“World leaders must take swift, coordinated action to ensure that food price shocks do not turn into a catastrophe that could hurt tens of millions of people in coming months, the United Nations’ food agencies said in a statement on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “It said leaders must tackle both the immediate issue of high food prices, as well as the long-term issue of how food is produced and consumed at a time of rising population, demand and climate change,” the news agency writes (9/4).
Environment and Climate Change
The following articles examining food and water security were published on Thursday. The U.N. News Centre writes, “The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have called on the private sector to invest massively in agriculture, stressing that this is vital to winning the fight against hunger.” The news service adds, “Speaking at a high-level conference in Istanbul focused on promoting private agricultural investment and trade from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, [FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva] said that apart from important investments, financial and in-kind contributions, the private sector can make another important valuable contribution, namely political support to food security” (9/13).
“Around 2.1 million Somalis still need food aid and are facing a critical situation despite a fall in the number of people at risk in the last six months, the United Nations said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Overall, despite the recent improvements, the humanitarian situation in Somalia remains critical and must remain on the global agenda to avoid the risk of reversing the gains made,” Jens Laerke of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, according to the news agency. “In 2011, famine in the country caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people and affected more than four million people, or more than half of the population, according to the U.N. agency’s figures,” AFP writes (9/11).
“Support is being rolled out in Burkina Faso as part of a European Union (E.U.)-UNICEF joint action for improving nutrition security in Africa,” UNICEF reports in an article on its webpage. “Funded by the E.U., and in partnership with UNICEF, the Government of Burkina Faso and local NGOs, the project aims to improve nutrition security among women and young children,” the article states, noting, “The approach is broad based and begins with education.” According to the article, “The project will, it is hoped, revolutionize local food production and local diet in Burkina Faso, moving the country away from recurrent nutritional crisis to nutritional independence” (9/10).
Noting “World Water Week recently concluded in Stockholm with a special emphasis on the linkages between water and food security,” Lakshmi Puri, assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of U.N. Women, writes in this Inter Press Service opinion piece, “Creating a water- and food-secure world requires putting women and girls at the center of water- and food-related policies, actions and financing.” She continues, “Women are not only beneficiaries of greater water and food security; they can also enable greater progress in these areas.” Puri states, “Four urgent actions must be taken to unleash women’s potential.”
In the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, David Lane, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome, discusses his recent trip to Niger, where more than three million people are food insecure and suffer from malnutrition. “I had expected the trip would leave me feeling depressed and hopeless,” but “by the time I left Niger, I was filled with optimism and confidence in the multilateral assistance and development operations at work on the ground. Amongst their efforts, I saw the components needed to break Niger’s relentless cycle of hunger and malnutrition,” he writes. “I was impressed by how well the different U.N. organizations, … as well as their NGO partner organizations are coordinating their work,” Lane states, concluding, “Emergency and development assistance are both vital to a relief effort, and can be even more effective when integrated” (9/5).
“World food prices stabilized in August at levels close to those reached in the food crisis of 2008,” according to the most recent U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index, Reuters reports. “FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva called for international action to calm markets but also said the August price index, which remained unchanged from July, provided some cause for optimism,” according to the news agency. “‘Although we should remain vigilant, current prices do not justify talk of a world food crisis. But the international community can and should move to calm markets further,’ Graziano da Silva said in a statement,” Reuters writes (Hornby, 9/6).
A recently released report (.pdf) commissioned by the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID) examines research projects on agriculture for nutrition and “reveals eight gaps that are currently being neglected, including specific target groups — particularly rural workers and non-rural populations — as well as a lack of methodologies to guide research in the field,” SciDev.Net reports (Piotrowski, 9/13). “With new initiatives announced at the U.K. hunger summit in August, and the new global target to reduce the number of stunted children by 40 percent by 2025 declared by the U.N.’s World Health Assembly, DfID commissioned this new report to identify poorly researched areas in the newly invigorated fight against malnutrition,” according to a DfID press release. “In its conclusion the authors suggest methods for tackling these gaps, laying out several steps which can be taken towards establishing more complete research pathways,” including the establishment of a network of researchers to improve communication, the press release notes (8/29).
Noting the Copenhagen Consensus has stated that “large-scale micronutrient fortification is a proven and cost-effective intervention that can mitigate malnutrition in the form of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and enhance the well-being of millions,” Marc Van Ameringen, executive director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), writes in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog, “On September 9, 2012, [GAIN] launched a partnership in Kabul with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation (KBZF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to help alleviate the burden of malnutrition in Afghanistan by bringing more nutritious wheat flour, vegetable oil, and ghee to approximately half of the country’s population.”
Humanitarian Situation Better, Still Tenuous, In Zimbabwe As E.U. Scales Down Assistance, IRIN Reports
Though the number of people in Zimbabwe in need of food aid has dropped from seven million in 2002-2003 to one million currently, the number could still rise by 600,000 in 2013, IRIN reports in an analysis of the humanitarian and political situation in the country. “Still, two of the country’s biggest donors, the European Union and the U.S., and their implementing partner, the U.N., say Zimbabwe is on its way to recovery and development,” the news service writes, noting “[t]he E.U. has announced that it is scaling down its humanitarian assistance.” IRIN states, “The E.U. has moved from funding only emergency food aid to funding nutrition, health, water and sanitation, and protection programs. [U.N. Financial Tracking Service (FTS)] data show that the health and education sectors are better funded than last year, but agriculture programs are worse off.”