“The United Nations’ World Food Program [WFP] is appealing for $87 million to avert starvation in Zimbabwe’s rural areas where close to two million people need food aid,” VOA News reports, adding, “The U.N. agency says because of poor rainfall, this year’s hunger season in Zimbabwe has started earlier than in the past.” The news service highlights the “dire food situation” in the rural area of Buhera, part of Manicaland province, which “is one of the four regions the [WFP] says are worst affected by drought in Zimbabwe.” “We hear of people starting to sell their livestock at distress prices, reducing their number of meals in rural Zimbabwe, which is a clear indication that the food security situation is worsening,” Liliana Yovcheva of the WFP program office in Zimbabwe said, according to the news service (8/13).
Food Security and Nutrition
“With one billion people chronically hungry and Earth’s population expected to increase by 50 percent before the end of the century, it’s time to get serious about family planning,” a Los Angeles Times editorial states. “At one point, the prevailing wisdom was that nations needed robust birthrates to protect their economic welfare, and that if only we could produce food more efficiently, feeding the Earth’s burgeoning population wouldn’t be a problem,” it continues, adding, “Now â€¦ we know better. Or we ought to.” The editorial continues, “No one has a good solution. That’s why family planning assistance is one of the most important forms of humanitarian aid that the United States and other developed nations can provide.” It concludes, “Without the necessary resources and an existing economy prepared to absorb large numbers of new workers, nations that promote high birthrates set themselves up for economic distress and political unrest” (8/10).
This post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Views from the Center” blog, Owen Barder, a senior fellow and the director for Europe at CGD, addresses the recent hunger summit in London, citing two reasons for concern surrounding the discussion. “First, it is wrong to conflate the problem of hunger with the need to improve agricultural productivity. Hunger has very little to do with food production,” Barder writes, continuing, “Second, the conversation is too much about money and not enough about what we should do to address the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition.” He concludes, “If the [G8] leaders cannot get together and make meaningful decisions about something as important as this, why do they bother meeting at all?” (8/13).
Sustaining Focus On Global Hunger Critical To Improving Transparency, Accountability In Fight Against Malnutrition
“Malnutrition is easily neglected by parents, communities and governments,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog,” adding, “The signs are not visible until very acute, the impacts are felt long after the food and infection cycle has played out — and far beyond electoral cycles — and the causes are often mistakenly attributed to something else.” He continues, “The challenge is to avoid the fight against malnutrition being a compelling but periodic curiosity,” like the Olympics. Haddad questions how to maintain the current focus on global hunger and nutrition helped by the upcoming August 12 summit in London. “At that event, I hope there will be a commitment to make the effort that is expended in the fight against malnutrition more transparent, and to make those who fall short in their exertions more accountable,” he says and lists three tools “that can help.”
VOA News examines the impacts of drought in the U.S. on global food security. “More than half the United States is experiencing the dual problems of too little rain and temperatures that are too high,” the news service writes, adding, “Shenggen Fan, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute [IFPRI], said that’s not only driving up prices, but contributing to price volatility as well.” Noting “[t]he United States is the leading producer of corn and soybeans — two commodities that developing countries rely on,” the news service writes, “The decline in maize production has boosted prices by 30 percent in the past two months” and “[s]oybean prices are up 19 percent.” VOA adds price rises for corn and soybeans also have a negative effect on wheat and meat prices.
“The U.N.’s World Food Programme [WFP] said Tuesday it needs $48 million in food aid for about 11 percent of Malawi’s population who will face hunger due to bad crops,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘It is estimated that those needing food assistance in the southern African country will rise to 1.6 million people during the peak of the lean season early next year,’ the WFP said in a joint statement with Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID),” the news service writes.
At the opening ceremony of World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “launched a framework that will help combat food insecurity by providing methods to better manage water resources in agriculture and reduce waste,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The initiative, entitled ‘Coping with water scarcity: An action framework for agriculture and food security’ [.pdf], seeks to encourage practices that will improve water management, such as modernizing irrigation schemes, recycling and re-using wastewater, implementing mechanisms to reduce water pollution, and storing rainwater at farms to reduce drought-related risks, among others,” the news service notes.
The Devex “Development Newswire” examines how disagreements over how to administer global food aid programs is affecting negotiations over a FY 2013 version of the U.S. farm bill. “The farm bill provides for the U.S. Agency for International Development-administered Food for Peace program, which received around $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, as well as the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, funded at around $200 million,” the news service notes, and writes, “At 0.5 percent or 0.6 percent of the nearly trillion-dollar farm bill, global food aid is ‘barely a rounding error,’ said Lucas Koach, policy adviser at Food for the Hungry.” It continues, “If a new five-year farm bill is not passed, shorter interim bills could succeed, or there could be a continuing resolution to renew funding at 2008 levels,” adding, “If none of those options is in place by the last day of September, the farm bill reverts to statutory language from the 1940s” (Brookland, 8/7).
UNICEF Warns More Children Than Ever To Be Affected By Hunger In Sahel; PM Cameron Expected To Announce Nutrition Initiatives At Summit
“The number of malnourished children is set to hit a new high of 1.5 million in the Sahel next week as cholera and locusts emerge as new threats, UNICEF warned on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/7). According to VOA News, “International aid agencies report the situation is particularly critical in Niger where an estimated 400,000 children are expected to require life-saving treatment for severe, acute malnutrition this year.” UNICEF, other U.N. agencies, and international aid organizations “are hampered by a lack of funds,” the news service notes (Schlein, 8/7).
In this post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, Jessica Hartl, information Officer for the Office of Food for Peace, notes she “recently traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to visit food assistance programs implemented by” the office and asks, “[W]hy in countries so lush and ripe for agriculture were people so food insecure?” She writes, “Food insecurity is a complex issue, and for the DRC it includes key issues such as low productivity, lack of market access and infrastructure, ongoing conflict and poor nutrition practices,” adding, “Despite these challenges, I was amazed at the ability of USAIDâ€™s partners to have as much positive impact as they have had on food security” (8/7).