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130 posts categorized "Foreign Aid Reform"
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)
Dr. Robert Black of Johns Hopkins University, who spoke at the Bread for the World Institute/Concern Worldwide “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling up Nutrition” event in Washington, DC on June 10, 2013, recently authored an article offering the opinion of the Lancet’s Maternal and Child Nutrition (MCN) Study Group on how best to build momentum for impact (registration required to read full article) of nutrition interventions.
Since the Lancet’s historic 2008 MCN series, global governments have committed funding and policy changes aimed at nutrition interventions in the 1,000 days window of opportunity, where they can be most effective and have a high rate of return. Bread for the World Institute reported on these worldwide efforts to improve MCN in a briefing paper in March 2013, which also noted the importance of sustaining the U.S. government’s political commitments. The Scaling up Nutrition movement was born, and now includes 41 countries where rates of malnutrition are highest and affect an entire range of a country’s development, from child mortality to disease susceptibility to even its gross domestic product (a measure of economic output).
What is the “massive unfinished agenda” that Dr. Black mentions? It is 165 million children who remain stunted. It is the fact that undernutrition causes 45% of deaths of all children under age 5 – amounting to three million children. It is also the “other side” of malnutrition, obesity, which is an “emerging burden establishing itself globally, affecting both poor and rich populations”.
Evidence in the Lancet series on MCN supports ten proven nutrition interventions, which if scaled up to cover 90% of a country’s need, would eliminate nearly a million of those child deaths under age 5 and reduce the number of stunted children by 33 million. The cost of this global 90% scaling up of nutrition interventions is estimated at $9.6 billion dollars per year. And what is the benefit? Saved lives and economic progress in developing countries are benefits that can be valued at many times that amount.
The second Lancet MCN series released last month focused on nutrition-sensitive activities across development sectors that address the indirect, or underlying, causes of malnutrition. Creating an enabling environment to have success requires sound data (an evidence base), cooperation and collaboration across development sectors (health, education, gender, water, sanitation, and hygiene), increased local capacities, and sustainable means to finance the interventions, from both public and private sources. Bread for the World Institute’s briefing paper on nutrition-sensitive development actions was instrumental in moving the discussion on nutrition-sensitive actions among government and civil society nutrition stakeholders forward.
Dr. Black notes the impetus for improving nutrition is stronger today than it was five years ago. The World Health Assembly nutrition targets, which include a 40% reduction of the global number of children under age 5 who are stunted, can be achieved by the year 2025 with “sufficient support”.
The support that is needed comes in many forms – political, financial, economic and social. The advocacy provided by Bread for the World and its members to the U.S. Congress and Obama Administration on efforts to reduce maternal and child malnutrition is key to sustaining the political leadership and policy momentum achieved so far. Our work on the agenda is unfinished as well.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on August 02, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Since 1970, the USDA has published a yearly report forecasting the state of the world’s food insecurity in the coming years. Using a combination of food consumption and food price data, the USDA looked at 76 of the world’s poorest countries to predict food insecurity for the next 20 years. In the recently released 2013 report, the predictions are that the growth rate of the global hungry population will surpass the overall population growth rate. In other words, the percentage of people in the world without enough food will increase.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the most food insecure region in the world, and has the lowest per capita food consumption. Based on its current analysis, USDA predicts this is not going to change. In fact, the distribution gap—the amount of additional food needed to bring all people into food security—is predicted to grow significantly larger in this region.
Asia is home to more undernourished people than any other region in the world. Almost 57% of the world’s population with chronic food insecurity lives in an Asian country, and the USDA predicts that this will continue to be the case in the coming twenty years.
A promising sign, however, is less hunger in the Latin America and Caribbean region, where the number of food-insecure people is projected to decline by nearly 7 percent in the next decade.
All of the report’s predictions are based on projected food prices. With changes in weather patterns, energy prices and political actions, the price of food has been known to fluctuate greatly. A price spike could mean millions more people go hungry than expected, and stable or lower prices could boost a poor country’s ability to feed itself.
The overall negative tone of the USDA’s report can serve both as an early warning and motivation for changes in policies and programs that build local capacities and resilience to withstand inevitable swings in food prices.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on August 01, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Yesterday, the United States International Development Agency (USAID) announced the release of the most detailed data yet available on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. USAID has added over 50,000 financial transactions reflecting spending as recent as June 30, 2013.
For the first time, members of the public can now search and visualize expanded, timely information about what, where, how, and with whom USAID programs work. The financial transactions include detailed information across 30 descriptive fields, including vendor, location, award title, descriptions, and more. The addition of USAID’s financial transactions is a significant milestone for U.S. Government foreign assistance transparency. The new USAID data is visualized on the site, can be downloaded in machine-readable format, and is included in the U.S. Government’s data files in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) format.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard displays data from the Department of State, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Treasury. The Dashboard continues to expand with the goal of including detailed foreign assistance budget, financial, and program data from all U.S. Government agencies that fund or implement foreign assistance in accordance with the Office of management and budget Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin 12-01. As new data are added to the Dashboard, the IATI data files will also be updated to reflect these new data.
To understand the information presented in the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, users are encouraged to read the supplementary information under the What You Should Know section of the website.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on July 31, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Transparency in foreign aid is necessary so that both taxpayers in the donor country and nongovernmental organizations and citizens in the partner country are able to hold their governments accountable for how it’s used. Taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent and what results they are achieving. And residents of the countries that receive aid should be able to tell what the aid is for and where it’s going.
Taking all opportunities to improve transparency and coordination is therefore important to ensure that scarce foreign assistance resources are used efficiently to make as much progress as possible against hunger and poverty.
In recent years, the U.S. government has started several new initiatives to improve the transparency and accountability of development assistance. In December 2010, the Obama administration launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard as a “one-stop shop” to find data on all U.S. foreign aid spending.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard was created to put into practice the principles of both the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. The administration issued guidance on when and how agencies should report information on the website. These are steps in the right direction, but more can be done.
Part of President Obama's Open Government Inititiative: The newly launched data.gov, a one stop-shop for government and private sector information, including development data (screenshot).
Another initiative, on program evaluation, is off to a good start since both the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) have new evaluation policies. There are no standards on monitoring and evaluation for more than 20 other agencies that deliver U.S. foreign assistance. But help is on the way.
Last week, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, H.R. 2638, was introduced in the House with broad bipartisan support. The bill seeks to establish interagency monitoring and evaluation guidelines for U.S. development assistance programs and to centralize public access to subsequent data and reports.
H.R. 2638 directs the president to establish goals and performance and evaluation guidelines for U.S. foreign assistance programs, country assistance plans, and international and multilateral assistance programs. The administration should also establish a website to make publicly available information on U.S. foreign assistance programs.
The introduction of this bill with bipartisan support is a sign that the executive branch and Congress can establish a constructive partnership on aid reform. It would ensure that best practices in monitoring and evaluation for development results are adopted more broadly and that the administration continues to add new information to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard website, which has already provided an unprecedented level of transparency on U.S. foreign assistance.
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