600 millions of children lack access to safe water

 

Photo credit: UN News Centre

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.

In its report, Thirsting for a Future: Water and children in a changing climate, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) explores the threats to children’s lives and wellbeing caused by depleted sources of safe water and the ways climate change will intensify these risks in coming years.

“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.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

School meals and ending hunger

Photo credit: WVC 2003 SCHOOLGARDEN-SAL CABO VERDE 02.jpg

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.

Read the full article: FAO

You may also read:

https://foodtank.com/news/2017/02/school-gardens-provide-just-lunch-disadvantaged-communities/

 

Gender equality to end hunger and poverty

 

Photo credit: FAO

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.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) reminded the world that women and girls play a crucial role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular, the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty.

“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.

Read the full article: FAO

Use drought tolerant Portulacaria afra (spekboom) to combat desertification, e.g. for the Great Green Wall.

 

Photo credit: Google

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.

portulacaria_afra_nana
Portulacaria afra, variety nana, a hybrid variety easily covering dry soils (Photo credit Google: http://kumbulanursery.co.za/sites/kumbulanursery/files/styles/plant-large/public/plant_pictures/portulacaria_afra_nana.jpg?itok=YLJ5wknw)

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.

yaiza_playa_blanca_-_calle_la_caveta_-_portulacaria_afra_02_ies
Photo credit Google: Yaiza Playa Blanca – Calle La Caveta – Portulacaria afra 02 ies.jpg (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Yaiza_Playa_Blanca_-_Calle_La_Caveta_-_Portulacaria_afra_02_ies.jpg)

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.

2010-04-06 : A Spekboom cutting planted in potting soil in a PET-bottle is rooting very quickly in my garden in Belgium. (Photo WVC)
2010-04-06 : Massive root development in the bottle, perforated 2-3 cm above the bottom. (Photo WVC)
2010-04-06 : Lateral shoots with succulent leaves (Photo WVC)
2010-04-06 : Small cuttings in the back (lateral shoots) and some leaves planted in potting soil in a plastic cake box. (Photo WVC)
2010-05-23 : Rooted leaves, an easy way to produce a huge number of plantlets of the spekboom starting with one single cutting (Photo WVC)
2010-05-23 : Rooted small cutting (lateral shoot), ready to be transplanted (Photo WVC)
2010-05-23 : Rooted cutting transplanted into potting soil in a plastic bottle,
perforated at 2-3 cm above the bottom (drainage). (Photo WVC)

—————-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).

variegated-elephant-food-portulacaria-afra-variegata
Variegated Elephant Food (Portulacaria afra) – (Photo credit Google: http://www.budgetplants.com/369-thickbox_default/variegated-elephant-food-portulacaria-afra-variegata-.jpg)

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.

2287a
Portulacaria afra – http://www.ladwp.cafriendlylandscaping.com (Photo credit Google: http://www.ladwp.cafriendlylandscaping.com/PlantMaster/Photos/2287a.jpg)

Did we forget the “VICTORY GARDENS” to alleviate malnutrition and hunger ?

 

Photo credit: Willy GOETHALS DSC01702.JPG

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
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2007 – One of the many family gardens of the UNICEF-project in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria (Photo WVC P1000622.jpg)
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
recession.
(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.
===========
p1000589-copy
2007 – Victory garden for survival in the Sahara desert – UNICEF project in S.W. Algeria – Photo WVC P 1000589 copy
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”.

From survival to victory !. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309591961_From_survival_to_victory?focusedCommentId=58b75ee282999cd4be08f447 [accessed Mar 2, 2017].

Need to increase agricultural productivity

 

Photo credit: FAO

A farmer taking cuttings from cassava plants. The FAO report stresses the need to increase production and productivity of staple food crops.

Food insecurity and poverty pose major challenge to goal of ending hunger by 2030 in sub-Saharan Africa

Some 153 million people, representing about 26 percent of the population above 15 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa, suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014-15, according to a new FAO report.

The second edition of the Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa (2016) underscores how severe food insecurity and poverty pose a major challenge to the region’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030.

“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.

Read the full article: FAO

Dire food shortages in Horn of Africa

 

Photo credit: UN NEWS CENTRE

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.

Read the full article: UN NEWS CENTRE