The Humanitarian Centre launches a year-long focus on food security

by Anne Radl

In Cambridge, there is a range of outstanding work being done at the universities, companies and NGOs to address hunger and malnutrition: from scientific breakthroughs for breeding high-yielding crops resilient to climate change, to projects that help women farmers take on decision-making roles in their families and communities.

The Humanitarian Centre is launching a themed year on Food Security that will bring these innovators and influencers together, with development specialists and their overseas partners, to share knowledge and experience, challenge one another, and spark new partnerships.

Achieving food security for all is essential to the alleviation and prevention of poverty. The first of the eight millennium development goals is to halve extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. Although progress has been made in the past few decades, more recently, the declining rates of hunger and malnutrition have slowed or stalled in many parts of the world. Today, nearly 900 million people go to bed hungry, and 2 million children still die from malnutrition every year. The state of hunger and malnutrition endured by so many speaks to the deep, underlying inequalities in our world: there is currently more than enough food produced to feed us all.

How can you get involved?

Students bring fresh ideas and invigorating energy to the Humanitarian Centre’s themed years. Even if your work doesn’t focus on food security specifically, you may find that you are drawn into an event or two that looks at how food security is interconnected to other global challenges, like climate change adaptation, nutrition or women’s empowerment.
A number of interactive events in the year are actually geared towards students, providing experimental spaces to try on new approaches to development issues, like food security.

Innovation and Development Hackathon

For example, on March 8th you’ll be able to sign up to take part in the Innovation and Development Hackathon. Starting on 16th March, you can team up with other enterprising students and professionals for a week-long ‘open innovation’ event to find new approaches to live food security challenges faced by NGOs and companies. The Hackathon ends on 23rd March, when teams present their new approaches and awards are given to the innovators with the most promising ideas—chosen by a panel of experts, and by the crowd. (Follow this link to see a video of last year’s Global Health Hackathon; two of the ideas generated have since gone to prototype!)

Enough Food for Everyone IF

Students can also play a crucial role in supporting the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ Campaign. The Humanitarian Centre is proud to be a member of a coalition of over 100 leading NGOs that have come together to make 2013 the beginning of the end for hunger. There is a huge need for motivated activists to get the word out about the IF Campaign and to lobby their MPs to put pressure on the central government to take the lead in tackling the four big IFs:

To join the IF Campaign through the Humanitarian Centre, visit:

If you have any questions at all about the Humanitarian Centre of the Food Security Year, please feel free to email Anne Radl at