Thesis: Global Activism

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Global Activism

An informed society represents one of the most important assets of a state and of a nation. It constitutes the basis of the public opinion. However, it is not sufficient enough to be informed without being active and supportive of a cause that is affecting the world we live in.

Food and the lack of food can be considered to be one of the most difficult problems of our contemporary existence. According to the United Nations, despite the fact that the issue of hunger and poverty has declined in recent decades, this development is running at a worrisome slower pace in recent years (FAO, 2005). Moreover, one of the conclusions of the constant reports on hunger and poverty is that "extreme poverty remains a daily reality for more than 1 billion people who subsist on less than $1 a day. Hunger and malnutrition are almost equally pervasive: more than 800 million people have too little to eat to meet their daily energy needs. For young children, the lack of food can be perilous since it retards their physical and mental development and threatens their very survival. More than a quarter of children under age 5 in developing countries are malnourished" (FAO, 2005). This is the grim situation our world is facing and one which must be addressed through every means possible.

Although these issues are common knowledge for most politicians and leading public opinion activists, little is actually been done to address the issue outside the countries who suffer from these situations. More precisely, it is the United Nations who tries to overcome this food crisis through different programs and assistance initiatives. Nonetheless, it is crucial that additional help be sought and that people and organizations from around the world deal with these aspects which have become not only a problem of the countries faced with these difficulties but also one of global concern.

From this point-of-view, the role of activism on this matter is crucial. There is a need for the constant improvement of the conditions of humans, not only at the national level, but also through activities conducted by organizations worldwide. One such organization is the Institute for Food and Development Policy. Generally speaking the Institute's mission is "to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger" (Food First, 2008). More precisely, it aims at conducting programs and campaigns that raise awareness on the issue of hunger and food shortage and at the same time it tries to review any possible action that can be taken in order to improve the situation.

In such an organization, the position of each member is less relevant than their actual achievements or their implication. The Institute for Food and Development Policy (IFDP) is headed by Shyaam Shabaka, an individual with a vast experience in the area of environmental, health, and food issues who started his career as a Peace Corps volunteer. Despite his numerous achievements, he is merely one of the pieces which make up the activity of the Institute because their involvement in the issues of food and development is based on the work of the entire team. This was the first conclusion which resulted from interviewing one of the volunteers at the Institute. What is really important in the job of the institute is the team work and most importantly the way in which the goal presented in the mission of the Institute is achieved.

For a better presentation of the summary and findings of the interview, the name of the intern interviewed is John. The experience of taking his interview and talking about the way in which the activity of the Institute can provoke change in the society was very rewarding because it created a deeper and more realistic perspective on the activities that should and need to be done in order to address the issue of hunger and development.

Following the interview, I found out several interesting aspects concerning the way in which the Institute is working but most importantly the directions of their actions. He got involved in the Institute as a result of a school project. Therefore it can be said that it did not represent his own initiative to become involved in the activities of the Institute. However, after the end of the school project he decided to remain as an active member of the organization because he found the experience rewarding both from the point-of-view of his personal interests in activism as well as from the perspective of the results the campaigns he was involved in. As I later found out, the Institute has a special program for interns who "work with staff on specific projects for anywhere from 15 to 40 hours per week for a minimum of three months. Interns conduct research and analysis, provide outreach and education, and assist with publications and publicity" (Food First, 2008).

The role of interns is crucial in the overall activity of any institute. Their work provides the basic information and research needed for the eventual structuring of a new program. More precisely, it is common knowledge the fact that NGOs which have a specific role in activism tend to receive fewer funds than those who are engaged in other productive activities (Cater, 2004). From this point-of-view the institutes either accept interested funding from particular sources, an aspect which can limit the independence of the NGO, or they can limit their financial resources for the major projects they are set on and work with volunteers and interns. At the same time though, this is an important aspect for the students who take part in the internships as well. Thus, John pointed out that "the job was very rewarding indeed because the information I accumulated in the time I spent as an intern was very good for understanding the system and for getting to know parts of a program. I then decided to stay in longer than initially planned.

The means of financing the institution is mostly through donations. In this sense, there is a special segment on the website addressed to donations online where every interested person can contribute to the activity of the Institute. In this sense, as stated in the beginning of this presentation, the role of the community is very important because it provides the support needed for making the projects function. Concerning the financial aspect, the community is all the more important. The donation process is an even more objective means of offering money for a cause because it does not require any particular counter services.

The means used to achieve their goals can be considered to be rather traditional. More precisely, they are part of a system which considers of utmost importance the active involvement in the life of the community but at the same time in the way in which issues such as hunger and poverty are viewed and addressed in the world. Therefore, their main actions include the creation and organization of certain programs such as "Building Local Agri-Foods Systems." This program for instance is part of a wider strategy which aims to "integrate our work for food sovereignty across rural-urban and local-global arenas, nationally and internationally" (Food First, 2008). More precisely, their actions focus on increasing the awareness of the population which reside in poor areas of the country as well as abroad over the possibility to improve the quality of their agriculture as well as their means to create a certain system of agriculture which can cater for their survival needs.

Another program is "Farmers Forging Food Sovereignty" which takes into account "farmer alternatives to corporate control over production and consumption. The strategy is to help farmer movements for food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture document and share their alternatives among broad sectors of the rural and urban population to create political will and advance peasant-led food system alternatives" (Food First, 2008). In this case also, the strategy aims at an information campaign concerning the possible means that can be used in order to ensure that the farming sector benefits small farmers as well. This is an important point-of-view because in different countries around the world, as well as in some parts of the United States, there are a large number of farmers who are poor because they do not have the opportunity to benefit from their own work.

Finally, another important project through which the Institute tries to conduct its activity is "Democratizing Development: Land, Resources and Markets." Unlike the other components of the activity of the Institute, this program addresses the main causes of poverty as understood through the research conducted in the Institute. Therefore, "This program area focuses on the structural causes of hunger and poverty, and bridges the gap between transnational advocacy and local control over food system resources. Like other program areas it links critiques of the corporate-dominated food systems with farmer and consumer-led alternatives that ensure justice, equity and ecological sustainability" (Food First, 2008). In this sense, they consider that the issues that need to be addressed in order to improve… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Global Activism.  (2008, July 7).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/global-activism/4473

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"Global Activism."  Essaytown.com.  July 7, 2008.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/global-activism/4473.