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28 posts categorized "Climate Change"

Climate Change, Rising Food Prices, and Farmers

By Laura Elizabeth Pohl

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Mario Espinosa, a farmer in Chiapas, Mexico, digs irrigation channels in his field this past Monday.

The U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, are in their second week but a headline from last week is still stuck in my head: "Global warming could double food prices" by 2050.

According to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, prices will be affected by factors including reduced productivity due to warming and changing rainfall patterns, and population growth. The Associated Press reports:

Change apparently already is under way. Returning from northern India, agricultural scientist Andrew Jarvis said wheat farmers there were finding warming was maturing their crops too quickly. "The temperatures are high and they're getting reduced yields," Jarvis, of the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture, told reporters last month.

Right now I'm visiting farms and farmers in the southeastern Mexico state of Chiapas, not terribly far from where the climate talks are happening. Climate change is not the focus of why I and two Bread for the World colleagues are here, but it's been on my mind. If global temperatures keep rising and weather and climate patterns shift, what will happen to farmers like Mario Espinosa?

We recently met the 29-year-old vegetable farmer as he dug irrigation channels in his maize field. Espinosa married five months ago and lives with his wife, Leti, in a town about an hour's drive from Comitan. He once worked in orange groves in Florida and cucumber fields in Michigan. Now, with the help of AGROS, an organization that helps people achieve land ownership and learn agriculture skills, he feels his future is richer in Mexico.

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Espinosa, 29, once worked on farms in the U.S. but now feels his future is richer in Mexico.

It could be a future dependent on the winds of climate change and what world leaders are willing to do about it. Earlier this year, Mexican President Felipe Calderon linked floods and landslides in Chiapas and the nearby state of Oaxaca to global warming. "For us, it is absolutely clear that global warming exists," he told AFP.

Unfortunately, it's also becoming clear that no substantive agreement will come out of this year's U.N. climate talks. Expectations were not high to begin with. But it looks like we'll have to wait at least one more year so that years down the road, farmers like Espinosa aren't flooded out of their homes and livelihoods.

 

Trees Take Root in Haiti

Text by Molly Marsh / Photographs by Laura Elizabeth Pohl

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — The 45-minute ride from Port-au-Prince to the village of Arcahaie is hot and bumpy. The landscape around us is dotted with shrubs and some trees, though generations of deforestation have left the hillsides of Chaîne des Matheux, the mountain range north of Haiti’s capital city, green but mostly barren.

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Children help line up tree seedlings at a Trees for the Future nursery in Gericher, Haiti.

Timote Georges, Haiti program coordinator for Trees for the Future, a nonprofit organization that works on reforestation projects in some 20 countries, points out the devastating effects of deforestation. There are few trees to keep the soil from eroding, to provide relief from the unrelenting sun and heat, and to protect farms and homes from the ravages of heavy rains.

“When it rains, people in the lowlands see their work and livelihoods washed out,” says Georges. Trees would minimize the impact of Haiti’s seasonal rains, not to mention the hurricanes the country regularly experiences. Tree roots also add important nutrients to soil. Healthy, nutritious soil leads to better crops, which leads to more food and less hunger.

Georges and his colleagues stopped their pickups—carrying us and Bread senior policy analyst Whitney Rhoades—on a gravel road overlooking a steep embankment. Next up was a walk through the brush and a wade through a river to reach the community of Gericher. We climbed a hill to enter a small but lively oasis—a nursery packed with plants, trees, and families who are participating in a Trees for the Future program.

Tidy lines of seedlings, planted in dirt and natural compost and wrapped with black plastic, covered the ground. Children carefully watered them so that the trees’ roots would develop. When the trees mature, they’ll be replanted higher in the hills as well as the immediate area. Many of the 170 families served by the nursery already have trees surrounding their homes, farms, and livestock to protect them from landslides and heavy rains.

Involving family and community members in the projects is key, says Georges. “Before we start doing anything, we do training. We talk about existing environmental problems. We help them become aware of the consequences of deforestation, and we tell them how trees can control erosion and help stabilize soil. We talk about the importance of trees for nature—for them.”

Once community members decide on their plan, Trees for the Future provides training, tools, and technical assistance to help them establish their nurseries.

The organization manages projects in three areas of Haiti—Arcahaie, Gonaives, and Medor—which serve 20 communities. It’s a small organization with a big impact—they’ve planted close to 1 million trees in a country whose tree coverage is estimated at 2 percent.

“We lost bridges in 10 minutes,” said Georges, referring to the hurricanes Haiti experienced in 2008. “It’s because the environment around the bridges was degraded. When we talk about helping Haiti, we have to invest in the environment.”

Our group left the nursery and walked back down a dry, rocky hill toward the river. “Before we planted, it was like this,” Georges said, pointing to the barren earth underneath his feet. “It was lifeless. Now it is living.

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The Trees for the Future nursery in Gericher, Haiti, lies in a field dotted with low-lying shrubbery and rocks but few trees.


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"Doing reforestation without environmental education is a mistake," says Timote Georges, Haiti program coordinator for Trees for the Future. Georges studied agronomy in Haiti and Costa Rica and started working with the organization in 2008.

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The tree nursery in Gericher, Haiti, serves 170 families.

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Haiti is 98% deforested, which exacerbates soil erosion problems and hurts agriculture production, thus contributing to poverty and hunger in the country.

Bread for the World is traveling in Haiti this week to collect stories related to alleviating hunger and poverty.

Trees Take Root in Haiti

The 45-minute ride from Port-au-Prince to the village of Arcahaie is hot and bumpy. The landscape around us is dotted with shrubs and some trees, though generations of deforestation have left the hillsides of Chaîne des Matheux, the mountain range north of Haiti’s capital city, green but mostly barren.

Timoté Georges, Haiti program coordinator for Trees for the Future, a nonprofit organization that works on reforestation projects in some 20 countries, points out the devastating effects of deforestation. There are few trees to keep the soil from eroding, to provide relief from the unrelenting sun and heat, and to protect farms and homes from the ravages of heavy rains.

“When it rains, people in the lowlands see their work and livelihoods washed out,” says Georges. Trees would minimize the impact of Haiti’s seasonal rains, not to mention the hurricanes the country regularly experiences. Tree roots also add important nutrients to soil. Healthy, nutritious soil leads to better crops, which leads to more food and less hunger.

Georges and his colleagues stopped their pickups—carrying Laura Elizabeth Pohl, Bread’s multimedia manager, Whitney Rhoades, a Bread senior policy analyst, and me—on a gravel road overlooking a steep embankment. Next up was a walk through the brush and a wade through a river to reach the community of Gericher.  We climbed a hill to enter a small but lively oasis—a nursery packed with plants, trees, and families who are participating in a Trees for the Future program.

Tidy lines of seedlings, planted in dirt and natural compost and wrapped with black plastic, covered the ground. Children carefully watered them so that the trees’ roots would develop. When the trees mature, they’ll be replanted higher in the hills as well as the immediate area. Many of the 170 families served by the nursery already have trees surrounding their homes, farms, and livestock to protect them from landslides and heavy rains.

Involving family and community members in the projects is key, says Georges. “Before we start doing anything, we do training. We talk about existing environmental problems. We help them become aware of the consequences of deforestation, and we tell them how trees can control erosion and help stabilize soil. We talk about the importance of trees for nature—for them.”

Once community members decide on their plan, Trees for the Future provides training, tools, and technical assistance to help them establish their nurseries.

The organization manages projects in three areas of Haiti—Arcahaie, Gonaives, and Medor—which serve 20 communities. It’s a small organization with a big impact—they’ve planted close to 1 million trees in a country whose tree coverage is estimated at 2 percent.

“We lost bridges in 10 minutes,” said Georges, referring to the earthquake Haiti experienced January 12. “It’s because the environment around the bridges was degraded. When we talk about helping Haiti, we have to invest in the environment.”

Our group left the nursery and walked back down a dry, rocky hill toward the river. “Before we planted, it was like this,” Georges said, pointing to the barren earth underneath his feet. “It was lifeless. Now it is living.”

Top Hunger News: SNAP Benefits May Shrink

Domestic

To Get Medicaid and Education Aid to States, An Unprecedented Cut to Food Stamps. Congress poised to cut billions from food stamps, resulting in an unprecedented cut in monthly benefits for the poorest Americans. [The Washington Independent]

The Plight of America's New Poor. The economic recovery in the US has stalled and for the 15 million unemployed Americans, the land of opportunity seems anything but. Almost 50% of the unemployed have not had a job for at least six months, double the level of previous downturns. [BBC]

Fighting Generational Poverty in Richmond's Iron Triangle. A new federal program called Promise Neighborhoods has economically disadvantaged communities all over the Bay Area scrambling to be included. This year, the program is giving out $500,000 awards to organizations in neighborhoods around the country that struggle with low educational achievement, violence and other effects of poverty. [KALWNews.org]

International

Samasource, a Cyber Solution to Global Poverty. Leila Chirayath Janah was well on her way to becoming another cog in the wheels of multinational big business. Then she decided it was wrong to let the world's poor people's massive talent go to waste. [The Daily Maverick]

Niger's Markets are Full Yet Famine Shadows the Dusty Roads. Nearly 12 million people in Niger – about 80% of the population – are now affected by food insecurity, a status that indicates they have as few as 10 days' food supplies remaining with all other income-generating activities exhausted. [The Guardian]

The Brits Have Us Beat on Child Poverty. In the past 10 years, the United States and the United Kingdom have been through a lot of the same economic troubles. But somehow in this past decade, Britain has made major inroads in reducing child poverty while the U.S. has stagnated. [The New America Foundation]

Climate Change/Environment

Is Climate Change Creating More Environmental Refugees than War in Africa? Climate change is rapidly emerging as one of the most serious threats that humanity may ever face. The impact of climate change on livelihoods is creating a new kind of casualty: environmental refugees. Rising sea levels, desertification, weather-induced flooding, and frequent natural disasters have become a major cause of population displacement. [ReliefWeb]

Top Hunger News: Changing Poverty Criteria

Domestic

More Poverty by Any Measure. ...A number of states have become convinced that the federal figures actually understate poverty, and have begun using different criteria in operating state-based social programs. [Stateline.org]

Oil Spill's Impacts on Cash Assistance Still Unknown. A reliable estimate of  the amount of money needed to satisfy cash assistance and Food Stamp requests from Florida families in dire straits because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill won’t be known for months. [Sunshine State News]

When the Benefits Run Out - and Still No Job. ...By the end of the year, more than 1 million people will have exhausted their 99 weeks and still be without work, according to Andrew Stettner, deputy director at the National Employment Law Project. [CNN Money]

Vendors Asked to Make Healthy Menus. It’s like “Top Chef,’’ but with food trucks. [The Boston Globe]


International

[Multimedia] Algae Could Combat Hunger. Heralded by scientists as a near-miracle food, a protein-rich algae has potential to abolish malnutrition. [Newsdesk.org]

Millions Wasted on Shipping Food Aid. U.S. taxpayers spend about U.S. $140 million every year on non-emergency food aid in Africa, and roughly the same amount to ship food aid to global destinations on U.S. vessels; money that could have been used to feed more people says a new study by researchers at Cornell University in the U.S. [IRIN]

Asia Needs to Invest More to Feed Population. Asian countries need to increase investment in food production by 50 percent to $120 billion a year to ensure they can afford to feed their large and growing populations, a United Nations' body said on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Hunger Rates for Niger's Children Reach 'Alarming' Levels. Relief workers in Niger say malnutrition rates for children under age five have reached emergency levels. A deepening food crisis in the eastern Sahel threatens nearly half of Niger's 14 million people. [VOA News]

Climate Change/Environment

[Multimedia] Peruvian Snags World Bank Funding to Paint Mountaintops White. Eduardo Gold, a Peruvian inventor, perturbed by the melting of glaciers in the Andes Mountains, has come up with a solution -- paint the Andes white. [Digital Journal]

Supporting Farmer Climate Adaptation When 'the Rains are Changing.' Farmers and herders in Ethiopia and Mali say that rainfall patterns are becoming more uncertain, endangering their pasture for livestock and their harvests. [Alertnet.com]   

Climate Change, a Burden to a Poor Farmer. Climate change spells a misfortune for rural livelihoods and agriculture in Malawi. [Digital Journal]

Top Hunger News: Microlending Builds Community and Security in U.S.

Domestic

The Poor Always Pay. An Asian bank for low-income women is out to teach Wall Street a lesson. [Newsweek]

Farmers Struggling to Cultivate Markets. Vendors contending with low-income and ethnic communities see business withering. [The Chicago Tribune]

Huge Increase in Islanders on Food Stamps. One out of every 10 Staten Islanders now shops with food stamps. [SILive.com]

Five Myths about America's Homeless. Last month, the Obama administration released a plan designed to end homelessness in 10 years... [that was] fueled by recent research debunking a number of long-standing myths about homelessness in America -- and showing that many of our old policies were unwittingly making the problem worse. [The Washington Post]

International

Haitian Farmers Reaping Hard Times as Hunger Grows. In Haiti's rocky northern hills, Joseph Jean has planted seeds donated by U.S. aid group Trees for The Future hoping to reverse the deforestation that has washed away soil and impoverished farmers. [AFP]

China Moves from Aid Recipient to Aid Donor. When Britain announced it would stop giving public money to China as part of a plan to direct financial aid to countries in greater need, it was symbolic of China’s shift from aid receiver to aid giver. [IPS]

Malawi: There is Food but No Money to Take it to the People. Another year with a surplus harvest of maize, the staple food, is good news for Malawi, but dry spells in the south have left around 700,000 people in need of food assistance. [IRIN]

Africa: Help Out Small Farmers, Report Urges. Small-holder farmers, who make up almost all of Africa’s agriculture sector, need more support to reduce over-dependence on increasingly costly food imports, states a new report. [IRIN]

Cameroon Fears Imminent Hunger. There are fears of an imminent and unprecedented hunger and reduced farmers' income in most parts of Cameroon, particularly in the North West and South West regions as a cocoyam is spreading. [AfricaNews.com]

Climate Change/Environment

Oil Spill Has Not Spurred Change. For environmentalists, the BP oil spill may be disproving the maxim that great tragedies produce great change. [TheDay.com]

Plan to Save Indonesia's Forests Hits Snags. Environmentalists warn of loopholes as industries lobby for land rights. [The Wall Street Journal]

Top Hunger News: Ugandan War Survivors Rise from Poverty

International

Uganda: War Survivors Take the Poverty Bull by the Horns. Eunice Odok is a well-known woman in Abilonino village, Apac district. The 26-year-old mother of four is known for her high pitched voice, which has been her signature for a long time. [AllAfrica.com]

DRC: 'Food and Livelihood Crisis' in the West. Millions of people in parts of the western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are facing a “food and livelihood crisis” brought on by structural causes such as the dependence on the mining sector and a poor road and livelihoods infrastructure, say officials. [IRIN]

U.N. Agency Opens Up Access to Largest Database of Hunger Statistics. The world’s largest and most comprehensive database on food, agriculture and hunger is now open to the public, free of charge, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced today. [UN News Center]

Domestic

Center Hired to Find Food Stamp Recipients. Corinne Reese says the Shoals Family Success Center is all about trying to make sure families with needs are connected with resources. [TimesDaily.com]

Federal Government Eyeing Free Lunches for All Students in High-Poverty Areas, Rules for Vending Machines. The federal government could soon be paying for lunch for entire communities of children under a new plan in the U.S. House of Representatives. [Mlive.com]

Climate Change/Environment

Biotech and Breeding - Glimpses of the Agricultural Future. Agricultural production in the developing world could be among the hardest-hit by climate change, but new research shows that food security can be improved by biotechnology and adapting traditional farming techniques, experts say. [IRIN]

Zambia: State, Brazil Seal Deals to Reduce Hunger. Zambia and Brazil have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) in the fields of bio-fuels production and food services aimed at reducing hunger in the two countries. [AllAfrica.com]

Top Hunger News: Baltimore Engages "Food Czar"

Domestic

Food Czar Hopes to Change the Way Baltimore Eats. While Holly Freishtat's directive may be straightforward — get more healthy food on the tables of the people who need it — accomplishing it may not be. [AP]

Initial Jobless Claims Dip, Lowest Since May. New claims for unemployment benefits dropped sharply last week, signaling that layoffs are slowing but not enough to signal strong job creation. High unemployment remains one of the biggest obstacles to a strong, sustained recovery. [AP]

U.S. Recovery Seen as On Track, But Will Slow. In a 2010 review of U.S. economic conditions released Thursday, the IMF attributed the economic recovery to a "powerful and effective policy response" as well as improved financial conditions. "While still modest by historical standards, the recovery has proved stronger than we had earlier expected," the IMF said. [CNN]

Minnesota Effort Seeks to Ease Rural Poverty Through 'Agripreneurship.’ Immigrants who have flocked to rural communities following the dream of putting their agricultural backgrounds and expertise to good work have run into a road block. According to advocates for people with limited income and resources, large scale, conventional farming has left most of them in poverty, and taken its toll on the land as well. [Public News Service]

International

Hunger Crisis Update for Niger and Haiti. Severe drought has struck in Niger and the resulting food shortages have sent child malnutrition rates soaring. For any country, a child acute malnutrition rate over 15 percent is considered an emergency. In Niger, the rate is currently 16.7 for children under five. [The Washington Examiner]

Burkina Faso: Vital Role for Local Food. ...Sesame, tamarind and certain leaves are vital tools in the fight against malnutrition, say aid workers training families in northern Burkina Faso. [IRIN]

Nigeria: Gearing Up to Fight Food Shortages. Severe water shortages, plummeting livestock prices and rising grain costs would affect each of the northern states, according to an assessment in May 2010 by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. [IRIN]

Climate Change/Environment

Could Be a Busy Season for Disasters. The La Niña phenomenon has officially arrived and disaster response teams around the world might need to brace themselves for heavier monsoons, bigger and more frequent hurricanes, and angrier cyclones. [IRIN]

Top Hunger News: Three Determined Women Break Cycle of Poverty

Domestic

African-American Women Struggle to Overcome Wealth Gap. Call it a tale of three women. In the most hard-scrabble parts of South Carolina, Kenya Williams, Natisha Boston, and Germaine Jenkins are all struggling to overcome personal hardship and overwhelming odds. [BBC]

Child Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences. Using the PSID, this study finds that 49 percent of children who are poor at birth go on to spend at least half their childhoods living in poverty. In addition, children who are born into poverty and spend multiple years living in poor families have worse adult outcomes than their counterparts in higher-income families. [Urban Institute]

[Blog] As Food Prices Rise, How Will Retailers Respond? The reality is that many food prices, due to late plantings, weather conditions and natural disasters, are on the way up. [Supermarket News]

International

[Blog] Poverty is Destiny. The World Bank estimates that there are more than 1.4 billion people in the world who live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. It will be interesting to see what happens to children born in poverty: to follow them from womb to tomb, the entire life cycle. [The World Bank Institute]

Rust in the Bread Basket. A crop-killing fungus is spreading out of Africa toward the world’s great wheat-growing areas. [The Economist]

Two Faces of Asia, Ultrarich and Desperately Poor, Hound Economists. Philippine policymakers and other developing-country planners must rewrite their economic plans into what the Asian Development Bank calls “inclusive growth,” or the scaling down of the gap between the rich and the poor. [Business Mirror]

After World Cup Euphoria Fades, South Africa’s Poverty Will Remain. For many citizens, the $5 billion sports extravaganza will generate little more than pride. [The Globe and Mail]

Climate Change/Environment

Conservation Can Be a Weapon Against Poverty. The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Mexico shows how local people can be paid for protecting their environment... [The Guardian]

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