As someone born and brought up outside the UK but now living here, one of the things I most admire about the British people is that they hold in their hearts the struggle against global poverty. The 'Enough Food for Everyone IF' campaign has united in one voice all the major NGOs and faith groups in the UK.
More than 30,000 supporters signed up online in the first 24 hours alone, and over 3 million people have now been reached by the campaign. In churches, in student union meetings, in village halls and town squares ordinary people are calling on world leaders to tackle the causes of hunger. More and more people are putting on the white bands that signify their support, emailing their MP and setting up local groups to campaign together.
Political leaders across the spectrum have seen the power of the campaign and issued statements of support. Campaigners are working to make sure these words are matched by action. We are not waiting for a new invention: we've seen how effective action by governments, citizens and the private sector can ensure that everyone has enough food. Programmes run by NGOs like World Vision have shown what is possible in tackling malnutrition and hunger.
As Mark Tran noted, during a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, about 2,000 farmers now harvest 15 bags of cassava in their small family plots where once they only harvested 2 bags. Josephine Mwamini, a women farmer says "I'm very happy, the new methods have helped a lot, we have more to eat and we sell what is left over". We need to scale up what we know works.
In March, all eyes will be on Chancellor George Osborne for the budget. The UK first made a commitment to move towards spending a minimum of 0.7% of national income on aid in 1970.This year the UK has the chance not only to meet the target but be the first G8 country to achieve it. The combination of financial clout and moral high ground will help the UK to press others to follow suit.
This will be even stronger if MPs support the Private Members' Bill of Mark Hendrick MP to set this promise in law. Campaigners are also calling for on the Government to require companies to share information about their tax affairs in developing countries to ensure greater transparency and help poor countries mobilise greater resources to fight poverty.
In June, attention will turn to the Food and Hunger Summit in London and to the G8 in Northern Ireland. World leaders at the highest level will agree a plan to tackle under nutrition and stunting in children and to support farmers in growing their own way out of poverty. They'll agree actions on some of the underlying causes of hunger, too, such as land grabs which drive poor families off their land, biofuels targets that press farmers to grow fuel instead of food, and climate change which is making it ever harder to grow anything.
Some ask whether the G8 leaders will choose to make history, to decide that 2013 is the moment and that there is no cause greater than the beginning of the end of hunger. That's the wrong question. The real question is whether enough of us will stand up and give voice to those whose voices are not heard, to say that there is enough food in the world for everyone, and we insist that leaders ensure that everyone has enough food.
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