May 20, 2014

CWS joins USAID agreement on fighting hunger

WASHINGTON -- Church World Service has joined with other US humanitarian organizations to sign a first-of-its-kind agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development to quicken the pace of the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

The agreement was signed Monday (May 19) in Washington by Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator, and Samuel A. Worthington, the president and chief executive officer of InterAction, the largest US-based alliance of non-profit groups, like CWS, working to end poverty in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

The 33 InterAction members participating in the partnership, including CWS, also announced their “collective pledge” to spend $1.5 billion of their own private funds from 2013 to 2015 to advance food security and nutrition. This represents a $500 million increase over the original $1 billion commitment made in 2012.

“The task of eradicating hunger and poverty is huge and by working with partners CWS is able to further extend its reach, so we are delighted to enter into this new agreement with USAID as an Interaction member,” said CWS CEO and Executive Director the Rev. John McCullough.

Since its founding in 1946, CWS has made fighting hunger one of the cornerstones of its work throughout the world. Formed to assist efforts in a devastated Europe following World War II, the agency now focuses most of its anti-hunger programming in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

One of the agency’s most visible programs is the CROP Hunger Walk, held in more than 1,500 communities around the nation each year. The ecumenical, interfaith, multi-cultural Walk is the original charitable walking event in the U.S. Proceeds help fund CWS anti-hunger programs locally and in developing countries around the world.

Despite successes by CWS and other agencies, as well as by the U.S. government, hunger and malnutrition remain serious problems throughout the world. As examples, some 842 million people globally go hungry every day, and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. The problem is particularly acute among children, with nearly 4 in 10 children in the developing world malnourished, with grievous results on their bodies and mental development.

In the announcement, InterAction noted that the U.S. nongovernmental community is one of the largest donors in the world.

“Privately-funded international expenditures for U.S. nongovernmental organizations total $14 billion per year,” it said. “In many countries, nongovernmental spending in the areas of food security, agriculture and nutrition exceeds that of the US government. This landmark agreement between USAID and InterAction members will help ensure that significant private spending from nongovernmental organizations enhances U.S. taxpayer investments to fight hunger and malnutrition.”

InterAction also noted that groups like CWS and others “add value with their decades-long connections with local communities, and expertise working with and strengthening local in-country capacity of community organizations – critical assets given the need for development dollars to deliver lasting results.”

Humantiarian groups like CWS also reach the underserved, InterAction said, as well as the “most remote and hardest-to reach and tailor programs for the community.  Nongovernmental groups can help ensure that development assistance gets to the communities and families most in need.” Finally, organizations such as CWS “have unique experience and credibility working with small scale farmers – many of them women – a particular focus of food security programs,” InterAction said in its announcement.

“We have had a major impact on efforts to end hunger and poverty and strong involvement by the U.S. government will only serve to enhance our work in this area, much to the benefit of people struggling to get out of poverty and to achieve food security,” McCullough said.