Stories tagged: SDGs

Q&A with Dr. David Nabarro and Dr. Lawrence Haddad: Tackling world hunger by changing food systems

Solutions to the world biggest problems are never straightforward.  Hunger has been rising year-on-year for the last three years, Malnutrition, whether due to undernutrition or overconsumption is also on the rise.

To discuss the way forward, ahead of World Food Prize week, Farming First caught up with Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro, winners of the 2018 World Food Prize for their work on global maternal and child nutrition.

The Prize recognises the advancement of human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food.

Farming First: The FAO have recently announced that, for the third year running, world hunger is on the rise. Why, in your opinion, is progress stalling?

David Nabarro: “The last time we saw a big upswing in the projected number of hungry people in our world was between 2008-2009. That was when there was a worldwide spike in the prices of a number of staples, particularly rice and wheat.

This was associated with political unrest in more than 30 countries – the change of government in two – and evidence of a return to increasing rates of hunger and malnutrition in our world.

After that year, levels have been coming down quite dramatically so that we started moving towards just over half a billion and then the number has started to climb again. this is almost entirely the result of of unpredictable weather in large regions of the world and conflict. Sometimes countries are blighted by both.

Lawrence Haddad: “When adults experience hunger, it’s a highly painful and a highly distressing experience but they are much more able to bounce back. Very young children are unable to because it has disrupted their development.”

Farming First: Is there something that we have learned from previous instances that you have seen – that we can put to use to reverse this trend this time around?

David Nabarro: “Nutrition is particularly critical in the interval between conception and a child’s second birthday. If I had a magic wand, I would want to be sure that in conflict situations there is real attention given to women and young children in accessing nutrients in the form of nourishing food in the early periods of their lives.

These are people who are hard-to-reach.They tend to hide inside and protect small children. They’re also often having to provide nourishment for their small children out of sight of violence. Markets that they depend on tend to be sporadic or closed.

I want to see that women who are pregnant, women with very small children, and children are treated as special categories in war situations.

If they’re not given preferential treatment, the long-term consequences for the child will be very severe. There’s been a low level of collective consciousness about the damage done in pregnancy and early childhood as a result of insufficient attention to nutrition in war settings.”

Lawrence Haddad: “This upward trend is serious but it shouldn’t detract from the incredible progress we’ve made in reducing that number overall.

It’s worrying that it’s been going up in the last three years, but we think we know why that’s the case. These shocks – whether they are climate shocks or conflict shocks or weather shocks – are quite predictable in many ways.

We know where the risky areas are; we know roughly when these shocks are going to occur; we know roughly who they will affect. The divide between the development world and the humanitarian world is also creating barriers. It’s largely a western construct- the way we’ve set up the architecture.

Ethiopia is a very good example of how the humanitarian and development sector can better join together.

15 years ago the Ethiopian government told donors that while they welcomed food aid, it shouldn’t create longer-term resilience against future shocks. The Ethiopian government at the time set up the largest safety net and social protection programme in Africa,  food aid is channelled into things that have improved the resilience and productivity of food systems in Ethiopia.

It’s been very successful. It has an assistance function, but it also has a protective, resilience function as well. It has forced humanitarian and development donors into the same stream of thinking”

Farming First: The link between poor food and nutrition security, and global security is being discussed more widely now. Hunger, peace and security will be one of the opening debates at the Borlaug Dialogue. What role can nutrition play in promoting more peaceful societies?

David Nabarro: “There is always the possibility that lack of access to food can prompt conflict. The anxiety about whether or not people can get the food and the water and the other attributes they need for life is all too often an underlying cause of violent conflict.

When countries come together and see themselves as collectively responsible this in turn reduces the likelihood that they will enter into violence as a means of resolving conflict.”

Lawrence Haddad: “Most conflict is driven by inequality, or at least a sense of inequality. Work by UNICEF and others shows that inequality in terms of malnutrition is actually rising faster within countries than it is between countries. So inequality within countries in terms of things like stunting and anaemia is either not improving or is actually worsening – and we know that inequality is a big driver of violence conflict.”

Farming First: What impact will failing to reach zero hunger have on the 16 other Sustainable Development Goals and particularly on economic growth?

David Nabarro: “Good nutrition is key to the realisation of all 17 goals. Although nutrition is slotted into goal two, it’s an issue that cuts right across the whole development agenda.

It almost goes without saying that people enjoying good nutrition are realising the whole sustainable development agenda. I don’t believe that the goals will be realised unless nutritional outcomes are good for everyone in all nations.”

Lawrence Haddad: “The thing that makes nutrition different is that it is multi-sectorally determined. What drives malnutrition is everything from governance, poverty education, water and sanitation, to the health system, agriculture and women’s empowerment.

When you explain it to policymakers you don’t express it in terms of improved nutrition alone, but in terms of better and improved work. David and I have spent a lot of our respective careers trying to help nutritionists make the case for why others outside of nutrition should invest in nutrition for their own benefit rather than just nutrition’s benefit.”

Farming First: Are there any examples of success you’ve had in making the argument for investing in nutrition?

David Nabarro: “We’ve seen it a lot actually. The term we usually use is ‘why not make your employment setting more nutrition-sensitive?’ What we’re really saying is whether it’s possible  to drive good nutrition in the workplace.

For example, can you enable women to have nutritious snacks when they’re busy hard at work making garments that or offering a facility for women who are lactating to be able to breastfeed or provide milk on site?

A focus on good nutrition often increases the productivity and the sense of wellbeing of the workers in a plant or in a garment factor or agricultural plantation.”

Lawrence Haddad: “Both of us are essentially connectors. We connect issues and people and organisations. One thing that we are good at is connecting nutrition with wider issues. We could connect climate very easily in terms of what decisions people make on what to grow and what to eat have fundamental consequences for greenhouse gas emissions.

If you’re interested in the youth bulge happening in many African countries, policy makers can make the most of  the demographic dividend that’s coming through investing in good nutrition. Same with universal healthcare. To make it financially and fiscally feasible, you have to ask the question: what’s the biggest driver of poor health today? It’s poor diets and poor nutrition.

To make universal healthcare financially feasible, you need to invest in improved diets to lessen the disease burden of non communicable diseases before they’re more prevalent.

There’s lots of different ways of connecting nutrition to other things that policy makers care about. Policymakers have lots and lots of things to worry about and it’s the people who shout the loudest and the most persistently that usually get their attention.”

Farming First: How can we combat the rise in non-communicable diseases through striving to making nutritious and safe food more available, affordable and desirable for all — especially for the most vulnerable?

David Nabarro: “There’s remarkably little collective understanding that food systems are just not right and they’re not right in a very large number of places. The challenge is that food systems remain primarily local and there’s no top-down solution that’s going to work.

I’ve been trying to work with different groups to think about what might be a possible approach to encouraging the transformation of food systems so that they are nutritious and sustainable all over the world.

We need to shift from seeing food as a form of to seeing food as nourishment which provides the basic ingredients on which our bodies develop all their different capabilities.

How do we make sure that our food systems yield the kind of food that is needed for good nutrition? Secondly, how can we make sure our food systems will restore ecosystems on which we all depend – particularly soil, water, sea and oceans, forests and biodiversity? Thirdly, how can we be sure that our food systems are compatible with climate change and actually do all they can to absorb and sequester carbon that otherwise makes temperatures rise? And lastly, how do we ensure that our food systems contribute to decent livelihoods and wellbeing for all the people who work within them?

Those of us in the know realise that the people who work in food systems – if we look at them across the world – tend to be some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our world. They’re particularly vulnerable to adverse weather patterns so we need to help them to be both prosperous with decent livelihoods and resilience in the face of stress.

Unless all of us are looking at that, we’ll find it very hard to make the transformation that is necessary in line with the SDGs.”

Farming First: Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Lawrence Haddad: “If we want to transform food systems we have to transform ourselves and our relationship with food and nutrition. That’s all very important but there’s one hard, tangible fact that we’re all grappling with and one we should be really focusing our mind and that is how we get the price of nutritious food down. if we don’t get the price of nutritious food down, it will thwart all of the other goals.

While the price is going up, the price of food staples is going doing or is static There are lots of reasons why that’s happening and that’s a very tangible way of focusing all of our efforts.”

 

OCT162018
World Food Day

16 October 2018

Rome, Italy

FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on 16 October to commemorate the founding of the Organization in 1945. Events are organized in over 130 countries across the world. These events promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. World Food Day is a chance to show FAO’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve #ZeroHunger by 2030.

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Hashtags: #WorldFoodDay #ZeroHunger

JUL92018
UN High-Level Political Forum

9th – 18th July

The meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development in 2018 convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council will be held from Monday, 9 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018; including the three-day ministerial meeting of the forum from Monday, 16 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018.

Goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 & 17 will all undergo a review process.

The theme will be “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.

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Hashtags: #HLPF2018, #GlobalGoals

JUN112018
UN General Assembly on SDG Financing

11th June 2018

New York City, United States

UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak will convene an event titled ‘Financing for SDGs–Breaking the Bottlenecks of Investment, from Policy to Impact’.

This event is one of three main events related to the implementation of the SDGs that the UNGA President is organising in 2018. The other two focus on launching the International Decade for Action: Water for sustainable development 2018-2028 (22 March 2018) and youth (mid-May).

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Agricultural Businesses Are the Key to “Decent Work” in Rural Communities

Decent agricultural work can be a vehicle for economic growth. Kristin Williams, Communications Manager at Root Capital, tells Farming First how investments can empower smallholder farmers.

Farming is hard work. This is especially true on the world’s 500 million smallholder farms, which rely almost entirely on informal family labor. There, farmers rise before the sun, and toil in plots of land just large enough to grow food for the table and perhaps one or two crops for sale. Sudden shockslike drought, flood, or diseasecan wipe out the fruits of their labor in an instant. If they’re lucky, they can get their crops to a nearby market; once there, they have little recourse if buyers refuse to give a fair price.

Billions of people make their living in this difficult way. And it’s no coincidence that they comprise much of the world’s extreme poor, surviving on less than $2 per day. But the connection between farming and poverty is not a foregone conclusion. Yes, farming is hard work; but with targeted investments it can also be “decent work.”

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Private Sector Partnerships are Growing Nutritious Food Systems

This week, the #SDG2countdown moves on to explore SDG2.2: ending malnutrition. When smallholder farmers need a helping hand to break the cycle of poverty and malnutrition, partnerships with the private sector can offer crucial support, writes Ann Steensland, Deputy Director, Global Harvest Initiative.

It is a cruel irony that many of the malnourished people in the world are also small-scale farmers, struggling to grow enough food to feed their families and to earn an income.

Compounding this is the fact that malnutrition makes farmers less productive, causing stunted physical growth, cognitive impairments and chronic disease. And this makes it harder for farmers to achieve higher productivity to increase their incomes and move out of poverty.

To help break this vicious cycle of malnutrition, low-productivity and poverty, small-scale farmers need access to tools to enhance their output such as improved seeds, fertilizer and crop protection products, mechanization and irrigation technologies, and education about soil health and animal welfare.

Accessing productive inputs is particularly important for women, who are often the primary source of labour for planting, cultivating and harvesting.

Without access to productive inputs, a woman will spend more time planting, weeding and harvesting to increase her output. (Ann Steensland/GHI)

Without access to productive inputs, a woman will spend more time planting, weeding and harvesting to increase her output. (Ann Steensland/GHI)

We believe that to successfully meet the targets outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2), the challenges of malnutrition, agricultural productivity and poverty need to be addressed jointly. To this end, private sector actors of all sizes are starting to work with the public sector, NGOs and farmers to tackle the challenge.

The Global Harvest Initiative’s annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) describes the critical role of the private sector in helping small-scale farmers escape the malnutrition trap.

DuPont Pioneer is partnering with research institutions to develop biofortified sorghum and millet varieties that are biofortified with iron and zinc, as well as drought tolerant.  Sorghum and millet thrive in the drylands of India and Africa and are the primary source of calories for millions of small-scale farmers. Biofortified varieties of these staple crops will allow farmers who are at the greatest risk of malnutrition to grow nutrient fortified crops for themselves.  Researchers have found that consuming 100 grams of biofortified sorghum per day will provide 50 to 100 percent of daily Vitamin A requirement.

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) partnership is developing hybrid maize seed varieties that uses water more efficiently and resists insects and pests.  As a leading WEMA partner, Monsanto shared 600 elite parental lines of maize seed, royalty-free, along with technical plant breeding know-how.  Since the inception of the project in 2013, more than 90 conventional hybrids have been approved for commercial release in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Farmers have been able to harvest 20 to 35 percent more grain under moderate drought conditions as compared to the seeds farmers had historically planted. By strengthening the local seed systems, WEMA is giving small-scale farmers an opportunity to improve their productivity and livelihoods.

In Zambia, John Deere is working in collaboration with local banks and the Conservation Farmers Union to help emerging farmers purchase tractors, rippers and seeders.  The farmers pay for the equipment by contracting out their plowing and planting services to neighbouring farmers.  The contractors receive business, farm management and agronomy training to enable them to run successful businesses, ultimately increasing their production and household incomes. There are 80 contractor farmers participating in the program, providing mechanization services to as many as 65 farmers each.  Repayment rates on the tractor loans are close to 90 percent.

Elanco Animal Health is partnering with Heifer International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others to support the East African Dairy Development Project (EADD).  Small dairy producers in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda receive training and resources to increase milk productivity on their farms as well as technology for collecting, preserving and transporting milk to the marketplace. The approach boosts smallholders’ productivity and builds a market for farmers’ products, while increasing the availability of an important source of nutritious animal protein.  In its first five years, EADD trained 180,000 farmers in dairy husbandry, business practices and operation, and marketing of dairy products. Heifer and its partners also developed 27 milk collection hubs, strengthened 10 existing hubs, and formed 68 farmer business associations.

In India, two-thirds of agriculture is rainfed, but the seasonal monsoons alternate with long, dry periods. The Mosaic Villages Project, a partnership between The Mosaic Company and the Sehgal Foundation, funded the construction of check dams in four communities to capture and store rainwater.  The water trapped by the dams is funnelled into underground aquifers and can be used for consumption or irrigation.  The check dams have a total reservoir capacity of 14 million gallons. As a result, farmers no longer rely solely on rain to grow nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables.  More than 30,000 people are benefiting directly or indirectly from the project.

These partnerships demonstrate how the private sector is contributing to SDG2 by helping farmers move beyond subsistence farming to a more prosperous, nutritious future.

GHI Member Companies are DuPont, Elanco Animal Health, Farmland Partners Inc., John Deere, Monsanto Company and The Mosaic Company. GHI also draws on the experience of its consultative partner organisations, including universities, NGOs, conservation groups and experts in small-scale agriculture and nutrition.

Visit www.farmingfirst.org/SDGs for quizzes, videos, infographics & more on SDG 2.3. Share your stories on doubling productivity & incomes using #Ag4SDGs and join the campaign!

Header image: ICRISAT