There is international agreement about how to tackle malnutrition. Ireland, the United States and now the United Kingdom are putting the spotlight on hunger. A panel of top economists have said child nutrition should be the top global priority. And yet, hunger may be increasing.
In the past year, humanitarian organisations have been responding to serious food crises across Africa. Oxfam has warned of a pending emergency in Somalia, while the Famine Early Warning Systems Network has identified further threats to food security through to the end of September, including West Africa and the borders of Sudan and South Sudan, where inadequate facilities in refugee camps are already putting thousands at risk, according to Medecins Sans Frontières Ireland.
“When the hunger crisis hit the headlines last year, it was only after famine had already been declared in Somalia, killing an estimated 100,000 people and affecting 12 million,” writes Sarah Morrison pointedly, in the Independent on Sunday (August 5).
On Sunday (August 12), UK Prime Minister David Cameron will host a hunger summit to coincide with the closing day of the Olympics. It comes in the wake of a report by Save The Children which found that the number of acutely malnourished children has grown over the last decade. Charities are hoping the summit will be followed by concerted and urgent action.
US Secretary of State Hiliary Clinton is currently on an 11-day tour of Africa. The White House launched its new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa in June. The strategy includes promoting food security, although not as the top priority. It plans to do so through the Feed the Future Initiative, and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition launched at the 2012 G-8 Summit.
Ireland, with famine still fresh in the collective memory, spends twenty per cent of its aid on programmes tackling global hunger. It is also taking a global lead in targeting hunger.
Last summer, Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Eamon Gilmore, T.D., and Hiliary Clinton co-hosted a High Level Forum in Dar es Salaam on the fight against hunger in Africa.
The previous September, Ireland launched a 1,000 day partnership with the United States. The timeframe was chosen to highlight the importance of a child’s early years, including pregnancy.
“It is part of a wider initiative to “Scale up Nutrition, an unprecedented global consensus about what is needed to tackle hunger, including direct action in health and nutrition, as well as integrating nutrition into broader efforts in health, agriculture and development,” Paul O’Brien wrote of the partnership last year for worldandmedia.com.
Concern Worldwide, of which O’Brien is the Overseas Director, is continuing the theme with a “1,000 Days” campaign which it launched in May. According to Concern, the right nutrition can save more than one million lives each year. Concern CEO Tom Arnold will be attending the summit at 10 Downing St. “It is hugely significant that this is happening on the final day of the Olympics,” said Mr Arnold.
Also launched in May, was the Copenhagen Consensus 2012. A panel of five leading economic experts – four with nobel laureates – set priorities among a series of proposals for confronting global challenges. Based on a cost-benefit analysis, the top priority was given to bundled interventions to reduce undernutrition in pre-schoolers. According to the report:
“For about $100 per child, this bundle of interventions (including micronutrient provision, and also complementary foods, treatments for worms and diarrheal diseases, and behavior change programs), could reduce chronic undernutrition by 36 percent in developing countries. The expert panel noted that the educational benefits as well as the health benefits should be taken into consideration. Even in very poor countries and using very conservative assumptions, each dollar spent reducing chronic undernutrition has at least a $30 payoff.”
With that payoff, one might wonder why a summit is needed.
Related Articles, Publications and Campaigns
Below are a selection of related articles on worldandmedia.com, and third-party publications and campaigns on the theme of hunger.
Selected related articles on worldandmedia.com
Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) Food security alerts, updates and briefings
UN FAO FAO Food Price Index (July 5; forthcoming: September 6, 2012).
Save the Children The Child Development Index 2012: Progress, challenges and inequality (press release: “More hungry children now than at any point this decade” July 18, 2012)
Oxfam The Food Transformation - Harnessing Consumer Power to Create a Fair Food Future (press release : “Mothers want to help fix our broken food system” July 18, 2012)
UNDP Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future (press release May 15, 2012)
IFPRI/IFRC Reducing the risk of food and nutrition insecurity among vulnerable populations (press release May 15, 2012)
ActionAid USA Pledges, Principles, and Progress: Aid to Agriculture Since L’Aquila (press release May 4, 2012 )
Lídia Cabral and John Howell Measuring aid to agriculture and food security (ODI Briefing Papers 72, February 2012)
Oxfam, Save the Children A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to early warnings in the 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa (January 18, 2012)
Duncan Green, Oxfam Why did help arrive so late? Evidence v Incentives in the Horn of Africa drought. (January 18, 2012)
Several high-profile NGOs are fundraising to address current food crises, such as #Sahel2012. In addition, some have specific campaigns on hunger.
The 1,000 Days partnership is a global partnership that promotes targeted action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers and children in the 1,000 days between a woman's pregnancy and her child's 2nd birthday when better nutrition can have a life-changing impact on a child's future and help break the cycle of poverty. Irish Aid, the US Department of State, Concern, and One are among the partner organisations.
Concern Worldwide “1,000 Days” campaign
EndingHunger.org - a youth-oriented communication initiative spearheaded by FAO, in partnership with other UN agencies, civil society groups and interested individuals.
Staff, including midwives, counsellors and security guards, at the Freetown Rainbo Centre, in the Princeses Christian Maternity Hospital, which deals with rape crises. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Rainbo Centre sign which hangs in all three centres in Sierra Leone. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Six members of a men's group in Kenema, Sierra Leone run by IRC. They are working to change men's attitudes and stop violence before it starts. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Midwife Annie Mafinda, with toys in the counselling room at the Freetown Rainbo Centre. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Safiatu Jalloh, counselor with the Rainbo Centre in Kenema. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Many Sowa, midwife at the Kenema Rainbo Centre, Sierra Leone. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Rakel Larson, United Nations Displaced Persons representative, working with Irish Aid on the Saturday Courts project. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Balogun Dixon, Chief Officer Pademba Road Prison, at the Freetown Courthouse. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Madam Julia Sarkodie Mensah, Consultant Master and Registrar of the Sierra Leone Judiciary. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
The Family Support Unit in the Kenema Police Force, pictured outside their station. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Poster on the walls of a courtroom in the Freetown Courthouse building offering socio-legal support for victims of gender-based violence. Photo: Niamh Griffin.
Joseph Rahall, Executive Director of eco-NGO 'Green Scenery', at their offices in Freetown, Sierra Leone.