“Wars are less deadly than they once were and national mortality rates have continued to decline even during conflicts due to smaller scale fighting and better healthcare,” according to a study released Wednesday by the Human Security Report Project, Reuters reports. “The report noted that most deaths in wars result from hunger and disease but said improved healthcare in peacetime had cut death tolls even during wartime, as had stepped up aid to people in war zones.”
Environment and Climate Change
Also In Global Health News: Pakistan’s Farm Land; PMTCT In Kenya; Burkina Faso’s Maternal Health; Health Care Access In Middle East
Pakistan Moves Forward On Plans To Sell Farmland To Foreign Investors Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Tuesday the country plans to sell farmland to foreign investors despite warnings by the U.N. that doing so could compromise farmers’ rights, Reuters reports. Qureshi defended the government’s decision, saying that the…
A new report highlights challenges facing the Obama administration in Africa, including HIV/AIDS, poverty and climate change, VOA News reports. The report, published jointly by Africa Action and Foreign Policy in Focus, notes despite the recent success of programs such as PEPFAR, funding for the program has not increased at levels seen in previous years, the news service writes.
In order to “fill food gaps in the 70 most food deficient countries, … the U.S., through the Food for Peace program and other food aid programs, provides approximately two million tons of American-grown food donations to 50 million starving people every year,” James Henry, chair of USA Maritime, writes in an opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “This food, delivered on ships proudly flying the U.S. flag in bags stamped ‘From the American People,’ provides a tangible symbol of our generosity that helps generate goodwill toward our nation,” and “we all should agree that our willingness to help others in need is one of our country’s proudest achievements.” Henry writes that though food aid programs account for less than one half of one percent of the federal budget and “impact the lives of millions of hungry people around the world every year,” they “are in jeopardy as some policymakers are considering eliminating funding for international food aid.”
“Senior United Nations officials [on Tuesday] made impassioned appeals to the international community to make more resources available to assist millions of people affected by the severe food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, cautioning that global inaction could lead to a humanitarian disaster,” the U.N. News Centre reports (4/10). “UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake said at least one million — and possibly up to 1.5 million — children in the region face acute, severe malnutrition, putting them at risk of death from starvation or disease,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, adding, “Unless donor countries provide more funds, ‘the result will be many children will die and many families will suffer,’ he said” (4/10).
Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died April 5, may be remembered for corruption and mismanagement, but his “positive legacy” is his creation of “an agriculture-led boom in Malawi, one that pointed a way for Africa to overcome its chronic hunger, food insecurity, and periodic extreme famines,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Despite “resistance” from the donor community, under Mutharika, “Malawi used its own paltry budget revenues to introduce a tiny [agricultural] subsidy program for the world’s poorest people, and lo and behold, production doubled within one harvest season. Malawi began to produce enough grain for itself year after year, and even became a food donor when famine struck the region. Life expectancy began to rise, and is estimated to be around 55 years for the period 2010-15,” he says.
U.S. Suspends $13M In Aid To Mali Following Coup; U.N. Security Council Expresses Concern Over Humanitarian Crisis In Mali, Sahel Region
“The United States is suspending at least $13 million of its roughly $140 million in annual aid to Mali following last month’s coup in the West African nation, the State Department said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports, noting the “suspension affects U.S. assistance for Mali’s ministry of health, public school construction and the government’s efforts to boost agricultural production.” According to the news agency, “U.S. law bars aid ‘to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.’” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said, “These are worthwhile programs that are now suspended because that aid goes directly to the government of Mali,” Reuters notes (4/5). France and the European Union also immediately suspended all but essential humanitarian aid to the country, according to the Associated Press/USA Today.
“Global food prices again rose in the first quarter [of 2012] on the back of higher oil prices, putting millions of people at risk of not having enough to eat,” according to a report released Wednesday by the World Bank, Agence France-Presse reports (4/25). The index showed the cost of food rose eight percent between December 2011 and March 2012 after four months of decline at the end of last year, Reuters notes, adding, “Even after the latest rise, food prices remain one percent below a year ago and six percent below the February 2011 historical peak, the World Bank said” (4/25). According to the Los Angeles Times, “In Africa, prices are especially steep due to the continent’s dependence on imports as well as trade restrictions between nations, hoarding, civil unrest and bad weather” (Hsu, 4/25). “The World Bank said it was hard to predict whether the surge in prices this year would lead to a new global food crisis since there is no mechanism to identify the onset of a global food crisis,” Reuters writes (4/25). A World Bank Group press release describes how the organization “is helping to put food first” (4/25).
Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, and Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security and deputy coordinator for diplomacy for Feed the Future, examine efforts to end global hunger through a “whole-of-government approach” in this article on the initiative’s webpage. McKenna and Shrier highlight efforts in Haiti, Guatemala, Senegal, Uganda, Ghana, and Bangladesh, noting “all are supported through a range of different U.S. Government organizations under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.” They continue, “Together — and with the help of our development partners from universities, the research community, multilaterals, the private sector, and the NGO community — we are working to break the cycle of poverty and food insecurity that has led millions in the developing world to lives of chronic hunger and undernutrition” (4/26).
A coalition of “[a]id agencies said on Monday they are facing a multi-million dollar funding shortage to deal with a food crisis in the Sahel,” News24 reports. “Action Against Hunger, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision said they have raised only $52 million of $250 million needed to provide emergency assistance to six million people in the region,” the news service writes, adding that the groups “have called for a donor pledging conference to rally wealthy governments and donors” (4/23). They also “are calling on G8 leaders to consider the Sahel crisis at their summit next month,” according to VOA News.