The following is an excerpt from Adam Taylor's post on The Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food for Thought Blog.
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This weekend, American families will be preparing their Halloween costumes and loading up on last minute candy purchases. On Monday night, most American children will be walking the dark streets in ghoulish costumes and returning home happy with bags full of sweets. For the next few weeks they will consume way more than the minimum calories (1,500 Kcal per day for a child) needed for their development while an estimated one billion people will go to bed hungry.
Next week, the G20 Summit in Cannes, France provides a critical opportunity for President Obama to galvanize G20 leadership in addressing the mounting crisis of food security—the lack of reliable, nutritious food for the world’s poorest people. With its significant member resources and political clout, the G20 is in a unique position to ensure that effective continuing mechanisms and strategies are put in place to solve the problems of acute food insecurity in some regions such as east Africa and the continuing slow emergency in child and maternal malnutrition.
As one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations working on food security and child nutrition, World Vision is particularly concerned about the poor state of health and nutrition for many of the world’s children – especially the roughly 200 million children who are chronically malnourished.
In the Horn of Africa, thousands of drought refugees have fled from Somalia. Many are women whose children now face hunger and severe malnutrition.
As the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa remind us, it is the youngest that are most vulnerable to the consequences of hunger and malnutrition. Research shows that investment in good health and nutrition in the first 1,000 days of each child’s life—from conception to age two—ensures resilience to health threats and sets a strong foundation for their future. For this reason, the nutrition of pregnant and lactating women and their children under two must be given highest priority and support by the G20.
The good news is that the G20 has developed a plan and, with U.S. leadership, has begun the slow process of rolling it out. Financial crisis, the U.S. debt debate, war, famine looming in East Africa and North Korea, and general economic downturn risks under-funding bold, global leadership. If the steps in the plan are taken in 2011 and progressively built upon over the coming years, then we will see a remarkable improvement in global food security and nutrition. If not, we will see repeated and growing hunger crises like the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, as well as political instability and the continued preventable deaths of millions of children.
The G20 also provides a critical political and media platform for President Obama to affirm existing commitments and leverage greater leadership and accountability from other G20 countries to promises made around food security. President Obama can reinforce U.S. commitment to Feed the Future and the Food for Peace programs as both emergency and development efforts to prevent drought from turning into deadly famine. In light of the currently polarized budget debate, there’s a real danger that both programs may be seriously cut in Congress as budgets are finalized.
Americans will spend an estimated $7 billion on candy and costumes to celebrate Halloween this year. Meanwhile, Feed the Future and Food for Peace would help millions at just half that cost: $3.14 billion in fiscal year 2012. This Halloween, a failure of leadership at the G20 Summit to address the escalating global food crisis could result in some real life-and-death horror stories for our world’s most vulnerable.
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Read the full on The Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food for Thought Blog.
Read related posts about the upcoming G20 Summit: French first baby already a winner in the geographic lottery and What our nation’s top leaders have to say – My notes from the FWD campaign live stream