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107 posts categorized "Climate Change"
This week, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs introduced a new website, Outrage and Inspire, to serve as a launch pad for the work of Roger Thurow, senior fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy. Most recently author of The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, Thurow is a long-time friend of Bread for the World and a true anti-hunger champion. He is a former writer for the Wall Street Journal and a senior fellow at the Chicago Council. The site will follow Thurow as he travels to a range of countries reporting on global hunger, poverty, and food and nutrition security.
For The Last Hunger Season, Thurow followed the lives of four farm families in western Kenya for a year, encompassing the cycle of preparing the land, planting the seeds, suffering through the inevitable “hunger season,” and finally harvesting the crops. He wrote about how the One Acre Fund has helped these smallholder farmers, mostly women, by providing training in essential practices such as obtaining high quality seed, planting in rows, and measuring and using precise micro dosages of fertilizer. Thurow’s book balances the horror of not being able to feed a child with the hope raised by economic empowerment. Changes are under way that just might end “hunger seasons” for good.
In his inaugural Outrage and Inspire post, “Making the Invisible Visible,” Thurow tells the story of a birth in rural India, interspersed with findings from the new Lancet series on maternal and child health. The woman giving birth has access to more modern medical facilities and knowledge about the needs of her newborn daughter than women in her village ever have before, but the research shows that both the mother and daughter can expect to encounter the reality of gender inequality, including unequal access to nutritious food.
The 1,000 Days – the critical window for human nutrition that lasts from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday -- will be the subject of Thurow’s next project and a major focus of the new website. By examining chronic malnutrition and the damage it causes in early childhood, Thurow will contribute to the important conversation on what is being done around the world to combat stunting and malnutrition among children, and what is still needed for communities to be able to prevent stunting and the lifelong damage it causes. In order to solve the problem, Thurow says, we will need “outrage and inspiration.”
Building champions for improving nutrition outcomes around the world is an effective way for advocates to advance the nutrition agenda, especially for improved nutrition in women and children. As we heard at the Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition” meeting June 10, nutrition champions come in many forms. They can be grassroots organizers, Bread for the World members who contact their congressional offices, or people based in Washington, DC, who visit Capitol Hill or push the administration on nutrition policy issues. Internationally, champions may be members of civil society in countries with significant malnutrition. They can hold their governments accountable for funding and policy commitments to make progress against malnutrition.
Champions certainly include people like Thurow, whose commitment to ending hunger is clear through his efforts to “outrage and inspire” others to action. Congratulations to Roger Thurow on his new blog from his many friends in Bread for the World and the nutrition stakeholder community. We recommend it to all who would like to see a nutrition champion in action – and all who are not afraid to be outraged and inspired by examples of victories over food insecurity and malnutrition.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on August 14, 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, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Late last week, the United Nations Statistics Division announced its adoption of a new integrated standard to measure progress toward the often elusive target of sustainable development. U.N. member states agreed to use the new System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) to improve and standardize reporting on the interrelationships among the economy, the environment, and society.
It is much harder to prevent problems that we can’t see coming, so quantifying what is “sustainable” is a key step toward preventing the increasing volatility of Earth’s climate from halting or reversing the past generation’s progress against hunger and malnutrition.
Sustainable development is the effort to ensure that all people have a decent standard of living without depleting Earth’s natural resources or endangering its ecosystems. Since 2000, we’ve heard about it most often in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). MDG 7, ensuring environmental sustainability, has gained a reputation as one of the most difficult to measure and compare across countries and regions. Despite its complexities, sustainable development has become a watchword as the world faces the threat of climate change.
Perhaps the most promising element of the SEEA is its potential to establish a standardized set of definitions and concepts that countries can use to guide their data collection, compilation and analysis. So far, very few indicators of sustainable development have been accepted across the developing world. There are even fewer that all countries are able to collect data for.
This figure from the SEEA central framework illustrates the direct and residual effects of physical goods flows between the economy and the environment.
The innovators of the SEEA claim that the majority of countries already collect most of the data required for it to work. The ingenuity is found in its ability to repurpose that data and integrate it in new ways to better measure the interrelationships among the environment, the economy, and society. U.N. DESA’s head, Alessandra Alfieri, called it a “revolution in statistics,” that will help policy makers better understand how a change in the environment can cause a change in the economy, and ultimately a change for poor and hungry people.
Chapter 1 of the 2013 Hunger Report emphasizes the need for more reliable and better integrated ways of collecting and analyzing data, not only on hunger and malnutrition, but on their causes (like climate):
When the MDGs were launched, it was clear that the capacity of developing countries to collect and analyze data had to improve…Overall, the capacity to obtain accurate data has improved since 2000, but in some countries, especially among the least developed, yawning gaps remain. Reliable data is the bedrock of effective policy interventions. Without rock-solid data, policymakers can’t know for sure whether their interventions actually address the fundamental reasons that people are poor.
We will not end hunger if we do not shift toward more sustainable patterns of production and consumption. And we cannot separate our food systems from the management and preservation of our natural resources, from food security and from sustainable development itself. The SEEA is a crucial next step that adapts our data collection methods to that new reality.
Read more about data collection for sustainable development in the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals. Also check out guest contributor, Jose Graziano’s article on achieving sustainable development, 'The Greener Revolution.'
Posted by Bread on August 05, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Dr. Robert Black of Johns Hopkins University, who spoke at the Bread for the World Institute/Concern Worldwide “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling up Nutrition” event in Washington, DC on June 10, 2013, recently authored an article offering the opinion of the Lancet’s Maternal and Child Nutrition (MCN) Study Group on how best to build momentum for impact (registration required to read full article) of nutrition interventions.
Since the Lancet’s historic 2008 MCN series, global governments have committed funding and policy changes aimed at nutrition interventions in the 1,000 days window of opportunity, where they can be most effective and have a high rate of return. Bread for the World Institute reported on these worldwide efforts to improve MCN in a briefing paper in March 2013, which also noted the importance of sustaining the U.S. government’s political commitments. The Scaling up Nutrition movement was born, and now includes 41 countries where rates of malnutrition are highest and affect an entire range of a country’s development, from child mortality to disease susceptibility to even its gross domestic product (a measure of economic output).
What is the “massive unfinished agenda” that Dr. Black mentions? It is 165 million children who remain stunted. It is the fact that undernutrition causes 45% of deaths of all children under age 5 – amounting to three million children. It is also the “other side” of malnutrition, obesity, which is an “emerging burden establishing itself globally, affecting both poor and rich populations”.
Evidence in the Lancet series on MCN supports ten proven nutrition interventions, which if scaled up to cover 90% of a country’s need, would eliminate nearly a million of those child deaths under age 5 and reduce the number of stunted children by 33 million. The cost of this global 90% scaling up of nutrition interventions is estimated at $9.6 billion dollars per year. And what is the benefit? Saved lives and economic progress in developing countries are benefits that can be valued at many times that amount.
The second Lancet MCN series released last month focused on nutrition-sensitive activities across development sectors that address the indirect, or underlying, causes of malnutrition. Creating an enabling environment to have success requires sound data (an evidence base), cooperation and collaboration across development sectors (health, education, gender, water, sanitation, and hygiene), increased local capacities, and sustainable means to finance the interventions, from both public and private sources. Bread for the World Institute’s briefing paper on nutrition-sensitive development actions was instrumental in moving the discussion on nutrition-sensitive actions among government and civil society nutrition stakeholders forward.
Dr. Black notes the impetus for improving nutrition is stronger today than it was five years ago. The World Health Assembly nutrition targets, which include a 40% reduction of the global number of children under age 5 who are stunted, can be achieved by the year 2025 with “sufficient support”.
The support that is needed comes in many forms – political, financial, economic and social. The advocacy provided by Bread for the World and its members to the U.S. Congress and Obama Administration on efforts to reduce maternal and child malnutrition is key to sustaining the political leadership and policy momentum achieved so far. Our work on the agenda is unfinished as well.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on August 02, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Since 1970, the USDA has published a yearly report forecasting the state of the world’s food insecurity in the coming years. Using a combination of food consumption and food price data, the USDA looked at 76 of the world’s poorest countries to predict food insecurity for the next 20 years. In the recently released 2013 report, the predictions are that the growth rate of the global hungry population will surpass the overall population growth rate. In other words, the percentage of people in the world without enough food will increase.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the most food insecure region in the world, and has the lowest per capita food consumption. Based on its current analysis, USDA predicts this is not going to change. In fact, the distribution gap—the amount of additional food needed to bring all people into food security—is predicted to grow significantly larger in this region.
Asia is home to more undernourished people than any other region in the world. Almost 57% of the world’s population with chronic food insecurity lives in an Asian country, and the USDA predicts that this will continue to be the case in the coming twenty years.
A promising sign, however, is less hunger in the Latin America and Caribbean region, where the number of food-insecure people is projected to decline by nearly 7 percent in the next decade.
All of the report’s predictions are based on projected food prices. With changes in weather patterns, energy prices and political actions, the price of food has been known to fluctuate greatly. A price spike could mean millions more people go hungry than expected, and stable or lower prices could boost a poor country’s ability to feed itself.
The overall negative tone of the USDA’s report can serve both as an early warning and motivation for changes in policies and programs that build local capacities and resilience to withstand inevitable swings in food prices.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on August 01, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Yesterday, the United States International Development Agency (USAID) announced the release of the most detailed data yet available on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. USAID has added over 50,000 financial transactions reflecting spending as recent as June 30, 2013.
For the first time, members of the public can now search and visualize expanded, timely information about what, where, how, and with whom USAID programs work. The financial transactions include detailed information across 30 descriptive fields, including vendor, location, award title, descriptions, and more. The addition of USAID’s financial transactions is a significant milestone for U.S. Government foreign assistance transparency. The new USAID data is visualized on the site, can be downloaded in machine-readable format, and is included in the U.S. Government’s data files in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) format.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard displays data from the Department of State, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Treasury. The Dashboard continues to expand with the goal of including detailed foreign assistance budget, financial, and program data from all U.S. Government agencies that fund or implement foreign assistance in accordance with the Office of management and budget Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin 12-01. As new data are added to the Dashboard, the IATI data files will also be updated to reflect these new data.
To understand the information presented in the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, users are encouraged to read the supplementary information under the What You Should Know section of the website.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on July 31, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
President Obama continues on his historic three-country trip to Africa. So far, the president has met with leaders from government, business, and civil society. The trip agenda includes reinforcing U.S. commitment to global food security; expanding economic growth, investment, and trade; strengthening democratic institutions; and investing in the next generation of African leaders.
U.S. leadership on global hunger and food security has been instrumental in leveraging substantial additional resources and reversing decades of decline in funding for agricultural development. In 2009, once the L’Aquila principles for strengthening bilateral and multilateral support for agricultural development had been put in place, the United States developed a plan to fulfill its own pledge and went a step further by making food security a top pillar of its global development agenda. Launched in 2010, Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. It focuses on smallholder farmers, particularly women, and builds on the standard set by the African Union when its members committed to developing comprehensive food security plans.
Yesterday in Senegal, the first stop on his trip, President Obama officially launched (see video here) the 2013 Feed the Future Progress Report: Growing Innovation, Harvesting Results. The report says that in the 19 Feed the Future focus countries, the program has:
- helped more than 7 million smallholder farmers adopt improved agricultural technologies or practices;
- brought nearly 4 million hectares of land under improved cultivation and management practices;
- helped increase the value of exports of targeted commodities by $84 million;
- forged more than 660 public-private partnerships to improve food security locally and globally;
- increased the value of agricultural and rural loans by more than $150 million.
President Barack Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Macky Sall of Senegal at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
According to a statement released by the White House yesterday, the experiences of global food security programs such as Feed the Future and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) underscore the critical role of coordinated multi-stakeholder engagements in the fight against global hunger and malnutrition.The statement indicates that the United States is not only keeping its commitments to leverage its investments, provide more open access to agricultural data, and improve agricultural productivity through technology, but has also launched a $25 million Agricultural Fast Track Fund, along with Sweden and the African Development Bank, to increase the number of investment-ready agricultural infrastructure projects in New Alliance countries. In April 2013, the statement continues, the United States, other G-8 countries, and the World Bank convened the International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture in Washington, DC, to promote policies and invest in projects that open access to relevant publicly funded data on global agriculture, thus making this data readily accessible to users around the world. This week the United States will launch the Scaling Seeds & Other Technologies Partnership, led by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in collaboration with African governments, multilateral organizations, private sector, and civil society partners. Its mission is to promote technology-driven agricultural productivity growth -- starting in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Tanzania.
All of the above are welcome steps. But we cannot sustain them unless we confront the growing threat of climate change, which is already eroding some of the gains we have made. The president proposed a climate change action plan last week.
Women in Niger do laundry in what has become a dry riverbed. Photo Credit: U.N. photo by Jeffrey Foxx.
Today, President Obama unveiled a a detailed plan and directives to slow U.S. contributions to global climate change and better prepare for its impact. The proposal includes elements intended to reduce the major sources of the American carbon footprint, identify and implement strategies to prepare for the impact of climate change here at home, and engage with other industrialized countries, major developing economies, and others to have a wider and more effective impact on climate change.
Climate change experts are posting their analyses of the plan, considering key questions such as whether all relevant factors have been included, how effective the planned actions are likely to be, ways to improve the plan, and more. These are all important.
But what is missing from the top-line messages of the president's plan? Supporting developing countries' efforts to respond to climate change impacts that have for years been damaging the land, livelihoods, and health of some of the poorest people in the world. These efforts, now known as climate change "mitigation," have often progressed well beyond the "raising awareness" stages -- there was no real alternative.
Back in April 2009, Bread for the World was already pointing out that "For Poor People, Climate Change Is Today." The paper we published then noted that some Arctic communities have been tracking the changes for decades, described community-led efforts to combat deforestation in Kenya, asked "Where Will the Money Come From?" and suggested a way forward for hungry and poor people already affected by what others might still have considered a threat on the distant horizon.
While we can all agree that it's important to the United States to be better prepared for disasters related to climate change -- for example, ensuring that hospitals continue to function -- mitigation for developing countries must be part of an effective American climate change strategy. All too often, countries with very light carbon footprints must cope alone with devastating changes to their environments caused largely by wealthier nations.
Extreme weather affects children, elderly people, and poor people disproportionately, the president pointed out today. He was referring to vulnerable people in the United States, but the risks are even more urgent for their counterparts in developing countries.
Five years ago, the well-respected British medical journal The Lancet published a groundbreaking series that focused global attention on maternal and child nutrition. A key finding was the critical importance of the “1,000 Days” between pregnancy and age 2, when proper nutrition establishes the foundation for lifelong health – but malnutrition causes physical and cognitive damage that is largely irreversible. “1,000 Days” quickly became part of the nutrition lexicon.
Today in London, The Lancet launches its follow-up to the 2008 Maternal and Child Nutrition series, a new resource for updated data and policy recommendations on global nutrition. On June 13, Bread for the World will co-host the U.S. launch of the series—another in a string of major nutrition events this month. These include the pledging event “Nutrition for Growth” in London on June 8 and Bread’s June 10 meeting co-hosted with Concern Worldwide, “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition.” It is an exciting and busy time for everyone concerned about hunger, and there’s a great deal of optimism that these high-level events will keep malnutrition and hunger high on the global political agenda.
In the new five-paper Lancet series, both academics and practitioners who specialize in global health and development present new data on the prevalence of malnutrition, analyses of the efficacy and cost effectiveness of current interventions, and evaluations of nutrition policies now in effect. Based on this data, the series recommends policies designed to achieve more rapid and concerted progress on global malnutrition and hunger. The new Lancet series is expected to focus on what are called “nutrition-sensitive” or indirect policies and programs; the first series emphasized “nutrition-specific” or direct actions. Nutrition-sensitive actions can be part of nearly any development effort since they focus on the intersections and linkages of nutrition with other development goals—such as women’s empowerment, stronger educational systems, and faster progress on water, sanitation, and health (WASH) issues.
The release of the second Lancet series will
enable Bread for the World and other advocates to point to current, credible research in our efforts to educate
opinion leaders, policymakers, and the public about hunger and solutions to it.
The first Lancet series galvanized action on early childhood malnutrition; the
second promises to be a watershed in efforts to develop the most effective anti-hunger
There's already an active international debate on what might follow the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of 2015. The U.N. High Level Panel on Post-2015 (HLP) -- the official process through which the post-MDG global development agenda is being shaped -- has been meeting in New York to finalize its report. The panel met four times for consultations -- in New York in September 2012, London in November 2012, Monrovia in January 2013, and Bali in March 2013. On May 30, panel members will present a report outlining their vision and priorities for post-2015 development to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ban's response is expected in July.
Many in the development community have been anticipating the release of the HLP final report and its recommendations for weeks now. Will the report live up to its hype? Will its recommendations match the aspirations of the many groups and individuals who have contributed so far to the post-2015 development debate? Will it chart a politically effective way forward for governments? The report will be made publicly available on May 31 through the HLP website. An outreach event with stakeholders is planned for the same day, to be followed by regional and national launch events around the world. Hopefully, these events will enable all who are concerned about development to take part in an integrated global conversation before September, when there will be a special event on the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda held during the U.N. General Assembly meetings.
In the midst of all the preparations for the post-MDG, post-2015 period, we must not skip past the 2 1/2 years left to achieve the MDGs. Much more remains to be done. Although many low income countries may not achieve all the MDG targets by 2015, it's important that as many countries as possible make significant progress on most or all MDGs. The accumulating recent evidence suggests that the MDGs are within reach. A World Bank report states that 20 of the world's most fragile countries have made progress on MDG targets ranging from reducing poverty to improving the education of girls and reducing the deaths of women in childbirth. According to the report, despite their difficult circumstances, each of the countries has met at least one MDG target. A different group of six fragile countries are on track to meet all the MDGs. Better data collection and monitoring have revealed this progress -- whereas data gathered in 2010 and earlier found that none of these nations had met any of the eight MDGs.
The new data show that countries such as Afghanistan, Nepal, and Timor-Leste have met targets such as halving the number of people in extreme poverty or significantly increasing the number of girls enrolled in schools. Nonetheless, residents of countries caught in repeated cycles of violence lag behind the rest of the world on development indicators; they are struggling to meet a second or third MDG target. One of the challenges in helping fragile nations is preparing for the period after humanitarian assistance ends. Humanitarian assistance tends to pour in once a country emerges from conflict, but it dries up just as quickly once international attention fades or there are no immediate signs of progress. Long-term development is what can make a difference, as it has in Afghanistan, Nepal, and Timor-Leste.
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)
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