“Fighting global hunger has traditionally been a bipartisan effort that has united administrations and congresses without regard to party. The Farm Bill developed by the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee continues that trend,” Dan Glickman, former U.S. agriculture secretary, and Richard Leach, president and CEO of World Food Program USA, write in a Politico opinion piece. They say the bill “provides more flexibility to draw on food aid stocks” when the U.S. responds to natural disasters or conflict situations; “increases efficiency by reducing costs linked with monetization — the practice of selling U.S. food aid commodities on foreign markets to generate cash for development programs”; “promotes enhanced nutrition, increasing the nutritional quality of food aid”; and “fosters greater coordination among U.S. programs and agencies,” allowing for short-term food aid responses to be linked with longer-term development objectives. The authors conclude, “Though additional steps still need to be taken to comprehensively address hunger, this Farm Bill enhances U.S. leadership in the fight against hunger and makes an important statement about Americaâ€™s values” (6/14).
Environment and Climate Change
African Sahel Faces Food Insecurity Despite Record Increase In Cereal Production; New Partnership To Address Food Supply In Middle East, North Africa
“According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) quarterly forecast of agricultural production and food,” the world is expected to see a record increase in cereal production in 2012, “[b]ut despite the positive global trends, countries in Africa’s Sahel region continue to face serious challenges to food security due to locally high food prices and civil strife, FAO said in a news release,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Humanitarian organizations estimate that there are currently some 18 million people facing food insecurity in Africa’s Sahel region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon and Nigeria,” the news service notes (6/13).
“Relief groups are stepping up their appeals for aid to tackle the worsening food crisis in West Africa, where more than 18 million people face hunger,” the Guardian reports. “Relief agencies have been sounding the alarm for months about the effects of drought on the Sahel — a region stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The situation has been made worse by the knock-on effect of the Libyan uprising that has destabilized Mali” (Tran, 6/12). UNICEF “forecasts that, over the course of 2012, at least 1.1 million children would need to be treated and 5,200 specialist treatment centers will need to be established to cope with the crisis,” the U.N. News Centre notes (6/11).
“Millions of North Koreans suffer chronic food shortages and dire health care …, and there are no immediate signs of reforms to spur economic growth, the United Nations says” in a report released Thursday, Agence France-Presse reports (6/12). “The U.N. described serious humanitarian conditions in North Korea in its report, saying 16 million people continue to suffer from chronic food insecurity, high malnutrition rates, and deep-rooted economic problems,” VOA News writes, adding that the U.N. “is calling for the international community to put aside political differences and boost funding to help address what it says are the dire humanitarian needs of North Koreans” (6/12).
“Journalists, policy experts, bloggers (including myself) and World Food Programme staff joined in a robust discussion last week about the current hunger situation in Africa’s Sahel region, including its causes and what can be done moving forward,” Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, noting, “In the Google+ hangout, streamed on YouTube, Denise Brown, the World Food Programme’s country director for Niger, logged on from the capital, Niamey, to report precisely what is happening in the region and how people are faring in the wake of no rains, failed crops, and increased food prices.” She continues, “One of the primary points that Brown emphasized was about early warning systems and data propelled early intervention,” and concludes, “The state of the hunger crisis in the Sahel dictates that aid must happen now. But those who are working in the region, like Brown, understand that to prevent another food shortage next year ideas to combat another hunger season have to be employed” (6/8).
In this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and the DuPont Advisory Committee on Agriculture Innovation and Productivity — a group of experts in global agriculture development, science, policy and economics — reflect on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched by the Obama Administration last month. “The New Alliance aligns two principles that are critical to global food security — the need for private sector investment and the importance of empowering smallholder farmers,” they write.
“The Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] sent a distress call Tuesday to the international community declaring that more than six million people are at risk of hunger in the Sahel region of Africa, including more than a million children exposed to severe malnutrition,” CNN reports. “The distress call was issued at the end of a two-day, high-level meeting [in Lome, Togo] to address the issue of food security in the region, especially in Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad,” the news service adds.
“The U.S. government aid agency on Tuesday warned that a humanitarian crisis in conflict-ridden Yemen was being ‘overlooked’ despite escalating to levels seen in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Five million people need urgent aid and five million more are facing food insecurity out of a population of 25 million people, [Nancy Lindborg, a USAID assistant administrator, told AFP in Rome after a visit to the country], adding that the crisis had been ‘exacerbated’ by conflict and a political transition,” AFP writes.
International Community Should Focus On Resilience, Not Just Relief, In Response To Drought In Horn Of Africa
“Over the past year, 13.3 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia were thrown into crisis as a result of drought in the Horn of Africa, the worst in 60 years,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes in this Devex opinion piece. “Droughts cannot be prevented, but they can be predicted and mitigated thanks to investments in early warning systems, satellite technology and on-the-ground analysis,” he writes, adding, “By identifying those communities facing the gravest risks and strategically focusing our efforts, we can help them withstand crisis.”
“U.N. officials say they expect 18 million people in West Africa will go hungry this year, including three million young children whose lives or health will be at risk,” the Associated Press reports. David Gressly, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for nine countries in Africa’s Sahel region, told reporters on Tuesday that at least one million children’s lives will be threatened by malnutrition in 2012, and malnutrition will cause health problems for another two million children under age five, according to the news agency. Gressly said drought, failed harvests, and political instability were making this the worst hunger crisis to hit the region since 2005, the AP notes (5/29).