NPR’s “The Salt” blog examines how some humanitarian organizations are looking to purchase the ingredients for and manufacture a peanut-based nutritional supplement in the countries where it is used. “They see local production as a way to provide jobs and bring money into impoverished communities. But paying the bill is still a struggle. Even in poor countries, local food often turns out to be more expensive food,” the blog writes. “The Salt” looks at the case of a small organization in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, that has built factories that “emplo[y] Haitian workers and bu[y] peanuts from Haitian farmers.” However, the cost of the final product can be up to 20 percent more expensive than if it were made with peanuts imported from Argentina, the blog notes, adding, “For now, at least, UNICEF has agreed to buy local, even if it costs a little more” (Charles, 10/4).
Food Security and Nutrition
“Global food prices rose by 1.4 percent in September after holding steady for two months as cereals, meat and dairy prices climbed, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization [FAO] said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/4). “[T]he FAO Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, rose to an average of 216 points in September after remaining stable at 213 points in August, the FAO said in its monthly update,” according to Reuters (Hornby, 10/4). “Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, said that food prices were likely to remain high and volatility could increase,” BBC News writes (10/4). Bloomberg Businessweek notes “[t]he U.S. State Department estimates that surging food prices triggered more than 60 riots worldwide from 2007 to 2009” (Ruitenberg, 10/4). “Despite the rise in food prices, the United States Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome released a statement on Thursday saying it had agreed with other countries that a meeting of the emergency Rapid Response Forum under the G20 agriculture body [Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS)] was not necessary at the moment,” Reuters states (10/4).
Scientific American examines the intersection of humanitarian aid, economic development, and climate change, saying, “Environmental, humanitarian, and economic challenges do not exist in isolation, but that is how the world most often deals with them.” The article quotes several speakers who attended an event on “resilient livelihoods” held on September 25 at the Rockefeller Foundation. Shrinking water supplies and increased urbanization continue to affect agriculture outputs, and hunger remains a problem worldwide, “[s]o finding new ways to fund environmental improvement and economic development at the same time will be crucial,” the news magazine writes.
USAID’s “IMPACTblog” features a “video of the week” from the State Department’s Feed the Future initiative. In the three-minute video, “[n]arrator Matt Damon discusses U.S. efforts to turn the tide against global hunger and increase agricultural production around the world through Feed the Future,” according to the blog (10/1). The video features comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and examples of efforts to increase food production and access in Malawi, Cambodia, and Honduras (9/25).
“Nearly half of Yemenis go to bed hungry every night as political instability compounds a global food and fuel price surge, giving the Arabian Peninsula state the world’s third-highest rate of child malnutrition, the World Food Programme [WFP] said on Sunday,” Reuters reports. The country “has been in turmoil since last year’s revolt against 33 years of rule by Ali Abdullah Saleh,” the news service notes, adding, “The number of people receiving daily WFP food rations has risen from 1.2 million in January to over 3.8 million, but poor infrastructure and fear of kidnappings by tribes have complicated the logistics of providing food aid.” According to Reuters, “[i]nternational donors pledged $1.46 billion in aid to the country of 24 million at a meeting in New York on Thursday attended by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who said the pledge would help Yemen avoid a civil war” (Hammond, 9/30).
In the ONE blog, Kelly Hauser, ONE’s policy manager focusing on agriculture, nutrition and U.S. food aid reform, interviews Anne Peniston, head of the nutrition division at USAID. Peniston discusses “her professional and personal experiences in the U.S. and abroad, her vision for USAID’s nutrition strategy, and the role of NGOs in global nutrition,” according to the blog. In the interview, she said, “I would really like to see the U.S. government’s global nutrition strategy integrated throughout the agency — in agriculture, HIV/AIDS, water, sanitation and hygiene, reproductive health programs, environmental programs and emergency response. This requires bringing together the ‘diaspora’ of nutrition experts in various offices around the agency, to create that collective vision and understand our mission in terms of agency priorities. Additionally, in this constrained budget environment, we need consensus across the government on how we approach nutrition and on what our priorities should be” (9/27).
In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Leslie Elder, a senior nutrition specialist at the World Bank, and Yurie Tanimichi Hoberg, a senior economist at the World Bank, write about the intersection of policies and programs in nutrition and agriculture, saying they “are not always closely coordinated.” They continue, “Without the explicit consideration of nutrition objectives and indicators from the outset, investments in agriculture are less likely to achieve nutrition impact,” and describe how the SecureNutrition Knowledge Platform aims “to address critical operational knowledge gaps regarding how to improve the nutrition of vulnerable populations using nutrition sensitive investments in agriculture, and how to measure the impacts of agriculture and food security interventions on nutrition.” They note “SecureNutrition is a community of members from the nutrition, agriculture and food security metrics communities, working with 14 partner organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAIN, Save the Children, USAID and the [World Food Programme]” (9/28).
“More intense rainfall, rising temperatures and climate-driven migration of human and animal populations due to repeated drought all affect the spread of tropical diseases,” Inter Press Service writes in an article examining the impact of climate change on health, a topic that “generated debate among the experts attending the 18th International Congress on Tropical Medicine and Malaria, held Sept. 23-27 in Rio de Janeiro.” “On one side of the debate stands researcher Ulisses Confalonieri, of Brazil’s state-run Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), who argues that the press often oversimplifies a very complex issue,” IPS continues, adding, “On the other side, the president of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (SBMT), Carlos Henrique Costa Nery, told IPS that ‘it is not outrageous to say that climate change has inevitable consequences for tropical diseases.'”
World Leaders Address Climate Change, Water, Food Security At Events On Sidelines Of U.N. General Assembly
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday at an event hosted by Qatar on the sidelines of the 67th General Assembly meeting “called again for urgent and concrete action on climate change, as high-level officials gathered at the United Nations to discuss the growing global concern over the impacts of the phenomenon on food and water security,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Climate change is making weather patterns both extreme and unpredictable, contributing to volatility in global food prices, which means food and nutrition insecurity for the poor and the most vulnerable,” the news service writes, noting Ban “has made food security a top priority through the Zero Hunger Challenge he launched at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June” (9/27).
Political and private sector leaders met on Thursday at a High-Level Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition, held in New York on the sidelines of the 67th U.N. General Assembly session, the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “praised the progress made by the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which has been joined by 30 countries … which are home to 56 million children suffering from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition,” according to the news service. Ban also highlighted the Zero Hunger Challenge, which he launched at the Rio+20 meeting in Brazil in June, and said, “In our world of plenty, no one should be malnourished. … And in a world with no hunger, all food and agriculture would be sustainable, and no food would be lost or wasted,” the news service notes (9/27).