As the 2012 Olympic Games drew to a close in London on Sunday, world leaders and athletes gathered for a hunger summit at 10 Downing St., sponsored by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Al Jazeera reports (8/12). The “summit brought together leaders from Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Ireland,” the Associated Press notes (8/12). “This meeting … hopes to draw the media spotlight toward the nearly one billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” the Examiner writes (Lambers, 8/10). “The U.K. hopes to get commitments from other world leaders, and multinational firms to help prevent 25 million children aged under five suffering stunted growth by the time of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” according to International Business Times TV (Salter, 8/13). The country “hopes to use its presidency of the G8 group of wealthy nations, starting next year, to build international support for action to prevent millions of deaths a year due to malnutrition,” BBC News writes (8/12).
Environment and Climate Change
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).
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).
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.
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).
Extreme weather is forcing grain and meat prices to rise, and food production will have to increase about 60 percent over the next 40 years to meet a growing world population, but “there are solutions to these daunting problems,” Catherine Bertini, former director of the U.N. World Food Programme and the 2003 World Food Prize laureate, and Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture, write in a Politico opinion piece. The authors, co-chairs of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative, say that in order to address these issues, “we should increase support for the agricultural researchers, in the U.S. and around the world, who are developing remarkable new drought and flood tolerant crop varieties”; make better use of arable land, especially in Africa; provide “farmers access to improved seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to boost productivity”; improve post-harvest infrastructure, including storage facilities; and “equip those working in agriculture, especially women, with the know-how to use newer technologies.”
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday reported that nearly 170 people have died, 400 people are missing, and more than 84,000 people are homeless because of severe flooding in the country, the Guardian reports, noting that the World Food Programme (WFP) “announced on Friday the details of its first batch of emergency food aid to the country, although it did not state when it would arrive” (8/4). “WFP said it would send emergency assistance comprising ‘an initial ration of 400 grams of maize per day for 14 days,'” Reuters notes, adding the statement said a recent U.N. mission to North Korea found significant damage to crop fields.
A report released Thursday by the U.N. resident coordinator’s office in Pyongyang, North Korea, said the country needs food aid following severe flooding that has killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands of people homeless, the Associated Press reports (Kim/Pennington, 8/2). According to BBC News, “A U.N. spokesman in New York confirmed that the North Korean government has asked the U.N. to release emergency supplies such as food and fuel” (8/2).