“This month, President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative received a $1 billion pledge from U.S. organizations to address the root causes of hunger and poverty,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) writes in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, noting, “This pledge came on the heels of a $4 billion pledge by more than 60 companies from Africa and other continents.” He continues, “As co-chairman of the Congressional Ethiopia Caucus and the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus, I commend these pledges and look forward to working with the administration as they are implemented.” However, he adds, “[t]hese are short-term fixes … to the long-term issues of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition facing millions.”
Environment and Climate Change
“Global food prices rose by 1.4 percent in September after holding steady for two months as cereals, meat and dairy prices climbed, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization [FAO] said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/4). “[T]he FAO Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, rose to an average of 216 points in September after remaining stable at 213 points in August, the FAO said in its monthly update,” according to Reuters (Hornby, 10/4). “Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, said that food prices were likely to remain high and volatility could increase,” BBC News writes (10/4). Bloomberg Businessweek notes “[t]he U.S. State Department estimates that surging food prices triggered more than 60 riots worldwide from 2007 to 2009” (Ruitenberg, 10/4). “Despite the rise in food prices, the United States Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome released a statement on Thursday saying it had agreed with other countries that a meeting of the emergency Rapid Response Forum under the G20 agriculture body [Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS)] was not necessary at the moment,” Reuters states (10/4).
USAID’s “IMPACTblog” features a “video of the week” from the State Department’s Feed the Future initiative. In the three-minute video, “[n]arrator Matt Damon discusses U.S. efforts to turn the tide against global hunger and increase agricultural production around the world through Feed the Future,” according to the blog (10/1). The video features comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and examples of efforts to increase food production and access in Malawi, Cambodia, and Honduras (9/25).
“Nearly half of Yemenis go to bed hungry every night as political instability compounds a global food and fuel price surge, giving the Arabian Peninsula state the world’s third-highest rate of child malnutrition, the World Food Programme [WFP] said on Sunday,” Reuters reports. The country “has been in turmoil since last year’s revolt against 33 years of rule by Ali Abdullah Saleh,” the news service notes, adding, “The number of people receiving daily WFP food rations has risen from 1.2 million in January to over 3.8 million, but poor infrastructure and fear of kidnappings by tribes have complicated the logistics of providing food aid.” According to Reuters, “[i]nternational donors pledged $1.46 billion in aid to the country of 24 million at a meeting in New York on Thursday attended by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who said the pledge would help Yemen avoid a civil war” (Hammond, 9/30).
“More intense rainfall, rising temperatures and climate-driven migration of human and animal populations due to repeated drought all affect the spread of tropical diseases,” Inter Press Service writes in an article examining the impact of climate change on health, a topic that “generated debate among the experts attending the 18th International Congress on Tropical Medicine and Malaria, held Sept. 23-27 in Rio de Janeiro.” “On one side of the debate stands researcher Ulisses Confalonieri, of Brazil’s state-run Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), who argues that the press often oversimplifies a very complex issue,” IPS continues, adding, “On the other side, the president of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (SBMT), Carlos Henrique Costa Nery, told IPS that ‘it is not outrageous to say that climate change has inevitable consequences for tropical diseases.'”
World Leaders Address Climate Change, Water, Food Security At Events On Sidelines Of U.N. General Assembly
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday at an event hosted by Qatar on the sidelines of the 67th General Assembly meeting “called again for urgent and concrete action on climate change, as high-level officials gathered at the United Nations to discuss the growing global concern over the impacts of the phenomenon on food and water security,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Climate change is making weather patterns both extreme and unpredictable, contributing to volatility in global food prices, which means food and nutrition insecurity for the poor and the most vulnerable,” the news service writes, noting Ban “has made food security a top priority through the Zero Hunger Challenge he launched at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June” (9/27).
Political and private sector leaders met on Thursday at a High-Level Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition, held in New York on the sidelines of the 67th U.N. General Assembly session, the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “praised the progress made by the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which has been joined by 30 countries … which are home to 56 million children suffering from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition,” according to the news service. Ban also highlighted the Zero Hunger Challenge, which he launched at the Rio+20 meeting in Brazil in June, and said, “In our world of plenty, no one should be malnourished. … And in a world with no hunger, all food and agriculture would be sustainable, and no food would be lost or wasted,” the news service notes (9/27).
In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for food security, discusses an event, co-hosted on Thursday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Malawi President Joyce Banda, “to highlight both the progress made in the last three years under Feed the Future and the contributions of civil society organizations to advance our food security goals” (9/27). And in a guest post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Klaus Kraemer, director of Sight and Life, highlights recent global progress in fighting hunger and malnutrition, concluding, “Together, we can improve nutrition and give millions of children the opportunity to grow, thrive and reach their full potential” (9/27).
“Human rights are the most powerful tool to ensure efforts against hunger and malnutrition tackle structural causes and are not reduced to short-term strategies, civil society groups said in a report published on Tuesday,” the Guardian reports. The report, “Who Decides About Global Food and Nutrition? — Strategies to Regain Control,” “argues that it is impossible to combat the causes of hunger while keeping existing power relations untouched” and “expresses particular concern about the increasing influence and control of agribusinesses and financial companies over food and nutrition,” the newspaper writes.
Speaking at the High-Level Meeting on the Sahel on the sidelines of the 67th U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday “called for urgent international support for the people and governments of West Africa’s Sahel region, warning that the area is at a critical juncture with 18 million people affected by a severe food crisis,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Political turmoil, extreme climatic conditions and fragile economies are combining to create a perfect storm of vulnerability,” Ban said, according to the news service. “The Sahel region is currently facing a swathe of problems, which are not only political but also involve security, humanitarian resilience and human rights,” the news service writes (9/26).