By Akanimo Sampson
A global civic group, The Alliance To End Hunger, says hunger and poverty are contributing to instability at the local, national and international levels and posing national security risks for Nigeria, the United States and the international community.
The group also pointed out that programmes which build food security and reduce poverty will help greatly in creating vital, stable and resilient communities.
The Alliance is concerned with ending hunger and reducing poverty, a seeming priority of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
To this end, the Alliance is advocating for a national legislation that protects and strengthens federal nutrition assistance programmes and supports hunger-free community coalitions across the country.
For the US, the group wants Washington to Increase funding for poverty-focused international development and humanitarian assistance, including programmes run by the US and multi-lateral organisations that focus on hunger, nutrition and agriculture.
The group says it is in support of the reform and modernisation of international development and humanitarian assistance; scaling up maternal and child nutrition within the first 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday; the recommendations and priorities contained in the International Roadmap to End World Hunger; the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere.) and Goal 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.); the Circle of Protection principle that the United States should not cut funding for programmes that are focused on helping hungry and poor people in the US and around the world.
Continuing, the group announced on its website that they are equally in support of the US Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future,focused on sustainable development, supports legislation that would make the core principles of Feed the Future permanent.; promotes improved job opportunities for low-income workers; and enables: private sector investment; programmes that include nutrition interventions; gender balance in leadership roles; local community & farmer groups; small scale farmer supports.
Furthermore, context appropriate research & extension; local voice and influence in visioning, planning, implementing and evaluating; encouragement and support of young farmers and agriculturalists; rural access to information, policy guidance and sector decision making; environmental stewardship; inclusion of local assets and experiences when possible; appropriate programme scale; in hunger eradication and international development consistent with other policy platforms.
Policy positions taken by the Alliance and any of its committees are not necessarily reflective of the positions or opinions of all of its members. However, support to sustainable development overseas and ending hunger and poverty is an important part of our national security strategy and expresses our nation’s values and interests.
Alliance members carry out programmes on several continents which collaborate with and complement US government contributions to this effort.
As former Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates stated, “the work performed by diplomatic and development professionals helps build the foundation for more stable, democratic and prosperous societies. These are places where the potential for conflict can be minimised, if not completely avoided, by State and USAID programmes.”
Arguably, without sustained progress, recurring price volatility and food shortages will contribute to political instability as witnessed by food riots and related events since 2008. Malnutrition likely will lead to mass migration and intensifying health issues.
According to the Alliance, ‘’diplomatic efforts to maintain peace will be far more difficult wherever food shortages contribute to extremism and conflict. United States interests related to economic development in low-and middle-income countries will continually be frustrated if populations are unable to feed themselves.
‘’From 2007 to 2008, the period when global food prices spiked, there were major riots in over 30 countries.i Recent research suggests that an earlier drought was a key spark leading to the uprising against the Assad regime in Syria.
‘’Today a number of countries, even entire regions, face a triple threat of conflict, climate change and vulnerability to natural disasters which threatens the food security and income stability of millions.iv Lack of food security –whether caused by lack of jobs and income, natural disaster or conflict–contributes to political instability and the reverse is also true.v Food insecurity and political instability together can lead to displacement of people and ungoverned spaces that national security strategy seeks to prevent.’’