Peace for the Soul

A common space for harmonic peacemakers

OPINION: Hope and Progress in the Developing World, Despite Daunting Challenges

For most Seattle residents, global hunger seems like an impossible problem to solve. Reports of famine in Niger or the thousands at risk for starvation and malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, seem not only far away but impossible to change. A local organization, however, begs to differ.

The Seattle-based Bridges to Understanding uses digital technology to empower and connect children around the world. Students participating in the Bridges curriculum are taught to use cameras and editing software to develop stories about their community and culture. These videos, comprised of a photo slide show with a running narration, are then shared with the Bridges online community, which is made up of schools in seven countries around the world.

For many students, it's the first time they have ever even held a camera.

"At first, the prospect of designing, shooting and editing a movie seems insurmountable but then they produce these beautiful films," says Elizabeth Sewell, Bridges Program Manager at the Rural Development Foundation's (RDF) primary school in Kalleda, a small village in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, India. "And then you knock down that barrier, you show them what they are capable of doing. And then they can start to approach other, larger and more institutional, problems the same way. Suddenly, in their own eyes, there are no limits to what they can achieve."

Since the 1980s, international investment in agriculture has decreased significantly. These cuts have impacted women and children the most. But in addition to making sure we reverse these trends, we need to ensure that funding is used effectively - reaching the farmers who need it most.

Who better to consult - and to equip with the tools to help out - in the global effort to combat hunger than the youth, women and farmers who will most benefit from it?

In South Africa, the organization Food and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network is using theater to engage leaders, service providers and policymakers; encourage community participation; and research the needs of women farmers through a project called Theatre for Policy Advocacy. Popular theater personalities travel to communities in Mozambique and Malawi and stage performances using scripts based on the network's research, to engage members of the community.

After each performance, community members, women, men, youth, local leaders are engaged in facilitated dialogues. The dialogues give all community members - especially women - a chance to openly talk about the challenges they are facing without upsetting the status quo, empowering them to speak about what they need from aid groups and their community.

In Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Mali, and other countries around the world, the Africa Rice Centre is using farmer-made instructional videos to help rice farmers share various new methods of improving rice production with each other. The strong presence of women in the videos also helps local NGOs and extension offices - which tend to be made up mostly of male agents - engage women's groups.

Projects like Bridges, Theatre for Policy Advocacy and Farmer to Farmer Training Videos - that provide a forum for those who might not otherwise have a voice - allow for the spread of important information, empowering the very people who will most benefit from, and can play the largest role in, the alleviation of global hunger and poverty.

They are ready. All they need are the tools.

Danielle Nierenberg is co-project director of the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet Project. Molly Theobald is a research fellow at the Worldwatch Institute.

Visit Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet blog to learn more about agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Comment by maria croes on August 31, 2010 at 1:27pm
So litle persons know the REAL REASON of ALL ower miseri in the world
I take the risk (Gandhy, Luther King etc)to say the roots of all ower problems::
13 families+some royaltis +superrich peopel , all members of a fr-am-mas-son-groups(Sk-u-ll andB-o-n-es;;;Bi-ld-er-be-rg-group) control all the big multinatoinals,gouverments,banks,media etc
They plan ALL ALL wars ,crissis ,civil and religions war,AIDS in Africa and some earthquakes(Haiti),flus etc
A secret goverments control all our e-mails, gsm,sms ,phones(payed by the servers,;chic he!)
If you are not convinced see the websites:
w w

w w
w w
Only non violence can safe the world but tell that on the hole world,tell it on the mountains!
Forgive them my Lord ,because they don"t know what they do
P.S. delete all --
; read w w w as www(for safety reason )
Comment by maria croes on August 31, 2010 at 12:52pm
whats the reason that a member--- ---is "desabled "of these forum ?
Comment by Kerrin Charles Muir on August 29, 2010 at 10:38pm
Hunger in the undeveloped world has been around for a very long time. I have been watching and helping through child sponsorship, and have seen much help being done, but quite often, the situation stays the same.

There is a certain standard of education and moral integrity that is required , before a country can rise above its natural problems. Such things as law and order, land rights and the protection of land rights, even respecting human rights, are essential for a country to begin moving forward. The hunger is a symptom of these deficiencies.
Nature is issuing them a challenge, as in all the natural world, to shape up or ship out.
Comment by Mahmood Sairally on August 29, 2010 at 1:53pm
It is nice of you to share this, my dear Eva, I am certain we can solve this hunger problem in the World but it has to be done properly but through government agencies. Those people see only their interests, that of their rlatives and friends. The relief aids should be carried by neutreal persons. When I see the way things are being done in Pakistan, in Haiti or elsewhere I became furious. It is disastrous.
Comment by Deborah J. Boyd on August 29, 2010 at 12:12pm
This is great. It is just what the world needs to move toward peace. In the past, much of the aid that went into a developing country ended up providing for "improved defense". Sadly, too much of this defense money was used to control free speech. We can go from one country to another, one culture to another; and see where a small group rises to the top, reinforces their "right" to live better than others by claiming "nobility" in order to get and keep political power and authority. Then when they negotiate with the wealthier countries they make promises to those countries that never materialize. At times they even employ the Nazi system of management which calls for eliminating and undesirable group of people as a way to bolster full employment and simply have fewer mouths to feed. All of the money wasted in war could be put to better use. The ability to accomplish progress while not alarming the status quo must be done until the status quo sees the light and does the right thing.

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