Some numbers: Almost one billion people around the world are hungry on a daily basis. By the end of October, the world population will have grown to seven billion people. And as of this year, the global development community estimates hundreds of thousands of lives may be lost in the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. Where is the outrage?
The outrage may come from knowing, for example, that there's plenty of food in the global supply. The anger could result from an understanding that recurrent famines aren't inevitable; there are solutions. What if we knew, in fact, that what we are witnessing is also a situation about food justice, about inequities in the system?
In fact, this is what we know -- this is what Oxfam, one of the groups leading the humanitarian relief efforts in East Africa -- already knows. But without continued calls for funding and media attention, we'll continue to see cycles of drought and famine and more, as the planet struggles to cope with the population explosion and extreme weather patterns.
Sunday, October 16, is World Food Day.
If there is a moment to be engaged and add your name to petitions and find out more, I would suggest that this is as good a time as any (although anytime is a good time). Many in the global development community -- UNICEF, Save the Children, ONE, others -- are calling for action and attention. Earlier this year, Oxfam launched a major campaign -- GROW -- to "change the way we produce, consume, and share...so the next generation can join us at the table." (Sign Oxfam's pledge to be involved to hear more about how your advocacy can help.)
To recognize the date and call attention to the global emergency of chronic hunger, we at indie broadcaster Link TV, working together with Oxfam America (as part of Link TV's ViewChange global development project), have produced a half-hour documentary special that explores solutions to famine and chronic hunger around the world. "ViewChange: Africa's Last Famine" features the story of an Ethiopian farmer, Medhin Reda, and interviews with Francis Moore Lappé, humanitarian and bestselling author of Diet for a Small Planet.
Famine is not is simply caused by a lack of food in the global supply. We must -- and can -- do better.