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Archives for Food Security

Winning the Battle Against Undernutrition and Stunting

Most people have never heard of stunting. It’s one of the least reported, least recognized, least understood issues facing humanity, yet tackling it should be seen as an opportunity both for personal health and national development.

Stunting, caused by chronic undernutrition in children, does not only affect a person’s growth or height. The damage that undernutrition causes to a brain’s cognitive capacity is permanent. It cannot be reversed.

As UNICEF documented in its 2013 report, ‘Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress’, chronic undernutrition scars the lives of some 165 million children around the world. Undernutrition contributes to half of all child deaths and around one fifth of maternal deaths.

Two children in Zambia. Photo credit: Nazo Kureshy, USAID

Stunting traps people into a lifelong cycle of poor nutrition, illness, poverty and inequity. Children’s poorer school performance results in future income reductions of up to 22 per cent on average. As adults, they are also at increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Despite the challenges, we can and must win the battle against stunting and other forms of undernutrition – and investing in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life shapes the future of nations.

Experts have consistently confirmed that taking action on undernutrition is the single most important, cost-effective means of advancing human well-being. This would accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, would save lives and should be a top global priority.

We know what works and what needs to be done to radically reduce stunting and undernutrition: from micronutrient and vitamin supplements to awareness raising, promoting exclusive breastfeeding and treating severe and acute malnutrition. Efforts should also be linked to improving access to education and safe water, promoting hygiene, preventing and treating diseases, and strengthening social safety nets.

Over the past 20 years alone, the number of stunted children under the age of five in the world has fallen by 88 million – from 40 to 26 per cent, or a one-third reduction.

However, a brand new Lancet series on nutrition from 6 June 2013 shows that progress is not fast enough. What is needed now is strong, global commitment and leadership to accelerate efforts.

UNICEF is a proud partner in the major global initiative called the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, which is bringing much needed focus and investment for nutrition in a number of countries. Through the SUN country network, government focal points from each of the 40 countries involved share experiences, seek advice and provide each other with assistance, analyses of progress and lessons learned.

Broader efforts to address child survival are also galvanizing partnerships. Governments including those of Ethiopia, India and the U.S. have thrown their weight behind the A Promise Renewed movement, which –  with supported by UNICEF – is uniting governments, civil society, faith based leaders and private sector around the clear and compelling goal: to end preventable child deaths and give every last child the best possible start in life.

No child, no mother, no country should ever have to suffer the injustice of a lack of nutrition in the 21st century. We cannot stand by and allow a child to be condemned to a life of deprivation – especially when we know how to prevent it.

For updates on what the United States is doing to improve nutrition, follow the hashtags #Nutrition4Growth and #GHmatters on Twitter. 

Building a More Nutritious Future for All

A silent crisis is happening right now. It affects 165 million children globally, robbing them of the future they deserve and leading to more child deaths every year than any other disease. In a world of plentiful, nutritious foods and advanced science, this is unacceptable.

We can do better. And we can do it together.

At a landmark event in London this weekend, global government, business, and civil society leaders will join together to commit to a different future — one in which every child benefits from the nutrition needed to grow and thrive.

Administrator Shah at the Nutrition for Growth event in London. Photo credit: USAID

As the head of USAID – and as a parent of young children – I am privileged to show the United States’ support for global nutrition at the Nutrition for Growth event today. This event’s global reach reflects growing recognition that the challenge of undernutrition is solvable, but requires a new approach.

To proactively address the root causes of hunger and undernutrition and get the most out of every development dollar invested, we cannot treat nutrition, global health, and food security as isolated priorities. We must integrate our approach across sectors, forging high-impact partnerships and driving game-changing innovation from farms to markets to tables.

Feed the Future is doing just that, working with businesses, local communities, farmers’ organizations, and country leaders to not only reduce poverty and hunger but undernutrition too. Last year, we reached 12 million children through nutrition programs that reduced anemia, supported community gardens, and treated malnutrition.                                                                                          

This focus reflects the United States’ long history as the global leader in nutrition, from providing emergency food aid during crises to helping farmers and their families grow and consume more nutritious foods.

In fact, we have nearly doubled nutrition-specific funding through our global health programs and we have tripled agriculture funding since 2008, targeting our investments where we can deliver meaningful impact. We’ve also been a strong supporter of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which funds country priorities in agricultural development and nutrition.

Today, I was pleased to announce that the U.S. Government is providing more than $1 billion for nutrition-specific interventions and nearly $9 billion on nutrition-sensitive activities over fiscal years 2012-2014.

These investments support and accelerate trends in stunting reduction; ultimately to reduce stunting by 20 percent over five years in the areas where we work through Feed the Future, translating into 2 million fewer stunted children.

Today we also signed on to the global Nutrition for Growth Compact, endorsing high-level goals for improving nutrition.

Integrating and expanding nutrition activities into our agricultural development programs makes good sense and is effective, as many of our civil society partners demonstrate every day in the field. And a growing body of research and knowledge, including the recently released The Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, provides strong evidence that improving nutrition is one of the best ways to achieve lasting progress in development.

Ensuring that a child receives adequate nutrition, particularly in the critical 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday, can yield dividends for a lifetime as a well-nourished child will perform better in school, more effectively fight off disease, and even earn more as an adult. Nutrition is central to ending preventable child death.

The evidence is also clear that governments can’t do this alone.

Momentum for improving nutrition is strong, in large part thanks to our civil society partners who have worked tirelessly to mobilize support around the world behind the evidence that nutrition matters. Just today a coalition of U.S. NGOs pledged $750 million over five years in private, nongovernment funds for nutrition.

In a world where private sector investment flows vastly outpace official assistance, nations will only achieve development in partnership with a vibrant and transparent private sector as well. That is the mission behind the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

In just one year, the New Alliance has grown into a $3.75 billion public-private partnership that builds on country investment plans developed by African countries through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program and works to integrate the principles of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, which recognizes the meaningful impact of nutrition on all aspects of society—from health to agriculture to long-term growth and stability.

During its presidency of the G-8 this year, the United Kingdom has worked hard to carry the New Alliance forward, keeping momentum strong for this groundbreaking partnership.

Ending extreme poverty by advancing nutrition from farms to markets to tables is the vision that brings business, development, and civil society representatives together this weekend.

It’s also what inspires us to work together to ensure that every child has a healthy start and every nation a brighter future.

For updates on the Nutrition for Growth event this weekend and what the United States is doing to improve nutrition, follow the hashtags #Nutrition4Growth and #GHmatters on Twitter. 

FrontLines Releases May/June 2013 Issue

Read the latest edition of USAID’s FrontLines to get updates about how the Agency is implementing the Feed the Future initiative. Some highlights:

  • Convincing poachers to leave behind that life for farming is winning converts in Zambia.

    Paul Jean Marc, a member of one of Haiti’s flower growers associations, shows one of the association’s greenhouses filled with chrysanthemums. Photo credit: Feed the Future

  • One of Tajikistan’s newest land rights activists says that she “can’t sit around and watch women being disrespected and mistreated because they don’t know their legal rights or are afraid to fight.” When her farm was nearly stolen from her, USAID helped her fight back.
  • Good grains are translating into good health and good business for a growing number of Senegalese women’s groups.
  • With the recent introduction of greenhouses in Haiti, harvests of broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, leeks, beets, carrots and flowers stand a fighting chance against the region’s punishing weather.

If you want an e-mail reminder in your inbox when the latest issue of FrontLines has been posted online, subscribe here.

Maryan’s Milk Mustache

During the first week of June, IMPACT will be highlighting the key role of nutrition in Global Health

Three-year-old Maryan is wearing a pretty blue headscarf and a milk mustache.

She is drinking one of the 30 cups of milk that Save the Children provides monthly to each of the nearly 11,000 women and children enrolled in its milk voucher program.

Successive droughts in the country have taken their toll on Wajir, in the northeast region of Kenya. As water sources dried up and crops failed, the livestock that the people have always depended on for their livelihoods perished. Milk became increasingly rare and children began to show signs of hunger.

Three-year-old Maryan drinks milk. Her mother Habiba (left) enrolled her in Save the Children’s milk voucher program when she showed signs of malnutrition. Photo credit: Susan Warner. February 2013

A survey taken in October 2012, found one in four children to be malnourished. To address this, Save the Children launched a nutrition project funded by USAID, which gives the local dairy industry a boost by issuing milk vouchers to those who need it the most. The vouchers, coupled with nutritional supplements, are distributed to malnourished pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of five. The vouchers can be traded for milk at the market, which traders and pastoralists can redeem for money. The cash infusion is slowly rehabilitating the pastoral economy as investments in livestock, fodder and veterinary services increase.

Today Maryan’s milk mustache is framed by cheeks that are round and full, but this wasn’t always so. When she first enrolled in the program a few months ago she was weaker and thinner than her peers. Her upper arm circumference, one of the measures used to determine nutritional status, had shown her to be moderately undernourished. After three months in the program her weight increased by 10%, an astonishing gain, when one factors in an illness that set her back slightly in February.

“The program has helped my child. She is more playful and happier and even though she is not fat, she is quite strong.” says Habiba Osman, Maryan’s mother.

Though Maryan remains somewhat slender, “she has shown great progress in terms of her weight gain,” says Saadia Ibrahim Musa, the community health worker who first treated Maryan at the local health clinic, where Habiba brought her for a screening in October last year.

Habiba and Maryan see Saadia regularly now, since they walk to the health clinic, where the supplements and vouchers are distributed, twice weekly. There, Habiba also attends nutrition classes with other Wajir mothers. “We discuss the dangers of malnutrition to a child’s development, the importance of feeding a child a balanced diet, and the importance of handling food in a hygienic manner,” says Saadia.

“Saadia has taught me a lot of things,” says Habina, “I now know to take Maryan to the hospital as soon as I notice something is wrong and how important it is not to share Maryan’s [nutritional] supplements with anyone else in the household as this makes her recovery more difficult.

The changes are visible throughout the community. “The children are happier and more playful now. The mothers are happy as their children now get the milk they couldn’t afford before the project. The traders involved in the project have increased their incomes and their lives are better. Everyone is happy,” says Habiba. “And Maryan loves the milk!”

Learn more about USAID’s efforts to improve nutrition.

Follow USAID (@USAID) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation about global health issues including nutrition.

Photo of the Week: Nutrient-Rich Crops for Kenyan Children

During the first week of June, IMPACT will be highlighting the role of nutrition in Global Health

In Kenya, the U.S. Government, through Feed the Future, is working with whole families to improve food security and childhood nutrition by helping farmers introduce nutrient-rich crops to their farms and teaching families new recipes full of vitamins and minerals needed to ensure healthy growth. Photo Credit: Fintrac Inc.

Learn more about USAID’s efforts to improve nutrition.

Follow USAID (@USAID) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation about global health issues including nutrition.

Proof that the U.S. Government, NGOs and Activists are Working Together on Nutrition

During the first week of June, IMPACT will be highlighting the role of nutrition in Global Health

This originally appeared on the ONE Campaign blog

This morning, USAID Administrator Raj Shah joined a Google+ Hangout – a group video chat – with ONE’s U.S. Executive Director Tom Hart and a group of ONE members and agriculture policy experts from Feed the Future, GAIN, Thousand Days and Future Fortified.

USAID Administrator Raj Shah with ONE’s U.S. Executive Director Tom Hart. Photo credit: ONE.org

Tom gave Administrator Shah a fat stack of 100,336 petition signatures from ONE members across the US. Their ask? End chronic malnutrition for 25 million children by 2016. Administrator Shah heard them loud and clear, with two ONE members, George Houk and Vanessa Avila, as witnesses and representatives of our U.S. membership.

One of the highlights of the Hangout was hearing Administrator Shah talk about how global food security is in fact in America’s best interest.

“We know that this [nutrition] is an issue that touches on the economic prospects of countries that will be our trading partners in the future, it touches on our national security in places ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia, where far too many children die of core underlying malnutrition, and most importantly, we know it just touches on our moral consciouness because we cannot live in 2013 knowing that hundreds of millions of children go hungry and that that hunger prevents them from learning in school, from fighting disease, from surviving a simple bout of diarrhea or pneumonia and of building a better future for themselves,” he said.

After handing off the petition signatures, the conversation turned to our agriculture policy experts, Tjada McKenna, Deputy Coordinator for Development at Feed the Future, and Lucy Sullivan, Executive Director of 1,000 Days, and guest foodie activist, Chef Candice Kumai, a nutrition champion for Future Fortified. Adrianna Logalbo from GAIN moderated a lively discussion on the importance of agriculture, some of the successes and progress the world has made on nutrition, and how everyday citizens can get more involved.

Watch the full Google+ Hangout here:

Administrator Shah will be off to the pre-G8 Summit event, Nutrition for Growth, next week, with your petition signatures in hand. Stay tuned to ONE.org for updates on this important and critical event.

Learn more about USAID’s work on improving nutrition

Follow USAID (@USAID) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation.

Video of the Week: The Powerful Women of Kenya Fortified

During the first week of June, IMPACT will be highlighting the role of nutrition in Global Health

In 2012, as East Africa recovered from record drought, we called on the Future Fortified community to help invest in good nutrition in Kenya. And thanks to them, we achieved our goal and right now we are reaching over 20,000 children in southern Kenya with home nutrition packets – small packets filled with the essential nutrients children need to live, grow and learn.

Kenya Fortified is possible because of an incredible network of powerful, local women — community leaders, health workers and mothers — working together to help nourish the future.

Follow USAID (@USAID) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation.

This is not an endorsement of Future Fortified and individuals must make their own choices. 

Advancing Food Security by Opening Markets

This originally appeared on the UnitedStates Trade Representative Blog.

Ambassador Isi Siddiqui attended The Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative’s fourth annual Global Security Symposium yesterday in Washington, D.C. The symposium was on “Capitalizing on the Power of Science, Trade, and Business to End Hunger and Poverty: A New Agenda for Food Security.” As chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Siddiqui is responsible for bilateral and multilateral negotiations and policy coordination regarding food and agricultural trade.

We face dual challenges in food security: We need to get food to the people who need it today and grow more for the people who will need it tomorrow. Open, well-functioning markets can help.

Global markets are an essential element of food security. Open markets for agricultural commodities, agricultural inputs, and food products help to efficiently move these goods from those who develop and produce them to those who need them, benefiting both producers and consumers.

Markets that allow businesses and countries to share technologies help producers increase yields and output, reduce post-harvest losses, and adapt to climate change, while preserving the incentives for future innovation and transfer that are critically important to improving food security.

Rural chicken farmers like Sagnol Salimata, pictured here, have received technical training and barn-construction support through agricultural development projects. Photo credit: Jake Lyell.

The U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, is driving a new model for development that, among other activities, integrates trade. Trade policies that promote open markets enable job creation, and can sustain and accelerate economic growth around the world.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) lends our expertise and broader global work—increasing the transparency, predictability, and openness of agricultural trade through bilateral and multilateral exchanges—to the initiative’s goals of reducing global hunger, poverty, and undernutrition.

At the World Trade Organization (WTO), for example, we’ve put forth proposals in the area of trade facilitation that would go a long way toward removing barriers to agricultural trade by cutting and reducing border delays. Reducing delays for import clearances is particularly important for perishable food and agricultural products to help ensure that quality products reach consumers.

We’re also working closely with our partners at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on the APEC action plan on food security to continue progress toward our shared goal of free and open trade by 2020. Trade agreements, such as the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), and ongoing negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are also important tools to facilitate trade, provide reliable market access, and establish dependable distribution systems and supply chains.

Recognizing that agricultural production needs to substantially increase to meet growing global demand for food, USTR promotes science-based, transparent, and predictable regulatory approaches that foster innovation, including in agricultural biotechnologies. These types of approaches contribute significantly to a safe and reliable global food supply as the world’s population grows, and they help producers adapt to climate change.

Through Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs), we engage countries in discussions on trade and investment policy reform. We have TIFAs with Feed the Future focus countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Liberia, and key regional economic organizations like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), to name just a few.

In East Africa in particular, there is great opportunity for spurring growth by ensuring Feed the Future and the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP) synergies. The EAC and the United States have taken important steps to advance the TIP, which supports regional integration of the EAC and recognizes the importance that trade and investment play in economic and social development, including in agriculture. Through this partnership, we’re focusing on trade facilitation, a regional investment agreement, stronger private sector linkages, and capacity building.

USTR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development work collaboratively to help countries move from aid to trade.

Together, our efforts to create transparent, efficient global markets help advance global food security.

Follow USTR on Twitter @USTradeRep and read more on the USTR blog. Join USTR and other U.S. Government trade agencies on Twitter every Thursday this May for #TradeChat

#AskAg Twitter Chat: Intersection of HIV and AIDS & Food Security

Do you wonder how we can improve food security for HIV-affected households? Do you ask yourself how activities in the agriculture sector and for improving economic growth can play a role in helping these vulnerable populations? Well, then please join us on Thursday, May 23 from 12-1:30 pm EDT for an #AskAg Twitter Chat on the “Intersection of HIV and AIDS & Food Security.” The chat is sponsored through the Feed the Future initiative and hosted by Agrilinks, USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, and the Livelihoods and Food Security Technical Assistance (LIFT) project as part of Global Health Month at USAID.

The chat will feature tweets from:

  • Meaghan Murphy (@MurphyMeaghan) — Food Security and Livelihoods Specialist, FHI 360
  • Kirsten Weeks (@klweeks) — Global Lead, Health, Nutrition & Livelihoods, DAI
  • Jason Wolfe (@jasonmwolfe) — Senior Household Economic Strengthening Advisor, USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS

So why is this topic worth tweeting about?  Here are some key issues to keep in mind:

  • The relationship between HIV and AIDS and livelihood/food insecurity is bi-directional: HIV and AIDS can increase the vulnerability of households and communities to livelihood and food insecurity, while livelihood and food insecurity can also increase the risk of a person becoming infected with HIV.
  • HIV and AIDS can impact all aspects of a household’s livelihood, including directly affecting its income generation and productivity due to compromised health of people living with HIV (PLHIV), increased care costs associated with the chronic illness, stigma, and even death of affected household members. These reduced livelihoods opportunities can have direct impacts on household food access and ultimately the diet quality and quantity of individuals in the household.
  • The increased nutritional needs of PLHIV and the toll that HIV takes on the body complicate and further make food utilization and proper nutrition critical elements of the HIV and AIDS and food security discussion.
  • Vulnerable households with insecure livelihoods and food access, often resort to unsustainable coping behaviors that may include those that can put them at great risk for contracting HIV.

How to participate:

Agrilinks is an activity of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, led by USAID’s Bureau for Food Security.

Photo of the Week: USAID Launches Water Strategy

Globally, over 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people lack access to sanitation. Projections are that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in severe water stress conditions. To address these global water-related development needs,  Administrator Rajiv Shah will join Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) to release the U.S. Government’s first Water and Development strategy in Washington today. Its purpose is to provide a clear understanding of USAID’s approach to water programming, emphasizing how sustainable use of water is critical to saving lives. The new water strategy has health and food security as priorities, highlighting the critical role of water in saving lives.

Read the entire USAID Water and Development Strategy.

Follow @USAID on Twitter and join the conversation with #WaterStrategy.

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