"We are halfway to defeating extreme poverty and disease worldwide."
By Jenny Eaton Dyer
Since 1990, our generation and our nation has led the world in halving the number of people who live in extreme poverty around the world, and we did this in spite of the increase of population growth during this time period. Cutting extreme poverty in half has equated to cutting hunger in half. This is historic. This is epic. Among the many things good and bad, for which our generation will be remembered, this is a brilliant moment for us.
Not only have we been able to tackle extreme poverty and hunger but also, during this same time period, we have halved the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, maternal mortality, and child deaths (under the age of five). With a united front of forces including governments, coalitions, private sectors, foundations, philanthropic organizations, and the faith community, millions of lives have been saved from extreme poverty and disease.
We are halfway to defeating extreme poverty and disease worldwide.
Through agreed upon sustainable development goals led by the United Nations, we have come together as nations to learn how best to solve some of the world's biggest challenges—including hunger. The good news is that we are succeeding. We are on course. And we know scientifically, politically, and spiritually what it will take to move forward to end hunger by 2030. Zero hunger is the second of seventeen goals, and we can achieve that by rethinking how we grow, share, and consume our food on this planet.
This book is about the second half of this journey, a renewed hope for feeding the world. It is dedicated to those who live with hunger and its deleterious effects throughout the lifespan. We lift up these people and their voices to you to better understand their suffering and their hope for a better tomorrow. In doing so, we provide five vignettes of individuals who have lived with or live with the reality of starvation or malnutrition.
Our book opens with an overview of the problem of hunger. With leading experts including those on the front lines of famine to politicians, economists, theologians, and scientists, we cover the problems of global hunger and malnutrition. Hunger is complicated, involving layers of issues from the individual to the conflict between nations. To end hunger, we must take these various systemic causes seriously, if we are going to truly address the roots of the problem.
Next, through a juxtaposition of stories and science, we unfold one of the latest scientific advances to overcoming the
cognitive and physical lifelong consequences of malnutrition: addressing nutrition in the first one thousand days of a child's life—from the moment of conception to the child's second birthday. During this sacred period, science has shown that if the mother and the child can obtain the full spectrum of proper nutrients, which include micronutrients such as, iron, protein, folate, and other vitamins and minerals, the child can avoid stunting that can cause poor physical growth of the body and the brain. Children who experience stunting live lives with higher rates of chronic illness, less education, and less jobopportunities during adulthood. Nutrition during the first one thousand days not only affects the life of the child but it also causes a ripple effect to impact their family, their community, society, and ultimately the nation.
Finally, we offer a way forward. What then can we do as citizens, perhaps even as Christians living in the US today? How can we play a role in ending hunger? In providing nutrition during the thousand-day window for a mother and child? Our authors suggest a variety of responses from growing your own garden to cooking at home to fasting to advocacy.
Your voice and your will to end hunger will be a lynchpin in the coming years.
Advocacy is the often-overlooked Christian practice of speaking up on behalf of the poor. We ask you, our readers, to
reconsider the power of advocacy by lifting your voices to let our congressional leaders know that you care deeply about how our nation provides for the world's most vulnerable populations. With less than 1 percent of our US budget, we provide the world's leading amounts of funding to tackle extreme poverty and disease. The majority of funding of this 1 percent for global health goes to addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Nutrition funding, unfortunately, receives a fraction of this amount and has remained stagnant for decades.
We need to reconsider nutrition, its importance in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); its critical role in addressing global health and development; and the amount of funding we, as a nation, are willing to spend to end hunger and malnutrition worldwide.
Your voice and your will to end hunger will be a lynchpin in the coming years on whether or not our generation will be able to say we didn't only halve hunger—we ended it.
Will you join us?
Taken from the introduction to The End of Hunger: Renewed Hope for Feeding the World by Jenny Eaton Dyer and Cathleen Falsani. This excerpt appears with permission from InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.