Gladys is a HungerFREE hero. Whose side are you on?
Photo: Søren Bjerregaard/ActionAid
It is World Food Week and between now and the end of the year the world’s leaders will meet for the G20 in Cannes and COP here in South Africa. There has never been a more crucial time to make a difference on hunger.
We seem to be hell bent on feeding rich people’s cars rather than helping the poor feed themselves. Ultimately it comes down to priorities and it is reasonable to judge our leaders not just on what they say their priorities are but on the result of their actions and the effects they have on others.
Two billion people on this planet depend on the efforts of smallholder women farmers to eat. With a bit of help, these women can work wonders. Take Gladys Wangui, a spry Kenyan woman in her early sixties. Surrounded by bone dry and unproductive land, she has transformed her farm to feed her family well and even earn enough money to install electricity in her house. She just needed a helping hand to adjust from farming that relied on increasingly erratic rain to better use of irrigation.
Instead of creating fatally flawed soil carbon markets or setting ambitious biofuels targets that divert land from farming use, the world’s leaders should be looking at what we can do to help these hidden hunger heroes and if not help them at least stop creating schemes that will make their lives harder.
We’d like to see properly resourced food reserves to cope with the increasingly frequent famines that the Global North’s climate damaging activities have created. We’d like to see measures put in place to calm food price volatility so that a good day’s trading in Wall Street or London doesn’t mean starvation somewhere else on the planet. And we demand public financing from the countries who created global warming to help those like Gladys who are disproportionately suffering from its effects to the tune of $100bn (about 1/7th of the US Defence budget).