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Concern: Osborne must show leadership for the world’s most vulnerable

RoseCaldwell-N
Rose Caldwell, Executive Director of Concern Worldwide (UK). Concern’s work is being made more difficult by rising food prices caused in part by land being diverted to grow biofuels


TOMORROW’S budget was an historic opportunity for David Cameron and George Osborne to show leadership in international development.

Concern Worldwide (UK) has already congratulated the British Government for sticking to its pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid.

The Prime Minister’s statement on this showed political courage at a time when British voters are suffering the effects of austerity.

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However, when the Chancellor stands up in the House of Commons tomorrow to deliver his budget speech, those words must be backed up by action. George Osborne must ensure that the 0.7 per cent target can be met.

Once that has been done, how should that increased expenditure be allocated?

Concern believes it should be used to address childhood hunger and malnutrition in some of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world.

About 870 million people – that’s one in eight of the world’s population – go hungry every day.

Over half of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in the countries where Concern is helping people to transform their lives.

The majority of them are women who are extremely reliant on small scale subsistence agriculture for their income and their families’ food and nutrition needs.

Increasing spending on small scale agriculture (particularly in sub-Saharan African) has been shown to be the most effective way of reducing this kind of poverty.

But Concern’s work is being made more difficult by rising food prices caused in part by land being diverted to grow biofuels.

This is pushing more people into poverty and hunger. In the past decade an area of land eight times the size of the UK has been sold off or leased out globally.

In poor countries, an area the size of London is bought up every 6 days. Experts estimate that the land acquired in the last decade has the potential to feed a billion people.

The scale of this fast-rising interest in land is outpacing the ability of national, regional and global governance to keep up.

The world’s food system is broken and one of the most pressing challenges of our time is to ensure it is functioning effectively so that everyone in the world has enough food to eat.

2013 is an important year in this fight against hunger and malnutrition.

In June Mr Cameron will go to Northern Ireland to chair the summit of G8 world leaders. Concern Worldwide and other UK-based agencies have been campaigning hard for the needs of the world’s poorest to be kept firmly at the top of that G8 agenda.

This year the Prime Minister has also been playing a leading role in negotiating the next set of global development goals. But the next crucial step along the road to ensuring there is enough food for everyone must be taken by Mr Osborne in his budget speech tomorrow.

Join Concern Worldwide and call on the government to provide 0.7% of national income for aid.  Visit www.concern.net/if and sign up today.

Rose Caldwell is Executive Director of Concern Worldwide (UK)   

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