Mar 032009
 
Authors: Chloe Wittry

Amid a financial recession that is impacting the globe, the World Food Programme continues to raise money and awareness about the world hunger crisis that is affecting about 1 billion people who are living on a dollar a day, according to one UN advisor.

“Hunger is a silent emergency,” said Douglas Coutts, senior advisor for the UN World Food Programme, at a keynote speech in the Lory Student Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Coutts said that the recession has impacted the World Food Programme’s funding, but donors have increased their contributions in order to make up for that deficit.

“Young people make the biggest impact because people pay attention to them.” Coutts said. “If more people raise awareness, the government will listen, the program will receive more funding and we will be able to make an even greater impact on the global hunger crisis.”

The audience of about 50 students and residents, listened to Coutts discuss the goals and accomplishments of the World Food Programme, the largest humanitarian agency in the world.

Coutts said that the program is trying to use food to break the cycle of intergenerational hunger by cooperating with governments and other organizations to feed the hungriest people and set up food programs in starving countries.

The WFP works with 2,000 agencies, like Save the Children, in order to achieve their five main objectives: save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies, prepare for emergencies, restore and rebuild lives after emergencies, reduce chronic hunger and under-nutrition everywhere and strengthen the capacity of countries to reduce hunger.

“Voluntary contributions to the program come primarily from country governments and voluntary donors,” Coutts said.

Coutts said that although the WFP mainly focuses on hunger emergencies in countries, they bring food and hope during non-emergencies through four programs: maternal child health, food for education, HIV/AIDS food intervention and economic dependency training.

“We focus on putting food in the hands of women because the women will feed the children before they will feed themselves,” Coutts said. “If we put the food in the hands of the men first, they would use it as a commodity.”

The WFP exhausts a lot of effort working with countries that are starving because the governments are often corrupt.

“The three least funded ministries in most countries struggling with a hunger crisis are health, education and agriculture,” Coutts said. “The most funded is military defense.”

Coutts said the WFP is not a political organization. They are placed in certain countries because of the governments’ lack of prioritization.

“Our main goal as a program is to feed people, not give them money,” Coutts said. “We use food as leverage in order for children to go to school and parents to become educated and skilled. We want to set them up so that they can have the money and empowerment to be able to feed themselves.”

Coutts encouraged students to get involved and join organizations at their university that are raising awareness and fighting hunger problems. He advocated for the Peace Corps, as well as church missions, in order to get students out of their shells and see the hunger problems first hand.

“Whatever you can do to get out and experience it instead of just reading about it is excellent,” he said.

Lauren Cochenour, who is currently seeking her master’s degree in the global health program, felt empowered listening to Coutts’ speech because she wants to put a program in place in a country to educate people about health safety.

“I already knew about most of topics that Coutts touched on, but it was good to hear from someone who has been there,” said Cochenour. ‘It was interesting to hear about a different program that is focused on world hunger.”

Universities Fighting Hunger, an organization at CSU that was started in the fall of 2008, aims to raise awareness around campus about the hunger crisis that if affecting the globe and provide students with a way to get involved.

“We get involved by organizing events such as the Cans Around the Oval concert and food service events,” said Allison Lundeby, a junior economics major, who is one of the members of the organization.

Lundeby said the group’s next event, “Sleep in Someone Else’s Box,” will take place on March 27 and 28, wherein participants will collect donations before they spend a night in cardboard boxes in the Plaza on campus in order to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty.

Staff writer Chloe Wittry can be reached at news@collegian.com.

WORLD HUNGER STATISTICS

– 25,000 people die each day from hunger and hunger related issues

– 923 million people go to be hungry every night

– Hunger kills more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

– Every six seconds a child dies from hunger

– 1.4 billion people live on less than $1 per day

– Since the 1960s, the world has produced enough food to feed itself

Statistics provided by Universities Fighting World Hunger

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