Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, and Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security and deputy coordinator for diplomacy for Feed the Future, examine efforts to end global hunger through a “whole-of-government approach” in this article on the initiative’s webpage. McKenna and Shrier highlight efforts in Haiti, Guatemala, Senegal, Uganda, Ghana, and Bangladesh, noting “all are supported through a range of different U.S. Government organizations under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.” They continue, “Together — and with the help of our development partners from universities, the research community, multilaterals, the private sector, and the NGO community — we are working to break the cycle of poverty and food insecurity that has led millions in the developing world to lives of chronic hunger and undernutrition” (4/26).
Food Security and Nutrition
U.S. Government Made ‘Strong Progress’ In Fight Against World Hunger, But Much Remains To Be Done, Report Says
According to the 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development, released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Thursday, “[t]he U.S. government risks losing the gains it has made in fighting world hunger unless it maintains its effort of the last three years in improving global agricultural practices and food security,” Reuters reports. The council’s “Global Agricultural Development Initiative evaluated the U.S. government and agencies for their leadership in global agricultural development,” and “examined the impact the efforts from Washington had in Ethiopia, Ghana and Bangladesh,” the news service writes.
“Global food prices again rose in the first quarter [of 2012] on the back of higher oil prices, putting millions of people at risk of not having enough to eat,” according to a report released Wednesday by the World Bank, Agence France-Presse reports (4/25). The index showed the cost of food rose eight percent between December 2011 and March 2012 after four months of decline at the end of last year, Reuters notes, adding, “Even after the latest rise, food prices remain one percent below a year ago and six percent below the February 2011 historical peak, the World Bank said” (4/25). According to the Los Angeles Times, “In Africa, prices are especially steep due to the continent’s dependence on imports as well as trade restrictions between nations, hoarding, civil unrest and bad weather” (Hsu, 4/25). “The World Bank said it was hard to predict whether the surge in prices this year would lead to a new global food crisis since there is no mechanism to identify the onset of a global food crisis,” Reuters writes (4/25). A World Bank Group press release describes how the organization “is helping to put food first” (4/25).
“Over-consumption in rich countries and rapid population growth in the poorest both need to be tackled to put society on a sustainable path,” according to a report by an expert group convened by the Royal Society, BBC News reports (Black, 4/25). The report “concludes that tackling global inequality is central to solving the problem of too many people exploiting dwindling natural resources,” the Independent writes (Connor, 4/26). “‘Population and consumption should no longer be regarded as separate issues,’ said Sir John Sulston, chair of the international working group that prepared the study,” according to the Financial Times (Cookson, 4/26). “Firm recommendations include giving all women access to family planning, moving beyond [gross domestic product (GDP)] as the yardstick of economic health and reducing food waste,” BBC notes.
A coalition of “[a]id agencies said on Monday they are facing a multi-million dollar funding shortage to deal with a food crisis in the Sahel,” News24 reports. “Action Against Hunger, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision said they have raised only $52 million of $250 million needed to provide emergency assistance to six million people in the region,” the news service writes, adding that the groups “have called for a donor pledging conference to rally wealthy governments and donors” (4/23). They also “are calling on G8 leaders to consider the Sahel crisis at their summit next month,” according to VOA News.
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog,” Connie Veillette, director of CGD’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, comments on a draft farm bill released by Congress last week, which she writes “includes some promising fixes to the notoriously inefficient U.S. food aid system.” She continues, “Kudos are definitely in order for a draft bill that advances ideas around improving food aid effectiveness,” including “the reauthorization of local and regional purchase (LRP) to buy food closer to emergencies.” Veillette writes, “I would prefer the nature of the food emergency to determine whether U.S. commodities or LRP is used rather than some formula that makes more sense for Washington politics than for global hunger,” and concludes, “I commend the [Senate Agriculture] Committee for taking a serious look at improving food aid efficiencies and hope that this marks the start of a productive process of policy reform” (4/24).
“Higher global food prices are hampering attempts to hit targets for food and nutrition,” and “rates of child and maternal mortality [a]re still ‘unacceptably high’ — partly as a result of surging commodity prices,” according to the Global Monitoring Report 2012, released by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday in Washington, D.C., the Guardian reports (Elliot, 4/20). The report says rising food prices have affected some countries’ ability to reach certain Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a World Bank/IMF press release notes.
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” blog administrator Mark Phelan recounts his recent visit to Niger and Mauritania, in Africa’s Sahel region, where he was “assessing nutrition-focused humanitarian assistance.” He writes, “We are indeed facing a crisis, but I am encouraged by what is being done differently, by ways we have applied lessons learned in the Sahel during food crises in 2010 and 2005, though we still have a long way to go.” He concludes, “I am encouraged that we have learned some important lessons from past crises. The U.S., in partnership with other donors, has taken early action in response to early warnings, and together, we are saving lives” (4/20).
“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).
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.