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close this bookNeedless Hunger - Voices from a Bangladesh Village (FF, 1982, 74 p.)
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Open this folder and view contents7. Foreign helping hand ?
View the document8. What can we do?

8. What can we do?

We as Americans can help to end the needless hunger in Bangladesh.

First, we can work to halt military and economic assistance which bolsters Bangladesh's narrow elite at the expense of the country's poor majority. Conventional wisdom suggests that we should give more aid to Bangladesh, not less. Many concerned Americans are dismayed at how little of our national wealth we devote to "helping the poor countries." But we must re-examine this charity impulse. We must look beyond the symptoms of hunger to the causes. In particular, we must ask whether the best way to help the poor is to give arms, money and food to the rich. Only the Bangladeshi people can carry out the social reconstruction which alone can bring an end to hunger in Bangladesh. But we, as Americans, have both the power and the responsibility to remove those obstacles which our government's "aid" places in their way.

Secondly, we can assist the many people in Bangladesh and throughout the third world who are working to mobilize the poor for developement and social change. We can offer financial support to groups working in their own communities, using local organizers, and starting with the immediate needs of their people.

Thirdly, we can continue to educate ourselves and others about the needless hunger of millions of people throughout the world. No issue more clearly reveals the gap between technological possibilities and social realities, or points more vividly to the urgent need for social change. As we in the United States learn about the role of our political and economic institutions in perpetuating hunger, we will find that we must reshape our own society. Here, as in Bangladesh, we must work to ensure that the well-being of many is not sacrificed to the narrow interests of a few. In this struggle, the poor of Bangladesh are our allies.

Betsy Hartmann and James Boyce, Fellows of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, were in Bangladesh from 1974-1976 on grants from Yale University. Their articles on Bangladesh have appeared in The Nation, The Christian Science Monitor, Le Monde Diplomatique, Food Monitor and other journals. Betsy Hartmann is currently writing a novel set in the Third World; James Boyce is studying for a doctorate in economics at Oxford University.