Hungry for change
World hunger is such a daunting problem that too
often it leaves us feeling helpless. But there is
plenty that we can do - and campaigns in all our
countries to help us make our voices heard.
The World Food Assembly is an independent coalition of ‘people from all parts of the world, united in the conviction that radical changes are needed if we are to meet our human responsibility of ensuring food for all.’ It spans more than 200 organisations in 60 countries and includes rural women, development workers, peasants and priests. The Assembly met for the first time in Rome in November1984 and produced a manifesto entitled That All May Eat - action for change end justice. This throws down a challenge to the hunger and distress which our government institutions and commercial systems continue to inflict on countless millions of people. The WFA can be contacted at its secretariat based in the UK at 15 Devonshire Terrace. London W2 3DW. Tel: 01 -328-7251.
Ten Days for World Development is a joint program of the major Canadian churches. The purpose of Ten Days, as it is popularly known, is to educate Canadians as to the causes of underdevelopment and stimulate them to action - such as pressuring politicians for a more just Canadian policy towards the Third World. For 1986 Ten Days has launched a campaign on the theme Why Are People Hungry? The education campaign will aim to deepen understanding of the food issue in all its aspects - access to land. deterioration of the environment, the role ot food-producing women, the exploitation of the Third World by the First and the effects of debt on development. The program will culminate in the ten days between January 31 and February 10 1986 in ‘an issue-raising program aimed at consciousness-raising and action among not only Canadian church members but all Canadians’. If you are interested in helping to answer the question Why Are People Hungry? write to Jeanne Moffat, Ten Days for World Development. 85 St Clair Avenue East Room 315. Toronto. Ont M41 1 M8.
The best organisation to contact is CORSO. which has set up an educational trust to raise people’s awareness of the key development issues. The main Resource Center is in Christchurch and this will answer queries from schools, groups or individuals who wish to join the fight against world hunger - though there are CORSO offices in all of New Zealand’s major cities. The Center’s address is Box 1905, Christchurch, and the phone number Christchurch 62803.
Voluntary aid agencies who do some educational work on food-related issues are the Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign. 43/107 Northbourne Avenue. Canberra (tel: 062’47-2305); and Community Aid Abroad. 75 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Vic 3065 (tel: 03-419-71 11). Organisations more specifically concerned with development education are: Action for World Development 1st Floor. 1 83 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, Vic 3065 (tel: 03-41 9-55881; and the Development Education Group. 1 55 Pine Street. Adelaide 5000.
The most important food campaign in the US is World Hunger Year which untiringly promotes education about the world toad problem and lobbies for effective political action. They can be reached at 350 Broadway, New York, NY 10013. The Institute for Food and Development Policy is not strictly speaking, a campaign which people can join. But it is an essential source of information and ideas for all those working to understand the global food system and the politics which underpin it. They can be reached at 1885 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
The main campaign which tackles the world food problem head on is Oxfam’s Hungry for Change, which was launched in October 1984. At least 50.000 people responded to the campaign, and 2.000 of those are active in local groups trying to get the message across. Last year’s mass fast in protest against the politics of food had 13.000 people taking part in public events and many more participating silently at home - there is to be another fast this year on November 16/1 7. Anyone interested should contact their local Oxfam office via a telephone directory or write to Campaigns Unit Oxfam House. 274 Banbury Road. Oxford 0X2 7DZ. The World Development Movement has also organised a mass lobby of Parliament on the issue of world hunger for October22 - and it is important that as many people as possible attend. Contact WDM at Bedford Chambers. London WC2E 8HA. Tel:O1-836-3672. And One World Week (October 20-71 this year is focussing on the food issue under the banner Recipes for Justice.
Worth reading on... FOOD
The most important book on the food issue is still Food First by Frances Moore Lapp6 and Joseph Collins, published by Ballantine in North America (1977) and by Abacus in the UK (1982). It exposes all the most common myths about global hunger and argues that the food problem is inescapably political - the cause of feeding people is inseparable from the cause of social justice.
Lappe and Collins, and the Institute for Food and Development Policy which they founded, are also the source of many other stimulating books about food. What Difference Does A Revolution Make? by Joseph Collins Food First Books 1982, gives an insider’s view of Nicaragua’s progress towards feeding its people since the overthrow of Somoza; while No Free Lunch by Medea Benjamin, Joseph Collins and Michael Scol4 Food First Books 1984 maintains that Cuba has become the first country in Latin America to make malnutrition a thing of the past. Diet For A Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappct Ballantine 1975 takes some analysis of the global food system, adds a dash of nutritional advice and serves it up with vegetarian recipes through which her ideas can be put into practice.
An important recent book is Africa In Crisis by Lloyd Tirnberlake, Earthscan 1985. This is a comprehensive and t’ery readable account of what it calls ‘the causes, the cures of environmental bankruptcy.
Two valuable introductions to ‘the subject are: Food For Beginners, by Susan George and Nigel Paige, Writers and Readers 1982, in which the author of How the Other Half Dies covers a complex issue in cartoon form; and Inside the Third World by Paul Harrison, Pelican J981, which was my own first encounter with the real causes of world hunger.
An intelligent and unsensational look at the most publicised famine of all can be found in Ethiopia: the Challenge of Hunger by Graham Hancock, Victor Gollancz 1985. While the less newsworthy hunger of a Bangladesh village is portrayed movingly in A Quiet Violence by Betsy Hartmann and James Boyce, published by Zed Press in the UK and by Food First Books in tize US.
Niget Twoses two short reports for Oxfam UK - Cultivating Hunger and Drought and the Sahel - arc clear, provocative and publicly available. His forthcoming book with Mike Goldwawr (whose magnificent photos are liberally sprinided through this magazine) should also be worth looking out for - this is Fighting the Famine, Pluto Press 1985.