“Support is being rolled out in Burkina Faso as part of a European Union (E.U.)-UNICEF joint action for improving nutrition security in Africa,” UNICEF reports in an article on its webpage. “Funded by the E.U., and in partnership with UNICEF, the Government of Burkina Faso and local NGOs, the project aims to improve nutrition security among women and young children,” the article states, noting, “The approach is broad based and begins with education.” According to the article, “The project will, it is hoped, revolutionize local food production and local diet in Burkina Faso, moving the country away from recurrent nutritional crisis to nutritional independence” (9/10).
Food Security and Nutrition
Noting “World Water Week recently concluded in Stockholm with a special emphasis on the linkages between water and food security,” Lakshmi Puri, assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of U.N. Women, writes in this Inter Press Service opinion piece, “Creating a water- and food-secure world requires putting women and girls at the center of water- and food-related policies, actions and financing.” She continues, “Women are not only beneficiaries of greater water and food security; they can also enable greater progress in these areas.” Puri states, “Four urgent actions must be taken to unleash women’s potential.”
In the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, David Lane, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome, discusses his recent trip to Niger, where more than three million people are food insecure and suffer from malnutrition. “I had expected the trip would leave me feeling depressed and hopeless,” but “by the time I left Niger, I was filled with optimism and confidence in the multilateral assistance and development operations at work on the ground. Amongst their efforts, I saw the components needed to break Niger’s relentless cycle of hunger and malnutrition,” he writes. “I was impressed by how well the different U.N. organizations, … as well as their NGO partner organizations are coordinating their work,” Lane states, concluding, “Emergency and development assistance are both vital to a relief effort, and can be even more effective when integrated” (9/5).
Distribution Infrastructure, Effective Education Important For Success Of Micronutrient Powders To Treat Childhood Anemia
In this post in the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, journalist Sam Loewenberg examines the administration of micronutrient powders as a treatment option for anemia, “one of the most pervasive problems affecting the world’s children, and one that goes largely unaddressed.” “The presence of anemia usually signifies a host of other micronutrient deficiencies that are more difficult to test for,” so micronutrient powders — such as Sprinkles, the original and most common formulation — “contain not just iron, but 15 essential vitamins and minerals, including iodine, zinc and vitamin A,” he writes. “The Copenhagen Consensus, a group of expert economists convened in 2008 to determine the world’s most effective aid interventions, put micronutrient supplements at the top of the list,” he continues, adding, “According to their estimate, the cost of providing vitamin A and zinc to 80 percent of the world’s 140 million children who are lacking them would cost $60 million per year. The benefits of this treatment would be worth more than $1 billion.”
“World food prices stabilized in August at levels close to those reached in the food crisis of 2008,” according to the most recent U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index, Reuters reports. “FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva called for international action to calm markets but also said the August price index, which remained unchanged from July, provided some cause for optimism,” according to the news agency. “‘Although we should remain vigilant, current prices do not justify talk of a world food crisis. But the international community can and should move to calm markets further,’ Graziano da Silva said in a statement,” Reuters writes (Hornby, 9/6).
“Stunting is a key factor holding back progress on children’s well-being, and Asia faces a significant challenge with millions of children under five stunted,” according to Save the Children’s 2012 Child Development Index (CDI), IRIN reports. The news service examines data from the 2012 State of the World’s Children report (.pdf), noting that nearly 60 percent of children under five in Afghanistan and Timor Leste have moderate to severe stunting, which puts children “at greater risk of illness and death, impaired cognitive development and poor school performance, say health experts.”
U.N. Appoints 27 International Leaders To ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ Group To Address Maternal, Child Nutrition
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday announced the appointment of 27 world leaders to address the issue of maternal and child nutrition in order to secure a future for nations around the world,” Xinhua/Shanghai Daily reports (4/11). UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake chaired the first meeting of the Lead Group for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which brought together the “leaders of countries, organizations and sectors working to improve nutrition,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The SUN Movement focuses on the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, when proper nutrition can mean the difference between health and sickness, life and death,” according to the news service. “We must invest now in programs to prevent stunting or risk diminishing the impact of other investments in education, health and child protection,” Lake said, the news service notes (4/10).
Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died April 5, may be remembered for corruption and mismanagement, but his “positive legacy” is his creation of “an agriculture-led boom in Malawi, one that pointed a way for Africa to overcome its chronic hunger, food insecurity, and periodic extreme famines,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Despite “resistance” from the donor community, under Mutharika, “Malawi used its own paltry budget revenues to introduce a tiny [agricultural] subsidy program for the world’s poorest people, and lo and behold, production doubled within one harvest season. Malawi began to produce enough grain for itself year after year, and even became a food donor when famine struck the region. Life expectancy began to rise, and is estimated to be around 55 years for the period 2010-15,” he says.
“USAID and MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have signed a memorandum of understanding [MOU] to increase cooperation on the topic of food security in Africa,” Globes reports. “The agreement is part of USAID’s ‘Feed the Future’ initiative” and will allow “for closer cooperation on the issue of food security in four countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda,” the news service writes (Dagoni, 4/19). The MOU is “the first of its kind, according to MASHAV head Daniel Carmon, though he stressed that ‘this MOU is not the start of the relationship; it’s the continuing and the strengthening of the relationship,'” according to the Jerusalem Post. “The assistance will include help with food production and crop cycles, as well as addressing environmental issues that go beyond the agricultural sector, Carmon said,” the newspaper notes (Krieger, 4/19).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, the director of global health policy and a research fellow at the center, examines the connection between smallholder farming, agricultural productivity and nutrition. She writes, “For some time now, the food security movement has been stating that improving the agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers improves nutritional status.” Glassman cites a statement delivered by G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting Chairs after a meeting in Washington, D.C., last week, which states, “Donor and partner government investments in agricultural development have proven to be one of the most effective means to promote broad-based economic growth, especially when they are nutrition-sensitive and target smallholder farmers and women.” She writes, “Are investments in agricultural development directed to small farmers ‘proven’ to improve nutritional status? I don’t think so,” and asks, “What is the G8 talking about?” (4/18).