In this video interview by PBS.org, David Beasley, former Governor of South Carolina, and the outgoing Executive Director of the UN World Food Program (WFP) speaks about his organization’s feeding those in greatest need. From March 21, 2023.
WFP is providing food aid to 160 million persons, and the hunger needs continue to grow. Beasley says in the interview: “I do think the problems we’re facing around the world are quite extraordinary. But, as I tell them, look, there’s $400 trillion worth of wealth around the planet today, and your charity is not the long-term solution. But we are in a crisis mode right now, and we need your help. But, number two, I need your engagement. Work with us to end hunger around the world.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported the results of a retrospective study commissioned by both their WHO-Somalia office and Unicef’s Somalia office. The study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College-London, used statistical modeling to determine that approximately 43,000 excess deaths occurred in 2022 due to the drought in Somalia, largely associated with malnutrition.
The Black Sea Initiative, the U.N. brokered agreement to export Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea ports is due to expire on Saturday the 18th of March, 2023. As of 14 March, there was a proposal by the Russians, to shorten the extension from 120 days to 60 days. The Ukrainians counter that this would need an amendment to the agreement which had stipulated 120 days as the minimum extension. The news of this issue had already caused grain prices to rise on international markets
The double impact of two strong and close earthquakes in southwest Turkey and northern Syria has paralyzed infrastructure and food systems. The earthquakes affected millions of people; hunger due to lack of access to food is inevitable, worse, the winter temperatures require a greater caloric intake. (photo courtesy of Ahmed Akacha)
The Washington Post recently reported that the USDA has announced new, more stringent, national nutrition standards for its school feeding program. This program reaches 30 million students at 100,000 schools nationwide. The new standards propose to lower sugars, fat and salt, while increasing whole grain content in the school meals. These higher standards will gradually be implemented over the next few years. All students were eligible for these meals at targeted schools during the Covid pandemic, but eligibility criteria were restarted for the 2022-23 school year.
Child obesity in the U.S. has nearly tripled over the last 30 years, to the point where approximately 20% of all children between 2-19 years of age are deemed obese. Some food trade groups believe that these increased nutritional standards will lower the consumption of school meals because they will be judged by students as less tasty. However the Food Research and Action Center believes the new standards are well-designed to balance the goal of meals’ increased nutritional value without a decrease in consumption due to student preferences.
Linda Thomas Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, gave a speech on January 29th in Mogadishu announcing $41 million for famine prevention in Somalia and urged other nations to join in assisting Somalia fight famine.
In this update from Reliefweb, the coming Spring will also bring acute severe malnutrition in the Sahel, focused in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In addition to conflict in these countries, it is projected that approximately 7.5 million people will be in the stage 3 hunger category (IPC classification) by this Spring prior to entering the “lean season” (June though August).
In a food security analysis, it is projected that 2.26 million people will suffer from acute levels of food insecurity in Lebanon this coming Spring (2023). The continuation of the food insecurity is due to the influx of Syrian refugees, a deteriorating economy, and global inflation.
Thirteen aid agencies have signed a letter to Samantha Power, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), advocating a simplified treatment for wasting (severe acute malnutrition). These agencies propose five steps to fight severe malnutrition globally, which are focused on a simplified diagnosis, the use of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), and coordination with local national health systems, as well as mutual accountability with local systems. This approach, initially controversial within medical circles, is seen as more practical given the rising level of severe malnutrition in many countries.
FINAL Coalition Letter to Administrator Samantha Power
This is a very interesting info-graphic presenting how conflict drives food insecurity in Africa. It shows that 111 million people who are experiencing food crises are in countries suffering from conflict.