In this post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, Jessica Hartl, information Officer for the Office of Food for Peace, notes she “recently traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to visit food assistance programs implemented by” the office and asks, “[W]hy in countries so lush and ripe for agriculture were people so food insecure?” She writes, “Food insecurity is a complex issue, and for the DRC it includes key issues such as low productivity, lack of market access and infrastructure, ongoing conflict and poor nutrition practices,” adding, “Despite these challenges, I was amazed at the ability of USAIDâ€™s partners to have as much positive impact as they have had on food security” (8/7).
Food Security and Nutrition
The Devex “Development Newswire” examines how disagreements over how to administer global food aid programs is affecting negotiations over a FY 2013 version of the U.S. farm bill. “The farm bill provides for the U.S. Agency for International Development-administered Food for Peace program, which received around $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, as well as the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, funded at around $200 million,” the news service notes, and writes, “At 0.5 percent or 0.6 percent of the nearly trillion-dollar farm bill, global food aid is ‘barely a rounding error,’ said Lucas Koach, policy adviser at Food for the Hungry.” It continues, “If a new five-year farm bill is not passed, shorter interim bills could succeed, or there could be a continuing resolution to renew funding at 2008 levels,” adding, “If none of those options is in place by the last day of September, the farm bill reverts to statutory language from the 1940s” (Brookland, 8/7).
Communal Violence In India Forces Up To 400,000 Into Overcrowded Camps Without Sufficient Food, Water, Medicine
“Hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in squalid, overcrowded camps in India’s northeast desperately need food, water and medicines after fleeing some of the worst communal violence in a decade, officials and aid workers said on Monday,” AlertNet reports. Up to 400,000 people have fled to government-run camps in Assam state, the news service notes, adding Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We are in a state of high alert. … People in the camps are suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, malaria and high fever. We are concerned about the condition of the babies and pregnant women.” According to AlertNet, “Sarma said around 8,000 children under two-years-old are sick, while hundreds of others have tested positive for malaria. There are also around 4,000 pregnant women in the camps who need medical support, he added.” The news service notes that at least 12 people have died, including four children (Bhalla, 8/6).
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).