Environment, Food Security and Poverty a call to Global action

HomeEnvironment, Food Security and Poverty a call to Global action

Emerging immigrants, there have been several major migration flows to some parts of the world dating back to WWII period: Legal immigrants, Refugees, Asylums, Unauthorized Migrants, and Persons admitted for short periods of time on Non-immigrant visas. http://cssr.berkeley.edu/pdfs/lowIncomeFam.pdf.  For for the past 8 years, we have been delivering quality, innovative immigration and settlement support, services and referrals allowing immigrants to smoothly integrate/transtion into Canadian society.  Bringing social justice books, English conversation and Kula Pamoja initiative an action into our community’s integration, changing our way of looking at our selves.  Our conversation topics relate to displacement, our journey and challenges to safety, stories, while others share quips about the unusual snow, Immigrantseducation and required job skills, discrimination, racism, mental health, addiction being a disease, homelessness and poverty, let make poverty History through education.  “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” By Nelson Mandela.

A Refugee:  Is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. The Plight of Refugees is the Shame of the world.  A round the year we encourage communities to actively work on Immigration, Environment Change and Poverty-related issues, we work with Civil Societies and and Local Communities organizing meetings and making calls to action, which is a reality at a National/International level. Our role is information-sharing, coordinating and facilitating rather than leadership or gate-keeping. With many of our partners and other groups we have indicated our readiness and availability to help facilitate the Global call to action against Immigration, Environment Change and Poverty at all levels. We encourage everyone to work with us, when working together our call is louder and more powerful.  It is equally important for individuals, including children to get involved, we ask others to mobilize, organize and encourage children to get involved in these campaigns globally. 

The world faces the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, a staggering 60 million people displaced from their homes, four million from Syria alone. Aug 13, 2015. Refugees flee violence and persecution in their homeland and during their journey, they experience destruction of possessions, murder of family members, torture, terror, and hopelessness. They arrive in Safer countries with almost nothing but the clothes they are wearing and face the difficult challenge of starting over in a new language and culture with limited help from the governments and voluntary agencies. Their deepest wounds are often emotional. Even after reaching safely many still struggle with fear and loneliness, they need to be welcomed or served by a local organizations/church being introduced to the helping and supporting hand and or healing peace it offers

“The Global Call to Action Against Poverty takes place as a public movement alongside the movement to abolish slavery and the international solidarity against apartheid.” ~ Nelson Mandela. GCAP honours Mandela’s words as we fight for justice and commemorate Int’l Rural Women’s Day, World Food Day and Int’l Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  Reducing extreme poverty level needs innovative ideas, good governance and sustainable financing.  Funding global development needs inspiration from every part of the global community to empower people to pull themselves out of poverty, In the 21st century 58,000 people die every day from hunger and easily preventable diseases, 2005 was the time the World Leaders came together to make “Eradicating global poverty” our priority is pressure Governments to reduce poverty index level for Sustainable Development Goal.  We continuously advocate for trade Justice, debt cancellation and a major increase in the quantity and quality of aid, Global efforts to reduce poverty that are developed and implemented in a way that is democratic, transparent and accountable to citizens.

The good news is that there’s a whole host of ways going forward to address the challenge of sustainable food production. The bad news is that donors, development agencies and multilateral financial initiatives seem to want to move in the opposite direction.  There is now extremely good evidence that small-scale sustainable farming, or agroecology, can deliver as much if not more food than large-scale corporate-controlled agriculture.  For example, research by the UN showed that switching to agroecological farming methods has increased yields across Africa by 116% and by 128% in East Africa compared to conventional farming.

The malign influence of agri-corporations – Why are governments, development agencies, policy makers and funders so focused on large-scale, high-input solutions which marginalise poor and small-scale farmers, have a negative impact on our environment, and do little to increase the resilience of our food system as a whole? The short answer is corporate power and a longer answer is that there is a significant economic and political bias in favor of large-scale industrial agriculture.  This bias is created through an economic system which privileges industrial farming, large-scale land owners and monopolistic corporations, leading to political support for these vested interests.  We advocate for a change in the ideological support for industrial agriculture towards agroecology and sustainable small-scale agriculture that will require the political establishment and development agencies to design policies based on scientific evidence and the long-term viability of our global food system.  There are many other barriers in place which prevent agroecology from being scaled up and helping to create a more robust and equitable food system.   Trade could easily prioritize and promote the ability of small farmers to sell goods, just as certain fair trade schemes currently do, we advocate for trade primarily to encourage Local, National and Regional trading relationships, ensuring countries feed themselves before throwing them into competitive relationships with established companies in the west where customers are able to spend more on food than in domestic markets.

We are also concerned on the question of research and investment, at the moment, most of the money for both is spent on high-tech conventional farming which relies on expensive inputs, such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and proprietary high-yielding seeds. For us Investments and Research should be realigned towards sustainable farming and agroecology – particularly given the increasingly strong evidence of the benefits of these low-input practices on a wide range of environmental, social and economic indicators. Investments should not be tied to policy reforms which promote corporate-controlled economic growth at the expense of small-scale and poor farmers particularly in Africa and other affected countries.

Land ownership – There is finally the complex question of land ownership. An estimated 90% of rural land for example in Africa is unregistered, making it particularly susceptible to land grabs and unfair expropriation by governments on behalf of Multinational Corporations. Behind the problem of insecure land tenure is a deeper rooted problem of land ownership inequality, which goes back to the colonial era and before and looms large to this day. Across the continent, households in the highest income per capita quartile control up to fifteen times more land than people in the lowest quartile.  Land tenure is a complex issue and improving tenure rights and the growth of private property rights can, in some cases, facilitate corporate land grabbing and strengthen private land ownership by already rich investors and farmers.  Corporations and other powerful actors can increase their control of land either directly, with medium and long-term leases, or through direct land purchases, but they can also control land and labour through contract farming arrangements. Improving land tenure arrangements should go hand in hand with land reform and land redistribution which prioritises the needs of small-scale farmers and farming communities and reduces land ownership inequality.  All of these barriers can be overcome through policies which take power away from corporations currently pushing for a one-size-fits-all industrial model of agriculture, and give it back to the small-scale farmers who currently grow 70% of Africa’s food.

Democratic alternatives – At AGL as other organizations we all campaign for a world where resources are in the hands of the many, not the few. We champion social movements and propose democratic alternatives to corporate power.  We need a complete shift in who controls our food system. Power must be taken away from corporations and put back into the hands of the people and communities that produce and consume food. Only a movement of people calling for food sovereignty and agroecology will create this sort of change.  There is plenty of evidence that the livelihoods of farmers and communities can be improved, and that agroecology can deliver a huge range of other benefits,  including reducing the gender gap, creating jobs, improving people’s health, increasing biodiversity, and increasing the resilience of food systems to cope with climate change.   

Prescription for Poverty – Poverty kills.  When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank announced at their 1999 annual meeting that poverty reduction would henceforth be their overarching goal, this sudden “conversion” provoked justifiable skepticism.  The history of the IMF shows that it has consistently elevated the need for financial and monetary “stability” above any other concern. Through its notorious structural adjustment programs (SAPs), it has imposed harsh economic reforms in over 100 countries in the developing and former communist worlds, throwing hundreds of millions of people deeper into poverty.  Poverty kills more people every year than either of the top killers Heart Disease or Cancer, some of the individual-level social factors and area-level social factors that lead to poverty as the following: Individual-level social factors include education, poverty, health insurance status, employment status and job stress, social support, racism or discrimination, housing conditions and early childhood stressors.  Area-level social factors included area-level poverty, income inequality, deteriorating built environment, racial segregation, crime and violence, social capital and availability of open or green spaces.”  People who are living in poverty are more likely to die and to die sooner than the average person

IMPACT ON EMPLOYMENT- The IMF has ardently promoted changes in labor laws and wage policies; changes designed to make countries more competitive and attractive to foreign investment. However, according to the 1995 United Nations (UN) Trade and Development Report, employers are changing labor laws to make it easier to fire workers and undermine the ability of unions to defend themselves, rather than add to productive capacity and create work. In spring 2000, for example, Argentinian legislators passed the harsher of two labor law reforms after IMF officials spoke out strongly in support of it, even though tens of thousands of Argentinians carried out general strikes against the reform.  Also contributing to unemployment is the IMF requirement that countries privatize public companies and services and fire public sector workers.  As compliant government agencies downsize, the ranks of the unemployed grow faster than the private sector can absorb them, removing barriers to foreign investment and trade, meanwhile, makes it much harder for private local producers to compete against better-equipped and richer foreign suppliers, often leading to the closure of businesses and further layoffs.  The IMF’s purely market-based approach has contributed to the fact that at least one billion adults-more than 30 percent of the global workforce-are unemployed or seriously underemployed today. In Senegal, touted by the IMF as a success story because of increased growth rates, unemployment increased from 25 percent in 1991 to 44 percent in 1996. In South Korea, a US$58 billion structural adjustment loan in 1998 contributed to an average of 8,000 people a day losing their jobs. Compounding this harsh reality is the lack of existing social safety nets that can support people out of work.  Even those who are working suffer, as the IMF frequently encourages countries to keep wages low in order to attract foreign investment. This often translates into the lowering of minimum wages and the weakening of collective bargaining laws. By the end of 1997, Haiti’s minimum wage was only $2.40 a day, worth just 19.5 percent of the minimum wage in 1971. Costa Rica, the first Central American country to implement a SAP, saw real wages decline by 16.9 percent between 1980 and 1991, while during the first four years of Hungary’s SAP, the value of wages fell by 24 percent.

IMPACT ON HEALTHCARE
Even though rich country governments commonly engage in deficit spending, the IMF and World Bank have made this a taboo for poor countries, faced with tough choices, governments must often cut social spending because this doesn’t generate income for the federal budget, while simultaneously increasing fees for medical services leading to less treatment, more suffering, and needless deaths. Throughout much of Africa, cuts in government health spending arising from SAPs have caused a shortage of funds to be allocated to medical supplies (including disposable syringes). This, in combination with IMF-ordered price hikes in electricity, water and fuel (required to sterilize needles), has increased the incidence of infection (including HIV transmission). Yet the proposed “solutions” still consist of, in effect, privatization of public health and the massive lay-off of doctors and health workers.  In Kenya alone, the introduction of fees for patients of Nairobi’s Special Treatment Clinic for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (vital for decreasing the likelihood of transmission of HIV/AIDS) resulted in a decrease in attendance of 40 percent for men and 65 percent for women over a nine month period.  In Zimbabwe, spending per head on healthcare has fallen by a third since 1990 when a SAP was introduced. UNICEF reported in 1993 that the quality of health services had declined by 30 percent since then; twice as many women were dying in childbirth in Harare hospitals compared to 1990; and fewer people were visiting clinics and hospitals because they could not afford user fees.

IMPACT ON EDUCATION
Under the mandate of reducing the size of the state, the IMF has encouraged the privatization of schools. Such a measure was undertaken in Haiti, and an IMF report predicts that the extreme deterioration in school quality and attendance will hamper the country’s human capacity for many years to come. For example, only 8 percent of teachers in private schools (now 89 percent of all schools) have professional qualifications, compared to 47 percent in public schools. Secondary school enrollment dropped from 28 to 15 percent between 1985 and 1997. Nevertheless, the report ends with recommendations for Haiti to pursue further privatization initiatives.  Meanwhile, to make up shortfalls, school fees are often introduced, forcing parents to pull children-usually girls-from school, resulting in declining literacy rates and skills. In Ghana, the Living Standards Survey for 1992-93 found that 77 percent of street children in the capital city Accra dropped out of school because of an inability to pay fees. In sub-Saharan Africa, under explicit conditions of adjustment, education budgets were curtailed, and a “double shift system” was installed so that one teacher now does the work of two. The remaining teachers were laid off and the resulting savings to the Treasury are funneled toward interest payments on debt.

IMPACT ON FOOD SECURITY
The increased dependence on food imports that SAPs create places countries in an extremely vulnerable position because they lack the foreign exchange to import enough food, given falls in export prices and the need to repay debt. It should come as no surprise therefore that 80 percent of all malnourished children in the developing world live in countries where farmers have been forced to shift from food production for local consumption to the production of crops for export to the industrialized world. Furthermore, as Davison Budhoo, a former IMF economist, notes, export orientation “has led to the devastation of traditional agriculture and the emergence of hordes of landless farmers in nearly every country in which the Fund operates.”  Hunger and farmer bankruptcy is also a product of budget cutting under IMF programs, often leading to the removal of price supports for essential items, including food and farm inputs such as fertilizer, whose prices then rise dramatically. This problem is compounded by IMF-inspired currency devaluation, making these imports more expensive. In Caracas in 1989, for example, following a 200 percent increase in the price of bread, riots ensued in which the army responded by firing upon and killing l,000 people. In addition, higher interest rates often prevent small farmers from obtaining the capital needed to stay afloat, forcing them to sell their land, work as tenants, or move to the slums of large cities.

 

 

Racism and Discrimination Contribute to Premature Death – Racism and discrimination are considered social ills that lower a person’s immune system’s ability to work as well as it could and should. When people are thwarted at every turn from succeeding because of some superficial reason, they often get discouraged and give up. The attitude that they are never going to succeed no matter what they do is very difficult to overcome.  Discrimination comes in many forms and every one of them is evil. Race and color are not the only reasons people are discriminated against. Being female, being overweight, not speaking English well, having an accent, wearing glasses, having a beard or long hair, being older (50+), and a variety of different things can cause a person to be discriminated against. Discrimination for superficial reasons that should be irrelevant is always wrong.  Living with and having to deal with discrimination and racism on a daily basis affects a person’s health and can shorten a person’s life just like any other bad stressor can do. Part of the reason for this is that people who are frequently discriminated against have trouble finding any employment, let alone stable employment. They may also experience discrimination in housing and at school.