Developing strategies to 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

Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference... Whose Development?

I just arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa is an Amharic word that means "new flower". Often referred to simply as Addis, this century-old city stands at an elevation of 2,400m (7,874ft) above sea level, and is the third highest capital city in the world. This makes Addis Ababa's climate pleasantly cool for a good part of the year.

So, what brings me to Addis this July, 2015? Well--over the last year, the global community has been preparing for the Third Financing for Development Conference (FFD3) to take place this week (July 13-16) in Addis. It follows earlier global initiaves on financing global development: the Monterrey Consensus, and the Doha Declaration. FFD3 brings together high-level political representatives including Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Finance, civil society and the  business community. According to the United Nations, the conference will result in an intergovernmentally negotiated and agreed outcome, which should constitute an important contribution to, and support for the implementation of the universal post-2015 development agenda. FFD3 aims to:

  • Assess the progress made in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration; 
  • Address new and emerging issues including how to finance development objectives across the social, economic and environmental dimensions; and
  • Reinvigorate and strengthen the financing for development follow-up process.

As I navigate the streets to locate the Conference registration site, I am struck by the stark contrast between the well-secured environs of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (where the Conference will take place), and the rest of the city. The latter is a busy world--tall buildings under construction, honking motorists, pedestrians criss-crossing the busy Bole highway, and occasional sirens signaling the arrival of a high-level political representative. The air is abuzz with the expectation that FFD3 "has come home to deliver" for the millions of youth who consider it a  historic moment in global development.

20150711_052749
Bread for the World Institute Analyst Faustine Wabwire with Addis Ababa University Graduates at the Third International Financing for Development Conference, Addis Ababa.

My first street conversation is with a group of fresh graduates from the Addis Ababa University, Class of 2015. An estimated 10,000 students graduated with Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees that morning. Though they say FFD3 and the post-2015 agenda offer some hope for young people, they are also quick to admit that the future remains uncertain for many of them given the high unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Of Africa’s unemployed, 60% are young people, and youth unemployment rates are double those of adult unemployment in most African countries.

How can FFD3 effectively deliver for the millions of unemployed youth in Africa and around the world?

Goal 8 of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-- "to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”--recognizes that quality growth and jobs are key to ending Zero Hunger and ending extreme poverty by 2030. As world leaders meet this week, they should commit to a robust financing mechanism that will indeed Leave No One Behind. This demands maximizing the impact of  public-private partnerships and equitable economic growth; and sound policies that can generate decent employment opportunities, including social protection programs. 

Faustine_Typepad




U.S. Aid Transparency: Some Progress, But Not Enough

Potential photo 4 transparency

Farmers now have access to data on an agricultural project in Ethiopia.  Photo Credit: Bread for the World

By Steve Damiano

At the Publish What You Fund 2015 U.S. Aid Transparency Review launch last week, CEO Rupert Simons asked the provocative question: how many ambulances are there in Sierra Leone?

Simons described his work in Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Centre, where the efforts of donors, NGOs, and the national government to fight Ebola required current information on how many ambulances were in working condition and actually transporting patients. Data analysts cobbled together data from various sources and gave their closest estimate – that was the best that could be done.

Emmanuel Abdulai, executive director of the Society for Democratic Initiatives, criticized donors for a lack of transparency during the Ebola crisis. He argued specifically that donors’ delays in sharing information with Sierra Leone’s government about the supplies, personnel, and other resources they were delivering caused the government to begin requiring onerous reports not only for international NGOs, but for local agencies.

Abdulai’s comment shows that in order for donors and partner governments to get development and humanitarian responses right, they need to do more than collect precise data. They need to make the data openly available in ways that are accessible to the people who are the intended beneficiaries. When people know who is funding what and how, they can better monitor their government and donors and advocate to ensure that the funds reach those in need.

There has been a great deal of discussion on the importance of transparency in international development. Yet in its review of U.S. aid transparency, PWYF found that the U.S. government record is mixed on releasing data as called for in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). PWYF’s scorecard indicates that only the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) are on track to meet the pledge the United States made at the 2011 Busan Partnership for Effective Development: to comply with IATI standards by the end of 2015. Presently, the State Department, Defense Department, Treasury Department, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are off track. While PWYF found strong champions for transparency within the MCC and PEPFAR, the report says that for many agencies, “there is little appreciation for the potential for IATI specifically, and transparency in general, to make foreign assistance more effective.”

The slow progress that these agencies have made in becoming IATI compliant has created an information vacuum on the aid that the U.S. government sends to some of the countries most in need of development assistance. Publish What You Fund revealed that for 2013, for example, the U.S. government did not publish data on any of the aid it sent to Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Cote d’Ivoire.

When the U.S. government and other donors fill the information gap by providing open data on aid, they help link donors, recipient governments, and people in a relationship of accountability.  In Nepal, the government has used open aid data reported to the national aid information management system to develop a stronger negotiation position with donors on future project funding. Further, Nepalese civil society groups have taken advantage of donors’ commitment to open aid data to push for greater government transparency.   

Next week, the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, provides a new opportunity for the U.S. government and others to commit to open data for development.  The U.S. government, through the multilateral Addis Tax Initiative, will likely commit funds to help low-income countries raise their own resources (through taxation) to fund the Sustainable Development Goals. Alex Thier, a senior official at USAID, explained that one of the main components of the Addis Tax Initiative will be efforts to improve coordination among donors, partner governments, and civil society organizations.

The U.S. government can help strengthen the right to information in developing countries by using the Addis Tax Initiative to commit both to reporting timely aid data on the projects it funds to strengthen and reform national tax systems, and to ensuring that local civil society groups can access and use the data. While the U.S. government is not likely to meet its full pledge to become IATI compliant by the end of 2015, the Financing for Development Conference offers a new opportunity to commit to aid transparency.  

Steve Damiano is a Crook Fellow with Bread for the World Institute this summer. He recently earned master's degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in both Global Policy Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. Aid effectiveness is one of Steve's areas of interest.

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