Developing strategies to end hunger
 

More Progress Against Polio

Graph for one year polio-free

By Michele Learner

Earlier this year, we reported that Africa had gone six months without a case of wild polio.  The continent is now celebrating the first anniversary of its last recorded case (a toddler in the Puntland region of northern Somalia, who had received his first immunization but missed later ones).

Nigeria was the final key to reducing polio cases to zero. It was one of the "final four" countries where the virus was endemic. Twice, the polio virus was re-introduced into Somalia from Nigeria after polio-free periods as long as six years.

The World Health Organization does not certify that polio has been eradicated on a continent until there have been no new cases for three years, so Africa will not celebrate that final victory until early 2018. But the first year is the most challenging of the three.

African countries overcame daunting obstacles to reach this point, including:

  • armed conflict that made it extremely difficult to immunize babies and toddlers in disputed territory
  • weak record-keeping that kept health officials guessing as to whether they had reached every child born since the last vaccination campaign
  • crowded refugee camps that combined ideal conditions for transmitting the virus with constantly shifting populations
  • poor or nonexistent transportation routes -- some remote areas of the continent are inaccessible, by either land or sea, for several months of the year

Polio, like other deadly diseases, is more dangerous to children who are malnourished. The majority of hunger-related deaths are caused by diseases that attack people with immune systems weakened by malnutrition. Most of those who die of polio are younger than 5.

Eradicating polio would save the world $40 billion to $50 billion in the two decades following eradication. This is money that could be spent on ending hunger and extreme poverty. Most of the savings -- 85 percent -- would be in low-income countries.

"With Africa now on track, we are left with only two countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted: Pakistan and Afghanistan," said Peter Crowley, polio chief for UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. "Here too, despite enormous challenges, communities, governments and partners are working with courage and determination to end polio once and for all."

 Michele Learner

Celebrating Young Women on International Youth Day

6443602433_20a9d9060c_o

August 12 is International Youth Day, and the generation that will lead efforts to end hunger and poverty by 2030 is a large one.  About one-fourth of the entire global population, or between 1 and 2 billion people, is in the age group 10 - 24.

Children and youth have higher rates of hunger and less opportunity to participate in national economies and politics. The obstacles are most daunting for young women, who face the double burden of gender discrimination and marginalization as young people.

The United Nations established International Youth Day in 1999 as a way of focusing on legal, cultural, and economic challenges specific to young people.  

Today we highlight three stories from the 2015 Hunger Report that celebrate bold young women leaders who are confronting the social norms and discrimination that perpetuate hunger, poverty, and exclusion among young people and women.

Fouzia Dahir

FouziaFouzia Dahir, whose mother never learned to read, sees education as a launching pad. Fouzia grew up in rural Kenya, where poverty and gender based violence meant that most girls never advanced beyond primary school. But her mother was determined. She escorted Fouzia and her sisters to and from school, even staying with them during the school day to ensure their safety and full participation in class. That personal investment paid off for Fouzia in big ways. She excelled at school and continued on through high school, college, and finally graduate school. She’s now the founder and executive director of the Northern Organization for Social Empowerment, a nonprofit based in Northern Kenya that aims to create livelihoods based on farming for women from pastoral backgrounds.

Sara Howard

SaraSara Howard was elected to the Nebraska State Legislature in 2012 -- the youngest female senator and one of 10 women in the 49-member body. Sara feels she especially represents a younger generation of Nebraskans, with their concerns about student debt, low-wage work, and other issues that affect young people more than others.  By the time Sara herself finished law school, she had accumulated more than $100,000 in student loan debt. Women use a greater share of their salaries than men to pay off education debt – not surprising since women are paid less than men.  One result, however, is that women are less likely to raise the money to run for public office. Sara uses her position to help raise awareness and spur action on problems specific to women and young people.

Patience Chifundo

PatiencePatience Chifundo believes there is no reason to deny women opportunities simply because they are women. Her mother lived this truth; she owned and drove a minibus, an unusual occupation for a woman in Malawi. Patience herself was a gifted student who began college at 15. She was the first female candidate for student body president. The discrimination and disparagement she suffered as a candidate fueled her determination to make things better for other female leaders. Though she never became student body president, Patience now works with the  Young Politicians Union of Malawi, training women interested in running for elected office. They demonstrate how politics actually works at the grassroots level – and Malawi needs more elected leaders who prioritize issues such as children’s health and education.

Read more about young women leaders in the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish … We Can End Hunger

Hunger in Fragile States: Where to Start?

Fragile states photo

Photo credit: NASA

By Michele Learner

Ending global hunger requires enabling and equipping all people – all 7 billion and counting -- to feed themselves and their families, no matter where they live. As the world makes steady progress against hunger, one inconvenient truth is that the people and communities still living with hunger become harder and harder to reach. This is, after all, why many have not benefited from the progress made so far.

Many of the “last miles” in building food security are in the world’s 50 identified fragile and conflict-affected states. It’s not hard to understand why conflict-affected countries have high rates of hunger. The main aim of conflict – destruction – is directly at odds with what’s needed for sustainable development. Peace is a precondition for lasting progress on hunger. In its absence, local, national, and international humanitarian relief efforts are saving countless lives, but they can at best hold the line on hunger. They can’t enable nations, communities, or individuals to move forward.

What makes a country "fragile"? In its June 2015 report, States of Fragility, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), one of the main sources of information and analysis on fragile states, argues that fragility can apply to some degree in any country.

The report identifies five factors, based on indicators in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that help determine a country's degree of fragility. These are:  

  • peaceful and inclusive societies

  • access to justice

  • accountable and inclusive institutions

  • economic inclusion and stability

  • capacities to prevent and adapt to social, economic, and environmental shocks and disasters

Unsurprisingly, the countries identified as weak in all five clusters form a very similar list of countries as earlier lists of fragile states. These are the Central African Republic (CAR),  Guinea, Chad, Swaziland, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Yemen, and Sudan.

But countries that are vulnerable based on just a couple of the five areas include some that have not traditionally been considered fragile -- for example, Venezuela, Fiji, and Kenya. In fact, the report says, 12 countries on the OECD "50 most fragile" have never appeared on a list of fragile states.

States that have a significant degree of fragility thus vary widely -- in size, location, income level, specific challenges, and more. The world's remaining 795 million hungry people have not yet all been "mapped" precisely, but we know that a large number of them live in fragile and conflict-affected states.

This blog post has only just begun to consider where to start in the world's difficult but essential task of reaching hungry people in such a variety of difficult situations. Future posts will consider some examples of countries where hungry people are concentrated and look at research on policy improvements that could better enable them to feed themselves and their families. 

 Michele Learner

 

Addis Financing for Development Conference: Sustain Global Leadership on Nutrition

The Third International Financing for Development Conference is well underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Today, July 14, 2015, Bread for the World joined other leaders at a high-level side event—Financing Growth: Mobilizing Leadership and Investment in Nutrition. The objectives of the multi-stakeholder event included:

  • Highlight the importance of prioritizing nutrition financing in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Explore the need for greater cooperation and partnership to mobilize all sources of finance—including domestic and international, public and private—to target both nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions; and
  • Provide a launching pad for discussion on the global stunting target, and the first global financial estimates necessary to achieve the six global nutrition targets.

Why does investing in nutrition matter for the SDGs?

Stunting4Source: WHO.

Malnutrition is part of the unfinished MDG agenda. Improving nutrition among pregnant women, lactating mothers, and young children, in particular, is key to ending preventable child deaths and to unlocking the potential of the millions of people who face early childhood malnutrition.

Since 2000, there is new knowledge about the manifestation and impact of malnutrition. While significant progress in reducing the proportion of children who are underweight has been made in many regions, stunting is the leading cause of death and disability among children under 5. According to UNICEF, there are 162 million stunted children around the world today. Being far too short for their age is only the most visible sign. Their cognitive and physical development has been compromised by chronic malnutrition, and for their entire lives, they will be more likely to suffer from health problems—all of which will make them less productive than they could be.In the end, stunting is not only a tragedy for individuals and families, it also impedes a nation’s ability to develop economically. Among potential indicators of malnutrition, childhood stunting has proven to be the most powerful, based on its ability to capture inequity; reveal chronic problems of poor health, diet, and child-rearing practices; and focus on the period when the effects of malnutrition are largely irreversible (the 1,000 Days from pregnancy through age 2).

The Third Financing for Development Conference presents a golden opportunity for all of us—world leaders, civil society and the private sector—to commit to make nutrition-specific  and nutrition-sensitive interventions a higher priority in the post-2015 global development agenda. The proposed SDGs include an ambitious but achievable goal: “To end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”. Currently, the world is off-track to meet the global stunting target to reduce the number of children under 5 who suffer from stunting by 40% by the year 2025. The Addis Conference presents a call to action to mobilize both financial and non-financial resources.  Bread for the World Institute's newly released paper, Strengthening Local Capacity: The Weak Link in Sustainable Development  argues that non-financial commitments such as strong domestic institutions, political will, data, monitoring and accountability are just as important to ensure that investments lead to impact.

Faustine_Typepad

 

Finance Local Capacity to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

By Faustine Wabwire

Coming up July 13-16 is a key meeting of world leaders, the Third Financing for Development Conference, held this time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference will bring together high-level political representatives, including many heads of state as well as heads of government and finance ministers. A wide range of nongovernmental and business organizations will also be present.

The conference is closely linked to the post-2015 development agenda. In fact, the goal of the conference and its communique, the Addis Outcome Document, is to agree on how the international community will mobilize and effectively use financial and non-financial resources to achieve development goals such as ending hunger and extreme poverty by 2030.

This year, 2015, is a critical moment for the future of development. At the sunset of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era, the world is looking forward to the more ambitious, universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike the MDGs, which were specific enumerated goals, the proposed post-2015 framework features a comprehensive “How to Get There” approach, with strong emphasis on what the framework terms Means of Implementation, Technology, and Capacity Building. It emphasizes the critical role of collective capacity—individuals, communities, and governments—“to access resources and to contribute in their own development.”

 LabA lab technician in Uganda. Trained healthcare workers are essential to local capacity. Photo credit: Bread for the World.

Bread for the World Institute’s newly released paper, Strengthening Local Capacity: The Weak Link in Sustainable Development, argues that strong local capacity is vital to enabling government institutions to respond to the needs and interests of those who are the poorest and most marginalized. The Means of Implementation of the post-2015 agenda will require mobilizing resources through instruments such as domestic revenues, trade, investments, and remittances as well as through partnerships among all actors.

This is an unprecedented moment for the United States to bolster its commitment to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. The United States should enthusiastically support and elevate local capacity on the global development agenda. It should also ensure that local capacity development remains a core objective of U.S. development assistance, so that its engagement with local partners genuinely unlocks their potential for the successful pursuit of country-led development outcomes in the post-2015 era.

Faustine Wabwire

Stay Connected

Bread for the World