In this opinion piece in the Kansas City Star’s “As I See It,” Nancy Lindborg, USAID assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance and a guest speaker at this week’s International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City, discusses food aid and highlights USAID’s response to last year’s food crisis in the Horn of Africa. She writes, “None of this would have been possible without the hard work and generosity of the American public, and especially the farmers, manufacturers and shippers that I am honored to meet with again this week in Kansas City.”
Environment and Climate Change
“The endorsement of voluntary guidelines [.pdf] to improve the way countries govern access rights to land, fisheries and forest resources by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on Friday marks a historic milestone not only for the way in which land tenure is managed, but also for international consensus-building,” Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), writes in this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. As the “eradication of hunger depends in large measure on how people, communities and others have access to, and manage, land, fisheries and forests,” and “weak governance of tenure hinders economic growth and the sustainable use of the environment,” the “voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security set foundations that are indispensable to resolve these issues,” he argues.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on Friday “endorsed a set of far-reaching global guidelines aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries,” according to an FAO press release. “The new Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security outline principles and practices that governments can refer to when making laws and administering land, fisheries and forests rights,” the press release adds (5/11). “Giving poor and vulnerable people secure and equitable rights to access land and other natural resources is a key condition in the fight against hunger and poverty,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, the U.N. News Centre notes (5/11).
“Africa needs to boost agricultural productivity and address the debilitating hunger that affects 27 percent of its population if it is to sustain its economic boom, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said [in a report] on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Migiro, 5/15). In its first-ever “Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future,” UNDP “notes that with more than one in four of its 856 million people undernourished, sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s most food insecure region,” the Guardian writes. According to the newspaper, the report says, “Hunger and extended periods of malnutrition not only devastate families and communities in the short term, but leave a legacy with future generations which impairs livelihoods and undermines human development.”
Inter Press Service examines the relationship between climate change and family planning in least-developed countries (LDCs), writing the “double challenge of mitigating climate change and combating crushing poverty makes improving reproductive rights and promoting gender equality imperatives that can no longer be delayed, according to several recent reports and agreements.” IPS highlights several reports and agreements, including an agreement between U.N. Women and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) that “aims at tackling gender inequality in the 75 OIF member states, most of which are also LDCs”; an agreement between U.N. Women and the European Union “to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations in their work on gender equality”; and the Royal Society of London’s People and the Planet report, “which focuses on reproductive rights and social justice as cornerstones of global economic sustainability” (Godoy, 5/30).
“Sustainable development cannot be realized unless hunger and malnutrition are eradicated, the [Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)] said in a policy document prepared for the Rio+20 Summit to be held in June in Rio de Janeiro,” an FAO press release reports. “At the Rio Summit, we have the golden opportunity to explore the convergence between the agendas of food security and sustainability to ensure that happens,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, according to the press release. The report says, “Improving agricultural and food systems is essential for a world with both healthier people and healthier ecosystems,” the release notes (5/30). According to Reuters, “The governments attending the Rio+20 summit in June should commit themselves to speed up efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition and use the U.N.’s voluntary guidelines on the right to food, the FAO said” (5/30).
“With a growing population and an onslaught of new planetary pressures expected to limit terrestrial food production, the conversation about how we’re going to feed a hungry planet should include the oceans,” Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, and actor Ted Danson write in the Huffington Post’s “Green” blog. “We need to produce 70 percent more food to meet the coming hunger needs, with meat production alone increasing from 270 million metric tons in 2009 to 470 million metric tons in 2050, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization,” they continue, adding, “The oceans will provide us an opportunity to meet that demand in a way that’s eternally renewable, but only if we start taking the appropriate steps right now.”
“U.N. officials say they expect 18 million people in West Africa will go hungry this year, including three million young children whose lives or health will be at risk,” the Associated Press reports. David Gressly, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for nine countries in Africa’s Sahel region, told reporters on Tuesday that at least one million children’s lives will be threatened by malnutrition in 2012, and malnutrition will cause health problems for another two million children under age five, according to the news agency. Gressly said drought, failed harvests, and political instability were making this the worst hunger crisis to hit the region since 2005, the AP notes (5/29).
Several humanitarian groups say that despite the G8’s pledge made at the 2009 L’Aquila Summit to provide $22 billion over three years to improve agriculture and food security, “the commitment is about to expire” and “much more needs to be done to end hunger,” VOA News reports. Neil Watkins, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid, said he expects G8 leaders at their upcoming summit at Camp David later this month will promote a new food security initiative with greater private sector involvement, according to VOA. “Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America praised President Obama’s food security efforts since 2009,” the news service writes, adding that Kripke said, “[W]e’ve been calling for President Obama to keep that momentum up — to keep pushing for bigger and better and more ambitious goals and more ambitious resource commitments.”
“Sahelian governments and local and international aid groups are struggling to cope with both the continual arrivals of people fleeing … northern Mali, and the mounting number of hungry people across the region as the lean season gets underway,” IRIN reports. According to UNHCR, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced within Mali or fled to surrounding countries, and IRIN reports “governments are already struggling to get aid to millions of their inhabitants, who are facing hunger due to drought.” The news service writes, “The U.N. estimates that 16 million people across the Sahel are facing hunger this year, and hunger levels are rising.” IRIN continues, “This complex mix of slow and fast-onset crises means the U.N. will be revising or launching new funding appeals from the current $1 billion to $1.5 billion in coming weeks, said Noel Tsekouras, deputy head of office at the West Africa bureau of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Dakar” (5/4).