Poverty and health

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: 2009

This report presents the latest statistics on global undernourishment and concludes that structural problems of underinvestment have impeded progress toward the World Food Summit goal and the first Millennium Development Goal hunger reduction target. This disappointing state of affairs has been exacerbated by first the food crisis and now the global economic crisis that, together, have increased the number of undernourished people in the world to more that one billion for the first time since 1970. This crisis is different from those developing countries have experienced in the past, because it is affecting the entire world simultaneously and because developing countries today are more integrated into the global economy than in the past. In the context of the enormous financial pressures faced by governments, the twin-track approach remains an effective way to address growing levels of hunger in the world. Investments in the agriculture sector, especially for public goods, will be critical if hunger is to be eradicated.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO): 2012

Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to accelerate the reduction of hunger globally according to this report by the FAO, which presents new estimates of undernourishment based on a revised and improved methodology. The new estimates show that progress in reducing hunger during the past 20 years has been better than previously believed, and that, given renewed efforts, it may be possible to reach the Millennium Development Goal hunger target at the global level by 2015, namely eradicate extreme hunger. Policies and programmes that will ensure “nutrition-sensitive” growth include supporting increased dietary diversity, improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services and educating consumers regarding adequate nutrition and child care practices. Economic growth takes time to reach the poor, and may not reach the poorest of the poor. Therefore, social protection is crucial for eliminating hunger as rapidly as possible. Finally, rapid progress in reducing hunger requires government action to provide key public goods and services within a governance system based on transparency, participation, accountability, rule of law and human rights.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014
Food and Agriculture Organisation: New York, September 2014

The 2014 edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the World was released this month. SOFI 2014 presents updated estimates of undernourishment and progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and World Food Summit (WFS) hunger targets. The 2014 report also presents further insights into the suite of food security indicators introduced in 2013 and analyses in greater depth the dimensions of food security – availability, access, stability and utilization. In addition, the 2014 report examines the diverse experiences of seven countries, with a specific focus on the enabling environment for food security and nutrition that reflects commitment and capacities across four dimensions: policies, programmes and legal frameworks; mobilization of human and financial resources; coordination mechanisms and partnerships; and evidence-based decision-making.

The state of urban food insecurity in southern Africa
Frayne B, Pendleton W, Crush J, Acquah B, Batersby-Lennard J et al: Queen’s University and AFSUN Urban Food Security Series No. 2, 2010

The number of people living in urban areas is rising rapidly in Southern Africa. By mid-century, the region is expected to be 60% urban. Rapid urbanisation is leading to growing food insecurity in the region’s towns and cities. This paper presents the results of the first ever regional study of the prevalence of food insecurity in Southern Africa. The AFSUN food security household survey was conducted simultaneously in 2008-9 in 11 cities in eight Southern African Development Community countries. The results confirm high levels of food insecurity amongst the urban poor in terms of food availability, accessibility, reliability and dietary diversity. The survey provides important insights into the causes of food insecurity and the kinds of households that are most vulnerable to food insecurity. It also shows the heavy reliance of urban poor people on informal food sources and the growing importance of supermarket chains.

The story of bottled water
The Story of Stuff: March 2010

This short video about the story and challenges to local communities of production of bottled water was launched as part of World Water Day on 22 March 2010.

The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights
Khan I: Amnesty International, 2009

Ending poverty is almost certainly doomed to fail if it is driven solely by the imperative of boosting economic growth through investment, trade, new technology or foreign aid, according to this book. Fighting poverty is about fighting deprivation, exclusion, insecurity and powerlessness. People living in poverty lack material resources but that more than that, they lack control over their own lives. To tackle global poverty, we need to focus on the human rights abuses that drive poverty and keep people poor. Giving people a say in their own future, and demanding that they be treated with dignity and respect for their rights is the way to make progress. Through personal reflection and case studies, Khan shows why poverty is first and foremost not a problem of economics but of human rights. As the numbers of people living in poverty swell to upwards of two billion, she argues that poverty is the world's worst human rights crisis. Slums are growing at an alarming rate condemning a billion people to live in dismal conditions. More than half a million women are dying every year due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and 99% of these are in the developing world because of discrimination and denial of essential health care.

The World Trade Organisation and the post-global food crisis agenda: Putting food security first in the international trade system
De Schutter O: November 2011

In this briefing note, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Food Security argues that existing World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules do include certain flexibilities for States to pursue food security-related measures but many of these modifications to the original Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) are relatively modest and even these are by no means assured with the outcome of the Doha Round highly uncertain. Many elements of the AoA and the draft modalities continue to fall short of offering a favourable policy framework for the realisation of the right to food, such as the narrow range of policy measures that could be used to potentially establish national and regional food reserves and domestic institutions to manage price and income volatility for poor rural households. The report sets out a number of recommendations, such as: ensuring that future criteria of the AoA do not impede the development of policies and programmes to support food security and that they are tailored to the specific national circumstances of developing countries; avoiding defining the establishment and management of food reserves as trade-distorting support; adapting the provisions of the AoA and other WTO agreements (in particular, in the area of public procurement) to ensure compatibility with the establishment of food reserves at national, regional and international level; and allowing marketing boards and supply management schemes to be established.

The world's poor since the 1980s
Development Research Group Paper, World Bank

"The composition of world poverty has changed noticeably. Numbers of poor have fallen in Asia, but risen elsewhere. The share of the world’s poor living in Africa has risen dramatically. Not only has Africa emerged in the 1990s as the region with the highest incidence of poverty, the depth of poverty is also markedly higher than that found in other regions - suggesting that without lower inequality economic growth in Africa will have a harder time reducing poverty in the future than elsewhere. Looking forward, if the rates of progress against poverty that we have found for the last two decades of the twentieth century are maintained then we expect that the poverty rate for the developing world as a whole will fall to 15% by 2015, just short of the Millennium Development Goal of halving the 1990 poverty rate."

The World’s Poor are Being Denied the Right to Share in Scientific Advancement
Yamey G: Health and Human Rights Journal, September 2015

Transforming Our World, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is likely to be adopted by UN Member States, contains astonishingly bold and ambitious aspirations for transforming global health. The Agenda includes a series of “zero targets” to be achieved by 2030, including to “end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age” and to “end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases.” The author argues that such targets are simply unattainable unless there’s a massive scale-up in research and development (R&D) for conditions that disproportionately affect poor communities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Unfortunately, the SDGs as currently written say way too little on the essential role of scientific innovation in achieving SDG 3 (the health goal) and they say nothing at all about the crucial importance of monitoring progress in global health R&D. A compelling August 2015 report by Policy Cures, an independent research group, made the case that the SDG 3 targets “will not be achieved without R&D to develop new health technologies—such as new and improved drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other critical innovations—and to improve our understanding of how to best target the tools we already have.” The author argues that the SDG health targets are a fairytale without a renewed global commitment to meet the R&D needs—and rights—of the world’s poor people.

This land is my land: The detrimental effects of land grabs across Africa
Alter J: Consultancy Africa Intelligence, 2 May 2013

Wealthy states are currently purchasing millions of hectares of land in poor states throughout Africa. This is a problem for many reasons, including increasing rural poverty and driving millions of people off land that they have been farming for generations. These land purchases also have environmental effects and are resulting in food shortages and food insecurity across Africa. In this paper, the author discusses this controversial practice and concludes that these land purchases should be considered land grabs. He focuses on the environmental effects that such land grabs have and also discusses the social effects of these land grabs on the communities in which they are taking place. The author concludes that African states must immediately recognise that these deals have environmental repercussions that harm not only the natural resources, but their citizens as well; and should thus put measures in place to curb the incidences and conclusion of these deals. African governments should instead sell such land to African entities, or at the very least, entities that will be required to keep a portion of all grown food in the host state to feed the populace. They must also reform land tenure and land registration laws to ensure that their citizens are not forced off land that they have farmed for generations. Only when African states control their land can they ensure that their citizens do not go hungry.