|Essays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 480 p.)|
|19. Activism to Face World Hunger: Exploring New Needed Commitments|
A better understanding of the global context in which the world around us works and of the implications thereof in the perpetuation of hunger in our midst are sorely needed. Too often we rather see a "shish-kebab mentality", being applied to make sense of current world problems. This much easier and convenient approach looks at the various problems affecting the world as if they were all separate events skewed together by tragedy. (T. Vittachi)
There is thus an urgent need for us to identify and better define our very own positions and priorities towards the more structural and global determinants of (he present domestic and world hunger situations, even if both may have vanished from the front pages of our newspapers. Such a challenge calls for: a) an active effort on our part to try to identify the present sociopolitical structure(s) that lead to the major constraints at the base of the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and hunger, b) a comparable effort to identify and isolate the main actors (individual or institutional; public, private or corporate) responsible for the sorry present state of affairs -in an effort to elucidate who and what forces we will have to oppose or support in the formidable task of eradicating hunger, followed by, c) an identification of the current methods and interventions being proposed or implemented to tackle the existing and foreseeable future hunger problems.
Most interventions we see being implemented deal with the symptoms and immediate causes of malnutrition (i.e. malnourished mothers and children) rather than with the underlying and basic sociopolitical causes that perpetuate the situation. These symptoms -which we are relatively better at dealing with- will continue to be a problem as long as actions to combat their mots do not attempt to make real structural changes that effectively change the power base of those sectors of society that suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
However, involvement in health and nutrition can be an entry point to approaching the need for structural changes, i.e. he used constructively if health and nutrition interventions widen lather than narrow our horizons and lend us to take responsibility for the underlying and basic dimensions/factors that cause ill-health and malnutrition. We cannot just leave this for others to deal with. Don't "let George do it". It is our business.
Multidisciplinary approaches of the traditional type per se -just making professionals of different backgrounds sit together to discuss and decide- are not enough to refocus the attention on the need for changes that really tackle the more basic causes of malnutrition. These approaches, so much in fashion nowadays, are simply not leading us to acknowledge and work within a more ideological and political framework to get to where the real contradictions lie. Many people get "stuck" before reaching this crucial realization and cannot change the major focus of their work, because it literally lakes "a second adolescent crisis" to change the outlook and the actual content of the work they routinely do