This post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Views from the Center” blog, Owen Barder, a senior fellow and the director for Europe at CGD, addresses the recent hunger summit in London, citing two reasons for concern surrounding the discussion. “First, it is wrong to conflate the problem of hunger with the need to improve agricultural productivity. Hunger has very little to do with food production,” Barder writes, continuing, “Second, the conversation is too much about money and not enough about what we should do to address the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition.” He concludes, “If the [G8] leaders cannot get together and make meaningful decisions about something as important as this, why do they bother meeting at all?” (8/13).
Food Security and Nutrition
“With one billion people chronically hungry and Earth’s population expected to increase by 50 percent before the end of the century, it’s time to get serious about family planning,” a Los Angeles Times editorial states. “At one point, the prevailing wisdom was that nations needed robust birthrates to protect their economic welfare, and that if only we could produce food more efficiently, feeding the Earth’s burgeoning population wouldn’t be a problem,” it continues, adding, “Now â€¦ we know better. Or we ought to.” The editorial continues, “No one has a good solution. That’s why family planning assistance is one of the most important forms of humanitarian aid that the United States and other developed nations can provide.” It concludes, “Without the necessary resources and an existing economy prepared to absorb large numbers of new workers, nations that promote high birthrates set themselves up for economic distress and political unrest” (8/10).
“The United Nations’ World Food Program [WFP] is appealing for $87 million to avert starvation in Zimbabwe’s rural areas where close to two million people need food aid,” VOA News reports, adding, “The U.N. agency says because of poor rainfall, this year’s hunger season in Zimbabwe has started earlier than in the past.” The news service highlights the “dire food situation” in the rural area of Buhera, part of Manicaland province, which “is one of the four regions the [WFP] says are worst affected by drought in Zimbabwe.” “We hear of people starting to sell their livestock at distress prices, reducing their number of meals in rural Zimbabwe, which is a clear indication that the food security situation is worsening,” Liliana Yovcheva of the WFP program office in Zimbabwe said, according to the news service (8/13).
U.S., France, Mexico To Hold Phone Conference To Discuss Need For Emergency Meeting On U.S. Drought, Food Security
“France, the United States and G20 president Mexico will hold a conference call at the end of August to discuss whether an emergency international meeting is required to tackle soaring grain prices caused by the worst U.S. drought in half a century,” Reuters reports. “A French agriculture ministry official said the call would decide whether to convene the first meeting of the G20’s Rapid Response Forum,” according to the news service, which notes, “The body was created last year to promote early discussion among decision-makers about abnormal market conditions with the aim of avoiding unilateral action” (Trompiz, 8/13). “The World Bank is already on alert for an increase in hunger and malnutrition,” the Guardian’s “Economics” blog writes, adding that “previous spikes in food prices also led to widespread social unrest.” According to the blog, “[p]opulation growth and rising incomes in the bigger emerging market economies — China, India and Brazil — was already a cause for concern even before the U.S. drought, but the price spike in recent weeks has underlined the growing pressures on the global supply chain” (Elliott, 8/13).
These additional blog posts address a hunger summit hosted by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at the conclusion of the Olympic Games in London on Sunday.
The following editorial, opinion pieces, and blog posts address a hunger summit hosted by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at the conclusion of the Olympic Games in London on Sunday.
As the 2012 Olympic Games drew to a close in London on Sunday, world leaders and athletes gathered for a hunger summit at 10 Downing St., sponsored by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Al Jazeera reports (8/12). The “summit brought together leaders from Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Ireland,” the Associated Press notes (8/12). “This meeting … hopes to draw the media spotlight toward the nearly one billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” the Examiner writes (Lambers, 8/10). “The U.K. hopes to get commitments from other world leaders, and multinational firms to help prevent 25 million children aged under five suffering stunted growth by the time of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” according to International Business Times TV (Salter, 8/13). The country “hopes to use its presidency of the G8 group of wealthy nations, starting next year, to build international support for action to prevent millions of deaths a year due to malnutrition,” BBC News writes (8/12).
PM Cameron Discusses Foreign Aid, Nutrition Summit; Aid Agencies Deliver Petitions To Downing Street Calling For Government Action On Hunger
British Prime Minister David Cameron “has defended the government’s commitment to overseas aid funding at a time of recession, as he prepares to co-host a hunger summit in Downing Street on the closing day of the Olympics,” the Guardian reports. “Co-hosted with Michel Temer, the Brazilian vice-president, where the 2016 Games will take place, the event is designed to show that the Olympic family is aware of the gaping inequalities faced by competitors,” the newspaper notes, adding though the meeting is not aimed at raising funds, “[i]t is likely to set a target to reduce the number of children left stunted by malnourishment worldwide by as much as 17 million by 2016.” Cameron said on ITV1’s Daybreak program, “There are 170 million children who are malnourished. … I think most people recognize that when there are 170 million people around the world suffering from malnutrition, when there are millions of people living on less than a dollar a day, even at a tough time in Britain, we are right to meet our aid commitments,” according to the Guardian (Mulholland/Wintour, 8/10).
“Agriculture and nutrition are deeply intertwined. Not only does increasing agricultural productivity have the potential to improve rural families’ nutrition, but healthier and better-nourished farmers are more productive, earn more income, and contribute to further economic growth,” Gary Darmstadt, Sam Dryden, and Emily Piwoz of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation write in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. The authors note they “recently developed a position paper that describes why and how the agriculture and nutrition strategies of the foundation intersect, highlighting ways that we will work together in the future to make complementary investments in order to improve the lives’ and health of families in developing countries.” They conclude, “Combating undernutrition requires contributions from many sectors, including both nutrition and agriculture” (8/9).
In this post in the Independent’s opinion blog “Notebook,” Ivan Lewis, member of Britain’s parliament and shadow secretary of state for international development in the U.K., writes “the Global Hunger Event being hosted by David Cameron in London this weekend, which will seek to use the Olympic spirit to galvanize action on global hunger, … is crucial in its potential to provide a new and much needed impetus in the mission to end undernutrition.” He continues, “There can be no greater Olympic legacy than to be able to look back and say London 2012 was the moment when world leaders came together and put in place an ambitious agenda to consign child malnutrition to history” (8/10).