Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Distinguished colleagues in the struggle against hunger and poverty.

Some years ago a Peace Corps worker told this story. In the village where he served there was a family who had two children and a cow. The cow was their sole asset. One of the children became ill. So, they debated whether to sell the cow to buy medicine.

They decided to let the child die, and their reasoning was that you can always get another child but you can’t get another cow.

We believe that an increased effort is possible, that some day, relatively soon, no family will have to face choices like this. Ours is a high moral calling, and we can accomplish our goal.

I bring you greetings from the 45,000 members of Bread for the World US, our president, David Beckmann, and other NGOs. Bread for the World does not do relief and development projects. We are not affiliated with Brot fuer die Welt of Germany, though we are friends. Bread for the World lobbies the U.S. government and the World Bank for policies that help hungry and poor people.

We are a member of the Popular Coalition. In the year 2000, in partnership with IFAD, Bread for the World Institute published A Program to End Hunger which says

  • that humanitarian aid, while important, is not enough;
  • that governments must do their part;

A Program to End Hunger lays out the costs and advocates:

Livelihood strategies such as economic growth that creates jobs and

assets for poor people, rural development;

Social investment strategies such as poverty and gender focused policies;

Empowerment strategies – participatory governance in the international

financial institutions as well as within nations.

The study says that now for the first time in history we have the knowledge and the resources to end widespread hunger and abject poverty. People say that funds are scarce.

That is not true. It’s a question of values and priorities. The U.S. public spends $20 billion annually on jewelry. I only mention the US because that’s where I’m from. You can apply it to your own country. The U.S. government spent $8 billion on Y2K just a year ago when we thought it was a priority. Corporations spent $50 billion. And overall world Y2K spending was estimated at $500 billion.

Imagine an IFAD budget of $500 billion. How quickly we could end abject poverty. Y2K was not an emergency. Hunger and poverty are human emergencies. The world has the knowledge and the resources, for the first time in history, to end hunger and poverty.

This message has created new hope. With the help of the IFAD-Washington office we have been able to get this message

- in newspapers in the U.S. and internationally

- on hundreds of radio stations

- and on television.

Heads of religious denominations and other leading organizations in the U.S. have expressed an interest in coming together to support a new Alliance to End Hunger bu 2015.

In a few weeks Bread for the World Institute will, again in partnership with IFAD, release another hunger report, Foreign Aid to End Hunger, which calls on the U.S. Congress to increase poverty-focused development assistance to Africa by $1 billion; and Bread for the World is mobilizing a grassroots advocacy campaign to convince Congress to appropriate the funds.

As an advocate, I’d like to issue a challenge:

  1. To the industrial and rich countries:
  1. Continue your program of poverty-focused debt relief to HIPIC countries; and
  2. Seek to increase poverty focused official development assistance, and funds to IFAD. IFAD listens to the heart of poor people and responds with strategies that lessen rural poverty, as their excellent report recommends.
  1. To developing countries:
  1. I would encourage you to use debt relief funds for poverty and gender focused policies.
  2. Support citizen participation, participatory processes, and the emergence of NGOs as mediating institutions between governments and the people.

If global institutions provide people with assets and they have no political power, it will not be long before someone with more power takes it away from them and they are back where they started. Empowerment is the bottom line.

For the first time in human history. We know the policies. The world has the resources. I hope that we will be able to tell our children’s children that we have taken advantage of this unique moment in history; that, looking back, we will be proud to say

Oh yes, I remember those times. When we brought hunger and abject poverty to an end early in the 21st century.

Thank you very much.

Presentation by Richard Hoehn
Bread for the World