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Conflict and climate change are undermining food security, causing chronic undernourishment
by FAO, WFP, Unicef, Save the Children
Sep, 2017
World hunger rising. (UN News, FAO, WFP, Unicef, agencies)
UN agencies warn conflict and climate change are undermining food security, causing chronic undernourishment and threatening to reverse years of progress.
Even in regions that are more peaceful, droughts or floods linked in part to the El Niño weather phenomenon, as well as the global economic slowdown, have seen food security and nutrition deteriorate, highlight the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report.
The number of hungry people in the world has increased for the first time since the turn of the century, sparking concern that conflict and climate change could be reversing years of progress.
In 2016, the number of chronically undernourished people reached 815 million, up 38 million from the previous year. The increase is due largely to the proliferation of violence and climate-related shocks.
The study also noted a rise in the number of people globally who are chronically hungry, from 10.6% in 2015 to 11% in 2016.
Cindy Holleman, a senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said it was hard to know whether the increase was a blip or marked the reversal of a long-term trend. However, she said the rise in conflict and climate change – factors that rank alongside economic slowdown, which makes food hard to access for poor people, as key drivers of food insecurity – was cause for concern.
“Whether it has been a blip and it’s going to go back down again, we’re not sure,” said Holleman. “But we’re sending warning signals. We are sending a message that something is going on.
“If you look at the 815 million [chronically undernourished] people, 489 million or 60% of them are located in countries affected by conflict. Over the last decade we’re seen a significant increase in conflict. We also see that conflict combined with climatic effects is having a significant effect.”
A foreword to the report, written jointly by the heads of the five UN agencies, said: “Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature.
“This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end.”
Oxfam’s head of food and climate change, Robin Willoughby, said: “This must act as a wake-up call for international leaders and institutions to do more to resolve the catastrophic cocktail of climate change and conflict around the world. Global failure to tackle these issues affects us all, but it’s the world’s poorest who will suffer most.”
The report is the first UN global assessment of food security and nutrition following the adoption of the sustainable development goals, which aim to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
Progress has been made on reducing global hunger, which affected more than 900 million people at the turn of the century. Over the past year, however, hunger has reached an “extreme level” in many parts of the world, with famine declared in South Sudan in February, and Yemen, north-east Nigeria and Somalia considered on the brink.
People living in countries affected by protracted crisis are nearly two and a half times more likely to be undernourished than those living elsewhere, the report said.
Fuelled partly by extreme weather patterns resulting from El Niño, food security “deteriorated sharply” in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and in south-east and western Asia, said the report.
Chronic child malnutrition continues to fall, but at a slower rate in some regions, the report found. Wasting remains a threat to the lives of 52 million children.
Overweight and obesity rates in children are rising in most regions, and in all regions for adults. Such “multiple burdens” for malnutrition is a “cause for serious concern”, said the report.
Africa has the highest levels of severe food insecurity, affecting 27.4% of the population – almost four times that of any other region. Higher food insecurity was also observed in Latin America, rising from 4.7% to 6.4%.
Sept. 2017
We’re going backwards on hunger, by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International
There is a new and little reported fact about the world today that you might not have heard. It is probably the most frustrating blow to progress for the Sustainable Development Goals yet. Despite decades of things getting better. Despite the resolute and ambitious commitment made by world leaders to end hunger by 2030. Despite the best efforts and intentions of all of us that care deeply about this issue. The number of hungry people on our planet has started to rise again. In a world of self-driving cars and space flight, this is nothing short of shameful.
It might be a little easier for us to bare this fact, if we could take comfort in the knowledge that it was all down to things happening outside of our control. But this is not the case. A rising tide of conflict in the Middle East and Africa is pushing extreme hunger to worrying new levels.
None more so than in Yemen, where destructive and violent clashes have driven nearly two million children to the brink of starvation, and put them at risk of deadly diseases such as Cholera that is infecting at least one child every minute.
Drought and ‘water stress’, which we now know affects 2 billion people globally and is getting worse with man-made climate change, is also running strait into a humanitarian system that is simply not funded to deal with it. The consequences of this are all too real across the Horn of Africa, where the worst drought in a generation is placing millions of children in jeopardy.
I have seen the effects of the devastating rise in hunger first hand. Earlier this year, I travelled to rural Kenya, which is in the grip of severe drought. While there, I met one-year-old Aisha. Her mother had brought her to Save the Children’s clinic, in the forty-degree heat. She was close to end of her strength, very thin, and very sick. Aisha’s family lived in a remote community, miles away from the nearest town. When the family’s animals died, they had no way of providing for Aisha and she was getting one meal a day at best.
Aisha was one of the lucky ones. Save the Children put her back on the road to recovery. Yet her story shows us the tragedy of rising hunger for the world’s children.
When conflict or climate cut off a family’s food supplies, a child may have to leave their home in desperate and dangerous search for what they need to survive. Without enough good food to eat, children become malnourished and their immune system can get so weak that they easily fall victim to disease.
The effects of childhood malnutrition, for those who make it through, can also stay with children for the rest of their lives. About 1 in 4 children worldwide have stunted growth, which can impair their physical and mental development and steal their chance to escape poverty through success at school.
There is no easy fix to all these problems, but make no mistake, the solutions are things we have the power to change. Parties to conflicts around the world need to come back to the peace table and open avenues of access for humanitarian aid to get into war torn areas.
Alternatively, if that fails, be pushed by powerful members of the UN Security Council to do so. Donors need to close the funding gap for the famines we are facing immediately and response agencies must work to be as fast, efficient, and effective as possible with the support they receive.
All countries must also live up to their commitments under the Paris Agreement, and work even harder in years to come, to prevent catastrophic climate change.
We need to push for solutions like these even harder than we have been. Reminding world leaders of their solemn commitments and demanding more action. That is why this new SDG2 Advocacy Hub is so timely. It can provide a platform for pooling all the efforts of the international community to get us back on track.
If we can turn things around, and start making progress again on eradicating hunger and malnutrition, the benefits will also be huge. Well-nourished children will grow up to be better-educated, more productive, and wealthier adults, who can contribute more to their country’s future.
Studies have shown that solving malnutrition could boost the GDP of developing countries by 12 per cent, helping increase the size, strength and ability of their workforce. This is what we have to hope for, and more than enough incentive to make sure we reach our goal of zero hunger by 2030. But as things stand now, we are not going to make it.
WFP Report examines how Climate Change Drives Hunger
A compelling new report about the impact of climate change on global food security has been launched by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
How Climate Change Drives Hunger was released at the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference held in Bonn, Germany.
The risk of hunger could increase by up to 20 percent due to climate change by 2050 unless increased efforts are made to enable the world’s most vulnerable communities to better adapt to extreme weather events such as drought and flooding.
Drawing on such findings by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, the report offers a wide-ranging review of multiple analyses into the impact of climate change on food security by WFP and partners.
“Climate change disproportionally affects the poorest and most food insecure people,” said Gernot Laganda, Director of WFP Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes, at the launch of the report.
“Floods, storms and droughts are becoming more frequent and more intense, which is changing the way humanitarian organisations need to operate in the future. Understanding the way climate risks play out at country level is critical for effective response planning, but also helps us anchor community-based prevention and adaptation activities in country strategic plans. If countries remain stuck in a pattern of repetitive crisis response, but lack the planning and financing tools to take a more forward-looking approach to risk management, we will never achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of a world with zero hunger by 2030.”
Research for the report was undertaken by WFP under the Climate Adaptation Management and Innovation Initiative (C-ADAPT), launched in 2013 and funded by the Swedish Government. The assembled material provides an overview of major climate change and food security challenges, while outlining key policy and programming options available to governments and their partners. Country-specific analysis focuses on 15 nations that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mali, Nepal, Philippines, Senegal, Sudan, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Timor Leste and Uganda.
# WFP is the world''s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
Climate change and food security. (IRIN News)
During the last two decades, 200 million people have been lifted out of hunger. But climate change threatens those gains, and Africa will be the hardest hit region.
Agriculture is Africa''s biggest employer. But mean temperatures are expected to rise faster than the global average, decreasing crop yields, deepening poverty.
Smallholder farmers – the engine of Africa''s production – are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change as a result of their marginalisation, and reliance on natural resources. That’s why it’s important to strengthen, now, the resilience of those at-risk communities.
IRIN has undertaken a project with the Open Society Foundations to explore the challenges that global warming is triggering, and what local communities are doing to adapt, to reduce their vulnerability.
The project covers four countries - Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe - with the goal of learning lessons so that small-scale farmers can be better supported as their challenges multiply. It provides a platform for policy discussion, and for the voices of those men and women on the frontlines of climate change to be heard.

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681 Million Children living in Multidimensional Poverty
by OPHI, Global Coalition to End Child Poverty
The Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) has launched the 2017 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The report disaggregates the latest figures by age group to analyse the particular situation of 1.8 billion children who live in 103 countries. Findings show that across the 103 low and middle income countries surveyed, children are found to constitute 34% of the total population – but 48% of the poor, based on a measure that assesses a range of deprivations in health, education and living standards.
According to OPHI 689 million children are living in multidimensional poverty and 87% of these poor children are growing up in South Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Children are also more afflicted by poverty, both in terms of incidence and intensity, than adults across all countries surveyed. The child poverty report finds that half of multidimensionally poor children live in ‘alert’ level fragile states, and child poverty levels are highest in the fragile states.
“These new results are deeply disturbing as they show that children are disproportionately poor when the different dimensions of poverty are measured", said Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI.
The global MPI was first developed by OPHI with the UN Development Programme in 2010. It has been published in the Human Development Report ever since. This invaluable analytical tool identifies the most vulnerable people – the poorest among the poor, revealing poverty patterns within countries and over time, enabling policy makers to target resources and design policies more effectively.
* Access 2017 MPI via the link below.

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