“A month after Typhoon Bopha hit the southern Philippines, up to one million people need food assistance and thousands of others could be displaced for a second time, the United Nations says,” AlertNet reports. The December 4 storm killed more than 1,000 people and more than 800 remain missing, the news service notes. “‘Overall the need (for food assistance) is for about 800,000 to a million people across several regions,’ said Dipayan Bhattacharyya, head of food security with the World Food Programme (WFP) in the Philippines,” AlertNet writes, adding, “WFP has been distributing food since the immediate aftermath of the storm and recently started food-for-work activities such as cleaning drainage and clearing debris” (Win, 1/4). International Organization for Migration spokesperson Jumbe Omari Jumbe said the agency is distributing non-food aid in the most-affected regions, VOA News reports. “Jumbe said the lack of sufficient latrines and availability of clean water can cause diseases, such as upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and skin infections,” the news agency writes, adding, “Of greatest concern, he said, are people living in 13 sites, with little to no health services” (Schlein, 1/4).
Food Security and Nutrition
Noting that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “estimates that 25 percent of Syria’s population needs humanitarian relief,” Rachel Brandenburg, a U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) program officer for the Middle East, writes in a USIP blog post, “Within Syria and around its borders, residents and those who’ve fled the fighting face dangerous shortages of food, fuel, medical supplies, and shelter.” She says the onset of winter will increase the need for shelter, clothing, and food. Brandenburg notes that two plans call for $1.5 billion in aid during the first half of 2013, but she adds aid workers are in short supply. “As of early December, only 20 international and 100 Syrian national WFP staff remained in-country to support an operation aimed at feeding 1.5 million Syrians,” she says (1/3).
In this Guardian Global Development podcast, the newspaper’s Global Development team examines the development agenda for 2013. According to the transcript, the panel discusses jobs, growth, hunger, the G8, and aid, in addition to other topics (12/28).
“Stung by the realization that it faced a child malnutrition crisis worse than in most African countries, India is finally waking to the scale of the problem,” the Washington Post reports in an article examining the country’s efforts to combat child malnutrition. “Progress is slow and political will patchy, but there are signs that a new approach to fighting malnutrition is beginning to reap dividends,” the newspaper continues and details several nationwide and state-level efforts. “Despite the progress, India has a long way to go,” the Washington Post adds, noting, “India’s progress in fighting malnutrition fails to impress many experts.” According to the newspaper, many programs established to fight malnutrition lack methods to measure progress or track accountability. The Washington Post also features a photo slide show and a graphic on child malnutrition in India (Denyer, 12/26).
“Despite good rains across much of the Sahel this year, 1.4 million children are expected to be malnourished — up from one million in 2012, according to the 2013 Sahel regional strategy,” IRIN reports. “The strategy, which calls on donors to provide $1.6 billion of aid for 2013, says fewer people are expected to go hungry in 2013 — 10.3 million instead of 18.7 million in 2012,” the news service writes.
The latest issue of PSI Impact magazine reviews “the top 10 milestones in global health in 2012” and includes exclusive authored pieces about each, Marshall Stowell, editor-in-chief of the magazine, writes in PSI’s “Impact” blog. Stowell lists the 10 issues and links to the articles, which include, among others: Gary Darmstadt and Chris Elias of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation writing about the London Summit on Family Planning; Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for global health at USAID, writing about the Child Survival Call to Action; U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writing about the goal of an “AIDS-free generation”; and Anne Peniston, nutrition chief at USAID, writing about the nutrition movement (12/13).
IRIN summarizes a discussion among “[a]griculturalists, scientists, businessmen, lobbyists, and policymakers convened in London’s Chatham House this week to debate how to feed the planet’s growing population without degrading the earth’s resources — if such a thing is even possible.” According to the news service, “Some attendees argued that current levels of food production — if better managed — could accommodate everyone,” some said “people could just eat less meat,” and others “want to tackle the problem through the application of science — for example, by breeding livestock that are more efficient at converting resources into meat or dairy.” IRIN writes, “The overall message was that … it will take a mix of ideas — some traditional, some futuristic, some large-scale, some small-scale — as well as research, the dissemination of knowledge, and the development of the supply chains and financing institutions to allow all farmers to run their businesses as profitably and productively as possible” (12/12).
Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in a Guardian opinion piece, “In order to support investment in agriculture, governments have … come to rely on private sector investment and development aid — and increasingly a partnership of the two,” and he notes “[t]he New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, proposed by [U.S. President] Barack Obama and the U.S. Agency for International Development and launched in May 2012, will draw more than $3 billion of private sector investment into food security plans in Africa.” He continues, “One potential danger of development aid, and particularly of private-led projects, is that the goals of poverty reduction and rural development can be relegated below the goal of raising food production.”
“A UNICEF progress report [.pdf] says that more than 850,000 children are expected to have received life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition across nine countries in the Sahel region during the course of 2012,” according to a UNICEF press release, noting the number is “based on the more than 730,000 children under five treated at centers between January and the end of September.” The press release continues, “The report says early funding by donors such as the Swedish and Danish Governments, the European Union and USAID meant crucial supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food were purchased in good time and pre-positioned.” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s acting regional director, said in the press release, “In 2012 a tremendous effort meant we were able to give every child who was able to arrive at a treatment center appropriate care. But we need to get to the state where more robust systems are in place and treatment centers see far fewer children” (12/11).
“Each year, the United States spends more than $1.5 billion feeding starving people overseas,” columnist Farah Stockman writes in a Boston Globe opinion piece. “But our charity comes with a catch: The food has to be bought in America, and much of it must be shipped on American ships,” she continues, adding, “Researchers estimate that buying food closer to where needy people are costs about half as much.” She continues, “We are the last donor country in the world to have these rules,” and writes, “At a time of budget cuts, you would think that one thing Republicans and Democrats could agree on would be making sure every tax dollar stretches as far as it can.” Stockman asks, “Why don’t we just change it?”