Ending poverty is not easy but it is possible

World leaders have an opportunity to make the decisions needed to end extreme poverty

Published 23 January 2013  |  Matthew Frost, Tearfund chief executive
Matthew Frost

I've been chief exec of Tearfund for eight years and, to be honest, I've sometimes wondered whether we're chasing an unattainable dream.

Not because we don't know how to tackle poverty. Of course we do, as do many others, which is why we're much closer to the goal of eradicating poverty than ever before.

This very week, the UK Government International Development Select Committee published their report on the future of tackling poverty. I agree with them that we could well be the generation that sees extreme poverty wiped out for good, if we make some drastic changes to the way we all live, wherever we are in the world.

We know that we'll never see an end to extreme poverty unless we face the momentous challenge of climate change, for example, which every year wipes out many people's lives and livelihoods when extreme and unpredictable weather conditions ruin homes, farms and children's lives.

Or the disgraceful behaviour of some major companies who hide away their money in tax havens instead of paying their dues and helping make the world a fairer place; or the scandal of companies grabbing land from people in poor communities at an appalling rate. An area the size of London is bought up every six days – unceremoniously banishing families from the homes their families have lived in for generations just because they can't prove ownership.

Tough challenges, and of course not easy to solve. If these things were easy, we'd have done them by now.

But we haven't, and it's going to take a lot more political courage and action from countries all around the world, whether rich or poor, to solve these challenges. Which is why 2013, as the UK hosts the G8 again, is a prime opportunity for those of us in the UK to call on our Prime Minister to show leadership and steer world leaders to some difficult decisions that will help to end poverty.

You see, the reason why I sometimes wonder whether we'll ever get there is because I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to rally the troops and get the public support we need.

But I was wrong to worry. Today sees the launch of the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign, the biggest UK anti-poverty campaign since Make Poverty History, bringing together more than a hundred British organisations.

Together, those organisations – which include denominations, student movements, charities and local community groups – represent millions of people who want to see the senseless injustice of poverty overcome.

Because, even in a world where we can send people to outer space and Skype friends across the world, we haven't yet managed to fix the broken system that means that one person in eight will go to bed hungry tonight.

One in eight. Look around you now, in your office or on the train, and count eight people. Globally, one of you would be so hungry that you can't muster the strength to work or to fight off disease and so you become even more poor.

Today's launch is more than a party, a Twitter projection and a gathering of celebrities. It's the start of a new season in British life that could bring about immense change for the poorest people in the world. We're going to show that, even in hard times, we're still a generous nation.

We have six months until the G8. I'd love to join with you at the end of the summer to celebrate good news – of children who live long enough to go to school, or parents who can feed their children, of hardworking farmers growing successful crops and earning an honest day's pay. We can celebrate these stories IF you join with us now and be part of the generation that begins to end global hunger.

And there's something else I hope and pray this campaign will achieve. It's time for the church, once again, to take our place in public life, standing with people from all across our society without losing any of our distinctiveness, showing that we follow a God of justice. The church has been the backbone of huge social change historically and recently, and this year I hope we'll do it again and take our nation and our world a step further towards seeing God's kingdom come.

www.enoughfoodif.org

Find resources for your church at: www.tearfund.org/en/get_involved/campaign/if/how_can_my_church_get_involved/

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