Information and news about food aid

childhood stunting
Childhood stunting effects a massive percentage of the world’s youth. UNICEF estimates that some 39% of children in the developing world are stunted. 40% of children in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted and in East and South Asia, estimates climb as high as 50% of children. The numbers tally in at 209 million stunted children in the developing world.

Childhood stunting is a condition that is defined as height for age below the fifth percentile on a reference growth curve. If, within a given population, substantially more than 5% of an identified child population have heights that are lower than the curve, then it is likely that said population would have a higher-than-expected prevalence of stunting. It measures the nutritional status of children. It is an important indicator of the prevalence of malnutrition or other nutrition-related disorders among an identified population in a given region or area.

Aside from inadequate nutrition, there are several other causes of childhood stunting. These include: chronic or recurrent infections, intestinal parasites, low birth weight, and in rare cases, extreme psychosocial stress without nutritional deficiencies. Several of these factors are influenced by each other. Low birth weight is correlated with nutritional deficiencies, and inadequate nutrition is correlated to chronic or recurrent infections.

One of the serious consequences of stunting is particularly impaired cognitive development.  When a child has inadequate access to food, their body conserves energy by first limiting social activity and cognitive development in the form of apathetic and incurious children. These children may not develop the capacity to adequately learn or play. Then the child’s body will limit the energy available for growth.

Fortunately, studies have found that improvement in diet after age two can restore a child to near-normal mental development. Conversely, malnutrition after age two can be just as damaging as it is before age two. However, it is important to note that once stunting is established, it typically becomes permanent.

The reasons stated above serve as important reminders of why foreign aid and programs aimed at eliminating extreme malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies are so vital. The impact of new legislation focusing on increasing USAID and other foreign aid is substantial. Stunting can be seriously limited through the introduction of increased access to food security in the developing world. Knowledge of the facts surrounding stunting is also an important step in working to combat and eliminate childhood stunting worldwide.

– Caitlin Zusy

Sources: UNICEF, Future of Children

future-of-foreign-aid
Amid the debate as to whether or not foreign aid helps or hinders developing countries, World Bank Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa Marcelo Giugale believes that the tables are turning. While the number of people in poverty and countries in need of financial assistance gradually falls, the need for foreign aid will remain a constant. However, the players will change as well as the type of aid needed.

Currently, foreign aid is criticized for many reasons. Corruption, insensitivity and imposition to local markets and businesses, and a growing sense of “aid-dependency” in recipient countries are just a few of the concerns. While the list is long, Giugale believes that the role of foreign aid and a country’s dependence on the monetary assistance is diminishing. He says that the future of foreign aid will become a search for knowledge instead of cash. To reiterate this point, he cites past aid recipients turned donors such as China, India and Brazil and their roles in assisting Africa.

As donor countries begin to regard foreign aid more as investment and partnership, they begin to export goods and assist in building a sound infrastructure rather than imposing a certain way of life or thinking. As developing countries are embracing the income and value of their own natural resources in an economy where oil, gas and minerals generate revenue, the assistance turns to a need of knowledge.

Giugale believes that developing countries already know how to build schools and can pay the teachers that work in them. The aid that supports these developments may diminish in the future. However, the aid that developing countries might seek in the future includes solutions to problems that the government cannot solve alone. In the future of foreign aid, a donor country may lend assistance through experience in improving educational curriculum, health insurance systems, or regulating private suppliers of infrastructure.

– Kira Maixner

Source: The Huffington Post
Photo: INHABITAT

What the Wealthiest Could Do

If the bank account of every billionaire on Earth were put into one big pile, that pile would total $5.4 trillion dollars. Sounds like a lot, but that figure is dwarfed by the sum total of each American household combined which totaled $40.2 trillion. Tackling the problems of impoverished nations seems like a task too huge to comprehend, but when you look at the total capital of citizens in the United States and top earners around the world, the problem seems within reach.

World Vision estimates that it would cost roughly $50 million to provide clean water to each needy household in the entire world for a year. Seems like a lot of money until you compare it to the combined earning power of each billionaire in the world. It would cost a single percent of that total wealth. This would take much less than one percent of the total annual earnings of US citizens and would save 1.6 million lives annually.

Clean water is one problem, but food is another. The World Food Program estimates that it would cost $3.2 billion to ensure that children stay alive and nourished until they are grown. This would cost 1/600th of the total earnings of the wealthiest in the world and would save 4.2 million lives annually.

Contributions that already exist from governments and nongovernmental organizations are indeed helping to solve the problem. Extreme poverty is predicted to be solved by 2030, but some help from individuals could be the most powerful force in the fight against poverty.

– Pete Grapentien

Source Huffington Post
Photo Source MSN Now

Canadian Research Fund Fights World HungerTechnology, science and research are integral tools in the fight against world hunger and poverty.  The Canadian government has taken important steps toward funding new efforts to fight global poverty and hunger. Last week the Canadian government announced its contribution to the second phase of the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund, also known as CIFSRF.  This fund is using science and technology partnerships to try to find new solutions to battle the global epidemic of hunger and poverty.

The Canadian government is committed to improving food security for those most in need around the globe. They are using collaborative efforts contributed by universities, businesses, and non-governmental organizations to bring new perspectives to the problem. The Canadian research fund is developing a strategy that many other countries could learn from- the United States included. Canada’s research fund is striving to work with developing country researchers to respond to not only the immediate food needs on the ground but also working towards providing long-term strategies to effectively combat long-lasting poverty problems.

The second phase of the CIFSRF is working towards connecting research results to public and private sector organizations for distribution on a larger scale. Additionally, this stage has called for greater participation by women, a vital step in the eradication of global poverty. A majority of the world’s poor are women, and increased participation in the labor force is an incredibly important step in helping women escape the cycle of poverty.

The ultimate goal of CIFSRF is to provide sustainable results that will create long-term solutions in developing nations. Along with economic benefits, the Canadian organization would like to help bring about positive social change. It is refreshing to see results and improvement. This program has already managed to use nanotechnology to create an innovative packaging system that was able to significantly reduce the post-harvest loss of mangoes for farmers in India and Sri Lanka. It will be exciting to see what the second phase of the program will be able to produce.

Caitlin Zusy
Source Nano Werk
Photo AP/Aijaz Rahi

FAO Encourages Food Security in North Korea
With their recent posturing and threats of nuclear destruction to both South Korea and the United States, North Korea has been a hot topic of many newspaper headlines and evening news programs. Surprisingly though, little attention has been paid to the chronic lack of food security in North Korea, an issue that the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has been trying to address for years.

The gross human rights violations of Kim Jong-un notwithstanding, North Korean civilians have been the greatest casualty of the failed agricultural and food reapportionment policies of the government. By shutting out much of the international community, including various NGOs and aid workers, progress has been slow in devising a realistic solution to the problem of food security in North Korea. The most recent FAO mission report on food security in North Korea is startling, with both soybean oil and vegetable production down dramatically, raising concerns that were highlighted by mission leader Kisan Gunjal when he remarked that “The country needs to produce more protein-rich foods like soybean and fish and to put more effort into growing two crops a year so a more varied diet is available for everyone.”

However, there were bright spots on the horizon as annual staple food production has been growing over the past couple of years, effectively mitigating the amount of acute malnutrition in the population. Overall, the FAO was satisfied with the improvements their targeted aid has made in specific areas, yet considerable headway still remains in combating children’s vulnerability to shock and pregnant and nursing mothers’ levels of malnutrition. DPRK Country Director Claudia von Roehl commented on the status of food security in North Korea when stating that while harvest figures were optimistic, “the lack of proteins and fats in the diet is alarming” as there are still about two million children in the country who are in need of healthy, balanced diets.

Brian Turner

Source: FAO News
Photo: Time

How Can Golden Rice Help End World HungerDr. Gerard Barry, project leader for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is developing a type of genetically modified rice called “Golden Rice.” This rice contains the essential nutrient beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A, which is often lacking in the diets of people living in poverty. The GMO rice is referred to as “Golden” because beta-carotene produces an orange color once added to the rice. Dr. Barry and IRRI are working to address vitamin A deficiency in developing countries and hope that Golden Rice is the answer.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Dr. Barry spoke enthusiastically about engineering new types of rice pointing out that it is the staple food of a couple of billion people. His passion for the crop led to a career at IRRI and he quickly began working on Golden Rice which he explains has the potential to greatly benefit those living in impoverished conditions. IRRI hopes to distribute the GMO rice in Bangladesh and the Philippines, where the institute is located.

Vitamin A deficiency is a result of malnourishment and a limited diet. The consequences of this deficiency include tissue damage, blindness, and a weakened immune system. For those millions of people affected by vitamin A deficiency, one cup of Golden Rice a day could provide half the amount needed for a healthy diet. “This product has the potential to reduce the suffering of women and children and save lives,” said Dr. Barry. IRRI is working with nonprofit organizations to ensure the super rice reaches those who need it most. Once it has passed food and safety regulations, we will begin to see the real impact of Golden Rice.

– Mary Penn
Source: IrishCentral
Photo: Forbes

Ending World Hunger Demanded By BritonsBritish politicians, including MP Andrew Stunell, are pushing the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron to focus more on ending world hunger. Stunell and others have begun making their voices heard by supporting causes like the Enough Food for Everyone initiative.

The U.K., like the United States, committed to giving 0.7% of its national income as international aid. Politicians and citizens in the U.K. continue to stress the importance of keeping that promise. As Britain prepares to host the Hunger Summit this June, at the same time as the G8 Summit, the nation has been paying increased attention to the issue of world hunger and the U.K.’s roll in fighting hunger as well as the many causes of hunger and malnutrition. The most obvious result of hunger and malnutrition is death, yet severe hunger has many other results such as malnutrition that may lead to developmental and growth problems and is also linked to infertility, as outlined in a Yale study on hunger and childbirth.

With enough food being produced each year to feed the world population and yet people are still going hungry, there is reason enough to be upset. As politicians and citizens alike in the U.K. push their representatives to work more towards ending world hunger, we should remember to do the same here at home and ask our elected representatives to do more in the fight against global hunger. Contact your representatives in Congress today.

– Kevin Sullivan

Sources: Mancunian Matters, Yale Scientific
Photo: The Telegraph

US-food-aid-Ethiopia-1_opt
Changes to the US Food Aid policy may be in the works for this fiscal year’s budget. President Obama recently proposed that the US shift its food aid policy from one of sending US-grown food products abroad to sending cash instead. This would be the largest change in the history of US food aid policy since programs were initiated in 1954.

Food aid groups, international development organizations, and US businesses are at odds over the proposed reform. Anti-hunger groups including Oxfam and Bread for the World, as well as the Modernizing Foreign Aid Network and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, issued a joint statement this week in support of reforming US food aid policy. US farm, shipping, and labor groups, members of Congress’s Agriculture Committee, and the Alliance for Global Food Security are against any proposed reform.

The proposed policy changes have both benefits and drawbacks. One benefit is that by sending cash instead of food, the money can be used to purchase food locally. This would save both time and energy, and support local agricultural economies. A 2012 Cornell University study on food aid found that local purchasing “can often afford valuable cost and time savings.”

Opponents of the proposed reform argue that the Obama administration intends to cut funding to programs across the board, which would hurt aid recipients and US food providers alike. Producing, shipping, and transporting US-grown food overseas creates jobs and supports the economy of the United States. Sending food abroad that is marked with the US flag also serves as a low-cost form of national security, by providing physical evidence of US good will and assistance.

Since the inception of programs such as Food for Peace, some international development experts have argued that the programs were more concerned with developing a market for American food products and providing benefits to US farmers and agribusinesses, than with feeding the hungry. The former executive director of the World Food Program, Catherine Bertini, stated in an email, “I am one who welcomes a 21st century proposal that is more responsive to the needs of the hungry and a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

The United States is the largest food aid donor in the world, providing over $2 billion a year in food aid. Conflicts over its role in international aid are nothing new. While the possibility exists for beneficial changes to US food aid policy, any proposed spending cuts to food aid programs should be considered with the 925 million people across the globe who suffer from hunger in mind.

Kat Henrichs

Sources: National Journal, Reuters
Photo: Stephen Raburn

Gaming That Benefits the Global Poor

This is truly unique – a virtual trivia game that benefits the global poor. With every participant’s correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to a collective pool of food aid. Five correct answers means that 50 grains are donated, and so on. The more you play, the more rice can be donated to help reduce global hunger.

Freerice.com is a non-profit website that is owned and operated by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). All food aid resulting from the gaming is delivered through this UN agency. The entire project is made possible through sponsors who advertise on the site, and it is their money that is actually being used to buy the rice.

The mission of Freerice.com is two-fold:

  • Provide education to everyone for free
  • Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free

The questions themselves serve as the educational element of the site. Players can choose the category of questions they want from math, science, or even test preparation for the SATs. Questions get harder as as the game continues, forcing players to research the answers.

The website has tracked its progress, noted by grains of rice donated, since it started in 2007. 2008 was its first full year, and the site donated a total of 12,255,121,230 grains. To date, the total is 98,290,121,816 grains – feeding millions of people. WFP averages that about 400 grams of rice are needed to feed one person for a day (two meals). There are about 48 grains of rice in a gram, so by answering 40 questions correctly, a player can have the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped another person eat for a whole day.

As the game is played, and correct answers are given, a small bowel pictured on the screen fills with rice, which fills progressively to match the progress of the player. This serves to illustrate the importance of the project, and the player’s involvement in it. Best players and top group participation and impact are also posted on the site.

There is no register or sign-in for the game, and no need to do anything other than play the game with no strings attached. Freerice.com does have over a million registered gamers who are literally helping feed the world. Perhaps even greater than the immediate benefits of alleviating hunger is the residual impact of enabling people to fully function and be productive once their extreme hunger is no longer an issue.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Freerice.com

 

Preventing A Haitian Food Crisis
Last year, Haiti experienced “the perfect storm for a genuine food crisis.” From April to August, a severe drought had hit, preventing a good harvest and causing up to 60% losses in overall food production. Increasing global food prices made it difficult for those still recovering from the 2010 earthquake to buy basic food supplies.

And then Hurricane Isaac hit in August followed by Hurricane Sandy in October and extreme flooding in the north in November. In 2011, around 800,000 or 8% of the Haitian population were suffering from chronic malnutrition. Now, that number has nearly doubled at 1.52 million and we are on the verge of an emerging Haitian food crisis.

The people of Haiti have been thrown into a difficult situation, having to work with high living costs and surviving on one meal a day. Key to speeding up this recovery and preventing a Haitian food crisis is ensuring that farmers are able to sell their produce.

As of yet, government and private businesses are slow in their response to assist the agricultural sector. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Haitian government have appealed for $74 million to help the country’s agricultural sector. As of December, less than 5% of that amount had been received.

One solution would be to have a seed bank allowing for farmers to sell their seeds while making them available to others that would need them. Another idea would be to properly utilize water as a resource by constructing dams for irrigation and electricity. Investment in seed banks and water management are just a few ideas that could help prevent an oncoming Haitian food crisis. Medium and long-term solutions making use of resources already at hand are what is necessary for a sustainable Haiti.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: The Guardian