The Fight to End Hunger: The Role of U.S. NGOs and Global Leadership

This September, global leaders from 193 countries came together to agree on an ambitious set of universal goals to reduce poverty and inequality. The goals recognize that to build inclusive prosperity, the world must tackle hunger and malnutrition, particularly for the most vulnerable. The goals – called the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs for short – commit us towards zero hunger worldwide by 2030. As we celebrate World Food Day on October 16, let’s reflect on how we can achieve this ambitious target.  

In the past 25 years, the world has made significant progress in stemming hunger. Together, we have cut the number of undernourished people by half. However, 795 million people still suffer from a lack of essential nutrients every day. One in nine people worldwide lack vitamins, minerals, and proteins to lead active and healthy lives. Fortunately, there are concrete steps that we can take to address chronic hunger globally.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) play a vital role in the fight to end chronic hunger. In 2014 alone, InterAction members spent over $733 million in private donations from the American public and businesses towards ending hunger and improving nutrition. Members exceeded the spending rate with a 6% increase from their investments in 2013. In Mali, CARE partnered with local farmers to create community food banks to store surplus harvest. During lean season when food is scarce, farmers sold the stored food at a reasonable price to local people – ensuring families could eat. 

Nutrition is an important piece of food security efforts. For every $1 we invest in nutrition, a country can get $16 in economic benefits in return. If we help families provide their children with good nutrition, the children are more likely to go on to obtain a good education, earn a living, and escape poverty. In 2014, InterAction members invested over $500 million in private resources towards nutrition-related projects alone. In Bangladesh, BRAC’s nutrition programs work to prevent child malnutrition through distributing nutrition packets to families and raising awareness amongst mothers about the health benefits of breastfeeding. 

Governments around the world also have a key role to play. The U.S. government has been at the forefront in the fight to end chronic hunger, and it must continue this momentum. The U.S.'s Feed the Future initiative has made tremendous gains in the last five years. In 2013, the partnership of farmers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and civil society leaders meant 12.5 million children had better nutrition.  This has helped create a foundation for prosperity and independence. To build upon these gains and ensure strong U.S. leadership in ending hunger and malnutrition, we must encourage Congress to pass the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567 and S. 1252).

To end hunger by 2030, NGOs, governments, private businesses, and universities need to think of new ways to work together. As we have witnessed since 1990, significantly decreasing hunger is possible. Now is the time for us to pave the pathway towards eradicating hunger and building more healthy, just, and peaceful societies for the future. 

More for information on how you can encourage Congress to take action, follow InterAction’s new advocacy handle @NGOVoices on Twitter.