Opinion
Join The Times' book club. This month's selection: "Cadillac Desert"
Opinion Editorial

Smart aid to Myanmar

One hundred million people will go to bed hungry tonight, and some will not wake up tomorrow morning. The U.N. World Food Program has called the sudden run-up in global food prices a "silent tsunami" that threatens the poorest of the poor. Add to food price hikes the devastating cyclone in Myanmar's rice-growing region, which has left perhaps a million survivors homeless, and the result is a global humanitarian crisis that will strain the resources of even well-funded relief groups.


FOR THE RECORD:
Hunger: A May 9 editorial on donating to relief groups referred to Mercy Corps as a religious charity. It is a secular organization. —


We urge all Americans to give now. And we offer this advice on how to give wisely:

First, support what our government will not. In the case of hunger, that means directing a portion of your donations to Third World agricultural and sustainable development projects. It's easy to get Washington to pay for famine relief, and President Bush has already pledged generously. But it's almost impossible to persuade lawmakers to fund long-term, environmentally sensible agricultural programs, even though this is the only way to forestall future famines. Second, give online, so your money goes to work immediately. Third, designate your donation for the programs you support.

To help cyclone victims, the best aid organization is arguably UNICEF (www.unicef.org). It has experience operating in Myanmar (it already has an office in Yangon) and has stockpiled emergency supplies in the region. And it's big and independent enough not to be pushed around by the military government. The other groups we recommend are all private. International Medical Corps (www.imcworldwide.org) runs highly efficient food and medical programs around the world and has a longtime operation in Indonesia, whose relief workers are more likely to be admitted to Myanmar than are Americans. Among the religious charities, Mercy Corps, Catholic Relief Services and World Vision all have extensive operations in Southeast Asia and are highly rated for cost-efficiency (see www.charitynavigator.org).

To alleviate global hunger, all of those groups are deserving. In addition, Action Against Hunger (www.actionagainsthunger.org) offers both immediate nutrition and programs to boost food security, and it spends almost nothing on fundraising. Other worthy groups supporting agricultural development are TechnoServe (www.technoserve.org), which funds entrepreneurial solutions to poverty, and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (www.aatf-africa.org), which gives technical help to small farmers in Africa.

And finally, remember your local food bank.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • A hazy ruling on abusive speech from the Supreme Court

    A hazy ruling on abusive speech from the Supreme Court

    In overturning the conviction of a man who posted violent "rap lyrics" about his estranged wife and others on Facebook, the Supreme Court on Monday rightly made it harder to criminalize hateful speech. But the decision stopped short of requiring that prosecutors prove that a defendant intended...

  • The false populism of George Pataki

    The false populism of George Pataki

    I keep thinking we're done with George Pataki — but like an order of bad clams, he keeps coming back up on me.

  • Will Gawker go union?

    Will Gawker go union?

    As union membership declines, even modest unionization efforts take on symbolic importance. Each case seems like a sign of things to come. Success or failure at the individual level seems to portend success or failure for the broader movement.

  • Don't hide L.A. County's legal bills

    Don't hide L.A. County's legal bills

    Los Angeles County pays a lot of money to private law firms to defend against lawsuits brought by people who assert they were beaten, mistreated or abused while in custody, especially in the county's notorious jails. In order to adequately assess how well the county's sheriff and Board of Supervisors...

  • California agriculture: It's worth the water

    California agriculture: It's worth the water

    Pundits here in drought-stricken California have become fond of proclaiming that farms consume 80% of the state's water and generate only about 2% of its gross domestic product. "Why devote so much of our water to an industry that contributes so little fuel to our economic engine?" they ask.

  • Legalize lane-splitting, with some caveats

    Legalize lane-splitting, with some caveats

    On the face of it, it seems absolutely insane to allow motorcycles to ignore the lanes on the road and to whiz past cars by going between them. What if the biker misjudges and hits a car because he's too close on one side or another? What if a car moves a little to the left or right — still staying...

Comments
Loading