Today I read this interesting article on UNICEF’s alarming message about child poverty, in which I find :
“The report dubbed: “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children revealed that in 2013, 19.5 per cent of children in developing countries were living in households that survived on an average of $1.90 a day or less per person, compared to just 9.2 per cent of adults.
It said globally, almost 385 million children are living in extreme poverty.
According to the report, children are disproportionately affected, as they make up around a third of the population studied.
UNICEF and the World Bank Group are calling on governments to routinely measure child poverty at the national and sub-national levels and focus on children in national poverty reduction plans as part of efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030.”
As a header of this remarkable text we find this scaring picture above, showing anxious children keeping up an empty plate: NOTHING TO EAT AND QUEUING FOR SOME FOOD.
Once again it shows that there is an urgent need to teach all schoolchildren in developing countries how to grow fresh food at home and at school (e.g. in a schoolgarden).
Of course, a lot of them need an urgent supply of nutritive meals. That means that emergency programs are acceptable and very useful.
But it is not by sending loads of nutritive cookies (or other healthy meals) that one will change a single thing at this disastrous situation. Yes, we will save starving children, but the 350 million children living in extreme poverty need more than a food aid meal a day.
We urgently have to change our food aid strategies to make them sustainable (see the new goals):
(1) Keep on going with emergency actions where needed;
(2) Set up educative programs to teach the children successful methods and simple techniques to grow their own daily rations of vitamins, micronutrients and mineral elements (fresh edible crops).
Impossible to believe that people concerned would not know a thing about the existence of these essential methods and techniques. Since years they are fully described and illustrated. It suffices to check some data (photos, texts, videos) on the internet, e.g.https://www.facebook.com/groups/221343224576801/.
Let us never forget that UNICEF itself has set up in 2005 a very successful program, called “Family Gardens for the Saharawis refugees in the S.W. of Algeria“, that unfortunately was stopped at the end of 2007 after showing that even in the Sahara desert families were (still are !) able to grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden. The French would say: “Il faut le faire !”.
We keep looking forward for the global application of such a fresh food production program, using these basic, simple ways of growing food at home and at school. That would be the real, sustainable food aid. “Il faut le vouloir !“.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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 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.”
“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?
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.”?
Engineer Taleb Brahim in one of the food producing gardens in the Sahrawi camps (Algeria)
Family gardens in refugee camps in the Sahara desert (S.W. Algeria)
Messages and photos published by Martin DEWHURST (UK) on Facebook
There are a number of remarkable things about these gardens … where they are in the Sahara desert, the dedication involved in establishing the gardens, the lack of available resources, the difference the fresh food makes to families living with a constant threat of malnourishment.
These 15 organizations work protect the land rights of farmers and their communities and bring greater transparency to development projects.
The Land Battle: 15 Organizations Defending Land Rights
The increasing trend of international land grabbing—when governments and private firms invest in or purchase large tracts of land in other countries for the purpose of agricultural production and export—can have serious environmental and social consequences. Investors claim that land grabs can help alleviate the world food crisis by tapping into a country’s ‘unused’ agricultural potential, but such investments often do more harm than good, disrupting traditional land use and leaving half a billion family farmers vulnerable to exploitation.
According to the Land Matrix, approximately 130 million hectares of land (or more than 52.7 million football fields) has been acquired globally in settled and impending land deals over the last 15 years. In South Sudan, the country with the most transnational land acquisitions, land has been sold for as little as US$0.025 cents per hectare.
Approximately 60 percent of the food grown on acquired lands is intended for export instead of feeding local communities, according to Oxfam America. Nearly two-thirds of land grabs occur in countries with serious food security problems. In the Nacala Corridor of Mozambique, the Prosavana land grab will acquire 14 million hectares of land, displacing upwards of 500,000 people that already cultivate the area. According to The World Food Programme, about one-third of Mozambique’s 24.5 million inhabitants are malnourished and 500,000 children ages 6 to 23 months are undernourished.
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.
Children play outside their tents in the Protection of Civilians site in Bor, capital of Jonglei State in South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Kate Holt
UN agency urges more funding to boost humanitarian aid to children in Sudan
Citing efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to children in Sudan who are affected by the war in South Sudan, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed the huge demand and urgency of receiving more financial support to continue its relief work in the Country.
“We cannot make these boys and girls suffer even more by failing to provide timely, quality…humanitarian assistance and protection,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative to Sudan, stressing that “children are the main victims of the intensification of conflict in South Sudan.”
Representing over 60 per cent of the South Sudanese refugees, as well as over 60 per cent of the Sudanese returnees, children “have suffered from exposure to a brutal war which has uprooted them from their homes and separated them from their familiar environment.” Mr. Cappelaere warned.
While efforts have been made by UNICEF and its partners to support the Government of Sudan with lifesaving services such as water and sanitation, treatment of malnutrition, and immunization, the gaps remain critical as funds are available only until the end of the month for these multiple and urgent needs.
The high demand for education is another concern that strains the existing facilities for children sharing schools in refugee camps.
Further, the acute needs of children in Sudan go far beyond the impact of the South Sudan crisis. Over 3.2 million children require humanitarian assistance.
Unfortunately, the funding received covers only 16% of the $117 million required and will run out by the end of June.
Therefore, the UN children’s agency is calling upon the international donors to increase urgently its funding to help provide protection, education and a healthy life for the most vulnerable children in Sudan.
The agency is also calling on the Government of Sudan and non-governmental partners to guarantee an enabling environment for reaching all those children most in need with timely and sufficient services.
Uganda: UN-backed investments in small farmers yield impressive outcomes
Smallholder farmers in Uganda have made impressive progress in grain harvest and storage, thanks to a World Food Programme (WFP) investment plan which aims at improving their agricultural practices and market access.
“WFP is providing over 1,000 farmer groups with critical information, skills and modern tools which enable them to access the quality grain market,” Michael Dunford, WFP’s acting country representative, said yesterday in a news release.
Agriculture and market support, he highlighted, are among WFP’s priorities in Uganda, complementing Government initiatives to improve grain harvest.
However, inadequate storage and handling practices reduce the quality of the grain, which blocks access to formal markets, explained Mr. Dunford.
“By building warehouses and establishing local storage facilities, WFP has increased grain storage capacity in Uganda by more than 25,000 metric tons and helped to stimulate trading,” he added.
In infrastructure, WFP and partners have been working with farmers to upgrade storage facilities and provide modern grain processing equipment to ensure their access to markets.
In addition, the UN agency trained over 16,000 farmers in 27 districts, as well as purchased 62,000 pieces of grain storage equipment for households in 2014.
Farmers therefore have been selling grains at a much competitive price. Last year, for example, WFP bought over 41,000 metric tons of food at $17.5 million, from small scale farmers as well as grain traders throughout Uganda.
We can win the war against hunger, provided we strengthen access to food, sustainability becomes our watchword, and we adequately address the challenge of climate change.
Mapping the Way to Zero Hunger
This is a guest article written by José Graziano da Silva (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization), Kanayo F. Nwanze (International Fund for Agricultural Development), and Ertharin Cousin (World Food Programme).
The number of undernourished people in the world has been brought downby over two hundred million since 1990 mainly thanks to increased political commitments to act against hunger. This has happened even as the planet’s population grew by two billion – and despite higher cereal prices starting almost a decade ago and the more recent global economic slowdown. This tells us that a world without hunger is not a dream, but something we can make real.
This year marks the endpoint of the efforts associated with reaching the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) hunger target, which aimed at halving the proportion of hungry people in developing countries. A majority of the countries monitored – 72 out of 129 –have achieved the MDG hunger target and developing regions as a whole missed it by a small margin. Today, just under 13 percent of the developing world’s population is undernourished, down from 23.3 percent in 1990.
Still, hunger remains a grim reality for almost 795 million people, or one out of nine persons worldwide, according to our latest global assessment. So we need to aim higher –to make hunger history.
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.
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.
An innovative partnership spanning five African countries is providing important lessons on how governments can procure food for public institutions, such as schools, directly from small-scale family farmers. Modelled on Brazil’s achievements in fighting hunger and poverty, the Purchase from Africans for Africa programme (PAA Africa) helps promote local agricultural production while also improving livelihoods and nutrition.
PAA Africa is implemented by Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal with technical leadership and expertise from FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP). Now entering its third year, the programme is yielding promising results as detailed in a recently released report.
As the PAA Africa programme shows, in developing countries the purchasing of produce from family-farmers – often among the most marginalized groups – can contribute towards government efforts to combat rural poverty.
“Public purchasing from local producers adds value to local markets by integrating small-scale family farmers and by channelling demand – in this case from schools – for their produce, contributing to food security and diversity,” said Florence Tartanac, of FAO’s rural infrastructure and agro-industries division.
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
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.
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.