On October 17, as the charity recognizes the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Food For the Poor is recommitted to building sustainable livelihoods for poverty-stricken families, an act of lifegiving change than can endure for generations.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the day sometimes known less formally as World Poverty Day, which is recognized every year on October 17.
The United Nations designated the day annually to raise awareness about the need to end global poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Seven years ago in an urgent call to action, the UN championed a 2030 agenda built around 17 sustainable development goals. But that agenda is in jeopardy due to the crippling affects and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inflation and the war in Ukraine have dealt further setbacks and increased food insecurity. The poor always are the hardest hit.
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine shares his thoughts about how the charity is facing poverty head on.
What is multidimensional poverty?
Ed: Poverty is not just a single dimension. Someone in poverty who needs food, for example, will likely also have many other things they need including access to clean water, housing, education etc. We want to make sure that our work truly stretches from the relief to the development and that we are partnering with the church and like-minded partners and organizations to make sure we can do something that has lasting effect.
What is the role of the church in helping Food For The Poor address poverty?
Ed: There is an opportunity for both material as well as spiritual support to come together through the church and through organizations such as Food For The Poor to really help people think about purpose in their lives and to do it through a spiritual definition as well. The churches probably best understand the needs of the poor because they’re in the community of the Church already.
How important are developing partnerships with like-minded organizations in the countries where we serve?
Ed: The framework for collaboration between Food For The Poor and our partners allows each of us to have a much greater impact than either can have on its own. Food For The Poor and Cáritas Española recently signed such a framework for collaboration toward a shared vision to end hunger and fight poverty and malnutrition in the Caribbean and Latin America. There are great opportunities here to collaborate and grow. Food For The Poor has really understood over the last few years how important these partnerships are to help grow not only our capability, but the other partner’s capability to serve those in great need.
How is Food For The Poor trying to lift families out of poverty?
Ed: We’re striving to make sure the sustainability of someone’s life is significantly addressed as we deal with problems for the poorest of the poor that we serve. Ultimately, it’s about getting people onto their feet and to help them stay on their feet. No one wants to see anyone fall backwards into the poverty they are trying to leave behind them. So there is this sense of resurrection both materially and spiritually, where we truly enable people to lift themselves up and stay up. Ending poverty will require us to build as many sustainable livelihoods as we possibly can for as many people. It’s easy to say, we know how hard it is to do this work. Many of the countries where we work all have unique challenges in how they can get their work done each day.
How does Food For The Poor ensure we are providing relief to the poor in the short-term but also helping them to sustain themselves in the long-term and enjoy a better quality of life?
Ed: It’s important to step back out every now and then, and say OK, we’ve done all of these things. But what else still needs to be done and how should we think about the nature and the extent of the problems and how do we make sure that whatever solution we’re applying really fixes and deals with things so that it has transformation, the long-lasting effect that we all so greatly desire.
What is Food For The Poor’s approach to understanding the scale of poverty?
Ed: We need to think about phase zero. We don’t do anything until we’ve understood what problem we’re trying to solve really. We need to define the problem. We need to understand just how best to respond to it, whether it’s the scale of the problem, the length of time, the duration, what kind of fundraising is needed etc. Only then do we start getting into the solution.
The idea is that we should be spending more time on defining the problem and that the solution will become more self-evident because we better understand the problem. Being very purposeful. Being sure whatever we do is well designed and directly impacts the problem we’re trying to solve.
Why did we start working in the countries where we serve? Peru and Ecuador are two of the latest countries. Is the data and metrics on poverty driving those decisions in places where we are not already intervening and providing aid?
Ed: Over the last 40 years, FFTP has worked in the Caribbean and Latin America, responding to calls for help and partnering with organizations that have the capability and capacity to deliver life-saving solutions. Both Ecuador and Peru are struggling with rising numbers of families living in multidimensional poverty due to the convergence of COVID-19, conflict, and climate change.
Ecuador’s poverty and income inequality mostly affect indigenous, mixed race and rural populations. Overall, 40 percent of the rural population in Ecuador lives below the poverty line, totaling about 6.9 million Ecuadorians who suffer daily from the effects of poverty, according to the World Food Programme, 2022. In Peru, slightly more than 20% of the population still lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank Group. This material deprivation leads to widespread food insecurity, which leaves 33.4% of people in rural areas — including 13.1% of children — to face anemia, obesity, stunting and other effects of malnutrition, based on World Food Programme statistics.