“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).
Food Security and Nutrition
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).
Partners In Health Haitian Food Security Program Easily 'Transplanted' To Other Areas Suffering Malnutrition
“It has been said that hundreds of thousands of dollars and equally as many hours have been spent searching for a cure for malnutrition,” Gillaine Warne, director of Zanmi Agrikol, the agricultural arm of Partners In Health that operates in Haiti, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “The good news is that a cure has been found — it’s called FOOD!,” she says, noting Zanmi Agrikol’s goal is “getting to the root causes of malnutrition [so] we can help create effective and sustainable change.” Warne says even before the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, “one of every three children under five years old suffer[ed] from malnutrition.” She continues, “Our programs at Zanmi Agrikol educate farmers about new and proven ways of planting, conservation, reforestation, and animal husbandry. … We want to enable each family to produce sufficient food for themselves, and enough excess to take to market.”
IRIN this week published two articles examining the humanitarian response to the Sahel food crisis, which “put an estimated 18.7 million people at risk of hunger and 1.1 million children at risk of severe malnutrition.” In the first, the news service “spoke to aid agencies, donors and Sahel experts to find out where the crisis response worked better this year,” noting the “situation catalyzed the largest humanitarian response the region has ever seen and it is widely agreed that this helped avert a large-scale disaster.” The article discusses how early warning reports allowed donors and agencies to “respond earlier and more quickly” than they did to the Horn of Africa drought in July 2011 (10/24).
“With food security now on the global agenda, the world is turning to African agriculture as the answer to the question of how we feed the future,” an editorial in Tanzania’s “Daily News” states. The editorial highlights the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), held in Arusha last month, and notes, “The forum decided that in order to come up with concrete action plans for developing the continent’s agricultural sector, smallholder farmers have a crucial role to play and thus should be at the center of all key decisions.” For example, improving infrastructure, such as roadways, can help smallholder farmers more easily bring their products to market, the editorial notes (10/24).