“35-million people in America went hungry last year.”

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

A sad truth and a harsh reality in the richest nation in the world. And the global situation regarding food, hunger, and nutrition is much worse, as even the Bush administration has reluctantly admitted:

President George W. Bush on Monday ordered the release of $200 million in U.S. emergency food aid to help alleviate food shortages in developing countries in Africa and elsewhere, the White House said.

Bush took action a day after top finance and development officials from around the world called for urgent steps to stem rising food prices, warning that social unrest would spread unless the cost of basic staples was contained.

A drop in a very big bucket, but every drop helps and is needed.

Since bowing out of the presidential race, John Edwards has continued to speak out on a number of important issues affecting the US and the world. And one issue Edwards has always been impassioned about – is poverty and the importance of a progressive sustained comprehensive set of solutions to alleviate poverty at home and abroad.

Yesterday, Edwards continued this focus and spoke at the opening ceremony for the Millennium Campus Conference, a three-day event sponsored by MIT’s Global Poverty Initiative. Read on for more.

EENR Blog

Here’s a bit about the conference and the events they are having. The conference is sponsored by MIT’s Global Poverty Initiative, which has a more complete listing of events for anoyone in the area (its free).

This year the conference has focused on a very specific challenge: creating sustainable water systems to raise living standards.

And the importance of water in finding a solution to poverty is very clear:

Equitable and sustainable management of water resources is a major issue in the modern world. Due to inadequate water systems in many developing parts of the world, the failure to deliver clean safe water to communities now constitutes a silently impending crisis. Currently, one sixth of the world lives without clean water, and over two fifths of the world do not have adequate sanitation in their community. At any moment in time, half of the developing world suffers from a water-related disease, and every twenty seconds a child dies of a water-borne disease. This crisis will only get worse as the human population is projected to grow another fifty percent in the next few decades. The United Nations has recognized the severity of the issue; in the Millennium Development Goals, the UN calls the international community to “reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

This year, we will focus on improving water systems, sanitation, and delivery to break the cycle of poverty and disease. Disease from poor water and sanitation is the second biggest killer of children after respiratory infections, yet efforts to improve water quality and infrastructure around the world have been largely met with indifference. This silent crisis holds great opportunity for innovation in technology, education, infrastructure, and other areas to make a global impact on eradicating global poverty.

For more on the UN’s 8 Millenium Goals. And here are a number of ways you can help make these goals a reality in the US.

While others spoke on the more technical and other aspects of ending poverty, in the opening ceremony Edwards issued a call to action:

“We face enormous challenges that literally go to the survival of the planet,” Edwards said, adding that the problems are “connected to each other, and connected to all the uncertainty, instability and danger in the world today.

“It is required, absolutely necessary, that we work in a cooperative, coordinated way,” the former North Carolina senator added. “That’s why we need visionary leadership.”

For the US Edwards offered some very specific ideas and urged people to get involved:

Specific things the nation should be doing to alleviate poverty, he said, include universal health care, an increase in the minimum wage, strengthening of the rights of unions, initiatives to help people build assets such as matching savings accounts, and better access to education. “Young people can play such a crucial role” in bringing about such changes, he said.

“We have to develop a political will to take action,” he said. Asked by a student what the most important thing is that young people can do to help achieve these goals, he emphasized “adocacy, making your voice heard. Organize rallies, be part of the movement, support candidates” who are working to improve conditions.

Edwards was also asked (of course) about his preference for the US presidential elections but ruled out an endorsement as well as any future VP position. It seems clear that regardless of who the nominee is he will work with them to make sure poverty is a high priority:

Edwards has urged all the remaining presidential candidates to create a new cabinet-level antipoverty position, he said, and both Clinton and Obama have agreed to the idea. Meanwhile, Edwards himself will continue to work with the new student group: Organizers announced that he has agreed to join the Global Poverty Initiative’s board of advisors.

Local news channel NECN also has some good video coverage of the event, with most of the text below the video. Along with poverty, there is also some interesting question and answer on where he stands regarding super delegates.

The statement from the video report below sums up the message Edwards was trying to get across, something that we have adjectly failed to do in these last 7 years.

“What America needs to be doing is to demonstrate that as a nation, we understand our link with the rest of humanity and our responsibility to humanity.”

 

We’ve got a long ways to go, don’t we?

13 comments

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    • pfiore8 on April 19, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    to understand that when politicians start promoting God and values, it’s time to vote their asses OUT!

    • TomP on April 20, 2008 at 1:00 am

    John Edwards will continue to fight for REAL change.

    • RiaD on April 20, 2008 at 1:39 am

    i’d love to leave you a pony to let you know how much i ‘preciate your work in putting this together!

    please always post a comment in your essays (a tip-jar)so everyone can say ‘Well Done’

    & Welcome okamichan13!!

    i don’t believe i’ve seen you before….

    Great to have YOU here!

    I look forward to reading more excellent essays of yours…

    be sure to check out the pony parties for community hilarity….and the series link on the right gives a list of all most of the ongoing features

  1. He was the only one of the candidates other than Kucinich who seemed to get that all of these issues are connected to each other and that we have issues we’re facing right now that are threatening the survival of politics. The rest of them just seem to be playing some sort of game. Sad.

    • Temmoku on April 20, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    and Edwards will still play a significant part. So much has to be done.

  2. Go to your local farmer’s market

    Pick up the surplus vegetables, the ones the farmers can’t sell.  Put them in your truck.

    Go to the local food bank and give them away to the people who are there to get food.

  3. http://www.dailykos.com/commen

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