Inter Press ServiceHeadlines – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:38:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 Migration: Making the Move from Rural to Urban by Choicehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/migration-making-move-rural-urban-choice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migration-making-move-rural-urban-choice http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/migration-making-move-rural-urban-choice/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:29:48 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152534 Statement by UN Migration Director General William Lacy Swing on World Food Day, 16 October 2017

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Amina, a former pastoralist and now displaced by drought, tends a garden that is nourished by the run off from a nearby water point in an IDP camp in Somalia. Credit: Muse Mohammed/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

By International Organization for Migration
GENEVA, Oct 16 2017 (IOM)

For the first time in history, more people live in cities than rural areas.

Every year millions of people leave their homes in the countryside and migrate towards urban centres both within their own countries and across borders. Some of these people move simply to seek new opportunities and improve their lives. Others are forced to flee due to conflict or sudden or slow onset disasters, such as drought, flooding or rising sea levels, which are often exacerbated by climate change and environmental stress.

Rural populations, whose livelihoods depend on agricultural, are particularly vulnerable to migration pressures. They are more exposed, have high natural resource dependency and limited ability to cope with and manage risk.

We cannot ignore the families, who put down the hoe and pick up their suitcases, because they make less and less each year from the same plot of land. Even when the yield is good, they struggle to survive. In this common case, migration to cities is not a true choice. The impact of this migration in urban planning and development must be acknowledged for the migrants and cities to thrive and prosper.

Slow and sudden onset disasters are expected to continue to impact millions of rural households around the world. Towns and cities will be a magnet for migrants and displaced people, which risks swelling the ranks of the urban poor. Key to combatting displacement is to address its root causes by helping rural communities better prevent and prepare for disasters and other crises that might affect them, developing more resilient agricultural livelihoods.

Thousands of IOM staff around the world work to empower rural communities to assess their own risks and develop their own responses, suited to their local context. Let an international organization put a risk reduction measure in place for a community, it will be extremely expensive and probably fail. Empower community members to assess, develop and build their own programmes, they will succeed more often than not.

Of course, this alone will not stop displacement.

Climate action is paramount. Climate change is having far-reaching effects on agricultural productivity and food security. It is among the main reasons for the record numbers of people compelled to migrate from rural areas to towns and cities around the world.

Importantly, the Paris Agreement recognizes the need to protect vulnerable populations, including migrants, and establishes a dedicated task force to advance strategies that avert, minimize and address displacement related to climate change. We need to systematically integrate migration, climate change and agriculture into rural development and poverty reduction programmes, disaster risk reduction and crisis planning and develop agricultural policies and practices that enhance resilience in the face of climate-induced migration.

What about those, who do not flee their homes because of conflict or disasters, but for whom migration is still their only option? Poverty is forcing families from their farms and villages. Real rural development is key to a better shared future, where young people have more opportunities at home that can compete with those in cities.

This is not to say that migration is not beneficial. It overwhelmingly is when well-managed, and especially as a risk reduction, adaptation and socio-economic development strategy – benefitting both home and host community. Inclusive policies are key to making migrants more resilient, and more resilient migrants help reduce risk for both communities of origin and of destination.

Proactive and inclusive urban planning at the local level and effective national mobility management policies are essential not only to reduce the vulnerabilities linked with movement into cities, but also to leverage the socio-economic potential of migration for the development of migrants and host societies. Further, migrants’ remittances can be a powerful force for strengthening rural food security and increasing socio-economic investment in places of origin.

A vital change that needs to happen to make the future of migration wholly beneficial to migrants and host communities is ensuring that all migrants – internal and international – feel like they have a real choice to stay or to go.

IOM and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are working towards this change in the future of migration together. At a strategic level, this is emphasized through our upcoming joint co-chairmanship of the Global Migration Group (GMG) in 2018.

The GMG brings together heads of international organizations to promote the wider application of all relevant international and regional instruments and norms relating to migration, and to encourage the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better coordinated approaches to the issue of international migration.

At the operational level, FAO and IOM collaborate on projects related to strengthening the resilience of vulnerable populations in rural areas to the impacts of natural hazards, climate change, food security and displacement. It is a cooperation that I think will continue to grow and strengthen as migration continues to be a megatrend in the world, which will become only greater with the worsening effects of climate change.

This future that we are working towards cannot be a distant one or we are doing a disservice to the people both IOM and FAO are meant to support and advocate for.

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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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Geneva Centre’s Executive Director: Emir Abd El Qader El Jazairy’s Spiritual Legacy and Vision, an Ariadne’s Thread to Solving Contemporary Misunderstandingshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/geneva-centres-executive-director-emir-abd-el-qader-el-jazairys-spiritual-legacy-vision-ariadnes-thread-solving-contemporary-misunderstandings/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=geneva-centres-executive-director-emir-abd-el-qader-el-jazairys-spiritual-legacy-vision-ariadnes-thread-solving-contemporary-misunderstandings http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/geneva-centres-executive-director-emir-abd-el-qader-el-jazairys-spiritual-legacy-vision-ariadnes-thread-solving-contemporary-misunderstandings/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 20:16:38 +0000 Geneva Centre http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152522 The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Ambassador Idriss Jazairy emphasized that the spiritual legacy and vision of the founder of contemporary Algeria – Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy – is key to promoting harmony in diversity in the Mediterranean region, the birthplace of monotheism. In his […]

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By Geneva Centre
Nîmes, France, Oct 16 2017 (Geneva Centre)

The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Ambassador Idriss Jazairy emphasized that the spiritual legacy and vision of the founder of contemporary Algeria – Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy – is key to promoting harmony in diversity in the Mediterranean region, the birthplace of monotheism.

In his intervention – delivered during a seminar organized by Arc Méditerranéen in Nîmes (France) on the theme of “From one shore to another of the Western Mediterranean: Yesterday, today and tomorrow” – he observed that the contemporary tensions between the three Abrahamic faiths – that are being played out in the Middle East, North Africa and in Europe – are based on the misrepresentation of common values in the pursuit of narrow interests.

This “chain of violence” affecting these regions, he said, was characterized by military invasions “destroying societies in the Middle East” which has led to “a rise in extremes on both sides: the rise of xenophobic populism on the one hand and the rise of a criminal ideology on the other” observed the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director.

To address these obstacles, he noted that the vision of Emir Abd el Qader can serve as a source of inspiration particularly for younger generation – on either sides of the Mediterranean – to help them rediscover their common values and aspirations, and contribute to the promotion of peace, social justice and inter-religious harmony between Muslims and Christians.

In this regard, the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director stated that identifying common values between the Abrahamic faiths would enable identifying “symbioses on which future generations of the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean” can pin their faith to promote solidarity and protect themselves from the ideologies of xenophobia and exclusion.

Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy – he noted – believed that Christianity and Islam “differ only in the way they advocate compliance with” cardinal principles of both religions which are the same: The conclusion of the Emir was that Islam and Christianity “are complementary and lead to tolerance”.

His vision – stated Ambassador Jazairy – was upheld in what the Emir referred to as “the rights of humanity” an expression that preceded the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by 85 years.

The legacy of the Emir can be used as an Ariadne’s thread to lead us out of the maze of contemporary misconceptions, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and manipulation of diversity,” said Ambassador Jazairy.

Guided by the vision of the founder of contemporary Algeria, the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director noted that the Geneva Centre will be organizing a World Conference in mid-2018 on the theme of “Religions, Creeds and/or Other Values Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights.” He stated that the potential for giving expression to Mediterranean “co-civilisation has been untapped for too long.” The World Conference – he said – “offers a new narrative for inter-faith cooperation” in line with the vision and the spiritual teachings of the Emir.

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Dams Hurt Indigenous and Fishing Communities in Brazilian Amazonhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/dams-hurt-indigenous-fishing-communities-brazilian-amazon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dams-hurt-indigenous-fishing-communities-brazilian-amazon http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/dams-hurt-indigenous-fishing-communities-brazilian-amazon/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:02:39 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152515 The dirty water is killing more and more fish and ‘Taricaya’ yellow-spotted river turtles every day. In addition, the river is not following its usual cycle, and the water level rises or declines without warning, regardless of the season, complained three Munduruku indigenous law students in the south of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The change in […]

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The Teles Pires river along the stretch between Sinop and Colider, two cities from which two new hydropower stations take their name, which are transforming the northern part of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, a major energy generator and producer and exporter of soybean, maize and beef. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

The Teles Pires river along the stretch between Sinop and Colider, two cities from which two new hydropower stations take their name, which are transforming the northern part of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, a major energy generator and producer and exporter of soybean, maize and beef. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

By Mario Osava
ALTA FLORESTA, Brazil, Oct 16 2017 (IPS)

The dirty water is killing more and more fish and ‘Taricaya’ yellow-spotted river turtles every day. In addition, the river is not following its usual cycle, and the water level rises or declines without warning, regardless of the season, complained three Munduruku indigenous law students in the south of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

The change in the natural flow of the Teles Pires river, caused by the installation of four hydropower plants, one in operation since 2015 and the others still under construction, is apparently reducing fish catches, which native people living in the lower stretch of the basin depend on as their main source of protein.

“When the water level rises, the fish swim into the ‘igapó’ and they are trapped when the level suddenly drops with unusual speed,” explained 26-year-old Aurinelson Kirixi. The “igapó” is a Brazilian term that refers to the forested, floodable shore of Amazon jungle rivers where aquatic animals seek food.

That includes the yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis), a species still abundant in the Brazilian Amazon, whose meat is “as important as fish for us,” the young Munduruku man told IPS during a tour of the indigenous territories affected by the hydroelectric plants.

“It’s even tastier than fish,” he agreed with his two fellow students. But “it is in danger of extinction; today we see them in smaller numbers and possibly our children will only see them in photos,” lamented Dorivan Kirixi, also 26.

“The fish die, as well as the turtles, because the water has gotten dirty from the works upstream,” said 27-year-old Isaac Waru, who could not study Administration because the degree is not offered in Alta Floresta, a city of 50,000 people in the north of the state of Mato Grosso, in west-central Brazil.

Local indigenous people avoid drinking water from the river, even bathing with it, after cases of diarrhea, itchy rashes and eye problems, said the three students who come from three different villages. To return to their homes they have to travel at least eight hours, half by road and the other half by river.

This year they began to study law thanks to scholarships paid by the São Manoel Hydroelectric Plant – also known as the Teles Pires Plant, which is the nearest to the indigenous lands – as part of the compensation measures for damage caused by the project.

They offered a total of seven scholarships for the three affected indigenous communities: the Apiaká, Kayabí and Munduruku, the latter of which is the largest indigenous group in the Tapajós river basin, formed by the confluence of the Teles Pires and Juruena rivers.

Three Munduruku indigenous students who study law in the city of Alta Floresta, in the southeast of the Brazilian Amazon region, thanks to scholarships from one of the companies building the hydroelectric plants on the Teles Pires river. They are highly critical of the impact of the new dams on their people. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Three Munduruku indigenous students who study law in the city of Alta Floresta, in the southeast of the Brazilian Amazon region, thanks to scholarships from one of the companies building the hydroelectric plants on the Teles Pires river. They are highly critical of the impact of the new dams on their people. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

The compensations for the indigenous communities were few in number and poorly carried out: “precariously built houses and health posts,” said Patxon Metuktire, local coordinator of the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), the government body for the protection of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

“The companies believe that our problem is just one of logistics, that it is just a matter of providing trucks and fuel, and they forget that their projects damage the ecosystem that is the basis of our well-being and way of life,” he told IPS.

An oil spill further contaminated the river in November 2016. The hydroelectric plants denied any responsibility, but distributed mineral water to the indigenous villages, recalled Metuktire, whose last name is the name of his ethnic group, a subgroup of the Kayapó people.

Fisherpersons are another group directly affected by the drastic modification of the course of the river by the hydropower dams, because their lives depend on flowing water.

Since the vegetation in the river began to die off after the river was diverted to build the dam, fish catches have shrunk, said Solange Arrolho, a professor of biology at the State University of Mato Grosso in Alta Floresta, where she is head of the Ichthyology Laboratory of the Southern Amazon.

A map of the Teles Pires river, a source of hydroelectric energy in Mato Grosso, in the southeast of the Brazilian Amazon region. In red is the location of hydroelectric power plants that have damaged the way of life of indigenous people and riverbank communities that depend on fishing. Credit: Courtesy of Instituto Ciencia e Vida

A map of the Teles Pires river, a source of hydroelectric energy in Mato Grosso, in the southeast of the Brazilian Amazon region. In red is the location of hydroelectric power plants that have damaged the way of life of indigenous people and riverbank communities that depend on fishing. Credit: Courtesy of Instituto Ciencia e Vida

The researcher, who said she has been “studying fish for 30” of her 50 years, led a project to monitor fish populations in 2014 in the area of influence of the Colider hydroelectric power station, as part of the Basic Environmental Program that the company that built and will operate the dam must carry out.

Colider, which will start operating in mid-2018, is the smallest of the four plants that are being built on a 450-km stretch in the middle course of the river, with a capacity of 300 MW and a 183-sq-km reservoir.

The others are the Teles Pires and São Manoel plants, downstream, and Sinop, upstream. The entire complex will add 3,228 megawatts of power and 746 square kilometers of reservoirs.

These works affect fishing by altering the river banks and the river flow, reducing migration of fish, and cutting down riverbank forests, which feed fish with fruit and insects that “fall from the trees into the water,” said Arrolho . “The fish do not adapt, they migrate,” he told IPS.

The Teles Pires river is suffering from the accumulated effects of polluting activities, such as soy monoculture, with intensive use of agrochemicals, livestock farming and mining, he pointed out.

The Colider and Sinop plants do not directly affect indigenous lands such as those located downstream, but they do affect fisherpersons.

“They killed many fish with their explosions and digging,” said Julita Burko Duleba, president of the Sinop Colony of Fisherpersons and Region (Z-16), based in the city of Sinop, the capital city of northern Mato Grosso.

“Fish catches in the Teles Pires basin have dropped: we used to catch over 200 kilos per week, but now we catch a maximum of 120 kilos and on average only between 30 and 40 kilos,” she said.

At the age of 68, she now does administrative work. But she was a fisherwoman for more than two decades, and her husband still works as a fisherman, the activity that allowed them, like other colleagues, to live well and buy a house.

 Deforestation due to the expansion of cattle ranches dominates the landscape in the vicinity of Alta Floresta, the city that is a southeastern gate to the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, and is also known as a center for ecotourism based on fishing and bird-watching. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Deforestation due to the expansion of cattle ranches dominates the landscape in the vicinity of Alta Floresta, the city that is a southeastern gate to the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, and is also known as a center for ecotourism based on fishing and bird-watching. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

They are currently struggling to obtain better conditions for the sector, such as a warehouse and a refrigerated truck that would allow them to ”collect” the fish from the widely spread members and sell them in the market.

One difficulty facing this colony is the dispersion of its members throughout 32 municipalities. The association at one point had 723 members, but now there are only 290, mainlyin the cities of Colider and Sinop, from which the nearby hydroelectric plants take their names.

Many have retired, others have given up. “We are an endangered species,” Duleba lamented to IPS.

The compensations offered by the hydroelectric companies for the damage caused do not include a focus on helping small-scale fisherpersons recover their livelihoods, as Duleba and other activists had hoped.

The headquarters of the Colony, which will be built by the Sinop Power Company, owner of the power plant of the same name, will be more of a tourist complex, with a restaurant, lookout, swimming pools and soccer field, on the river bank, 23 km from the city .

There will be a berth and an ice factory which could be useful for fishing, but not the fishing village, with its houses and infrastructure, which Duleba tried to negotiate.

In Colider, fisherpersons preferred compensation in cash, instead of collective projects, she lamented.

Northern Mato Grosso, where the land is the current source of local incomes and wealth, which is now based in agriculture, livestock farming and mining, after being based on timber, has now discovered the value of its water resources.

But its energy use is imposed to the detriment of traditional users, just as the land was concentrated in export monoculture to the detriment of food production.

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After 13 Years, UN Peacekeeping Mission Closes Doors in Haitihttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/13-years-un-peacekeeping-mission-closes-doors-haiti/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=13-years-un-peacekeeping-mission-closes-doors-haiti http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/13-years-un-peacekeeping-mission-closes-doors-haiti/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 13:53:18 +0000 Roshni Majumdar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152513 The UN peacekeeping mission ended its operations in the Caribbean nation of Haiti after 13 years on October 15. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which aimed to bring stability to a politically chaotic Haiti of 2004, will transfer power to the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), a much smaller successor […]

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Scene from a polling station in Port-au-Prince during Haiti’s presidential election on 20 November 2016. Credit: UN Photo/Logan Abassi

By Roshni Majumdar
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16 2017 (IPS)

The UN peacekeeping mission ended its operations in the Caribbean nation of Haiti after 13 years on October 15.

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which aimed to bring stability to a politically chaotic Haiti of 2004, will transfer power to the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), a much smaller successor mission that is going to assist the government on security issues.

“Haiti is now in a position to move forward and consolidate the stability that has been obtained, as a framework for continued social and economic development,” Sandra Honoré, the head of MINUSTAH, said in a recent interview with UN News.

In spite of the mission’s successful efforts at democratization and professionalization of the National Police, it was not without troubles and controversy.

Most prominently, the peacekeeping mission admitted to introducing a strain of cholera to the country. The cholera epidemic, which occurred immediately after the devastating earthquake in 2010, killed nearly 10,000 people and affected 800,000, or roughly one in every twelve Haitians. Although the UN has pledged a two-year project to improve water and sanitation services, the total costs of the project remain severely underfunded.

And in November 2007, just three years into the mission, 108 military personnel from an Asian country were sent home after being accused of sexual exploitation of minors. Although the UN expressed “outrage” at the charges, the world body has no political or legal authority to penalise military personnel. Most of them have escaped punishment because national governments have refused to prosecute.

Still, the mission’s achievements—like eliminating gang violence and contributing to economic growth—have been recognised.

Meanwhile, Haiti has continued to suffer the devastating impacts of natural disasters that require international funding and relief efforts.

The April 13 resolution that was adopted by the the UN Security Council (UNSC) this year ordered the gradual removal of the mission from the nation. Nikki Haley, the US representative to the UN, told the UNSC that the political context and Haiti’s “peaceful transition of power” in the November 2016 presidential election had finally cemented the decision.

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Despite Odds, Women Gain Stature in African Politicshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/despite-odds-women-gain-stature-african-politics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=despite-odds-women-gain-stature-african-politics http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/despite-odds-women-gain-stature-african-politics/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:47:43 +0000 Kwamboka Oyaro http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152510 Once in a while, Africa produces talented women politicians who, despite the odds, overcome the obstacles that impede their success in the political arena. Some of the African women who have shattered the glass ceiling include Liberia’s outgoing president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; former president of Malawi, Joyce Banda; Mauritius’s president, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim; and former interim […]

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Launch of the African Women Leaders Network in New York. Credit: UN Photos

By Kwamboka Oyaro, Africa Renewal*
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16 2017 (IPS)

Once in a while, Africa produces talented women politicians who, despite the odds, overcome the obstacles that impede their success in the political arena.

Some of the African women who have shattered the glass ceiling include Liberia’s outgoing president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; former president of Malawi, Joyce Banda; Mauritius’s president, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim; and former interim president of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza.

For most African women, however, the political terrain is too rough to navigate. Few make the journey, perceiving that their male colleagues would try to undermine them. In their effort to take up leadership positions, qualified African women can expect to confront gender-based attacks, including being labelled “prostitutes” or “concubines”. Sometimes they are sexually harassed, and they often contend with men seeking sexual favours as preconditions for support.

Propositions from senior male office holders as a precondition for entry into the field are unacceptable, says former Nigerian senator Uche Lilian Ekwunife. She adds that this is a tactic men have used for years to discourage women from entering the political fray.

Ms. Ekwunife recollects her 2011 re-election campaign for Nigeria’s House of Representatives, when her opponent superimposed her head on a naked body and sent the picture to YouTube “just to demean my person.” Luckily, that childish slur backfired, and Ms. Ekwunife easily won the election to the legislative body.

Four years later, when she sought election to the senate in 2015, her experience was less pleasant. Although she was re-elected to become one of six women out of the 109 senators in Nigeria’s upper law-making body, her political journey was short.

The courts nullified her election after she had been in the senate only six months. She believes that her election’s nullification was politically motivated, even though there was the issue of her switching political parties at the last minute.

Ms. Ekwunife’s experience is not unique among women political hopefuls in Africa. For example, just two days after activist Diane Shima Rwigara declared her intention to run for the presidency in Rwanda’s general election in August this year, social media was awash with purported nude pictures of her. Her candidacy was disqualified by election officials.

In neighbouring Uganda, a member of the opposition Zainab Fatuma Naigaga and some male colleagues were arrested on their way to a political rally in October 2015. But it was only Ms. Naigaga who was stripped naked by abusive police officers, while the men were left alone.

In Kenya, MP Millie Odhiambo Mabona was analysing the country’s Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 in Parliament when a commotion on the floor degenerated into a free-for-all brawl.

Ms. Mabona says she was assaulted by two pro-government MPs. “That day I was in a dress and these men kept pulling it up while I pulled it down. They went ahead and tore my panties,” Ms. Mabona told Africa Renewal in an interview.

One of the accused male MPs was quoted in the local dailies, saying, “I slapped her because she wanted to assault the deputy speaker. That was great disrespect.” The MPs later passed the bill on security laws.

Women facing sexual harassment must call the men’s bluff, says Ms. Mabona. “If they threaten me with exposing my sexual encounters, I tell them I would also expose those that I went out with.” Ms. Ekwunife, taking a different tack, says “women need to focus and ignore these distractions.”

Besides issues relating to their bodies and their private lives, African female politicians, most of the time, begin their career in politics later in life, and start from a position of disadvantage of having to balance family and work. They also tend to have less money than their male counterparts to spend on campaign expenses.

Shauna Shames of New Jersey’s Rutgers University-Camden, writing about “Barriers and solutions to increasing women’s political power,” notes that “when money dominates politics, women lose out. With women having persistently lower incomes for many reasons, they are far less likely than men to be in the social and business networks that pour money into political campaigns.”

Major political parties rarely nominate women for elected positions during primaries because of the belief that women stand a slim chance of winning against men. In Kenya, for example, all the leading parties nominated men as presidential candidates for the August 2017 elections.

Sometimes a political party will attempt to curry favour by nominating women, yet will not fully back the female politicians to win elections, explains Ms. Ekwunife.

Women candidates are more vulnerable than their male counterparts to electoral violence, including physical attacks on the candidates themselves, their families or supporters, from the campaigns to election time, says Ms. Mabona.

The Kenyan government pledged to enhance security for women aspirants in the lead-up to the August 2017 general election. The cabinet secretary for interior security, the late Joseph Nkaissery, in June announced the government’s intention to protect women candidates, but also told them to be “tough,” without explaining what he meant, leaving pundits to infer a tacit approval for women to be violent.

Ms. Mabona herself witnessed raw violence early this year during her political party’s fiery primaries in her Mbita Constituency in western Kenya. Her bodyguard was killed and her house was burned down.

Will the ground be level anytime soon for women politicians in Africa? Dismas Mokua, a political analyst with Trintari International, a Nairobi-based public relations firm, says women in Africa have made some impact in politics but could do better. Most societies are patriarchal and don’t expect women to take up leadership positions, explains Mr. Mokua.

“Running for a public office requires resources. A lot of women candidates may not have the requisite finances,” says Mr. Mokua. Against all odds, the time is now for Africa’s visionary female politicians to join politics and change the narrative.

*Africa Renewal is published by the UN’s Department of Public Information.

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Can the Kenyan Lion Kick High Enough to Be the South Korean Tiger of Africa?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/can-kenyan-lion-kick-high-enough-south-korean-tiger-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-kenyan-lion-kick-high-enough-south-korean-tiger-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/can-kenyan-lion-kick-high-enough-south-korean-tiger-africa/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:52:14 +0000 Mary Kawar and Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152505 Dr Mary Kawar is Country Director of the ILO for Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Follow her on twitter: @mary_kawar

Mr Siddharth Chatterjee is the UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya. Follow him on twitter: @sidchat1

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Taekwondo a Korean martial art also practiced in Kenya. Credit: Capital FM

By Mary Kawar and Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 2017 (IPS)

In 1953 South Korea emerged from the ravages of a debilitating war, yet the total gross domestic product in nominal terms has surged 31,000 fold since 1953.

Consider this: in 1950 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of South Korea was US$ 876 and Kenya’s was US$ 947. In 2016, the GDP per capita of South Korea rose to US$ 27,539 and Kenya’s to US$ 1,455.

South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible economic growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion-dollar club of world economies.

In South Korea the Gini coefficient is 0.30 (extent of inequality) whereas in Kenya it is much higher at 0.45. Despite posting some of the highest GDP growth rates globally, countries in Africa continue to have the worst poverty and unemployment rates, with Kenya being one of those countries where the gap between rich and poor is widening.

While the majority of these Kenyans are occupied in the agricultural industry, technology advances and the rising prominence of the service industry is threatening to render many of these superfluous unless urgent shifts in growth models are undertaken to create quality jobs.

Lessons from economic structural transformation abound especially from the Asian tigers. Once an agricultural country like Kenya, South Korea spent much of the 20th century driving modern technologies and is now regarded as one of Asia’s most advanced economies. Among the focus areas for the country were facilitating industrialization, high household savings rates, high literacy rates and low fertility rates.

What South Korea achieved was fast economic growth underpinned by a strong industrial base that led to full employment and higher real wages. When the 1997 financial crisis threatened employment and welfare of its citizens in 1997, the country engaged in ambitious structural adjustment that introduced social protection measures for workers, the unemployed and poor people, in addition to reigniting the drivers of growth.

The international experience suggests that, for a given increase in the labor force, GDP growth should be at least double that rate to prevent unemployment from rising, and even higher if unemployment is to be reduced. With Kenya’s labor force growing at 3 percent corresponding to one million youth entering the job market each year, GDP should keep growing at 6 percent.

But this may not be enough as there is a lot of slack in the labor market to be absorbed. Kenya has one of the highest informal sector employment rates in the continent. With about three out of four workers employed in casual jobs whose key features include unpredictable incomes, poor working conditions and low productivity.

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), employment in the informal economy has grown much faster than in the formal economy, rising by nearly 4 million versus 60,000 since 2009, with the corresponding share of the formal economy in total employment shrinking to 17 percent from 19 percent.

Income inequality remains a challenge in Kenya, with the highest 10 percent earning almost 15 times higher than the lowest 10 percent, which is double of that in South Korea.

There are grounds for optimism, as Kenya seeks to move from being a regional leader to local innovator. In August 2016, Kenya hosted the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which was the first on African soil. Kenya is also developing policy and institutional reforms to increase export through better trade logistics and greater regional integration.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to boost standardization activities between the two countries. Credit: Citizen TV


In addition, Kenya’s internet prices are low at half of even lower than those in neighboring countries. Innovations in mobile phone-based banking and related technological platforms have resulted in more financial inclusion that has reached 75 percent of the population. A large population of educated youth is already employed in these areas that have high job creation potential.

Kenya’s policies will need to consider the effects of technological innovations on the labor market and their socioeconomic impact. Household incomes improve when the largest number of people get involved in technology-based productive work. Even agriculture needs to be high-tech and include agro-processing.

Underlying this is the ability of the education and training system to adapt and promote the creation of a sustainable and inclusive economy. Kenya’s policies will therefore need to assess the effects of technological innovations on the labor market and their socioeconomic impact.

Kenya is moving ahead on education with its more than 1000 post-secondary institutions, 22 public and more than 30 private universities that produce the largest numbers of highly trained and skilled persons in the East African Community.

However, Kenya has substantial disparities in access to education. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, children in capital city Nairobi have about 15 times more access to secondary education than those living in Turkana, one of the poorest counties.

In addition to education, that increases employability on the labor supply side but does not in itself create jobs, more emphasis should be given to policies that increase labor demand. With an increasing youthful population, Kenya faces a window of demographic opportunity not only numerically.

Today’s youth are more educated than their parents and are “waiting in the wings”, not yet active but ready and willing to do so. But for this to happen and thus reduce youth and educated unemployment, there is a need to ensure that there are enough opportunities for them to participate actively in the economy and society.

Unfortunately, about 43 percent of Kenya’s youth are currently either unemployed or working yet living in poverty. Not unrelated to the few employment opportunities at home, many job seekers emigrate. The International Organization of Migration (IOM) reports for Kenya a skilled emigration rate of 35 per cent reaching 51 percent among health professionals. These rates are among the highest in the world. A continued lack of decent work opportunities as a result of insufficient or misapplied investments can perpetuate, if not increase, emigration and lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies.

Still within the area of labor markets, good governance is critical for linking employment growth to decent employment creation. A recent meeting on the Future of Work organized by the Ministry of Labour, the Kenya Federation of Employers and the Kenya Federation of Trade unions in collaboration with the International Labour Organization discussed the implications for the 4th industrial revolution and its impact on Kenya. The discussion confirmed that laws, policies and institutions can be improved through social dialogue that would also include the informal sector.

For women, access to family planning and maternal health services – as well as education for girls is the best bet for improved economic opportunity. Global data shows that the highest benefits from reducing unintended pregnancies would accrue to the poorest countries, with GDP increases ranging from one to eight percent by 2035. There are few interventions that would give as wide-reaching impacts.

Finally, Kenya would need to address the rural/urban divide. Urban population growth is naturally fueled from growth in the population already living in cities but in Kenya, more than in many other African countries, urban growth comes from significant internal migration. This suggests that the country side is becoming increasingly less attractive. The share of population living in slums remains high at 55 percent with no discernible decline since 1990.

In conclusion, increases in real wages and decent employment creation will remain elusive as long as growth is not inclusive while educated job seekers are not employed in sectors that require new skills. The shifting population of Kenya provides many opportunities for growth. With a median age of 18, investing in Kenya’s youth would reap a demographic dividend. Key investments have to be in education and skills, empowerment of women and girls, a Marshal plan of employment and equity. These would help accelerate Kenya’ march to prosperity and help end poverty.

When this happens, Kenya will increase its ability to introduce more comprehensive and effective social protection policies that would add to the income security provided by decent employment. And unlike South Korea, Kenya should not wait to do so after a financial crisis.

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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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Stepping Forward to Lead on Indigenous Rightshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/stepping-forward-lead-indigenous-rights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stepping-forward-lead-indigenous-rights http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/stepping-forward-lead-indigenous-rights/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:26:29 +0000 Rukka Sombolinggi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152485 *Rukka Sombolinggi is the new Secretary General of Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), known as the Indigenous Peoples' Alliance of the Archipelago

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Indigenous communities that live in traditional forests likes these on the Indonesian island of Lombok are not consulted when such lands are handed over to commercial entities. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By Rukka Sombolinggi
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

When nine women farmers from the Kendeng community in Central Java encased their feet in cement blocks last year, many indigenous advocates understood how that felt. Dressed in their traditional clothing, these women protested outside the State Palace in Jakarta to block a proposed cement plant that would pollute the rivers flowing through their villages. Their livelihoods as farmers were under threat, as was their cultural heritage.

These women who so inspire me, like most Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia, have lived on their land for generations without official recognition of their rights. Their communities began long before current laws were written—in fact, long before Indonesia was a country.

At first, their protest—hundreds of miles away from their homes—was successful. It brought attention to their plight and led the Supreme Court to rule in 2016 that factory construction must stop. But in response, the local government issued new environmental permits and the construction started again.

This prompted the women to renew their resistance—this time joined by men. More than 100 farmers have been protesting, and the added attention continues to press the local government and its private sector partner to comply with the court ruling.

This is how progress moves in Indonesia: for every two steps forward, we take one step back. In 2013, after decades of indigenous advocacy, the Indonesian Constitutional Court ruled that the government has no right to indigenous forests and must return them to their customary owners.

President Joko Widodo was elected in 2014 with the promise of recognizing indigenous rights to 9 million hectares of land—and yet, in 2017, his administration has only recognized indigenous rights to 13,000 hectares.

Many of those on the frontlines defending indigenous lands and resources are women. Before the Dutch colonized Indonesia, women had a prominent role in community governance and often served as judges and chiefs.

But European influences forced women into subservient roles. It wasn’t until my mother’s generation that indigenous women started to reassume their traditional leadership.

Aleta Baun, a farmer from the Mollo people in the western part of Timor, showed us all how this is done. When a mining company started digging into Mutis Mountain, fouling the headwaters of the rivers that run through the Mollo’s territory and desecrating one of their sacred places, Mama Aleta, as she is affectionately known, led the resistance.

She organized the remote villages of her people, dodging assassination attempts along the way, and led a year-long occupation of the mining site by women weavers that eventually stopped the operation.

And we must not forget Nai Sinta Sibarani, who led her community, the Batak in North Sumatra, in resisting Inti Indorayon—a mega-sized pulp and paper company—under the oppressive General Suharto regime in the early 1990s.

Yet Indonesia’s laws afford women like Mama Aleta and Nai Sinta Sibarani even less protection for their lands than men. A recent analysis of 30 developing countries from Rights and Resources Initiative found that Indonesia is one of only two countries that does not include equal protection for women in its constitution.

In addition, not one of the country’s six legal frameworks regulating community forests adequately protects women’s rights to inheritance, community membership, governance, or dispute resolution, which are key for women to assert their voice, achieve economic security, and play a leadership role in their communities.

Because women are so often responsible for managing their customary forests and feeding their communities, this lack of protection for women leaves entire communities vulnerable. Huge swathes of indigenous lands have already been leased or sold to oil palm plantations and other developments, resulting in deforestation and forest fires. Indonesia now has one of the most unequal land distribution in the world.

A recent study on conflicts between communities and companies in Indonesia and seven other Southeast Asian countries found that almost half were driven primarily by Indigenous Peoples being forced from their homes. This can be particularly hard on women, who so often depend on the lands for their livelihoods.

The Kendeng farmers and Mollo weavers rely on the land for traditional dyes as they handcraft their textiles, as do the Dayak basket weavers from Kalimantan and the Baduy in Western Java.

As I take the lead of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (known by its Bahasa acronym, AMAN), a coalition of more than 2,300 indigenous communities throughout Indonesia, I draw my strength from Mama Aleta, the women of Kendeng, and many others—including my own mother, whose tireless advocacy for women’s rights helped open the doors I have walked through.

Indigenous women will not sit idly by while their rights to their lands are violated—the lands that sustain them and are part of who they are as Indigenous Peoples. When our communities’ lands and livelihoods are threatened, we will continue to be on the front lines leading the resistance. It is time for our government to recognize this, and to recognize and protect our rights.

*Rukka Sombolinggi is the first woman to lead the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (known by their acronym in Bahasa, AMAN).

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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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Humanitarian Needs Spike as Rohingya Arrivals in Cox’s Bazar Top 536,000http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/humanitarian-needs-spike-rohingya-arrivals-coxs-bazar-top-536000/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=humanitarian-needs-spike-rohingya-arrivals-coxs-bazar-top-536000 http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/humanitarian-needs-spike-rohingya-arrivals-coxs-bazar-top-536000/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:16:22 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152478 An estimated 536,000 people have fled Myanmar and arrived in Cox’s Bazar, southern Bangladesh, over the past 47 days, according to the IOM-hosted Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) of aid agencies. Numbers spiked again this week when some 15,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh between 9-11 October. “I came here five days ago. Five members of […]

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This week (9-11 October) some 15,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar, bringing the total arrivals since late August to over 536,000. Credit: UN Migration Agency/Muse Mohammed 2017

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Oct 13 2017 (IOM)

An estimated 536,000 people have fled Myanmar and arrived in Cox’s Bazar, southern Bangladesh, over the past 47 days, according to the IOM-hosted Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) of aid agencies. Numbers spiked again this week when some 15,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh between 9-11 October.

“I came here five days ago. Five members of my family, including my pregnant wife are still on the other (Myanmar) side. I’ve talked to them by phone. They had to leave home and are now living in the open on a beach. They said that 8-9,000 people are on the beach waiting for an opportunity to cross,” said Mohammad Yakub, 50, speaking to IOM in Shahporir Dwip, a Bangladeshi island in the Naf river close to the border between the two countries.

The speed and scale of the influx has triggered a humanitarian emergency in Cox’s Bazar, where close to three quarters of a million refugees now depend on humanitarian assistance for shelter, food, water, sanitation and other life-saving needs. Prior to the August influx, Cox’s Bazar was already hosting over 200,000 previously displaced Rohingya, placing the district’s infrastructure and basic services under immense strain.

Earlier this week ISCG aid agencies appealed for USD 434 million as part of a 6-month Humanitarian Response Plan targeting 1.2 million people, including the Rohingya refugees and 300,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis living in host communities in Cox’s Bazar.

“The seriousness of the situation cannot be over-emphasized. These people are malnourished and there is insufficient access to clean water and sanitation in many of the spontaneous sites. They are highly vulnerable. They have fled conflict, experienced severe trauma and are now living in extremely difficult conditions,” said IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission Sarat Dash.

Many of the new arrivals require immediate health assistance and agencies have appealed for USD 48 million to scale up primary health care in all the new settlements over the next six months.

“The risk of an outbreak of communicable disease is very high given the crowded living conditions and the lack of adequate clean water and sanitation. Maternal, newborn and child health care are also in desperately short supply given the very high numbers of pregnant or lactating women and children among the new arrivals,” said IOM Senior Regional Health Officer Patrick Duigan.

Since 25 August, ISCG agencies have provided over 210,000 people with healthcare assistance. Health partners are supporting the district health department with 12 medical teams in the new influx areas of Teknaf and Ukhia sub-districts. Nine health centers have also been established in remote, hard-to-reach areas of the new settlements.

Some 35,500 children between the age of 5 – 15 years have been vaccinated against measles and rubella, and over 72,000 children between the age of 0 – 5 have been vaccinated against polio and received Vitamin A supplementation. An oral cholera vaccination campaign targeting the entire population also began this week.

Almost all of the refugees arrive with virtually nothing and need tarpaulins for shelter, as well as non-food items (NFI) such as clothing, mosquito nets, cooking sets, soap and blankets. As of last week, some 288,000 people have received emergency shelter assistance and 54,000 NFI assistance since 25 August. Over 17,000 households have received acute emergency kits including one tarpaulin per family of five. Over 2,500 households received have received two tarpaulins and 5,000 have received blankets and sleeping mats.

The massive increase in the number of people in multiple sites is also overwhelming existing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities. WASH sector agencies believe that some 750,000 people out of the 1.2 million people targeted by the response plan will need WASH assistance in the next six months.

Since 25 August, over 333,000 people have been reached with WASH assistance, but agencies believe that almost same number of people are still in immediate need of WASH services. Collectively, the sector has installed 3,249 tube wells, but there are concerns about the quality of the wells and whether they are too shallow, given falling water tables.

Some 8,100 emergency latrines have also been built, but the fill rate currently exceeds the construction rate. This is being is compounded by the shortage of land and a lack of sewage management infrastructure. WASH agencies say that USD 74 million is needed to meet WASH needs through February 2018.

Against this backdrop, there is tremendous pressure on the existing settlements, with the population of multiple sites and settlements more than doubling since August 25. This has resulted in a huge need site management for an estimated 700,000 people. This will cost an estimated USD 65 million, according to ISCG site management agencies.

For more information please contact IOM Bangladesh:
In Cox’s Bazar
Hala Jaber, Tel : +8801733335221, Email: hjaberbent@iom.int
In Dhaka
Shirin Akhter, Tel: +8801711187499, Email: sakhter@iom.int

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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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Forcing Displaced Nigerians May Worsen Humanitarian Crisishttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/forcing-displaced-nigerians-may-worsen-humanitarian-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=forcing-displaced-nigerians-may-worsen-humanitarian-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/forcing-displaced-nigerians-may-worsen-humanitarian-crisis/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:11:46 +0000 Jan Egeland http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152462 Jan Egeland is Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council and a former United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator.

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“Boko Haram came in the dark of night,” recalls Haja (17). “They killed my husband.” She fled with their young baby, Mommodu. Credit: Norwegian Refugee Council / Michelle Delaney

By Jan Egeland
Maiduguri City, Nigeria, Oct 13 2017 (IPS)

Haja grabbed her eight children and fled as Boko Haram set her home ablaze two years ago. Today we sit in her hut in a displacement camp, and she wonders how she is going to keep her children fed. I’ve spoken to many families in Nigeria’s north-eastern Monguno town. Their stories paint a horrifically detailed picture of the brutal violence these communities have endured over the past eight years.

The Nigerian Armed Forces have been at war with the Islamic extremists Boko Haram since 2009, fighting a battle that has seen well over 20,000 people killed. Recent military gains have pushed the jihadists back. In response, Boko Haram has stepped up attacks on softer targets like marketplaces and camps sheltering displaced people. Civilians have become the preferred pawns in this senseless conflict.

Borno State – the crisis’s epicentre – saw the highest number of attacks this year since 2013. Also on the rise is the appalling use of children as human bombs. We have seen four times as many so far this year, compared to the whole of last year. Here in northeast Nigeria, no place is sacred, no person is safe.

Despite these dangers, many government officials are keen to see communities move back home. This is usually a cause we should all champion. But the unfortunate truth is that pushing people back now will have harmful consequences.

Too scared to return

In the largest report of its kind to date, the Norwegian Refugee Council surveyed over 3,400 households – representing 27,000 displaced people – in Borno State, to find out whether communities were ready to return home. The results were undisputable.

Eighty-six per cent of people interviewed say they are too scared to return in the immediate future. Over 80 per cent of those cite insecurity as the main factor preventing them returning. An overwhelming majority tell us they feel safer in camps than where they were before. A startling statistic, considering camps are increasingly the target of suicide attacks.

Even if the security situation improves, our Not Ready to Return report found that half of the displaced people interviewed say their homes were destroyed in the conflict. There’s nothing left waiting for them.

Let them decide

Communities who decide to return home must do so of their own free will. Reports of coercion to expedite people moving home are most concerning. Returns must be safe, voluntary and informed.

Before displaced Nigerians return home, two key things must be done. Firstly, the overall security situation must improve. Communities must be, and feel, safe. This is the primary responsibility of the government and its armed forces.

Secondly, resources must be channelled into rebuilding homes and re-establishing livelihoods. Families need a roof over their head and the prospect of making a living if they are to have any chance of starting anew. This is where the international community can support.

We can provide them with the tools to do so – construction material, farming equipment, start-up capital and livestock. My organisation also counsels returnees on housing, property and legal rights. This is just a first step.

A toxic mix

Forced returns and new bouts of violence are just two ingredients adding to the danger that is stewing in the northeast. We managed to avert a famine striking Nigeria, for now. But let’s not forget that the food crisis persists. More than 5.2 million Nigerians do not have enough to eat.

The violence, coupled with food insecurity and a push to move people home prematurely, will certainly create a toxic mix ideal for exasperating the humanitarian crisis in the northeast.

Now is the time for long-term strategies, not short-term thinking – for Hajja’s sake and the 1.8 million other Nigerians anxiously waiting to return home.

The post Forcing Displaced Nigerians May Worsen Humanitarian Crisis appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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