For a long time I thought my energy and my position within a large Fortune 300 company could be best used to bring key players together to address the issue of eliminating hunger. I also thought large projects could be put in place and duplicated where needed. I was wrong, at least partially. The emergence of COVID–19 is also a game changer as in-person interaction is proscribed.
Yes, large projects have merits and can be transformative but putting them in place faces multiple challenges:
Then, I went back to the drawing board and back to the fundamentals:
Another element has to also be considered: the opinions of those we want to help need to be heard first before trying to impose solutions. After all, a local farmer has some contextual knowledge that is indispensable to incorporate to succeed.
So I have changed my mind and believe that the sharing of knowledge, one person at a time, is more effficient than grandiose fell-good projects that look good on paper but are extremely difficult to implement.
The launch on June 18, 2020 of the FAO elearning Academy https://elearning.fao.org/ – which provides free, self-paced learning opportunities and multilingual e-learning courses – goes back to the basic of empowering those in need with the knowledge to defeat poverty. All the courses support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Knowledge is power and can be transformative if shared with farmers and all those involved.
Though these courses would require a computer and to be literate, they are extraordinarily useful. Knowledge, coupled with the knowledge of what technology and tools exist, are key. Phone-based technology is a game changer and knowing its existence an how to use it will egally be transformative. For instance:
Ultimately, large projects may take years to put in place but developing knowledge at the individual level can be transformative, almost instantly in some cases.
- To conclude, my thinking is: let’s get things up an running now because for those who are poor an hungry, solutions that can feed them tomorrow is more important than what will happen in five years.
The above stems from the compelling story Roger Thurow documented on the devastating effects of malnutrition. Roger is a senior fellow on global food and agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and spent three decades at The Wall Street Journal. Roger over 17 years has reported on the life of Hagirso, whom he met as a toddler suffering from chronic malnutrition in Ethiopia back in 2003. See the slideshow: https://bit.ly/2ZkGioT and accompanying essay https://bit.ly/2ZlRaD3. Malnutrition leads to stunting, which is a stop or hindrance in growth or development, both physical and cognitive. In Roger’s words: “Stunting is a life sentence of underachievement.”
So how can you help? Simply disseminate the link to this FAO resource through your network.