The African Union (AU) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have renewed their strategic partnership to fight hunger and enhance food security, education and emergency response across Africa. The agreement has been signed for humanitarian and development co-operation in the hope that the strategic partnership would serve as an important element in the shared commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goal of cutting global hunger by half by 2015.
Poverty and health
The author argues that the majority of humanity is on the rack of poverty; and a major obstacle to its eradication is the growing threat of extreme and irreversible climate change. The coexistence of a chronic crisis of serious under-consumption for most with an increasingly critical environmental crisis resulting from over-consumption in aggregate can only be explained by extreme inequality in the global distribution of income. Resolving both simultaneously, as envisaged in the Post-2015 Agenda, requires a fundamental reconsideration of the nature and objectives of economic policy, and of the global economic system. The lecture will discuss the extent and implications of global inequality, before building on a number of working hypotheses to outline an alternative model of economic development more conducive to the achievement of these two most fundamental global goals.
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) expressly identifies establishing universal social protection systems as in several of the international community’s new goals. The SDGs, unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), explicitly state the need for social protection. Target 1.3 calls on states to “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including social protection floors (SPFs)1, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable”. SPFs are not only an essential tool in combating poverty, but also form the basis for food security and housing, especially for vulnerable groups; they have the power to promote social cohesion, make an important contribution to helping people into decent employment and enable parents to send their children to school even during economic crises; all goals which are outlined in the Agenda 2030. By securing household incomes, social protection leads to an increase in private consumption and boosts domestic demand. Finally, well-implemented social protection programmes that give households a predictable source of income may also be able to reduce pressures for migration: there is a broad consensus that besides economic growth and investment in human development (in particular in education and health), social protection is one of the core requirements of any poverty reduction strategy, and is an important precondition for an inclusive and cohesive society, and for stabilising fragile states. Consequently, it is also an indispensable instrument in combating the root causes of migration. Establishing SPFs on sound financial footing is primarily a task for the national governments. The ILO Social Protection Floor Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) urges governments to consider using a variety of methods to mobilise the necessary resources for their nationally-defined social protection floors. Such methods may include effective enforcement of tax and contribution obligations, but also setting new priorities in their spending behaviour. To solve the problem of funding for SPFs, a Global Fund for Social Protection is proposed, with resources from both the high- and low-income countries to close the funding shortfall between what poorer countries can reasonably afford and address funding for emergencies. The author argues also that developed countries have an obligation to support partner countries in their efforts to strengthen their social security systems, while simultaneously ensuring that the partner countries will be able to sustain these systems themselves in the long run.
In Africa, agricultural land covers less than 15% of the land area, yet demand from transnational companies is increasing for arable terrain. This demand is driven by the assumption that biofuels are a viable long-term solution to current energy and ecological challenges, combined with a decline in land allocated to agriculture in developed countries. The inclusion of biofuels as part of the green economy agenda jeopardises the immediate and long-term food security of many regions in the developing world, according to this paper. In sub-Saharan Africa, rising food prices, land grabs, and precarious and informal labour conditions are key social threats linked to the emphasis on biofuel production. In Africa, a region already under pressure from population growth, famine, drought and conflict, increases in biofuel production and concomitant land grabs can only contribute to weakening food security and keeping achievement of the Millennium Development Goals far beyond reach.
In Africa, agricultural land covers less than 15% of the land area, yet demand from transnational companies is increasing for arable terrain, driven by the assumption that biofuels are a viable long-term solution to current energy and ecological challenges, combined with a decline in land allocated to agriculture in developed countries. The inclusion of biofuels as part of the green economy agenda jeopardises the immediate and long-term food security of many regions in the developing world, according to this paper. In sub-Saharan Africa, rising food prices, land grabs, and precarious and informal labour conditions are key social threats linked to the emphasis on biofuel production. In Africa, a region already under pressure from population growth, famine, drought and conflict, increases in biofuel production and concomitant land grabs can only contribute to weakening food security and keeping achievement of the Millennium Development Goals far beyond reach.
Archaic agricultural practices and erratic rainfall in the recent planting period is expected to lead to an increase in food insecurity for most of Swaziland's 1.1 million people in 2012, according to Thembumenzi Dube, a Swazi government agriculture official. He predicted that the country will soon need food assistance for most of its population. Rains failed during the October planting season in the usually productive central middleveld, as well as the generally drought-prone eastern and southern regions. The virtual absence of irrigation systems makes the country dependent on rainfall. Small-scale farmers, who depend on rain-fed agriculture, do not have title deeds, and so cannot use their land as collateral to secure loans for irrigation equipment or other improvements.
The five-year $362.6 million grant to Lesotho seeks to increase water supplies for industrial and domestic use, to mitigate the devastating affects of poor maternal health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases by substantially strengthening the country’s health care infrastructure and human resources for health capacity, and to remove barriers to foreign and local private sector investment. Mozambique’s five-year $506.9 million Millennium Challenge Compact aims to reduce poverty levels through increased incomes and employment by improving water, sanitation, roads, land tenure, and agriculture. This program is expected to benefit about five million Mozambicans by 2015.
On 2-3 March 2011, Partners in Health, Harvard University and other organisations met to discuss the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of the world’s poorest billion people. The Conference was held in Boston, United States, and attended by a wide range of government, civil society and academic organisations who have advocated for the inclusion of NCDs as a priority on the global health agenda. This Statement allies itself with a number of World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations (UN) agreements and resolutions, such as the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its Global Strategy on NCDs and the UN Resolution ‘Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals’. The Statement calls on all UN member state Heads of Government and Heads of State to take urgent action to address NCDs amongst the world’s billion poorest people by: leading at global and national levels for NCDs; strengthening health systems and NCD prevention, treatment and care; strengthening research and data systems; and addressing poverty, vulnerability and discrimination.
The stigma of being labelled poor is inhibiting struggling foster families in Botswana, who are looking after already vulnerable children, from accessing welfare, a new study has found. The study, which focused on the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in Palapye, one of the largest villages in Botswana, located 275km north of the capital, Gaborone, found government assistance was "crippled" by the reluctance of families to register children for state aid. It cited an official as saying, "Some parents do not want to show they have orphans".
In this interview with the World Health Organisation, Brazilian Minister of Health Alexandre Padilha calls on other countries around the world to develop a pact to eradicate poverty and hunger. Padhila calls for the launch of a proactive and rational agenda that encompasses the food, pharmaceutical, arms, tobacco and alcohol industries, as well as action to develop and increase the wealth of peoples, setting goals for environmental sustainability and the end of extreme poverty. The last two United Nations meetings on health – on polio and HIV and AIDS – point to the same direction in solving both challenges: equity in the access to prevention measures and treatment, he notes. The Brazilian Ministry of Health has carried out a broad public consultation to prepare a plan to address non-communicable diseases. The prevention and control of these diseases will be the subject of a set of political and governmental policies.