Author Archive

Passing the torch of political commitment to reduce hunger

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Tom Arnold with children from Mankhwazi Village, Nkhotakota District, Malawi

I am writing this blog some hours after a wonderful young Irish woman called Katie Taylor won an Olympic Gold Medal for boxing. The country is ‘en fete’ and all our economic problems seem a little lighter.

Britain has had a wonderful two weeks of the Olympics.  The magnificent opening ceremony set the tone. Since then, the organization of the Games has been outstandingly good. British athletes have won more medals than anyone expected.

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth spoke about her ‘annus horribilis’ or her horrible year during her 40thyear of her accession to the throne.  Twenty years on, as she celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, this seems to be a year of wonders, an “annus mirabilis” for Britain.

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Pace of Progress Dangerously Slow on Climate Change

Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 at 8:23 am

By Tom Arnold, Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide

The three-day United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which started in Rio de Janeiro today (Wednesday, June 20) presents world leaders with an excellent opportunity to adopt a new approach to climate change that reflects the priorities of the developing world. Called Rio+20, it marks the 20th anniversary of the historic 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development attended by 179 countries which put sustainable development on the global agenda.

The Sahel region of Africa is currently facing a food security crisis that threatens more than 18 million people

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. In the poorest countries where Concern works, the strains caused by climate change are increasingly evident. Erratic seasons, rising droughts and floods, uncertain planting dates, and shorter growing periods for essential staples are all having an impact. For the world’s poor, who overwhelmingly depend on rain-fed agriculture for their survival, the changing patterns of climate, land availability, and food production have caused chaos.

In the Sahel region of Africa, where a current food security crisis threatens more than 18 million people, rainfall has decreased by 25 percent in the last 30 years wreaking havoc on farming communities. Other factors like deforestation, overgrazing, continuous cropping, desertification, and poor water management have also contributed to a deteriorating environment.

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A New Commitment to Food Security from G8, but Empty Promises Remain

Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2012 at 7:58 am

By Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide

Tom Arnold with Beverly Oda of the Canadian International Development Agency and Etharin Cousin of the UN World Food Programme

I have just returned from a whirlwind visit to Washington, DC and Chicago, where I participated in a number of events around the G8 and NATO Summits focused on food and nutrition security.  Among so many world leaders and high-level representatives from civil society and academia, I felt a sense of critical mass beginning to form in the fight to end global hunger.

It’s a feeling I’ve had before – perhaps not this strong – only to be disappointed when promises went unfulfilled.  We must keep calling our leaders to persevere, especially those in the G8, to ensure that does not happen this time.

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Too much at stake: The G8’s responsibility to tackle child hunger

Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

By Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide

Two month old Ejereya Kahale sitting with her mother in Kargi, Kenya

Almost 1,000 days ago, on July 10, 2009, the G8 met at L’Aquila, Italy and issued a joint statement  launching the ‘L’Aquila Food Security Initiative’ (AFSI), committing the member nations to a  $22-billion investment over three years aimed at  responding to the ‘urgent need for decisive action to free humankind from hunger.’

Of the roughly 385,000 children born on that day, many of the poorest of them would have died in infancy and early childhood.  Those who survived would now be nearing the critical 1,000th day between their mother’s pregnancy and their second birthday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Haiti: Now is Not the Time to Scale Back

Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012 at 9:33 am

by Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide US

In the past 24 months, Concern Worldwide has provided clean water and sanitation to 75,000 earthquake survivors in Haiti, and has provided emergency shelter to 98,877 people. IN the past year, we built longer-term housing for 7,420 people and relocated displaced families out of camps.

On the two-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, I feel it is important to reflect on the very significant progress that has been achieved in helping people recover from one of the world’s worst natural disasters on record, and to address some of the criticism about the efforts of international aid agencies.

To understand the scale of the catastrophe two years ago, it is important to remember the unique nature of the Haitian context. The 7.0-magnitude earthquake was a massive blow to a deeply impoverished country: 75 percent of Haitians earned less than $2 a day, only half of the country’s children were in primary school, and the majority of the population had no access to electricity. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Turning Point in the Global Fight to End Child Hunger

Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011 at 8:29 am

Maria Otero, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs speaking on June 13 during the morning session of the 1,000 days event in Washington, DC. Photo: Washington, Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide and David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

Today we join more than 350 high-level government officials, leaders of civil society organizations, and activists from all over the world to galvanize political momentum to scale up nutrition initiatives that will help save the lives of at least 1 million children annually.

During “1,000 Days to Scale Up Nutrition for Mothers & Children: Building Political Commitment,” we’ll discuss the critical importance of proper nutrition, particularly during the 1,000 days from pregnancy to 2 years old. Conclusive evidence points to the devastating impact of malnutrition on infant and child mortality, and its irreversible, long-term effects on health and cognitive and physical development. Read the rest of this entry »

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Putting Food First to Avert a Crisis for the Poor

Posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 at 9:39 am

Concern distributed cash via mobile phones to extremely vulnerable communities at high risk of malnutrition in Niger, pre-empting a massive food crisis. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold – Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Officer

Last Friday April 15—as part of the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Washington, DC—I was a panelist in a groundbreaking global conversation, the Open Forum. It was a unique opportunity for a small group of experts to engage not only with each other, but with 3,000 participants in a concurrent 24-hour chat, and people from 91 countries who had submitted comments and ideas online before the event. The topic was the food crisis—crippling market volatility whose net effect has been a sustained increase in food prices, wreaking havoc on the world’s poor.

This was no staid academic exercise.  It was an invaluable part of a larger conversation that grows more urgent by the day because each day, more lives hang in the balance. As World Bank President Robert Zoellick starkly put it, “we’re one event away from a very serious crisis.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Protecting the World’s Poorest from the Rising Price of Food

Posted on Monday, April 11th, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Ensuring proper nutrition for pregnant women and for the first two years of life ends the cycle of malnutrition. Photo: Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold – Concern Chief Executive Officer

After seven straight months of growth, global food prices are now at their highest levels since records began.

The UN Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket which includes cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar was higher in January than the last previous high in June 2008.  That peak sparked riots across the world, as people who lived on the margin and relied on the market to purchase food were plunged further into poverty.

In 2009, as a result of this, the number of people in the world suffering from hunger topped one billion for the first time in history.

The signs now are ominous for us all with the FAO expecting the price of agricultural commodities to rise further throughout this year. This will put enormous pressure on the world’s poorest who have had to cope relentlessly with the consequences of higher prices for the past two years. The World Bank has estimated that 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since last summer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roadmap for Muslim Philanthropy

Posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011 at 10:34 am

Tom Arnold Concern CEO speaks with water engineer in the immediate aftermath of earthquake in Haiti, ahead of Concern's water distribution. Photo: Haiti, Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold – Concern Chief Executive Officer

I recently had the privilege to attend the Fourth World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists in Dubai (March 23-24). The Congress—founded by Tariq Cheema, a Pakistani physician based in Chicago—brings together leading figures in the field of government, diplomacy, academia, finance, and NGOs to discuss pressing concerns related to roles and responsibilities of business and civil society and to build upon its previous meetings held in Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. One of the Conference’s key priorities is innovation in the fight against global hunger.

The theme of the 2011 Conference was “defining the roadmap for Muslim giving into the next decade.” Philanthropy is integral in the Muslim faith, which stipulates alms giving (zakat) of 2.5 percent of income or possessions to the poor and underprivileged.

Today there are an estimated 1.57 billion Muslims constituting 23 percent of the world’s population and contributing substantially in the social sector–developing nonprofits that address human services and social needs and creating charitable foundations that are distributing financial resources at an unprecedented level. Read the rest of this entry »

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