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Today the world's population hit 7 billion. That's 7 billion humans who need food and water to survive, let alone thrive.

I live in Little Rock, a small southern city whose metro area population is less than 700,000. It's really hard for me to imagine what 7 billion people means on a day-to-day basis.

This video from National Geographic helps put 7 billion into perspective.

It really is about balance, not space. Inequity in the distribution and use of the world's resources is the problem. The only way to see improvements in the quality of life for the global population will be through a more equitable distribution of resources (food, water, money, power, and so on). At Heifer, we approach this problem in two ways. First, we help redistribute financial resources. We take the generous gifts of our donors and turn them into livestock, seeds, equipment, training and so on. Second, we help our participants–largely the rural poor–make the absolute best use of what resources they do have.

Earlier this year, Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food reported that sustainable, agroecological farming will be the answer to feeding the expected 9 billion people to live on our planet in 2050. A post on Impatient Optimists, the blog of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stated:

At the Foundation, we believe that smallholder-based productivity growth is the most leveraged pathway by which we can address poverty reduction. Of the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty and almost 1 billion are estimated to be chronically undernourished, approximately three quarters live in rural areas; and an overwhelming majority of these poor participate in agriculture. By focusing on smallholders' productivity we address not only poverty but also undernutrition.

Supporting smallholder farmers engaged in sustainable agriculture is what we do at Heifer. And we have plans to do this even bigger and with greater impact. But it's not enough. There have to be more of us working to end hunger and poverty while protecting the Earth. Doing nothing is unacceptable. Doing nothing leads to 15 million children dying every year from hunger. Doing nothing leaves children who survive starvation grossly stunted.

7 billion people aren't the problem.

We are the solution.


Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.