“The Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] sent a distress call Tuesday to the international community declaring that more than six million people are at risk of hunger in the Sahel region of Africa, including more than a million children exposed to severe malnutrition,” CNN reports. “The distress call was issued at the end of a two-day, high-level meeting [in Lome, Togo] to address the issue of food security in the region, especially in Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad,” the news service adds.
Food Security and Nutrition
“Top-down advocacy on health and climate at the U.N. level needs to be mirrored by bottom-up public health actions that bring health and climate co-benefits,” public health experts from institutions in Sweden, Germany and South Africa write in an article published in PLoS Medicine on Tuesday, a PLoS press release reports. “[T]here seems…
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Kelly Hauser, agriculture policy manager at ONE, writes that an amendment to the U.S. farm bill “could save money and lives in Africa.” “The farm bill is an unwieldy five-year bill dedicated to shaping the U.S. government’s policies and spending on energy, farm subsidies, food stamps, conservation policies, and international agricultural trade, which includes the largest donor food aid program in the world, known as ‘Food for Peace,'” she writes, adding, “By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, Congress has the opportunity to make changes to the farm bill that would allow U.S. food assistance to reach six million more people with the same amount of funding.”
U.N. High Level Task Force On Global Food Security To Shift Focus To 'Zero Hunger Challenge' Initiative
“In the wake of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High Level Task Force on Global Food Security will be reoriented to focus on a new initiative as part of its efforts to ensure a coherent U.N. system approach to the issue of food and nutrition security,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Noting “Ban launched an initiative known as the ‘Zero Hunger Challenge,’ which invites all countries to work for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition and where all food systems are resilient,” at the conference last week, the news service writes, “The Task Force will be reoriented to focus on the challenge’s five objectives as a guide for a coherent U.N. system approach to food and nutrition security.”
“The European Commission needs to develop a proper and integrated strategy on nutrition backed by a significant increase in funding, according to a report” on the E.U. and nutrition development policy that is supported by international organizations, companies and non-governmental organizations, the Guardian reports. The newspaper notes that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates up to one billion people are undernourished worldwide, and the World Food Programme says it will take $11.8 billion annually to address 90 percent of child malnutrition cases.
The Senate on Thursday passed 64-35 the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, otherwise known as the farm bill, which “funds agriculture, farm and nutrition programs over the next five years,” The Hill’s “Floor Action Blog” reports. “The vote on the bill (S 3240) came immediately after the chamber finished a two-day marathon on consideration of 73 amendments to it,” the blog notes (Strauss, 6/21). On Wednesday, “[t]he Senate voted to continue food aid to North Korea, shooting down an amendment ending that aid and also approving a different one in support of it,” the blog reports in a separate article. According to the blog, “First, the Senate voted on an amendment by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) that was essentially a counter to an amendment by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to cut off U.S. food aid to North Korea. The Kerry-Lugar amendment was approved in a vote of 59 to 40, and Kyl’s amendment failed 43 to 56” (Strauss, 6/20).
In a video message addressing the Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “announced a ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ to rid the world of malnutrition,” Bloomberg News reports. “‘In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person, should go hungry,’ Ban said. ‘I invite you all to join me in working for a future without hunger,'” the news agency notes. “Ending hunger would boost economic growth, reduce poverty and help protect the environment, as well as foster peace and stability, Ban said,” Bloomberg writes, adding that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 13 percent of the world’s population, or 900 million people, suffer from hunger. Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, “This is the first big idea on food to come out of the Rio+20 debacle. … But it is in total contrast to the lack of any action in the summit conclusions” (Ruitenburg, 6/22).
Simple Reforms To U.S. Farm Bill Would Enable International Food Aid Programs To Reach Millions More
“In this year’s farm bill, there is a crucial opportunity to reform how the United States handles international food aid programs,” GROW campaign manager Vicky Rateau writes in this post in Oxfam’s “The Politics of Poverty” blog, adding, “Simple reforms would enable aid agencies to reach millions more people when crises like the one emerging in the Sahel occur and they would not cost taxpayers a dime. In fact, reform could save taxpayers up to $500 million per year.” She concludes, “Changing food aid rules will not fix our farm bill overnight,” but “achieving the big, structural changes our food system desperately needs will require active and engaged citizens who are willing to stand up for what’s right” (6/21).
“Journalists, policy experts, bloggers (including myself) and World Food Programme staff joined in a robust discussion last week about the current hunger situation in Africa’s Sahel region, including its causes and what can be done moving forward,” Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, noting, “In the Google+ hangout, streamed on YouTube, Denise Brown, the World Food Programme’s country director for Niger, logged on from the capital, Niamey, to report precisely what is happening in the region and how people are faring in the wake of no rains, failed crops, and increased food prices.” She continues, “One of the primary points that Brown emphasized was about early warning systems and data propelled early intervention,” and concludes, “The state of the hunger crisis in the Sahel dictates that aid must happen now. But those who are working in the region, like Brown, understand that to prevent another food shortage next year ideas to combat another hunger season have to be employed” (6/8).
“Together with international partners, the United States has launched an unprecedented effort over the past three years to reverse a decades-long decline in agricultural investments,” with a goal of “alleviat[ing] the chronic hunger that afflicts nearly one billion people around the world, including an estimated 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean,” a VOA editorial states. “In the Americas, Feed the Future invests in rural areas of three focus countries: Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti,” the editorial continues, noting, “Over five years, investments and programs involving the entire agricultural value chain from seeds to farms to markets will assist one million vulnerable women, children and family members, mostly smallholder farmers, to escape hunger and poverty in these countries.” The editorial states, “By working together, the United States believes [Organization of American States (OAS)] members can contribute collectively to food security at both the hemispheric and global levels. To achieve that goal, OAS members must safeguard the political and economic progress that has been made to date” (6/12).