“A combined effort by health, water, sanitation and nutrition partners, including the World Food Programme (WFP), to reduce alarming malnutrition rates amongst Sudanese refugees who have settled in Maban County of South Sudan, is beginning to yield fruit,” WFP reports in an article on its webpage, adding, “Parents say they have seen dramatic improvements in their children’s health.” Noting “more than 110,000 refugees [are] currently living in four different settlements in Maban County, in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State,” the article writes, “Malnutrition rates soared to alarming levels in the refugee settlements. To address that, WFP in July scaled up its existing nutrition support for new mothers and children, who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of undernutrition” (Herzog, 11/1).
Food Security and Nutrition
“Despite a sudden increase in July this year, prices of cereals on world markets remained fairly stable,” Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), writes in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. “But there are no grounds for complacency, as cereals markets remain vulnerable to supply shocks and disruptive policy measures,” he states, adding, “In this context, the good harvests that are expected in the Southern Hemisphere are important.” He notes, “In the last 10 years we have seen major changes in the behavior of food prices,” and continues, “All this makes it timely to reflect on recent price events and the reactions of the international community, especially since price volatility is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”
“Aid workers say child malnutrition is reaching emergency levels in northern Mali, which has been under the control of armed militant groups since April,” VOA News reports. “Brussels-based aid organization Medecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World, says malnutrition rates among children under the age of five in occupied northern Mali are reaching ‘alarming levels,'” the news service writes, adding, “The NGO says it found that 13.5 percent of those children in the far northern Kidal region are suffering from acute malnutrition,” which is “double last year’s rate and well over the World Health Organization’s 10 percent alert threshold” (Look, 11/2).
“Flooding in Haiti caused by Hurricane Sandy has triggered a surge in cholera, with three deaths and almost 300 suspected cases, adding to a death toll from the storm of 54,” the Financial Times reports (Mander, 11/2). “Already struggling to recover from the effects of Hurricane Isaac in August, which in turn set back rebuilding from the earthquake of January 2010, Haiti now faces renewed crises on multiple fronts,” PBS NewsHour’s “The Rundown” writes (Lazaro, 11/2). “Three days of torrential downpours and strong winds brought by Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of Haiti’s fragile agriculture and have put a million and a half Haitians at risk for hunger, the United Nations’ humanitarian-aid coordination office said over the weekend,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which notes, “Potential food-price increases worry international and Haitian officials” (Arnesen, 11/4).
In an episode of Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story,” presenter Shiulie Ghosh and guests Chandra Bhushan, a climate change scientist and deputy director of the Centre for Science and Environment; Deborah Doane, the director of the World Development Movement and a specialist on corporate power who also blogs on food politics; and Philip Thornton of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) examine the politics of global food security. “Researchers are warning that rising global temperatures could see a shift in the world’s traditional staples and who grows them,” according to a summary of the episode, which cites a number of recent reports on the issue. But while “[t]he environmental factors are exacerbating the situation with food shortages and food price rises …, there is a lot about the politics of food that are getting in the way,” Doane says in the video report, noting, for example, “The reason that many countries are dependent on maize is they’re encouraged to grow maize for export” (11/1).
InterAction President and CEO Sam Worthington, as part of a series organized by the Chicago Council On Global Affairs’ Global Agriculture Development Initiative and InterAction to highlight the importance of public-private partnerships in agricultural development, writes in the Chicago Council’s “Global Food for Thought” blog that recent figures showing one in eight people in the world is undernourished is “a call to collective action.” He continues, “The private and public sectors have enormous potential to work together and leverage each other’s added value to spur this kind of economic development in a way that will, ultimately, decrease hunger and improve nutrition.” Worthington concludes, “Smart public-private partnerships that draw on the added value of government, business and civil society will ensure that we can reduce hunger and improve nutrition in sustainable, people-centered ways that ultimately improve lives and save them” (10/31).
Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Gaining Momentum, But Some Countries Still Reluctant To Join, IRIN Reports
“Two years after the launch of a global effort to mobilize countries in the use of scientific approaches to improve nutrition, the movement seems to be gaining momentum,” IRIN reports, noting, “More than 30 countries have signed up with the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, better known by its acronym SUN.” However, “some countries are still reluctant to join amid questions and criticism over its lack of clarity and perceived relationship with companies that have controversial nutrition records, say experts,” the news service writes.
“The implementation of an ambitious bill that guarantees cheap food grains for India’s poor could be pushed back to the next fiscal year, a top government adviser said,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “[I]mplementing the bill in the fiscal year starting April 2013 would make financial and political sense for the government, which is facing a yawning budget gap and federal elections before May 2014,” according to the newspaper, which adds the bill is “likely to be introduced in the budget session, which is due late February, C. Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, said in an interview.” After a general debate, parliament would have to approve the bill, which “aims to provide subsidized grains to more than 60 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people, with special provisions for pregnant women, destitute children and others,” for it to become law, the newspaper writes, adding, “A government spokesman declined to comment on the matter Friday” (Sahu/Guha, 10/27).
“As the Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security, I lead U.S. diplomacy on food security and nutrition, and last week was a particularly busy one for the food security team,” Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for Global Food Security, writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. He details a number of food security-related activities that happened throughout the week, beginning with World Food Day, and writes, “Ending world hunger will require a collective effort among governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society” (10/27).
“Two U.N. agencies on Monday presented a new tool to map health risks linked to climate change and extreme weather conditions, enabling authorities to give advance warnings and act to prevent ‘climate-sensitive’ diseases from spreading,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/30). “As the world’s climate continues to change, hazards to human health are increasing,” according to the “Atlas of health and climate,” published jointly by WHO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a press release from the agencies states (10/29). “Climate variability and extreme conditions such as floods can trigger epidemics of diseases, such as diarrhea, malaria, dengue, and meningitis-diseases, which cause death and suffering for millions of people,” VOA News writes (Schlein, 10/29).