The government must act to make hunger a thing of the past

Dan Jarvis MP (Labour, Barnsley Central) is the shadow culture minister

There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. But not everyone has enough food.

This simple truth – this injustice – was brought to our attention last week, as over 100 organisations joined together to launch the ‘Enough Food for Everyone If’ campaign.

This is the first time that international charities and faith organisations have come together in this way since Make Poverty History in 2005, when the Labour government led the G8 at Gleneagles in cancelling debt and committing vital funds in aid to help the world’s poorest people.

Labour has a lot to be proud of in terms of our record on international development. Over the last decade, the number of children dying each year has fallen from 12 million to 6.9 million.

But despite many great achievements, one in eight people still go to bed hungry every night. The food crises which we see spanning the African continent, from Somalia to Senegal, are evidence of a system that is close to breaking point.

With a changing climate, increasing population and financial volatility, the food system is under strain as never before.

Food prices reached record levels in recent years, putting an additional 400,000 children’s lives at risk. Millions of people around the world are suffering the effects of malnutrition. I’ve seen this with my own eyes when I visited India with Save the Children last summer.

In the Delhi slums I met Ritu, a nine month old girl, who looked little older than a newborn. She weighed just three and a half pounds at birth; and little more when I met her. Her mother could not afford vegetables and other nutritious food, and she told me how afraid she was for Ritu’s future.

Ritu was just one of the 48% of Indian children who are stunted due to malnutrition.

When I served in Afghanistan, I saw the impact that hunger and malnutrition have on people’s lives. One in ten children in Afghanistan dies before their fifth birthday, and 59% are stunted.

The lack of global progress on tackling hunger has led many to conclude that it is an intractable problem. But the ‘Enough Food for Everyone If’ campaign tells us that we can solve this problem.

We can be the generation to end hunger – if we act now.

The coalition government must not only stick to its promises on aid – to spend 0.7 % of national income and enshrine that commitment in law – but it must also ensure that budget is spent wisely.

We know that tackling malnutrition is one of the best buy investments in development, and that it is critical to support small farmers who provide food for one third of the human race but who make up over half of the world’s hungry people.

But it is about more than money. The If campaign is right to focus on the structural flaws in the global food system which cause one in eight people to go hungry. As Labour MPs and activists we should support the campaign’s call for greater transparency across the food system.

The UK government must show global leadership in shining a light on the secretive and unfair way in which land is bought, sold and used in the developing world. I was shocked to learn that an area of land the size of London is bought up every six days in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Those who rely on this land must be offered greater protections.

It is also vital that we abolish the subsidies that make it cheaper to use food as fuel instead of feeding hungry people.

And finally, it is time for this government to start delivering on its promises to crack down on the tax dodging that robs developing countries of vital funds to invest in agriculture and feed their own people.

The more of us who join together to support this campaign, the greater the pressure we can put on the UK government and governments around the world to stop hunger in its tracks.

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13 Responses to “The government must act to make hunger a thing of the past”

  1. Newsbot9

    And what about the rapid growth of hunger in this country?

  2. LB

    You earn 65,000 quid.

    Min wage is 12K

    That’s 53,000 pounds of donations you can make.

    You’re just avoiding handing over the money to the poor. You’re a charity dodger.

    All mouth, and no trousers.

    Why do you get subsidised food in the commons? Why not put that subsidy to use else where?

    Ah yes, its going down your gullet.

    Don’t be so hypocritical.

  3. LB

    Quite. Dan Jarvis has eat all the pies, and forced the poor to pay for it.

  4. Newsbot9

    You’re confusing Dan Jarvis and the man in your mirror again.

  5. groo

    why can’t we separate the issues we have domestically eg resentment of MPs and the likes from issues of global poverty that need to be addressed much more urgently? People need to lay aside their own qualms and shift their focus from complaining about who should be giving more money to actually appreciating the problems – it stuns me that I have just read the same article as those immediately descending into finger pointing and looking immediately back to UK issues. This issue is bigger than subsidised food in the commons!!!

  6. Newsbot9

    Because it’s hypocritical to address the issues separately. Ignoring hunger here to address it abroad is simple attention-grabbing.

  7. Newsbot9

    Ah yes, you’re confusing yourself and others again. Keep on demanding the 99% hand over their salaries to make up for your refusal to pay tax. Keep on trying to take trousers, keep on demanding that only the rich be allowed to be MP’s…

  8. groo

    If we wait for all problems of inequality and hypocrisy in Britain to be resolved before addressing hunger abroad then the prospect of alleviating poverty looks frighteningly minimal.

  9. Newsbot9

    Wait? No. They’re not separable.
    The problem, capitalism, is the same.

  10. groo

    so we have to wait to overthrow capitalism before offering aid?

  11. Newsbot9

    You know what? You keep on making excuses as to why it’s acceptable to stave the British poor. Celebrate, Tory!

  12. groo

    well you keep on making excuses that stave those starving to death globally. good day to you selfish nationalist!

  13. Newsbot9

    You’re the one fighting making the changes anywhere!

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