He just arrived home from a trip to 5 west African countries with a sophomore from the University of South Carolina, Paul Bowers, who won a trip to accompany him.
Several of their reports focused on nutrition - the outstanding lack of it. Here's one of their videos from Sierra Leone:
Many of the commenters on Kristof's blog On The Ground, Facebook account, and Times' articles expressed sadness, outrage, and desire to help. There was one comment that stood out for me. I hope the author doesn't mind me sharing it. It was from the blog post, Malnutrition and the Economic Crisis:
"Seldom is the story of a starving child in Africa only about that starving child and his or her lack of food. It is emblematic of a profound break down in community that signals every aspect of human rights violations, abusive governments, poverty — and the misspending of Western funds.* It’s a complex problem not dealt with solely by putting iodine in water or zinc in flour."* I'll add unfair trade practices and inequitable effects of climate change to this.
The problem is big, it's complex, but it's not intractable.
Here's another comment that struck me, although not in a positive way. When I mentioned the need for aid to developing countries, someone replied:
"Let them eat local. They should grow their own. The US can't be feeding the world's population."Is this reflective of the locavore movement? If so, then it has either lost its way, or I've lost my understanding of it. The local food movement grew from the broader sustainability movement. Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present, as well as the future. Right now, we're not meeting the needs of the present.
I question a movement for which it's more important that someone eat "the best and most delicious food" grown locally, than whether someone has food at all, especially when that someone's lack of food is in part our doing:
"Around 45 million of the 900 million people estimated to be chronically hungry are suffering due to climate change." And ... "The vast majority of deaths [due to climate change] -- 99 percent -- are in developing countries which are estimated to have contributed less than one percent of the world's total carbon emissions."How can crops be grown, self-reliant food economies established, if the ground available to plant is being decimated by rich countries' greenhouse gas emissions?
- Report: Climate Change Crisis 'Catastrophic'
Aid has many forms. I believe the US and other rich nations do have a responsibility to aid the world's hungry. Unfortunately, much of the aid we've promised to help people cope with droughts, floods, heatwaves, and other climate disasters hasn't been sent:
"World's richest countries have pledged nearly $18bn* to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, but less than $1bn has been disbursed."* The UN estimates $50-70 billion is needed immediately just to tackle effects due to climate change.
- Rich Nations Failing To Meet Climate Aid Pledges
And this aid is distinct from other forms of aid that impact nutrition - aid to relieve effects of poverty, lack of education, and healthcare.
It's nice to see someone with Mr. Kristof's reach drawing attention to this topic.