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Industry Becoming More Involved In Ensuring Food Security, Conference Attendees Hear

“Food security concerns as the world’s population surpasses seven billion have prompted global companies to become more actively involved in ensuring future supplies, participants at an agricultural conference said on Monday,” Reuters reports. “The increased role has come at a time government involvement is hampered by the global financial crisis and led to fears a private sector-led expansion may focus on products with profit potential and neglect more effective alternatives,” according to the news agency. “‘We need to produce more food. The figures are debatable but we clearly need at least 50 percent more food in the next two or three decades,’ said Ian Crute, chief scientist at Britain’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board,” at the CropWorld 2011 conference (Hunt, 10/31).

World Population Reaches 7 Billion Amid Warnings About Health, Natural Resources

“Countries around the world marked the world’s population reaching seven billion Monday with lavish ceremonies for newborn infants symbolizing the milestone and warnings that there may be too many humans for the planet’s resources,” the Associated Press/ reports (10/31). “With the world’s population more than doubling over the last half century, basics like food and water are under more strain than ever, say experts, and providing for an additional two to three billion people in the next 50 years is a serious worry,” AlertNet/Reuters writes, adding that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says food production will have to increase by 70 percent to keep pace. “But climate change may be the greatest impediment to meeting this target, say experts,” the news agency notes (Kumar/Bhalla, 10/31).

Several West African Nations Facing Food Insecurity; WFP Steps Up Efforts In Niger

Several countries in West Africa, including Niger, Mauritania and Chad, are facing food insecurity crises “unless the international community acts now, the United Nations warned on Friday,” AlertNet reports. “Communities in the Sahel, which faces increasingly frequent droughts, have not had time to recover from the last food crisis,” which hit the region last year, the news service reports.

Child Mortality Declining In Refugee Camp In Ethiopia

In the clinic of Hilaweyn, one of four camps at Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado complex for Somali refugees seeking relief from famine and poor security conditions, “[a] massive infusion of humanitarian resources … appears to be turning the tide” against child mortality, according to Doctors Without Borders, which operates the clinic, VOA News reports. “When Doctors Without Borders opened the Hilaweyn clinic … in August, children were dying of malnutrition at the rate of more than one a day. Two months later, the clinic’s emergency coordinator Aria Danika said they treat 1,000 cases a day, and only one child has died in the past two weeks,” VOA writes (Heinlein, 10/28).

Targets For Somalia Aid Likely To Be Missed In 2011, U.N. Draft Report Says

“Despite a massive increase in humanitarian operations and international funding since famine was formally declared 100 days ago, the relief effort in Somalia is expected to miss almost all its key targets for 2011, a draft United Nations report reveals,” the Guardian reports, adding, “[m]alnutrition rates have more than doubled, less than 60 percent of the 3.7 million people targeted have received monthly food assistance, and only 58 percent of a targeted 1.2 million people received critical non-food aid items.”

Food Aid Vouchers Are Faster, Cheaper Alternative Than Shipping Food Aid Abroad

In this New York Times opinion piece, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tina Rosenberg reports on the use of food vouchers by some aid organizations in Somalia, highlighting the efforts of World Concern, “a Seattle-based Christian humanitarian group, and its Somali partner, the African Rescue Committee, [which] provide 1,800 families every two weeks with rice, beans, cooking oil, salt and sugar for their tea.”

U.N. Calls For Concerted Efforts On Food Security Issues; Australia Drives Food Security As Commonwealth Meeting Theme

“United Nations officials [on Thursday] called for concerted efforts to ensure the world’s fast-growing population has enough food, stressing that global food production will have to double by 2050 when the planet is expected to host one billion inhabitants,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that guaranteeing sustainable food and nutrition security for all will require the full engagement of governments and the private sector” and “said he was encouraged by the renewed political interest in food security, including the prominence that is being given to the issue by the Group of 20 of the world’s largest economies,” the news service adds (10/27).

USAID’s FWD Campaign Launches With PSAs On Crisis In Horn Of Africa

“One month after [USAID] announced the FWD (famine, war, and drought) public awareness campaign at the Social Good summit, they officially launched the campaign across the country though celebrity public service announcements (PSAs) developed with the Ad Council,” according to a post in the Department of State’s “DipNote” blog. The ads feature…

U.N. Officials Warn Yemen Facing Humanitarian, Health Disasters

High-level officials from UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) this week warned that “[r]outine immunization of children has dropped by 40 percent in some areas of Yemen, leading to outbreaks of polio and measles and reflecting a growing collapse of public services in a country that is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster,” IRIN reports. Earlier this month, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos cited “conflict, poverty, drought, soaring food prices and collapsing state services” as reasons for widespread suffering of millions of people in the country, according to IRIN.