In the coming weeks, Senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will have a choice to make: Give a $75 million subsidy to the maritime shipping industry, or ensure that several million people in impoverished and war-torn countries have food to eat.
At issue is how the Senate will address a provision quietly tucked into the House-approved version of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act. The obscure provision would raise the percentage of U.S. food aid that is required to be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flagged commercial vessels from 50 to 75 percent. This would effectively deny 2 million people in countries like Haiti, South Sudan and the Central African Republic access to lifesaving U.S. food assistance.
Brigit Soita of Chwele, Kenya, with her newly germinated millet. Photo by Hailey Tucker
Photo courtesy of the One Acre Fund blog. One Acre Fund supplies smallholder farmers with the tools and financing they need to grow their way out of hunger and poverty. Working with farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, One Acre Fund provides a complete market bundle of seeds, fertilizer, training and market support on credit – and delivers these services within walking distance of the 180,000 farmers they serve.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a report(PDF) urging the US government to take action to curb the risks climate change poses to global food security. It explains how higher temperatures, changes in rainfall and natural disasters caused by climate change could undermine food production and put food supplies at risk. In total, climate change could reduce food production growth by 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century. The report was released at The Chicago Council’s Global Food Security Symposium 2014.
The report, Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate, calls on the US government to integrate climate change adaptation into its global food security strategy. Recommendations include:
Passing legislation for a long-term global food and nutrition security strategy.
Increasing funding for agricultural research on climate change adaptation. Research priorities should include improving crop and livestock tolerance to higher temperatures and volatile weather, combating pests and disease and reducing food waste.
Collecting better data and making information on weather more widely available to farmers. There are significant global data gaps right now on weather; water availability, quality, and future requirements; crop performance; land use; and consumer preferences.
Increasing funding for partnerships between US universities and universities and research institutions in low-income countries, to train the next generation of agricultural leaders.
Advancing international action through urging that food security be addressed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. Rae Galloway works for PATH and is the Lead for Nutrition at the USAID-funded, Jhpiego-led Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP). She has worked for 25 years to reduce maternal, infant, and young child malnutrition in developing countries, where more than one-fourth of children younger than five years of age are stunted in their growth and nearly half of pregnant women are anemic.
Much of the malnutrition in the world today is invisible to policy makers, politicians, and families. The most overlooked form of malnutrition is stunting (short stature) or chronic malnutrition which affects one-fourth of the world’s children younger than five years of age. Because it is a process, taking place in the child’s first 1,000 days (from conception through the second year of life), stunting is difficult to identify by just looking at a child. Most parents are not aware of the problem. Even if parents notice their child is not growing like their other children, they often are not aware of the infant and young child feeding, hygiene, and sanitation practices that would reverse the problem. And yet, if a child does not attain her/his potential for growth and height, it has serious life-long implications for the child and her or his family.
Stunting increases risk of illness and mortality (contributing to half of child deaths globally), delays school enrollment, reduces the ability to learn, and decreases grade completion. Like the families they serve, national governments in developing countries are unaware that a stunted population impedes national development. The stunted adult cannot work as hard, earns less, and is sick more often than taller adults, reducing gross domestic product. The time lost in productive activities, the cost of health care, and the risk of premature death increases for both stunted children and adults, particularly for women during child bearing.
In most countries, there is a belief that the solution to malnutrition is giving food to poor families. Efforts continue to find the perfect food product to prevent and reverse malnutrition, even though many families have food on hand that could reduce much of the stunting in the world—children are just not being fed what is available in the household. This is good news, because giving food and commercial food products is too costly to prevent all stunting. Instead, evidence suggests that community-based nutrition programs with strong behavior change communication components can effectively reduce stunting.
This post is recap of the "Managing Risks Associated with Volatile Weather, Changing Climates, and Resource Scarcity" panel at our fifth Global Food Security Symposium 2014 in Washington, DC.
Two of Patrick F. O’Toole’s children and six of his grandchildren still live on the “family farm” near the Colorado River headwaters. This, he told The Chicago Council Global Food Security Symposium today, is what farmers want—to enable next generations to be connected to the land.
O’Toole told the audience of policymakers in Washington, DC, that another important part of farmers’ identity is to be problem solvers in the long- and short-term. Even though farmers look at resources with an intergenerational lens, they have immediate concerns that require attention.
There is no greater concern for farmers these days than climate change and the resulting effects on their land and livelihoods. O’Toole described how his farm has already seen its wettest and driest seasons in its history in this decade. As a result of this volatility, he and most other farmers in the West of the US are already managing for increased risk.
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