IRIN this week published two articles examining the humanitarian response to the Sahel food crisis, which “put an estimated 18.7 million people at risk of hunger and 1.1 million children at risk of severe malnutrition.” In the first, the news service “spoke to aid agencies, donors and Sahel experts to find out where the crisis response worked better this year,” noting the “situation catalyzed the largest humanitarian response the region has ever seen and it is widely agreed that this helped avert a large-scale disaster.” The article discusses how early warning reports allowed donors and agencies to “respond earlier and more quickly” than they did to the Horn of Africa drought in July 2011 (10/24).
Food Security and Nutrition
Partners In Health Haitian Food Security Program Easily 'Transplanted' To Other Areas Suffering Malnutrition
“It has been said that hundreds of thousands of dollars and equally as many hours have been spent searching for a cure for malnutrition,” Gillaine Warne, director of Zanmi Agrikol, the agricultural arm of Partners In Health that operates in Haiti, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “The good news is that a cure has been found — it’s called FOOD!,” she says, noting Zanmi Agrikol’s goal is “getting to the root causes of malnutrition [so] we can help create effective and sustainable change.” Warne says even before the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, “one of every three children under five years old suffer[ed] from malnutrition.” She continues, “Our programs at Zanmi Agrikol educate farmers about new and proven ways of planting, conservation, reforestation, and animal husbandry. … We want to enable each family to produce sufficient food for themselves, and enough excess to take to market.”
India’s National Food Security Bill, “expected to be discussed in Parliament later this year, … holds out hope of addressing some of the nation’s most persistent and pervasive problems,” Ashwin Parulkar, a research scholar at the Centre for Equity Studies, writes in the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog. “Unfortunately, in my view, the draft in its current form will be a major let down,” he states and provides some background on the bill. “Lawmakers have drafted this legislation but it appears that the bill will do little to tackle the critical areas of India’s hunger crisis so widely acknowledged by this country’s own policymakers,” he writes.
“[T]he latest calculations show that U.S. ethanol policies have increased the food bills of poor food-importing countries by more than $9 billion (Â£5.6 billion) since 2006,” Olivier De Schutter, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. He asks, “But where to next? Should we disavow biofuels altogether?” He writes, “The new starting point should be to put food security first,” noting, “Globally, 25 percent of land is already degraded, and the remaining productive areas are subject to ever-greater competition from industrial and urban uses.”
In the ONE blog, Kelly Hauser, ONE’s policy manager focusing on agriculture, nutrition and U.S. food aid reform, interviews Anne Peniston, head of the nutrition division at USAID. Peniston discusses “her professional and personal experiences in the U.S. and abroad, her vision for USAID’s nutrition strategy, and the role of NGOs in global nutrition,” according to the blog. In the interview, she said, “I would really like to see the U.S. government’s global nutrition strategy integrated throughout the agency — in agriculture, HIV/AIDS, water, sanitation and hygiene, reproductive health programs, environmental programs and emergency response. This requires bringing together the ‘diaspora’ of nutrition experts in various offices around the agency, to create that collective vision and understand our mission in terms of agency priorities. Additionally, in this constrained budget environment, we need consensus across the government on how we approach nutrition and on what our priorities should be” (9/27).
In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Leslie Elder, a senior nutrition specialist at the World Bank, and Yurie Tanimichi Hoberg, a senior economist at the World Bank, write about the intersection of policies and programs in nutrition and agriculture, saying they “are not always closely coordinated.” They continue, “Without the explicit consideration of nutrition objectives and indicators from the outset, investments in agriculture are less likely to achieve nutrition impact,” and describe how the SecureNutrition Knowledge Platform aims “to address critical operational knowledge gaps regarding how to improve the nutrition of vulnerable populations using nutrition sensitive investments in agriculture, and how to measure the impacts of agriculture and food security interventions on nutrition.” They note “SecureNutrition is a community of members from the nutrition, agriculture and food security metrics communities, working with 14 partner organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAIN, Save the Children, USAID and the [World Food Programme]” (9/28).
“More intense rainfall, rising temperatures and climate-driven migration of human and animal populations due to repeated drought all affect the spread of tropical diseases,” Inter Press Service writes in an article examining the impact of climate change on health, a topic that “generated debate among the experts attending the 18th International Congress on Tropical Medicine and Malaria, held Sept. 23-27 in Rio de Janeiro.” “On one side of the debate stands researcher Ulisses Confalonieri, of Brazil’s state-run Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), who argues that the press often oversimplifies a very complex issue,” IPS continues, adding, “On the other side, the president of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (SBMT), Carlos Henrique Costa Nery, told IPS that ‘it is not outrageous to say that climate change has inevitable consequences for tropical diseases.'”
“Nearly half of Yemenis go to bed hungry every night as political instability compounds a global food and fuel price surge, giving the Arabian Peninsula state the world’s third-highest rate of child malnutrition, the World Food Programme [WFP] said on Sunday,” Reuters reports. The country “has been in turmoil since last year’s revolt against 33 years of rule by Ali Abdullah Saleh,” the news service notes, adding, “The number of people receiving daily WFP food rations has risen from 1.2 million in January to over 3.8 million, but poor infrastructure and fear of kidnappings by tribes have complicated the logistics of providing food aid.” According to Reuters, “[i]nternational donors pledged $1.46 billion in aid to the country of 24 million at a meeting in New York on Thursday attended by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who said the pledge would help Yemen avoid a civil war” (Hammond, 9/30).
“The implementation of an ambitious bill that guarantees cheap food grains for India’s poor could be pushed back to the next fiscal year, a top government adviser said,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “[I]mplementing the bill in the fiscal year starting April 2013 would make financial and political sense for the government, which is facing a yawning budget gap and federal elections before May 2014,” according to the newspaper, which adds the bill is “likely to be introduced in the budget session, which is due late February, C. Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, said in an interview.” After a general debate, parliament would have to approve the bill, which “aims to provide subsidized grains to more than 60 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people, with special provisions for pregnant women, destitute children and others,” for it to become law, the newspaper writes, adding, “A government spokesman declined to comment on the matter Friday” (Sahu/Guha, 10/27).
“As the Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security, I lead U.S. diplomacy on food security and nutrition, and last week was a particularly busy one for the food security team,” Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for Global Food Security, writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. He details a number of food security-related activities that happened throughout the week, beginning with World Food Day, and writes, “Ending world hunger will require a collective effort among governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society” (10/27).