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Sustaining Focus On Global Hunger Critical To Improving Transparency, Accountability In Fight Against Malnutrition

“Malnutrition is easily neglected by parents, communities and governments,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog,” adding, “The signs are not visible until very acute, the impacts are felt long after the food and infection cycle has played out — and far beyond electoral cycles — and the causes are often mistakenly attributed to something else.” He continues, “The challenge is to avoid the fight against malnutrition being a compelling but periodic curiosity,” like the Olympics. Haddad questions how to maintain the current focus on global hunger and nutrition helped by the upcoming August 12 summit in London. “At that event, I hope there will be a commitment to make the effort that is expended in the fight against malnutrition more transparent, and to make those who fall short in their exertions more accountable,” he says and lists three tools “that can help.”

VOA Examines Impacts Of U.S. Drought On Global Food Security

VOA News examines the impacts of drought in the U.S. on global food security. “More than half the United States is experiencing the dual problems of too little rain and temperatures that are too high,” the news service writes, adding, “Shenggen Fan, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute [IFPRI], said that’s not only driving up prices, but contributing to price volatility as well.” Noting “[t]he United States is the leading producer of corn and soybeans — two commodities that developing countries rely on,” the news service writes, “The decline in maize production has boosted prices by 30 percent in the past two months” and “[s]oybean prices are up 19 percent.” VOA adds price rises for corn and soybeans also have a negative effect on wheat and meat prices.

WFP Appeals For $48M In Food Aid For Malawi; Britain Gives $4.7M

“The U.N.’s World Food Programme [WFP] said Tuesday it needs $48 million in food aid for about 11 percent of Malawi’s population who will face hunger due to bad crops,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘It is estimated that those needing food assistance in the southern African country will rise to 1.6 million people during the peak of the lean season early next year,’ the WFP said in a joint statement with Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID),” the news service writes.

FAO Launches Water Management Framework At World Water Week Opening Ceremony In Sweden

At the opening ceremony of World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “launched a framework that will help combat food insecurity by providing methods to better manage water resources in agriculture and reduce waste,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The initiative, entitled ‘Coping with water scarcity: An action framework for agriculture and food security’ [.pdf], seeks to encourage practices that will improve water management, such as modernizing irrigation schemes, recycling and re-using wastewater, implementing mechanisms to reduce water pollution, and storing rainwater at farms to reduce drought-related risks, among others,” the news service notes.

UNICEF Warns More Children Than Ever To Be Affected By Hunger In Sahel; PM Cameron Expected To Announce Nutrition Initiatives At Summit

“The number of malnourished children is set to hit a new high of 1.5 million in the Sahel next week as cholera and locusts emerge as new threats, UNICEF warned on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/7). According to VOA News, “International aid agencies report the situation is particularly critical in Niger where an estimated 400,000 children are expected to require life-saving treatment for severe, acute malnutrition this year.” UNICEF, other U.N. agencies, and international aid organizations “are hampered by a lack of funds,” the news service notes (Schlein, 8/7).

Study Finds Genetically Modified Rice Good Source Of Vitamin A For Malnourished Children

“Genetically modified rice could be a good source of vitamin A for children in countries where deficiency in the vitamin is common,” according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Reuters reports. “The study tested so-called Golden Rice against both spinach and supplements in providing vitamin A to 68 six- to eight-year-olds in China,” the news service notes. “Researchers found that the rice was as effective as the capsules in giving kids a boost of vitamin A, based on blood tests taken over three weeks,” and that “it worked better than the natural beta-carotene in spinach,” according to Reuters. “The product has been around for years, but it has yet to come into real-world use for a number of reasons,” the news service notes, adding, “Because it’s genetically modified, it has faced opposition from environmental groups and others.” Reuters writes, “There have also been questions about how efficiently the beta-carotene in Golden Rice can be converted into vitamin A, especially in children” (Norton, 8/15).

WFP Begins Series Of Air Drops To Deliver Food To Refugees In South Sudan

“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) carried out the first in a series of air drops to replenish rapidly diminishing food stocks for more than 100,000 people in South Sudan who have fled fighting in Sudan,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/15). “The refugees are severely malnourished going for days without supplies after being driven from their homes by the violence,” Examiner.com notes (Lambers, 8/15). “The first air drops were made Wednesday in Maban County in Upper Nile state,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, adding that camps there — “along with another in the region called Yida — have received more than 160,000 refugees who have fled war on the other side of the border in Sudan.” According to the AP, “WFP plans to deliver up to 2,000 metric tons of food to Maban over the coming days and weeks” (8/16).

U.N. Calls On Countries To Develop National Drought, Climate Policies

“The world urgently needs to adopt drought-management policies as farmers from Africa to India struggle with lack of rainfall and the United States endures the worst drought it has experienced in decades, top officials with the U.N. weather agency said Tuesday,” the Associated Press reports. “The World Meteorological Organization [WMO] says the U.S. drought and its ripple effects on global food markets show the need for policies with more water conservation and less consumption,” the AP writes (Heilprin, 8/21). “Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water, and energy,’ said [WMO] Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a press release,” the U.N. News Centre notes. “‘We need to move away from a piecemeal, crisis-driven approach and develop integrated risk-based national drought policies,’ he added, according to the news service (8/21). “The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports food prices have climbed by six percent because of drought, ethanol production and high fuel costs, and are likely to go higher if drought continues,” VOA News adds (Schlein, 8/21).

Nearly Half Of Lesotho Population Faces Food Insecurity In Coming Months, Prime Minister Warns

“Years of bad luck and record-breaking maize prices have led land-locked Lesotho into a crisis,” the Devex “Development Newswire” reports. “Prime Minister Tom Thabane declared a food security emergency on August 10, and a national vulnerability assessment warns that nearly 45 percent of the nation’s 2.2 million people will face moderate to severe food insecurity in the next few months,” the news service writes, adding, “While the crisis can be mitigated in the short term, Lesotho will need ongoing food support: It’s one of four countries in the world where nearly 100 percent of the population is projected to remain food insecure for the next ten years.”

U.N. Official Warns Millions At Risk Of Starvation In African Sahel

“Millions of people in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region are on the brink of starvation due to drought and conflict, the United Nations said on Wednesday, and aid response plans are less than 40 percent funded ahead of an expected crisis peak,” Reuters reports (3/29). Following a week-long trip to Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, John Ging, director of operations at the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said, “This is already an appalling crisis in terms of the scale and degree of human suffering and it will get worse unless the response plans are properly funded. … It’s a matter of life or death for millions who are on the brink,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “More than 15 million people in the Sahel are directly affected by worsening food shortages and malnutrition brought on by the ongoing drought, which has been compounded by conflict and insecurity,” the news service writes, noting that Ging added, “More than 200,000 children died of malnutrition last year and over one million are threatened with severe acute malnutrition right now” (3/28).