“The United States announced Thursday it would hike its humanitarian aid to Syria, adding another $12 million to provide food, water, medicine and other necessities for battered and displaced people” affected by violence in the Syrian conflict, the Los Angeles Times blog “World Now” reports. “The increase approved by the Obama administration brings American humanitarian assistance in Syria to more than $76 million, including $27.5 million to the World Food Programme [WFP], roughly $18 million for the United Nations refugee agency and the rest split among other U.N. funds and non-profit groups,” the blog writes (Alpert, 8/2).
Environment and Climate Change
In a post on the USDA Blog, economists Stacey Rosen and Shahla Shapouri of the Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Security and Development Branch describe the latest ERS International Food Security Assessment, which covers 76 countries in Asia, Latin America, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. “For 2012, we estimate the situation overall to improve slightly, with the number of food-insecure people declining to 802 million people, from 814 million in 2011. The decade ahead presents a different picture, with food-insecure numbers rising by 37 million, although this 4.6 percent increase is below the 16.7 percent rise in population,” they write, noting, “The key factors we measure in determining the level of food security are countries’ domestic food production and their import capacity” (8/2).
A report released Thursday by the U.N. resident coordinator’s office in Pyongyang, North Korea, said the country needs food aid following severe flooding that has killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands of people homeless, the Associated Press reports (Kim/Pennington, 8/2). According to BBC News, “A U.N. spokesman in New York confirmed that the North Korean government has asked the U.N. to release emergency supplies such as food and fuel” (8/2).
Extreme weather is forcing grain and meat prices to rise, and food production will have to increase about 60 percent over the next 40 years to meet a growing world population, but “there are solutions to these daunting problems,” Catherine Bertini, former director of the U.N. World Food Programme and the 2003 World Food Prize laureate, and Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture, write in a Politico opinion piece. The authors, co-chairs of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative, say that in order to address these issues, “we should increase support for the agricultural researchers, in the U.S. and around the world, who are developing remarkable new drought and flood tolerant crop varieties”; make better use of arable land, especially in Africa; provide “farmers access to improved seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to boost productivity”; improve post-harvest infrastructure, including storage facilities; and “equip those working in agriculture, especially women, with the know-how to use newer technologies.”
In this post in Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Eric Holt Gimenez, executive director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, reflects on the global implications of a drought in the U.S., writing, “[I]f the 2008 and 2011 food price crises are any guide, the global effects of the U.S. drought are fairly predictable.” He continues, “The failure of the U.S. corn harvests spells a disaster for the world’s poor, but not because the poor eat our corn. … The poor will suffer the third global food disaster in four years because the price of corn will push up the price of other food commodities, like wheat, soybeans and rice …, push[ing] up food prices overall.” He writes, “The global response to food crises is also well rehearsed,” and makes a number of predictions as to how USAID, the United States Department of Agriculture, “seed and chemical monopolies,” and “the mega-philanthropies” will respond to the crisis.
“America’s worst drought for 25 years is threatening the global economy as it cripples the country’s grain production and sends the price soaring,” the International Business Times reports, adding, “According to a report by HSBC, bloated food prices loom over the global economy and present the temptation for governments to hoard produce” (Croucher, 8/20). “When food prices spike and people go hungry, violence soon follows, [scientists and activists] say,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “Riots caused by food shortages — similar to those of 2007-08 in countries like Bangladesh, Haiti, the Philippines and Burkina Faso among others — may be on the horizon, threatening social stability in impoverished nations that rely on U.S. corn imports” (Kennedy, 8/21).
International Community Must Address Challenges To Food, Water Security In A Systematic, Coherent Manner
“New ideas and approaches to the water and food nexus will be addressed at World Water Week,” which will take place in Stockholm, Sweden from 26-31 August, Anders Jagerskog, an associate professor and director of knowledge services at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), writes in this post in the AlertNet Blog. He highlights a report (.pdf) being launched by the institute called “Feeding a Thirsty World: Challenges and Opportunities for a Water and Food Secure Future,” noting it is aimed at “provid[ing] an overview of the areas that relate to food security and water” ahead of the event.
“Downpours and heat waves caused by climate change could disrupt food supplies from the fields to the supermarkets, raising the risk of more price spikes such as this year’s leap triggered by drought in the United States,” Reuters reports. “Food security experts working on a chapter in a U.N. overview of global warming due in 2014 said governments should take more account of how extremes of heat, droughts or floods could affect food supplies from seeds to consumers’ plates,” the news service writes (Doyle, 8/15). “The U.N. and global leaders have paid particular attention in recent weeks to U.S. biofuels policy as drought ravages corn supplies,” The Hill’s “E2 Wire” blog notes, adding, “They say the country needs to free up more of its corn for food to combat rising prices that heavily affect poor nations” (Colman, 8/16).
The following editorial, opinion pieces, and blog posts address a hunger summit hosted by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at the conclusion of the Olympic Games in London on Sunday.
As the 2012 Olympic Games drew to a close in London on Sunday, world leaders and athletes gathered for a hunger summit at 10 Downing St., sponsored by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Al Jazeera reports (8/12). The “summit brought together leaders from Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Ireland,” the Associated Press notes (8/12). “This meeting … hopes to draw the media spotlight toward the nearly one billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” the Examiner writes (Lambers, 8/10). “The U.K. hopes to get commitments from other world leaders, and multinational firms to help prevent 25 million children aged under five suffering stunted growth by the time of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” according to International Business Times TV (Salter, 8/13). The country “hopes to use its presidency of the G8 group of wealthy nations, starting next year, to build international support for action to prevent millions of deaths a year due to malnutrition,” BBC News writes (8/12).