Mo Farah’s list of accolades is jaw dropping. Since arriving in the UK from war torn Somalia at the age of 8 he has risen through the ranks to become arguably the greatest long-distance runner in the history of UK athletics. He is currently 5,000m world champion, 10,000m silver medallist and one of the favourites for the pinnacle of athletics success at this summer’s Olympic games in London. He also holds a number of British and European records over those two distances. I’m exhausted just writing about it!
Mo can now add founding the Mo Farah Foundationto his impressive list of achievements. As a Somali native, Mo regularly visits family in the Horn of Africa and is all too aware of the problems that many in the region faces today. As such, his foundation is working to raise funds to provide essential lifelines to those suffering from malnutrition and starvation. In the longer term, they aim to provide and maintain community water wells, crop seeds for agricultural farming and the tools to sustain this essential way of life. Mo’s links to the country mean that this is an issue very close to his heart:
“As someone born in Somalia this is something that is very important to me. I’ve seen the situation out there and I want to help make a difference. There are kids out there right now who are starving and I want the foundation to be able to help them get over this and plan for the future. That’s why the work of organisations like ONE, which campaigns for better funding for solutions to the problems that lead to famine, is so important.”
This long term work is crucial for the development of the region and the importance of the work of groups like Mo’s Foundation cannot be underestimated. Most food crises are preventable and investments in agriculture can actually help people become more resilient to shocks such as drought. Other types of investments in rural roads, proper storage facilities, and access to improved seed varieties can also build tolerance to drought, save grains from previous seasons and help communities access food when drought strikes. But it is not just up to private foundations to tackle the problem. Government’s around the world need to improve their funding of long-term agricultural solutions for drought-stricken regions like the Horn of Africa.
In 2009, the G8 pledged $22 billion for agricultural development in developing countries and committed to principles to guide the quality, effectiveness, and accountability of their aid. Some countries have clarified their commitments, outlining how much is new money and constructing plans that will ensure that the principles are upheld. However our recent report “Agricultural Accountability” revealed that G8 and G20 countries had only delivered on a fifth of the promised amount. This is unacceptable. We need governments to step up and work with partners like the Mo Farah Foundation to ensure that the world doesn’t slide back into another food crisis and, instead, find successful solutions to help ensure that droughts do not inevitably to famine.
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