You will rarely, if ever, hear the staff of Week of Compassion refer to “hunger relief” when we discuss the anti-hunger projects and programs we fund. Instead, we refer to “food security” which more accurately describes what we are aiming to do: not merely alleviate or relieve hunger, but to accompany folks to becoming food secure for the long-haul.
So, what is food security? People are “food secure” when they have regular access (either through production or purchasing power) to sufficient food for a healthy and fruitful life. It is not humanitarian assistance; food security is ensuring that communities have available food, access to that food, and the other conditions and elements necessary to actually partake of that food (access to enough clean, potable water; adequate sanitation; etc.). Out of the approximately 7 billion people on earth, it is estimated that 925 million are currently food insecure.
In Tanzania, it is no exception. We received reports this week that the ACT Alliance has been closely monitoring the food security situation in the country. In the northern and central regions, especially, there is a worsening drought situation. They are now experiencing persistent food shortages due to environmental shocks, pastoral pressure and unpredictable rain which have affected food and cash crops production. The series of prevalent poor harvests for the past several years have led to chronic and transitory food insecurity for many households.
The Famine Early Warning System Tanzania Food Security Update has been continuously reporting food insecurity prediction, and specifically highlighting nine regions that will be the most highly stressed in June - December 2012. The regions include Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Shinyanga, Dodoma, Iringa, Mwanza, Mara and Tabora. While these may seem like just names to most, they represent places where our Week of Compassion dollars are at work. They remind me, especially, of the people that I know in those places after visiting our programs there. These are not mere names. They are communities of people-our sisters and brothers-those who are now at risk of food insecurity.
So as we enjoy these summer months, where strawberries and sweet corn are plentiful (at least where I come from), let us not forget to remember those in these areas of Tanzania. Please know that Week of Compassion has already responded to this drought and food insecurity situation through our partners in the ACT Alliance, and will continue to do so should more needs arise. For that, we thank you for your ongoing commitment and support.
May we all work for a world that is food secure-not one where we continually have to relieve hunger, but one where all regularly have enough to eat.