Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hunger Awareness Week

The Peace Corps Mali Food Security Taskforce has planned this event in order to raise awareness and personal understanding among Peace Corps volunteers and their friends and families in the United States of the difficulties Malians and millions around the world who live below the line of poverty ($1 a day) face daily combating food insecurity.

In Mali, where rain only falls during a single season, food security is a very serious problem, particularly during the rainy season when food stored from the previous year, if not properly rationed, is scarce and planting has begun. The rainy season and therefore the planting season is often know as "hunger season" and occur during the months of June through October. Often there is less of everything from fruits and vegetables to grains such as millet and rice. The food that is available is often more expensive due to its scarcity. Due to the limited amount of rain and the lack of preparation with regards to food storage, droughts can have devastating affects. Such a drought occurred in Mali in the early 1970’s caused thousands of deaths and political turmoil and another is currently happening in Somalia.

The Hunger Awareness Week will begin at 12:01 AM Sunday September 11th and will last until 11:59 PM September 17th.

Peace Corps Volunteers
For one week, all participants are asked to live with only $1. Due to fluctuations in the FCFA, we will use 500 FCFA/person as the established $1/person a day.

Those volunteers that eat with a host family are asked to:
- inform their family
- try not to surpass the 500 FCFA quantity
- or abstain from eating with their family and cook for themselves as this will be easier to control.
For those that will cook and want to be strict with themselves, remember that gas used for cooking, soap bought for laundry, or any activity that involves spending additional money should be included in the 500 FCFA.
Participants with electricity and running water are asked to limit this use.
All food and consumed throughout the day should be estimated as closely as possible within the 500 FCFA (including food from care packages).

Participants in the United States
It is understood that it is significantly easier for volunteers in Mali to follow the under $1 a day rule because food is cheaper and it is easier for us to monitor our electricity and water usage.
For participants in the U.S., we would like to challenge you to eat with under $10 a day for a week.
The electricity and running water rules do not apply to you and neither does driving affect your $10/person a day allotment.

* The degree of strictness to the 500 FCFA (or $10) rule is left to the discretion of the participant. Remember that the health and welfare of the participant is our top priority and recommend that if a participant is feeling ill or is finding that participating in the event is compromising their health to stop altogether or reschedule a personal Hunger Awareness Week.

We are also encouraging participants to write stories, blogs, or poetry about their participation and submit it to to be added to our Peace Corps Mali monthly newspaper or on our blog.