The IF campaign : why are 1 billion people dying from starvation when there is enough food for everyone in the world ?

By the time you finish reading this article, somewhere in the world, 36 people will have died from starvation or malnutrition.

In fact, almost 1 billion people each year die from starvation or malnutrition, as shown in a report produced by a group of over a hundred organisations including Unicef, Save the Children, Oxfam and The Global Poverty Project. In response to this, the group launched the “Enough Food For Everyone, IF” campaign, at Somerset House in London on Wednesday, 23rd January.

Prominent figures show their support

The hour-long event, presented by DJ and presenter Lauren Laverne, saw the participation of prominent celebrities such as actor Bill Nighy, actress Bonny Wright, Olympic athlete Colin Jackson, actress Keeley Hawes, England rugby legend Matt Dawson and musician Baaba Maal. During the evening, other celebrities also showed their support to the IF campaign, sending video messages that were projected onto the walls of Somerset House : One Direction, Orlando Bloom, Natasha Kaplinsky, Bill Gates, David Harewood, David Gyasi, Anjelique Kidjo, Nina Wadia and Myleene Klass.

Bill Gates said in his message : ‘The world faces a clear choice. The right one will help millions of poor farmers to feed their families. Business as usual will see one in seven people around the world continue to live needlessly on the edge of starvation worrying whether their family will have enough food to eat. Fifty years ago more than one in three of the global population faced these problems. So we’re making huge progress. Choices made since then have saved countless lives and helped nations develop. We have the ability to accelerate this progress. Hunger not only causes very real human tragedy, it also costs economies billions of dollars. This doesn’t make sense. Stopping hunger and malnutrition is not just the right thing to do. It’s also in our self-interest. This year world leaders will meet in the UK. They can change the future for millions of people who live with the day-to-day struggle of hunger. But only IF we work together. This is why I’m part of the IF Campaign : to make sure everyone has enough food to live. Please join me.’

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Microsoft’s Bill Gates has lent his support to the campaign.

Image Credit : Microsoft Bill Gates by Masaru Kamikura on flickr, licensed under CC-BY

The IF campaign was presented in the UK and in 2013 because the UK will host the next G8 conference later this year. Leaders from the USA, the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Russia and Japan have been called on to prioritise issues related to global poverty and hunger.

In the evening, after the event at Somerset House ended, the campaign made its way to No. 10 Downing Street, where Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband confirmed the willingness of the UK Government to spend 0.7% of the national income on aid. On Twitter, Ed Miliband said : ‘900m people worldwide don’t have enough to eat. Great launch to brilliant EnoughFoodIF campaign tonight.’

What are the causes of starvation ?

There are many causes of starvation, and poverty is only one of those. The campaign focuses on four other main elements too :

Aid:Campaign supporters want governments to take action to fill a $100 billion gap by 2020 to help the developing countries in their fight against climate change, and to invest part of their gross national income on nutritional aid.

Land : This is one of the most pressing issues. According to the IF report, there is enough food for everyone in the world. The problem is not the lack of resources, but the way in which those resources are shared and invested. In countries like Africa, farmers have all the land they need to make sure they have enough food to sustain themselves and their families. But, too often, that land is taken by companies which invest in growing crops for fuel, leaving people with no means to feed themselves.

Tax : If every company paid taxes in countries like India, then the money could be used to invest in aid.

Transparency : “We need stronger laws that force governments and corporations to be open and honest in all their actions relating to the food system, and ensure that resources are used to help poor people”, the IF Campaign says on their website.

This campaign is part of the wider, more ambitious “Make Poverty History” project that fights contributing factors to poverty. An example is the campaign, “The End of Polio” that wants to finally eradicate polio from those countries in which it is still widespread, such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

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