“The top United Nations relief official said [.pdf] today that humanitarian efforts to alleviate the devastating food crisis affecting Mali have begun to yield results, but warned that much still remains to be done and the situation could worsen without continued donor support,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/30). Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos “on Thursday called for more resources in Mali to save children from severe malnutrition,” Agence France-Presse reports. The widespread food crisis in the Sahel region is compounded in Mali by a militant insurgency in the north of the country, according to the news agency. “The food crisis, which follows a drought in 2011, has affected 4.6 million people in Mali alone,” and “[a]lmost 150,000 children across Mali have been treated for acute malnutrition … this year,” the news agency writes (8/30).
Food Security and Nutrition
PM Cameron Discusses Foreign Aid, Nutrition Summit; Aid Agencies Deliver Petitions To Downing Street Calling For Government Action On Hunger
British Prime Minister David Cameron “has defended the government’s commitment to overseas aid funding at a time of recession, as he prepares to co-host a hunger summit in Downing Street on the closing day of the Olympics,” the Guardian reports. “Co-hosted with Michel Temer, the Brazilian vice-president, where the 2016 Games will take place, the event is designed to show that the Olympic family is aware of the gaping inequalities faced by competitors,” the newspaper notes, adding though the meeting is not aimed at raising funds, “[i]t is likely to set a target to reduce the number of children left stunted by malnourishment worldwide by as much as 17 million by 2016.” Cameron said on ITV1’s Daybreak program, “There are 170 million children who are malnourished. … I think most people recognize that when there are 170 million people around the world suffering from malnutrition, when there are millions of people living on less than a dollar a day, even at a tough time in Britain, we are right to meet our aid commitments,” according to the Guardian (Mulholland/Wintour, 8/10).
“Agriculture and nutrition are deeply intertwined. Not only does increasing agricultural productivity have the potential to improve rural families’ nutrition, but healthier and better-nourished farmers are more productive, earn more income, and contribute to further economic growth,” Gary Darmstadt, Sam Dryden, and Emily Piwoz of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation write in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. The authors note they “recently developed a position paper that describes why and how the agriculture and nutrition strategies of the foundation intersect, highlighting ways that we will work together in the future to make complementary investments in order to improve the lives’ and health of families in developing countries.” They conclude, “Combating undernutrition requires contributions from many sectors, including both nutrition and agriculture” (8/9).
BBC News reports on malnutrition in India, “an enduring problem Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a ‘national shame.'” “[D]espite supposedly spending billions of rupees on poverty and food-relief programs — and during a period of sustained economic growth — the government has made only a dent in the problem,” the news service writes. “It is estimated that one in four of the world’s malnourished children is in India, more even than in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to BBC, which adds, “India has been arguing over what to do about hunger and the poverty that underpins it for years — while its farms produce ever more food.”
In this post in the Independent’s opinion blog “Notebook,” Ivan Lewis, member of Britain’s parliament and shadow secretary of state for international development in the U.K., writes “the Global Hunger Event being hosted by David Cameron in London this weekend, which will seek to use the Olympic spirit to galvanize action on global hunger, … is crucial in its potential to provide a new and much needed impetus in the mission to end undernutrition.” He continues, “There can be no greater Olympic legacy than to be able to look back and say London 2012 was the moment when world leaders came together and put in place an ambitious agenda to consign child malnutrition to history” (8/10).
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Monday said the country’s central government and regional governments would provide $1.03 million to a fund aimed at reducing child malnutrition, Andean Air Mail & Peruvian Times reports. “Humala said the government aims to lower the [child malnutrition] rate to 10 percent by 2016, from 23 percent in 2010,” according to the news service (8/28). “These funds, he said, will be used for the comprehensive care of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, the provision of vaccines, social programs, among others,” Bernama/NNN/Andina write. According to the news services, “The announcement was made during the signing of the National Commitment to the Coordinated Fight Against Child Malnutrition, which Humala described as a ‘concrete measure which must bring together all regional governments.'” He said, “What we want to do is eradicate malnutrition. As a government, we are going to fight as hard as we can to eradicate it,” the news services report (8/29).
In this post in the U.S. Department of State’s “Dipnote” blog, Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, reflects on the Global Hunger Event that took place at the conclusion of the Olympic Games in London. “The event brought civil society and private sector partners together with leaders from across the globe — and even a few Olympic heroes including incomparable Mo Farah — to commit to championing for change against global hunger,” she notes, adding, “What I realized at the Global Hunger Event was that the momentum we’ve all created — through Feed the Future, the New Alliance, and this event — is real.” She asks, “If we all continue to champion these efforts, and work alongside our colleagues, partners, and heroes to fight hunger, what will our legacy be?” (8/20).
IRIN Examines Efforts Of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi To End Country's Dependence On Food Aid
Noting the death of Ethiopia’s prime minister on Monday, IRIN “looks at his legacy in promoting food self-sufficiency and fighting rural poverty in a country historically associated with drought and environmental stress,” writing, “During his two decades in power, Meles Zenawi committed himself to ending Ethiopia’s dependence on food aid.” The news service provides an overview of food security issues in Ethiopia and highlights the Productive Safety Net Programme, “a social cash transfer pilot program and a commodity exchange” enacted under Zenawi (8/22).
“The United States announced Thursday it would hike its humanitarian aid to Syria, adding another $12 million to provide food, water, medicine and other necessities for battered and displaced people” affected by violence in the Syrian conflict, the Los Angeles Times blog “World Now” reports. “The increase approved by the Obama administration brings American humanitarian assistance in Syria to more than $76 million, including $27.5 million to the World Food Programme [WFP], roughly $18 million for the United Nations refugee agency and the rest split among other U.N. funds and non-profit groups,” the blog writes (Alpert, 8/2).
In a post on the USDA Blog, economists Stacey Rosen and Shahla Shapouri of the Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Security and Development Branch describe the latest ERS International Food Security Assessment, which covers 76 countries in Asia, Latin America, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. “For 2012, we estimate the situation overall to improve slightly, with the number of food-insecure people declining to 802 million people, from 814 million in 2011. The decade ahead presents a different picture, with food-insecure numbers rising by 37 million, although this 4.6 percent increase is below the 16.7 percent rise in population,” they write, noting, “The key factors we measure in determining the level of food security are countries’ domestic food production and their import capacity” (8/2).