“The Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] sent a distress call Tuesday to the international community declaring that more than six million people are at risk of hunger in the Sahel region of Africa, including more than a million children exposed to severe malnutrition,” CNN reports. “The distress call was issued at the end of a two-day, high-level meeting [in Lome, Togo] to address the issue of food security in the region, especially in Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad,” the news service adds.
Environment and Climate Change
U.N. High Level Task Force On Global Food Security To Shift Focus To 'Zero Hunger Challenge' Initiative
“In the wake of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High Level Task Force on Global Food Security will be reoriented to focus on a new initiative as part of its efforts to ensure a coherent U.N. system approach to the issue of food and nutrition security,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Noting “Ban launched an initiative known as the ‘Zero Hunger Challenge,’ which invites all countries to work for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition and where all food systems are resilient,” at the conference last week, the news service writes, “The Task Force will be reoriented to focus on the challenge’s five objectives as a guide for a coherent U.N. system approach to food and nutrition security.”
“The European Commission needs to develop a proper and integrated strategy on nutrition backed by a significant increase in funding, according to a report” on the E.U. and nutrition development policy that is supported by international organizations, companies and non-governmental organizations, the Guardian reports. The newspaper notes that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates up to one billion people are undernourished worldwide, and the World Food Programme says it will take $11.8 billion annually to address 90 percent of child malnutrition cases.
“Journalists, policy experts, bloggers (including myself) and World Food Programme staff joined in a robust discussion last week about the current hunger situation in Africa’s Sahel region, including its causes and what can be done moving forward,” Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, noting, “In the Google+ hangout, streamed on YouTube, Denise Brown, the World Food Programme’s country director for Niger, logged on from the capital, Niamey, to report precisely what is happening in the region and how people are faring in the wake of no rains, failed crops, and increased food prices.” She continues, “One of the primary points that Brown emphasized was about early warning systems and data propelled early intervention,” and concludes, “The state of the hunger crisis in the Sahel dictates that aid must happen now. But those who are working in the region, like Brown, understand that to prevent another food shortage next year ideas to combat another hunger season have to be employed” (6/8).
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).
“Human rights are the most powerful tool to ensure efforts against hunger and malnutrition tackle structural causes and are not reduced to short-term strategies, civil society groups said in a report published on Tuesday,” the Guardian reports. The report, “Who Decides About Global Food and Nutrition? — Strategies to Regain Control,” “argues that it is impossible to combat the causes of hunger while keeping existing power relations untouched” and “expresses particular concern about the increasing influence and control of agribusinesses and financial companies over food and nutrition,” the newspaper writes.
Political and private sector leaders met on Thursday at a High-Level Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition, held in New York on the sidelines of the 67th U.N. General Assembly session, the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “praised the progress made by the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which has been joined by 30 countries … which are home to 56 million children suffering from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition,” according to the news service. Ban also highlighted the Zero Hunger Challenge, which he launched at the Rio+20 meeting in Brazil in June, and said, “In our world of plenty, no one should be malnourished. … And in a world with no hunger, all food and agriculture would be sustainable, and no food would be lost or wasted,” the news service notes (9/27).
“About 1.6 million Malawians will need food aid before this year’s harvest, an eightfold increase from last year, because of poor crops and rising prices, the United Nations World Food Programme [WFP] said,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Latham, 9/7). The agency “warned that 15 out of 28 districts were affected by a deteriorating situation, owing to prolonged dry spells in the country,” Sapa/DPA/Times Live writes, adding, “The cost of food is seeing rapid inflation, pushing basic items out of the reach of many Malawians” (9/7). “Malawi will use 25,000 metric tons of stored corn to provide relief, while the U.S. will give food worth $7.8 million, according to [an emailed] statement,” Bloomberg writes, adding, “The U.K. will donate $4.7 million in funding, it said. The first phase of the aid operation will target 200,000 people, WFP said” (9/7).
“Severe droughts, rising grain prices and food shortages — the latest headlines are an urgent call for action,” and “it is time to step up our response,” Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. On September 13, the EBRD and FAO will convene the Private Sector for Food Security Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, “the largest and most important gathering of companies and decision-makers in agribusiness from the Caspian and Black seas to the Mediterranean … [to] discuss the key role of the private sector in feeding the world,” they note. “The simple truth is that the world needs more food, and that means more production,” they state, adding, “The private sector can be the main engine of such growth.”
Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece, “My top priority for 2012 will be to make a renewed push towards [achieving the first millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people living in hunger and extreme poverty by 2015], but also to look beyond it, to the final, total eradication of hunger from this planet. Obviously, it is not something that FAO can do alone. It needs a new international mobilization, the support of decision-makers everywhere, and a concerted effort by the entire U.N. family and other development partners.”