Browse by Theme: Food Security

The leaders of the G8 came to the UK over a month ago and David Cameron hosted a ‘Hunger Summit’. While the summit did pledge up to $4.15bn (USD) to tackle malnutrition did it take the opportunity to boost public investment in the small holder farmers that feed a third of the world’s population?

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Despite the fact that there is enough food for everyone, almost 870 million people go hungry every night. 2.3 million children die needlessly because of malnutrition each year and 165 million more have their future potential permanently damaged because they don’t receive the right nutrients at the start of life. This is a human tragedy, with a clear moral imperative for world leaders to act and the UK should play a leading role.

This policy briefing draws on a report, commissioned by the UK Hunger Alliance (HA) and written by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which investigates smallholder agriculture’s contribution to better nutrition.

Findings suggest that smallholder agricultural development that is environmentally sustainable, can dramatically reduce poverty and hunger. To have greatest impact, investments should:

  • Empower small-scale women farmers
  • Promote small-scale farming including home gardens, small-scale livestock and fish-rearing
  • Complement agricultural programmes with education and nutrition communication, health services, clean water and sanitation.
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Along with a delegation from CARE International UK, I recently visited colleagues at CARE Peru (or Cah-Rey Peru as its pronounced in Spanish!) to witness how they are reaping real results in tackling the challenges of poverty and inequality in a ‘Middle Income Country’ (MIC).

A MIC is defined by the World Bank as any country with a Gross National Income per capita above $1000. The EU, UK and other donors are busy cutting aid to these countries,  arguing that in times of austerity development aid should be only be spent in Low Income Countries.

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When I first worked in Kenya, 20 years ago, I saw how farming practices could provide a good life for men and women in rural villages even with little rainfall and where basic services, such as water and electricity were almost non-existent. Farmers and livestock keepers in the dry areas of Kenya have been, by necessity, resilient to difficult conditions. But this is at the cost of hard physical work over long hours on the farm alongside a constant search for additional income sources such as from small business activities just to feed the family and send children to school.

20 years on, rural communities are still dependent on the land but are now facing new challenges from the effects of climate change. Perhaps the biggest impact is the increased uncertainty of the weather patterns. Farmers are no longer sure when to plant, where to take animals for good grazing or when they will be affected by the increasing frequency of droughts and floods. This places a new demand on already vulnerable people. How can they adapt to climate change in the face of all this uncertainty?

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As Usain Bolt pounded to the 200m finish line, displaying formidable human strength, my mind wandered to the Olympics and Paralympics aftermath. The Olympics this year closed to a new opening – one that is hoped to herald in new commitments to reducing malnutrition rates across the developing world.

Looking at Bolt’s muscles flexing across the screen, it seemed apt that the UK’s Hunger Summit on Sunday, which hopes to capitalise on the energy of the Olympics, was promoted by some of the UK’s leading athletes. Sportsmen such as David Beckham and Mo Farah must understand more than most the importance of nutrition.

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This briefing note sets out detailed recommendations for the UN High level panel to consider as they begin to consider what might replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. CARE calls for a strong emphasis on gender and social equality, an integrated approach to poverty and climate change, and much much more!

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Evidence from the Bangladesh dairy sector demonstrates that strategically sourcing from and selling to low-income farmers helped businesses sustain reliable supply chains, enhance market opportunity, and ultimately increase profits.

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