By Samar Kadi
Ensuring clean water and adequate sanitation for everyone in the Arab world was the focus of a meeting of Arab government officials and water, sanitation and health experts. Participants highlighted the importance of pursuing the Arab strategy for water security 2010-2030 set by the Arab Ministerial Water Council of the Arab League.
The strategy advocates a human rights-based approach to water and sanitation in the Arab region where an estimated 50 million people have no access to basic water supply and 74 million lack access to sanitation services.
“It is a basic human right to access water and sanitation,” said Hamed Bakir, a senior official at the Regional Centre for Environmental Health Activities of the World Health Organisation. “Water and sanitation services are important for the protection of our community and the health of our society. Every person must have access to safely managed water supply and sanitation… Not having that goes against human dignity and against human rights.”
“It is unacceptable today to have 74 million people who do not have sanitation facilities at home, including 24 million who defecate in the open. On top of that you have 50 million people still today who don’t have access to basic water supply. No running water in their homes, no water from a safe source and some don’t have water within 30 minutes’ walk from their homes,” Bakir said.
He pointed out that only 29% of existing sanitation systems in the Arab world are safely managed, “which means that the other systems would pollute the environment and the water resources.”
Lowest natural water endowment in the world
The Arab region has the lowest natural water endowment in the world and it is forecast to face severe water shortages mainly due to population growth, climate change and bad management of water resources.
Out of the 22 Arab countries, 13 are below the absolute water scarcity threshold of 500 cubic metres per capita per year and another five fall below the renewable water resources scarcity annual threshold of 1,000 cubic metres per capita, the United Nations said.
The freshwater scarcity is exacerbated by dependency on transboundary water resources, declining water quality, accessibility constraints due to occupation and conflict and water losses because of poor infrastructure.
The effect of occupation on water accessibility is particularly severe in the case of Palestinians in the occupied territories who get a mere 14% of the 770 million cubic metres of renewable water annually.
“In principle, we do not have water scarcity in Palestine, it is a direct implication of Israeli occupation,” said Mohammad al-Hmaidi, CEO of the Water Sector Regulatory Council in Ramallah. “Israel’s control over groundwater and the Jordan River deprives the Palestinians of their water rights and their share is the lowest in the region.”
In the West Bank, Israeli restrictions have hindered development of the water sector, including construction of wastewater treatment plants. In Gaza, the water situation is “disastrous” due to the chronic energy crisis caused by the Israeli siege and the inability to pump and distribute water, Hmaidi said.
“Israel’s digging of deep artesian wells to supply settlements in the West Bank deprives the Palestinians of benefiting from groundwater, increasing their dependency on buying water from Israel,” he said, stressing that “Israel’s continuous siphoning of groundwater will turn the West Bank into an extremely water-stressed area in no time.”
Provision of water should not be politicised
An “outcome document,” released at the end of the meeting, was conveyed to the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development and the Arab Ministerial Water Council, which is to convene in Beirut end of April and in Kuwait in May.
The priorities outlined in the paper include: Ensuring water sustainability, accessibility and affordability for all; improving water management, efficiency and conservation and rationalisation of water use and productivity; increasing the use of non-conventional water resources; rebuilding water installations damaged and destroyed by conflict and occupation as a priority; devising regional mechanism to protect shared water resources during conflict; and supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation through the lens of water scarcity.
The document stressed that the provision of water and sanitation for all should not be politicised, must be protected during social unrest and conflict and excluded from sanctions.
“Keeping the human interface of water as a top priority is needed,” Bakir said. “That means water for people in their homes and safely managed water supply and sanitation. Nobody should be left out.”
“Climate change, water scarcity and bad management of water resources are all big challenges for the region but, in my view, a bigger challenge is those people who do not have access to basic services. We need to remember that at the end of the day it is about people. Our top priority should be the human being,” Bakir added.
Published on The Arab Weekly on May 18, 2018
Urgent action needed to tackle the double burden of malnutrition and to achieve Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals in Africa
Under nutrition, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases are leading to catastrophic costs to individuals, to communities and to national healthcare systems in Africa. Every year, it is estimated that 11 million Africans fall into poverty due to high out-of-pocket payments for healthcare. According to experts attending a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, nutritional status, a critical component of a person’s health and wellbeing, must be recognized as a necessary building block towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
“Not only do current figures mean we are unlikely to achieve the six global nutrition targets for 2025 but also the more ambitious target of ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030, which is integral to the goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all, at all ages,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa. She added that “an exclusive focus of our energies – and finances – on curative services and related medical equipment, supplies and medicines to treat diseases that often are rooted in malnutrition will limit our chances of achieving health and wellbeing for all.”
In 2016, an estimated 59 million children in Africa were stunted and 14 million suffered from wasting – a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. That same year, 10 million were overweight; almost double the figure from 2000. In a 2014 report on Africa it was estimated that 5 percent of males and 15 percent of females over 18 years of age were obese. The same report showed that 8 percent of adults above 25 years of age had diabetes and that is expected to double by 2035, while hypertension affected 46 percent.
Poverty, hunger and disease are the main drivers of malnutrition in the African region and are linked with poor living conditions, lack of education, insecure livelihoods, and lack of access to basic services including health care and healthy, safe, nutritious foods.
“The burden of undernutrition still persists across the African region, and today its impacts are being felt alongside overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases in many poor households,” said Dr Felicitas Zawaira, Director of the Family and Reproductive Health Cluster at the WHO Regional Office. “In recent years, we’ve rightly focused many of our energies on addressing hunger, but what we must recognize is that ending hunger does not guarantee improved nutrition”, she added.
Obesity and diet-related NCDs are largely the result of lifestyles characterized by limited physical activity and the consumption of unhealthy diets consisting of highly processed foods that are rich in calories, sugars, fats, salt and additives, but low in essential nutrients.
When micronutrient deficiencies are taken into account, Africa is in fact experiencing a triple burden of malnutrition. Micronutrient deficiencies, which often pass unnoticed, are responsible for reduced bodily resilience and resistance to infections. They compromise early child development, negatively affect reproductive health and reduce work rate capacity. It is estimated that almost 50 percent of pregnant women in Africa suffer from anaemia which increases death risk for themselves as well as their unborn babies as well as incidences of low birth weight.
According to Dr Zawaira, “improving nutrition sustainably requires consideration of how to produce, deliver, and ensure access to healthy diets and essential nutrients, not just greater quantities of food” which is the vision of the Rome Declaration and Framework of Action endorsed by Ministers of Agriculture and Health at the Second International Conference on Nutrition in 2014.
“Tackling all forms of malnutrition for the achievement of UHC and the health-related SDGs requires remedial actions from multiple sectors and on many fronts,” Dr Zawaira added. These actions, she explained, include policies and community action to control the marketing and consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages (including breast milk substitutes); setting nutrition standards and dietary goals; nutrition labelling of processed foods; policies to promote consumption of healthy foods through taxation and subsidies; initiatives to promote consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and increased physical activity; social marketing campaigns and multi-component community-based interventions, among others .
Sector-specific recommendations by participants include:
The Experts warned that unless countries in Africa start enacting measures to tackle the double burden of nutrition affecting the continent, the road towards UHC will be marred with obstacles as will the aspiration to achieve health and wellbeing for all by 2030.
Published on WHO on April 17, 2018
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, will visit Indonesia from 9 to 18 April 2018 to gather first-hand information on the country’s food and agriculture policies that affects peoples’ livelihoods.
“I look forward to the opportunity to assess the enjoyment of the right to food in Indonesia including its good practices and challenges,” the Special Rapporteur said.
“I intend to focus on the efforts made by the Government in increasing food security and reducing malnutrition as well as the impact of business activities on the right to food while paying extra attention to the situation of women, children and populations living in rural areas and remote places,” Ms. Elver added.
The Special Rapporteur said that the objective of her visit was to engage in a constructive dialogue with relevant stakeholders, to identify improvements as well as challenges and suggest recommendations to the Government and others.
During her mission, Ms. Elver will meet with government officials, the national human rights commission, civil society organisations, actors from the private sector and other relevant stakeholders both in Jakarta and outside the capital.
At the end of her visit, the Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference to share the preliminary findings of her visit at 11:30 local time on Wednesday 18 April 2018, at at 11:30 local time on Wednesday 18 April 2018, at Papua Room 7th Floor, Menara Thamrin Building, Jl. MH Thamrin Kav. 3, Jakarta 10250. Access is strictly limited to journalists.
The Special Rapporteur’s observations and recommendations will be reflected in a report to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019.
Published on OHCHR on April 4, 2018
By Ana Maria Lebada
On World Water Day, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) launched the ‘International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development’ (2018-2028). Promoting the integrated management of water resources, the Decade aims to create a platform for sharing good practices, advocacy, networking and partnership-building at all levels. It will support achievement of the water-related aspects of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Organized by the UNGA President, the high-level launch event took place on 22 March 2018 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. World Water Day is celebrated annually on 22 March.
Delivering remarks on behalf of the UNGA President, Mahmoud Saikal, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan and UNGA Vice President, noted the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water, and underscored the centrality of water to the achievement of all the SDGs. He said the Decade of Action needs to be defined by: water and sanitation as priorities for the budgets and policies of national governments; a surge of cooperation on water management and disaster risk reduction (DRR) between different stakeholders, including the UN, governments, international financial institutions, businesses and civil society; and increased water-related investments and innovations.
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said with demand for freshwater projected to grow by more than 40% by 2050 and climate change having a growing impact, water scarcity is “an enormous concern.” He added that, by 2050, at least one in four people will live in a country where the lack of fresh water will be chronic or recurrent. He further noted that: 40% of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity; 80% of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment; and more than 90% of disasters are water-related. More than two billion people lack access to safe water and more than 4.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation services.
The Secretary-General presented the Action Plan of the Decade for Action, which has three objectives: transforming the current silo-based approach to water supply, sanitation, water management and DRR into an integrated one to better tackle water stress, combat climate change, and enhance resilience; aligning existing water and sanitation programmes and projects with the 2030 Agenda; and generating the political will for strengthened cooperation and partnerships.
Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan and Initiator of the Decade for Action, presented the report titled, ‘Making Every Drop Count: An agenda on Water Action’ on behalf of the members of the High-Level Panel on Water. Autumn Peltier, civil society representative, explained why water is sacred and noted that water should be protected by human rights.
During the ensuing plenary, the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan said, in the future, water will possibly be the key element in the relations between states and communities. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, for the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS), stressed the need for investment in developing infrastructure for the effective management and efficient use of water. He also called for capacity building support for data collection. The Minister of Water of Ethiopia emphasized the need for international support and partnerships to address the gap in access to clean water and sanitation. The Minister of Water and Irrigation of Jordan called for advancing effective management of shared water resources.
Guyana, for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called for increasing official development assistance (ODA), awareness, and cooperation on water issues at all levels. Supported by Palau for the Small-island Developing States (P-SIDS), she emphasized the centrality of SDG 13 on climate action to achieving SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation. Egypt, for the Group of the 77 and China (G-77/ China), called for developed countries to increase their investments in water and sanitation projects in developing countries. Paraguay, for Land-locked Developing Countries (LLDCs), said integrated approaches to water management are essential to achieving the Vienna Programme of Action for the LLDCs (VPoA) for the LLDCs.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced the inclusion of water-related issues in its humanitarian efforts. Israel highlighted the importance of developing innovative technologies, explaining that it solved the issue of water scarcity by making its agricultural system rely on treated waste-water. Peru and the Netherlands spoke about water’s importance to achieving SDG 16 on peace and security through creating a conducive environment for peace. He announced the planned launch of the ‘Valuing Water’ global coalition in collaboration with the World Bank, the UN, and other water stakeholders including youth and indigenous people, on the margins of this year’s High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF). Peru spoke about the development of indicators for the implementation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) water governance principles.
Germany said it would support the strengthening of UN-Water and the creation of a dedicated space for intergovernmental discussions on the implementation of water-related goals and targets within the UN. Japan highlighted the need for investment in DRR. Australia presented the Water for Women Fund which has invested US$110 million and partnered with civil society to address the gender aspects of water-related challenges. Switzerland called for greater emphasis on water within the UN.
During a panel on the ‘Contribution of the Water Decade to the implementation of water related SDGs,’ Ali Al-Ghezawi, Minister of Water and Irrigation of Jordan, emphasized that regional cooperation on water issues is especially important for LLDCs. Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs of Netherlands, noted that UN’s approach to water is currently unorganized, and the Decade for Action should contribute to addressing this issue.
Danilo Türk, Chairman of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace and former President of the Republic of Slovenia, suggested that water specialists should be included in UN Peacekeeping operations to enable them to address the water-related aspects of civilian protection. Priscilla Achapka, Executive Director Women Environmental Programme, highlighted the need to integrate the gender-related aspects in water planning and management. Sadhguru, Founder of the Isha Foundation, stressed the need to make ecology a lucrative field for the vast number of people involved in it.
During a panel on the ‘Role of relevant stakeholders in mobilizing necessary resources for the implementation and follow-up of water related SDGs,’ Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary, said the importance of water should be accurately captured by the current efforts of reforming the UN development system. Mohamed Asim, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, spoke about the involvement of private sector, through public-private partnerships, in an ambitious series of desalination projects that are essential for providing Maldives with drinking water.
Andries Nel, Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs of South Africa, highlighted the need for strengthening the rural-urban linkage when it comes to water access and management, as well as for a citizens’ participatory approach to urban planning. Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, President of Women for Water Partnership, underscored the important role women play in water management and called for them to participate on an equal footing with men in water programs. She added that women’s experience with water resources will be essential for water programs’ success.
Published on IISD on March 27, 2018
🔎 Sustainable Development Goals; Food Waste; Zero Hunger
By STEFAN JUNGCURT PH.D.
Only one-quarter of the food wasted globally would be enough to end hunger. Reducing food waste by half, as called for by Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 12.3, would not only contribute to more sustainable production and consumption (SDG 12), but also go a long way in achieving zero hunger (SDG 2) and climate action (SDG 13).
To raise awareness of these linkages and boost collaboration to address food waste, participants to the High-Level Event ‘Championing 12.3 as a Pathway to Zero Hunger’ called on the global community to renew its commitment towards zero tolerance for food loss and waste. Organized on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, the event brought together high-level speakers, including the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to discuss measures and initiatives to advance the global agenda on reducing food waste.
FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva outlined the economic benefits of reducing food waste, noting that food loss also represents a loss of labor, water, energy, land and other inputs. He said that “investing in measures to prevent food loss and food waste also means making investments in pro-poor policies as it promotes sustainable food systems for a zero-hunger world.”
Coinciding with the event, FAO and Unilever, an international consumer goods company, announced a deepening of their strategic partnership to support countries in reducing food loss and waste. The partners have agreed to pursue interventions in five strategic areas, including digital innovation, land governance, resilience building for smallholder farmers, reducing food loss and food waste, and climate change in support of achieving the SDGs. Building on an existing initiative in Argentina, FAO and Unilever will work to scale up interventions globally, including joint awareness raising campaigns and actions to engage governments, civil society and the private sector. Unilever will also continue taking action towards achieving its internal commitment to halve food waste from its operations by 2025.
The High-level event was sponsored by FAO, IFAD, WFP, Rockefeller Foundation, The German G20 Presidency and Champions 12.3. Champions 12.3 is a coalition of executives from governments, businesses, international organizations, research institutions, farmer groups, and civil society dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3.
Food loss and food waste was also discussed at a recent ‘Food Tank Summit’ held on 13 September, in New York City, US. Organized by FoodTank, ReFED, Rockefeller Foundation and other partners, the event brought together food system leaders from business, nonprofit organizations, foundations and governments to discuss “how to stop food waste once and for all.” A recorded live stream of the event is available on the Food Tank website.
Published on IISD on September 26, 2017
Setting a target to reach out parched regions with one billion litres of water annually before next environment day (June 5, 2018), startups working on ensuring water-supply to the deprived said they see water ATMs as the next solution.
At 76 million -- about six percent of the population, India has the largest number of people living without access to safe water in the world, according to a 2016 WaterAid report. Meanwhile, experts like Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh, known as India's Water Man, say that over 73 per cent of the country's aquifers are being overdrawn.
The reports state that while aquifers provide 85 per cent of drinking water, their levels are falling in 56 per cent of the country.
At the same time, providing the rural-areas with affordable potable drinking water through water-ATMs is the next step, say people in the business.
"In a world that needs 350 billion litres of water every day, we aspire to deliver one billion litres per annum by 2018," says Parag Agarwal, Delhi-based founder of JanaJal, a company that has currently installed 100 water ATMs along with the IRCTC at railway stations in Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat, while pursuing other projects in rural areas where status of clean water is in bad shape.
Among the latest and one of the firsts in the past two years, a Water ATM, providing potable drinking water at Rs 2 per litre was recently installed at Khoda village in Ghaziabad district by JanaJal. The first water ATM of UP was installed in Mathura.
"We are committed to make a difference and make Right to Water a distinct reality in the life of every Indian but for that, we also solicit and seek support from corporate India to further this cause in an affordable and sustainable manner and make this precious resource available to one and all," Agarwal said.
The average cost of one water ATM is about Rs 8-10 lakh. The water is procured from the nearest source, underground, lake, river or wells and sent to a lab before being uploaded on the ATMs.
"On the occasion of World Environment Day, we wish to point out that 2 billion people are suffering due to lack of access to safe drinking water. If current trends continue, two out of every three people on earth will suffer moderate to severe water shortages in just two decades from now," he said.
However with India rapidly moving towards being water-stressed, the primary availability is being threatened.
The current availability of water per person per year in India is placed at roughly 1,745 cubic metres. To qualify for becoming water-stressed, the figure has to drop to 1,700 and at 1,000 it becomes water scarce.
A Central Water Commission report states that over the past five decades, availability of fresh water has dropped from 3,000 cubic metres to 1,123 cubic metres today.
According to S.K. Sarkar, Director of Water Division at The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), by 2050, India will be water-scarce.
At present about 1,123 billion cubic metres of fresh water is available in India of which 84 per cent is used in agriculture.
Published on The News Minute on June 5, 2017.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, today cautioned that many Zambian peasants are at risk of becoming squatters on their own land as Zambia is turned into Southern Africa’s food basket.
“The push to turn commercial large-scale agricultural into a driving engine of the Zambian economy, in a situation where the protection of access to land is weak, can risk pushing small-holder farmers and peasants off their land and out of production with severe impacts on the people’s right to food,” Ms. Elver said at the end of her first official visit to the country.
The expert drew special attention to the fact that in the Zambian dual-model of land tenure tenants on state land enjoy the full protection of their property rights. “However,” she noted, “landholders under customary tenure, affecting around 85% of the land, mostly in hands of peasants, are essentially occupants or users of land and their property and land rights remain unprotected.”
“This situation is particularly alarming since small scale farmers represent 60% of Zambians and at the same time produce 85% of the food for the population,” Ms. Elver pointed out. “These people are generally amongst the poorest of the population, 40% of them live in rural areas and suffer from extreme poverty.”
“Many peasants are forced to work as contract farmers for the larger commercial industrial farms in adverse conditions, or are obliged to sell their products at undervalued prices to monopoly type multinationals who buy farmers’ product for export,” the expert explained.
The Special Rapporteur heard testimonies of comparatively successful small-scale farmers who were still forced to sell their animals in order to pay for their children to go to school. Many small-scale farmers have their children working from as early as the age of six to secure their families’ livelihood.
Ms. Elver noted that the growth in the agriculture sector in Zambia in the last decade has not been inclusive but limited to large scale farmers, leaving the small scale farmers behind. “The agricultural sector has failed to make a dent on poverty levels in the rural areas and as such the model for the strengthening of the agricultural sectors need to be altered,” she said.
“It is imperative that national strategies incorporate human rights principles that include the protection of their access to land and other productive resources in order to protect the county’s traditional food system, small holder farmers and their livelihoods,” the Special Rapporteur urged.
Access to adequate and nutritious food continues to be a challenge across most of the country, with women and children in the rural area faring worst. Many children and their families only eat only one meal of not necessarily nutritious food per day.
A recent study has found that severe acute malnutrition in Zambia comes with a 40% mortality rate, five times the global average due to lack in access to adequate health services as well as to therapeutic foods.
The expert was alarmed to find out that around 40% of children under five are stunted with this figure reaching above 50% in some of the rural provinces, and even higher in refugee camps and the most marginalized rural areas, while the country was enjoying impressive economic growth rates of over 6 per cent per year.
“This is not tolerable since the effects of under-nutrition are irreversible, and lack of access to adequate and nutritious food is having a detrimental effect on future generations and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” she stressed.
The country’s agricultural development model based on intensive commercial farming has increased rates of deforestation and to bio-diversity loss. It has also increased the use of agro chemicals, including glyphosate, which have a scientifically proven adverse impact on human health, in particular on children.
“It is vital that development plans and policies take into account the true cost of industrial farming methods primarily for its people, but also on soil and water resources, as well as the social and economic impact on people rather than focusing only on short term profitability and economic growth,” Ms. Elver said.
During her ten-day visit, the expert met, among others, senior Government officials, representatives from the UN system, civil society members, traditional leaders and communities in various locations throughout the country.
The Special Rapporteur’s observations and recommendations will be reflected in her final report, which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2018.
Published on the OHCHR's website on May 12, 2017.
By TANYA FARBER
All South Africans have the right to food - on paper. But University of the Western Cape researchers say alarm bells should be going off about food insecurity, and that civil society should be fighting harder for improvements.Ebenezer Durojaye and Enoch MacDonnell Chilemba, of the Dullah Omar Institute, said that despite constitutional guarantees of the right to food, the government was failing citizens.
"Why are we not seeing litigation challenging the government on its failure to achieve access to food for all, given that the constitution explicitly protects the right to food?" asked Durojaye.
The university's Centre of Excellence in Food Security said: "The researchers reviewed broad swathes of literature, legal documents and international agreements to better understand how the right to food is protected in South Africa, and what the government and civil society organisations are doing to ensure that nutritious food is available to all."
They compared South Africa to India, saying: "Although the right to food is not legally enforceable in India, the courts have been called on to clarify the nature of the government's obligation.
"Indian courts have been very creative by invoking other provisions of the constitution, such as the rights to life and dignity, to hold the government accountable for its failure to prevent hunger."
In South Africa, however, "very little is being done by civil society to hold the government accountable for these failures".
Durojaye and Chilemba cited the work of the Treatment Action Campaign - which agitated for the roll-out of ARVs to people with HIV - as a role model.
"South African civil society groups can learn from the Indian experience by establishing a campaign on the right to food and filing test cases to hold the government accountable."
Unicef said food insecurity is particularly destructive to children. It said: "Just as the damaging effects of malnutrition can pass from one generation to the next, so can the benefits of good nutrition.
"Giving a child a solid nutritional start has an impact for life on physical, mental and social development."
But South African corporates are tackling the issue.
Marcos Romaniero, head of food company Kraft Heinz in Africa, the Middle East and Asia - distributed meals yesterday at two creches in Vrygrond, Cape Town, as part of the company's commitment to "eradicate global hunger by providing 1billion meals globally by 2021".
Stats SA said 13% of pupils go hungry at school.
Published on Times Live's website on April 3, 2017.
Urgent humanitarian action needed to respond to alarming levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen
Climate change is contributing to a growing water crisis, putting the lives of millions of children at risk
By 2040, almost 600 million children will live in areas with extremely limited water resources. That’s around 1 in 4 children worldwide.
A major factor in water stress will be a global increase in demand for water, driven largely by industrialization, population growth, demographic shifts, food production and increased consumption. Taking longer showers, cleaning cars, watering gardens and eating more meat – all take their toll.
In many of the regions projected to be hit hardest, we are already witnessing a water crisis unfolding.
Increasing droughts and floods threaten quality and quantity of water
Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in history. In the 136 years NASA has been keeping record, all but 1 of the 16 hottest years have occurred since 2000. The hottest year on record? 2016.
When it comes to the world’s water supply, only a tiny amount (2.5 per cent) is actually fresh water, the type needed to sustain human, animal and plant life.
Sea levels are rising faster than before, and as they do, salt water can infiltrate water supplies and make the water undrinkable.
The higher temperatures also cause droughts and floods, and an increase in water-linked diseases.
Without water, children simply cannot survive. During times of drought, children not only risk dying of thirst, but also have less food and must walk longer distances to collect water. This means less time to go to school, study and play.
Often it is the girl in a family who is tasked with fetching water and who is the first to miss out on education. Instead of being in school, girls can spend hours fetching water, sometimes at risk of attack. If they are fortunate enough to finally get to school, they are often too tired to learn.
Globally women and girls already spend about 200 million hours a day gathering water. Thirteen-year-old Aysha, in Afar, Ethiopia, must trudge eight hours, round trip, to collect water for herself and her family.
Droughts can have multiple effects on poor families and communities. Crops fail, livestock dies and income drops, leading to food insecurity for the poor as well as rising food prices. Such loss of livelihood can push families further into poverty and force them to migrate in search of water and food.
In 2016 Malawi faced its worst drought in 30 years, resulting in 6.7 million people needing food aid as of February 2017. One of the people affected was Teresa. After losing her husband, she has been struggling alone to look after her baby, who is suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
When water becomes scarce during droughts, many people resort to drinking unsafe water, putting children at risk of deadly diseases.
Water and sanitation related diseases are one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 years old. Every day, over 800 children under 5 die from diarrhoea linked to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene.
In Lesotho, for example, the drought in 2016 caused many safe water sources to dry up, forcing families to search for unsafe alternatives and leading to an increase in diarrhoea cases.
In the event of floods, latrines and toilets can be destroyed or damaged, which can contaminate water supplies and make them unsafe to drink.
The poorest and most disadvantaged children are most at riskFlood and drought zones often overlap with areas of high poverty and limited access to essential services such as water and sanitation.
Many of the children and families who are disadvantaged by poverty are already suffering from the impacts of climate change.
This situation can create a vicious cycle: children living in poverty or deprived of adequate water and sanitation before a crisis will be more affected by a flood, drought or storm. They are less likely to recover quickly and at even greater risk in a subsequent crisis.
The number of floods and storms worldwide is increasing and evidence suggests that climate change is behind this upward trend. Out of the 15 countries in the world most at risk of disaster, 9 are in Asia and the Pacific – with Vanuatu as the most threatened.
Nine-year-old John lives in Vanuatu where Cyclone Pam hit in 2015. It affected more than 60 per cent of the islanders, many of whom had not fully recovered from Cyclone Lusi the previous year. John is afraid there is not enough food and water for him and his family. “When I grow up, I want to be rich,” he says. “I want to be so rich that I can buy food and I will still have some money left.”
Published (extract) on UNICEF website.