World Day to Combat Desertification

Photo credit: Google – Imgres.jpg

 

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June 

Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are
destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.(See PRESS RELEASE below).

COMMENTS

Willem Van Cotthem: We keep hoping that success stories and best practices will be applied at the global level. Priority should be given to methods and techniques providing daily fresh food to the hungry and malnourished. It cannot be denied that hunger and malnutrition are constantly undermining the performances of people. Application of existing success stories in local food production (kitchen gardens, school gardens, hospital gardens, …) would positively influence the efforts to combat desertification (limiting erosion, stimulating reforestation, etc.). We keep hoping.

ReplyUnited Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Hi Willem Van Cotthem, would you like to share some success stories you have? We always welcome all to share!”

       ReplyWillem Van Cotthem : Hello Friends at the UNCCD Secretariat: It will be my pleasure to select a series of success stories in the literature. However, I am convinced that the UNCCD secretariat has the necessary documentation to compile even a book on this subject (to the best of my knowledge the documents, e.g. presentations at COPs and meetings of CST and CRIC, have been there during my active period in the CST and in Bonn). Please consider a consultancy to achieve top class work that would serve all member countries, the CST and the CRIC. To be presented at the next World Day June 17th 2016.

PRESS RELEASE
UNCCD’s Monique Barbut Calls for Long‐Term Solutions Not Just Quick Fixes To Drought Bonn, Germany, 22/02/2016 –
“Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People. This is the slogan for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June. I am calling for solidarity from the international community with the people who are battling the ravages of drought and flood. Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The droughts and floods beating down on communities in many parts of the world are linked to the current El Niño, which is expected to affect up 60 million people by July. In some areas, including in North Eastern Brazil, Somali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Namibia, the El Niño effects are coming on the back of years of severe and recurrent droughts. It is impossible for households that rely on the land for food and farm labor to recover, especially when the land is degraded.
What’s more, these conditions do not just devastate families and destabilize communities. When they are not attended to urgently, they can become a push factor for migration, and end with gross human rights abuses and long‐term security threats.
“We have seen this before – in Darfur following four decades of droughts and desertification and, more recently, in Syria, following the long drought of 2007‐2010. It is tragic to see a society breaking down when we can reduce the vulnerability of communities through simple and affordable acts such as restoring the degraded lands they live on, and helping countries to set up better systems for drought early warning and to prepare for and manage drought and floods,” Barbut said.
Ms Barbut made the remarks when announcing the plans for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification, which will take place on 17 June.
“I hope that World Day to Combat Desertification this year marks a turning point for every country. We need to show, through practical action and cooperation, how every country is tacking or supporting these challenges at the front‐end to preempt or minimize the potential impacts of the disasters, not just at the back‐end after the disasters happen,” she stated.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 17 June as the observance Day to raise public awareness about international efforts to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Ms Barbut thanked the Government and People of China, for offering to host the global observance event, which will take place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“China has vast experience in nursing degraded lands and man‐made deserts back to health. This knowledge can and should benefit initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, the re‐ greening in southern Africa and the 20 X 20 Initiative in Latin America. We can create a better, more equal and climate change‐resilient world,” she noted.
“I also call on countries, the private sector, foundations and people of goodwill to support Africa  when the countries meet later in the year to develop concrete plans and policies to pre‐ empt, monitor and manage droughts,” Ms Barbut stated.
The 2016 World Day campaign is also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September last year. The Goals include a target to achieve a land degradation‐neutral world by 2030. That is, a world where the land restored back to health equals to, or is more than, the amount degraded every year.
For more information on the Day and previous events, visit: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event‐and‐campaigns/WDCD/Pages/default.aspx
For background information and materials for the 2016 Observance, visit: For information about the Global Observance event, visit: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event‐and‐ campaigns/WDCD/wdcd2016/Pages/default.aspx
Contact for World Day to Combat Desertification: Yhori@unccd.int
For Media information: wwischnewski@unccd.int

El Niño-exacerbated drought, hunger and funding

Photo credit: FAO

Wildlife. UN Photo/E Darroch

 

Funding shortfall threatens UN efforts to counter El Niño-exacerbated drought in southern Africa

With 14 million people facing hunger in southern Africa as the El Niño weather pattern, the worst in over three decades, exacerbates drought, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that it faces critical funding challenges in scaling up food and cash-based aid.

“The number of people without enough food could rise significantly over coming months as the region moves deeper into the so-called lean season, the period before the April harvest when food and cash stocks become increasingly depleted,” WFP said in a news release. “Particularly vulnerable are smallholder farmers who account for most agricultural production.”

The cyclical El Niño pattern of devastating droughts on some regions and catastrophic floods in others that can affect tens of millions of people around the globe, is already leading to even worse drought across southern Africa, affecting this year’s crops.

With little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals closing fast or already closed in some countries, the outlook is alarming.

“Driving through southern Zambia, I saw fields of crops severely stressed from lack of water and met farmers who are struggling to cope with a second season of erratic rains,” WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said at the end of a visit to drought-prone southern Zambia.

“Zambia is one of the biggest breadbaskets in the region and what’s happening there gives serious cause for concern not only for Zambia itself but all countries in the region.”

Worst affected by last year’s poor rains are Malawi with 2.8 million people facing hunger, Madagascar with nearly 1.9 million, and Zimbabwe with 1.5 million and last year’s harvest reduced by half compared to the previous year due to massive crop failure.

In Lesotho, the Government has declared a drought emergency and some 650,000 people, a third of the population, do not have enough food. As elsewhere, water is in extremely short supply for both crops and livestock. Also causing concern are Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland.

Read the full article: FAO

Contribution will be used to meet the immediate food needs

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Dry earth in the desert plains of the Danakil depression in northern Ethiopia. Photo: Siegfried Modola/IRIN

Ethiopia: crucial funding helps UN agency avoid cutbacks in food aid to drought-affected people

Thanks to timely contributions from key donors, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it is able to continue food distributions later this month for more than 1.5 million people in the Somali region of Ethiopia, and can scale up nutrition help to more than 700,000 children and nursing mothers in the most drought-affected areas.

The United Nations agency stressed that the scaling up of food and nutrition support is crucial to prevent vulnerable people falling into a deeper crisis. However, even with the new contributions, it only has 7 per cent of the $228 million budget required for food and nutrition interventions until June 2016.

A dramatic increase in the number of people in need of relief assistance, from 2.5 million at the beginning of the year to 8.2 million in October, led to a serious funding gap, and WFP was concerned that it would have to entirely stop distributions for people affected by the drought at the end of November.

Such a situation was avoided it said, thanks to contributions from Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The United States Agency for International Development also confirmed a contribution equivalent to $17 million.

“These donors have shown incredible leadership in their response to the current crisis, and their generous contributions will help people cope with this humanitarian crisis exacerbated by El Nino,” said John Aylieff, WFP Representative and Country Director in Ethiopia, in a press release.

According to the agency, the contribution will be used to meet the immediate food needs of vulnerable people in the early part of 2016, while the cash contributions will allow WFP to extend life-saving food and nutrition assistance until the end of the year.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

School meals provide food security for children

Photo credit: UN News Centre

As schools reopen across Guinea, WFP is resuming its school meals programme in all four regions of the country. Photo: WFP/Sanoussy Barry

UN agency expands meals programme to more than 1,600 schools across Guinea

More than 240,000 children will receive daily hot meals in school this academic year in Guinea, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which is expanding its school meals programme from 735 to 1,605 primary schools across the country.

“When a nutritious hot meal is available at school, attendance rates increase significantly. School meals provide food security for children, keeping them in school and enabling them to concentrate on their studies,” Elisabeth Faure, WFP Country Director in Guinea, said in a statement released today.

As schools reopen across Guinea this week, WFP confirmed the resumption of its meals programme in all four regions of the country and also noted that the agency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and partners, will provide daily hot meals to children in the most food-insecure areas of the country, where poverty and malnutrition rates are the highest.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

How to address the root causes of food insecurity and child malnutrition ?

Photo credit: MSF (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova)

Mothers feed their children therapeutic food at MSF’s outpatient therapeutic feeding center in Bokoro, Chad, where MSF teams are responding to a fourth malnutrition crisis in five years.

Is the food crisis for children still unfolding ?

By Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem

University of Ghent – Belgium

Drought and Desertification Consultant

http://desertification.wordpress.com

In December 2011, I posted some comments on a publication entitled “UNICEF CHIEF URGES ACTION TO STOP UNFOLDING CRISIS FOR CHILDREN IN THE SAHEL” (https://desertification.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/unicef-chief-urges-action-to-stop-unfolding-crisis-for-children-in-the-sahel-un-news/)

Today, I wonder if any changes in that situation have been registered.  Please read my former comments and today’s conclusions.

Which way would you go to stop an unfolding food crisis for children?

1997-12-02-General view 02 of a community garden in Niou (Burkina Faso) - (Photo WVC).
1997-12-02-General view 02 of a community garden in Niou (Burkina Faso) – (Photo WVC).

A food crisis can be stopped in different ways : with therapeutic food or with locally produced food. The former should certainly be used in cases of acute malnutrition, the latter needs to be more sustainable, e.g. by installing family gardens and school gardens. One can choose between expensive, curing emergency situations that don’t offer a sustainable solution and the much cheaper production of fresh food by the local people themselves.  What would you choose?

In the publication mentioned above, UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake “called today on the global community to take action to prevent one million children in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa from becoming severely malnourished.“  He said: “We must begin at once to fill the pipeline with life-sustaining supplies to the region before it is too late.” and “underscored the urgency to act before the ‘lean season’ when food runs out due to inadequate rain or poor harvests, which can start as early as March in some of the countries across the Sahelian belt.

I fully agree that UNICEF and its partners must be prepared to get sufficient amounts of ready-to-use therapeutic foods to treat severe acute malnutrition.  I also agree on “each child has the right to survive, to thrive and to contribute to their societies.

Indeed, “we must not fail them”!

However, the real question is if the best way of solving the problem of child malnutrition is getting sufficient therapeutic foods to intervene when the need increases.  Or, could it be that a well-prepared programme of vegetable and fruit production by the Sahelian families themselves is a better cure?

2007 - One of the family gardens in a refugee camp in S. W. Algeria (Photo WVC)
2007 – One of the family gardens in a refugee camp in S. W. Algeria (Photo WVC)

One may doubt about the feasibility of such a programme, but knowing that UNICEF itself was very successful with its own “Family gardens project for the Sahrawis families in the Sahara desert of Algeria“ (2005-2007), there can’t be any doubt anymore.  If family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens can be productive in the Algerian desert, they can certainly be in the Sahel, where a better rainfall offers more chances to use the minimum of water needed (see the well-known best practices).

It should not be extremely difficult to accept that it is better to produce fresh food and fruits for the children in the threatened countries of the Sahel (like everywhere on this world!) than to have to spend billions of dollars at purchasing therapeutic foods for malnourished children.

Yes, “we must not fail them“, and we will surely not fail them by offering them chances to take care of their own kitchen gardens and school gardens.

1998-02-A school garden in Niamey (Niger) - (Photo WVC).
1998-02-A school garden in Niamey (Niger) – (Photo WVC).

In the drylands, there are already lots of successful small gardens.  One has the necessary knowledge and technical skills to duplicate these “best practices” wherever we want, even in the desert (see Algeria).  Who would still hesitate to take initiatives to gradually “submerge” the Sahel with small family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens?  And let us not forget the successes booked at the global level with container and vertical gardening.

If there is “a pipeline to be filled”, it should not be filled with food, but with the necessary materials to create small kitchen gardens galore.

Shall we continue to appeal on “solidarity” for raising billions of dollars for responding time after time to the successive periods of food crisis in the drylands?  Or shall we, once and for all, spend a minor part of that money on enabling sustainable food production by the local people themselves?

Do we still have to confirm that we admire the nice work of UNICEF for children in real need? But, you Madame, you Sir, which way would you go?

——————-

Since the year 2011, a series of initiatives has been taken to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in the Sahel.  However, the food and nutrition situation is not significantly improved.

In March 2012, the World Food Programme published the article “The Malnutrition Threat in the Sahel(https://www.wfp.org/stories/nutrition-sahel-hunger-crisis-qa),

in which we read: “Recurrent food crises over the past decade have coincided with periods of widespread malnutrition among children. It’s a region where, even in non-emergency years, diets are undiversified and children often don’t receive necessary nutrients.”

In July 2012, we read an article of the Doctors without Borders (MSF): “Malnutrition in the Sahel: One million children treated, but what’s next ?(http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news-stories/field-news/malnutrition-sahel-one-million-children-treated-whats-next), in which MSF nutrition experts Susan Shepherd and Stéphane Doyon discussed the need for long-term solutions to malnutrition in Africa’s Sahel region.

We notice that:

  1. One million severely malnourished children will be treated this year (2012)  in the countries of the Sahel, according to UNICEF. Every year, the region faces a hunger gap between June and October, depending on the country, a time period between the depletion of the previous year’s food stocks and the next harvest. Malnutrition rates always hover near warning level in this mostly desert region, but during the hunger gap, the number of cases spikes and hundreds of thousands of children become at risk of death. “
  • “One million children suffering from severe malnutrition will be treated this year by governments and aid organizations across the Sahel. How should we interpret this number? *Susan Shepherd: It’s both a failure and a success. The failure is that each year, countries within the Sahel will face recurrent, large-scale nutritional crises that are growing even worse in some countries. One million malnourished children—that’s an enormous figure. But the most important take away from this year is how all of the aid actors—governments, United Nations agencies, and NGOs—have managed the crisis. Because of this, the major success is that for the first time, one million malnourished children will be treated in the Sahel, and the vast majority of these one million children will recover.”
  • How can we break the cycle? * Stéphane Doyon: Today, the management of this nutritional crisis is done in emergency mode. When we speak of an emergency, we are mostly referring to humanitarian interventions. This is where we run into one of the major challenges to enacting true change: for governments, these models of humanitarian action are difficult to repeat and to sustain over the long term. Therefore, we have to break out of this emergency response model and start developing a longer-term approach. Another challenge lies in understanding what exactly malnutrition is: a medical problem, related to a lack of food that satisfies the particular needs of children. Countries which have successfully addressed the problem of childhood malnutrition include nutrition in health systems. Long-term solutions should therefore include medical responses; development, agriculture and treatment of malnutrition are all complementary.

Today, one can rightly ask: Where are those long-term solutions including development, agriculture and treatment of malnutrition ?  Is agriculture, including kitchen gardens and school gardens, really seen as a complementary component in the combat of malnutrition?

In May 2015, we read the Echo Factsheet “Sahel: Food and Nutrition Crisis” of the European Commission (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection) – (http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/sahel_en.pdf):

Key messages  

The Sahel continues to face a food and nutrition crisis which is compounded by the erosion of people’s resilience due to the quick succession of the crises, the absence of social services on and the ramifications of conflicts in the region.  

As one of the largest contributors of humanitarian aid to the Sahel, the European Commission has assisted 1.7 million extremely food insecure people and 580 000 severely malnourished children in 2014.  

The food and nutrition prospects for 2015 have not significantly improved. The past year has seen average harvests and food prices remain high. ……………….

Emergency needs in the Sahel will persist unless the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition are addressed and the resilience of the poorest people is strengthened. ……………..”

It becomes clear that food aid and nutritional programmes are necessary to tackle the emergent needs, but do not address the root causes.

If “in a region where, even in non-emergency years, diets are undiversified and children often don’t receive necessary nutrients” (WFP), we are tempted to think that creation of family gardens and school gardens will be a strong tool to address these root causes of food insecurity and child malnutrition.  If families and schools, and why not the hospitals, grow their own fresh food, using existing, successful techniques to limit irrigation water consumption, the malnourished people would get their daily ration of diversified healthy food, full of minerals and vitamins.

Let us imagine for a moment that the decision-makers can convince all the key players in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition to reach hands to enact a true change by combining the traditional programmes of offering nutritious rations to supplement the normal diet with a programme of offering ways and means to install a kitchen garden for every family, for every school, for every hospital.

Wouldn’t that be a long-term solution that tackles the root causes, a “break out of this emergency response model and start developing a longer-term approach.”?  

We believe it is !

Malawi facing hunger

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Floods in early 2015 were the worst in living memory in Malawi, washing away homes and food stocks, and ruining fertile land. Photo: UNDP/Arjan van de Merwe

Malawi facing worst food crisis in decade, requires $81 million in relief aid – UN agency

More than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months in the worst food crisis in a decade in Malawi, where a staggering four out of every 10 children suffer from stunting, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

“People in some affected districts have already started selling their livestock to make ends meet,” WFP said in a press release. “Women are also engaging in more firewood and charcoal selling, which degrades the environment and further aggravates the fragile climate.”

“The agency said more than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months following severe floods and drought that ruined this year’s harvest.

“The floods early this year were the worst in living memory in Malawi, washing away homes and food stocks, and ruining fertile land,” it said. “Some crops managed to withstand the floods only to succumb to intense dry spells in the following months, making survival even more difficult for the most vulnerable.”

“Since the end of last year, WFP has provided relief assistance to avert hunger in households hit by poor rainfall during the 2013/14 growing season and the floods in early 2015. This operation has reached more than one million vulnerable people.

Read the full story: UN News Centre

Family gardens in the Algerian Sahara desert

Photo credit: Willem Van Cotthem

2007-01-SMARA-TV-P1000589 

One of the family gardens in Smara refugee camp

Some people seem to have forgotten Peter KENWORTHY’s 2012-article:

https://stiffkitten.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/un-unsustainability-in-the-tindouf-refugee-camps/

UN UNSUSTAINABILITY IN THE TINDOUF REFUGEE CAMPS

but we didn’t. So, here it is :

The UN says that it seeks sustainability in its work and programmes, that it seeks “integration of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in policy-making at international, regional and national levels”.

And the UN’s Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says on its website that “UNICEF has worked from its founding on nutrition programming aimed at fulfilling every child’s right to adequate nutrition,” because “good nutrition benefits families, their communities and the world as a whole.”

But these principles have seemingly not been applied in the Tindouf refugee camps. Here approximately 150.000 Saharawis have been in a desert exile for 35 years, since their homeland, Western Sahara, was invaded by Morocco.

Over the last 25 years, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has spent many millions of dollars on keeping the Saharawis in the camps from starvation – although malnutrition in the camps is still widespread and WFP funds for the camps are decreasing.

According to the WFP, “opportunities for self-reliance in the harsh, isolated desert environment where the [Tindouf refugee] camps are located are extremely limited, forcing the refugees to rely on international assistance for their survival. Malnutrition rates remain high, with acute malnutrition at a critical level of 18.2 percent, chronic malnutrition at 31.4 percent and underweight at 31.6 percent.”

But until it was abruptly terminated in late 2007, UNICEF ran a successful and seemingly sustainable family garden project in the camps. The project saw 1200 family gardens constructed in extremely adverse agricultural conditions, vegetables and fruit trees being produced by means of minimum water and fertilizer input, using special water-stocking soil conditioners, and agricultural techniques taught to the participating families and school children.

“Any neutral observer will understand that there is a dramatic difference between shipping food aid to the refugee camps for 35 years, as has the WFP, and creating local food production in a sustainable way, as has the UNICEF project,” says Botany Professor Willem Van Cotthem, who was a UN scientific consultant on the gardens project from 2005 to 2007.

Van Cotthem is still puzzled why the UN suddenly ended the project. “The enthusiasm about the successes with the family gardens in the camps was unprecedented,” he says. “All the Saharawi ministers and the President himself expressed their hope that UNICEF would continue that magnificent project until every refugee family had its own garden.”

And the reason for the terminations of the project was not a lack of information of the project’s accomplishments, he insists, nor any misgivings about its achievements. “Staff members of UNICEF, UNHCR and the World Food Programme visited the camps several times to observe the progress made. Medical doctors and consultants of UNICEF repeatedly confirmed that the consumption of fresh food and fruit had a very positive effect on the level of malnutrition.”

Small-scale family gardens that produce fresh food are widely accepted as being an important part of a successful food production, and subsequently on the nutritional intake of desert populations such as in the Tindouf refugee camps, and they are also a cheaper and more sustainable way of supplying food than shipping it from abroad, Van Cotthem insists.

“A growing production of vegetables and fruits forms the embryonic stage of a potential local market development in the camps,” he says. “And training the refugees in agricultural and horticultural techniques, as a group of experts and technicians did, is a rewarding investment in knowledge and skills that is applicable in any future situation, even if the dispute with Morocco gets settled and the refugees return home.”

According to Van Cotthem, the reason given for terminating the project was an Al-Qaeda-executed terrorist attack on a UN building in Algiers that killed over 60 people, including 17 UN staff members – an attack UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called an “abjectly cowardly strike.” “And if lack of funds is the reason for stopping the garden project,” says Van Cotthem, “then one cannot understand why a project for sustainable development of local food production is stopped in favour of shipping food.”

And Van Cotthem is adamant that the results of this omission, on top of food aid cutbacks, are and will be disastrous. “Malnutrition will enhance and hunger will be looming. Already in 2007-08 the level of food stocks in the camps was catastrophic. But the international organisations are fully in a position to compensate the reduction in shipped food by offering the Saharawis the chance to develop a maximum number of gardens.”

In the mean time, the Saharawis themselves and private initiatives such as the “Be Their Voice” –programme, which runs small-scale family gardens, have attempted to fill the gap left by the UN. But as the Saharawis are strapped for cash and NGO-driven programmes rely mostly on private donations to a mostly unknown refugee crisis, the capacity and scope of such projects is by no means sufficient.

Read More:

Willem Van Cotthem’s website

The case for Western Saharan independence

How to end the chronic hunger with more money? Social protection in the form of cash transfers will eliminate hunger immediately !

Photo credit: FAO

Women farmers in Myanmar. In rural areas, pro-poor investments should support family farmers and other small-holders in a variety of ways.

Achieving Zero Hunger: Combining social protection with pro-poor investments

An additional $160 per year for each person living in extreme poverty will end chronic hunger new UN estimates show

JOINT FAO / WFP / IFAD NEWS RELEASE

10 July 2015, Rome – Eradicating world hunger sustainably by 2030 will require an estimated additional $267 billion per year on average for investments in rural and urban areas and in social protection, so poor people have access to food and can improve their livelihoods, a new UN report says. This would average $160 annually for each person living in extreme poverty over the 15 year period.

Prepared by FAO, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), the report, which was presented in Rome today, comes ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 13 – 16 July 2015.

The report notes that despite the progress made in recent decades, today nearly 800 million people, most of them in rural areas, still do not have enough food to eat.

Eliminating chronic undernourishment by 2030 is a key element of the proposed Sustainable Development Goal 2 of the new post-2015 agenda to be adopted by the international community later this year and is also at the heart of the Zero Hunger Challenge promoted by the UN Secretary-General.

“The message of the report is clear: if we adopt a “business as usual” approach, by 2030, we would still have more than 650 million people suffering from hunger. This is why we are championing an approach that combines social protection with additional targeted investments in rural development, agriculture and urban areas that will chiefly benefit the poor,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

“Our report estimates that this will require a total investment of some US$267 billion per year over the next 15 years. Given that this is more or less equivalent to 0.3 percent of the global GDP, I personally think it is a relatively small price to pay to end hunger,” Graziano da Silva added.

“This report helps us to see the magnitude of the challenge ahead of us, but we believe that we won’t see gains in reducing poverty and hunger unless we seriously invest in rural people,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze.

———

From social protection to production

Social protection in the form of cash transfers will eliminate hunger immediately, and will improve nutrition by allowing the poor to afford more diverse and thus healthier diets and also fight “hidden hunger” – micronutrient deficiencies, including the inadequate intake of vitamins, iron and other minerals.

Given their meagre means and assets, people living in extreme poverty are initially not expected to be able to invest much in productive activities. However, as they become more productive through investments, they will earn more, and also save and invest more, and thus further increase their earnings.

Read the full article: FAO

Combating Malnutrition with School Meals

Photo credit: Google

School meal in Madagascar – www.wfp.org

Why Schools Should Be on the Frontline in Combating Malnutrition

To celebrate International School Meals Day in early March, schools from around the world shared their experiences of school meals. It was fun way for school kids to learn what’s on their plates and on what children the other side of the world will be eating.

However given the depressing regularity of nutritional bad news focusing on obesity or malnutrition perhaps policy makers should be just as excited by school meals and the wider school health and nutrition movement which can provide countries with the tools to tackle this problem.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 42 million infants and young children under 5 are overweight or and this figure is likely to top 70 million by 2025. At the same time, in low and middle income countries, over a fifth of children under 5 are affected by stunting due to poor diets. Often the same children are suffering from the double burden of malnutrition resulting in stunted due to poor diets followed by a higher propensity for obesity later in life.

The need for a coordinated response led the WHO to establish the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

School lunch in Food Bag - http://foodtank.com/assets/images/head/school_lunch_5.jpg
School lunch in Food Bag – http://foodtank.com/assets/images/head/school_lunch_5.jpg

Balanced school meals

State of School Feeding, a World Food Programme publication written with the support of the Partnership for Child Development and the World Bank, found that virtually every country in the world provides school feeding at some level. This amounts to around 368 million children sitting down to a meal each school day.

This represents a prime opportunity to provide children with nutritious food and to educate them about the balanced diets. Home Grown School Feedingseeks to provide school meals sourced from local smallholder providers. Rather than relying on imported heavily processed food this reconnects schools with a local and varied food basket.

Read the full article: Food Tank

A New Green Revolution in Africa ?

 Photo credit: Google

Some argue that the problem is that the USAID plan for agricultural development in the majority of Africa has stressed a “New Green Revolution” involving improved seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. This green revolution, though scientifically proven to be effective and be more advantages to local growers that are attempting to be most efficient, may not be the best solution. http://humanrights4all.blogspot.be/2011/11/famine-in-horn-of-africa-new-green.html

Kenya: Lessons From Green Revolution in Africa

ANALYSIS – By Agnes Kalibata

EXCERPT

For the last eight years, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa has been seeking out public and private sector partners committed to triggering a uniquely African Green Revolution. One that revolves around the smallholder farmers who produce the majority of what Africans eat. As AU leaders sit down to determine how they and partners can achieve their goals, we wanted to share a few of the lessons we have learned in places like Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi, where many are now embracing the potential of agriculture to anchor a new era of sustainable and equitable economic growth.

Policy frameworks for increasing soil fertility in Africa: debating the alternatives - http://www.future-agricultures.org/images/soilfert.jpg
Policy frameworks for increasing soil fertility in Africa: debating the alternatives – http://www.future-agricultures.org/images/soilfert.jpg

1. Double down on creating the conditions for smallholder farmers to adopt new inputs and practices through raising awareness and access to finance.

The only way to sustainably and inclusively raise agricultural productivity is to ensure farmers are aware of the potential of new seeds, fertilizers, and basic agricultural practices that can more than double their yields. AGRA’s partners in national research systems have developed nearly 500 locally adapted crop varieties that are just as competitive as anywhere in the world.

4. Support efforts to match smallholder farmers with large-scale buyers.

Smallholder farmers working land holdings that typically average only a few hectares or less can seem like a poor match for large buyers. Yet, over the last few years, farmer organizations in Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, and Malawi have established aggregation centres where growers can pool their harvests to meet the demand of large institutional buyers, like the World Food Program. The WFP in some countries has demonstrated that often a market is the missing incentive. In West Africa, a major rice miller and a large brewery have both seamlessly integrated smallholders into their network of suppliers.‎ GrowAfrica and the New Alliance initiative were set up to catalyze agriculture growth through private sector efforts and present a huge opportunity.

5. Support women in agriculture to reap a large dividend.‎

 

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Famine in Kenya

Photo credit: allAfrica

Photo: AfDB

Kenya: 1.6 Million Kenyans Facing Severe Famine

At least 1.6 million Kenyans are facing famine, according to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning.

A multi-agency assessment meeting of stakeholders pointed out that immediate relief was required for the next six months to support affected areas.

“The findings of the assessment estimate that at least 1.63 million people are acutely food insecure and will require immediate assistance over the next six months,” the joint statement by the national and county governments indicated.

 

Read the full article: allAfrica

Food vouchers instead of a hot meal

Photo credit: Google

School in Ziguinchor (Senegal)

Senegal: School Feeding in Senegal Is Going Local

EXCERPT

Darsalam, a village in the area of Nyassia, is about15 km from Ziguinchor, in southern Senegal. Like many other villages in the Casamance Naturelle, it is still bearing the brunt of its troubled past.

Lunch at school in Senegal -  http://www.coopi.org/images/fullscreen/senegal5.jpg
Lunch at school in Senegal – http://www.coopi.org/images/fullscreen/senegal5.jpg

Up until recently, WFP has been delivering food to the school on a quarterly basis. But a new approach – the use of food vouchers – is being piloted in 145 schools, including in the school of Darsalam. “There are advantages in the introduction of the food vouchers,” says Jean Camara, the school canteen manager. “We have more independence, choice and we can buy the food more regularly. Also, we know where the food comes from as we can buy some locally, and we can ensure that the food has the highest quality.”

Read the full article: allAfrica

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