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134 posts categorized "Foreign Aid Reform"
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued its annual report on food security this month. Its conclusions reinforce a growing consensus: immigration reduces hunger.
The role of immigrant remittances (the money immigrants send home to their families) in
reducing hunger and poverty in their home countries was one of the key points of the FAO report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World. The report points out that not only are remittances important to reducing hunger and poverty, in many cases they play a larger role in reducing poverty than foreign assistance.
In some countries, remittances now rival foreign direct investment in overall importance to the economy, and in the near future, this may be true of developing countries in general (see graphic above).
This is how the report’s executive summary describes the impact of remittances:
“Remittances, which have globally become three times larger than official development assistance, have had significant impacts on poverty and food security. This report suggests that remittances can help to reduce poverty, leading to reduced hunger, better diets and, given appropriate policies, increased on-farm investment.”
Remittances not only enable the families of people working outside the country to pay for the food, shelter, clothing, and health care they need, but in some cases have increased small-scale investment, including in agriculture. The State of Food Insecurity in the World reports that this is “particularly beneficial to growth where food production and distribution still rely on small-scale and local networks. This holds in particular for sub-Saharan African countries.”
Bread for the World Institute has analyzed the impact of remittances on poverty in Central America and the potential these resources hold for creating jobs and promoting economic development. Our analysis finds that it is useful for remittances to be complemented by development assistance programs that build capacity in recipient communities so that people can more effectively invest the money sent to them—including in agriculture and other food security efforts.
The FAO report emphasizes that there is no single solution to hunger. It will take a variety of strategies to eliminate hunger and poverty—development assistance, public-private partnerships, and indigenous economic development are only a few examples. But The State of Food Insecurity in the World highlights the key role of remittances—and immigration broadly—in reducing hunger and driving economic growth in both developing and developed nations.
This morning with the release of its annual report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced a continued drop in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger. The new figure is 842 million, which is 26 million fewer people than last year’s report of 868 million.
This improvement offers additional evidence that the global response to the 2007-2008 food price crisis – a response that included a U.S. pledge of $3.5 billion for food security, agriculture, and nutrition and led to the establishment of Feed the Future – helped prevent a longer-term reversal of global progress against hunger and is contributing to current progress on hunger. The food price crisis, during which the costs of staple grains such as rice and maize suddenly doubled or tripled, is believed to have driven an additional 100 million people into poverty.
FAO reports that if the average progress of the past 21 years continues through 2015, malnutrition in developing regions will reach a level close to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing hunger by half, but “considerable and immediate additional efforts” will be necessary to fully meet the goal. The report recommends that food security and agriculture remain targeted priorities on the post-MDG, post-2015 development agenda in order to sustain progress.
The SOFI report also notes:
- In some countries, there are many more stunted children than the data on how many people lack sufficient calories would suggest. Because stunting is evidence of chronic malnutrition in early childhood and is accompanied by irreversible damage to a child’s physical and cognitive development, “nutrition-enhancing interventions are crucial” and require a range of food security and nutrition actions in areas such as agriculture, health, hygiene, and water supply.
- The most significant decreases in hunger have occurred in East and Southeast Asia and in Latin America. Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest hunger rates. Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and North Africa made only modest progress over the past year, while West Asia recorded no progress.
- Though economic growth is a key driver of progress against hunger and poverty, it is not always equitably shared. In many countries, particularly middle-income countries, people who are among the “poorest of the poor” are in danger of being left behind.
You can access the full SOFI report, the executive summary, and the most recent country-level data for every indicator here at the SOFI webpage on FAO’s website.
Posted by Bread on October 01, 2013 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, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Efforts to improve maternal and child nutrition reach new heights this week as representatives from 42 member countries of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement gather in New York for their first-ever global meeting.
As one of the events taking place on the margins of this week’s United Nations General Assembly meetings, the SUN Global Gathering will draw increased political attention to the urgent problem of early childhood malnutrition and provide a space where government and civil society leaders can share “best practices” from their experiences in seeking solutions to malnutrition at the national and local levels. As the General Assembly takes up the issue of how to formulate the global development goals that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in December 2015, the presence of SUN leaders will send a clear message: nutrition must become a pillar of the post-2015 development agenda.
The surest indicator of chronic malnutrition is stunting. One in four children around the world is stunted—and being far too short for their age is only the most visible sign. When children are stunted, they lose—not only in physical size, but in health, physical and cognitive development, and the long-term capacity to lead a productive life. Nutrition is a critical element of human development that affects many other issues, including poverty, education, agriculture, gender equity, economic development, and climate change. (You can read more about the cross-cutting nature of nutrition interventions here).
Celebrating the First 1,000 Days on Dipity.
The timeline above reminds us that much has happened since September 2010, when developing countries founded the SUN movement and donors—led by the United States and Ireland—launched the 1,000 Days Call to Action to support it. What started as the recommendations of a scientific series in the leading medical journal The Lancet on what we know about early childhood malnutrition has grown into a global partnership. To date, 42 countries (up from 35 since this past June) 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 inflicts on whole generations—and, conversely, the tremendous return on national investments that prevent it.
The 2013 Hunger Report is chock-full of stories on maternal and child nutrition, stunting, the 1,000 Days 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 on nutrition in the 1,000 days from pregnancy to age 2.
Posted by Bread on September 23, 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, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have served as a shared framework for global action and cooperation on development since 2000.
Ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) next month to define a new universal development agenda, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released a report, A Life of Dignity for All. The report contains updates on the progress of the MDGs and his vision for the road ahead. While the report focuses mostly on accelerating the MDGs, it also emphasizes prioritizing of key issues including hunger and malnutrition, women empowerment, poverty and inequality.
With less than 1,000 days to the 2015 overall target date for achieving the MDGs, what is clear is that bold action is needed in many areas. For example, although progress has been tremendous on several goals, one in eight people worldwide still remain hungry.
Bread for the World Institute’s upcoming Briefing Paper will provide in-depth analysis and recommendations for the post-2015 global development agenda. It emphasizes that the post-2015 global development framework needs to build on MDG progress while simultaneously identifying new challenges and opportunities to ending hunger and poverty by 2030.
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)
Overcoming the dehumanization produced by a system of consumption, and reinvigorating love in every human being's heart. Union and harmonious interaction in diversity are the basis for the common good.
According to a panel of some of the poorest people in Brazil -- people with little formal education and no cellphones -- that's what development means.
As the world makes a final push to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by December 2015, developing a "post-2015 agenda" for global development is on the minds of many. We hear a lot about High Level panels, meetings, and the like.
Participate: Knowledge from the Margins for Post-2015 is a coalition effort, led by the U.K. Institute of Development Studies and the global campaign Beyond 2015 and funded by the U.K. government, to "provide high-quality evidence of the reality of poverty on the ground."
One criticism of the MDGs is that the targets don't reach the poorest and most marginalized people. Mathematically, it's quite possible to cut hunger in half with little improvement in the lives of millions of the poorest. And practically, it's a lot more than possible -- because they are the hardest people to reach.
So Participate set out to form "Ground Level panels." Four groups of experts -- people who are living with hunger and poverty in Brazil, Uganda, Egypt, and India -- offered a "reality check" for the High Level panel, which presented its recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in May.
Each Ground Level panel included a diverse group of 11-14 people. Among them were residents of urban slums, disabled people, people living in areas affected by conflict, people from nomadic and/or indigenous communities, and older people.
Learn more about what they said in The Guardian's article with links, including links to the full texts of the four panel reports.
Participate's resources also include the voices of many other marginalized people. Two of these resources are:
A report that compiles the main messages from 84 initiatives to listen to some of the poorest people
"What Do We Know About How to Bring the Perspectives of People Living in Poverty into Global Policymaking?"
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)
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