Award-Winning Agriculture/Nutrition Projects

Harvest Nutrition contest
Image courtesy of cgiar.org

Three projects were awarded as winners of the 2013 Harvesting Nutrition contest  organized by  SecureNutrition . The contest was organized to promote initiatives with a holistic approach linking nutrition, agriculture and food security. The award ceremony was held at The World Bank on February 19, 2015. According to SecureNutrition the contest attracted 50 submissions from projects around the world showcasing  a global effort to close the gap between agriculture, food security and nutrition. A panel of five judges from SecureNutrition, GAIN, and Save the Children took part in the decision process. The three winning projects were selected according to their potential for impact, innovation and scalability.

Below is the profile of the three winning projects and assessment of their unique approach provided by the decision panel ;

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  • Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN): Potential Impact on Nutrition 

    Aiming to increase year-round availability of and access to high-quality foods at the household level, preliminary data from RAIN shows encouraging results, with increased production of various micronutrient rich crops, such as leafy green vegetables, and increased dietary diversity during both the hunger as the post-harvest seasons.  With rigorous data collection and analysis, conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), integrated into the program design and strong government coordination, the potential impact – and potential for demonstrating an impact – of RAIN on nutrition outcomes is likely to increase as the project unfolds. (Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN)

  • Shamba Shape Up : Innovation 

    A “make-over”-style reality TV show targeting rural smallholder farmers, Shamba Shape Up was a clear standout as an innovative platform for presenting and disseminating a nutrition message. Shamba Shape Up reaches over 10 million farmers in East Africa with tools and information to improve productivity and income on their farms  (Shamba Shape Up)

  •  N2Africa: Scalability 

    A large-scale multi-country “development to research” project aimed at promoting new technologies for improving productivity of legumes such as groundnut, cowpea and common bean – commonly regarded as women’s crops – N2Africa works with a wide variety of stakeholders across the value chain from seed to fork and from field to market.  A strong evaluation system provides the basis for ongoing feedback and learning. (N2Africa)

The Reality of Aid 2014: Rethinking Partnerships in a Post 2015 World

ROA 2014The Reality of Aid Network (RoA) published the Reality of Aid 2014 Report (RoA 2014) in December 2014 with the general theme of Partnerships and the Post-MDGs. The network, comprising 172 member organizations, includes more than 40 civil society regional and global networks in the field of international cooperation in 21 donor countries of the OECD, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia/Pacific. The network is recognized as a civil society organization (CSO) network for global aid reform and constructive dialogue for effective aid from the international development community.

The series of biennial global reports from the Reality of Aid Network has been known to  “analyse and advocate key messages relating to the performance of aid donors from a unique perspective of civil society in both donor and recipient countries.”

The RoA 2014 report provides the global civil society a perspective on working and balanced partnerships towards the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a resonating message from the network on “maximizing contributions to poverty eradication, within a framework that is defined by human rights standards.”This report urges CSOs to consider post 2015 with a particular focus on the following issues regarding partnerships for sustainable development:

  • What have we learned from previous partnerships?
  • In what ways can diverse partnerships with a broader array of development actors contribute to achieving the post 2015 goals?
  • How do we ensure that these partnerships are consistent with human rights standards and the goals of eradicating poverty, inequality and social injustice?
  • What are the preconditions and the principles to ensure that future partnerships are equitable?

The RoA 2014 report includes 27 dialogues and reflections based on best practices from diverse contributors about:

  • Principles and practices for inclusive partnerships at global and national levels
  • New (and existing) models of partnering for positive development outcomes for the poor
  • Preconditions for equitable partnerships that contribute to sustainable development outcomes for the poor

Benefits and Costs of the Food and Nutrition Targets for the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Goal-2The Copenhagen Consensus Center, one of the world’s leading development think tanks, published the Food Security and Nutrition Perspective Paper in November 2014 about the benefits and costs of food and nutrition targets in the post-2015 development agenda. The paper addresses the evolution of nutrition goals from the MDGs to the SDGs and provides a brief analysis anticipated cost-benefits such as the economic advantages of nutrition interventions. For example, stunting causes generational economic disadvantage and loss. Hence nutrition interventions targeted to curb stunting have tremendous economic value. Hoddinott et al 2013 was referenced in the paper for providing the ratio that for every $97.11 invested per child in Bangladesh for nutrition, there is a future economic advantage worth $1,735 with a 5% discount rate. That is a cost-benefit ratio of 1:17.9.

Stunting is also a better measure of nutrition than the label of “underweight,” which was used as the main indicator in the MDGs. Stunting measures a long-run nutritional status rather than a current status. The following illustration explains the significant impact of using stunting as an indicator for undernourishment.

‘Imagine a child who is born and grows up in early childhood consuming a diet largely consisting of starchy staples, and whose mother faced the same diet during her pregnancy. Such a diet is devoid of the variety of foods needed to provide the minerals and vitamins required for healthy growth. This child is likely to end up stunted by age two (short for his/her age), after which catch-up in height is more difficult….The MDG goal (halving underweight) will incorrectly categorize this child as of normal weight, whereas the proposed SDG goal (stunting) will correctly categorize this child as suffering from long-run undernutrition.’

The inclusion of WHO’s nutritional goals in the SDGs strengthens the focus towards stunting and long-term nutritional solutions. However, rather than just adopting WHO’s reduction of stunting by 40% in 2025 and dragging it to 2030, the paper recommends adjustment and increasing the number of targets according to the additional time length. It also recommends that data on stunting be complemented with additional information on wasting in countries facing short-term crises and overweight/obesity in all countries.

screenshot-www.copenhagenconsensus.com 2014-12-04 16-19-00

The Hunger Project  has been advocating for a nutrition focused food security strategies for a long time. The health and nutrition centers in our epicenters have been working to establish behavioral change among mothers towards nutrition as part of the neonatal and prenatal care services. The Hunger Project is thrilled about the significant progress made within the international development sector to move nutrition to the forefront of the global food security agenda.

Senate Committee approved Water for the World Act

koira, sathkhira, Bangladesh
Image courtesy of wateraid.org

Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (H.R 2901), a bipartisan bill authored by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX) was presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, November 19. The committee approved the bill, clearing the path for a vote on the House floor soon after the Thanksgiving recess.

Currently, nearly 800 million people lack access to clean water.  An astounding 2.5 billion people worldwide live without access to proper sanitation. Every day, women and girls spend a combined 200 million hours collecting water, keeping them from school, work, and family. Every year, 3.4 million people lose their lives due to water related diseases. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people with illnesses that could be prevented by access to clean water and sanitation. Worldwide, children lose many school days because of water born diseases.

The Water for the World Act is a response to these direly needed improvements. The bill will ensure that :

  • Resources go to the countries and communities most in need of water, sanitation and hygiene programs (WASH)
  • The US government agencies working on WASH and all other groups work together to make sure that the resources invested achieve long-term impact
  • WASH programs are included in other critical measures that address child survival, global health, food security and nutrition, and gender equality
  • There is proper review of WASH projects by the US government to increase transparency in reporting and ensure that projects are effective and impactful

On a press release a day before the  bill was presented to the House Foreign Affairs committee, Congressman Blumenauer noted the strong bipartisan support the bill has by “good people on all sides of the political spectrum.” He pointed out that the swift passage of the Water for the World Act will insure “America’s security, global health, and the lives of women and children without burdening taxpayers or making enemies abroad.”

You can read the proposed bill here Water for the World Act -HR 2901-Nov 17.

The State Of Food And Agriculture 2014: Innovation in family farming

SOFA-2014-cover-web-en_01FAO’s 2014 report on The State Of Food and Agriculture (SOFA 2014) focuses on the vital role of family farms for food security, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability. The report states more than 500 million family farms manage the majority of the world’s agricultural land  and produce most of the world’s food. That group constitutes 90% of the world’s farmers. Family farms occupy around 70 – 80 percent of farmland and produce more than 80 percent of the world’s food in value terms.

The vast majority of the world’s farms are small and in many lower-income countries farm sizes are shrinking. Globally, farms of less than 5 hectare account for 94 percent of all farms but control only 19 percent of all agricultural land. In contrast, only 1 percent of all farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares, but these few farms control 65 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Many of these large farms are family-owned and operated.

In most countries, small and medium-sized farms tend to have higher agricultural crop yields per hectare than larger farms because they manage resources and use labor more effectively, however they produce less per worker. SOFA 2014 assesses the innovation needed to improve labor productivity. The development, adaptation and application of new technologies and farm management practices, and the wider application of existing technologies and practices, are cited as the pathways towards efficiency in labor productivity, natural resource management and environmental
sustainability as well as food security.

The report sets the following prerequisite circumstances as a backdrop for family farming innovation;

  • Family farms are an extremely diverse group, and innovation systems must take this diversity into account.
  • The challenges facing agriculture and the institutional environment for agricultural innovation are far more complex than ever before; the world must create an innovation system that embraces this complexity
  • Public investment in agricultural research and development and extension and advisory services should be increased and refocused to emphasize sustainable intensification and closing yield and labor productivity gaps.
  • All family farmers need an supportive environment for innovation, including good governance, stable macroeconomic conditions, transparent legal and regulatory regimes, secure property rights, risk management tools and market infrastructure
  • Capacity to innovate in family farming must be promoted at multiple levels.
  • Individual innovation capacity must be developed through investment in education and training.
  • Effective and inclusive producers’ organizations can support the innovation of their members.

According to FAO 2014 is the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), which aims to highlight the role of family farmers in achieving food security and sustainable development.

Below is a sample table showing the agricultural labor productivity of THP program countries and the world based on income grouping. 

You can review the complete report here!

Average annual level(Constant 2004–06 international dollars) Average annual rate of change(Percentage)
Countries 1981–1991     1991– 2001    2001–2012 1981–1991     1991– 2001   2001–2012
Low income 416                419                  490 –0.2                    0.7                 1.9
Lower middle  income 937                902                  1057 1.4                      0.5                 2.3
Upper Middle income 720                1003                 1454 1.3                      3.7                 3.5
World 1141               1261                1535 0.4                      1.7                 2.1
Low and middle income 755                 879                  1144 1.2                      2.2                 2.8
Bangladesh 333                 378                  537 0.2                      2.9                 3.6
Benin 658                 831                  1046 2.0                      3.9                 1.4
Bolivia 1194                1362               1530 1.5                       0.8                1.2
Burkina Faso 270                  334                 370 3.9                       0.4               –0.7
Ethiopia                        216                  265                            0.9                 2.6
Ghana 615                  841                 1010 2.6                       1.6                 1.8
India 555                 658                  763 1.8                       1.5                 2.7
Malawi 319                 344                  494 –1.6                      5.9                 3.9
Mexico 2390               2803                 3797 0.5                        2.9                 2.6
Mozambique 202                 210                  267 –0.7                      4.2                 3.1
Peru 1304               1401                 2000 –0.6                      4.1                 3.7
Senegal 370                 337                  328 0.0                        0.4                 1.7
Uganda 502                 504                  517 –0.2                     0.5               –1.1

Announcing the 2014 Global Hunger Index

GHI2014The 2014 Global Hunger Index, now available from the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide, shows a steady decrease in hunger in most developing countries.While great strides have been made to feed the world, hunger persists: some 805 million people go hungry every day because they don’t get enough to eat, and even those who eat enough calories can still suffer from “hidden hunger”– deficiencies in micronutrients that are often harder to detect but devastating in their impact.

Levels of hunger are still “alarming” in 14 countries, and “extremely alarming” in Burundi and Eritrea. In addition, a staggering 2 billion people globally suffer from “hidden hunger,” or micronutrient deficiency. Hidden hunger holds countries back in a cycle of poor nutrition, poor health, lost productivity, poverty, and reduced economic growth.

Sustainably tackling hidden hunger requires multisectoral action on all levels and a post-2015 framework that includes a universal goal to end hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and clear mechanisms to ensure accountability. Alongside the multi-sectoral coordination, the report acknowledges the importance of  “behavioral change communication … to educate people about health services, sanitation and hygiene, and caring practices, as well as the need for greater empowerment of women at all levels.”

Read the full report here!

Findings for THP’s Program Countries

The following table presents a selection of findings from the 2014 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for The Hunger Project’s program countries.

Proportion of undernourished in the population (%) Prevalence of underweight in children under five years (%) Under-five mortality rate (%) Global Hunger Index (GHI)
Year ’04–’06             ’11–’13 ’03–’07            ’09–’13 2005          2012 2005         2014
Bangladesh 15.3                    16.3 37.3                  36.8 6.8              4.1 19.8            19.1
Benin 13.8                     6.1 20.2                 18.4 * 12.0             9.0 15.3            11.2
Bolivia 29.9                    21.3 5.9                   4.4 * 5.8               4.1 13.9             9.9
Burkina Faso 25.8                   25.0 37.6                 24.4 16.0              10.2 26.5             19.9
Ethiopia 46.8                   37.1 34.6                 29.2 11.0              6.8 30.8             24.4
Ghana 11.2                   2.9 * 13.9                 13.4 8.8                7.2 11.3             7.8
India 21.5                    17.0 43.5                 30.7 7.5                5.6 24.2             17.8
Malawi 26.4                   20.0 18.4                 13.8 12.0               7.1 18.9             13.6
Mexico 0.1 *                   0.7 * 3.4                   2.8 2.0                 1.6 <5               <5
Mozambique 39.9                    36.8 21.2                15.6 13.2               9.0 24.8             20.5
Uganda 27.8                    30.1 16.4                14.1 10.9                6.9 18.4             17.0
Peru 21.9                    11.8 5.4                   3.4 2.8                  1.8 10.0              5.7
Senegal 18.4                    21.6 14.5                 15.7 9.9                  6.0 14.3             14.4

* IFPRI estimates

Bipartisan Legislation for Feed the Future Introduced in Congress

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Image courtesy of USAID

Members of the House and Senate introduced legislation to authorize the US Government’s Feed the Future Initiative on September 19, 2014. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced the Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014 to the House, while Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced the Senate’s Global Food Security Act of 2014. The bills were cosponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Both bills “seeks to improve maternal and child nutrition during the critical 1,000-day window between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday,” aligning with USAID’s new approach to combat global poverty and malnutrition through a multi sectoral nutrition strategy.

Currently 805 million people are suffering from hunger globally, malnutrition being the main cause of mortality in children under five. Inarguably, hunger and malnutrition have been the major obstacles for progress in the developing world. The Feed the Future Initiative aims to end hunger by 2030 by increasing agricultural productivity and creating opportunities for economic growth and trade in developing countries. The initiative also aims to boost harvest and income of rural smallholder farmers, and improve agricultural research while giving more access to more people to existing technologies. Lastly, it will work to increase resilience to prevent recurrent environmental crises and help communities better cope.

The Hunger Project, as an active member of the Food Security and Agriculture Working Group at Interaction, is excited by the legislation garnering bipartisan support. We acknowledge that it is not only an indication of a unified global fight against hunger, but also the prioritization of assistance to small-scale farmers, especially women.

The bills are expected to go to the floor for possibly ratification when Congress returns from recess after the November midterm election. The Hunger Project expects that bipartisan support will continue throughout the deliberation process.

805 Million Still Suffering from Hunger: The 2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World

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Image courtesy of FAO

United Nations2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2014) Report confirmed that there are still 805 million people – more than half of whom are in Asia – suffering from chronic malnourishment.This report is published annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). According to the report, one in nine people are severely undernourished; in Sub Saharan Africa the ratio is higher at more than one in four.

However, the report notes that there has been a decrease in the number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment by 200 million since 1992. Most progress has been made in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, whereas Oceania has made only modest improvement. Overall, this indicates a positive trend in the fight against hunger.

This year’s report consists of case studies on the following seven countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi and Yemen. The case studies explain trends of food security based on internal efforts and external economic, political and environmental events.

The report states, “to date, 63 developing countries have reached the MDGs target for hunger, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015.” Halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 might be possible if measures are fueled up.

The complex nature of food insecurity requires a multi sectoral approach that engages CSOs, and public and private organizations. The report recommends an “enabling environment and an integrated approach.” Specifically, the following should leverage combined public and private investments:

  • agricultural productivity
  • access to land, services, technologies and markets
  • measures to promote rural development
  • social protection for the most vulnerable
  • strengthening resilience for conflicts and natural disasters.

Lastly, the report also stresses the fundamental importance of nutrition programs to address micronutrient deficiencies of mothers and children under five.

Further discussion will be held on the findings of the report by governments, civil society, and private sector representatives at the 13-18 October meetings of the Committee on World Food Security at FAO headquarters in Rome. The Hunger Project is among the organizations taking part in the meetings.