Women milking goats on the outskirts of the village of Qardho, Somalia. Photo: FAO/Karel Prinsloo
UN approves $22 million loan to boost agricultural work to prevent famine in Somalia
The United Nations agricultural agency will be further scaling up its activities in drought-hit regions of Somalia thanks to a $22 million loan approved this week by the UN emergency response fund.
“More than 2.9 million people are at risk of famine and many will predictably die from hunger if we do not act now,” said the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, in a news release.
As under-secretary-general, Mr. O’Brien heads the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which manages the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
“CERF is one of the fastest ways to enable urgent response to people most in need,” he said, explaining that the loan will bridge a crucial gap and allow FAO to immediately save lives and livelihoods of farmers and herders until additional funds from donors are received.
Shown here in this 2016 photo from Siyephi Village, Bullilima District in Matebeland South Province, Zimbabwe, a 17-year-old girl is seen at the drying up dam where she and her family fetch water. Photo: UNICEF/Mukwazhi
‘Nothing can grow without water,’ warns UNICEF, as 600 million children could face extreme shortages
Warning that as many as 600 million children – one in four worldwide – will be living in areas with extremely scare water by 2040, the United Nations children’s agency has called on governments to take immediate measures to curb the impact on the lives of children.
“This crisis will only grow unless we take collective action now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a news release announcing the report, launched on World Water Day.
“But around the world, millions of children lack access to safe water – endangering their lives, undermining their health, and jeopardizing their futures,” he added.
According to the UN agency, 36 countries around the world are already facing extremely high levels of water stress.
Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, increased floods, droughts and melting ice affect the quality and availability of water as well as sanitation systems. These combined with increasing populations, higher demand of water primarily due to industrialization and urbanization are draining water resources worldwide. On top of these, conflicts in many parts of the world are also threatening access to safe water.
A schoolgarden, one of the best solutions to improve the school meals
FAO joins celebrations for International School Meals Day
International School Meals Day, celebrated around the world today, is a timely reminder of the need to promote healthy eating habits for all children through sustainable policies, including sourcing food from family farmers.
Every day around 370 million children around the world are fed at school through school meals programmes that are run in varying degrees by national governments.
Each programme is different: beans and rice in Madagascar, spicy lentils in the Philippines, vegetable pastries and fruit in Jordan. In some countries it may be a healthy snack, or it could include take-home food such as vitamin A-enriched oil for the whole family.
School meals have proved successful in providing educational and health benefits to the most vulnerable children. School meals boost school attendance, and a full stomach can help students concentrate on their lessons.
Communities, particularly in rural areas, also benefit when family farmers and small and medium enterprises are the main source of healthy food for the schools.
International School Meals Day marks these achievements and helps raise greater awareness of the value of school meals globally.
A generation of well-nourished children
FAO believes that consistent global investments in school meals will lead to a generation of children who develop healthy eating habits and who benefit from a diverse diet. Ultimately this effort will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger.
Empowering rural women is a crucial ingredient in the fight against hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Women farmers walking through a field in Kaga-Bandoro, Central African Republic.
UN agencies in Rome step up on gender equality to end hunger and poverty
Empowerment of rural women is fundamental for achieving 2030 Agenda
FAO/IFAD/WFP Joint News Release
8 March 2017, Rome – Leaders from the three UN Rome-based agencies today marked International Women’s Day by reinforcing their commitments to step up efforts to invest in the capacities of rural women as key agents of change in building a world without hunger.
“Women play a critical role in agriculture and food systems – not just as farmers, but also as food producers, traders and managers,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva on the occasion of the Day. “However, women still face major constraints in rural labour markets and in agricultural value chains. They are more likely to be in poorly paid jobs, without legal or social protection. This limits women’s capacity to advance their skills, earn incomes and access employment opportunities.”
Graziano da Silva noted that the future of global food security depends on unleashing women’s potential. “Achieving gender equality and empowering women are crucial ingredients in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition which is strongly recognized by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.
Figure 3.1: Portulacaria afra Jacq. (spekboom) tree. Notice the skirt of rooted branches
Spekboom multiplication for combating desertification
by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
Ghent University (Belgium)
One of the most interesting African plant species used to combat desertification, limiting soil erosion, producing a dense vegetation cover and a remarkable number of small, edible leaves (fodder, but also vitamin-rich food for humans), is the Spekboom or Elephant’s Bush (Portulacaria afra).
This plant species is swiftly covering dry, eroding soils and should be recommended to all global projects for alleviation of drought, combat of land degradation and halting of wind erosion.
My good friend Johan VAN DE VEN of Bamboo Sur was so kind to offer me some rooted cuttings. These are growing very well in pots and PET-bottles in my garden in Belgium.
In order to study different ways of multiplication of this Spekboom (with succulent branches and leaves), I started taking off small lateral shoots (cuttings) and planted them in some potting soil in a cake box. I also planted some of the succulent leaves (see my photos below).
Within the plastic cake box humidity is kept high (condensation of droplets on the cover). Therefore, I opened the cover from time to time to let some fresh air (oxygen) in.
Quite soon both the cuttings and the separate leaves started rooting. The cuttings swiftly developed some new leaves. A month later I transplanted them into small plastic bottles, twice perforated 2-3 cm above the bottom (for drainage, keeping a small quantity of water at the bottom for moistening the bottle’s content and the rootball).
Once fully rooted within the plastic bottle, I cut off the bottom of the bottle to set the lower part of the rootball free. Then I planted the young Spekboom in a plant pit without taking off the plastic bottle, sitting as a plastic cylinder around the rootball. That plastic cylinder continued to keep the rootball moistened (almost no evaporation) and it offered possibilities to water the sapling from time to time, whenever needed. Irrigation water runs through the plastic cylinder towards the bottom of the rootball, growing freely in the soil (irrigation water directed towards the roots growing into the soil at the bottom of the plant pit). Thus a high survival rate was guaranteed.
It is clear that multiplication of the Spekboom with rooting cuttings and leaves is very easy. It is another interesting aspect of this remarkable plant. I can only recommend a broader use of the Spekboom for reforestation, fodder production and even production of bonsais for enhancement of the annual income (export to developed countries).
Here are some photos of this experiment.
—————-Considering that people working at the Great Green Wall in Africa (or any other interested group on other continents) are looking for practical solutions to cover as soon as possible huge areas of a desertified region, one is tempted to believe that setting up nurseries to produce a sufficient number of plants should not be a problem (as these plants only need a minimum of water).
I keep dreaming of successes booked with this nice edible plant species in the combat of desertification. The day will come that the Elephant bush will be growing in all the drought-affected regions of the world. Animals will eat from it, but also malnourished children and hungry adults will find it an interesting supplement to their food.
Allotment gardens in Indonesia are successful initiatives for local communities (optimal survival gardens)
SURVIVAL GARDENS OR VICTORY GARDENS
By Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
Ghent University, Belgium
In 2012 I read an article, published by Dean FOSDICK in The Seattle Times, entitled:
‘Survival gardens’ can help save cash
Patches deliver high yields from small spaces and produce wholesome foods that store well
I took note of the following important parts in this interesting article:
(1) Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the
(2) ‘They were called ‘victory gardens’ during the world wars because they helped ease
shortages, ‘…… ‘We call them ‘survival gardens’ now because they help families cut spending.’
(3) The term is part of a larger do-it-yourself trend toward growing more backyard veggies andeating locally grown food.
(4) Survival gardens are used mainly to raise the kind of produce that you can grow for less thanwhat you would pay at a grocery store – …………..
(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and
community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute
supplies — all for little or no charge.
(6) Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, ……….‘Families have told us they sell some of their overage (from the starter kits) to pay bills and get medicines,’ ……….
(7) …………sells ‘survival seed’ packets, and said their sales have more than doubled in the past year. Each package contains 16 easy-to-grow heirloom vegetables, from beets to pole beans, cabbage to sweet corn. They come triple-wrapped in watertight plastic, designed to increase storage life.
(8) ………… gardening with seed is one way to save on food dollars, particularly if it’s the right kind of seed.
The fact that more than 800 million people on this world are hungry or malnourished is generally attributed by the international media to the economic crisis (the food crisis), all those poor people supposed to be unable to afford the expensive food at the market. That’s probably why nowadays “Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the recession”.
During World Wars I and II, not the food prizes, but simply the lack of food caused huge hunger problems. All the war-affected countries reacted on these emergencies in exactly the same way: by offering the hungry population small spaces or allotments for gardening. Those allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens‘ helped ease the food shortages, people eating their locally grown food (my own grandparents in WW I and parents in WW II did).
Do you know that most of those allotment gardens still exist all over the world and that millions of people still avoid malnutrition and hunger, producing fresh vegetables
and fruits in their small ‘victory garden‘? A success story to be multiplied all over the world, don’t you think?
I appreciate very much the term ‘survival gardens‘ used in this Seattle Times’ article, as these small patches really help families to cut spending by producing food in a cheaper way than the one at the market or the grocery store.
The applicability of this ‘survival garden strategy’ at the global level is clearly shown (see
(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and
community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute
supplies — all for little or no charge.
If county extension offices, churches and community groups can help these people, it should also be easy for international organizations and foundations to do this – all for little or no charge – for the 800 or more million hungry people, living mostly in the drought-affected, desertified countries. It’s undeniable that in extreme conditions of drought, people will find a lot of advantages in applying container gardening to reduce tha volume of irrigation water needed
Let us keep in mind that ‘Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, …‘, but that families can also enhance their annual income by taking their ‘overage‘ of vegetables or fruits to the market, particularly in developing countries (see what happened in the refugee camps in the Sahara desert of S.W. Algeria after installing small family gardens by UNICEF in 2005-2007).
To offer a ‘survival or victory garden‘ to all the hungry families of this world, is such a noble task that no one can ever believe that aid organizations remain blind for the value of the positive experience of World Wars I and II, the extraordinary success of allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens‘ to alleviate hunger and child malnutrition in times of crisis.
May the light come for all the hungry adults and undernourished children ….!
Kenya Appeals for International Aid as Drought Threatens Mass Famine
Kenya’s government has declared the drought gripping the country a national disaster and appealed for international aid.
With up to half the country affected by the drought that has spread across East Africa, the hungriest are resorting to eating bugs and toxic wild foods. Twenty-three of the country’s 47 counties are facing drought conditions, and these numbers will rise, Secretary General of Kenya’s Red Cross Society Abbas Gullet said.
“What it means is that, around one out of four individuals above 15 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa was hungry, meaning they did not eat or went without eating for a whole day for lack of money or other resources for food,” Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, said commenting on the findings of the report.
“This assessment underlines the significance of the challenge facing the region in meeting SDGs’ target 2.1 and the relevance of sustainable and substantial support to food security and nutrition policies and programmes in the region,” he added.
At the aggregate level, sub-Saharan Africa achieved adequate food availability, in terms od dietary energy supply, over the 2014-2016 period. However, several countries in the region remain highly dependent on food imports to ensure adequate food supplies, with some sub-regions depending on imports for up to a third of their cereal needs.
This indicates that substantial demand for food exists for these countries, and there is a need to increase agricultural productivity, food production and value addition, among other things.
Farmers in the Horn of Africa need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their livestock healthy and productive. Photo: FAO/Simon Maina
Warning of dire food shortages in Horn of Africa, UN agriculture agency calls for urgent action
With only one-quarter of expected rainfall received in the Horn of Africa in the October-December period, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called for an immediate response to prevent widespread drought conditions from becoming a catastrophe.
“The magnitude of the situation calls for scaled up action and coordination at national and regional levels,” FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo told a high-level panel on humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, which was held yesterday on the side lines of the 28th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.
“This is, above all, a livelihoods and humanitarian emergency – and the time to act is now. We cannot wait for a disaster like the famine in 2011,” she added.
FAO estimates that over 17 million people are currently in crisis and emergency food insecurity levels in member-countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, which are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Currently, close to 12 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in need of food assistance. Much of Somalia, north-east and coastal Kenya, south-east of Ethiopia as well as the Afar region are still to recover from El Niño-induced drought of 2015/16 while South Sudan and Darfur region of Sudan are facing the protracted insecurity.
Acute food shortage and malnutrition also remains to be a major concern in many parts of South Sudan, Sudan (west Darfur) and Uganda’s Karamoja region.
FAO warns that if response is not immediate and sufficient, the risks are massive and the costs high.
Rural development and youth employment are strongly connected to migration. Photo: FAO/Riccardo Gangale
Global Goals on poverty and hunger require $265 billion annually – UN conference told
The world must take urgent action to mobilise the estimated $265 billion a year needed to achieve the first two Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty and hunger by 2030, the head of the United Nations agency for financing rural development projects has told an international conference.
“The need is urgent,” Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said at last night’s opening of a conference, titled “Investing in inclusive rural transformation: innovative approaches to financing,” held in Rome, Italy on 26-27 January.
“Despite decades of commitments and considerable effort to end poverty and hunger, nearly 800 million children, women and men still go hungry every day, and an almost equal number live in extreme poverty,” he added, stressing the need to be more creative in using public resources and mobilise financing.
He also emphasized the need to make it easier for the private sector and philanthropists to invest in rural areas, where rates of poverty and hunger are highest.
Speakers agreed it cannot be left up to governments alone. In 2015, Official Development Assistance (ODA) was approximately $192 billion and only $9 billion of that was earmarked for agriculture.
TIMES 5 = 1325 BILLION (MY COMMENT: Willem VAN COTTHEM)
Just one question and I rest my case:
“Take you have 1325 billion dollars to spend over 5 years, how many kitchen gardens with containers for hungry families can you build in that period of time and what would be the sustainable effect of such an action (program) on malnutrition, hunger and poverty?”.
Some countries are developing laws on food donations and ways to minimize food losses and waste. Photo: FAO/Rhodri Jones
Latin America and the Caribbean can make hunger history – UN agricultural agency
FAO is developing a plan of action for family agriculture and rural territorial development that promotes sustainable intensification of production, public procurement and food supply systems, rural services and greater opportunities for rural youth.
With continued and strengthened implementation of a regional food security plan, Latin America and the Caribbean could become the first developing region to completely eradicate hunger, the head of United Nations agricultural agency said today.
“This region has all the necessary conditions to achieve this, starting with the great political commitment that sustains the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication Plan,” said the Director-General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva.
Speaking at the Summit of Presidents and Heads of State and Government of CELAC in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, the FAO chief added: “The Plan represents the crystallization of governments’ political will to eradicate hunger before 2025 (five years ahead the target set in the Sustainable Development Goals).”
Approved by CELAC in 2015, the Plan promotes comprehensive public policies to reduce poverty, improve rural conditions, adapt agriculture to climate change, end food waste and mitigate disaster risks.
A key element of the Plan is that it not only focuses on addressing hunger but also obesity, which affects about 140 million people in the region.
According to the FAO, the Plan is also fully in line level global commitments including the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Strengthening family farming to tackle climate change
Mr. Graziano da Silva also highlighted the threats posed by climate change, which has the potential to reverse the gains made in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty in the region.
“Agriculture is the sector most affected by climate change and its main victims are small family farmers, men and women, many of whom struggle daily for their survival,” he noted.
Together with CELAC, FAO is developing a plan of action for family agriculture and rural territorial development that promotes sustainable intensification of production, public procurement and food supply systems, rural services and greater opportunities for rural youth.
Attacks by Boko Haram and counter-insurgency measures in the Lake Chad Basin have displaced more than 2.5 million people in four countries. Credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau
Seven million people in Lake Chad basin ‘living on the edge’ – UN relief official
Spotlighting the desperate plight of millions in Africa’s Lake Chad basin, the top United Nations humanitarian official for the Sahel region called today for international solidarity with the people in urgent need.
“I wish I had good news, but I don’t,” Toby Lanzer, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, told a news conference at the UN Headquarters, in New York that was largely focused on the crisis affecting Lake Chad basin countries, which include Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
“11 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, 7.1 million of them are severely food insecure. [They are] living on the edge – surviving on, if they can, one meal a day,” he noted.
Mr. Lanzer added that among them, the situation of children is particularly worrying. Some 515,000 children are severely and acutely malnourished and their lives are at risk if aid does not reach them urgently.