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.
Environment and Climate Change
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).
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.”
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday reported that nearly 170 people have died, 400 people are missing, and more than 84,000 people are homeless because of severe flooding in the country, the Guardian reports, noting that the World Food Programme (WFP) “announced on Friday the details of its first batch of emergency food aid to the country, although it did not state when it would arrive” (8/4). “WFP said it would send emergency assistance comprising ‘an initial ration of 400 grams of maize per day for 14 days,'” Reuters notes, adding the statement said a recent U.N. mission to North Korea found significant damage to crop fields.
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).
“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).
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).
“North Koreans hit by recent deadly floods badly need drinking water, food and medical assistance, an aid group said Wednesday after official media had reported 88 dead and nearly 63,000 homeless,” Agence France-Presse reports. A spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said a team from the organization visited the provinces of South and North Pyongan in the west of the country to assess damage, the news agency notes (8/1). In another article, AFP notes that the U.N. also is sending a team to assess the damage and humanitarian needs of the worst affected areas (7/31). “Even before the latest flooding, a dysfunctional food distribution system, rapid inflation and international sanctions over Pyongyang’s weapons programs have created what is thought to be widespread hunger,” Reuters writes (Park/Blanchard, 7/30). “Following an inspection visit last autumn, U.N. agencies estimated that three million people would need food aid this year even before the deluge,” according to AFP.
“Efforts to build resilience in the Sahel, a region chronically affected by drought and malnutrition, are highly fragmented, dysfunctional and ineffective, a report from Save the Children and World Vision said on Wednesday,” the Guardian reports. “While noting a strong consensus among governments, donors and aid agencies to better integrate humanitarian and development work, progress is still very limited, said the report, ‘Ending the Everyday Emergency,’ written by Peter Gubbels,” the newspaper writes. “Senior officials such as Kristalina Georgieva, the E.U. commissioner for humanitarian affairs, have stressed the need for a more integrated approach between the humanitarian and development sectors in preventing future similar crises in the Sahel,” the Guardian notes (Tran, 8/1).
“The number of people needing food aid in Zimbabwe will rise by 60 percent this year to 1.6 million, the World Food Programme [WFP] said on Friday, citing an annual assessment carried out by the United Nations and the Zimbabwean government,” Reuters reports (7/27). “The deteriorating food situation, said the WFP, was caused by erratic rainfall and dry spells, limited access to agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer, a reduction in the planted hectarage, poor farming practices and inadequate crop diversification,” VOA News writes (Dube/Zulu, 7/27). “The WFP said its $119 million (97 million euro) aid program, meant to run through to March next year, is facing a $87 million shortfall,” according to Agence France-Presse (7/27). The agency said it plans to import cereals from surrounding countries and provide cash transfers to affected populations to allow them to purchase food, Reuters notes (7/27).