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Our Common Interest: Ending Hunger and Malnutrition

Bread for the World Institute

Reviewed by Lane Vanderslice

Bread for the World's 21st hunger report addresses the question of ending hunger and malnutrition. This is obviously a key issue for hunger advocates but it has not been addressed well by countries or aid institutions such as the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development. Thus, I read this year's report with great interest both for BFW's analysis of what is wrong and its policy prescriptions.

There is an introduction of four chapters with self-explanatory titles and a very brief conclusion. 

Introduction

This is an excellent review of key hunger issues, including:

Ch. 1. Thinking big: A comprehensive approach to fighting global hunger and malnutrition

This chapter presents in a very informative way what BFW considers to be key elements of reducing hunger:

There is worthwhile discussion in each of the sections.  There is for example an excellent summary of Brazil's Zero Hunger program in the safety net section, showing how much can be done by a committed and effective government as well as an excellent discussion of how Haiti's food production declined.

Ch. 2. A better way of partnering: Supporting country-led efforts against hunger and malnutrition

This chapter gives an overview of past efforts to support country-led development overall including the Millenium Challenge Corporation, the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, strengthing civil society in developing countries, and donor coordination.

Ch. 3. Getting better value: an agenda for effective U.S. development assistance

This section gives BFW's recommendations to make United States development assistance more effective.  Problems that BFW raises include:

Ch. 4. In it together:  International cooperation to confront global hunger and malnutrition challenges

This chapter covers a variety of topics related to international cooperation, including:

Finally, there is a brief conclusion by former Congressman Tony Hall, now executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger.

Our Common Interest certainly makes a good case for acting to reduce hunger and gives a good view of the road ahead.  Its tone is optimistic and forward-looking, as is appropriate. It can be said, however, that it will be difficult to implement these efforts, and it will require substantial effort by BFW and others interested if progress is to be made.  Already there are signs that little has been done to fulfill 2009 G-8 promises to boost foreign aid directed toward food security. (See As food prices soar, most developed countries ignore 2009 promise to fund food security initiative Howard Schneider Washington Post  February 18, 2011)  And the outlook for substantially increased U.S. funding for the Feed the Future program seems bleak in 2011, given what both Republicans and Democrats perceive as a "budget crisis"  (though neither party wanted to address the "budget crisis" by letting tax cuts expire, nor do they want to include military spending in spending to be cut). 

The book is available for download at http://www.hungerreport.org/2011/

Lane Vanderslice is the editor of Hunger Notes. 

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