Speaking at an economic forum in Madrid, Spain, “[t]he head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], Jose Graziano da Silva, warned Thursday of a major funding gap for activities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports. “He added that boosting food security entailed combining emergency action with support for family farming and smallholder production, as well as promoting long term development and reducing vulnerability to extreme events, like drought,” the news agency writes (5/10). According to the U.N. News Centre, Graziano da Silva also called for the involvement of “civil society, private enterprise, international agencies, and the governments of developing and developed countries” to help fight chronic hunger and malnutrition — which affects one of every seven people in the world — because it “is a challenge too great for FAO or any government to overcome alone” (5/10).
Food Security and Nutrition
Anirban Chatterjee, chief of health and nutrition for UNICEF in Ghana, said the country “is doing a lot” to fight child mortality — referring to a recently launched vaccination campaign and an initiative to educate mothers about nutrition — but “I don’t think it’s enough” to reach the fourth U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015, Inter Press Service reports. “I think there is definitely scope and need for more improvement,” he added, according to the news service. A GAVI Alliance-supported campaign to provide vaccines against rotavirus and pneumococcal disease is underway, but Chatterjee added that efforts to improve nutrition need to be provided simultaneously because he “said malnourishment can sometimes double or triple the chances of dying from a condition like diarrhea or pneumonia,” IPS writes.
In his Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) blog “The Internationalist,” Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the CFR Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, writes about the first U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security (.pdf), which “predicts that by 2030 humanity’s ‘annual global water requirements’ will exceed ‘current sustainable water supplies’ by 40 percent.” According to Patrick, the document says “[a]bsent major policy interventions, water insecurity will generate widespread social and political instability and could even contribute to state failure in regions important to U.S. national security.” He describes several factors that are pushing a “combination of surging global demand for increasingly scarce fresh water in certain volatile regions of poor governance.” Though “the intelligence community has performed a great service” with this report, “the policy response to date has been just a drop in the bucket,” Patrick concludes (5/8).
Kansas City’s KCUR 89.3 FM reports on the 2012 International Food Aid & Development Conference, where experts gathered this week to discuss food aid programs. The news service writes, “The challenge for governments, aid agencies and recipient countries is to create a collaborative food aid system that accommodates both the needs of the U.S. agriculture industry and growing food insecurity among a mushrooming population,” and quotes a number of experts who spoke at the event.
In this opinion piece in the Kansas City Star’s “As I See It,” Nancy Lindborg, USAID assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance and a guest speaker at this week’s International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City, discusses food aid and highlights USAID’s response to last year’s food crisis in the Horn of Africa. She writes, “None of this would have been possible without the hard work and generosity of the American public, and especially the farmers, manufacturers and shippers that I am honored to meet with again this week in Kansas City.”
Several humanitarian groups say that despite the G8’s pledge made at the 2009 L’Aquila Summit to provide $22 billion over three years to improve agriculture and food security, “the commitment is about to expire” and “much more needs to be done to end hunger,” VOA News reports. Neil Watkins, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid, said he expects G8 leaders at their upcoming summit at Camp David later this month will promote a new food security initiative with greater private sector involvement, according to VOA. “Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America praised President Obama’s food security efforts since 2009,” the news service writes, adding that Kripke said, “[W]e’ve been calling for President Obama to keep that momentum up — to keep pushing for bigger and better and more ambitious goals and more ambitious resource commitments.”
“Sahelian governments and local and international aid groups are struggling to cope with both the continual arrivals of people fleeing … northern Mali, and the mounting number of hungry people across the region as the lean season gets underway,” IRIN reports. According to UNHCR, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced within Mali or fled to surrounding countries, and IRIN reports “governments are already struggling to get aid to millions of their inhabitants, who are facing hunger due to drought.” The news service writes, “The U.N. estimates that 16 million people across the Sahel are facing hunger this year, and hunger levels are rising.” IRIN continues, “This complex mix of slow and fast-onset crises means the U.N. will be revising or launching new funding appeals from the current $1 billion to $1.5 billion in coming weeks, said Noel Tsekouras, deputy head of office at the West Africa bureau of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Dakar” (5/4).
President Barack Obama has invited the leaders of four African nations “to join the G8 leaders’ summit at Camp David later this month for a session on food security, the White House said on Thursday,” Reuters reports. White House spokesperson Jay Carney said in a statement that Obama invited Benin President Yayi Boni, Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana President John Mills and Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, according to the news service (MacInnis, 5/3). They will join other leaders of G8 member nations — which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — at the summit, scheduled for May 18-19, CNN notes. The leaders are expected to discuss food security “amid fears of famine and drought in some parts of Africa,” the news service writes (Karimi, 5/4).
USAID’s Shah Speaks About Agency’s Operations, Efforts To Build Sustainable Solutions To Hunger In Foreign Policy Interview
In an interview with Foreign Policy, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah speaks “about how he is reinventing USAID, an often-embattled agency charged with helping the world’s poorest countries develop, while at the same time dealing with crises around the globe,” the magazine reports. Shah discusses his career path, spending oversight, “expanding public-private partnerships, and integrating development and emergency intervention,” especially in relationship to food security in Africa, according to Foreign Policy. Shah said, “The challenges remain fierce but we are excited about the momentum we are achieving through our resilience work around the world and with specific countries,” the magazine notes (Loewenberg, 5/3).
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) “has warned clashes along the border between Sudan and South Sudan threaten to plunge the region into widespread hunger” and “said it is scaling up its humanitarian operation in South Sudan to assist a growing number of refugees and displaced people,” VOA News reports. WFP “plans to assist 2.7 million people in South Sudan this year under an emergency operation covering the border region and other areas,” the news service writes. WFP spokesperson Elizabeth Byrs “said [the agency] is providing special supplementary, nutritional feeding to about one-half-million young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers who are suffering from, or are vulnerable to, malnutrition,” according to VOA (Schlein, 5/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, said in a press release it also is concerned about the rising number of malnourished refugees arriving in South Sudan and the threat of water shortages in several border areas, the South Sudan News Agency notes (5/2).