Tag Archives: food

How the United States Can Feed More People By Reforming Food Aid

Hunger is a perpetual global crisis that affects 805 million people every day. Some continents have hunger rates as high as 21 percent of its population. In fact, Africa and Asia have the highest hunger rates in the world. 791 million hungry people live in developing countries. [1]

The United States has long been a food provider for the world, but the way in which food aid is chosen and delivered to poor countries around the world is outdated. In fact, the system is bloated with nugatory, bureaucratic red tape and payments that go to middlemen instead of buying the food and transporting it that is desperately needed.

Oxfam America - food aid reform share graphic - B

Food Aid Reform has been an area of contention for quite some time in Washington. Some of our leaders want to keep the status quo intact while others are loath to waste another year through archaic feeding programs that can easily be shifted  and reshaped to feed more people.

Continue reading How the United States Can Feed More People By Reforming Food Aid

International Women’s Day Puts Spotlight on Global Poverty, Gender Inequalities

International Women’s Day Twitter Chat

We will join Global Impact to discuss these aforementioned women’s and girls’ issues on Friday, March 13 at 1 PM EST. Join us using #HerDay2015.

In Ormoc, Philippines women tend to take on village leadership roles to ensure children under five get their scheduled vaccinations and routine check-ups. These women also provide medical information to mothers and families who live deep in the rural parts of Ormoc and have a harder time attaining health services.

1 billion victims of violence

These village leaders are, for all intents and purposes, the lifelines for these rural families to health care. In addition to village leaders, rural health units staffed by volunteer health workers and nutrition scholars are charged with providing essential health care and information to families who otherwise would go without medical care.

“Being a leader makes me happy, but it is difficult,” said Ludivinia Perez, a village leader in Ormoc, Philippines on Leyte island. “I feel good about it. What makes it difficult is if I don’t have enough funds and resources.”

Continue reading International Women’s Day Puts Spotlight on Global Poverty, Gender Inequalities

Infographic of the Week: Africa Can Feed Itself

In Bill and Melinda Gates’ Annual Letter that was released this week, they bet that in 15 years Africa will be able to  feed itself. For those of you who have never been to Africa you may think this is an overstretch, but it is entirely true and based on significant data.

Most of the people I have met in Africa are smallholder farmers. Africa is an agrarian continent. Most people have  to feed themselves from what they grow, but due to a lack of fertilizer, seeds, crop rotation, and substantial rain, farmers are suffering  across the continent.

The Gates Foundation believes that in 15 years Africa can feed itself.  This is a big challenge, but because they belive it so much, they  fund NGOS that work on food security across the continent.

We believe so, too!




805 Million People Still Remain Malnourished According to New Report

The State of Food Insecurity in the World report, a collaborative report from Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Program and International Fund for Agricultural Development, was released Tuesday. According to its topline data, there are now 805 million people around the world who are chronically malnourished; that is a steady decline of 100 million people over the last decade. Undernourishment has fallen from 23.4 percent to 13.5 percent in developing countries.

The good news is Millennium Development Goal 1.C (halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger) is within reach according to the report as 63 countries have already reached MDG 1.C. Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded the greatest progress said the report. In sub-Sahraran Africa, 1 in 4 people is chronically hungry. The most chronically malnourished live in developing countries.

Brazil is touted in the report as achieving not only MDG 1.C, but also the more difficult to achieve WFS (World Food Summit) target that calls for reducing by half the absolute number of hungry people in a country. Juxtapose that with Haiti where over half of its citizens is chronically hungry.

The stark disparity between developed and developing countries is shown in the numbers. Between 2012 – 2014, there were 14.6 million undernourished people. Compare that to 790.7 undernourished people in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa there are 214.1 million undernourished and 504.6 million in Asia and the Pacific. However, Asia and the Pacific reduced hunger by nearly 10 percent more than sub-Saharan Africa over the same time.

During the July 2014  African Union meeting in Malabo, African leaders pledged to fully end hunger on the continent by 2015. That will take significant increases in agricultural outputs, funding, and political will.

Africans, however, are speaking up and expressing that the agriculture techniques that have been successful in the west aren’t necessarily adaptable to Africa. Ruth Oniang’o, the founder of Rural Outreach Africa, for example, believes that creating better food yields in Africa means understanding the African context. Oniang’o also believes that Africans can best teach other Africans about best farming practices and techniques because the farmers know they aren’t going anywhere.

“The farmers know us and they know of us. We make them our friends, and they know we are not going anywhere,” she says. “It’s not just a question of money. It’s working with you to make better use of what you have at the ground level, and just being able to appreciate and maintain dignity.”

While significant progress has been made to reduce global hunger, there are still hundreds of millions of the poor who don’t eat enough each day. One in nine people in mainly low- and middle-income countries are chronically undernourished.

Read the State of Food Insecurity in the World

Can Africa Truly Feed Itself and the World?

Can Africa truly feed itself and the world? 

If you ask former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kofi Annan, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, during his tenure as the head of the United Nations Annan says in the latest round of FutureFood 2050‘s interviews that he made food security in Africa one of his greatest priorities. “I realized early on that the eradication of hunger is not just an end in itself,” Annan mentioned in his interview. “It is a first step toward sustainable development and progress in general, for a hungry man is not a free man. He cannot focus on anything else but securing his next meal.”

The recently released report, Optimism for African Agriculture and Food Systems, said definitively that Africa can indeed feed itself and can produce enough surplus to feed the world. While that is fantastic news to look forward to by 2050, the year in which there will be an estimated nine billion mouths to feed, there are numerous variables such as the need for better irrigation and seed varieties, more smallholder farmer training and access to capital, increased private investment in agriculture, and acute attention paid to climate change and farming practices that need to be addressed first. Without partnerships and investments Africa will continue to undernourish itself and certainly won’t be able to trade crops to any othe continents.

If it has been said once, it’s been said a thousand times that the women of Africa will feed the continent. In fact, a one percent growth in farm production equates to an 11 percent reduction in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Jane Karuku, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Those are powerful statistics. Women grow up to 80 percent of all food in sub-Saharan Africa. It is imperative, then, that women are afforded the same access to loans, irrigation, better seeds, and micro credit in order to produce the optimal amount of food. And sub-Saharan countries need to invest more in the agriculture sector, not on paper, but in reality. Accountability is key here.

Africans are speaking up and expressing that the agriculture techniques that have been successful in the west aren’t necessarily adaptable to Africa. Ruth Oniang’o, the founder of Rural Outreach Africa, for example, believes that creating better food yields in Africa means understanding the African context. Oniang’o also believes that Africans can best teach other Africans about best farming practices and techniques because the farmers know they aren’t going anywhere.

“The farmers know us and they know of us. We make them our friends, and they know we are not going anywhere,” she says. “It’s not just a question of money. It’s working with you to make better use of what you have at the ground level, and just being able to appreciate and maintain dignity.”

Juma Gama, a farmer in northern Tanzania told me last year that, “Many people don’t like to join [farming collectives] because some NGOs came and took their money and went away.” Oniang’o sees the remedy to this problem being largelythrough grassroots efforts to work with smallholder farmers and investment with  Africans. Jane Karuku believes that when agricultural change and leadership come from Africans it’s easier to be adapted across the continent.

Farmer training in Magulilwa village in Iringa District, Tanzania
Farmer training in Magulilwa village in Iringa District, Tanzania.

Africans are also looking at a renewed Green Revolution to harvest more indigenous crops as a way to fight against climate change.

“We are trying to make sure that the diversity of these crops withstands the challenges we are seeing with weather or climate change, and also from a value system where people have always eaten them because of their nutrition,” said Karuku. “So we work on a whole range of crops.”

Some African agriculture leaders believe food science and technology are the key to unlocking malnutrition on the continent and increasing food yields. Harvard international development professor Calestous Juma believes in educating African leaders and countries about genetically modified crops, which Africans incidentally have yet to take to or accept. “It is no longer possible to rely on folk knowledge as the key guide for farming,” Juma said in his FutureFood 2050 interview.

You can read all of Future Food 2050’s interviews with leaders across the globe who are working to better feed the planet by 2050 at www.futurefood2050.com.

Chad Comes in Last in New Global Food Index

Yesterday Oxfam released its new Global Food Index that shows the best and worst places to eat. Across all indicators Chad came in dead last in the index. The indicators to rank the countries include having enough food to eat, food affordability, diabetes and overweight citizens, and food quality. In fact, along with Chad, eighteen of the last twenty countries in the index are sub-Saharan African countries save for Yemen and Lao’s People Democratic Republic. Conversely, the top country in the index is the Netherlands followed by fellow European countries France and Switzerland. The top ranking sub-Saharan country is South Africa, to be expected, followed closely by Botswana.

Global Food Index    Oxfam

Parsing the data by indicator the best country for food quality is Iceland and the worst is Madagascar. The best country for food affordability is the Netherlands and Guinea is the worst. South Africa is the best sub-Saharan country based on the food affordability indicator. I am happy to see this data as this is the experience I have had while spending time in South Africa. Food is quite affordable there.

See the full interactive data on the Oxfam web site.

“Having sufficient healthy and affordable food is not something that much of the world enjoys,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “Across the globe, particularly in developing countries, far too many people are consuming more and more unhealthy food.  Paradoxically, more than 800 million people cannot get enough nutritious food to eat. Governments and the food industry are failing to ensure that everyone is able to eat healthfully, despite there being more than enough food to go around.”

According to FAO’s The State of Food Insecurity in the World (2103 edition) 1 in 8 people around the world experience chronic hunger. Undernourishment decreased by 17% since 1990-1992. However, 12% of the world’s population was not able to meet all of its daily dietary needs and most of those people live in Southern Asia (295 million) followed by sub-Saharan Africa (223 million).

FAO Data

Based on data from the UN, Millennium Development Goal 1 that states hunger should be halved by 2015 is in reach. FAO believes MDG 1 can be met, but many countries will not reach the target reduction in hunger. Countries that have experienced conflict within the last twenty days and landlocked countries with unfavorable trade laws have the least chance of improving hunger rates.

How much would it cost to feed all hungry children the world over? The World Food Program estimates that $3.2 billion would be needed annually to feed all hungry children. Of course, that doesn’t take into account all of the adults, particularly women who are expecting, who do not have enough food to eat.

World Food Programme Releases First Logistics Report

When you think of the logistics of humanitarian aid there is no better United Nations agency in the world that documents, shares, and reports on the remarkable work they do than the World Food Programme (WFP). With a separate department devoted entirely to logistics, the WFP shares multiple ways in which they deliver food aid to those who desperately need it.

WFP Logistics in 2012The WFP recently released its first annual logistics report that provides minute details about the air, sea, and surface transport used to deliver food as well as the cost-cutting measures they are taking to ensure monies that can be used for food aid is not frivolously spent on transport. For logistics geeks, the annual report is an eye-opening look into the way humanitarian food – most of which goes to Africa –  is moved through the world. It is not easy nor is it inexpensive. In fact, the average cost to transport food is $100 per metric ton for sea delivery, $180 per metric ton per land delivery, and a whopping $3500 per metric ton for air drops. The World Food Programme’s logistics budget for 2012 was $986 million reaching 70 countries according to the report.

With such a massive workload of global humanitarian food distribution the World Food Programme is also tightening the way in which it monitors the food it provides to hungry populations. With a new system called LESS, the World Food Programme will be able to monitor all of its commodities  online in one single system.

“LESS has empowered WFP country offices in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and their remote sub-offices and warehouses, with real-time supply chain management and commodity reporting capabilities. As two post-conflict countries, they are not the simplest places to deploy high-tech solutions, reaching far beyond the capitals. LESS accurately accounts for every kilogram of food; it records supply chain transactions all the way to the
beneficiaries’ own neighbourhoods. Extending this powerful capability throughout WFP will dramatically boost our efficiency and accountability,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, WFP.

The report also lays out the country donors that collectively provided $177 million to WFP Special Operations in 2012. The European Union donated the most with the United States coming in third place in donor monies. Additionally the private sector has donated to the humanitarian efforts including Caterpillar, PepsiCo, UPS, and Renault Trucks.

Visit the World Food Programme Logistics to learn more at www.wfp.org/logistics.

Social Good Moms Meet Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, at We Can Be Heroes Event

Last Thursday New York City-based Social Good Moms got a chance to meet Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children at the We Can Be Heroes campaign event during the Manhattan screening of Man of Steel.

We Can Be Heroes is a DC Comics, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, global hunger initiative that raises funds and awareness  about food insecurity for its three global partners: Save the Children, Mercy Corps, and the International Rescue Committee. We Can Be Heroes is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to help those in the Horn of Africa. Thus far $21,000 has been raised of the $100,000 goal with a little over twenty days to go.

We Can Be Heroes

Left to Right: Jessica BernsteinJennifer WagnerCarolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, Onica CupidoHarriet Shugarman (Photo: Onica Cupido)

Harriet Shugarman and Jennifer Wagner wrote posts about the event and We Can Be Heroes. Read them below:

Visit We Can Be Heroes at www.wecanbeheroes.org.

Our Newest Partner: No Kid Hungry

We are happy to announce that our newest partner is Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign. Throughout the year we, along with our the Social Good Moms and Global Team of 200 network of moms, will advocate to ensure all children get healthy food every day.

The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through Cooking Matters. This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. Join them at NoKidHungry.org.

Last week we were thrilled to partner with NoKidHungry.com to spread awareness about National School Breakfast Week. You can read the wonderful posts by Social Good Moms and member of the Global Team of 200 here.

Save the Children Releases Important New Breastfeeding Report

SUPERFOOD-COVERSave the Children released a brand-new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies, that says 830,000 babies’ lives can be saved worldwide if they are breastfed within the critical first hour after birth. In the first hour after birth babies benefit from drinking colostrum, the most effective and potent natural immune system boosting substance on the planet. Babies who are breastfed within the very first hour after birth are three times more likely to survive than if they are breastfed a day after birth.

Breastfeeding is critical to the survival of children in the world’s most income poor countries. More importantly, immediate breastfeeding is unquestioningly crucial to a baby’s survival.

Mothers at Health Center, Ethiopia

While advocating for mothers to breastfeed within the first hour after delivering their babies sounds easy enough, breastfeeding rates have stagnated and only 40% of mothers breastfeed globally. Save the Children has documented four barriers that hinder mothers’ ability to breastfeed exclusively at least for the first six months of life.

Four Major Barriers to Immediate Breastfeeding

1. Cultural and community pressure – Even though breastfeeding is one of the most natural gifts a mother can give her child cultural customs prevent some mothers from immediate and sustained breastfeeding. For example, in India some believe the first milk, colostrum, should be expressed out of a mother’s breast before breastfeeding. That said, some customs are detrimental to the health of babies and their survival.


2. Global health worker shortage – Across the developing world, there is a major shortage of frontline health workers that must be addressed. When health workers help deliver a baby, a mother is two times more likely to breastfeed during the first hour after delivery than when giving birth without a skilled birth attendant.

3. Lack of maternity legislation – Women in most low-income countries do not benefit from protections and legislation to help them breastfeed. Out of the 36 low-income countries that Save the Children looked at, Vietnam was the only country that provided adequate maternity leave (6 weeks).

4. Aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes – The global baby food market is currently worth $36 billion meaning that mothers are often aggressively marketed to to buy their products, especially breast-milk substitutes. In Save the Children’s China survey – 40% of mothers interviewed had been contacted directly by baby food company representatives. Additionally, in Pakistan, 1/3 of health professionals said they’d been visiting by a representative of breast-milk substitute companies and 1/10 of health professionals said their health facility had received free samples of formula, nipple or bottles, according to the report.

Nestlé and Danone own the lion share of the breast-milk substitute market. The poster below was snapped in a maternity ward in an Ethiopian hospital. What is particularly bad about this advertisement is it was in the NICU.

Formula Marketing in Bishoftu Hospital

In Superfood for Babies Save the Children also found that women who are uneducated are 19% more likely to not initiate breastfeeding and 13% less likely to sustain breastfeeding with their babies. Those who are most uneducated tend to rely on traditional customs and those who have more education tend to be a part of the workforce and have increased opportunity to see formula marketing and also tend to have low breastfeeding numbers.


Brazil – An Example in Reducing Child Mortality through Increasing Breastfeeding

Brazil has cut infant mortality by 50% over the past twenty years through an emphasis on breastfeeding. Every maternity hospital in Brazil has a human milk bank. Isla Fisher traveled to Brazil with Save the Children to document the amazing progress of the nation.

Call to Action

Save the Children is urging everyone who believes in increased child health to sign a petition urging new Secretary of State John Kerry to fight for newborn nutrition and the renewal of the 1,000 Days Call to Action that is set to expire in a few, short months. Visit savethechildren.org/superfood to make your voice heard.

Photos: Mom Bloggers for Social Good/ Jennifer James