Book: "Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century" edited by activist Alice Wong
Movie: "Loving" a true story of an interracial couple in 1959 and their Supreme Court case to change the marriage laws in Virginia.Our planet needs all of us to help
For an update on several aspects of the Global Hunger situation and news on the shipment from Ukraine to Lebanon click here.
A “Perfect Storm” Obliterates Global Progress in Reducing Hunger
This is the first of a 3-part series on the global hunger situation
The “perfect storm” of Covid-19, climate change, and conflict resulted in at least 276 million acutely food insecure people - a historic high - at the start of 2022. This number could reach 323 million this year because of the impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Most vulnerable are children: One new child is affected by wasting - the deadliest form of malnutrition - every 60 seconds, and every 11 seconds, a child dies.
World Food Prize Laureates (leading innovators in agriculture, soil management, nutrition and humanitarian assistance, who have enabled a large numbers of people escape hunger) in an open letter to the G7 Heads of Government ahead of their June 26-28 summit, warn, “These three factors – Covid-19, Climate and Conflict – combine to form a toxic brew which, in the absence of decisive, bold action and investment, will dramatically increase the numbers of children, women and men living with – and dying from – hunger.”
The challenges to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition keep growing. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the fragilities in our agri-food systems and the inequalities in our societies, driving further increases in world hunger and severe food insecurity. Despite global progress, trends in child undernutrition – including stunting and wasting, deficiencies in essential micronutrient, continue to be of great concern.
The most recent evidence available suggests that the number of people unable to afford a healthy diet around the world rose by 112 million to almost 3.1 billion, reflecting the impacts of rising consumer food prices during the pandemic. This number could even be greater once data are available to account for income losses in 2020. The ongoing war in Ukraine is disrupting supply chains and further affecting prices of grain, fertilizer and energy. In the first half of 2022, this resulted in further food price increases. At the same time, more frequent and severe extreme climate events are disrupting supply chains, especially in low-income countries.
The proportion of the hungry people in the world had dropped from 34% to 12% in the last 30 years in a remarkable achievement. However, Covid-19, climate change and conflict have begun to turn back the clock on this stellar progress, with millions more now hungry or malnourished. Covid-19 has led directly to 6 million deaths, and Covid-related economic disruptions have caused increased hunger, malnutrition, poverty and death of many more millions. The World Food Program estimates that 45 million people are now at the risk of famine, especially in three countries in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
“We recommend generous aid to address hunger directly through humanitarian relief, nutrition assistance, and agricultural development that expands farmers’ access to climate-resilient technologies and supports domestic food production,” added the Laureates in their recently released letter.
PART 2: SOME GOOD NEWS: VITAL GRAIN EXPORTS FROM UKRAINE’S BLACK SEA PORTS TO RESUME
This is the second of a 3-part series on the global hunger situation
Ukraine and Russia have agreed on a deal that would allow the resumption of vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, a major diplomatic breakthrough aimed at easing a global food crisis sparked by the war, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on July 22, 2022.
Ministers from both countries signed an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul. The breakthrough followed months of negotiations, and promises to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds — some of Ukraine's most important exports. Russia has so far been blocking maritime access to those ports, meaning that millions of tons of Ukrainian grain has not been exported to the many countries that rely on it. "Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope -- a beacon of possibility -- a beacon of relief -- in a world that needs it more than ever", Guterres said. "Promoting the welfare of humanity has been the driving force of these talks", he said. "The question has not been what is good for one side or the other. The focus has been on what matters most for the people of our world. And let there be no doubt -- this is an agreement for the world."
Guterres said the deal will bring relief for developing countries and help stabilize global food prices, "which were already at record levels even before the war -- a true nightmare for developing countries". The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that 47 million people have moved into a stage of acute hunger as a consequence of the Ukraine war, and Western officials have accused Russia of using food as a weapon during its invasion. The deal will also allow the unimpeded access of Russian fertilizers to global markets. Russia is a major producer of fertilizers, which are vital to maximizing food production, and the cost of the product has spiraled since the invasion.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "millions of people will be relieved of this danger of hunger" as a result of the deal. "In the coming days we will see the start of ship traffic and many countries will have a breath of fresh air", Erdogan said.
How will this deal work?
As part of the deal signed Friday, grain ships would navigate through a safe corridor in the Black Sea under the direction of Ukrainian pilots, and then pass through the Bosphorus strait -- an important shipping corridor in north-west Turkey -- in order to reach global markets. Vessels would be inspected before they arrive in Ukraine by Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials, to ensure weapons are not being smuggled into Ukraine.
The ships will be monitored by a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) which will be established immediately in Istanbul and include representatives from Ukraine, Russia and Turkey. Both parties have agreed that there should be no attacks on any of the vessels going from those ports out of territorial waters into the Black Sea by any party.
Why are grain exports so important?
Ukraine and Russia are both significant suppliers of food to the world. In normal times, Ukraine -- known as one of the globe's breadbaskets -- would export around three-quarters of the grain it produces. According to data from the European Commission, about 90% of these exports were shipped by sea, from Ukraine's Black Sea ports.
The war and its impact on grain exports therefore has major implications, particularly in the global South which relies heavily on them. Between disrupting Ukrainian agricultural production and blocking the export of products that remain, Russia's war in Ukraine could push 49 million people into famine or famine-like conditions, the United Nations warned last month.
Update: Grain exports to resume
The first shipment of Ukrainian grain under the Black Sea deal brokered by the United Nations is expected to move within a few days, a spokesperson for the UN secretary general said Monday. Parties to the agreement have reaffirmed their commitment as of Sunday, deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said, despite Russian strikes in the Ukrainian port of Odesa just a day after the accord was signed.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday July 27 unveiled a center in Istanbul to oversee the export of Ukrainian grains after a landmark U.N. deal last week, with the first shipment expected to depart from Black Sea ports within days.
THE UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES NEW COMMITMENTS TO RESPOND TO THE GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY CRISIS
In late June, during the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany, President Joe Biden pledged $2.76 billion in additional U.S. government resources to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food security crisis exacerbated by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and the severe drought in the Horn of Africa region. This pledge represents more than half of the over $4.5 billion in additional resources that G7 leaders committed to addressing global food security at the Summit. This funding will support efforts in over 47 countries and regional organizations, saving lives through emergency interventions and mitigating further increases in poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in vulnerable countries affected by high prices of food, fertilizer, and fuel. This additional pledged funding will bring the United States’ total investment in the global food security crisis to $5.56 billion since the start of Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine.
GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
With this funding, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide an additional $2 billion for direct food assistance, as well as related health, nutrition, protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene services in countries with high levels of acute food insecurity, reliance on Russian and Ukrainian imports, and vulnerability to price shocks. This funding includes support for countries hosting refugee populations and countries in the Horn of Africa facing a perfect storm of historic drought, COVID-19, and global shocks of food and fertilizer prices that threaten up to 20 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.