A Project of The Nigerian Institute for Character Education
Media Briefs on the Launch of FOODESSENCE International, A project of the Nigerian Institute for Character Education (NICE) by
Eddy Ikponmwen (JP), FNIM, mni (Chairman, NICE)
In 1974 US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger convened a world Food Conference in Rome which declared that “within a decade no child will go to bed hungry, no family will fear for its next day’s bread and no human being’s future will be stunted by malnutrition”.
But 37 years after, these lofty goals are far from being realized. Lack of access to food for the hungry remains a most significant global issue. The United Nation’s recent statistics shows that 1 out of every 5 human beings goes hungry everyday; one billion people world-wide experience chronic hunger. A much larger segment of the planet’s population is deprived in varying degrees of a diet that is simply adequate. This is due mainly to the fact that we are generally in a world of misplaced priorities militating against individual and group efforts to make positive differences in our homes, in our communities and in our world. For example not long ago UNICEF estimated a cost of US$6b a year on top of what is already spent to put every child in school by 2000. Yet this is 1% (one percent) of the US$600b that the world spends annually on weapons.
The problem of hunger is more acute in the under-developed and developing parts of the world. For example, Nigeria which is only 2% of world population accounts for more than 12% of world child mortality rate and poor nutrition contributes about one third of the deaths among Nigerian children.
This project works on the thesis that hunger is not exclusively an economic problem. The problem is basically educational and ethical; educational because peoples of the world are not getting their priorities right regarding food security. And it is ethical because available food is not being fairly distributed among the populace.
Some of the myths about hunger which this initiative wishes to address are that:
- i. There is not enough food to feed the starving masses of the planet: The fact is that there is enough food in the world to feed the hungry. The main problem here is one of access to food arising essentially from poor transportation as well as ineffective and unfair distribution.
- ii. General economic improvement will automatically eliminate hunger
Hunger is not exclusively an economic problem. It is also educational and ethical. This explains the present global situation where some of the populace are overfed and teeming others starved. The position of this project is that no one has the right to superfluity of wealth and abundance of food while some other human beings are dying of starvation. As the local saying goes “If you close your ears not to hear poor people crying you won’t hear the rich people laughing”.
- iii. Another myth about global hunger that needs to be addressed is that as a group the hungry are markedly conservative in their dietary habits and that any effort to improve their levels of nutrition should be based on their traditional staples. The fact is that people’s dietary habits are universal and dynamic. In this regard this project advocates that food aid should be more in kind rather than in cash. Aid to Africa since the 2nd World war is put at over US$1 trillion with very little positive effect. Most of the cash ended up largely in the pockets of corrupt public officials and unethical multinationals.
One of this project’s strategies for action is to create FOOD BASKETS in selected locations for distribution on sustainable basis to the needy such as Orphanages, Old People’s Homes, Widows and Widowers, Lepers, Homes for the Physically Challenged, Multiple Births other than twins. The initiative will continually chart new courses for making food available to the hungry on a sustainable basis. The project will take advantage of the interconnected world for a global outreach for food to reach the world’s chronically hungry.
In a nutshell the mission Statement of this project is Food security for all –Fair share of earth’s abundant quality food for all
Aims and Objectives
By and large the Projects Aims and Objectives are as follows;
- To mobilize local and international communities towards meeting the food requirements of the hungry.
- To work for a more equitable distribution of resources towards a more just and a more prosperous world through food security.
- To encourage and foster the habit of good nutrition among the populace by promoting eat-right culture.
- To co-operate with all related government/private agencies towards feeding the hungry on a sustainable basis.
- To assist in the alleviation of poverty and social instability through food security.
- Through the teach-a-man-to fish approach to encourage self-reliance for food security.
- To work for a more equitable and peaceful world through international co-operation for global food security.
- To assist in creating sustainable local food baskets for the hungry.
- To act as social conscience in matters relating to food production and distribution.
The project’s slogan shall be “Feed the hungry. Work for peace.”
God did not bring us to the world to be lacking in any of the necessities of life. The world is full of rich harvests and abundance for all his children. This project does not share Prof. Claude Ake’s view that “The Nigerian State is a negative unity of takers in which collective enterprise is all but impossible” Nigerians and the rest of the world are traditionally their brothers’ keepers. This project is a worthy cause in which Nigeria and the global community will be a positive unity of givers in which collective enterprise is all but possible. The present situation whereby the various peoples of the world let surplus food rot while their hungry populations starve will need to be more effectively addressed for a happier, safer and more peaceful world.