United States federal budget is in the news, and once again partisan U.S. political battles over the role of government, budget priorities, and fiscal policy place the world’s poor in the crosshairs. Often, behind the dry budgetary text are the cries of hungry children and the desperation of the poor.

How the richest nation in the world addresses the problem of hunger is not merely an obvious moral issue. Food security plays an important role in global stability and, therefore, our own national security. As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently said: “Our national security depends on feeding a growing world.” So does our domestic security. President John F. Kennedy wisely said: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” In the practice of giving, we serve even our own enlightened self-interest. Continue reading