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155 posts categorized "Africa"
Get ready. Next month Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide will team-up with other partners to celebrate the first 1,000 days of a global movement to make nutrition a key development goal. To update everyone on where our “Sustaining Political Commitments” event sits in “nutrition history,” we’ve put together an interactive timeline (above) that highlights some of the biggest moments since 2008. Use the side arrows to click through the slide-view, or click the "timeline" tab on the top left corner for a more linear perspective. Click on each event for videos, images, links, and a detailed description.
A lot has happened since September 2010, when developing countries founded the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and donors—led by the United States, Ireland, and the United Nations—launched the 1,000 Days call to action to support it. What started as the recommendations of a scholarly series in a British medical journal has morphed into a global partnership. To date, 35 countries with high rates of maternal and child malnutrition have joined SUN. The movement has grown rapidly as governments and civil society leaders increasingly recognize the irreversible damage that early childhood malnutrition can inflict on whole generations—and conversely, the tremendous return on national investment in preventing this damage.
The 2013 Hunger Report is chock-full of stories on maternal and child nutrition, stunting, the 1,000 Day window, and the SUN movement. It’s all related to our recommendation for a bull’s-eye goal of ending mass hunger and extreme poverty by 2040.
Download the report at www.hungerreport.org to get the full story on Bread for the World’s recommendations regarding nutrition in the first 1,000 days.
Posted by Bread on May 20, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In my last blog I mentioned that we now know what malnutrition is and what to do to overcome it. Much has been written about the “1,000-day window of opportunity,” the period from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that malnutrition during this critical time can carry lifelong consequences for a person’s health, education and earnings. When chronic malnutrition affects a large number of people, it can even affect a country’s economy.
The better news is that interventions to prevent and treat malnutrition during the 1,000-day window are not only highly effective, but also great investments in development, with very high returns for every dollar invested. Since nutrition is an integral part of all development sectors, it is often referred to as being “cross-sectoral” in nature. It means that improving a person’s health, or education, or economic situation can have a positive, sustainable influence on malnutrition. Improving nutrition isn’t just about growing more food or having better access to food anymore.
So, if we know what malnutrition is and what actions are required to defeat it, and if we have shown that investing in nutrition is a smart thing to do, what is holding back “scaling up” nutrition on a global scale? The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement now includes 35 countries, all with high levels of malnutrition. Even though some SUN members are among the poorest countries in the world, every SUN country has committed political and financial resources to take action against malnutrition. Could it be that a country’s commitment to fighting hunger and malnutrition is what is important?
What if an index of a country’s commitment was available to help measure and motivate concerted action? The Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom, along with the British and Irish aid agencies, has produced just such an index, called the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI). Last year, the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) noted in its Global Hunger Index that in recent years, progress in reducing hunger has been “worryingly slow.” The report found that in many developing countries, significant economic growth has not necessarily led to lower levels of malnutrition and hunger. Rather, a driving factor in making (or not making) progress on malnutrition seems to be a government’s political will (or lack thereof).
The Global Hunger Index treats efforts to reduce hunger and to reduce malnutrition as separate issues. Hunger is a key driver of migration, conflict, and gender discrimination. Malnutrition, the report found, can have different causes and consequences. It does not always come directly from hunger. One example of another cause is an impaired ability to absorb vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) due to disease.
So which countries are doing well according to the HANCI? The results indicate that Guatemala ranks at the top and Guinea Bissau (a small West African nation) at the bottom. The index provides an interesting set of information graphics that can be studied. Guatemala has made a substantial political commitment to improving access to clean drinking water, ensuring improved sanitation, promoting complementary feeding practices, and investing in health interventions. I’ve blogged previously about its “Zero Hunger Plan.” Guinea Bissau, on the other hand, has a low ranking because it has failed to invest in agriculture, leaving women in particular vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition; in addition, the country has not yet developed effective safety nets that can provide its citizens with a measure of food security.
In recent years, we’ve seen a truly incredible level of global momentum on nutrition. But how are the major donors doing when it comes to following through on their political commitments to ending hunger and malnutrition? Where would the United States, Canada, Australia, and the EU rank on the HANCI? Do these governments endorse policies and provide funding for programs that augment the efforts of the developing countries most affected by hunger, chronic food insecurity, and malnutrition?
A series of events in June 2013 will help answer these questions, indicating whether donor governments are “walking the walk” -- or just talking -- about their commitment to nutrition.
First, in London on June 8, the U.K. government will host the “Nutrition for Growth” event, during which governments will pledge specific monetary amounts to help scale up nutrition. Following this, during Bread’s National Gathering, we are hosting an event in Washington, DC, called “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition”, to build on our very successful 2011 event. The Call to Action will bring 40 civil society representatives from SUN countries to discuss SUN’s next steps -- and what’s needed to carry them out -- with U.S. government officials, non-governmental organization nutrition stakeholders, and others, including Bread’s grassroots activists who will be in Washington, DC, for the National Gathering. Participants will be able to judge for themselves whether the U.S. government is “walking the walk” on its commitment to ending malnutrition, particularly among women and children.
Stay tuned to this space and the Bread for the World blog for more information.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on May 14, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Immigration, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Developed and developing, north and south, rich and poor—these are some of the dichotomous terms we use to categorize a country's quality of life. Does any country, or any person, fit neatly into one category or another?
Increasingly, though, people are finding that development is more a continuum than an all-or-nothing condition, an up or down vote. Every country whether it’s been labeled “developed” or not, falls somewhere along that continuum. The 2013 Hunger Report acknowledged this point in its recommendation for continued universal ownership of goals after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. All countries face the same threats to their development to varying degrees.
The momentum behind this more inclusive way of looking at development and quality of life has been helped along by new concepts and tools. The old standards such as gross domestic product (GDP) or income per capita offer limited insight. Indices such as the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) point out the need for a more diverse set of indicators to complete the development picture, expanding it to include less obvious but equally important measurements like access to education, gender equality and greenhouse gas emissions.
Transparency is one of the more recent additions to the expanding development concept. It has only been a major priority of U.S. foreign assistance for a relatively short time. The Millennium Challenge Corporation only made “fighting corruption” an absolute requirement for funding recipients in 2002.
Short clip explains how Transparency International guages corruption and why it matters.
More recently, the push for open government has gained rapid momentum as citizens across the world discover promising new ways to track their leaders’ actions, their use of public resources, their campaign contributors, their vested interests in legislation, and more.
Organizations such as Transparency International and the Sunlight Foundation are leading a growing grassroots movement to open government data to public scrutiny. They’re ranking countries by degree of corruption, tracking political ad spending, and crowdsourcing to fill in missing information gaps. Perhaps most important, they’re collaborating internationally as they never have before. For example, Sunlight recently held its first Transparency Camp International, where members of civil society and government employees from 25 countries (of all income and “development” levels) gathered to join the global open government network and absorb the experiences and solutions of others.
The 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, links open government and transparency to the end goal: good governance. “Improving governance is essential to progress on development,” it explains. “The corrosive effects of government corruption are just one example of how governance problems undermine progress. Good governance, on the other hand, is an enabling condition and a prerequisite to lasting change. Good governance includes many elements, but the most relevant for reducing poverty have to do with creating space for a strong civil society that can hold governments accountable for making progress; building effective institutions to manage and deliver public services; and respecting the rule of law—for example, by protecting the rights of minorities and ensuring that people have recourse to redress for injustices.”
“Most of the work to put these elements in place must be done by national governments and by civil society in developing countries. What the United States and other countries can do as a partner is set high expectations for levels of accountability and transparency. Additionally, they can provide technical know-how, strengthen global institutions that foster good governance, and support leaders who want to govern well. The United States itself must be an example of good governance and continue to work towards becoming more transparent and accountable.”
For more on the importance of transparency in the fight to end hunger, visit hungerreport.org.
Posted by Bread on May 13, 2013 in Africa, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
By Anna Wiersma
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were proposed at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 as one way to extend the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) beyond 2015. The SDGs are intended to compensate for the lack of focus on climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental problems missing from the MDG framework. Table 3.1 shows the proposed SDG focus areas alongside the existing MDGs.
The proposed SDG framework includes both opportunities and challenges for anti-poverty efforts. With any expansion of goals comes the risk of losing clarity and ocus. Each of the MDGs has a direct link to the goal of ending poverty. The proposed SDG focus areas do not include important ways of ﬁghting poverty—ways that go beyond simply providing food—such as education, empowering women, improving child and maternal health and nutrition, and ﬁghting HIV/AIDS.
In spite of these concerns, elements of the SDG agenda could well enhance future anti-poverty efforts. Climate change affects poor people disproportionately, and feeding a rapidly rising global population will require more sustainable forms of agriculture.
Expanding the post-2015 development agenda to address the urgent problems posed by climate change and the need for sustainable food production should not come at the cost of losing the focus on key health, education, and equality issues or the overall clear anti-poverty message. Finding a balance that includes both these essential elements of the MDGs and the essentials of the SDG agenda is the challenge, particularly with numerous stakeholders already vying to shape the SDG agenda and the relationship between the SDGs and MDGs. But just as the MDGs brought global attention to the ﬁght against poverty, the SDGs could serve as a platform for the need to act on climate change.
Anna Wiersma is a senior at Valparaiso University in Indiana pursuing a degree in international economics and cultural affairs. She was a summer 2012 intern in Bread for the World’s government relations department.
This exerpt is borrowed from the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals. Visit hungerreport.org to learn more about the MDGs, sustainable development, and the post-2015 agenda.
A smallholder farmer in Kenya with her maize (corn) crop. Photo credit ACDI/VOCA.
It's easy to get the impression that for hungry and poor people overseas, foreign assistance is the most important part of the U.S. budget.
There's no doubt that it's an important aspect of our efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty. This despite its small size -- contrary to the public opinion polls that show, year after year, that Americans believe it makes up about 25 percent of all federal spending, development assistance makes up well under 1 percent of the budget. As we've previously pointed out, foreign aid saves millions of lives every year, whether through disaster relief or through one of many less visible efforts such as vaccinations against childhood diseases. Development assistance is a valuable tool for countries, communities, and families working to build a more prosperous future. Those of us who advocate for better policies on hunger and poverty devote a lot of attention to highlighting the reasons to maintain U.S. development assistance, analyzing how limited funds could be better used, dispelling myths such as the above-mentioned "it's 25 percent of the entire budget," and more.
But in some cases, the impact of U.S. policies on trade and/or agriculture can actually cancel out the development assistance a nation receives -- or more than cancel it out, leaving countries worse off. That's why it's so important that the administration's budget request for FY 2014 proposes reductions in farm subsidies. Subsidies for crops such as cotton enable American growers to export overseas at artificially low prices -- prices that developing countries often cannot compete with, even given much lower labor and production costs. Economists would say that a country such as Burkina Faso has a comparative advantage in cotton -- but not if it's undercut by subsidies paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The World Trade Organization has ruled more than once that some forms of U.S. farm subsidies violate international trade agreements.
For a number of years now, analysts from various vantage points have offered numerous valid arguments for cutting farm subsidies. Looking through a hunger "lens," among the most persuasive reasons is to enable a smallholder farmer in Benin or Mali or Burkina Faso to get a fair price for her crops in her local market.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
The Obama administration's FY2014 budget request includes several reforms to U.S. emergency food assistance that Bread for the World has long supported. Perhaps most important, it allows greater flexibility in where and how food aid can be purchased and distributed.
This week, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah explained very clearly why the change is needed. Here's part of what he said about his visit to a refugee camp in Kenya at the height of the Somali famine of 2011:
"Armed groups ... attacked our food convoys and targeted food distribution centers. In the hardest hit areas of southern Somalia where these militants ruled, food aid couldn’t save lives.
"But cash transfers could. Through electronic cash transfers and vouchers, we could extend a lifeline to communities our food aid couldn’t reach. Thanks to this flexibility, we were able to help more than 90,000 families in inaccessible and insecure areas buy readily available food in their communities."
Saving lives in emergencies is, of course, the primary goal of food aid. That's reason enough. But look again at the last phrase in Shah's quote: "readily available food in their communities." It's a reference to a second highly persuasive argument for increased flexibility for local and regional purchase of food aid, one that dovetails perfectly with our focus here at Bread on longer-term solutions to hunger. Often, food is available, even as large numbers of children die of malnutrition. The problem is that local food prices skyrocket during droughts and other natural disasters, and families cannot afford to buy food. Supporting community-based solutions to emergencies -- i.e., enabling families to purchase food locally, thus generating income for other local families -- will help communities recover.
Once the acute phase of a hunger crisis is over, communities are left to rebuild their food systems. As an April 11 statement endorsed by Bread and 10 partner organizations explains, the proposed reforms would "Promot[e] sustainable solutions that build local food markets and support small producers to become more productive and resilient in countries that struggle to overcome chronic food insecurity."Shah said that the administration's reforms would enable food assistance to reach an additional 4 million children each year, without increasing the U.S. food aid budget. He was speaking on "The Future of Food Assistance" at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.
For more information, read Bread's statement on the FY2014 budget proposal.Photo: Local food production, such as these crops headed to market in Sudan, plays an important role in transitioning from a crisis that requires food aid to sustainable food security. Photo by Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
Precise, complete, and up-to-date data. Everyone working on hunger policy knows how important it is. In fact, access to it would be a dream come true. Instead of wishing after the fact that we could have done more to prevent or at least mitigate hunger crises large and small, chronic malnutrition in the 1,000-day window before a child’s second birthday, and the micronutrient deficiencies that cause conditions such as rickets and intellectual disabilities, we would have the information available in time to “do something.”
We’re getting closer to that dream, thanks to ever-expanding global networks and the rapid progress of real-time communication technologies. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), arguably the most comprehensive and reliable source of international hunger and food security data, has just unveiled a promising new hunger tracking tool — perhaps its first true hunger tracking tool — which uses the new technology to speed up the collection of accurate data. FAO calls it the Voices of the Hungry Project. The name fits, since the goal is to lend a far more sensitive and responsive ear to people living with hunger.
Even at FAO, existing hunger data collection and analysis methods take as long as two or three years to bring accurate data from its source to world attention. By then it is often too late to respond effectively. Most FAO food consumption surveys are administered only every five years, and they don’t always include individual-level responses.
Twitter was all abuzz over FAO's new tool. Bread for the World Institute was talking about it too.
The Voices of the Hungry Project will select representative samples of 1,000 to 5,000 people per country, depending on the national population. Individuals will be asked to answer eight questions to gauge the depth and frequency of any food insecurity they experienced in the previous year. More specifically, the questions measure whether respondents are experiencing mild, moderate, or severe food insecurity on a “Food Insecurity Experience Scale.”
Respondents are asked to indicate whether, in the past 12 months, there was a time when, because of lack of money or other resources:
1. You were worried you would run out of food.
2. You were unable to eat healthy and nutritious food.
3. You ate only a few kinds of foods.
4. You had to skip a meal.
5. You ate less than you thought you should.
6. Your household ran out of food.
7. You were hungry but did not eat.
8. You went without eating for a whole day.
The survey results will be available in days rather than years, allowing FAO to take an almost real-time snapshot of a nation's food security situation.
Chapter 1 of Bread for the World Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report delineates the high costs of delayed data collection. It tells the story of FAO’s struggle to accurately track rising hunger and food insecurity during and after the food price crisis of 2008-2009. The data was not made available until a year or more after the crisis began. Moreover, some of it was later discovered to be significantly inaccurate.
The effectiveness of nutrition programs, the credibility of statements about progress or lack of progress on hunger, and the integrity of broader development initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) depend on reliable data. Measurable, accurate results provide the crucial backing to show whether a proposed solution is likely to work. FAO’s Voices of the Hungry Project will help get the facts about who is hungry out in a faster, more accurate way.
more about the food price crisis of 2008-2009, changing data collection
methods, and the MDGs in chapter one of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach:
Global Development Goals.
Although each of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is important, some include more specifics than others. MDG 3 is to "promote gender equality" -- quite a sweeping task-- but its specific targets and indicators focus mainly on gender parity in education (at all levels -- primary, secondary, and tertiary) and a related indicator, the ratio of literate women to men in the age group 15 to 24. It's clear that education for girls is critically important and leads to improvements both in women's own lives and those of their children. By itself, though, gender parity in education is not enough to achieve gender equality.
Yet gender equality is not only a core development objective, it is also smart economics. Empowered women and men can improve a society's productivity, offer their children greater opportunities, and make institutions more representative. It benefits everyone.
Bread for the World Institute's 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals emphasizes both the intrinsic value and instrumental value of gender equality. Today, we know that removing barriers that prevent women from having the same access as men to education, economic opportunities, and productive inputs can generate broad based productivity gains -- gains all the more important in an increasingly competitive society. Additionally, leveling the playing field so that women and men have equal chances to actively engage socially and politically -- to make decisions and shape policies -- is likely to lead over time to more representative, and more inclusive institutions and policy responses.
Staggering evidence based on the upcoming 2012 Global Food Policy Report of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reveals that almost 55 percent of the reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995 can be attributed to improvements in women’s status in society. Additionally, it is estimated that global malnutrition could be reduced by 12 percent to 17 percent if gender barriers were eliminated and women farmers were able to match the yields of male farmers.
It is true that the lives of girls and women have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. While the pace of change has been astonishing in some areas, in other areas, progress toward gender equality has been limited — even in developed countries.
What is also becoming increasingly clear is that income growth by itself does not deliver greater gender equality on all fronts. In fact, where gender gaps have closed quickly, it is because of how institutions and markets — both formal and informal—have functioned and evolved, how growth has played out, and how all these factors have interacted through household decisions. For example, how has the global progress in girls' education come about? A combination of factors -- income growth (which loosens budget constraints), markets (which open new employment opportunities for women), and formal institutions (which expand school systems and lower costs) -- came together in a broad range of countries to influence household decisions in favor of educating girls and young women.
So is women's empowerment important? Yes -- in order to achieve the MDGs, we must redouble our commitment to support women and girls in achieving their full potential. We need to prioritize MDG 3 alongside the other seven goals.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do-- Johann Wolfgang
Welcome to week two of our blog-wide celebration of women’s history month and International Women’s Day (#IWD)! In the past week, we’ve done our best to highlight a few (of many) ways that women uphold societies and propel economies forward, while pointing to some of the (also many) areas where inequality persists. One of the most basic of these is getting access to nutritious food.
If you have visited this blog or skimmed our twitter feed at any point in the last year, you will have had to work very hard to avoid terms such as severe acute malnutrition (SAM), the 1,000 Days, and stunting. It’s no secret that a concern with nutrition – the quality of food — needs to accompany any focus on food access and food security. As we’ve mentioned before — often – it’s not just about food, but about good quality, well timed, locally sourced, and sustainably produced food.
Today we add another layer — equally accessible food. If we had a Venn diagram with overlapping circles for hunger and gender equality, the overlap would be equally accessible food. As I said in last week’s Hunger Report Monday, there are many reasons that women in much of the developing world are far more likely to go hungry than men are. This inequity is especially unnerving considering the direct link between the health of a mother and the prospect of a healthy start for her children.
The 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2 is critical to physical and cognitive development. The health and well-being of a child younger than 2 rests almost entirely in the hands of her mother, and an inability to provide the right nutrients can result in lasting damage to both brain and body.
If a woman was undernourished as a child, her own children are far more likely to suffer the same fate. Put more positively, the past two generations of progress against hunger have put women today in a strong position to end the cycle of malnutrition and stunting. But significant social change will be needed for large numbers of women to be able to accomplish this for their families.
Farmers such as this Zambian worker feed most people in the developing world. Photo by Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World.
International Women's Day is coming right up: this Friday, March 8.
Of course, every other day of the year is also women's day, just as every day is men's day and children's day. Yet sometimes even seasoned advocates who approach hunger holistically -- recognizing it as the multidimensional problem it is -- are guilty of putting "gender" or "women's issues" in a separate box from other development sectors.
Granted, it's an important box, increasingly stuffed with worthwhile things -- the 1,000 Days campaign to prevent malnutrition among pregnant women and young children, literacy and bookkeeping classes for small business owners, campaigns against child marriage and maternal mortality, and many more. But nonetheless, it's a box.
Female farmers produce well over half of all the food grown in the world, and worldwide, the major responsibility for providing for families falls to women. But few female farmers own the land they work, have the authority to make decisions about crops and livestock, or control their own incomes. The box separates these "women's empowerment" issues from other parts of the solution to hunger, such as agriculture. Sure, there are programs for "women farmers," but this is often viewed as a matter of equal opportunity. Crop research, extension services, training in newer or more productive growing and harvesting methods, and a host of other agricultural programs are for "farmers." We don't see a term such as "men farmers" very often -- because the pervasive assumption is that "farmers" are men.
It's an assumption that can literally be seen in fields around the world, reflected in a basic hand tool: the hoe. As it turns out, women work more effectively with hoes that are not only lighter weight, but have longer handles than those intended for “everyone.” But these are in short supply.
It's an assumption that costs the world dearly -- in hunger, malnutrition, and all their consequences. The Institute's new resource, "Development Works: Myths and Realities," points out that according to the 2012 Africa Human Development Report, gender bias is a "principal cause" of hunger in Africa. A principal cause of hunger -- not something that has solutions separate from sectors such as agriculture.
Yesterday, Olivier de Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, released a report on women's rights and the right to food. He points out in "The Feminization of Farming," in The New York Times of March 3, that women have a heavy burden of unpaid work -- cooking, cleaning, child care, fetching water, etc., that "result in lost opportunities for women, who don’t have the time to attend classes, travel to markets to sell produce, or do other activities to improve their economic prospects."
De Schutter sums up his argument: "The most effective strategies to empower women who tend farm and family — and to alleviate hunger in the process — are to remove the obstacles that hinder them from taking charge of their lives."
That's what International Women's Day is all about. And that's why we can't view gender and agriculture as separate but equal spheres.Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.