Scientific American examines the intersection of humanitarian aid, economic development, and climate change, saying, “Environmental, humanitarian, and economic challenges do not exist in isolation, but that is how the world most often deals with them.” The article quotes several speakers who attended an event on “resilient livelihoods” held on September 25 at the Rockefeller Foundation. Shrinking water supplies and increased urbanization continue to affect agriculture outputs, and hunger remains a problem worldwide, “[s]o finding new ways to fund environmental improvement and economic development at the same time will be crucial,” the news magazine writes.
Food Security and Nutrition
“Global food prices rose by 1.4 percent in September after holding steady for two months as cereals, meat and dairy prices climbed, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization [FAO] said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/4). “[T]he FAO Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, rose to an average of 216 points in September after remaining stable at 213 points in August, the FAO said in its monthly update,” according to Reuters (Hornby, 10/4). “Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, said that food prices were likely to remain high and volatility could increase,” BBC News writes (10/4). Bloomberg Businessweek notes “[t]he U.S. State Department estimates that surging food prices triggered more than 60 riots worldwide from 2007 to 2009” (Ruitenberg, 10/4). “Despite the rise in food prices, the United States Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome released a statement on Thursday saying it had agreed with other countries that a meeting of the emergency Rapid Response Forum under the G20 agriculture body [Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS)] was not necessary at the moment,” Reuters states (10/4).
“This month, President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative received a $1 billion pledge from U.S. organizations to address the root causes of hunger and poverty,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) writes in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, noting, “This pledge came on the heels of a $4 billion pledge by more than 60 companies from Africa and other continents.” He continues, “As co-chairman of the Congressional Ethiopia Caucus and the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus, I commend these pledges and look forward to working with the administration as they are implemented.” However, he adds, “[t]hese are short-term fixes … to the long-term issues of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition facing millions.”
NPR’s “The Salt” blog examines how some humanitarian organizations are looking to purchase the ingredients for and manufacture a peanut-based nutritional supplement in the countries where it is used. “They see local production as a way to provide jobs and bring money into impoverished communities. But paying the bill is still a struggle. Even in poor countries, local food often turns out to be more expensive food,” the blog writes. “The Salt” looks at the case of a small organization in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, that has built factories that “emplo[y] Haitian workers and bu[y] peanuts from Haitian farmers.” However, the cost of the final product can be up to 20 percent more expensive than if it were made with peanuts imported from Argentina, the blog notes, adding, “For now, at least, UNICEF has agreed to buy local, even if it costs a little more” (Charles, 10/4).
“Innovative approaches and technologies as well as a strong political will from countries are essential to combat hunger,” according to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, at an event to recognize the winner of the World Food Prize, the U.N. News Centre reports. This year’s winner, Israeli scientist Daniel Hillel, developed “a new mode of bringing water to crops iÂÂn arid and dry regions, known as ‘micro-irrigation,'” the news service notes. An end to hunger “calls for harnessing the creativity of scientists and economists,” Ban said, adding, “It requires developing new approaches and technologies to respond to climate change, water scarcity and desertification,” according to the news service (10/18). “There is enough food to feed seven billion people, but because of climatic conditions, because of supply, market price volatility, there are still 870 million people who are going to bed hungry every night,” Ban said, the Des Moines Register notes.
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).
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).