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123 posts categorized "Food Prices"
When we look at ways to improve maternal and child nutrition, better availability and access to food first comes to mind. This has been the traditional response in agricultural development assistance, but evidence has shown that increasing farm yields, while increasing producer incomes, in and of itself will not improve individual and household nutrition status.
If providing more food alone won’t improve nutrition, what other interventions are needed? One is a direct, or “nutrition-specific”, intervention that addresses the immediate causes. These have been well-defined in the first Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, and have a strong evidence base showing their effectiveness. Interventions such as providing micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) such as zinc, iron and iodized salt were shown to have a profound impact on childhood stunting and early childhood death.
The studies also showed that to be effective in the long-term, these interventions needed to be supplemented by improvements in the underlying, or indirect, causes of malnutrition. Bread for the World Institute published a briefing paper on defining these other types of interventions, and addressing malnutrition through “nutrition-sensitive” development actions. These can take place in multiple sectors, including agriculture. Interventions that address poverty, gender inequality, food insecurity, education, health and access to basic services can all improve nutrition.
An examination of 14 different studies on improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in ten low and middle-income countries shows that improvements in this area can “slightly improve height growth in children under five years of age”, which is a measure of malnutrition. Only slightly? Well, that’s disappointing. Lawrence Haddad reported in his blog that “we shouldn’t give up” on WASH interventions based on this lukewarm report for a number of reasons, including the fact that the study was only 12 months in duration. And the authors stated that “none of the studies is of high methodological quality”.
Are WASH efforts an effective way to improve nutrition? Yes! A number of current studies will add to what are the first data points in an evidence base of nutrition-sensitive development actions. The evidence base of successful nutrition outcomes based on these actions is being built. According to the second Lancet series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, nutrition-sensitive development actions “have an enormous potential to enhance the scale and effectiveness of nutrition-specific interventions”.
Key to sustaining improved nutrition outcomes is a combination of both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive actions. Identifying, measuring and reporting on them across developmental assistance sectors in overseas projects will quickly build an evidence base of successful nutrition outcomes.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is developing its agency nutrition strategy, one that will eventually grow to be “whole of government”. Recognizing that many of its global development assistance activities, especially those in the Feed the Future Initiative, already have substantial nutrition-sensitive components should be an important part of developing that strategy.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on September 06, 2013 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, Hunger Report, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Syrian refugees shortly after crossing the border into Jordan. (UNHCR/J. Kohler)
Syria dominates our media outlets, news pages, and Twitter and Facebook feeds. The conflict itself and the prospect of external intervention get most of the attention. The millions displaced (now one third of the Syrian population) and left to face homelessness and severe poverty and hunger somehow don't get as much. More of the world’s refugees are Syrian than any other nationality, and millions more have been forced from their homes but remain in the country. They have lost everything – their homes, livelihoods, and possessions — and are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian relief is one of the most important things the United States can do to save lives in Syria. To help cover current and future needs, the United States can stretch the value of its aid dollars to reach more people, even without an increase in the budget. This is important because there is no telling when the conflict will end. Right now, there’s no end in sight.
The United States is the largest donor of emergency food assistance in Syria. A sizable share of that assistance is being provided through cash transfers, vouchers, and locally and regionally sourced food via the Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP). This new program, started just last year, makes the process of providing emergency food aid much more efficient and cost-effective. It eliminates the high costs in time and money of shipping food thousands of miles from the United States to the people who need it. Unfortunately, EFSP is an exception to the way food aid is delivered, not the rule.
The current food aid system that’s been in place since 1954 requires that bulk commodities be purchased from only U.S. agribusiness corporations and then shipped through U.S.-based shipping companies before being dispersed at the local level. These shipments take anywhere from three to five months to arrive, which can be far too late to help emergency situations. And once the food is dispersed, it often undercuts the efforts of local and regional farmers to sell their crops, dealing a backhanded blow to longer-term local food security and economic stability. The majority of U.S. food aid is still delivered under this archaic system.
A few months ago, President Obama proposed serious reforms that would help remove the long-entrenched barriers that waste U.S. taxpayer money and, more importantly, innocent lives across the world. These reforms alone would enable the United States to reach an additional two to four million people with food aid, and other targeted reforms could extend that reach to up to 17.1 million people. None of these reforms would increase current aid spending. In a situation like Syria where people are being displaced by the tens of thousands per week, those numbers matter immensely.
There is intense debate about the role of the United States and other countries in Syria’s civil war. But there should be no debate about changing “business as usual” food aid policies to better help the millions of innocent men, women, and children caught in the middle.
Posted by Bread on September 03, 2013 in Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Religion and Hunger, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined with 95 percent certainty that human activity is responsible for Earth’s climate changes between 1950 and 2000, which include rising average surface temperatures and increased climactic volatility. In a draft summary of its forthcoming climate report that was leaked this past weekend, the United Nations panel of top climate scientists notes that the 95 percent figure reflects more confidence in the data than ever before.
The report, the IPCC’s fifth climate assessment since its inception in 1988, also includes an increase in the estimate of how far sea levels will rise because of climate change. The IPCC now believes that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at projected rates, oceans could rise by as much as three feet. That’s enough to severely threaten the very existence of some of the world’s largest cities including New York, Guangzhou (China), Mumbai (India), Nagoya (Japan) to name a few.
This image from the leaked first-order draft of the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report illustrates the group's high-end projections for sea-level increases in the 21st century. (UN IPCC)
Bread for the World Institute focuses primarily on the impact of climate change on hunger -- and on people with the fewest resources to mitigate the damage it is already causing. The world’s poorest people stand to lose the most. The OECD recently reported that climate change is adding another layer of complexity to the already crippling burden of vulnerabilities that poor people must manage. Climate change further reduces access to clean water and threatens agricultural production systems, which in turn endanger the fragile health and food security status of many people in African, Asian, and Latin American countries. In areas where livelihood options are already limited, lower crop yields mean more widespread hunger. Migration is one of the only solutions in areas where climate change is putting coastal land underwater or is projected to do so soon.
The IPCC’s latest report amplifies a reality that astoundingly somehow still seems to need repeating: climate change can rapidly reverse the world’s hard-won progress against hunger and poverty. Unless decisive action is taken by global leaders in both rick and poor countries to reduce emissions and build resilience in the developing world, one of the worst consequences of climate change – hunger – will become a more intractable and perhaps more widespread problem.
Posted by Bread on August 21, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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)
Twenty percent of federally contracted workers fell below the poverty line and 40 percent earned less than a living wage in 2006.
A new report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) introduces Americans to some of the individuals behind those numbers; employees contracted by the federal government who live at or near the poverty line -- a situation that not only keeps them from meeting their family’s immediate needs (like food), but leaves no room for the kind of investments (like education) that can lift them out of poverty. The report, titled Taking the Low Road: How the Federal Government Promotes Poverty-Wage Jobs Through its Contracting Practices, draws upon interviews with more than five-hundred contracted workers across the country, and sheds light into the dark corners of the federal government’s low-bid contracting system.
Graph from NELP Report shows growth of federally contracted jobs since 2000.
Nearly half of the federal workforce is hired through contracts—a system that too often leaves its workers earning near minimum wage, without access to basic benefits like healthcare or paid sick-leave. It also makes it much easier for workers to be let-go without notice or explanation. NELP’s collection of stories illustrates the toll this dysfunctional system takes not only on workers and their families, but on the national economy: “By creating hardship for millions of working families in the short term and delaying economic recovery and adding stress to safety net programs in the long term, these shortsighted policies inevitably lead to more government spending -- precisely the result advocates of low-bid contracting were trying to avoid.”
Here’s what some federally contracted workers interviewed by NELP said about their work experiences:
“This wage is not enough to afford food or even to pay for the subway to go to work...I only ask for a good wage and good insurance in return, so that my family can enjoy the fruit of my work. I dream of my eight-year-old son being able to go to college…I want him to work with a computer and not a broom.”
- Nelly Garcia, Janitor at Old Post Office Building in Washington, DC
“Now, I’m over 65 years old, and I guess I feel disheartened most of the time because I can’t get ahead. I do what I can, but mostly now I’m working for the medical insurance.”
-Lucy Johnson, A sewing machine operator in Knoxville who earns the minimum wage after over 25 years at work
“It is very difficult for me and my family. I must pay the rent, buy clothing for the children, and feed them. But my wages are not always enough. I wish that I did not have to depend on government help like Medicaid and food stamps, but without the help we would be homeless or starving.”
-Carmen Cortes, Janitor at Union Station, Washington DC
The 2013 Hunger Report reminds us that the most severe effects of our increasingly skewed labor market fall on low-wage workers in all sectors:
The work low-wage workers do is needed, and always will be: janitors, food-service workers, landscapers, farm workers, and others. And the people who have these jobs will, of course, always need to earn a living. Thus, one essential response is to ensure that all jobs pay enough to keep employees above the poverty line. Government must do more to counter the downward pressure on wages. Secondly, human-capital development must be strengthened so that even if some jobs are dead-end jobs, no one is trapped in them for lack of alternatives.
The federal government must be a model good employer for the rest of the country. When it chooses to put its people first and uphold decent wage and work standards, it motivates public and private sector employers to do the same and encourages the kind of human capital investment that strengthens our economy and reduces poverty and hunger.
To read more about the relationship between labor standards and poverty and hunger, check out Chapter 4 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
Indian women and children bundle stalks of grain, which would become more affordable and accessible under the National Food Security Bill. (Photo Credit: Margaret W. Nea)
Last week, President Pranab Mukherjee of India issued an executive order to keep a longstanding promise: the poorest two-thirds of India’s population, 800 million people, will be guaranteed access to low-price grains. India’s new National Food Security Ordinance, if ratified by Parliament, will be the world’s largest social protection system -- much needed since nearly half of India’s children are undernourished.
Every month, each eligible person -- primarily residents of rural area -- will be entitled to purchase a package with 15 kilograms (about 33 pounds) of rice, wheat, and millet for the equivalent of 12 cents.
India is the world’s second-largest food producer and already grows more than enough to feed its population. However, the country lacks sufficient storage and adequate distribution infrastructure to move its crops to where they’re needed, when they’re needed. An estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of all crops grown spoils before it can reach consumers. Both of these factors drive up prices, making adequate food unaffordable for much of the population. And as in other parts of the world, the single greatest cause of continued hunger is widespread poverty and inequality.
Critics of the new food security ordinance argue that the national government is not capable of implementing such an extensive program; they speculate that the only reason Mukherjee signed the ordinance is to win last-minute political points ahead of the national elections scheduled for 2014. There is reason for skepticism; the Indian government has a corruption-tainted history of failed poverty reduction programs that stretches back over several presidential administrations.But supporters say that solutions, even if imperfect, cannot be put off: the country’s malnutrition problem is simply too widespread and urgent. Even if we set aside for the moment the immediate costs in human lives and health malnutrition is a problem India cannot afford. A recent report by Save the Children found that by 2030, malnutrition will have cost the world $125 billion in lost productivity—including nearly $46 billion for India alone.
The 2013 Hunger Report assesses India’s lagging progress in combatting hunger, compared to countries whose economies are developing in similar ways. India is the only country among the middle-income BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) that has not significantly reduced its rate of hunger since 2000. India’s lack of progress poses a serious threat to the world’s chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of cutting extreme global hunger in half by the end of 2015. Hunger and poverty in India already weigh heavily in global statistics, and India’s impact on global statistics will only increase as it overtakes China to become the most populous country in the world.
MDGs aside, social protection programs such as the National Food Security Ordinance make key investments in future generations that can pay off later in higher national productivity and a more capable workforce. Research shows that every dollar invested in proper nutrition -- particularly in proven and cost-effective interventions designed to prevent malnutrition among pregnant women and children in the 1,000-day window between pregnancy and age 2 -- can generate as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity for a national economy.
India is financing its own poverty reduction programs, and it can afford to. The new food security ordinance, though worthy of skepticism, is an opportunity for the country to make food security possible for a huge number of people at risk of hunger. It’s on a globally game-changing scale. If this initiative succeeds, the payoffs would be enormous. That’s why it must be accompanied by an unwavering commitment to transparency and the increased investment in the infrastructure that will make it possible.
To learn more about reducing hunger and malnutrition in India, see chapter 3 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
Posted by Bread on July 08, 2013 in Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Chart from 2013 MDGs Report reveals that the hunger reduction target is within reach if recent slowdowns in progress can be reversed. (Image Credit: UNDP)
Today in Geneva, Switzerland, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) released its most recent update on the world’s progress toward the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets—the 2013 Millennium Development Goals Report. The eight MDGs, set in 2000, have led an ambitious global effort to improve the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people by 2015. With 912 days left (by our watch) to meet the MDGs, the report comes at a crucial time.
The most pronounced victories in the report are that the MDG targets on halving the proportion of people in extreme poverty and increasing access to clean water have been met. These accomplishments are heartening, though we've known about them for a while now. The fulfillment of the poverty goal was already announced last year by the World Bank, based on data from 2010.
Arguably the real news from this year's report is that the world has advanced further than previously thought on cutting in half the proportion of people who are undernourished. Even one year ago, many were doubtful that the goal could be met, particularly because of the setbacks brought on by the global economic downturn and the resulting food price crisis of 2008, believed to have pushed the number of hungry people over 1 billion for the first time.
But according to the U.N.’s latest numbers, we’re closer than we thought. While hunger remains disturbingly common, the proportion of undernourished people has decreased from 23.2 percent of the total population in 1990–1992 to 14.9 percent in 2010–2012. This suggests that progress in reducing hunger has been more pronounced than previously believed.
In the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, published in late 2012, we at Bread for the World Institute expressed concern about the world’s ability to realistically meet the hunger goal:
At this point, it is not clear whether the hunger target of the MDGs will be met by the 2015 deadline. Too little attention has been paid to the interrelationship between hunger and poverty, particularly in rural areas where most of the world’s hungry and poor people live…Since the MDGs were adopted, both developing country governments and aid donors have increased their investments in agriculture and rural development—but not soon enough and not by enough to accelerate reductions in hunger.
The hunger goal’s prospects look better today than they did a year ago, but the concerns raised last year remain valid. Just as with progrss on poverty, progress on hunger has not been equally shared across geographic regions. Rates of undernutrition in East Asia and Latin America continue to fall rapidly, while those of South Asia, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa — rural areas in particular — remain stubbornly inflated. Sustained, targeted investments in rural development by donor countries, such as the Obama administration’s recently evaluated Feed the Future initiative, will be needed. Reaching the often-overlooked MDG 8, which stresses the establishment of true global partnerships for development, will only grow more crucial as the world stretches to reach the hunger target by 2015.
To read more on the history hunger and poverty goal and the seven other MDGs, visit www.hungerreport.org.
Posted by Bread on July 01, 2013 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, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, U.S. Hunger | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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