The Zero Hunger Challenge

Maurice A. Bloem | December 6, 2013

Children whose families participate in a CWS Therapeutic Feeding Center in West Timor. Photo: Maurice A. Bloem/CWS

Children whose families participate in a CWS Therapeutic Feeding Center in West Timor. Photo: Maurice A. Bloem/CWS

Just getting to the CWS Therapeutic Feeding Center in West Timor is a challenge for many. When I visited our programs in Indonesia a couple of weeks ago with a group of CWS supporters (including CWS board member, Patricia de Jong) from the U.S., it took around 20 hours of air travel, followed by several bumpy car rides across the lush Indonesian countryside.

But logistical challenges fail to compare with what my colleagues at the CWS Therapeutic Feeding Center face every day: treating severely malnourished children with food that saves their lives, and training (at health posts in remote villages) for mothers on how to prevent malnutrition.

Treating malnutrition, in combination with ensuring that children get the right food in the first 1,000 days, is crucial to ensure that children will develop fully. That’s why it’s a key component of the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge, of which I’m proud to say CWS is a new member and a challenge we gladly accept. The Zero Hunger Challenge singles out comprehensive efforts that aim to help every man, woman and child enjoy their right to adequate nutritious food.

Employing a comprehensive strategy is the only way we will eliminate hunger and poverty. The Zero Hunger Challenge sets a course that, thankfully, we match in stride at CWS. My colleagues in West Timor also work closely with community members on organic farming and improving access to water, something that is also part of our “Growing Healthier” programs in Latin America. These are the type of programs that the medical journalthe Lancet recently called “nutrition sensitive” – programs addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition by making food systems become more sustainable. It has been widely acknowledged that the role of smallholder farmers is crucial in improvement of our food system, and the CWS cooperatives in northwest Haiti are a good example of initiatives that can increase smallholder productivity and income – empowering women in the process. The comprehensive efforts caringly attended to by more than 1,000 of my colleagues around the world fit like a hand in a glove with the goals of the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge.

Tackling these challenges are not new for CWS.

Eliminating hunger has always an important part of the CWS mission, under our mandate to eradicate poverty and to promote peace and justice. So the Zero Hunger Challenge is a natural fit for us – it involves investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection and equality of opportunity. It will make a major contribution to peace and stability and to the reduction of poverty. It will contribute to better nutrition for all – especially women from the beginning of pregnancy and children under age 2.

Those of you who supported my 100-mile CROP Hunger Walks know that I like a good challenge. The Zero Hunger Challenge provides us the strategy; it’s up to us to connect and collaborate so that everyone – from West Timor to the U.S. – can claim their right to food and nutrition.

Maurice A. Bloem, CWS Executive Vice-President