Inter Press ServiceFood & Agriculture – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:18:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 Ending Poverty in Next 13 years Means Boosting Resilience Nowhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/ending-poverty-next-13-years-means-boosting-resilience-now/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ending-poverty-next-13-years-means-boosting-resilience-now http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/ending-poverty-next-13-years-means-boosting-resilience-now/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:58:09 +0000 Jessica Faieta http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152556 Jessica Faieta is UN Assistant Secretary General & UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Dominica, 2 October Devastation after Hurricane Maria. Credit: Ian King/UNDP

By Jessica Faieta
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 17 2017 (IPS)

This month the world marks two key International Days: for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October and for Disaster Reduction, four days earlier. It is no coincidence that they are profoundly connected.

Reducing risks related to disasters has never been so urgent—and the Latin America and the Caribbean region bears witness to this. Seven hurricanes have hit the Caribbean in the past five months, two of them as category 5, causing catastrophic damage, including in island nations that were barely recovering from another massive hurricane that struck one year ago.

Also, two earthquakes rocked Mexico in September—with almost 5.000 aftershocks—while another powerful quake struck Ecuador in April 2016. In addition, both Colombia and Peru suffered major landslides in the past eight months.

The number of children, women and men killed is deeply saddening, especially in an era in which we have the knowledge to minimize loss of lives due to natural events. Yet, we keep experiencing tragedies.

The fact is that natural disasters do not exist. Such phenomena become disasters when people, communities and societies are vulnerable to them. This, in turn, translates into losses—of lives and assets. And the poorest are the hardest hit.

On the one hand, poverty reduces people’s capacity to face and recover from disasters; on the other hand, disasters also hinder people’s ability to leave poverty behind.

That’s why if the world is to end poverty in all its forms by 2030 we must also boost resilience—in all its forms. This means the capacity to cope with shocks without major economic, social and environmental setbacks.

A disaster of natural causes, a financial crisis, an economic slowdown or a health problem in the family can all cause people to fall into poverty—especially those who barely managed to leave it behind, as one of our recent UNDP report shows; unless a ‘cushion’ is in place to help absorb the impact, such as social protection systems or physical assets.

In this particular moment, it is crucial to take special notice of what the Caribbean is experiencing. Two back-to-back hurricanes, Irma and Maria, were the most powerful ever recorded over the Atlantic. They forced—for the first time ever—the island of Barbuda to evacuate its entire population.

These colossal phenomena battered several Caribbean countries with deadly waves and maximum sustained winds of nearly 300 km/h for up to three full days. They decimated Barbuda, Dominica and Saint Maarten, also impacting some of the region´s disaster-preparedness champions, like Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

What we have just witnessed is a game changer. And it will likely be the new norm. That’s why we need urgent action.

It’s a fact. Climate change—and all natural hazards—hit Small Island Developing States (SIDS) hard, even though these countries haven’t historically contributed to the problem. Having lived and worked in four Caribbean countries I have witnessed firsthand how such nations are extremely vulnerable to multiple challenges ranging from debt and unemployment to climate change and sea level rise.

Clearly, if countries do not reduce their vulnerabilities and strengthen their resilience—not only to natural disasters but also to any shock—we won’t be able to guarantee, let alone expand, progress in the social, economic and environmental realms.

Since the hurricanes hit we have been working on the ground in affected Caribbean countries supporting Governments to build back better—with more resilient communities—so they are prepared for the next hurricane season only eight months ahead. This is essential: international cooperation and the private sector play a key role with investments in resilient infrastructure.

If Caribbean countries are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in 13 years they need urgent accessing to financing—including for climate change adaptation. However, the vast majority of Caribbean SIDS are ranked as middle-income countries—with per capita income levels above the international financial eligibility benchmark—and are shunned from receiving financing for development.

In view of such urgent needs, our Caribbean Human Development Report “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched a year ago, called for improved standards that take into account multiple indicators, or well-being measurements beyond income alone.

Now is the moment to act on climate change, support countries as they build back better and rethink traditional development ranking methods based on monetary aspects alone.

If the world has vowed to eradicate poverty by 2030 we need to invest in boosting communities’, countries’ and entire regions’ resilience in the social, economic and environmental fronts. Reducing vulnerabilities—in its multiple aspects—is a crucial path to leave no one behind.

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New Villages Bloom in the Shadow of a Mountain’s Wrathhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/new-villages-bloom-shadow-mountains-wrath/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-villages-bloom-shadow-mountains-wrath http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/new-villages-bloom-shadow-mountains-wrath/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:46:50 +0000 Kafil Yamin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152545 Repeated volcanic eruptions of Mount Sinabung since 2010 have displaced thousands of people, leaving villages around the mountain deserted, with volcanic ash, lava and mud covering the soil, trees and empty houses. No one knows when the eruptions will cease. Some displaced people have formed new settlements; others live in temporary houses or refugee camps. […]

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A woman works in her vegetable patch at the foot of Mount Sinabung, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Credit: Kafil Yamin/IPS

A woman works in her vegetable patch at the foot of Mount Sinabung, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Credit: Kafil Yamin/IPS

By Kafil Yamin
MEDAN, Indonesia , Oct 17 2017 (IPS)

Repeated volcanic eruptions of Mount Sinabung since 2010 have displaced thousands of people, leaving villages around the mountain deserted, with volcanic ash, lava and mud covering the soil, trees and empty houses.

No one knows when the eruptions will cease. Some displaced people have formed new settlements; others live in temporary houses or refugee camps.Mount Sinabung is one of 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, an archipelago vulnerable to seismic upheavals because of its location on the ‘Ring of Fire’, a horseshoe-shaped belt of tectonic plate boundaries that fringes the Pacific basin.

With support from BNPB, the Indonesian acronym for the National Agency for Disaster Management, the local government has resettled 347 families in three housing complexes in Siosar area, Karo regency, with each family getting a 500 square meter plot for farming. They grow vegetables, breed animals, and operate shops and services. Social, cultural and economic life have blossomed.

Since 2015, following a major eruption, Siosar farmers have sent their harvest to Kabanjahe, the capital of Karo Regency. Potatoes, carrots, cabbages, oranges and coffee beans are on the market, helping stimulate economic growth of 4.5 percent of the North Sumatra province.

But the 2016 eruption devastated the staggering economy. At least 53,000 hectares of farmland was destroyed by volcanic ash and mud. The harvest failed throughout the entire district. Of 17 sub-districts, 14 were severely affected. The head of the local Agriculture Office, Munarta Ginting, urged the farmers to shift to tubers, which were more resilient to volcanic ash.

The farmers refused to give up. They started all over again late last year. BNPB sent seeds, fertilizers and consultants to help.

“After emergency management measures come social and economic recovery measures, which look farther ahead but are no less challenging,” said Agus Wibowo, director of the Social-Economic Division of BNPB.

“We aid victims to overcome the calamity, start a better life, restore social and economic enterprises, and more importantly, restore confidence for the future,” Agus added.

Mount Sinabung is one of 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, an archipelago vulnerable to seismic upheavals because of its location on the ‘Ring of Fire’, a horseshoe-shaped belt of tectonic plate boundaries that fringes the Pacific basin.

In the first week of October, life in Siosar has returned to normal, with farmers harvesting potatoes, cabbages, carrots and chilies, despite lower production due to lack of rainfall.

Several farmers have enjoyed large harvests. Berdi Sembiring grew nine tons of potatoes on his 500 meter square farm, which is good for the dry season.

“I sold my potatoes for 48 million rupiah (4,000 dollars) – not bad,” said Sembiring with a big smile.

BNPB also encourages the refugees not to rely solely on farming and raw products. “We encourage people to develop new business opportunities, such as food industry, mechanics and manufacturing,” said Agus Wibowo, who sent a team of business consultants to train the wives of farmers.

Now, with potato chip processing machines from BNPB, Siosar has started producing chips branded Top Potato. But challenges remain in turning a profit.

“One of the shortcomings is the unstable rate of production. Four groups of farmer wives take turns using one processing machine. Each group has its own production capacity,” said Nurjanahah, a business consultant for the potato chip manufacturing.

“Uncompetitive quality and big diminution from raw potatoes to final potato chip is another challenge to deal with. Four kilograms of potatoes produce only 600 grams of chips,” she added.

“The potato chip has yet to be a professional product until we solve all these shortcomings,” Nurjanah told IPS.

BNPB provided four processing machines for groups of farmer wives in Siosar, beyond the Rp590 billion fund it created for the Mount Sinabung disaster, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of BNPB’s Center of Data and Information.

Basic mechanics is another alternative to diversify from agriculture. For one thing, the sector has yet to have competitors in the new settlements. For another, the area is in urgent need of such services, considering the absence of public transportation. Personal minivans and motorcycles are the backbone of village transportation.

Basmadi Kapri Peranginangin returned to his village after living for a year in a refugee camp. He grew potatoes and other vegetables, but just as he finished planting, Mount Sinabung erupted again and his newly-replanted farm – part of the area’s most vulnerable ‘red zone’ – was ruined.

Peranginangin decided to go to Siosar and shift to the motorcycle repair business, but lacked the funds to buy tools and build a workshop. Then he heard about a training program for displaced people jointly sponsored by the International Labor Organisation (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Development Program and BNPB.

After one month of training, he received a set of equipment to repair motorcycles. And with his new knowledge, including administration and financial management, he started a motorcycle repair business in July 2016. Now he earns Rp3,5 million a month on average.

When social and economic life blooms, so does art and culture. On October 1, the new community celebrated its one-year anniversary with an art and music show.

Biri Pelawi, a local religious leader, said in his opening remarks, “Siosar land is God’s promised land for us. Sigarang-garang, our former village, is the departing spot. One year in refugee camps is our training period. God’s plan for us is here. He kept His plan secretly.”

“Now we live safe with no fear of Mount Sinabung eruption. God has sent us to safer place to carry on,” he said.

On that very day, Mount Siabung erupted again, spewing volcanic ash as high as four kilometers, but this time, no one was affected and the celebration continued as planned.

“We don’t have to worry anymore. We live in a safe place,” said Mesti Ginting, one of the celebration organizers.

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Driven to Extremes–How Poverty Fuels Extremism, and How to Help Africa’s Youthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/driven-extremes-poverty-fuels-extremism-help-africas-youth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=driven-extremes-poverty-fuels-extremism-help-africas-youth http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/driven-extremes-poverty-fuels-extremism-help-africas-youth/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:21:38 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152536 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya. Follow him on twitter: @sidchat1

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African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldier greets a group of children during a patrol in the Kaa’ran district of Somali capital, Mogadishu. Credit: UN Photo/Stuart Price

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17 2017 (IPS)

Poverty is a blight, and one that disproportionately affects sub-Saharan Africa. It is a vast and complex issue whose tentacles reach into many areas, including climate change, sustainable development and–crucially–global security. The link between poverty and violent extremism is compelling, and means that if we want to address extremism, we must fight inequality too.

This year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October takes as its theme A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies. This is timely, coming as it does just a few weeks after the release of a landmark survey into the forces driving young Africans towards violent extremism.

Published by UNDP, Journey to Extremism in Africa: drivers, incentives and the tipping point for recruitment presents compelling evidence that violent extremism can never be beaten if feelings of deprivation and marginalization, especially among the young, are not addressed.

Almost 500 former–or in occasional cases current–voluntary recruits to extremist organizations such as Al Shabaab, Boko Haram or Ansar Dine were interviewed for the survey. Most cited lack of employment, healthcare, education, security and housing as reasons for joining the groups, with very few mentioning religious ideology.

In Kenya as in many other countries, the regions acknowledged to be flashpoints for radicalisation and violent extremism are synonymous with extreme poverty, high illiteracy levels and under-investment in basic services. The majority of those living in these regions have for years believed themselves to be excluded from the national development agenda.

The findings drive home the reality that a focus on security-led responses to extremism cannot provide lasting solutions, but rather that confronting the challenges of radicalism and terrorist threats, particularly in Africa, calls for action on a range of social, cultural, economic and political fronts.

The report estimates that extremism caused 33,000 deaths in Africa between 2011 and 2016, with related displacement and economic devastation causing some of the worst humanitarian disasters on the continent.

Numerous studies show that increasing inequality hinders economic growth and undermines social cohesion, increases political and social tensions and drives instability and conflict.

Achim Steiner, the UNDP Administrator at an event in New York about SDGs in Action: Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Inclusive Prosperity in a Changing World, emphasized, “The critical importance of leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first”.

A further challenge to Africa’s progress is highlighted in the latest UNDP Africa Human Development Report, which shows that gender inequalities continue to hobble the continent’s structural, economic and social transformation.

When women attain higher measures of economic and social wellbeing, benefits accrue to all of society. Yet too many women and girls, simply because of their gender, cannot fulfil their potential due to lack of education, early marriage, sexual and physical violence, inadequate family planning services, and high incidences of maternal mortality.

According to the UNDP report, gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa $95 billion a year, equivalent to about six percent of the region’s GDP.

The challenge of creating economic opportunities for Africa’s youth is monumental. Consider this. Every 24 hours, nearly 33,000 youth across Africa join the search for employment. About 60% will be joining the army of the unemployed, adding to existing social and economic pressures.

Government can help by creating a policy environment that encourages the young to become entrepreneurs and job creators. Simplifying registration processes, offering tax incentives, and incentivising the informal sector that employs the overwhelming majority of Kenyans would be a step in the right direction. Reforming an education system that ill-prepares the young for entrepreneurship and business would be another.

With only 13 years to achieve the SDGs, the search for solutions must make use of the evidence on the causes, consequences and trajectories of violent extremism. If Africa is to curtail the spread of violent extremism and achieve sustainable development, there must be determined focus on the health, education and employment of disadvantaged youth.

Only by tackling entrenched inequalities both economic and gender-based can Africa achieve sustainable prosperity, and end the scourge of poverty.

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The Road Out of Poverty Depends on Feeding Our Children Nutritious Food Firsthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/road-poverty-depends-feeding-children-nutritious-food-first/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=road-poverty-depends-feeding-children-nutritious-food-first http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/road-poverty-depends-feeding-children-nutritious-food-first/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:28:42 +0000 Mercy Lungaho http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152531 Mercy Lung’aho is Nutrition scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

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We have collected evidence which shows that eating specially-bred, high-iron beans twice-a-day for just four-and-a-half months can reduce iron deficiency and actually reverse anemia in young women in Rwanda.

Credit: Robbie Corey-Boulet/IPS

By Mercy Lung’aho
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 2017 (IPS)

One drizzly morning in some lush green tea plantations in Rwanda, I was on my way to visit a local community, to assess nutrition indicators among women and children. We stopped in a green blanket of tea fields and spoke to one young tea picker, I’ll call her Mary, who had a baby strapped to her back.

What I remember distinctly is that while her baby was probably the same age as my young son at home, he was about half the size. We chatted briefly about her job. Surrounded by the tea leaves, she said she was curious about how they tasted. She had never tasted tea.

Later that day, we got the tea pickers together for a discussion. I asked them how often they ate meat. There was a ripple of laughter through the group. “Christmas Day,” they all said in unison.

When I asked the group what they would do with every extra dollar saved, they did not tell me they would buy better food. Instead, they all agreed: “We would buy shoes”. Waking up at 4am to walk to the tea farm would be more comfortable in good shoes.

What I understood more fully after this meeting was what I had already suspected: that nutrition had taken a back-seat in this farming community.

We have collected evidence which shows that eating specially-bred, high-iron beans twice-a-day for just four-and-a-half months can reduce iron deficiency and actually reverse anemia in young women in Rwanda.
The nutrition evidence we collected that day showed that anemia was prevalent. Like the small baby on her back, Mary was malnourished. So the cycle of malnutrition continues. Agriculture has a strange way of leaving the vulnerable behind, and this is what we must stop.

 

The nutritional magic of beans

At the Pan African Bean Research Alliance in collaboration with HarvestPlus, we have collected evidence which shows that eating specially-bred, high-iron beans twice-a-day for just four-and-a-half months can reduce iron deficiency and actually reverse anemia in young women in Rwanda.

Our research, published in The Journal of Nutrition, was the first of its kind to show that eating “biofortified” beans, bred to contain more iron, can have a significant impact on iron levels in the blood and improve brain function.

Our results were tremendously exciting: they show for the first time that these beans are an excellent vehicle for delivering long-term, low-cost major health solutions – with profound implications for global nutrition, agriculture and public health policy.

Our research further shows that, fast-tracking nutrition in mothers before they even become pregnant is essential if we want to tackle malnutrition and put a stop to the vicious cycle of poverty and economic stagnation that poor diets perpetuate. Adolescent nutrition before pregnancy has a bigger impact on stunting in children than we thought.

We need to target undernourished women like Mary with nutritious food – well before they are pregnant.

 

Tackling malnutrition before it strikes

Instead of focusing on preventing malnutrition, we are too busy responding to food crises. We are fighting fires, instead of making sure they don’t happen in the first place. This is a crisis, and we must treat it like one. That is why we are spearheading the development of a Nutrition Early Warning System, or NEWS.

It will take advantage of the latest advances in “machine learning” to create a powerful tool that can process, track and monitor a constant flow of data relevant to food and nutrition – alerting decision makers well before malnutrition becomes apparent.

We are currently working on a prototype of NEWS, which will initially focus on boosting nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa, eventually targeting vulnerable populations globally.  It will analyze the nutritional status of populations in select countries in sub-Saharan Africa to find options for successful interventions.

I cannot look the other way while women and children are dying of anemia and stunting on our watch. I’m positive that we can fix it. As I join other food security experts at the Borlaug Dialogue this week – I will be sharing these lessons, as evidence that investing in agriculture can create vibrant rural areas that provide a road out of poverty.

A pathway towards employment, wealth creation, and economic growth that includes young people. But unless we focus on getting our young people a more nutritious diet, we will continue to fail millions like Mary – and her baby – before they have even had a chance to make a start in life.

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In the Race Against Hunger, we Must Reach the Goalhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/race-hunger-must-reach-goal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=race-hunger-must-reach-goal http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/race-hunger-must-reach-goal/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:05:18 +0000 Julio Berdergue and Pablo Aguirre http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152525 Julio Berdegué is FAO Regional Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Pablo Aguirre is technical advisor of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

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According to FAO studies, empowering rural women and investing in activities that significantly increase their productivity could lead to a significant reduction in hunger and malnutrition. Credit: Max Toranzos / FAO

By Julio Berdergué and Pablo Aguirre
SANTIAGO, Oct 16 2017 (IPS)

On September 15, we announced the “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” report, published in collaboration with five United Nations organisations, including FAO. The 144-page study shows numerous results and analyses of various dimensions and indicators, but the message is the same: after a long downward trend in the world’s hunger levels, we are now taking a step backwards.

It is estimated that today, 815 million people suffer from hunger, which corresponds to an increase of 38 million people compared to last year. This is an unacceptable backward step, especially if we recall that only two years ago, countries of the world committed to the Sustainable Development Goal: to eliminate hunger on the planet by 2030.

To supplement the previous report, FAO and the Pan American Health Organisation, have recently published the “Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security in Latin America and the Caribbean 2017”. The main message is the same: we are also losing ground in the fight against hunger.

Compared to the last measurement, 2.4 million persons have become undernourished. In total, 43 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from the scourge of hunger. In seven countries, more than 15% of the population is in this state: Antigua and Barbuda, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Saint Lucia.

If the most recently projected hunger rates do no change, only eight countries will reach the Zero Hunger goal by 2030: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Therefore, we must make a stronger and better effort in reaching the committed goal.

Julio Berdegué, FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Julio Berdegué, FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Brazil, Cuba and Uruguay are leading the progress made in the fight against undernourishment and Chile, Argentina and Mexico are a part of the most advanced group of countries.

Less than 4.2% of their populations suffer from undernourishment. However, many of them have entered a stage where their progress has slowed down, just when the goal is within reach. Since 1990, Mexico has reduced incidences of hunger by 2.5% and Argentina by approximately 1.7%.

Countries like Nicaragua and Bolivia have another reality. The level of hunger in these nations are high, above 17%, but what is important is that they are improving and moving quickly in the right direction.

We highlight the case of Nicaragua, with an impressive reduction of 35% since 1990. Bolivia is also moving at a good speed with hunger decreasing by almost 16% since 1990.

We can identify a third group of countries where the problem has worsened over the last year. In Costa Rica, 5.6% of the population is suffering from undernourishment. It is one of the countries with the highest numbers, and the problem has recently increased.

Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Peru, Saint Lucia and Venezuela have also regressed compared to the year 2016, and in the latter case, even more significantly. Peru’s recent regression must be considered in light of the fact that this country has a successful long-term trajectory, since it has reduced hunger by 22% since 1990, leaving the country with only an 8% incidence of undernourishment.

Considering the previously summarised trends, what strategies do we need so that in the year 2030 we can say that Latin America and the Caribbean is a region free from hunger, as promised by our political leaders?

In countries like Guatemala or Haiti that still have a high percentage of the population suffering from hunger, we must establish a broad and transverse strategy, in other words, one that covers every corner of their societies. CELAC’s Food Security and Nutrition Plan or the Mesoamerican No Hunger Initiative have proposals based on the best and most successful regional experiences.

These countries, Haiti in particular, require international cooperation, but to be successful this must be supported by strong and long-term national political will, surpassing humanitarian logic and linking the reduction of hunger to the promotion of sustainable development.

Pablo Aguirre, technical advisor of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Pablo Aguirre, technical advisor of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

In countries that already have this goal in sight but are still not victorious, the strategy that has worked in previous decades, must be changed.

These counties are entering a harder stage in the fight against hunger, which persists in social and territorial pockets of deep poverty, where factors such as institutional weaknesses, ethnic and gender inequalities, social exclusion, or geographic isolation, make the usual policies less effective.

It is like the climber who tries to reach to the peak of Mount Everest: the effort in the last 500 meters is a lot more that what was required at the beginning, and in order to reach the goal he must resort to special strategies.

At FAO, it is proposed that we accurately identify the social and territorial pockets of hunger, country by country, and for each one, we tailor-make a programme.

However, there is one very important factor in every country. Latin America and the Caribbean can only announce that our region is free from hunger in 2030 if our social and political leaders, businesses, each and every one of us, become convinced that populations suffering from hunger is an insult to our own dignity and an embarrassing trademark that we can no longer tolerate.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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International Day of Rural Womenhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/international-day-rural-women/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=international-day-rural-women http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/international-day-rural-women/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 20:57:49 +0000 Michel Mordasini http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152524
Michel Mordasini, is Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development - IFAD

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Michel Mordasini, is Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development - IFAD

By Michel Mordasini
ROME, Oct 16 2017 (IPS)

On this International Day of Rural Women, the world celebrates women and girls in rural areas and the critical role they play in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

Michel Mordasini. Credit: IFAD

To increase the impact of IFAD-supported projects on gender equality and to strengthen women’s empowerment in poor rural areas, our approach is centered on three pillars, which are the strategic objectives of our Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment:

First, we promote economic empowerment to enable rural women and men to have equal opportunities to participate in, and benefit from, profitable economic activities. To do this, we need to ensure that women have equal access to land and other productive resources and inputs, to knowledge, financial services and markets, and to income-generation opportunities.

Second, we enable women and men to have equal voice and influence in rural institutions and organizations. To this end, we support women’s self-organization in women’s groups and their participation in farmer organizations, water user associations, cooperatives and many other rural institutions. We set quotas for women’s representation and train women in leadership.

Third, we strive to promote a more equitable balance in workloads and in the sharing of economic and social benefits between women and men. Infrastructure development, and access to water, energy, roads and transport all contribute to reducing women’s burden of work, thus enabling them to take on economic activities and decision-making roles.

At IFAD, we celebrate the 2017 International Day of Rural Women by honouring the best-performing project in each region that empowers women and addresses gender inequalities. The Gender Award was established to recognize the efforts and achievements of IFAD-supported projects in meeting the strategic objectives of IFAD’s Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. The Award gives visibility to those projects that have successfully reduced rural women’s workload, given them a voice and created opportunities for economic empowerment. While selecting the winning projects, we also evaluate the strategic guidance provided by the project management unit and the achievements of gender focal points. We pay particular attention to innovative and gender transformative approaches that address underlying inequalities.

This year the Gender Awards go to the following projects:

The Char Development and Settlement Project – Phase IV in Bangladesh. The project is improving livelihoods for poor people living on newly accreted coastal islands known locally as chars. It uses a combined approach to development, which includes infrastructure works, forestry, water supplies, provision of health and sanitation, management of land and agriculture, securing women’s and men’s access to land and addressing social norms such as child marriage.

The Agricultural Value Chain Development Project in the Mountain Zones of Al-Haouz Province in Morocco. The project is supporting smallholder farmers and livestock producers, and promoting the development of value chains for olives, apples and lamb. With access to subsidies and credit, women have formed professional teams and associations, and cooperatives for income-generation.

The Building Rural Entrepreneurial Capacities: Trust and Opportunity Programme in Colombia. The programme is helping rural communities to recover from conflict. It is improving living conditions, income and employment for small farmers, indigenous groups, Afro-Latino communities, young people, families who have been forcibly displaced and households headed by women in post-conflict rural areas.

The Rural Markets Promotion Programme in Mozambique. The programme is enabling small-scale farmers to increase their incomes and helping them to market their surpluses. Women are learning to read and write, and benefiting from community-based financial services. The programme has achieved transformative changes, including greater involvement of men in activities related to nutrition.

The Poverty Reduction Project in Aftout South and Karakorum – Phase II in Mauritania. The project is improving the income and living conditions of poor rural households in M’Bout, Kankossa and Ould-Yengé. With a female gender officer and an actionable gender strategy, the project has invested in information dissemination and sensitization on gender equality and equitable workloads, and the importance of healthcare and sanitation, water supplies and access to markets.

Let me congratulate the winners. IFAD President and staff look forward to welcoming them to Rome on 29-30 November for the award ceremony and a learning event.

The hundreds of thousands of poor households targeted in these five projects have made considerable progress in reducing rural poverty and empowering women. Let us continue to ensure that poor rural communities and individuals – particularly women, indigenous peoples and young people – become part of a rural transformation that drives overall sustainable development and leaves no one behind. IFAD aims to achieve real transformative gender impact. And to do this, we need to address the deep roots of gender inequality – prevailing social norms, entrenched attitudes and behaviours, and social systems.

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Hunger in Africa, Land of Plentyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/hunger-africa-land-plenty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hunger-africa-land-plenty http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/hunger-africa-land-plenty/#comments Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:45:22 +0000 Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152493 Anis Chowdhury, a former professor of economics at the University of Western Sydney, held senior United Nations positions during 2008–2015 in New York and Bangkok. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007.

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A tea farmer in Nyeri County, central Kenya contemplates what to do after his crop was damaged by severe weather patterns. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 2017 (IPS)

Globally, 108 million people faced food crises in 2016, compared to about 80 million in 2015 – an increase of 35%, according to the 2017 Global Report on Food Crises. Another 123 million people were ‘stressed’, contributing to around 230 million such food insecure people in 2016, of whom 72% were in Africa.

The highest hunger levels are in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) according to the Global Hunger Index 2016. The number of ‘undernourished’ or hungry people in Africa increased from about 182 million in the early 1990s to around 233 million in 2016 according to the FAO, while the global number declined from about a billion to approximately 795 million.

This is a cruel irony as many countries in Africa have the highest proportion of potential arable land. According to a 2012 FAO report, for African sub-regions except North Africa, between 21% and 37% of their land area face few climate, soil or terrain constraints to rain-fed crop production.

Why hunger?
Observers typically blame higher population growth, natural calamities and conflicts for hunger on the continent. And since Africa was transformed from a net food exporter into a net food importer in the 1980s despite its vast agricultural potential, international food price hikes have also contributed to African hunger.

The international sovereign debt crises of the 1980s forced many African countries to the stabilization and structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) of the Bretton Woods institutions. Between 1980 and 2007, Africa’s total net food imports grew at an average of 3.4% per year in real terms. Imports of basic foodstuffs, especially cereals, have risen sharply.

One casualty of SAPs was public investment. African countries were told that they need not invest in agriculture as imports would be cheaper. . Tragically, while Africa deindustrialized thanks to the SAPs, food security also suffered.

In 1980, Africa’s agricultural investments were comparable to those in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC). But while LAC agricultural investment increased 2.6 fold between 1980 and 2007, it increased by much less in Africa. Meanwhile, agricultural investments in Asia went from three to eight times more than in Africa as African government investments in agricultural research remained paltry.

Thus, African agricultural productivity has not only suffered, but also African agriculture remains less resilient to climate change and extreme weather conditions. Africa is now comparable to Haiti where food agriculture was destroyed by subsidized food imports from the US and Europe, as admitted by President Clinton after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

Lost decades
SAP advocates promised that private investment and exports would soon follow cuts in public investment, thus paying for imports. But the ostensibly short-term pain of adjustment did not bring the anticipated long-term gains of growth and prosperity. Now, it is admitted that ‘neoliberalism’ was ‘oversold’, causing the 1980s and 1990s to become ‘lost decades’ for Africa.

Thanks to such programmes, even in different guises such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), Africa became the only continent to see a massive increase in poverty by the end of the 20th century. And despite the minerals-led growth boom for a dozen years (2002-2014) during the 15 years of the Millennium Development Goals, nearly half the continent’s population now lives in poverty.

The World Bank’s Poverty in Rising Africa shows that the number of Africans in extreme poverty increased by more than 100 million between 1990 and 2012 to about 330 million. It projects that “the world’s extreme poor will be increasingly concentrated in Africa”.

Land grabs
Despite its potential, vast tracts of arable land remain idle, due to decades of official neglect of agriculture. More recently, international financial institutions and many donors have been advocating large-scale foreign investment. A World Bank report notes the growing demand for farmland, especially following the 2007-2008 food price hikes. Approximately 56 million hectares worth of large-scale farmland deals were announced in 2009, compared to less than four million hectares yearly before 2008. More than 70% of these deals involved Africa.

In most such deals, local community concerns are often ignored to benefit big investors and their allies in government. For example, Feronia Inc – a company based in Canada and owned by the development finance institutions of various European governments – controls 120,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Advocates of large-scale land acquisitions claim that such deals have positive impacts, e.g., generating jobs locally and improving access to infrastructure. However, loss of community access to land and other natural resources, increased conflicts over livelihoods and greater inequality are among some common adverse consequences.

Most such deals involve land already cleared, with varied, but nonetheless considerable socioeconomic and environmental implications. Local agrarian populations have often been dispossessed with little consultation or adequate compensation, as in Tanzania, when Swedish-based Agro EcoEnergy acquired 20,000 hectares for a sugarcane plantation and ethanol production.

Land grabbing by foreign companies for commercial farming in Africa is threatening smallholder agricultural productivity, vital for reducing poverty and hunger on the continent. In the process, they have been marginalizing local communities, particularly ‘indigenous’ populations, and compromising food security.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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How to Change the Future of Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/change-future-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=change-future-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/change-future-migration/#comments Sat, 14 Oct 2017 19:34:43 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152497 The world is on the move. More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since the Second World War due to increased conflict and political instability, hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change. Such a short paragraph hardly depicts the growing drama of migration, […]

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DROUGHT IN THE HORN OF AFRICA. Food security conditions in drought-hit areas are alarming [...read more]. Credit: FAO

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Oct 14 2017 (IPS)

The world is on the move. More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since the Second World War due to increased conflict and political instability, hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change.

Such a short paragraph hardly depicts the growing drama of migration, but much can be learned from World Food Day 2017, marked on 16 October, which this year proposes specific ways to address the huge challenge of massive human movement.

Large movements of people today are presenting complex challenges, which call for global action, says on this the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), adding that many migrants arrive in developing countries, creating tensions where resources are already scarce, but the majority, about 763 million, move within their own countries rather than abroad.

Ten facts you need to know about Hunger

1. The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet, about 800 million people suffer from hunger. That is one in nine people. 60% of them are women.
2. About 80% of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture.
3. Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and aids combined.
4. Around 45% of infant deaths are related to malnutrition.
5. The cost of malnutrition to the global economy is the equivalent of USD 3.5 trillion a year.
6. 1.9 billion people – more than a quarter of the world’s population – are overweight.
7. One third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted.
8. The world will need to produce 60% more food by 2050 to feed a growing population.
9. No other sector is more sensitive to climate change than agriculture.
10. FAO works mainly in rural areas, in 130 countries, with governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners to achieve #ZeroHunger.

SOURCE: FAO

What to Do?

One key fact to understand the current reality is that three-quarters of the extreme poor base their livelihoods on agriculture or other rural activities.

Consequently, creating conditions that allow rural people, especially youth, to stay at home when they feel it is safe to do so, and to have more resilient livelihoods, is a crucial component of any plan to tackle the migration challenge, says the UN specialised body.

Meantime, one key solution is to invest in food security and rural development, which can address factors that compel people to move by creating business opportunities and jobs for young people that are not only crop-based (such as small dairy or poultry production, food processing or horticulture enterprises).

It can also lead to increased food security, more resilient livelihoods, better access to social protection, reduced conflict over natural resources and solutions to environmental degradation and climate change, FAO adds.

“By investing in rural development, the international community can also harness migration’s potential to support development and build the resilience of displaced and host communities, thereby laying the ground for long-term recovery and inclusive and sustainable growth,” according to the WFD 2017’s theme ”Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.”

Migration is part of the process of development as economies undergo structural transformation and people search for better employment opportunities within and across countries.

The challenge is to address the structural drivers of large movements of people to make migration safe, orderly and regular, FAO underlines, adding that in this way, migration can contribute to economic growth and improve food security and rural livelihoods.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has joined FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, a large number of agriculture ministers, including several from the Group of Seven (G7) most industrialised countries, and the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to celebrate World Food Day 2017 at FAO on 16 October.

In an unprecedented gesture, Pope Francis on July this year donated 25,000 euro to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s “efforts supporting people facing food insecurity and famine in East Africa.”

The Pope said the funds are “a symbolic contribution to an FAO programme that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought.” See: Pope Francis Donates to FAO for Drought, Conflict-Stricken East Africa. Also see: East Africa’s Poor Rains: Hunger Worsened, Crops Scorched, Livestock Dead

World Food Day 2017 has been marked in the context of a world where global hunger is on the rise for the first time in decades. See: World Hunger on the Rise Again

Causes and Remedies

The WFD is marked just a week after FAO launched its State of Food and Agriculture 2017 report, in which it recalls that population growth, increasing urbanisation, modern technologies, and climate change are transforming the world at a fast pace.

The report posed questions such as what direction are these transformations headed in? Are they benefiting the poor and the food insecure? And will the food systems of the future be able to feed and employ the millions of young people poised to enter labour markets in the decades to come? See: How to Eradicate Rural Poverty, End Urban Malnutrition – A New Approach

Credit: FAO

The Day has also been preceded by a new study which reveals a widening gap in hunger. The 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) states that despite years of progress, food security is still under threat. And conflict and climate change are hitting the poorest people the hardest and effectively pitching parts of the world into “perpetual crisis.” See: Not True that Hunger Doesn’t Discriminate — It Does

Climate Change and the Migration Crisis

Meanwhile, two UN high officials —Robert Glasser, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and William Lacy Swing, the Director General of the International Organization for Migration— have addressed the key issues of climate change and migration.

Climate change migration is reaching crisis proportions, they wrote on 10 October, noting that over the last 18 months, some 20 countries have declared drought emergencies, with millions forced off their land.

According to Glasser and Swing, while it may not be the first time, for many, it could be the last time they turn their backs on the countryside and try to make a life in urban slums and informal settlements, adding that for at least the last two years, more people have been forced from their homes by extreme weather events than by conflict.

“We need to set about the long-haul task of making the planet fit for purpose once more through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and, in the meantime, making it more resilient to disasters, limiting the damage already done.”

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, for it part, warned that exacerbated by climate-related shocks, increasing conflicts have been a key driver of severe food crisis and recently re-emerged famines.

Conclusion: the causes of growing human suffering have been clearly identified–conflict, political instability, hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change. Aemedies have been also presented. All is needed is for decision-makers to listen… and implement. The future of migration can in fact be changed.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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Food for Thoughtful Healthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/food-for-thoughtful-health/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-for-thoughtful-health http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/food-for-thoughtful-health/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 18:29:31 +0000 Doaa Abdel-Motaal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152487 Dr Doaa Abdel-Motaal is the Executive Director of The Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School. Doaa is the author of the recently published book, Antarctica: The Battle for the Seventh Continent.

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Food systems are not sustainable: a holistic approach is urgently needed to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain

Credit: Bigstock

By Doaa Abdel-Motaal
OXFORD, United Kingdom, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

Milk and cookies, macaroni and cheese, fish and chips. Some foods seem to match perfectly together to the point where one can’t go without the other. Food and health, while maybe not as catchy, should be viewed in the same light. Without good food it is hard to maintain good health; without good food growing practices it is difficult to maintain a healthy planet.

It is hard to believe that in 2017, with all the advancements made in agriculture and the food industry, many people around the world still do not have enough to eat. This is a tragedy. There is more than enough food produced to feed everyone, yet according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 800 million people suffer from hunger and more than 2 billion from micronutrient deficiencies.

This will only get worse as the world population is expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050. Conflict, and with it the displacement and migration of people, further compound the food security and nutrition equation. In 2017 alone a number of crises have made millions worldwide severely food insecure.

On the flip side, there are many people going to bed too full across the globe: an estimated 40% of adults and millions of children worldwide are overweight.

We are witnessing an overconsumption of food often coupled with a lower nutritional quality. This is having a major impact on obesity, heart disease and other issues, and is no doubt adding to the looming heath crisis. Obesity tends to affect poorer populations more, suggesting that the issue is not only the availability of food, but the type of food available.

It is becoming increasingly clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. What is urgently needed is a holistic approach to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain
We are also losing many of the traditional diets found throughout the world in favour of less sustainable diets. Developing countries are moving away from traditional diets high in cereal, green vegetables and fiber to more Western style diets that are high in sugars, fat and animal-source food. This is not only bad for human health, but potentially catastrophic for the environment.

A look at livestock alone and its contribution to climate change demonstrates this point. According to the FAO, the sector emits 7 gigatons of CO2 equivalent every year, representing around 14 percent of all human-induced emissions. Planetary boundaries may well be surpassed if current trends continue. Also, it takes ten times more water and twenty times more energy to produce one kilogram of wheat as it does to produce the same weight of beef, and at present three quarters of the world’s wheat is grown to feed livestock.

And while certain agricultural practices contribute to climate change, climate change is also likely to have a serious impact on our food security. Climate models indicate that while rising temperatures may have a beneficial effect on crops in temperate areas, tropical areas may experience a significant reduction in their crop productivity in the long term.

Equally serious will be the impact of climate change on the nutritional content of key crops which could put hundreds of millions of people at risk of vitamin deficiencies. Studies show that higher CO2 levels significantly reduce the levels of the essential nutrients iron and zinc, as well as protein, in such staple crops as wheat, rice, maize and soybeans.

While these crops are relatively low in iron and zinc compared to meat, in poorer societies where meat is not consumed as much as in wealthier nations, they remain a major source of the nutrients needed for children to grow and to develop.

And then there is the waste. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted, with fruits and vegetables having the highest wastage rates of any food, says the FAO. This waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries and $310 billion in developing countries. If we are going to meeting Goal 12 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – to reduce global food waste in half by 2030 –  much more needs to be done.

 

Food systems are not sustainable: a holistic approach is urgently needed to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain

Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted, with fruits and vegetables having the highest wastage rates of any food. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

 

This World Food Day, we have to acknowledge the multiple problems that exist within our food systems and that nutritional problems are escalating. It is becoming increasingly clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. What is urgently needed is a holistic approach to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain.  Awareness raising on what a healthy diet means is also key.

Through the newly established Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School, we will continue to find solutions to health risks posed by poor stewardship of the planet. In an era of global environmental change, the food-health connection must be made central to any such investigation.

Over the next 18 months, the Economic Council – made up of world leaders from government, international organizations, civil society, business, finance and academia – will bridge knowledge gaps on the links between economic development, natural systems and human health to compel collaboration across disciplines and coordinated action to address the complex challenges of the 21st century.  A century where the food and health connection will need to be viewed inseparably, like an order of fish and chips.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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Overcoming the Challenges: Securing the World’s Food, Energy and Waterhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/overcoming-challenges-securing-worlds-food-energy-water/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=overcoming-challenges-securing-worlds-food-energy-water http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/overcoming-challenges-securing-worlds-food-energy-water/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:01:13 +0000 Adel Sharif http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152481 Adel Sharif, PhD, CEng, FIChemE, is Professor of Water Engineering & Process Innovation, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Surrey, UK

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Renewable energy sources are not available to every country, never mind their still high capital and installation costs, which can be restraining factors

Credit: Bigstock

By Adel Sharif
SURREY, United Kingdom, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

According to the United Nations estimates almost 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger (1 in every 9 persons on the planet) and a higher number (1 in 3) suffer from malnutrition. 1 in every 5 persons (1.4 billion people) have no access to electricity worldwide (living with energy poverty) whilst 1 in 10 people do not have access to clean water.  With climate change, this situation is worsening across many parts of the world.

Food, Energy and Water (FEW) are linked inextricably and are important requirements for  national security and economic development of nations.

 

 

To make enough food for a growing world population, more water and energy are needed. To ensure water is accessible and clean for human consumption demands energy and diverts water resources from agriculture. Additionally producing energy requires water, again potentially impacting irrigation. Energy production is further constrained by the need to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These interlinkages are intensifying in many regions around the world as demand for resources increase with population growth, changing consumption patterns, and low management efficiencies in both supply and demand in these three sectors, likely to be compounded by the impact of climate change.

Attempting to achieve sustainable management in one of these sectors independently, without addressing trade-offs, will endanger sustainability of the other two sectors. It is important therefore to adopt a nexus-thinking approach in the planning and management to achieve intelligent synergies and fair trade-offs between all three sectors.

At the centre of the FEW nexus lies the global challenge of climate change and poverty. According to the UN Declaration on Social development in 1995, poverty, whether it is absolute poverty, extreme poverty, or abject poverty is a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information.

Poverty therefore is the biggest challenge to humanity.   The poor suffer from it while the rich fear it. It creates social divisions, fierce competition, greed, tensions and political instability among other societal problems. Eradicating poverty is therefore a moral responsibility and a fundamental requirement to social justice, political stability and sustainable development.

Arguably there could be perhaps two ways to reduce or eliminate poverty: One is to make everybody or every nation rich; though it is not possible politically and logistically, it would still not solve the problem of poverty due to the limited global resources and their geographical distribution and constraints.

The second way is by making the basic needs of Water, Energy and Food available and affordable to everyone. With technological advances, it is possible to achieve the latter but not the former. History shows that since the industrial revolution, science and technology have contributed hugely to reduce global poverty, improve people’s health, enhance quality of life, increase education opportunities and even help bring people and nations together by reducing cultural barriers.

However, the over exploitation of science and technology has also contributed to global problems including accelerated depletion of natural resources due to increased population and human greed fuelled by  the rich and technologically developed nations’ desire to be richer and dominating. These activities have affected the environment negatively and resulted in the challenge of climate change and raised the question of unsustainable development.

Critical to achieving sustainability and eradicating poverty is to have sustainable energy and water supplies that have little or no geographical or climatic condition constraints. This appears near impossible or far reaching given the current rate of consumption of the world’s energy and water resources and the status of scientific and technological development.

However, history tells us that humans have always found ways to advance their mission on earth by discovering alternative sources, and/or inventing new ways of doing things better. Examples include how human moved from using wood to coal and then to oil and gas before any of these resources had been completely depleted. However, the challenges, whether they are energy or water resources related have not yet disappeared.

For energy, this is so because fossil based energy sources are available in certain places around the world which presents a geographical, logistical and political constraints. Additionally they have negative impact on the environment, which has resulted in the challenge of Climate Change.

 

Renewable energy sources are not available to every country, never mind their still high capital and installation costs, which can be restraining factors

A wind park in Mexico. Credit: Courtesy of Dforcesolar

 

Renewable energy sources, on the other hand, whether solar, wind, tidal, hydropower, etc., though have less negative impacts on the environment; they are not free from geographical and climatic constraints regardless of their development status. In other words, they are not available to every country, never mind their still high capital and installation costs, which can be restraining factors.

The global water situation is not different from that of energy. The most populated parts of the world suffer from water shortages.  Additionally, most of the larger cities in the world are located near the sea. This mainly provides an option for domestic water sourced from desalinated seawater or by long distance water transportation.  Both are energy intensive processes.

The water shortage problem has negatively affected farming and agriculture activities worldwide. Globally, agriculture water constitutes about 70% of the total freshwater use. Groundwater contamination has resulted in a further reduction of water resources which were available for irrigation and exacerbated the problem of water scarcity. Tapping into seawater was considered as an option solution for freshwater supply, but as mentioned before desalination is energy intensive technology and has high installation cost, which limits its use to wealthy and oil rich countries.

Hence low cost energy is the key to a prosperous world. The world needs water and food as well among other key requirements. For water, there is plenty of it in the sea but it is not suitable for human consumption or irrigation. Hence having secure, adequate, sustainable and low cost energy source provides sustainable and affordable water. Both provides the base for food production, as there is little or no shortage of agricultural land.

Should water and energy be available, it could change people’s lives. With the availability of these essential ingredients for living, health, prosperity and quality of life among other things for most people could be granted.  This will also have a positive effect on the environment and helps reducing the impact of climate change.

There is a good reason for optimism that a sustainable and affordable energy source will be found. The reason for optimism is that because scientists have not exhausted all the options. More scientists are required to innovate and think out of the box including re-examination of the many of the scientific principles and the existing engineering concepts, i.e. doing perhaps more of going back to the basics and applying reverse-engineering among other approaches.

For example, in the case of energy, scientists and engineers for a long time, probably since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, have associated energy transformation and power production to fuel consumption; e.g. burning wood, coal, oil and gas including the nuclear reaction.

This has created a resource problem as most of these sources are not available everywhere. However the renewable energy sources, though they do not involve fuel consumption, have limitations of location, weather and availability. To overcome these limitations, many of the existing political and environmental rules and regulations need to be substantially changed; which is unlikely.

This leaves us with no options but to think beyond the conventional ways. Given that accessible, affordable, secure and low cost energy is central to achieving sustainable development, energy therefore must have the highest global priority. Securing sustainable energy supplies will directly impact the security of water and food; giving the interlinked dependency of these essential needs for our modern civilisation.

Out of the box thinking suggests an energy source that has little or no constraints and that is Gravity. Gravity is everywhere and anywhere with an infinite range and no geographical nor climatic limitations. However, gravity while it powers and is responsible for many of the large scale structures in the Universe, it is largely a negative energy source for humans because of the penalties to overcome it in most human activities expect for hydropower generation and few other uses. Other sources of renewable energy that are not widely exploited include low grade heat and ocean energy.

Turning gravity to an exploitable energy source for electricity production, would present a great leap in technological advancement. Electron is a universal form of energy that is used for lighting and powering machines and devices for all uses and purposes including heating, transportation, etc.  Gravity has the potential to provide electricity.

Investigating the possibility of producing electricity using gravity is currently an area of limited research. This is because the idea is largely perceived as impossible.  The number of researchers who are investigating this area is very small compared to the size of the scientific community. If they succeed, the potential would be huge with a global impact and opportunities.

The challenges of Water, Energy and Food along with other challenges of  Climate Change and Poverty Eradication, can then be successfully addressed. This would mark the beginning of the Sustainable Age.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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Trying to Make Immigration an Option Rather than a Need in Latin Americahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/trying-make-immigration-option-rather-need-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trying-make-immigration-option-rather-need-latin-america http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/trying-make-immigration-option-rather-need-latin-america/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:16:25 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152477 This article forms part of the IPS coverage for World Food Day, celebrated on October 16.

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In Vega Central, the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Santiago, the stands of Peruvian migrants, 300,000 of whom live in Chile, offer typical produce and meals from that country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

In Vega Central, the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Santiago, the stands of Peruvian migrants, 300,000 of whom live in Chile, offer typical produce and meals from that country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

The aim is for migration to become just one option among others for the rural population of Latin America, says Brazilian expert Luiz Carlos Beduschi, referring to an issue that causes concern in the region due to its impact on food security.

The theme this year of World Food Day, celebrated Oct. 16, is “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development”, promoted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“If living conditions improve in rural areas, people can use more autonomous strategies that can turn the decision of whether or not to migrate into just one more option among other alternatives,” Beduschi, policy officer in FAO’s regional office in Santiago, Chile, told IPS.

The Brazilian academic added that “the tendency to migrate increases or declines” depending on the specific characteristics and circumstances of the potential migrants.

He mentioned, for example, individual circumstances, such as “the search for independence among the young,” and family circumstances, because “among families with members in other countries, the tendency to migrate is stronger.”

Other reasons arise from where people live. With regard to this point, Beduschi explained that “in areas with greater economic opportunities and lower crime rates, better public services, etc, the tendency to migrate is weaker.

“In more remote areas with poorer quality land, where people don’t have savings or cash allowing them to migrate, social protection policies are even more necessary,” he said.

Migration in context

Some 30 million people from Latin America and the Caribbean live outside their home countries, equivalent to four percent of the total population of the region, according to Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) statistics, which are based on the latest national census information from the different countries. Of that total, some 20 million live in the United States and 11 million of them are undocumented.

Central America and southern Mexico account for the largest number of migrants from the region – 9.7 percent of the total population of this subregion known as “Mesoamerica” – and Mexico represents 40 percent of the region’s total migration, with approximately 12 million Mexicans living abroad, mainly in the United States.

The International Migration Report 2016, prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, reported that migrants from Latin America are getting younger: between 2010 and 2015, the median age of immigrants from this region declined from 40 to 36 years.

One significant fact is that around 5.5 million young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are immigrants in the United States, equivalent to 25 percent of the Latin American immigrant population in that country. Another is that 49.4 percent of Latin American immigrants in the United States are women.

Another phenomenon that ECLAC emphasises is that so far this century, inter-regional migration in Latin America has grown at an annual average of 3.5 percent, with more than eight million Latin American immigrants living in other nations in the region, 63 percent in countries that border their own.

Poverty and climate, factors that drive migration

For Víctor Hugo Lagos, a lawyer with the Jesuit Service for Migrants that operates in three Chilean cities, poverty is the main factor driving immigration today.

“Poverty is a factor that makes people decide to leave their home countries and seek opportunities elsewhere. And poverty has different causes, such as a lack of access to education or jobs,” he told IPS.

Jorge Martínez with the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre (CELADE) said that in this region, rural migration to urban areas has declined.

“That was an issue in previous decades, which accompanied broad social and economic changes – migration driven by a lack of opportunities, by modernisation in agriculture, and the simultaneous draw of urban areas,” he told IPS at CELADE headquarters in Santiago.

He added that most of the migrants from Latin America come from urban areas, with a few exceptions, such as Mexico, where migration is still leading to the depopulation of rural areas.

“One factor that can have a potentially heavy influence is natural disasters/climate change, which requires a new assessment of the consequences of mobility, affecting the most disadvantaged and the least resilient,” he warned.

In 2015, more than 19 million people worldwide were displaced within their countries as a result of natural disasters, according to FAO.

Between 2008 and 2015, an average of 26.4 million people a year were displaced by natural catastrophes.

Lagos lamented that “at the level of international law (natural disasters) have not been recognised as grounds for granting refugee status in another country,” because “practice shows that today the environment is one of the main factors leading people to leave their countries.

“One classic example is Haiti, which is not only a country steeped in poverty and whose leaders have shown a high level of corruption, but which has also been plagued by different natural disasters,” he said.

Beduschi, meanwhile, stressed that the projects, programmes and policies supported by FAO seek to strengthen the decision-making autonomy of rural families, including the decision of whether or not to migrate.

The idea is “to change the future of migration, investing in food security and agriculture.

“What we are trying to do in FAO, with a broad, diverse set of partners, is to eradicate rural hunger and poverty, improve nutrition, make better use of natural resources, and strengthen people’s livelihoods,” he said.

“International cooperation is not aimed at reducing the number of migrants, but at helping to make migration a safe, orderly and regular process,” he added. “The idea is also for people and families to decide to migrate, not as the only option for their development, but as one option in a broaders range of opportunities.”
Beduschi said “conflicts over ownership and use of natural resources are also related to migration flows,” as are aspects such as “changes in climate conditions and the exhaustion of natural resources.”

He said that “expanding access to assets and services is part of the response to build up resilience in rural areas, as is promoting more environment-friendly production methods.”

According to FAO, investing in sustainable food production and rural development systems helps to address the main global challenges in feeding the growing global population, protecting the climate, and tackling some of the fundamental causes of migration and displacement.

It adds that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be reached without putting an end to hunger and without achieving agriculture and food production systems that respect the climate and are sustainable and resilient.

Of 129 countries monitored by FAO, 72 reached the goal of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger, by 2015, although the U.N. agency issued an alert that in 2016 the fight against malnutrition suffered a setback.

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Not True that Hunger Doesn’t Discriminate — It Doeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/not-true-hunger-doesnt-discriminate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=not-true-hunger-doesnt-discriminate http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/not-true-hunger-doesnt-discriminate/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:27:25 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152470 In a world where only 8 individuals – all of them men—possess as much as half of all the planet’s wealth, and it will take women 170 years to be paid as men are*, inequality appears to be a key feature of the current economic model. Now a new study reveals that there is also […]

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According to a new study, hunger emerges the strongest and most persistently among populations that are already vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Credit: 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI)

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

In a world where only 8 individuals – all of them men—possess as much as half of all the planet’s wealth, and it will take women 170 years to be paid as men are*, inequality appears to be a key feature of the current economic model. Now a new study reveals that there is also a widening gap in hunger.

In fact, the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) states that despite years of progress, food security is still under threat. And that conflict and climate change are hitting the poorest people the hardest and effectively pitching parts of the world into “perpetual crisis.”

Although it has been said that “hunger does not discriminate,” it does, says the 2017 Global Hunger Index, jointly published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe.

According to this study, hunger emerges the strongest and most persistently among populations that are already vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Hunger and inequality are inextricably linked, it warns. By committing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the international community promised to eradicate hunger and reduce inequality by 2030.

“Yet the world is still not on track to reach this target. Inequality takes many forms, and understanding how it leads to or exacerbates hunger is not always straightforward.”

Women and Girls

The GHI provides some examples–women and girls comprise 60 per cent of the world’s hungry, often the result of deeply rooted social structures that deny women access to education, healthcare, and resources.

Likewise, ethnic minorities are often victims of discrimination and experience greater levels of poverty and hunger, it says, adding that most closely tied to hunger, perhaps, is poverty, the clearest manifestation of societal inequality.

Three-quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas, where hunger is typically higher.

The 2017 Global Hunger Index tracks the state of hunger worldwide, spotlighting those places where action to address hunger is most urgently needed.

This year’s Index shows mixed results: despite a decline in hunger over the long term, the global level remains high, with great differences not only among countries but also within countries.

For example, at a national level, Central African Republic (CAR) has extremely alarming levels of hunger and is ranked highest of all countries with GHI scores in the report.

While CAR made no progress in reducing hunger over the past 17 years—its GHI score from 2000 is the same as in 2017—14 other countries reduced their GHI scores by more than 50 per cent over the same period.

Meanwhile, at the sub-national level, inequalities of hunger are often obscured by national averages. In northeast Nigeria, 4.5 million people are experiencing or are at risk of famine while the rest of the country is relatively food secure, according to the 2017 Index.

Child Stunting

This year’s report also highlights trends related to child stunting in selected countries including Afghanistan, where rates vary dramatically — from 24.3 per cent of children in some parts of the country to 70.8 per cent in others.

While the world has committed to reaching Zero Hunger by 2030, the fact that over 20 million people are currently at risk of famine shows how far we are from realising this vision, warns the report.

“As we fight the scourge of hunger across the globe, we must understand how inequality contributes to it. To ensure that those who are affected by inequality can demand change from national governments and international organisations and hold them to account, we must understand and redress power imbalances.”

The study notes that on 20 February, the world awoke to a headline that should have never come about: famine had been declared in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced anywhere in the world in six years. “This formal famine declaration meant that people were already dying of hunger.”

This was on top of imminent famine warnings in northern Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen, putting a total of 20 million people at risk of starvation, it adds.

“Meanwhile, Venezuela’s political turmoil created massive food shortages in both the city and countryside, leaving millions without enough to eat in a region that, overall, has low levels of hunger. As the crisis there escalated and food prices soared, the poor were the first to suffer.”

This year’s report also highlights trends related to child stunting in selected countries including Afghanistan, where rates vary dramatically — from 24.3 per cent of children in some parts of the country to 70.8 per cent in others.

According to 2017 GHI scores, the level of hunger in the world has decreased by 27 per cent from the 2000 level. Of the 119 countries assessed in this year’s report, one falls in the extremely alarming range on the GHI Severity Scale; 7 fall in the alarming range; 44 in the serious range; and 24 in the moderate range. Only 43 countries have scores in the low range.

In addition, 9 of the 13 countries that lack sufficient data for calculating 2017 GHI scores still raise significant concerns, including Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria.

To capture the multidimensional nature of hunger, GHI scores are based on four component indicators—undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality.

The 27 per cent improvement noted above reflects progress in each of these indicators according to the latest data from 2012–2016 for countries in the GHI:

• The share of the overall population that is undernourished is 13.0 per cent, down from 18.2 per cent in 2000.
• 27.8 per cent of children under five are stunted, down from 37.7 per cent in 2000.
• 9.5 per cent of children under five are wasted, down from 9.9 per cent in 2000.
• The under-five mortality rate is 4.7 per cent, down from 8.2 per cent in 2000.

By Regions

The regions of the world struggling most with hunger are South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, with scores in the serious range (30.9 and 29.4, respectively), says the report.

Meanwhile, the scores of East and Southeast Asia, the Near East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States range from low to moderate (between 7.8 and 12.8).

These averages conceal some troubling results within each region, it says, adding that however, including scores in the serious range for Tajikistan, Guatemala, Haiti, and Iraq and in the alarming range for Yemen, as well as scores in the serious range for half of all countries in East and Southeast Asia, whose average benefits from China’s low score of 7.5.

For its part, the UN State of Food and Agriculture 2017 report, released on 9 October, warns that efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty by 2030 could be thwarted by a thorny combination of low productivity in developing world subsistence agriculture, limited scope for industrialisation, and rapid population growth.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report also argues that rural areas need not be a poverty trap.

In short, also hunger discriminates against the ultimate victims of all inequalities–the most vulnerable. Any reaction?

*Oxfam International’s report ‘An economy for the 99 per cent’.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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Women are Pivotal to Addressing Hunger, Malnutrition and Povertyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/women-pivotal-addressing-hunger-malnutrition-poverty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-pivotal-addressing-hunger-malnutrition-poverty http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/women-pivotal-addressing-hunger-malnutrition-poverty/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 12:22:09 +0000 Lakshmi Puri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152465 Lakshmi Puri is UN Assistant Secretary-General & Deputy Executive Director of UN Women

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Women are pivotal to addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty especially in developing countries

Women farmers clearing abandoned farmland in the drought-affected Nachol village in Northern Bangladesh. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

By Lakshmi Puri
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

The 16th of October marks World Food Day, a reminder to the international community of the criticality of treating food security as a 21st Century priority if sustainable development, peace and security and the realisation of human rights are to be achieved.

When we think and act on food security we must think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment as women are not only the ones most affected by food insecurity but are charged with the food and nutrition responsibilities for families and communities in the entire food value chain from growing the crops to bringing food to the table.

Rapid population growth, the slowdown of the global economy, commodity price volatility, the speculative aspects of the trade in food commodity futures, and distortive agricultural and trade policies are compounding factors for continuing food insecurity and hunger. The latest estimates indicate that 795 million people were undernourished globally in 2014-2016, with insufficient food for an active and healthy life.

Lakshmi Puri

Lakshmi Puri

Bio-fuel production with its rising pressure on land and natural resources as well as climate change, are adding to the volatility of food prices and the urgency to find solutions for food insecurity. and for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) on Ending Hunger, Achieving Food Security, Improving Nutrition and Promoting Sustainable Agriculture.

 

Food security and gender equality and women’s empowerment are concomitant and inextricably interlinked.

Women are pivotal to addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty especially in developing countries. They comprise an average of 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force across the developing world making up the backbone of the agricultural sector and food production systems and the bulk of the agricultural labourers. Eight out of ten agricultural workers in Africa are women and in Asia six out of ten are women. Rural women often represent approximately two thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers.

Furthermore, women are on the front line of nutrition as care givers in the family — producing, storing, cleaning, cooking food for consumption – and ensuring that food, when available, reaches children first. Women have a crucial role in ensuring the health of children.

Eight out of ten agricultural workers in Africa are women and in Asia six out of ten are women. Rural women often represent approximately two thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers.
Nearly half of all deaths of children under the age of five are attributable to undernutrition. Anemia, caused by poor nutrition and deficiencies of iron and other micronutrients, affects 42 per cent of all pregnant women globally and contributes to maternal mortality and low birth weight.

It is therefore even more inexcusable that women continue to face many barriers and constraints including limited access to assets and resources necessary for food security as well as disproportionately bear the impact of food insecurity. It is estimated that 60 percent of the world’s chronically hungry people are women and girls.

Rural ringing women and girls have been found to be impacted disproportionately from food insecurity and experience the triple burden of malnutrition (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity).

Women tend to face higher barriers than men to productive resources, economic opportunities, and decision-making, that would help alleviate food insecurity. For farming women, the lack of access to agricultural inputs, services, credit, and markets constrain agricultural productivity growth and agricultural production, making the arduous pathway out of poverty especially difficult.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the productivity levels of female workers in agriculture are between 20 and 30 per cent lower than those of male workers, purely because of the gender gap in access to resources. Moreover, food preferences, taboos and consumption patterns give rise to differential gender outcomes on food security, as men and boys get preferential food access in some contexts. In time of food scarcity, women tend to eat last and least.

 

Women are pivotal to addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty especially in developing countries

Peruvian peasant women working in the potato fields. Credit: Milagros Salazar/IPS

 

Women’s participation in decision making processes and in the leadership of rural institutions remains low – which has led to women’s rights, contributions and priorities to be largely overlooked by mainstream policies and institutions on agriculture, food security and nutrition.

Also, gender inequalities in the distribution of unpaid care work burden both in developed and in developing countries continue to deprive women from opportunities for paid work, education, and political participation, all of which have a bearing on their food security and nutrition.

It is therefore clear that achieving sustainable development and peace and security will continue to challenge humanity if gender disparities in agriculture, food security and nutrition remain unaddressed.

This year’s World Food Day should therefore be a reminder that empowering women and unleashing their untapped potential to increase agricultural production is critical to the achievement of food and nutrition security, in improving rural livelihoods and in generating income and overall well-being of their households and communities.

The inextricable links between gender equality and food security have gained enormous momentum in the international agenda. In 1995 the Beijing Platform for Action recognized that women were key to reducing poverty and ensuring food security.

The Platform for Action called upon Member States and all stakeholders to formulate and implement policies and programmes that enhance women’s access to financial, technical, extension and marketing services. It also highlighted the need to improve women’s access to and control over land and appropriate financing, infrastructure and technology.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable (the 2030) recognized both as sustainable development goals (Goal 2 for food security and ending hunger, and Goal 5 for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls), and stressed that both goals are mutually reinforcing and enabling factors in the overall achievement of sustainable development.

Many crosscutting targets in terms of both gender equality and food security include ending hunger and addressing the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women (SDG 2.2), eliminating discrimination against women in laws, policy and practice (SDG 5.1).

Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda recognizes that women’s empowerment and control over resources reinforces nutritional health of their children (SDG 2.1). One specific group of women whose rights to economic resources must be enhanced (SDG 5.a.) is small-scale women food producers. Ensuring women’s rights and improving their access to land, resources and incomes (SDGs 2.3 and 1.4) will be critical to achieving a number of goals.

The Agreed Conclusions of the 61st Session of Commission on the Status of Women (March 2017) recognized the crucial role that rural women in particular have in food security, particularly in poor and vulnerable households and how it is important to achieve rural women’s empowerment as well as their full, equal and effective participation at all levels of decision making. Interventions on the ground aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity must focus on the protagonists of agriculture, who are mainly women in many rural contexts.

The international community is increasingly recognizing not only that women are on the front lines of food security, but that their needs and rights must be placed at the forefront of trade and agricultural policies and investments if sustainable development and peace and security are to be realized.

Today it is more evident than ever that closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity could potentially lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and hunger and address losses in economic growth opportunities.

Bold and decisive action is critical to end the discrimination faced by women not only as a matter of justice and equality; but also to tackle the factors that are holding back agricultural production. Stability in the food market depends on increased investment in agriculture, particularly in developing countries, where 98 percent of the hungry live and where food production needs to double by 2050 to feed growing populations.

Strengthening support and investment in the agricultural sector, should go in hand with acknowledging women’s contributions to food security and ensuring their equal rights and equal access to resources, assets and opportunities.

Measures to advance towards this aim include supporting the contributions of rural women and women farmers and ensuring that they have equal access to agricultural technologies, through investments, innovation in small-scale agricultural production and distribution.

This in turn must be supported through policies that improve productive capacity and strengthen their resilience, addressing the existing gaps in and barriers to trading their agricultural products in local, regional and international markets. Better disaggregated data that shows where in the food systems women are, as well as their situation in terms of food security and nutrition is also urgently needed.

 

Women are pivotal to addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty especially in developing countries

Women working in their vegetable gardens at the Capanda Agroindustrial Pole in Angola. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

 

Gender differences in land tenure and access to productive resources are particularly relevant as rural women are significant contributors to global food production. We must ensure rural women’s full and equal rights to land and inheritance, land tenure security, common property and common resources and equal access to justice and legal support, by designing, reforming and enforcing relevant laws and policies.

Control over and ownership of assets can provide women with greater protection and stronger fallback positions, enhancing their bargaining power within the household and their capacity for economic independence. We must also promote women’s involvement in climate-resilient agriculture as farmers, workers, and agriculture and food entrepreneurs.

All these efforts require transformative financing and investment, both targeted and mainstreamed also in terms of advocacy and support from all multistakeholders. Member States, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector should to take new and concrete actions for the full and accelerated implementation of the gender equality international commitments. It is equally as crucial to engage with grassroots women organisations and rural women organisations in the implementation of these commitments.

It is critical to ensuring equal access to and control over productive resources, provision of quality basic services and infrastructure, and support to women smallholder farmers to improve productivity and resilience of food supplies, so that women are able to reach their potential as key game changers to ensure global food and nutrition security.

At the current 72nd session of the UN General Assembly these issues will be addressed by the international community and the global norms, standards and policy commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women as a precondition and objective of food security for all will be strengthened. The report of the Secretary-General on Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas (A/72/207) highlights the efforts of Member States, the United Nations system and other actors to address challenges faced by women and girls in rural areas, especially the poorest and most marginalized.

The report’s recommendations cover in particular economic and social policies, ending violence against women and girls, education, health, land, inheritance and property rights, decent work and social protection, labour-saving infrastructure and technology.

On the battle against climate change, we must recognize and support the potential of women as agents of change for climate mitigation and adaptation, which remains relatively untapped. The upcoming 23rd   Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will recognise the vital role women play in sustainable development and in the implementation of climate policies, including through its Gender Action Plan which is being pushed for finalization at COP 23.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) recognizes the role of women in ensuring sustainable livelihoods and by encouraging the equal participation of women in capacity building. The UNCCD Advocacy Policy Framework (APF) on gender recognizes that it is through the full participation of local people, especially women, that efforts to combat desertification can be most effective.

The forthcoming 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women with its priority theme of ‘challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,’ will also signal the determination to make the universe of food, nutrition and agriculture one that is powered by and is empowering for women and girls.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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Food Insecurity and Forced Displacement of People: Where do we Draw the Line?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/food-insecurity-forced-displacement-people-draw-line/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-insecurity-forced-displacement-people-draw-line http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/food-insecurity-forced-displacement-people-draw-line/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:30:41 +0000 Idriss Jazairy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152464 Ambassador Idriss Jazairy is Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue

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Refugees dig for water in a dried up watering hole in Jamam camp, in South Sudan's Upper Nile state. Credit: Jared Ferrie/IPS

By Idriss Jazairy
GENEVA, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

The World Food Programme estimates that more than 100 million people worldwide face severe food insecurity. The situation is most severe in countries affected by conflict and violence including Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, South Sudan and Yemen affecting more than 40 million people. Another 22 million people in Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Haiti and Mozambique are affected by the adverse impact of climate change and environmental degradation.

On top of this, more than 30 million people in several of these countries and Somalia are at risk of famine and starvation. The combination of violence and conflict and the adverse impact of climate change have contributed to a global food crisis that is affecting more than 40 countries in the world.

This year’s 2017 World Food Day theme highlights an important subject that is often neglected by international decision-makers as violence and conflict are often seen as the main triggering factors of the protracted migration and refugee crisis. “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development” is an important occasion to raise awareness of the adverse impact of food insecurity, environmental degradation and climate change which exacerbate the refugee and migration crisis.

Idriss Jazairy

During a high-level event at the United Nations in September 2016 on food insecurity and the refugee crisis, the Secretary-General of the United Nations observed that providing access to food to displaced people remains a critical issue:

“Food is a matter of life and death – especially for people in need, like refugees. Many of the millions of refugees in our world are food insecure. They face the grave risk of malnutrition. We have a moral obligation to help them.”

But if food had been available locally in the first place, there would also be far fewer migrants.

The Sahel region of Africa has been in the spotlight for decades owing to the severe environmental alterations that have transformed the region’s outlook. Since 1963, Lake Chad has lost 90% of its volume disrupting the livelihoods of 21 million people living in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon who rely on the lake’s resources to meet their basic needs.

The lack of access to resources owing to the adverse and disruptive effects of climate change has impeded the ability of countries in the Sahel region to create a sustainable economic model fostering economic growth, development and prosperity.

Lingering food insecurity and lack of rural development as a result of climate change and armed conflicts have exacerbated the refugee and migrant crisis. The “protective fencing” of Europe and mass expulsions of forcibly displaced people are not adequate solutions to respond to the unfolding crisis.
Climate change is exacerbating already adverse natural conditions leaving affected people with no other choice than to flee. With the population of Sahel set to increase three-fold to 300 million people by 2050, it is likely that food insecurity and lack of access to natural resources will become issues of growing concern to the region.

A global framework to respond to the adverse impact of climate change on agricultural production, food security and other related issues is needed more than ever.

The situation in Syria is an example of a country that has been severely affected by food insecurity owing to the escalation of armed conflicts. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 9 million Syrians are in need of food assistance as a result of decreasing agricultural output and lowered yields. Syria – once described as the “the breadbasket of Rome” as agriculture constituted once 24% of the country’s GDP – is on the brink of a severe famine that could further starve the majority of its remaining inhabitants. This shows that food insecurity will contribute to forced migration of people as the conflict has severely disrupted farming and food production putting severe pressure on the remaining population. The emigration of farmers has rapidly deteriorated Syria’s agricultural production to a historic rock bottom level.

These examples show that lingering food insecurity and lack of rural development as a result of climate change and armed conflicts have exacerbated the refugee and migrant crisis. The “protective fencing” of Europe and mass expulsions of forcibly displaced people are not adequate solutions to respond to the unfolding crisis.

Providing for adequate livelihood opportunities and revitalising the agricultural sector in countries severely affected by the loss of human capital as well as empowering rural women constitute an Ariadne thread towards the solution. Furthermore, countries hosting and providing protection to displaced people also deserve support.

Refugees and migrants in the Middle East are in need of food assistance as the steady arrival of displaced people is putting pressure on host countries to identify solutions to their plight. The solution to the crisis is not just national or regional. It is global.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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Land Settlement Empowers: Bangladesh Sets an Examplehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/land-settlement-empowers-bangladesh-sets-example/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=land-settlement-empowers-bangladesh-sets-example http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/land-settlement-empowers-bangladesh-sets-example/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 08:26:15 +0000 Shahiduzzaman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152459 History was made for 400 landless families in the remote char lands of Noakhali district. On 4th October, they all received land titles from the government for which they had waited for over two decades. In Bangladesh, as in other countries, the title is a permanent legal ownership document. Over a thousand people, including the […]

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Afrusa Begum and Shafiul Alam receiving land title from Deputy Commissioner Md Mahbubul Alam Talukder

By Shahiduzzaman
Maijdee, Noakhali (Bangladesh), Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

History was made for 400 landless families in the remote char lands of Noakhali district. On 4th October, they all received land titles from the government for which they had waited for over two decades. In Bangladesh, as in other countries, the title is a permanent legal ownership document.

Over a thousand people, including the landless families, children, friends and neighbours, gathered under a big colourful ‘pandal’ (marquee) near Saddam Bazar of Nolerchar. It was a sunny but very hot day, with temperatures between 37 to 39 degrees Celsius. Everybody was sweating in the sweltering heat but it didn’t matter because this was a day for celebration, a day they had waited for a very long time.

At noon when the top district official, Deputy Commissioner Md. Mahbubul Alam Talukder arrived, everyone gave him and the accompanying officials a warm welcome by standing up and clapping. Soon the officials began announcing names of the beneficiaries of land titles. The very first ones to be called were Afrusa Begum (68) and her husband Shafiul Alam (72).

They both looked frail and older than their real age. They walked slowly to the dais to receive the land title from DC Talukdar. Both of them broke down, saying they had waited for 25 years for this day and never thought that they would get the land title in their lifetime. They are now free from uncertainty and no one can uproot them from their land again. Other recipients of land titles, Rima Akther, Md. Shamim, Panna Begum and Md. Asraf were all overjoyed and could not hold back their tears.

landlees families are waiting in a colourful pandal.


Panna Begum and Md. Asraf came with their one-month-old baby girl Noor Jahan Begum. Panna said, “Our life was horrible and full of tension. Never, ever settled down peacefully, moving all the time. Today I am so happy I can’t express it in words. I can only say that my daughter will take her first step on our own land and grow up with a secure life. We are saluting the government and the people who helped us.”

Officials of the Char Development and Settlement Project Phase IV (CDSP IV) helped to make their dreams come true. The project introduced processes to improve the position of women in regard to land rights. A wife’s name is now written first in the legal document. As a result, she is legally entitled to 50 percent of the land.

This strengthens her position in the family and in many decision-making processes. Also, if the husband abuses his wife or there is evidence of any illegal actions on his part, legal action can now result in him losing his share of the land.

DC Talukder addressing the land title recipients said, “The government is very much pro people and has come to your door to address your issues. Today is one of its best examples shown by concerned officials of the district who have come to you to hand over the land titles properly. We hope you will now build a future with happy families without any fear and further complication.”

He warned not to undermine the rights of women on the land. “If we receive any allegation in this regard then the government will take serious measures to protect women rights,” the Deputy Commissioner said.

The CDSP IV project started in March 2011 and is co-financed by the Government of Bangladesh, the Government of the Netherlands, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The 89.2-million-dollar project has focused on the development of five new chars of Noakhali district and those adjacent to Meghna river. The chars are: Char Nangulia, Noler Char, Caring Char, Urir Char and Char Ziauddin. These encompass around 30,000 hectares of char land, with an estimated population of 155,000 persons in 28,000 households.

Panna begum and her one year old daughter Noor Jahan Begum.


The local people said that in all respects CDSP IV is a blessing for them. Since 1994, when the project started, unrest in char lands has reduced and land grabbers have left the area.

The dispute over char lands in this area has gone on for more than half a century. It is government property and the landless people should have priority to get land allotments but this was not always upheld. Groups of land grabbers, power brokers and musclemen in collaboration with some local corrupt officials controlled the char lands illegally for decades.

Several violent incidents happened between the landless people and land grabbers. Many people lost their lives and assets, and women were often violated by the land grabbers who treated the landless people as slaves.

Bazlul Karim, Deputy Leader of the CDSP IV, described how hard it was to settle the landless people, particularly to counter and free the land from grabbers and power brokers. He said, those people brought under permanent settlement have now risen above the poverty line.

“Nowadays, you will not find any really poor people within 300 square kilometers of the project areas. Because, in addition to land title, the beneficiaries are also receiving a package of support services including credit and healthcare facilities,” said Karim.

“The most challenging aspects were developing the char lands for habitat by constructing enclosures, embankment, culverts, sluice gates and roads to connect remote areas. It has also ensured pure drinking water to people by setting up hundreds of tubewells around the project area and helped prepare the land for cultivation. Now settlers are getting four times more crops than before. On the other hand, massive planting has been undertaken in the char lands. So, it has become real green fields to enjoy,” the deputy leader said.

Panna Begum and Md. Asraf.


The Land Settlement Adviser of the project Md. Rezaul Karim said, “Since CDSP’s launch in 1994 all along it has been a tough job to settle the many issues around land titles. Anyway, we have successfully completed Phase I to III. Now Phase IV (CDSP IV) is ongoing, where IFAD came forward with huge support to carry out the activities of the project. This Phase has targeted distribution of land titles to 14,000 people by the year 2018. The progress is quite good. To date 11,538 families have received their land titles, so we have enough time to achieve the set target.”

The char lands are formed from sedimentation of the Meghan river. On an average annually 1.1 billion tons of sediment is carried down by the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river system, the largest sediment load in any river system in the world. Much of it forms the raw mass for new developing land in the coastal areas, the ‘chars’, as it is known in Bangla language.

A study conducted by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) said about 1 million people are directly affected by riverbank erosion each year and landlessness in these areas could be as high as 70 percent. Affected people are frequently forced to settle in more disaster-prone areas where displacement can occur several times. On an average each household studied was displaced 4.46 times.

This scenario is prevalent in the CDSP IV area. It is estimated that each year 26,000 people lose their land through Meghna river erosion. It has been observed that the river eroded families from the adjacent areas are migrating into the new char for shelter and livelihooda. The families are mostly from the other coastal chars and offshore islands who have lost their land due to erosion.

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Rights of Rural Women Have Seen Uneven Progress in Latin Americahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/rights-rural-women-seen-uneven-progress-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rights-rural-women-seen-uneven-progress-latin-america http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/rights-rural-women-seen-uneven-progress-latin-america/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 15:34:35 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152444 This article is part of IPS coverage on the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated on October 15.

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Bonificia Huamán (2nd- L), carries out a communal task with other women in Llullucha, a Quechua community located 3,553 meters above sea level, where 80 families practice subsistence agriculture, overcoming the challenges of the climate in the Andean region of Cuzco, Peru. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Bonificia Huamán (2nd- L), carries out a communal task with other women in Llullucha, a Quechua community located 3,553 meters above sea level, where 80 families practice subsistence agriculture, overcoming the challenges of the climate in the Andean region of Cuzco, Peru. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

By Mariela Jara
LIMA, Oct 12 2017 (IPS)

In a remote village in the Peruvian Andes, Bonificia Huamán managed to overcome adverse weather conditions with a small greenhouse, where she grows vegetables at 3,533 metres above sea level. This has improved her family’s diet, which she is very proud of.

The downside is that Alina, her second-oldest daughter, aged 17, left school before finishing high school to help her with the enormous workload that as head of household she assumes every day on her farm and caring for her family. She supports her three daughters and son, as well as her oldest daughter’s son.

“School costs a lot of money, uniforms, school supplies, I can’t afford it,” Huamán, 47, told IPS sadly during a meeting with her and other women farmers in Llullucha, home to some 80 Quechua families, within the rural municipality of Ocongate, in the southeast department of Cuzco."The countries in the region must acknowledge our existence as rural indigenous women and take measures to ensure that our rights are respected…And in order for that to happen, we must break down the barriers of patriarchy.” – Ketty Marcelo

“This is a reality for rural women in Latin America, in the face of which governments should act with greater emphasis in order to move towards sustainable development, which is a commitment undertaken by the countries of the region,” United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative in Peru, María Elena Rojas, told IPS.

As October 15, the International Day of Rural Women, nears, access to quality education, productive resources, technical training and participation remain challenges shared by rural Latin American women to close the persistent gaps in gender equality and realize their full potential under equal conditions.

“Rural women, women with rights” is the theme of the regional campaign promoted by FAO on the occasion of this international day established in 2008 by the United Nations, the day before World Food Day.

The initiative, which will run until November, is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and specifically goal number five, which refers to gender equality, although the question of equal opportunities for men and women cuts across the other 16 as well.

It is estimated that in this region of just over 640 million people, 48 percent of the rural population is female, amounting to 60.5 million women.

Of these women, 40 percent live in poverty, a problem that has been aggravated by the effects of climate change on agriculture, which impact on their health, well-being and security, according to FAO studies.

In spite of their work – on their farms and raising children, securing food, and caring for the sick – they receive no pay and lack incomes of their own, the studies point out.

FAO representative in Peru María Elena Rojas sits in her office in Lima, in front of an image of an Andean woman plowing the land and holding a document with a significant title: "Rural women, women with rights". Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

FAO representative in Peru María Elena Rojas stands in her office in Lima, in front of an image of an Andean woman plowing the land, and holding a document with a significant title: “Rural women, women with rights”. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Bolivia, where 1.6 million women live in rural areas, according to the National Institute of Statistics, is one of the Latin American countries which has seen a growing feminisation of agriculture.

“These women produce about half of the food we consume in the country,” said Wilfredo Valle, head of the planning area at the Bolivian non-governmental Training and Service Center for Women’s Integration (Cecasem).

Speaking with IPS from La Paz, he added that despite being pillars of production in the countryside, they do not receive remuneration. And when they do generate an income, they have no say in the family budget, which is still controlled by men. This situation is an obstacle to break the circle of poverty.

Added to this problem is the unequal access of women to land ownership and use. The region’s statistics show that the lands they manage are smaller, of poor productivity, and legally insecure.

The Third National Agricultural Census of Ecuador records that 45.4 percent of farms are headed by women, and 62.8 percent of these are less than two hectares in size.

This inequitable trend in access to and control of productive resources is also evident in Peru, where, according to official figures, rural women are in charge of lands of 1.8 hectares in size on average, while the average size of the farms managed by men is three hectares.

How to make progress along the path of addressing the complex web of discrimination faced by rural women? For Ketty Marcelo, from the Amazonian Asháninka people and president of the National Organisation of Indigenous Andean and Amazonian Women of Peru, they must first be recognised as subjects entitled to rights.

“The countries in the region must acknowledge our existence as rural indigenous women and take measures to ensure that our rights are respected…And in order for that to happen, we must break down the barriers of patriarchy,” said Marcelo, an activist from the community of Pucharini, in Peru’s central rainforest.

Women farmers in the rural town of Tapila Florida, in the Bolivian department of La Paz, sell their freshly harvested produce at a collective storage and trading centre, thanks to support from the Centre for Training and Service for Women’s Integration to develop agroecology. Credit: Courtesy of Cecasem

Women farmers in the rural town of Tapila Florida, in the Bolivian department of La Paz, sell their freshly harvested produce at a collective storage and trading centre, thanks to support from the Centre for Training and Service for Women’s Integration to develop agroecology. Credit: Courtesy of Cecasem

In her view, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the targets included within them for achieving gender equality, is a mandate for the countries, but is also a double challenge for rural women in the region.

“We are invisibilised and a great deal of advocacy will be necessary in order for our problems to come to light; the SDGs are an opportunity to place our agendas into national policies,” she said.

In this vein, Wilfredo Valle underlined three challenges for governments in the context of achieving the SDGs. These are: “improving literacy rates among rural women, because with a higher level of education, there is less discrimination; guaranteeing their access to land and to title deed; and ensuring a life free of violence.”

Latin America and the Caribbean, considered the most unequal region in the world, has the Regional Gender Agenda for 2030, established in 2016 by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

It constitutes a roadmap, according to ECLAC, for countries to protect the human rights of women “regardless of their age, income, sexual orientation, gender identity, where they live, their migratory status, ethnicity and race, and their physical and mental capacity.”

It is also in agreement with the SDGs and, through the fulfillment of its 10 core targets, puts gender equality at the center of sustainable development.

Although there is an international normative framework in the region that has given rise to national plans and policies aimed at achieving precisely the SDGs on gender equality, actions to make this human right of rural women a reality are urgently needed, experts agreed.

“The 2030 Agenda gives countries the opportunity to empower girls and women, eradicate illiteracy, secure them title deeds and loans, to develop their potential, rise out of poverty and fully exercise each of their rights,” said FAO’s Rojas.

“We know the gaps exist, but we need public policies to visibilise them,” she said. To that end, “it is necessary to work on statistics with a gender perspective so that state measures really contribute to improving the reality of rural women.”

A mixture of political will and strengthening of institutional capacities that would transform the lives of rural women in the region, such as Bonifica Huamán and her daughter Alina, in Peru’s southern Andes, so that the enjoyment of their rights becomes a daily exercise.

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Transforming Agriculture in Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/transforming-agriculture-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=transforming-agriculture-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/transforming-agriculture-africa/#comments Thu, 12 Oct 2017 11:48:24 +0000 Akinwumi Adesina http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152432 Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina is President of the African Development Bank

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World Food Day - Transforming African Agriculture - World Food Day - Farmer in a field on the outskirts of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Farmer in a field on the outskirts of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Akinwumi Adesina
ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire, Oct 12 2017 (IPS)

The African rural world is one I know well. I grew out of rural poverty myself and went to a rural school without electricity and lived in a village where we had to walk for kilometers to find water. We had to study after dark with candles or kerosene lanterns. By God’s grace, I made it out of poverty to where I am today. But for tens of millions of those in similar situations, especially in rural Africa, the outcomes are not like mine. For most, the potential has simply been wasted.

Some 60% of Africans live in rural areas. Such areas are dependent overwhelmingly on agriculture for livelihoods. The key to improving the quality of life in rural areas is therefore to transform agriculture. But the low productivity of farming, the poor state of rural infrastructure, digital exclusion and poor access to modern tools and agronomic information make the quality of life very low in these areas.

Unfortunately not much has changed since I was at my rural school. Economic opportunities are even shrinking for many, with high poverty levels, leading to the repeated inheritance of poverty. As a result, rural youths are discouraged, disempowered and vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists who find decimated rural areas ideal for their activities.

We must pay particular attention to three factors: extreme rural poverty, high rates of unemployment among youths and environmental degradation – what I refer to as the “triangle of disaster”. Wherever these three factors are found, civil conflicts and terrorism take root, destroying people’s ability to work farms and access food markets.

Akinwumi Adesina

We must invest urgently and heavily in Africa’s rural areas and turn them from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. In particular, we must create jobs and stable societies in order to disrupt terrorist recruitment campaigns that are taking root in these rural areas. So, we must connect economic, food, and climate security together to have a chance of economic prosperity.

We need to jumpstart the transformation of the agricultural sector. The African Development Bank is leading the way by investing $24 billion in agriculture in the next ten years.

In doing so, the Bank wants to encourage agriculture to move away from giving the appearance of a development sector for managing poverty and subsistence to an industrialised food planting and processing business for creating wealth for the owners and decent jobs for the workforce.

Africa imports $35 billion of food net annually, expected to rise to $110 billion by 2025, if current trends continue. Meanwhile, by growing what we do not consume and consuming what we do not grow, Africa is decimating its rural areas, exporting its jobs, eroding the incomes of its farmers, and losing its youth through voluntary migration to Europe and elsewhere.

Imagine what $35 billion per year will do if Africa feeds itself: It is enough to provide 100% electricity in Africa. And $110 billion savings  per year in food imports is enough to close all infrastructure deficits in Africa.

We must pay particular attention to three factors: extreme rural poverty, high rates of unemployment among youths and environmental degradation - what I refer to as the "triangle of disaster". Wherever these three factors are found, civil conflicts and terrorism take root, destroying people's ability to work farms and access food markets.
So we must think differently. Africa produces 75% of cocoa but receives only 2% of the $100 billion a year chocolate markets. The price of cocoa may decline, but never the price of chocolates. The price of cotton may fall, but never the price of garments and apparels. In 2014 Africa earned just £1.5 billion from exports of coffee. Yet Germany, a leading processor, earned nearly double that from re-exports.

This is also because the EU imposes a 7.5% tariff charge on roasted coffee but exempts non-decaffeinated green coffee. As a result, most of Africa’s coffee exports to the EU are unroasted green coffee beans sold as an unimproved commodity, but European manufacturers reap the rewards.

To transform its rural economies Africa must embark on agricultural industrialization and add value to all its agricultural commodities. Governments, while persuading developed countries to change their import priorities for agricultural products, should provide incentives to food and agribusiness companies to locate in rural areas.

We must get youths into agriculture and see it as a profitable business venture not a sign of lacking ambition. That’s why the Bank has rolled out its ENABLE youth program to develop a new generation of young commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs. Our goal is to develop 10,000 such young agricultural entrepreneurs per country in the next ten years. In 2016, the bank provided $700 million to support this program in 8 countries and we’ve got requests now from 33 countries.

This is part of the African Development Bank’s larger programme: Jobs for Youth in Africa, with the goal of creating 25 million jobs within 10 years, and a focus on agriculture and ICT. We are investing in skills development in computer sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare the youths for the jobs of the future.

We know the technologies exist to transform African agriculture. But they remain, for the most part, on the shelves. I have always remembered what Norman Borlaug said: “take it to the farmers”. To achieve this, the African Development Bank and the CGIAR has developed the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) – a new initiative to scale up appropriate agricultural technologies from the CGIAR and national systems, all across Africa. The Bank and its partners plan to invest $800 million in the initiative.

The food and agribusiness sector is projected to grow from $330 billion today to $1 trillion by 2030, and there will also be 2 billion people looking for food and clothing. African enterprises and investors need to convert this opportunity and unlock this potential for Africa and Africans.

This is the transformation formula: agriculture allied with industry, manufacturing and processing capability equals strong and sustainable economic development, which creates wealth throughout the economy.

Africa can feed itself – and Africa must feed itself. And when it does, it will be able to feed the world. In this way today’s African farmers will contribute to feeding the world tomorrow. That is why the African Development Bank set “Feeding Africa” as one of its most important High 5 priorities.

It’s the Bank’s recipe for agricultural transformation of Africa, and we will not stop until we achieve it.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

 

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Biotechnology Part of the Solution to Africa’s Food Insecurity, Scientists Sayhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/biotechnology-part-solution-africas-food-insecurity-scientists-say/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=biotechnology-part-solution-africas-food-insecurity-scientists-say http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/biotechnology-part-solution-africas-food-insecurity-scientists-say/#comments Thu, 12 Oct 2017 10:23:21 +0000 Miriam Gathigah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152431 A growing number of African countries are increasingly becoming food insecure as delayed and insufficient rainfall, as well as crop damaging pests such as the ongoing outbreak of the fall armyworm, cause the most severe maize crisis in the last decade. Experts have warned that as weather patterns become even more erratic and important crops […]

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Reduced and insufficient rainfall as well as crop-damaging pests threaten to cripple the very backbone of African economies. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

Reduced and insufficient rainfall as well as crop-damaging pests threaten to cripple the very backbone of African economies. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Oct 12 2017 (IPS)

A growing number of African countries are increasingly becoming food insecure as delayed and insufficient rainfall, as well as crop damaging pests such as the ongoing outbreak of the fall armyworm, cause the most severe maize crisis in the last decade.

Experts have warned that as weather patterns become even more erratic and important crops such as maize are unable to resist the fall armyworm infestation, there will not be enough food on the table."Even as we push for biotechnology, there is a need for regulations that guarantee the protection and safety of people and the environment." --Hilda Mukui, an agriculturalist and conservationist in Kenya

Confirming that indeed a severe food crisis looms while at the same time calling for immediate and sufficient responses, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) 2017 World Food Day theme is “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.”

Over 17 million people in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda have reached emergency food insecurity levels, according to the UN agency.

“Maize is an important food crop in many African countries and the inability of local varieties to withstand the growing threats from the fall armyworm which can destroy an entire crop in a matter of weeks raises significant concerns,” Hilda Mukui, an agriculturalist and conservationist in Kenya, told IPS.

“Due to its migratory nature, the pest can move across borders as is the case in Kenya where the fall armyworm migrated from Uganda and has so far been spotted in Kenya’s nine counties in Western, Rift Valley and parts of the Coastal agricultural areas,” she said.

FAO continues to issue warnings over the fall armyworm, expressing concerns that most countries are ill-prepared to handle the threat.

David Phiri, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, says that this is “a new threat in Southern Africa and we are very concerned with the emergence, intensity and spread of the pest. It is only a matter of time before most of the region will be affected.”

The UN agency has confirmed that the pest has destroyed at least 17,000 hectares of maize fields in Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Across Africa, an estimated 330,000 hectares have been destroyed.

“To understand the magnitude of this destruction, the average maize yield for small scale farmers in many African countries is between 1.2 and 1.5 tons per hectare,” Dr George Keya, the national coordinator of the of the Arid and Semi-arid lands Agricultural Productivity Research Project, told IPS.

FAO statistics show that Africa’s largest producers of maize, including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa, are all grappling with the fall armyworm outbreak.

Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture notes that the maize stalk borer or the African armyworm – which is different from the fall armyworm – cost farmers at least 25 million dollars annually in missed produce and is concerned that additional threats from the vicious Fall Armyworms will cripple maize production.

FAO and the government of Nigeria in September 2017 signed a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) agreement as part of a concerted joint effort to manage the spread of the fall armyworm across the country.

According to experts, sectors such as the poultry industry that relies heavily on maize to produce poultry feed have also been affected.

Within this context, scientists are now pushing African governments to embrace biotechnology to address the many threats that are currently facing the agricultural sector and leading to the alarming food insecurity.

According to the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, a genetically modified variety of maize has shown significant resistance to the fall armyworm.

Based on results from the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) maize trials in Uganda, scientists are convinced that there is an immediate and sufficient solution to the fall armyworm.

Although chemical sprays can control the pest, scientists are adamant that the Bt maize is the most effective solution to the armyworm menace.

Experts say that the Bt maize has been genetically modified to produce Bt protein, an insecticide that kills certain pests.

Consequently, a growing list of African countries have approved field testing of genetically modified crops as a way to achieve food security using scientific innovations.

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) which is a public-private crop breeding initiative to assist farmers in managing the risk of drought and stem borers across Africa, is currently undertaking Bt maize trials in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and recently concluded trials in South Africa to find a solution to the fall armyworm invasion.

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation confirms that on a scale of one to nine, based on the Bt maize trials in Uganda, the damage from the armyworm was three for the Bt genetically modified variety and six on the local checks or the popularly grown varieties.

Similarly, Bt maize trials in Mozambique have shown that on a scale of one to nine, the damage was on 1.5 on Bt maize and seven on popularly grown varieties.

“These results are very promising and it is important that African countries review their biosafety rules and regulations so that science can rescue farmers from the many threats facing the agricultural sector,” Mukui explains.

In Africa, there are strict restrictions that bar scientists from exploring biotechnology solutions to boost crop yields.

According to Mukui, only four countries – South Africa, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Egypt – have commercialized genetically modified crops, while 19 countries have established biosafety regulatory systems, four countries are developing regulatory systems, 21 countries are a work in progress, and 10 have no National Biosafety Frameworks.

Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi and more recently Kenya are among the countries that have approved GM crop trials after the Kenya Biosafety Authority granted approval for limited release of insect resistant Bt maize for trials.

As Africa’s small-scale farmers face uncertain times as extreme climate conditions, crop failure, an influx of pests and diseases threaten to cripple the agricultural sector, experts say that there is sufficient capacity, technology and science to build resilience and cushion farmers against such threats.

“But even as we push for biotechnology, there is a need for regulations that guarantee the protection and safety of people and the environment,” Mukui cautions.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

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Fixing the Food System to Solve Humanity’s Greatest Challengeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/fixing-food-system-solve-humanitys-greatest-challenges/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fixing-food-system-solve-humanitys-greatest-challenges http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/fixing-food-system-solve-humanitys-greatest-challenges/#comments Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:35:34 +0000 Elwyn Grainger-Jones http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152419 Elwyn Grainger-Jones is Executive Director, CGIAR System Organization

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World Food Day - Land degradation, a reason for rural people to migrate, is a prominent problem in Senegal. Photo: M. Mitchell/IFPRI.

Land degradation, a reason for rural people to migrate, is a prominent problem in Senegal. Photo: M. Mitchell/IFPRI.

By Elwyn Grainger-Jones
MONTPELLIER, France , Oct 11 2017 (IPS)

We are at a moment of huge opportunity in the world’s food system. We can continue on our current trajectory of consuming too little, too much, or the wrong type of food at an unsustainable cost to the environment, health care and political stability. Or we can change course. Fixing the food system will help solve humanity’s greatest challenges – creating jobs, reducing emissions, and improving health.

Worryingly, new research shows that after a prolonged decline, world hunger is on the rise again, with some 815 million people acutely or chronically undernourished in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015. A further 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency, also known as ‘hidden hunger’, whose effects can be damaging for life. In what seems to be an absurd twist, another 2 billion people are overweight or obese.

Food insecurity is a contributor in what has now become one of the world’s most vexing problems – that of forced migration. This year’s World Food Day takes the theme of migration, and the importance of investing in food security and rural development so that people no longer have to uproot their lives and take often perilous journeys into the unknown.

The 21st century is proving to be an epoch of massive human displacement, with people leaving their homes and their homelands at a greater rate than at any time since World War II. Conflict, hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events all play a part in fuelling instability and driving forced migration. In 2015, there were 244 million international migrants – 40% more than in 2000. Between 2008 and 2015, an average of 26.4 million people were displaced annually by climate or weather-related disasters. In the same year, 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution.

Changing trajectory is possible, and will take a huge effort involving governments, civil society, companies and scientists. It is imperative that we rigorously engage with local scientists and research partners, who know best the conditions where deprivations are greatest, and on what emphasis should be placed. Simultaneous transformations in genomics, big data, communications, markets and understanding of nutrition can be harnessed to benefit the people who most need them.

 

World Food Day - Water availability and improved water management can significantly help smallholder farmers produce more and better food, as this farmer shows in Eastern Highlands on the Mozambique border, where she uses a sprinkler system to irrigate her farm. Photo: David Brazier/IWMI.

Water availability and improved water management can significantly help smallholder farmers produce more and better food, as this farmer shows in Eastern Highlands on the Mozambique border, where she uses a sprinkler system to irrigate her farm. Photo: David Brazier/IWMI.

 

It is impossible to overstate the importance of agriculture and agri-business as an engine for growth and a contributor to stability. As the world’s single largest employer, agriculture provides livelihoods for 40% of the population –78% in developing countries – so advances in this sector will have a powerful knock-on effect on national economies and the prosperity of local communities.

New research shows that after a prolonged decline, world hunger is on the rise again, with some 815 million people acutely or chronically undernourished in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015
During my first year in CGIAR, I had the honour of seeing first-hand some of the inspiring and remarkable initiatives being undertaken by scientists in our 15 Research Centers across the globe, who are committed to finding and sharing new innovations to help successful agriculture catalyse successful rural economies.

To feed a population that is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, our scientists are pioneering improvements in crops, animals, fish and trees to increase performance, nutritional value and resource use efficiency, and are building resistance in plants to drought, increased salinity and disease. Each year, around 200 new crop varieties with improved characteristics are released globally through CGIAR’s partners, with which we work closely to bring about transformation on the ground.

For example, CGIAR researchers have designed a field diagnostic tool kit for caprine pleuro-pneumonia, a deadly disease that causes major economic losses to goat production in Africa and Asia. In large swathes of South and Southeast Asia, 5 million farmers have seen their fragile livelihoods safeguarded by the introduction of flood tolerant rice, while in 13 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, the adoption of drought tolerant maize is estimated to have produced total benefits of US$395 million. Nutritious biofortified varieties, including vitamin A enriched cassava, maize and sweet potato, as well as iron beans, iron pearl millet, zinc rice and zinc wheat, are supplementing diets deficient in micronutrients that can cause irreparable damage, particularly in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

While recent studies undoubtedly show the numbers of hungry people going in the wrong direction, there is strong potential for reversing this trend. Science can and is producing solutions to the challenges of hunger and poverty, so it is critical to support innovation and research that can harness global scientific advances to address local challenges.

By 2030, the actions of CGIAR and its partners are expected to result in 150 million fewer hungry people, 100 million fewer poor people – at least 50% of them women – and 190 million hectares of less degraded land. That translates into real prospects for stemming the tide of poor and malnourished people on the move, offering them hope for a decent future without leaving home.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

The post Fixing the Food System to Solve Humanity’s Greatest Challenges appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Ending Hunger by 2030? This is Possiblehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/ending-hunger-2030-possible/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ending-hunger-2030-possible http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/ending-hunger-2030-possible/#respond Wed, 11 Oct 2017 14:57:15 +0000 Rod Brooks http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152418 Rod Brooks is CEO of Rise Against Hunger

The post Ending Hunger by 2030? This is Possible appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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World Food Day - Students at a school in an indigenous village in western Honduras work in the school garden, where they learn about nutrition and healthy eating. Since 2016 Honduras has a law regulating a new generation oschool meals programme, which focuses on a healthy diet and serves fresh food from local family farmers and school gardens. Credit: Thelma Mejía/IPS

Students at a school in an indigenous village in western Honduras work in the school garden, where they learn about nutrition and healthy eating. Since 2016 Honduras has a law regulating a new generation of school meals programme, which focuses on a healthy diet and serves fresh food from local family farmers and school gardens. Credit: Thelma Mejía/IPS

By Rod Brooks
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, Oct 11 2017 (IPS)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently announced that the number of hungry people in the world has increased by 38 million in the past year due to climate change, conflict and slow economic growth. Given this setback, can we, in fact, end hunger in our lifetime? The answer is a resounding, Yes, we can. The first step is simply wrapping our minds around the reality that—yes—ending hunger is possible.

Tremendous strides have been made over the last two decades as the percentage of the world’s population suffering from hunger has decreased from 24 percent to 11 percent. We are on such a trajectory to end hunger that the United Nations established Sustainable Development Goal #2 – to achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture in our lifetime—by the year 2030.

Clearly, we have work to do to achieve this ambitious goal, which is not in some far distant future. Complacency and business as usual will not get the job done. To be successful, we must not perceive an end to hunger as one large and daunting task. Hunger should be examined as a group of problems that—when viewed as separate, smaller issues—can be tackled through multiple, obtainable goals.

The journey out of poverty and hunger for millions of people can come to a long-awaited end if we create the political and moral will to do so and we act strategically by nourishing lives, empowering communities, providing emergency relief during crisis and growing the movement to end hunger.

Nutrition serves as an incentive for parents in poverty stricken areas to send their children to school. For many kids, humanitarian meals become a physical symbol of hope.
One of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty is through school feeding programs. Hunger is a barrier to education, which is in turn a barrier to steady employment, health, infrastructure and economic growth. A school principal in Kenya summarized this best during a visit in his community: without the meals provided by organizations like Rise Against Hunger, kids don’t come to school.

If they fail to come to school, there is no education. Without education, there’s no hope for transformation, and the cycle of poverty continues. Nutrition serves as an incentive for parents in poverty stricken areas to send their children to school. For many kids, humanitarian meals become a physical symbol of hope.

We know that through providing nutrition today, we can change lives and build strong communities for tomorrow. We do so by empowering these communities to become self-sufficient, to learn sustainable farming practices and by stimulating economic growth that improves their resilience during times of strife.

Putting all these pieces into practice may seem staggering, but that’s why organizations like the UN and World Food Programme (WFP) are in place, to provide the data, science and international infrastructure needed to tackle this problem. But, I’m telling you—the ways to end hunger are scalable and it starts with each of us. There’s no need to purchase a plane ticket or even leave your hometown to participate in ending world hunger.

Local meal packaging events are the first step to providing nutrition to the world’s most vulnerable people. Your age, gender, faith, political affiliations—none of these preclude you from taking a small action—that when multiplied by individuals and communities around the world, will help feed the 815 million people who do not have enough food to live a healthy, productive life.

As October 16— World Food Day —approaches, let us be reminded of what we can achieve through working together, by becoming educated, participatory advocates for the world’s hungry. The world has enough production potential. Ending hunger by 2030 is at your fingertips. This is possible.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

The post Ending Hunger by 2030? This is Possible appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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