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WFP, FAO Warn Food Security Worsening For Millions In South Sudan, Call For Action

The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “warned [Wednesday] that millions of people in South Sudan are facing worsening hunger and called for urgent action to improve food security through adequate food aid and projects to boost agricultural production,” the U.N. News Centre reports (2/8). “[C]onflict, population displacement and high food prices” are threatening food security for 4.7 million in the new nation this year, up from 3.3 million in 2011, according to a report (.pdf) from the agencies, Reuters notes. “Of those, about one million people are severely food insecure, and that number could double if fighting continues and prices keep rising, the report said,” the news agency writes (2/8).

U.N. Says Famine Has Ended In Somalia But Emergency Conditions Remain For Millions

“Famine conditions have ended in war-torn Somalia six months after they were declared, but the situation remains dire with a third of the population needing emergency aid, the U.N. said on Friday,” Agence France-Presse reports (Vincenot, 2/3). “‘Long-awaited rains, coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response deployed in the last six months, are the main reasons for this improvement,’ the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva told journalists in Nairobi after visiting southern Somalia,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C writes (2/3). “‘We have three months, let’s say, to work to avoid another possible famine from a drought. We cannot avoid the drought … but we can avoid famine from drought,’ Graziano da Silva said, stressing the need for long-term measures to strengthen agricultural capacity,” the Guardian reports (Chonghaile, 2/3).

Officials Meet To Discuss L’Aquila Agreement On Global Food Security

More than “50 food security officials from 30 countries, and international and regional organizations” are meeting at the State Department in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security, which was endorsed at the 2009 G8 Summit and “mark[ed] a turning point for international efforts to achieve sustainable global food security,” according to a State Department media note. Participants “will discuss coordination efforts between partner and donor governments; investments in research to improve food security; tracking progress toward meeting the L’Aquila commitments; and using Managing for Development Results to enhance the impact of investments in food security,” the media note states (2/2).

Arab Countries Faces Serious Food Security Challenge, High Poverty Rates, Report Suggests

A new report by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) “says Arab countries face a serious food security challenge and that poverty rates are much higher than official numbers suggest,” VOA News reports, adding, “It blames the situation on vulnerability to volatile food prices, natural disasters and water scarcity” (DeCapua, 2/6). The report, titled “Beyond the Arab Awakening: Policies and Investments for Poverty Reduction and Food Security,” offers three key policy recommendations: to “improve data and capacity for evidence-based decision-making,” to “foster growth that enhances food security,” and to “revisit the allocation and efficiency of public spending,” an IFPRI press release states (2/6).

Davos Meeting Highlights Link Between Nutrition, Health And Development

“While the headlines out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meetings in Davos primarily focus on getting (or keeping) the global economy on track, it’s a welcome development when nutrition and health information also rise to the top of the priorities list, reminding world leaders of the inextricable link between nutrition, health and well-being of the people on our planet and that of our global economy,” Klaus Kraemer, director of Sight and Life, a not-for-profit nutrition think tank, writes in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog.

U.N. Food Agencies To Hold Meeting On Assistance To Africa’s Sahel Region

“The leaders of United Nations aid agencies, humanitarian organizations and donor governments will meet on Wednesday in Rome to discuss how to urgently scale up assistance in Africa’s Sahel region, where drought and food shortages are threatening millions of lives,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “This gathering comes at a critical moment as humanitarian agencies are gearing up their response in an effort to prevent a crisis becoming a disaster,” U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, according to the news service. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization last year warned that irregular rains during 2011 “would lead to a significant drop in production and increased food insecurity,” the news service writes (2/13).

India Lags In Efforts To Meet Millennium Development Goals

“India is lagging in its effort to reach United Nations goals to reduce poverty and improve health and sanitation, but has shown significant progress boosting education, treating AIDS and addressing environmental concerns,” Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said last week, the New York Times’ “India Ink” blog reports. According to an Asia Pacific Millennium Development Goal (MDG) report (.pdf) released last week, which “graded the progress of the eight millennium goals using 22 socio-economic indicators …, India has reached goals set in seven indicators out of 22 and is on track to achieve three others, but is lagging behind in 12,” the blog notes.

One Quarter Of Young Children Worldwide Suffer Effects Of Malnutrition, Save The Children Survey Shows

“Malnutrition is the root cause of the deaths of 2.6 million children each year, and the bodies and brains of 450 million more will fail to develop properly due to inadequate diet over the next 15 years unless immediate action is taken, according to a survey published Wednesday by” Save the Children, the Guardian reports (Tisdall, 2/14). “A quarter of young children around the world are not getting enough nutrients to grow properly, and 300 die of malnutrition every hour,” according to the survey, “A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition,” the Independent writes (Valley, 2/15).

Impact Of Child Malnourishment Similar To That Of AIDS

“Globally, malnutrition is the most important cause of illness and death,” Jeremy Laurance, health editor at the Independent, writes in this editorial. Laurance details the physical effects of malnutrition on a child and notes, “Malnutrition contributes to more than half of child deaths worldwide. … It affects virtually every organ system,” and “[i]ts impact on the immune system is similar to that of AIDS.”