Hunger Is Political

By Beckmann, David | The Christian Century, September 21, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Hunger Is Political

Beckmann, David, The Christian Century

I WAS VISITING Mtimbe, a settlement of about 40 families on the shore of Lake Nyasa in Mozambique. The town is many miles from the nearest road, and residents have no electricity or running water. They live in thatched huts, and they rely on cassava fields: if the cassava fails, the family goes hungry. My companions and I had traveled by one-engine plane and then in a big wooden boat. As we approached the shore, we saw about 50 local people waiting for us. They were singing a praise song, clapping and moving with the music. Our hosts pulled our luggage from the boat, raised it onto their heads and continued to sing and dance as they made their way up the hill.

We were welcomed by Rebecca Van Meulen, coordinator of a regional Anglican AIDS effort called Life Teams, and by Pedro Kumpila, leader of the local team. Someone asked the people how they'd improved their lives in Mtimbe, and a resident expressed gratitude for peace. Mtimbe was repeatedly savaged during Mozambique's 16 years of civil war. One resident told us that he once had to watch soldiers smash a baby in one of the wooden mortars women use to pound cassava. All of Mtimbe's residents had to flee repeatedly to neighboring countries and live as refugees for years at a time.

One woman said she's grateful for Mtimbe's school. They didn't have a school ten years ago, but nearly all of Mtimbe's children--even the AIDS orphans--are now learning to read and write. A few people even have cell phones--a huge convenience in a place without roads or motor vehicles.

Pedro noted that people in the community who are infected with HIV and AIDS, including some who are near death, are able to take care of their children, farm and teach others about AIDS because they're receiving lifesaving medications.

I was moved by the achievements and hope of the people of Mtimbe. They are among the poorest people on earth, but they are making strides toward a better life. I was also struck by the U.S. government's impact even in this remote place. On one hand, that impact has sometimes been negative. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had a hand in Mozambique's civil war. United States ethanol subsidies contribute to the village's high grain prices, while Mozambique's government has delayed investment plans because of the financial crisis that started on Wall Street.

On the other hand, however, there is good news. Support by the U.S. for the reduction of Mozambique's debts helped finance schools across the country, and the United States funds most of the AIDS medications in Mozambique. Activist efforts such as Bread for the World in the United States helped the people of Mtimbe by urging the U.S. Congress to support debt relief and development assistance for poor countries.

Hundreds of thousands of communities in developing countries have seen similar improvements over the last several decades, and statistics reflect the progress. According to the World Bank, the number of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries--those living on less than $1.25 a day--dropped from 1.9 billion in 1980 to 1.4 billion in 2005. The fraction of the population living in extreme poverty dropped from one half to one quarter.

The statistics on undernutrition tell a more complicated story. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that the number of undernourished people in developing countries declined from nearly 1 billion in 1970 to about 800 million in the mid '90s. Unfortunately that number began to climb again and spiked in 2008-2009 to 1 billion. Poor people in developing countries typically spend more than two-thirds of their total income on a staple grain such as rice or wheat, and a surge in grain prices means a spike in hunger. The global economic slowdown also pushed more people into hunger.

There has been unambiguous and dramatic improvement in health and education. Twenty-six thousand children in developing countries die every day from preventable causes, but that number has dropped from 55,000 daily in 1960--a remarkable improvement.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Hunger Is Political


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.