Wage peace with food

One last post (for now) on the book The End of Hunger. (Basic book review is HERE.) While we have a lot of good news over the last few decades in the cause to end hunger, the last few years have had their toll. The biggest issue: conflict.

Those in need of emergency assistance (meaning they have no other way to say alive) has risen dramatically in numbers.

Conflict drives 10 out of the 13 largest hunger crises in the world.

Sixty percent of the world’s hungry live in conflict zones.

The biggest impact is, of course, on children. “Stunting, which is a condition that impairs growth in young bodies, is usually caused by hunger, malnutrition, and poor health. Seventy-five percent of the world’s stunted children live in a conflict area.” (p. 58)

The issue is then compounded because food insecurity and conflict also causes the very thing we don’t want to talk about in this country: refugees and immigration.

Refugees and asylum seekers are on the move because they feel they have no choice, even through none of them really wants to move.

The current crisis in Syria has caused massive upheaval in the Middle East and Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are displaced and living in camps all around Syria. There isn’t one of them that wants to leave their homeland. They want the secure home they had before conflict.

Migration is further complicated when humanitarian aid is cut.

When you have food insecurity, country instability, and forced migration, there is also the rise of resentment and anger and bitterness. It is a breeding ground for revenge and it can become a potent recruiting base for violent extremism. Extremists recruit very easily in these conditions.

There are times where joining an extremist group is simply survival. It was the only way to get a meal.

If we work to end hunger by 2030 we have a great opportunity to reduce extremist activity. We have a great opportunity to end conflict areas, or at least reduce them.

“What we need to do is make food a weapon of peace.” (p. 60)

There are examples of efforts to build more stable communities. Niger is given as an example (p. 61).

And feeding children isn’t a massive expense. One organization spends $50 per child per year. Some parents send their children to school because it gives them one guaranteed meal per day. Food insecurity goes down. Education goes up.

Why is this such a political battle? Across the political spectrum this should not be a big debate! If we would spend a fraction of our military budgets on assistance programs, we would actually save money in military spending!

Former Secretary of State James Mattis has said that effective humanitarian assistance means he needs to buy fewer bullets (p. 62). That may hurt the bottom line of a few defense contractors, but why worry about their billions of dollars in profits when we can avoid trillion dollar wars?

Working toward the goal of zero hunger globally is the best defense for the nations of the world. It creates stability that reduces conflict.

We have this opportunity. Let us wage peace.

Image result for the end of hunger book

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