Putting food on the table

Food & climate change article written on the 22 Jul 2013

In Timor-Leste almost 50% of children are chronically malnourished. Our aid is helping small-scale farmers like Natercia feed their children and their villages but the Australian Government can do more. Sign the petition to call on the Australian Government to increase aid to those most in need.

Growing up with two younger sisters and two older brothers, meal times were a whirlwind of activity. Almost daily, we would fight it out over the last roast potato, the prized piece of meat at a family barbeque or the first scoop of ice cream on a hot summer’s night. But we never went to bed hungry.

Travelling in Timor-Leste last year, I reflected on my own childhood when I heard the story of Natercia, one of the many small-scale farmers in Timor-Leste. In her village, many people including young children and Natercia’s own two children, were going hungry. During the annual ‘Hungry Season’ from November to March every year, families across Timor-Leste struggle to put enough food on the table.

Children are particularly vulnerable to hunger. In Timor-Leste, almost 50% of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished — a major cause of child mortality.

Women like Natercia are at the heart of the global food system. They produce a great proportion of the food we eat, yet have little access to land and their farm work is often underpaid and undervalued.

Whilst Natercia’s story is one example of aid helping to fight hunger, there are still 870 million people going hungry. That’s about 1 in 8 people going to bed hungry every night. This is despite the fact that the world produces enough food to feed everyone.

However, change is happening. Australian aid is now helping Natercia and her village tackle hunger by starting their own vegetable gardens. Natercia now grows cassava, papaya, pumpkin, spinach and tomatoes. Natercia and her two children now have enough food to meet their nutritional needs. She also earns an income by selling excess produce to her local market.

This election, Australia has an opportunity to tackle global hunger and help poor farmers like Natercia put food on the table. Sign the petition to call on the Australian Government to increase aid to those most in need and help make poverty history…

By Clancy Moore – Oxfam GROW Campaign Coordinator