Developing strategies to end hunger

179 posts categorized "Millennium Development Goals"

In Efforts to End Hunger, Inclusion Matters

 On October 9, the World Bank will launch Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity, a report detailing the need to confront social exclusion in order to end extreme poverty and hunger. It is the World Bank's first-ever report on this vital but sometimes overlooked topic.

The U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have spurred significant progress on extreme poverty, hunger, child mortality, and other global problems. It's possible, however, to meet MDG targets while still leaving the poorest people behind. For example, it proved much easier to cut the rate of extreme poverty in half by enabling people closest to the poverty line to cross just over it to "non-poor" status, than by trying to bring those in the deepest poverty above the poverty threshold.

This is why one of the main recommendations of the U.N. Secretary General's High-Level Panel on the post-2015, post-MDG development agenda, which released its report in May 2013, is to leave no one behind by focusing a new set of development goals on reaching excluded groups.

In virtually all societies, there are people who are ostracized. Socially excluded groups confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in the political, economic, and social life of their nations. The World Bank report explains that they are "branded by stereotypes, stigmas, and superstitions."  

In order to build shared prosperity for all, the global community must respond to social exclusion in all its forms. The High-Level Panel report described the task as ensuring that "no person -- regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race, or status -- is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities."

The Inclusion Matters report presents what we know about social exclusion and its costs. Most importantly, it emphasizes that societies can instead plan and achieve social inclusion. It will almost always take time, but it can be done.

On October 9, download the report from the World Bank's social inclusion site or use hashtag #inclusionmatters on Twitter.

Michele Learner

SOFI Puts Number of Hungry People at 842 Million -- An Improvement

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. 

Undernourishment in the developing regions

 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.

Derek Schwabe


The Clock is Ticking: Toward 2015

In May 2013, the High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda—a group tasked with advising the United Nations Secretary General—released its report A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development. The report advocates five “global shifts”:

  • Leave no one behind;
  • Put sustainable development at the core;
  • Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth;
  • Build peace and effective, open, and accountable institutions for all; and
  • Forge a new global partnership.

Bread for the World Institute's latest briefing paper, A Global Development Agenda: Toward 2015 and Beyond, emphasizes that the post-2015 development agenda provides an opportunity to promote equity and equitable growth in all countries. It is also an opportunity to recognize linkages across key areas: food security and good nutrition for all; agricultural development; women’s economic empowerment; and good governance and effective institutions. Goals should be formulated in ways that capture the great potential of coordinated approaches, which have proven to be highly effective in responding to multiple development challenges.

Last week in New York, a special event convened by the president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) sought to review progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to chart the way toward December 2015, the MDG deadline.The Millennium Development Goals Outcome Document released at the event calls on the global community to build on past achievements, redouble its efforts, and accelerate progress on the MDGs.

Faustine Wabwire

First Global Gathering of SUN Countries in New York

Hunger Report Monday

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).

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 to get the full story on Bread for the World’s recommendations on nutrition in the 1,000 days from pregnancy to age 2. Derek Schwabe

The Road to Good Nutrition Is Launched

Photo 2 for Asma's book launch
Sharmila Chaudhari feeds her daughter Sanjana, 19 months, at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Home in Dhangadhi, Nepal.

On September 17, The Road to Good Nutrition was released at the 20th International Congress of Nutrition in Granada, Spain. This new book on best practices in nutrition brings together the experiences and insights of experts in the field to forge collective action on malnutrition. It is part of the Vitamins in Motion campaign conducted by Sight and Life, the nutrition think tank of DSM, a global science-based company active in health and nutrition.

Bread for the World Institute director Asma Lateef served on the editorial board for the book and contributed a chapter, "Speaking Up for Nutrition: The Role of Civil Society," which describes hunger and malnutrition as an unfinished agenda and argues that food security and nutrition should be explicitly addressed as part of a set of global development goals that follow the Millennium Development Goals, whose deadline is December 2015. Reducing childhood stunting -- a clear indicator of chronic malnutrition that causes irreversible damage to a child's physical and cognitive development -- should be a priority.

Civil society organizations are uniquely positioned to advocate for greater attention to hunger and malnutrition, and can play an important role in elevating nutrition as a priority for the next set of development goals. Lateef concludes that communicating the fundamental role that good nutrition plays during pregnancy and early childhood must be an integral part of advocacy efforts.

Other chapters include "Preventing Stunting: Why It Matters, What It Takes," "The Economic Cost of Malnutrition," and "Making Nutrition Good Politics: The Power of Governance."

"Undernutrition in all its forms is still responsible for almost half of the world’s child mortality. Other malnourished children survive, but they cannot thrive. The Road to Good Nutrition pulls together the latest evidence on underlying causes and priority solutions. It demands to be widely read, and its findings deserve to be taken very seriously."       

        Patrick Webb, Dean for Academic Affairs, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

Read or download the full text of The Road to Good Nutrition and/or its executive summary.

 Michele Learner

Ethiopia Beats Odds to Reach MDG 4 Early

Last week, the United Nations Children'sFund (UNICEF) released its 2013 progress report Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. The report details trends in under-5 mortality over the past two decades. It also provides highlights and statistics of the work that has already been to date. The big news in the report is that despite overwhelming odds, Ethiopia has already achieved the Millennium Development Goal 4 Target A: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-5 mortality rate. This is worth celebrating given that the country faces a number of challenges, including a severe shortage of doctors and health professionals. For instance, with a population of over 80 million, there is one doctor for every 36,000 people. Additionally, Ethiopia is one of the 34 countries that account for 90% of the global burden of malnutrition.

Ethiopia's tremendous progress on MDG 4 has been made possible  by its political commitment at the country level and external support, which have enabled use of innovative programs like frontline health extension workers within communities.

Ethiopia reaches MDG 4

Photo credit: USAID

Other examples of country progress highlighted in the report include:

  • In Bangladesh, under-five mortality rate decreased by 72 per cent from 1990 to 2012, mainly thanks to expanding immunization for children, delivering oral rehydration therapy to treat diarrhoea, and providing Vitamin A supplementation. Expanding a network of community health workers also improved the quality of healthcare and led to an increased use of health facilities. Women’s empowerment, education for mothers, improving mothers’ health and implementing strategies to reduce poverty also contributed to reducing child deaths.
  • In Brazil, under-five mortality rate decreased by 77 per cent between 1990 and 2012, thanks to a combination of tactics. These include efforts to deliver healthcare at the community level, improvements in sanitation conditions, providing mothers with knowledge, promoting breastfeeding and expanding immunization.
  • Ethiopia, a co-sponsor of the Call to Action, has recorded tremendous gains in reducing the under-five mortality rate, with a dramatic 67 per cent reduction since 1990. The health extension program implemented in Ethiopia is one example of how critical community health workers are providing quality care to children and mothers in remote areas. The program which was launched in 2004 currently deploys 38,000 government-paid female health extension workers. UNICEF supports the program by providing supplies including vaccine storage equipment, delivery beds and medications, and supporting training for health workers. The program also provides treatment of severe acute malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia.Faustine Wabwire

World Bank President Reminds G-20 to Step-Up Investments in the Developing World


World Bank President, Dr. Jim Kim comments on G-20 meetings in St. Petersburg. (World Bank)

The Group of 20 (G-20) wrapped-up its two-day leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, last week. World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim cut to the chase about global poverty—reminding global leaders still uneasy about a sagging world economy that continued investment in the developing world is not only critical to ending poverty and hunger, but good for business. With little more than two years left until the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in December 2015, Kim challenged rich countries and private sector investors not to shy away from, but instead to redouble, financial commitments in poor countries.

Kim emphasized the increasingly pressing need for leaders to “grow our global infrastructure facility.” Infrastructure—both physical and financial—is still a key item on the G-20 development agenda. This is because improving infrastructure is a prerequisite for sustained progress on the MDGs. Though donor support for it is a stated priority for most developing countries, it has been largely absent from donors’ agendas. Agricultural development has its own specific infrastructure needs (e.g., storage facilities to preserve crops longer), as does the health sector (e.g., programs to train more health workers). Among the many physical infrastructure challenges, building roads to areas without access to services is one of the most important. Cross-sector infrastructure needs include collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data.

The G-20 agenda has included the problem of high and volatile food prices ever since the initial food price crisis in 2007. In June 2011, the G-20 agriculture ministers called for greater transparency in commodity markets and committed their countries to collectively establish an early warning system that would compile information on food stocks, crop supplies, and demand. The ministers also agreed to “ensure that national food-based safety nets can work at times when food prices rise sharply and governments cannot access the food required for these safety nets at an affordable price.”

Commitments to economic growth in the developing world can be easily derailed in the name of shorter-term goals. But as Kim pointed out, the G-20 must keep its priorities straight. Taking steps to help millions of people who need better economic opportunities should be at the top of its agenda.

Read more about the G-20 and investments to end hunger in Chapter 2 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals. Derek Schwabe

U.N Secretary General Supports Goal to End Hunger and Malnutrition in the Post-2015 Agenda

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.

Faustine Wabwire

Reality Checks for High Level Panels

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?"

Michele Learner

A Revolution in Statistics: New U.N. Standards to Measure Sustainable Development

Hunger Report Monday

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.

Physical flows of natural inputs, products and residualsThis 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.' Derek Schwabe

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