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73 posts categorized "Food Aid"
Hunger and poverty are cumbersome, tangled, and unruly concepts—that much is clear on the surface. The hundreds of millions of people who struggle to disentangle themselves for the sake of daily survival know this in their bodies, minds, and souls. And those of us who work on hunger and poverty each day share just a portion of their frustration. Whether you labor at a food bank to meet the endless lines of need, confront deadly international phenomena like food insecurity and malnutrition, or even brave the policy front to sort out the root causes—you understand the moments of disappointment. And if you are honest, you’ll admit that they can at times bring you to the troughs of exhaustion and despair, where you doubt the utility of your work and even the basic truths that inspired it.
Last week, I was in a trough—around the same time that I attended the Society for International Development’s annual Gala Dinner here in Washington, DC, an event held to honor the dedicated work of development superstars who live out the basic truths that we sometimes doubt. This year the spotlight rested on the person of the State Department’s Maria Otero (Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights) and with her, on the concept of human dignity. Webster defines dignity as “the quality of being worthy…” We say every human being is worthy because every human being possesses an innate capacity to flourish—to live a robust, productive, and fulfilling life—and to contribute to the greater flourishing of all humanity.
Every human being.
If you accept, really accept, this concept, then an assessment of things as they are can and should outrage you. The injustice—that the place and time of one’s birth are the most important factors in determining how life will unfold—seems to stand in direct defiance of human dignity. But, as Otero reminded us, we can’t ever settle for this injustice. She is a person who fully understood the ongoing conflict between reality and our ideals—but creatively worked to coerce the former into submission to latter. As president of ACCION International, she introduced the world to microfinance, now considered a fundamental poverty-fighting tool that empowers people with few material resources with loans to build their own productive businesses. She says it’s an idea she was once considered crazy for, because it rests entirely on human dignity. It says that a loan to a materially poor person can work, because that person is worthy of it—capable, creative, and dedicated.
Today, more than 70 million of the world’s poorest families have access to microcredit, and that number has been growing by more than 35 percent each year. The story of microfinance is a story of human dignity. Otero and people like her have bet their lives on it. We must too, if we are to meet the problems of hunger and poverty with the seriousness, determination, and hope that they demand.
So thank you, Maria Otero, for pulling me out of the trough.
Posted by Bread on December 20, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Sometimes the best way to communicate information is through pictures instead of text. And our new 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, offers a good balance for the eyes. Enjoy this colorful gallery of photos that tells the graphical tale of hunger and the ongoing struggle to end it across the world (I fully endorse viewing it full screen). Then maybe dive deeper into the Report to encounter the incredible stories and struggles waiting just behind the faces. Maybe download it to your e-reader?
On Twitter? Follow @BreadInstitute and stay current on hourly hunger-fighting news, data, stories, and solutions.
Posted by Bread on December 14, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, 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)
Human potential is an asset that we are losing each day. It’s there, ready and waiting in the unique mind and personality of each human being. And with it, not so far out of reach, lies the reality of a better life for all of us. Solutions to problems like hunger and poverty are part of that awaiting reality, wrapped up in the opportunity of human potential.
Potential is often hard to quantify. Then there are cases when it isn’t. Stunting is one of those cases. The evidence of stunting is literally standing in front of you: a child, shorter than she should be. When children don’t get the right nutrients; they lose—not only in physical size, but in mental and social capacity, and in ability to lead a successful, productive life. And we lose. We lose the mental energy that could have brought a family out of poverty, helped build a national economy, or even flagged the end of hunger.
Bread for the World Institute is calling world leaders to take stunting more seriously. When one in four children in the world is stunted—the lifelong losses are too great to ignore. Our new stunting infographic (below) tells the story. Read more about the often overlooked threats of stunting and severe acute malnutrition in the 2013 Hunger Report.
Posted by Bread on December 10, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In our world of acronyms, chances are that like myself, you have found yourself in that awkward situation -– when you stumble across a mysterious acronym, and with a good degree of embarasssment you recite it, still wondering what it means. You all know how that goes. Fortunately, this blog post is virtually an
acronym-free zone, so that you dont leave still wondering whether you missed something. It is about a critical concept in development --resilience.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) defines resilience as the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth. Resilience should be about preventing repeated humanitarian interventions by bringing humanitarian and development goals closer and making people much less vulnerable.
This week- in Washington D.C, USAID launched its first-ever policy guidance on building resilience to recurrent crisis. The new Resiliency Policy seeks to act on the root causes of people’s vulnerability -- not just make people better able to bear the effects. The policy also comes at a critical time, when it could help to make resilience a part of the post-2015 development framework. According to Bread for the World Institute's 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, the world has made great progress in reducing hunger and poverty. But food price volatility, increasing demographic pressures, resource scarcity, and other shocks remind us of how fleeting those gains are.
From left to right: His Excellency Elkanah Odembo, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S; Neal
Keny-Guyer, CEO- Mercy Corps; Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator- Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID; David Beckmann, President- Bread for the World; and Carolyn Woo, President & CEO - Catholic Relief Services at the launch. Photo/Alex Loken- Bread for the World
Amid drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in Southeast Asia, and the current crisis in the Sahel, the importance of an integrated approach to sustainable development cannot be overemphasized. The ongoing drought in the Sahel and the famine in the Horn of Africa both reinforce the role of social safety net programs in providing a broad package of support for the most vulnerable — from specialized nutrition products to protect the minds and bodies of young children, to investments in sustainable land management that help communities build resilience to drought and other shocks.
Evidence shows that such investments are cost-effective, and they save millions of lives. For example, when food prices rose in 2008, hasty responses such as some countries' bans on exporting food contributed to driving 100 million people into poverty — the first increase in decades. When food prices rose again in 2011, however, the world avoided poor policy responses and invested instead in long-term food security. During the world’s worst drought in 60 years, this approach was validated by Kenya's and Ethiopia’s ability to avoid famine, thanks in part to President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative and its emphasis on building resilience through agricultural development.
Moving forward, the new resilience policy could help to ensure that the process of reaching agreement on post-2015 global development goals is open and includes a wide range of development actors, including emerging donors, civil society, the private sector, and most importantly-- the vulnerable communities themselves.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on December 07, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Report, Malnutrition, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The Institute was very pleased to co-host an event with the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) on the subject of nutrition capacity, from the perspectives of the World Bank, Save the Children US, and USAID. MFAN co-chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram were in attendance, and Ingram served as moderator to a panel discussion. The event was well-attended by approximately 50 members of the nutrition community who work in the fields of advocacy, policy analysis and program implementation.
We wanted to assess nutrition resources available to U.S.
Government agencies, to implementing partners, and to country governments and
civil society. The basis for the discussion was the Institute’s briefing
Up Global Nutrition: Bolstering U.S. Government Capacity”. Questions we
raised in the paper include: Is there sufficient
technical capacity in nutrition to “scale up” programs? How well-equipped is
the U.S. government to support country-led efforts and help sustain their
momentum and progress? How can we further build our capacity?
An approach to nutrition that crosses government departments, bureaus, and offices will help strengthen U.S. programs and use our nutrition dollars as effectively as possible. Strengthened leadership and capacity helps ensure better coordination and accountability for results. Harmonized program strategy, budgets, guidance on implementation, and implementation on the ground will maximize the impact of our work on the critical problem of global malnutrition.
The panelists included Robert Clay, USAID Deputy Administrator, Global Health Bureau, Karin Lapping, Senior Director-Nutrition at Save the Children US, and Leslie Elder, Senior Nutrition Specialist at the World Bank, who spoke of the importance of country level capacity, which in some of the SUN countries, is not well-developed. Efforts at the World Bank include supporting the International Health Partnership and Related Initiatives (IHP+), which is looking at ways the donor community can best support the SUN movement.
Clay said that USAID has been looking at ways to improve nutrition policies and programs, including developing consistent operational guidelines in Feed the Future countries, utilizing existing global learning platforms such as GAIN, SPRING and FANTA, and by hosting an upcoming global Nutrition Exchange forum with USAID missions that will focus on a multi-sector approach to improving nutrition. Lapping showed an example of Save’s work in Vietnam on nutrition, working with individual provinces to operationalize programs. It is hopeful that the global momentum being built on nutrition can be sustained; for its part Save is hosting yearly workshops to build local capacity.
An exchange of ideas and experiences with participants followed that lasted for more than an hour. It was noted that some SUN countries are progressing at a rapid rate with significant improvement in childhood stunting, and others are struggling to put together national nutrition plans, including naming a high-level focal point for nutrition, a commitment they have made under the SUN Framework. The United States also does not have a single, high-level point of contact for nutrition issues, something that the Institute recommended in our briefing paper referenced above. A number of successful multi-sector approaches to nutrition were shared by organizations who work overseas at the local level. With agricultural-related development programs predominantly focused on yield improvement, it is difficult to establish linkages to improvements in nutrition status.
Efforts are being taken to develop better nutrition indicators and to collect better data on improved nutrition outcomes. Underlying all this is the need to work with civil society organizations and small holder farmers to understand what nutrition programs work best in that local context. Armed with that knowledge, better programs to improve nutrition and reduce childhood stunting can be developed that are sustained by local groups after donor funding runs out.
We’re very pleased that our paper served as a launching point for this extensive conversation about what is working and what must be improved in nutrition policies and programs. It came across clearly that the participants’ most successful nutrition-related programs have invested at the local level, developing the capacity of partners. A new development model is emerging, one that is moving from developing donor-client relationships to one encouraging partnerships, including public-private partnerships, at the local level.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on November 08, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Hunger Report editor Todd Post and I traveled to Guatemala and saw examples of development assistance programs that integrated nutrition into food security, agriculture, and livelihoods activities. We met with our friend Luis Enrique Monterroso, who had been appointed by the president of Guatemala to head the country’s Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SESAN). Our work at Bread for the World Institute focuses on policy analysis and program advocacy, and the trip allowed us to see food aid being delivered to vulnerable women and children in areas of Guatemala where some of the most severely malnourished people live. I was struck by the overwhelming need, by the dedicated efforts of local Save the Children and Mercy Corps staff, and by the nascent efforts of a newly-elected government to coordinate and sustain its food security and nutrition efforts.
Since our return, I have reflected on whether these efforts would make a real difference in a country that has the world’s third-highest rate of stunting, behind only Afghanistan and Yemen. I was impressed both with Luis Enrique’s positive vision of a better future for malnourished women and children in his country, especially for the most vulnerable indigenous populations, and with development assistance donors who think “outside the box” to design the most effective programs.
Recently, the Republic of Guatemala and its donor partners, the World Food Program USA and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), announced “A Healthy Start for Children: Scaling Up Nutrition, 2012.” The Guatemalan government has committed to an effort to address the critical human development challenge of malnutrition across the country. An estimated 49.8 percent of children under 5 are chronically malnourished, the highest rate in Latin America. Via the Healthy Start program, Guatemala seeks to achieve national coverage of the 13 critical nutrition interventions, first identified in the 2008 Lancet series on maternal and child nutrition, that now serve as the foundation of the Scaling Up Nutrition framework. The critical interventions fall into such categories as changing nutrition behaviors, fortifying foods with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and improving complementary and therapeutic feeding programs.
By the end of 2013, the program will be extended to 166 municipalities, and then to 334 in the following year. The majority of the funding will come from the government of Guatemala, whose lead role in the program will help make it sustainable beyond its three-year initial phase. A key component will be the active participation and support of international organizations, private sector companies, and local civil society organizations, all of whom will be involved as promoters, financers, implementers, and supporters of the nutrition interventions. World Food Program will take the initial lead on some of the direct interventions, such as supplementary and therapeutic feeding, but with the intention of gradually handing off full responsibility to Guatemalan government agencies such as the Ministry of Health. WFP USA will remain actively involved in monitoring and evaluation activities, reporting back to the Clinton Global Initiative on the progress being made.
It is heartening to see a country like Guatemala, so burdened by high levels of malnutrition and stunting, step up and propose sustainable solutions to the problem. Incorporating active roles for local civil society organizations and the private sector makes sense as well. The program will follow the country-led model that the global community has identified as being the most effective for development, one that helps ensure sustainability through country involvement.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on October 24, 2012 in Agriculture, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Last week, as advocates from every continent gathered in Des Moines, IA, for the 2012 World Food Prize presentation and related hunger events, the world was losing a hunger pioneer and hero: World Food Prize laureate George McGovern, 90, entered hospice care. He died Sunday, October 21, 2012.
The former U.S. senator and ambassador devoted much of his career to fighting for programs that support hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.
McGovern and former U.S. Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) were awarded the 2008 World Food Prize for their "inspired, collaborative leadership that has encouraged a global commitment to school feeding and enhanced school attendance and nutrition for millions of the world’s poorest children, especially girls." Since the 1990s, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program has provided low-income countries with commodities as well as financial and technical assistance for school meal programs. The program also supports maternal, infant, and child nutrition programs. In 2010, the program served about 5 million people in 28 countries with a budget of $200 million--that's just $40 per person.
Under President John F. Kennedy, McGovern was the first director of the Food for Peace initiative, which is still the primary U.S. food aid program, feeding millions of refugees and others facing hunger emergencies every year. McGovern played an instrumental role in setting up the World Food Program (WFP), now the world’s largest humanitarian aid agency, and later became WFP's first Goodwill Ambassador.
McGovern was also concerned about hunger here at home. Just one example: he was an architect of the modern Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), then known as the Food Stamp Program. Today, SNAP helps put food on the table of more than 46 million low-income Americans as the nation's primary nutrition safety net for families.
McGovern continued his work on hunger well into his 80s. His advocacy improved the lives of millions of people, and his death is a major loss for people facing hunger and others working to find lasting solutions to the problem.
George McGovern's example of steadfast and determined advocacy is proof of a central tenet of Bread for the World's work: one person can make an enormous difference -- whether as a member of Congress and ambassador, or as "just" a person who speaks up for hungry people and shares information about policies that will end hunger. We can each help achieve the very tangible goal of all McGovern's work: access to sufficient nutritious food for all 7 billion of us.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
So what’s a nutrition barometer? It’s the same principle as a weather barometer, used to measure atmospheric pressure so that short-term changes can be predicted. Two of Bread for the World’s partner organizations who also work to end global hunger and poverty published a report that measures and ranks countries’ progress in combating malnutrition. Save the Children (UK) and World Vision developed the first nutrition barometer, calling it a snapshot of national governments’ commitments to addressing children’s nutrition, and the progress they have made.
The barometer includes analysis of the 36 countries with the highest levels of child undernutrition. It measures governments’ political and legal commitments to tackling malnutrition (for example, whether they have a national nutrition plan), as well as their commitment of money. Actual progress is measured by children’s nutritional status – the percentage who are underweight, stunted, or suffering from wasting – and by a child’s chance of survival to age 5. Countries are then ranked, according to both their commitments and their nutritional and child survival outcomes, in four categories – sound (green), fair (yellow), emerging (blue) and frail (red).This year is becoming one of the most important ever in the fight against malnutrition, especially among vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and young children in the critical 1,000 days window of opportunity. In addition to statements on nutrition by President Obama at the G-8 Nutrition Summit and the launch of the New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition, the U.K. hosted an additional summit focused on nutrition during the London Olympics. At the London summit, British Prime Minister Cameron and Brazilian Vice-President Temer laid out a prescriptive course of action aimed at reducing the number of stunted children in the world by 25 million by the beginning of the next Olympic Games, scheduled for 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. If this goal is reached, we will be well on the way to the aspirational goal announced by the World Health Assembly of reducing the number of stunted children by 40 percent globally by 2025.
We are witnessing other key nutrition initiatives as well, including the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health, and the 1,000 Days Partnership. U.S. assistance provided through Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative has a renewed focus on nutrition as a cross-cutting development issue, much as gender and climate change are. Cross-cutting issues are particularly important because they are key influences in multiple sectors, such as agriculture, health, and education.
So which countries fared well on the nutrition barometer, and which have much progress to make? Guatemala, Malawi, and Peru are at the top, showing both strong commitments and successful outcomes. At the other end of the scale are countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and Yemen, who lack political and economic commitments, and where women and children continue to suffer high levels of malnutrition.
We have been blogging regularly about the global momentum that is building in the fight to end hunger and malnutrition. The world’s poorest countries have made political and budget commitments in the form of national nutrition strategies, because they are convinced that having a healthy, well-nourished population is the way to improved economic performance. The United States continues to be a global leader in fighting malnutrition, but that leadership will be put to the test when Congress returns for its so-called “lame duck” session after the national elections. A new farm bill that funds food aid and mandates nutritional improvements needs to be negotiated since the 2008 farm bill expired on September 30, 2012.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report concluding that “the use of specialized food products, especially some of those most recently introduced, offers the promise of providing better nutrition to the most vulnerable.” Consuming these new food products has shown life-saving results in those suffering from severe and moderate acute malnutrition.
Bread for the World Institute, in its Briefing Paper 15 of February 2012, came to a similar conclusion. One of our key points put it this way: “Food aid is an essential tool in tackling malnutrition. As the world’s largest provider of food aid, the United States can lead the way in improving its quality to better target undernourished women and children.” We also recommended that already available specialized food products be procured and more widely distributed by USAID, and that successful pilot programs be moved quickly “to scale” so that evidence of the efficacy of specialized food products can be documented.
These new food aid products--in particular, lipid-based nutrition supplements (LNS)--have shown great promise but are quite expensive, especially compared to traditional cereal-based food aid. Lipids are fats—key ingredients in food aid since they promote rapid weight gain, which is precisely what malnourished children need. LNS can also treat adults with chronic malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, and/or long-term illnesses. LNS products have revolutionized how ready-to-use supplemental and therapeutic foods are used in treating malnutrition. They are normally available in the form of a spreadable paste and can be made from legumes (peas, lentils), peanuts, chickpeas, sesame seeds, maize, and/or soybeans. LNS can be manufactured with simple technology available in developing countries; doing so could help bring down their cost.
There are new cereal-based specialized food aid products as well. The traditional type of food aid, corn-soy blend (CSB), has been proven to be as effective as LNS in certain feeding situations when fortified with powdered milk protein, which is added to help the body absorb needed micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). New CSB formulations that are energy-dense and micronutrient-fortified are being tested in pilot programs.
GAO shares the conclusion of our February policy brief: in a restrictive federal budget environment, there is a danger that food aid decisions will be based solely on the cost per ton of a delivered product--seen as a quality-versus-quantity tradeoff. But in circumstances where a high percentage of vulnerable groups (including women and children) are suffering from severe malnutrition, choosing more costly specialized food products can be, according to GAO, “the optimal policy option.” Another point of agreement is that efforts are needed to ensure that specialized food aid is well-targeted to its intended recipients.
Since it takes time for a government agency to develop new policy guidance, USAID should issue interim guidance on food aid targeting as soon as possible. This way, its implementing partners, who deliver food aid where it is most needed, can make smart decisions on when and how to program the range of specialized products that are available.
This is a big week for global nutrition at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York City! Multiple events around the UNGA will highlight U.S. and global progress on food security and nutrition commitments, especially those designed to ensure good nutrition for children in the 1,000 Days window of opportunity from pregnancy to age 2.
The 2nd Annual High-Level Meeting of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement will be hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on September 27. It will feature the progress that various SUN countries have made on improving nutrition, opportunities for increased impact, and a renewed commitment to achieving results.
Bread President David Beckmann and Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, will be attending the meeting as well as other events focused on nutrition and food security.
At a side event during UNGA, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, along with other U.S. government and civil society representatives, will highlight the progress of Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative, and articulate the critical roles of civil society organizations in this effort to reach sustainable food security. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof will moderate two panels with U.S. government and civil society representatives.
You can watch Secretary Clinton's remarks here on Thursday:
Finally, Save the Children/UK and World Vision will release their new Nutrition Barometer, which measures governments’ commitments and actions on nutrition. They will also outline the steps needed to reach the goal of reducing global stunting by 40 percent by the year 2025.
It’s an exciting week for nutrition advocacy, and for the countries that have made political and budget commitments to improve the lives of vulnerable people, particularly young children and pregnant women. Keep reading Institute Notes for additional updates!
Posted by Scott Bleggi on September 26, 2012 in Africa, Agriculture, Assets for the Poor, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)