Friday, November 28, 2014

CSO and social movements forum declaration to Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2)

Source: Forum Alert - Society for International Development

From November 16-18, we, social movements representing peasants, small-scale fishers and fishing communities, pastoralists, urban poor, consumers, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and agricultural and food workers, came together with the representatives of public interest civil society organizations that have actively engaged in the preparatory process of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), to share our values, and aspirations, to join forces in our common vision on how to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms, and to hold governments and intergovernmental organizations to account on their obligations and commitments.

Listen to the CSO statement presentation to the ICN2 plenary by Munkhbolor Gungaa in English

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ecuador Recognized by UN for Poverty Reduction | News | teleSUR


The Good Living development model has led to a significant reduction in poverty in Ecuador, which has been recognized by the United Nations.

Ecuador was recognized at the 11th Annual Meeting of the United Nations for its drastic reduction in inequality and poverty which has been occurring since the beginning of President Rafael Correa's first term in 2007.

The Good Living, or Buen Vivir, development goals of Correa's government have been attributed as a cause for this success.

“We do believe in the concept of Buen Vivir adopted policies and implementing those policies in a way which are centered on the human being and which are sustainable with the environment … the basic premise of Buen Vivir is actually very very close to a proposal that can get us closer to the Millennium Development Goals,” said Diego Zorrilla, the Director of the United Nations Development Program in Ecuador, in an interview with teleSUR English.

Ecuador has the highest public investment in the region, at 15 percent of its gross domestic product. This investment has had favorable results, as the poverty rate has dropped from 38 percent to 26 percent and extreme poverty from 17 percent to 8 percent since 2006.

National Secretary for Planning and Development Pabel Muñoz said, “The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean made it known that Ecuador is among the three countries where poverty has most dropped, that it was the country where the GINI coefficient most rapidly decreased. So that citizens have an idea, the GINI coefficient in Ecuador dropped 8 points, while during the same period the average in Latin America only dropped 2 points.”

Along with reducing poverty and inequality, Ecuador was recognized by the U.N. as being a model for sustainable development. Under Good Living, the country has invested more than US$9 billion in renewable energy sources. It is estimated that 92 percent of all energy used for internal consumption will be renewable by 2016, as the country continues to work towards a type of development that can be felt by all citizens.

The 11th Annual Meeting of the United Nations was attendend by representatives of the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the Organization of the American States, and the International Monetary Fund, among other international organizations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Living Life: Man abandons comfort of home to live in a tree in Uganda | NTV Uganda

An elderly man living in Wakiso district in Uganda has stunned many of his village-mates for abandoning his relatively comfortable home to start a new life in a house he built on a tree. The man, Godfrey Kato, is an environmentalist who has been staying in the tree house for one and half years now.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Want to double world food production? Return the land to small farmers! - The Ecologist

By GRAIN, The Ecologist

All over the world, small farmers are being forced off their land to make way for corporate agriculture, writes GRAIN - and it's justified by the need to 'feed the world'. But it's the small farmers that are the most productive, and the more their land is grabbed, the more global hunger increases. We must give them their land back!

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. As part of the celebrations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released its annual 'State of Food and Agriculture', which this year is dedicated to family farming.

Family farmers, FAO say, manage 70-80% of the world's farmland and produce 80% of the world's food.

But on the ground - whether in Kenya, Brazil, China or Spain - rural people are being marginalised and threatened, displaced, beaten and even killed by a variety of powerful actors who want their land.

A recent comprehensive survey by GRAIN, examining data from around the world, finds that while small farmers feed the world, they are doing so with just 24% of the world's farmland - or 17% if you leave out China and India. GRAIN's report also shows that this meagre share is shrinking fast.

How, then, can FAO claim that family farms occupy 70 to 80% of the world's farmland? In the same report, FAO claims that only 1% of all farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares, and that these few farms control 65% of the world's farmland, a figure much more in line with GRAIN's findings.

Just what is a 'family farm'

The confusion stems from the way FAO deal with the concept of family farming, which they roughly define as any farm managed by an individual or a household. (They admit there is no precise definition. Various countries, like Mali, have their own.)

Thus, a huge industrial soya bean farm in rural Argentina, whose family owners live in Buenos Aires, is included in FAO's count of 'family farms'.

What about sprawling Hacienda Luisita, owned by the powerful Cojuanco family in the Philippines and epicentre of the country's battle for agrarian reform since decades. Is that a family farm?

Looking at ownership to determine what is and is not a family farm masks all the inequities, injustices and struggles that peasants and other small scale food producers across the world are mired in.

It allows FAO to paint a rosy picture and conveniently ignore perhaps the most crucial factor affecting the capacity of small farmers to produce food: lack of access to land. Instead, the FAO focuses its message on how family farmers should innovate and be more productive.

Small farmers are ever more squeezed in

Small food producers' access to land is shrinking due a range of forces. One is that because of population pressure, farms are getting divided up amongst family members. Another is the vertiginous expansion of monoculture plantations.

In the last 50 years, a staggering 140 million hectares - the size of almost all the farmland in India - has been taken over by four industrial crops: soya bean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane. And this trend is accelerating.

In the next few decades, experts predict that the global area planted to oil palm will double, while the soybean area will grow by a third. These crops don't feed people. They are grown to feed the agro-industrial complex.

Other pressures pushing small food producers off their land include the runaway plague of large-scale land grabs by corporate interests. In the last few years alone, according to the World Bank, some 60 million hectares of fertile farmland have been leased, on a long-term basis, to foreign investors and local elites, mostly in the global South.

While some of this is for energy production, a big part of it is to produce food commodities for the global market, instead of family farming.

Small is beautiful - and productive

The paradox, however, and one of the reasons why despite having so little land, small producers are feeding the planet, is that small farms are often more productive than large ones.

If the yields achieved by Kenya's small farmers were matched by the country's large-scale operations, the country's agricultural output would double. In Central America, the region's food production would triple. If Russia's big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six.

Another reason why small farms are the feeding the planet is because they prioritise food production. They tend to focus on local and national markets and their own families. In fact, much of what they produce doesn't enter into trade statistics - but it does reach those who need it most: the rural and urban poor.

If the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on.

The data show that the concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.

According to one UN study, active policies supporting small producers and agro-ecological farming methods could double global food production in a decade and enable small farmers to continue to produce and utilise biodiversity, maintain ecosystems and local economies, while multiplying and strengthening meaningful work opportunities and social cohesion in rural areas.

Agrarian reforms can and should be the springboard to moving in this direction.

To double global food production, we must support the small farmers

Experts and development agencies are constantly saying that we need to double food production in the coming decades. To achieve that, they usually recommend a combination of trade and investment liberalisation plus new technologies.

But this will only empower corporate interests and create more inequality. The real solution is to turn control and resources over to small producers themselves and enact agricultural policies to support them.

The message is clear. We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems worldwide.

FAO's lip service to family farming just confuses the matter and avoids putting the real issues on the table.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pope Opposes Food Speculation | News | teleSUR

By TeleSUR

The Pontiff criticized the global economic system and made reference to the importance of a fair distribution of the world’s food supply.

Pope Francis, at the Second International Conference on Nutrition taking place in Rome, Italy, condemned Thursday food speculation and corporate greed as mechanisms which undermine the global struggle against poverty and hunger.

During his speech, the Pope urged the wealthy countries to share with the disadvantaged nations, while criticizing the squandering, consumption and unequal distribution of the world’s wealth.

"It is also painful to see the struggle against hunger and malnutrition hindered by 'market priorities,' the 'primacy of profit', which reduce foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation and financial speculation in particular," the Pope said.

"The hungry remain at the street corner... and ask for a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity," he said. At the same time, he condemned the “paradox of abundance,” where there is plenty of food for everyone, but not everyone can eat.

Leaders and representatives of more than 190 countries and international organizations have been meeting since yesterday in Rome at the conference organized by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.

The FAO stated that the conference proposed by the World Health Organization seeks to respond to current “nutritional challenges” and to identify priorities for improving international cooperation concerning nutrition.

According to the FAO’s data, around 2 billion people, a third of the world’s population, lack sufficient nutrition, and are deficient in vitamin A, salt, iodine, iron and zinc. Nearly 161 million children exhibit delays in their growth due to lack of nutrition.

Pope Opposes Food Speculation | News | teleSUR

Thursday, November 20, 2014

World Fisheries Day 2014 for Lake Victoria: Some questions on the proposed Nile perch fishing ban


The Lake Victoria fishery has come under increasing pressure in the last two decades. Fish production peaked in the early 1990s and currently catches of most species are showing downward trends. Despite this, there is greater demand for fish of Lake Victoria, chiefly Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and ‘dagaa’ (Rastrineobola argentea), in the export market and for fishmeal respectively, as well as for domestic consumption.

The current proposal to implement a periodic ban on fishing of Nile Perch on Lake Victoria, raises certain fundamental questions that need to be confronted by Partner States:
  • What will happen to millions of people whose livelihoods depend on fish and related resource from Lake Victoria?
  • What will happen to the communities who rely on fish as the core part of their nutrition?
  • Before the ban is effected, how far will it incorporate the lessons from the current Lake Victoria Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) efforts?
  • How will the proposed fishing ban be enforced to avoid pitfalls met in implementation of existing MCS measures?
  • What steps are in place to cultivate full support from Beach Management Units (BMUs), communities / fishers, local leadership and opinion leaders who are key to success of this intervention?
The East African Sustainability Watch is of the opinion that, unless properly executed the fishing ban will negatively affect the millions of poor community members living in the Lake Victoria basin and whose livelihoods depend either directly or indirectly on the fishing in Lake Victoria. For example, there is potential for the fishing ban to affect hundreds of fish processing plants around Lake Victoria and thousands of employees in the fish market chain. Ultimately, the nutrition of the millions of the community members around Lake Victoria who depend on Nile perch as a source of protein shall be affected, while the environmental situation stands to degenerate further as people search for alternatives, without guidance from relevant authorities across the Lake region.

Specifically, EA SusWatch Network urges the East African Community Partner states of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to show commitment towards the conservation of fishery resources in Lake Victoria by addressing key salient issues:

1. EAC Partner States should lead the way in compliance: Partner States should without any further delay fulfil their financial obligation to ensure that the ‘Operation Save Nile Perch (OSNP)’ takes off.

2. Fast-track harmonisation of fisheries and fisheries resource management legislation: The EAC Partner States need to fast track the harmonisation of existing fisheries and fisheries resource management laws in order to pave way for smooth implementation of existing regional action policies and plans, for example the Regional Plan of Action for Management of Fishing Capacity on Lake Victoria, and the Strategy and Action Plan for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of Fisheries on Lake Victoria

3. Facilitate Community compliance: There is an urgent need to facilitate the medium to long-term operations of Beach Management Units in view of their clear mandates as enshrined in the BMU legislations, as well as regularly involving them in planning, decision – making and regular interface with other actors related to fisheries and fisheries resources management in Lake Victoria (for example through the National Committee for Lake Victoria as directed by the LVFO Council of Ministers (Dar es Salaam, June 26, 1999).

4. Scale-up alternative livelihood opportunities: Individual and collective EAC interventions in the Lake Victoria should prioritise investment and support scale-up of tried and tested alternative livelihoods for communities. For example, support for successful aquaculture models, income generation activities through lending schemes and replicable conservation models like the LVEMPII Community Driven Development subprojects and from the Mount Elgon Region Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP).

Read the full statement from here: