Going for Gold in the Race Against Hunger

This blog was first published on Huffington Post here

It’s been a very exciting and emotional two weeks cheering on the Olympians, but the highlight for me was Cameron leaving a legacy of London 2012 beyond even our exceptional haul of medals by hosting a global hunger event bringing together sportspeople and senior politicians from Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh and India. When he could have been celebrating his twin gold medals elsewhere, instead the Somalia-born Mo Farah was running up a temporary race track outside Number 10 Downing Street to angle his spotlight towards global hunger.

Cameron and Mo Farah

It may be the end of the Olympics, but the UK has blown the starting whistle on efforts to tackle hunger over the next year. This is a significant achievement by the UK government, announcing new political commitments on hunger. Tearfund, and many others, will of course be urging the UK government to continue to show global leadership by putting hunger high on the G8 agenda in 2013, to take concrete action that will change people’s lives for good. Ireland too will add momentum by using its EU presidency to urge action on hunger and on climate change.

“Inspire a generation” has been the Olympic motto. We can truly be proud of London 2012 if it leaves a legacy of political commitment to accelerate and intensify the fight against hunger, which will see a generation not only inspired but more able to realise fully their potential. By the time the first note of the Olympics’ 2016 opening ceremony sounds in Rio, we expect to have made real progress in reducing the number of under-fives whose growth is stunted – currently 25 million.

Serguem Silva, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Brazil, told methat world leaders should follow Brazil’s example of championing hunger at the highest political level which has brought success in reducing malnutrition. And so, as the UK passes on the baton to Brazil for the Olympic games, every single one of us is on the same team in the race against hunger.

The challenge of malnutrition and stunting isn’t only about nutritious food. We need to tackle the causes of food insecurity as a whole. Malnutrition and food crises in both East and West Africa, as well as other world regions, are warning signs of a broken food system in our world. World leaders, civil society and businesses can prevent food crises by investing in small scale farmers (particularly female farmers, who are so often overlooked), improving their access to markets, helping them to adapt to climate change and high food prices, tackling land use and rights, and changing production and consumption patterns to reduce pressure on scarce natural resources. Preventing 25m children from being stunted is a superb start and it’s my hope and prayer that it will kick off the work necessary to help the 1 billion people who go hungry every night.

Matthew Frost, CEO of Tearfund

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