Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Hunger Map

Background: The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food assistance branch of the United Nations. Annually, WFP feeds nearly 90 million people worldwide, 60% of which are children, with an average of 2.5 million metric tons of food. WFP is the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and Oxfam International and Oxfam America find a great ally in WFP on numerous fronts - check out this article and short Youtube video on one of their combined initiatives called R4. Another way Oxfam America helps WFP is by working to increase the effectiveness of U.S. food assistance to the U.N. - no easy feat in today's political climate!

So, The Hunger Map...

WFP has on their website a highly interactive map called (you guessed it) The Hunger Map. What a resource! You can click on any country and instantly see details about the % of population classified as undernourished as well as major contributing factors to food insecurity. From there, tabs near the top of the screen (labeled as Hunger, WFP, and People) can take you to images and stories of lives touched by food assistance. Prior versions of this map were only available as a downloadable "flat" file mostly geared towards formal classroom instruction.

More than being a massively useful resource in explaining hunger and poverty, the map is a high-contrast visual representation that the world we live in is unjust. Look at Africa - such a huge portion of the continent is highlighted for their varying degrees of food insecurity. Political strife, climate change, poor economies, etc. all contribute to a lower quality of life for tens of millions living there. I invite you to take a peek at a few countries with WFP offices and explore the major contributing factors and what work is being done there to eliminate hunger - often in partnership with Oxfam :-)

Whether with WFP or Oxfam - ending hunger is no game (sorry, had to thrown in a Hunger Games reference). Aid works - let's keep it working!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The loss of LRP...

You’ve heard us talk about it before: LRP. It’s short for the USDA Local and Regional Procurement Project. LRP started as a pilot program in the 2008 Farm Bill and was based on the proven findings that providing cash grants to purchase food in surplus-producing areas of the region where it will be distributed saves time and money.

Over the course of the 4-year project, nearly 2 million people received food rations through vouchers, Food for Work activities and school feeding programs. That amounted to nearly 55,000 metric tons of food! You might be thinking to yourself, “How is this any different from what food aid already does?”. Well, most food aid provided by the U.S. has to be grown in the United States, transported to the shores, shipped overseas on U.S. shipping vessels, arrive in the crisis region, transported to the specific area being affected, and then distributed. This whole process sometimes takes 3-6 months and well, time is money and more importantly, lives! That’s where LRP comes in. If you can replace the first three steps with: acquire food in-region, then you’ve saved a huge amount of time (months saved = lives saved) and reduced the cost because you no longer have to ship the food such long distances.
But…this program was allowed to expire during recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Earlier in 2012, the Senate Ag Committee had put forth an effort to make it a permanent program with a $40 million appropriation due to its success. Nope – didn’t make it through. Although 'inconvenient' seems like a heartless word choice, this really isn’t a time to mess around with life-saving foreign assistance. Issues such as climate change continue to threaten the already food insecure, leaving hundreds of millions to ponder their very survival. How do we tell them that a program that we know is successful and saves lives was allowed to expire?

And when disaster strikes, how long must millions now wait for emergency food aid to arrive? 3 to 6 months? We can do better than that…WE know we can. 

Tell Congress you oppose cuts to effective, poverty-reducing foreign aid!  Together, we’re a powerful voice for change. Let’s be a voice for those who too often go unheard.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Five Reasons to Attend Organizer Training

Although we’ve just moved into 2013, there’s a huge opportunity knocking at your doorstep: Oxfam Action Corps training! Applications are now being accepted to be a lead organizer in Des Moines. We could speak volumes about our year as organizers but here are few reasons (David Letterman style) why you should seriously consider attending training in mid-April:

Top Five Reasons Why You Should Attend Oxfam Action Corps Organizer Training

5. It’s Free! The 4-day training held in Washington D.C. covers your travel, hotel, and meals. The staff at Oxfam America go to extreme lengths to make the training a memorable, inspirational, and educational experience. They recognize the value their volunteer organizers bring to the mission of Oxfam and you’ll be treated very well. In return, they ask for your one-year commitment to building a movement for social justice in your city.

4. It’s in Washington, D.C.! What an incredible place filled with so much history! You'll be in classroom style training most of the day but your evenings will be free so you'll have the chance to explore D.C. with your newly made friend/organizers. And, in your final day at organizer training, you'll walk across Capitol Hill to lobby your congressional representatives and ask them to support a world that's fair for everyone.

3. You Can Make a Difference! Your energy and passion for social justice will take you to some amazing places over your year with Oxfam. And it all starts at organizer training. You'll learn why these issues matter in today's world and that only through our combined efforts can we truly change the world. Organizer training brings you closer to your own personal values and reinforces the notion that we're better together than we are divided.

2. You'll Meet New People! You’ll meet some amazing individuals (like yourself) hand-picked by Oxfam leadership to spread awareness about social justice issues in major cities across the U.S. Be prepared to be inspired by their energy, commitment, and passion for making the world we live in a better place for all.

1. Opportunities Abound! You already have the power to be a leader – maybe you need that extra push to develop your skills or maybe you’re already a seasoned organizer and are looking for a new opportunity. With Oxfam Action Corps, that’s exactly what you get – opportunity. Most of all, the opportunity to grow as a community leader and as a private citizen. The leadership team at Oxfam America is ready to help you succeed with the organizer training and support throughout your year. Your year will be what you make of it, so make it a good one and have some fun!

Make 2013 the year you take a stand for social justice. Apply here! The application takes less than 10 minutes. Don't delay - Feb. 14th is the last day to apply!