President Barack Obama has invited the leaders of four African nations “to join the G8 leaders’ summit at Camp David later this month for a session on food security, the White House said on Thursday,” Reuters reports. White House spokesperson Jay Carney said in a statement that Obama invited Benin President Yayi Boni, Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana President John Mills and Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, according to the news service (MacInnis, 5/3). They will join other leaders of G8 member nations — which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — at the summit, scheduled for May 18-19, CNN notes. The leaders are expected to discuss food security “amid fears of famine and drought in some parts of Africa,” the news service writes (Karimi, 5/4).
Environment and Climate Change
USAID’s Shah Speaks About Agency’s Operations, Efforts To Build Sustainable Solutions To Hunger In Foreign Policy Interview
In an interview with Foreign Policy, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah speaks “about how he is reinventing USAID, an often-embattled agency charged with helping the world’s poorest countries develop, while at the same time dealing with crises around the globe,” the magazine reports. Shah discusses his career path, spending oversight, “expanding public-private partnerships, and integrating development and emergency intervention,” especially in relationship to food security in Africa, according to Foreign Policy. Shah said, “The challenges remain fierce but we are excited about the momentum we are achieving through our resilience work around the world and with specific countries,” the magazine notes (Loewenberg, 5/3).
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) “has warned clashes along the border between Sudan and South Sudan threaten to plunge the region into widespread hunger” and “said it is scaling up its humanitarian operation in South Sudan to assist a growing number of refugees and displaced people,” VOA News reports. WFP “plans to assist 2.7 million people in South Sudan this year under an emergency operation covering the border region and other areas,” the news service writes. WFP spokesperson Elizabeth Byrs “said [the agency] is providing special supplementary, nutritional feeding to about one-half-million young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers who are suffering from, or are vulnerable to, malnutrition,” according to VOA (Schlein, 5/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, said in a press release it also is concerned about the rising number of malnourished refugees arriving in South Sudan and the threat of water shortages in several border areas, the South Sudan News Agency notes (5/2).
“Calculating the number of hungry people around the world at any given moment, let alone predicting how that number is likely to change in the future, is no easy task,” Reuters reports in an article examining the numerous challenges of estimating the number of undernourished people worldwide and noting the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is expected to release new data and methodology in October “as part of [its] annual report on food insecurity.” According to the news service, “The question is not whether metrics are necessary, but how to collect, interpret and share the data to present a realistic and accurate picture of the food security situation.” While “[i]mproving the way hunger is calculated could have far-reaching consequences for the way governments and aid agencies respond more effectively to hunger crises, experts say,” “[u]ltimately … it is not data, but action, that makes a difference,” according to Reuters (Rowling, 5/2).
UNICEF on Wednesday “warned that thousands of acutely malnourished children in Somalia are at risk of death because little money is available to help them,” VOA News writes, adding, “UNICEF said it has received only 12 percent of its $289 million emergency appeal for humanitarian operations this year.” “The famine declared in southern Somalia last year is over,” but “Somalia remains the world’s most complex humanitarian situation,” the news service writes, noting that UNICEF “reported that almost one-third of Somalis are unable to meet their essential food and non-food needs.”
At Least 1M Children At Risk Of Death In Sahel Drought Crisis; European Commission Donates Over $20M To UNICEF Appeal
“At least one million children are at risk of dying of malnutrition in the central-western part of Africaâ€™s Sahel region due to a drought crisis, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said [Wednesday], adding that more resources are urgently needed to help those in need,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “There are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea,” the news service writes, adding, “The nutrition crisis is affecting people throughout Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to feed their families in the parts of Syria hardest hit by violence, activists and aid workers say, with access to food cut off by ruined infrastructure, rocketing prices and, say some, security forces who steal and spoil food supplies,” the Washington Post reports. Last month, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) “scaled up assistance to reach a quarter-million people” and “is planning to increase that to 500,000 by the end of this month,” according to the newspaper. “[T]he government in March introduced a system of price-fixing for essential foods that has stabilized the cost of bread, sugar and meat — although they remain much higher than they were a year ago,” the Washington Post writes, adding, “Despite efforts to mitigate the problem, around half of Syrians may live in poverty, said Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Institute in Doha, who argued that this is increasing anti-government feeling” (Fordham, 5/1).
Speaking at a conference in Brazzaville, Congo, on Friday, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva “appealed to oil- and mineral-rich nations to set up a fund to combat the food crisis gripping the Sahel desert region and other parts of Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports. He said the organization needs $110 million in the short term to combat hunger in the region, which includes Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, according to the news service (4/27). He said, “We are very concerned about the Sahel because there are already many conflicts in the region,” Bloomberg notes, adding “[m]ore than five million people in Niger are facing food insecurity, along with three million in Mali and 1.5 million in Burkina Faso, according to the FAO” (Mbakou, 4/27).
In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, former U.S. Ambassador Jack Chow, who served as a special representative for HIV/AIDS under former Secretary of State Colin Powell and currently is a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Public Policy, examines the challenges of delivering humanitarian aid and how “[t]he technological versatility of airborne drones, the flying robots that are already transforming warfare, … has the potential to revolutionize how humanitarian aid is delivered worldwide.” He describes the work of several start-up companies looking to employ drones for such a purpose, saying “waves of aid drones might quickly deliver a peaceful ‘first strike’ capacity of food and medicines to disaster areas.”
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).