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).
Food Security and Nutrition
“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.'”
“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).
“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).
“African countries are most at risk of social unrest and famine stemming from food shortages and rising prices, according to risk advisory firm Maplecroft,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The news service writes, “Africa accounts for 39 of the 59 most at-risk countries in Maplecroft’s Food Security Risk Index and has nine of the 11 nations in the ‘extreme risk’ category, the Bath, England-based company said in a statement today” (Almeida, 10/9). “Despite strong economic growth, food security remains an issue of primary importance for Africa, according to a new study by [the] risk analysis company …, which classifies 75 percent of the continent’s countries at ‘high’ or ‘extreme risk,'” according to the statement (10/1). “African countries at ‘extreme risk’ include Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Comoros, and Sierra Leone, according to Maplecroft,” Bloomberg notes (10/9).
“The U.K. has announced that Â£35 million ($56 million) in aid over the next three years will be aimed at improving nutrition for mothers and children in Yemen amid fears that a hunger crisis will derail fragile gains in the Middle East’s poorest country,” the Guardian reports. “More than 10 million people in Yemen, a country with a population of around 24.7 million, are thought to be at risk because of insufficient food,” and “[i]n the worst-affected parts of the country, as many as one in three children are suffering from life-threatening acute malnutrition,” the newspaper notes. “The U.K. funding will go towards long-term support to help improve nutrition for 1.65 million women and children in 60 of the most vulnerable, deprived and conflict-affected districts in the eight governorates where the need is greatest,” according to the Guardian (Tran, 10/10).
“Our global food security challenges are daunting: food price spikes and increasing food prices look set to continue unabated, around one billion are suffering from chronic hunger, and we must feed a growing population in the face of a wide range of adverse factors, including climate change,” but “I believe there is reason for optimism,” Sir Gordon Conway, professor of international development and agricultural impact at Imperial College London, writes in the Huffington Post U.K. “Impact” blog. “Yes we can feed the world, but only if we accept that agricultural development is the best route to achieving sustainable economic growth in developing countries, and achieve an agriculture that is highly productive, stable, resilient and equitable,” he continues, adding, “I believe there are four interconnected routes to achieving a food secure world: innovation, markets, people and political leadership.”
Agence France-Presse reports on how poverty and hunger are forcing families in the rural village of Hawkantaki, Niger, to marry their daughters at increasingly younger ages, writing, “A girl married off is one less mouth to feed, and the dowry money she brings in goes to feed others.” The news agency notes “one out of every three girls in Niger marries before her 15th birthday, a rate of child marriage among the highest in the world, according to a UNICEF survey.” According to AFP, “Most of the marriages should be illegal under Niger’s law, which states that the minimum age of marriage is 15,” but the law “only applies for civil ceremonies officiated by the state. Marriages in villages are sealed inside mosques and fall under what is called ‘traditional law'” (Callimachi, 9/16).