“The top United Nations relief official said [.pdf] today that humanitarian efforts to alleviate the devastating food crisis affecting Mali have begun to yield results, but warned that much still remains to be done and the situation could worsen without continued donor support,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/30). Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos “on Thursday called for more resources in Mali to save children from severe malnutrition,” Agence France-Presse reports. The widespread food crisis in the Sahel region is compounded in Mali by a militant insurgency in the north of the country, according to the news agency. “The food crisis, which follows a drought in 2011, has affected 4.6 million people in Mali alone,” and “[a]lmost 150,000 children across Mali have been treated for acute malnutrition … this year,” the news agency writes (8/30).
Food Security and Nutrition
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Monday said the country’s central government and regional governments would provide $1.03 million to a fund aimed at reducing child malnutrition, Andean Air Mail & Peruvian Times reports. “Humala said the government aims to lower the [child malnutrition] rate to 10 percent by 2016, from 23 percent in 2010,” according to the news service (8/28). “These funds, he said, will be used for the comprehensive care of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, the provision of vaccines, social programs, among others,” Bernama/NNN/Andina write. According to the news services, “The announcement was made during the signing of the National Commitment to the Coordinated Fight Against Child Malnutrition, which Humala described as a ‘concrete measure which must bring together all regional governments.'” He said, “What we want to do is eradicate malnutrition. As a government, we are going to fight as hard as we can to eradicate it,” the news services report (8/29).
At the opening ceremony of World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “launched a framework that will help combat food insecurity by providing methods to better manage water resources in agriculture and reduce waste,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The initiative, entitled ‘Coping with water scarcity: An action framework for agriculture and food security’ [.pdf], seeks to encourage practices that will improve water management, such as modernizing irrigation schemes, recycling and re-using wastewater, implementing mechanisms to reduce water pollution, and storing rainwater at farms to reduce drought-related risks, among others,” the news service notes.
“For the first time researchers have discovered a link between overweight and obese mothers in sub-Saharan Africa and infant mortality,” Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gate’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, adding, “In a study published in The Lancet this month, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine show a definitive correlation between maternal obesity and the prevalence of neonatal deaths (infants who die in the first 28 days of life) especially before two days of age.” She continues, “Now that there is growing maternal obesity in sub-Saharan Africa — albeit slow — this poses a stark contrast to the traditional indicators of neonatal deaths such as underweight mothers and lack of access to health services and trained health workers for pregnancy and delivery in developing countries” (8/24).
World Leaders, Scientists Gather In Stockholm For World Water Week; Researchers Warn Overconsumption Draining World's Water Supply
Some 2,500 officials, policymakers and scientists will gather this week at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) for the largest annual meeting on water development issues as the international community recognizes World Water Week, observed August 26-31, VOA News reports. According to the news service, this year’s theme is “water and food security” (DeCapua, 8/24). “Global leaders assembled … at the opening session of the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm called for substantial increases in public and private sector investment to reduce losses of food in the supply chain, enhance water efficiency in agriculture and curb consumer waste,” according to an SIWI press release (8/27).
“Farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly taking up small-scale irrigation schemes as drought threatens the security of food supplies, a report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said,” Reuters reports. “Small-scale irrigation technology, such as motorized pumps and hosing to access groundwater, could cost a sub-Saharan African smallholder $250 or more but could improve crop yields by between 75 and 275 percent, the report said,” Reuters adds. “If there is more investment in small-scale irrigation, it means food supply in those countries is more secure. It won’t replace the need for staple cereal crops, but it gives farmers more insurance against a food crisis,” said Colin Chartres, IWMI director general, according to the news service. “We are going to have to come up with ways of making water go much further if we are going to grow 70 percent more food by 2050 on about 10 percent less water than we use today,” he added, Reuters notes (Chestney, 8/24).
In this episode of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Food Factor Podcast, WFP Deputy Director of Food Security Analysis Arif Husain examines “what the third food-price shock in five years means for the fight against hunger.” According to the podcast transcript, Husain discusses the factors behind the rise in food prices this year, lessons learned from previous “food price shocks” in 2008 and 2010, and how the WFP is being affected, among other topics (8/22).
“Although food prices remain below their February 2011 peak, and the situation has not yet reached international crisis proportions, the recent spike is cause for serious concern,” Robert Hormats, U.S. under-secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece, adding, “That’s why it’s especially important now that countries not make matters worse, as some have done in recent years in the face of food shortages.” He continues, “In response to popular demands, governments in some exporting countries have in the past imposed restrictions on the sale abroad of domestically produced agricultural output,” noting, “These measures have taken many forms, such as export quotas, prohibitive export taxes, or outright bans.”
In this post in the U.S. Department of State’s “Dipnote” blog, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, reflects on the Global Hunger Event that took place at the conclusion of the Olympic Games in London. “The event brought civil society and private sector partners together with leaders from across the globe — and even a few Olympic heroes including incomparable Mo Farah — to commit to championing for change against global hunger,” she notes, adding, “What I realized at the Global Hunger Event was that the momentum we’ve all created — through Feed the Future, the New Alliance, and this event — is real.” She asks, “If we all continue to champion these efforts, and work alongside our colleagues, partners, and heroes to fight hunger, what will our legacy be?” (8/20).
IRIN Examines Efforts Of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi To End Country's Dependence On Food Aid
Noting the death of Ethiopia’s prime minister on Monday, IRIN “looks at his legacy in promoting food self-sufficiency and fighting rural poverty in a country historically associated with drought and environmental stress,” writing, “During his two decades in power, Meles Zenawi committed himself to ending Ethiopia’s dependence on food aid.” The news service provides an overview of food security issues in Ethiopia and highlights the Productive Safety Net Programme, “a social cash transfer pilot program and a commodity exchange” enacted under Zenawi (8/22).