People's Stories Livelihood

Conflicts and drought spur hunger despite strong global food supply
by FAO Crop Prospects and Food Situation report
UN Food and Agriculture Organization
Strong cereal harvests are keeping global food supplies buoyant, but localised drought, flooding and protracted conflicts have intensified and perpetuated food insecurity, according to the new edition of FAO''s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report. Some 37 countries, 29 of which are in Africa, require external assistance for food, according to the report.
Ongoing conflicts continue to be a key driver of severe food insecurity, having triggered near-famine conditions in northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, as well as widespread hunger in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo - and Syria. Adverse weather conditions are taking their toll on farm food outputs in some regions, notably due to drought in East Africa and floods in parts of Asia.
The 37 countries currently in need of external food assistance are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People''s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
The report also flags concerns in Bangladesh, where three episodes of flash floods this year caused substantial damage to the rice crop. The country''s paddy output is expected to fall to a five-year low. Imports are rising, as are prices for wheat, the cereal used in traditionally cheaper flour products.
Conflicts hinder plantings and harvests
Conflict exacerbates food insecurity by impeding productive activities and hindering both access to food and its availability, FAO said. The strains are intensified by significant numbers of internally displaced people. Their count has risen by almost 50 percent this year in the Central Africa Republic, where almost a third of the population (or 1.1 million) is in need of urgent assistance for food.
Some 7.7 million people are estimated to be in acute food insecurity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which hosts more than 200 000 refugees from nearby countries and is home to more than 4 million internally displaced persons. Farmers in Kasai and Tanganyika regions, severely affected by the conflict, have reportedly reduced plantings.
The report finds similar effects of conflicts in northeastern Nigeria - where over 3 million people require urgent life-saving response and livelihood protection - and South Sudan, where, despite recent harvests, about 45 percent of the population (or 4.8 million) is food insecure and those in an emergency situation - defined as "IPC Phase 4" have doubled from a year ago.
In Somalia, the risk of famine in several areas has been prevented so far due essentially to the delivery of large-scale humanitarian assistance. The hunger caseload has tripled during the past year and some 3.1 million people are now deemed to be severely food insecure.
In Yemen, 60 percent of the population (or 17 million) is believed to require urgent humanitarian assistance. Last month''s closure of the country''s maritime ports, if repeated, would increase the risk of famine conditions, according to the report.
Chronic hunger also persists in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan - where there has been an increase in the number of people fleeing their home this year and 7.6 million people now face moderate or severe food insecurity - Iraq, where 3.2 million people are in need of food assistance, and Syria, where 6.5 million people are hungry.
Drought is the main problem in East Africa. Some 8.5 million people are estimated to be food insecure in Ethiopia, especially in the Somali region. Consecutive unfavourable rainy seasons have curtailed crop and livestock production in Kenya, where about 2.6 million people are severely food insecure. A severe summer drought has also cut Mongolia''s wheat harvest by almost half.
Despite local negative trends, overall global food production is booming. In addition, production gains are being recorded in many Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries, where the aggregate cereal output is forecast to grow by 2 percent this year.

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Report finds ‘significant burdens’ of malnutrition in all 140 countries studied
by Global Nutrition Report 2017
Nov. 2017
Global nutrition crisis threatens human development, demands ‘critical step change’ in response. Urgent, integrated response needed if world to meet any of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Almost every country in the world now faces a serious nutrition-related challenge, whether stemming from undernutrition or obesity, the authors of The Global Nutrition Report 2017 said this week.
In all 140 countries studied, the report found ‘significant burdens’ of three important forms of malnutrition used as a indicator of broader trends: 1) childhood stunting, children too short for their age due to lack of nutrients, suffering irreversible damage to brain capacity, 2) anaemia in women of reproductive age, a serious condition that can have long term health impacts for mother and child, and 3) overweight adult women, a rising concern as women are disproportionately affected by the global obesity epidemic.
The report found the vast majority (88%) of countries studied face a serious burden of two or three of these forms of malnutrition. It highlights the damaging impact this burden is having on broader global development efforts.
“The world can’t afford not to act on nutrition or we risk putting the brakes on human development as a whole,” said Corinna Hawkes, Co-Chair of the Global Nutrition Report’s Independent Expert Group and Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University London. “We will not achieve any of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline unless there is a critical step change in our response to malnutrition in all its forms. Equally, we need action throughout the goals to tackle the many causes of malnutrition.”
The Global Nutrition Report 2017 calls for nutrition to be placed at the heart of efforts to end poverty, fight disease, raise educational standards and tackle climate change.
"We know that a well-nourished child is one third more likely to escape poverty,” said Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Global Food and Agriculture Policy & Ethics at Johns Hopkins University and Global Nutrition Report CoChair.
“They will learn better in school, be healthier and grow into productive contributors to their economies. Good nutrition provides the brainpower, the ‘grey matter infrastructure’ to build the economies of the future.”
Emorn Udomkesmalee, Co-Chair of the Global Nutrition Report’s Independent Expert Group and Senior Advisor, Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University, Thailand, said: “It’s not just about more money – although that is important - it’s also about breaking down silos and addressing malnutrition in a more joined-up way alongside all the other drivers of development. There’s a powerful multiplier effect here that we have to harness.”
The report found that overweight and obesity are on the rise in almost every country, with 2 billion of the world’s 7 billion people now overweight or obese and a less than 1 per cent chance of meeting the global target of halting the rise in obesity and diabetes by 2025.
At least 41 million children under five are overweight, with the problem affecting high and lower income countries alike.
At least 10 million children in Africa are now classified as overweight. One third of North American men (33%) and women (34%) are obese.
Rates of undernutrition in children are slowly decreasing, the report said. But global progress is not fast enough to meet internationally agreed nutrition goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 2.2 to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
155 million under-fives are stunted; Africa is the only region where absolute numbers are rising, due to population growth.
52 million children worldwide are defined as wasted, meaning they do not weigh enough for their height.
Rising rates of anaemia in women of reproductive age are also cited as a concern with almost one in three women affected worldwide and no country on track to meet global targets.
“Historically, maternal anaemia and child undernutrition have been seen as separate problems to obesity and non-communicable diseases,” said Ms Fanzo. “The reality is they are intimately connected and driven by inequalities everywhere in the world. That’s why governments and their partners need to tackle them holistically, not as distinct problems.”
The report says funding needs to be ‘turbo charged’ and calls for a tripling of global investments in nutrition, to $70bn over 10 years to tackle childhood stunting, wasting and anaemia and to increase breastfeeding rates. Crucially, donors are only spending 0.01 per cent of official development assistance on diet related Non-Communicable Diseases, a ‘disturbingly low’ level.
Pledges to invest in nutrition must be ‘concrete’ and ‘acted upon’, not ‘empty rhetoric’, the report said.
The coming months provide an opportunity for renewed action and pledges, as part of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2026).
The report also found there is a critical need for better data on nutrition - many countries don’t have enough data to track the nutrition targets they signed up to and to identify who is being left behind.
# The Global Nutrition Report is an independently produced annual stock-take of the state of the world’s nutrition. The report tracks global nutrition targets on maternal, infant and young child nutrition and on diet related Non-Communicable Diseases adopted by member states of the World Health Organization as well as governments’ delivery against their commitments. It aims to make it easier for governments and other stakeholders to make - and deliver on - high impact commitments to end malnutrition in all its forms.
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