News Article | February 16, 2017
Armyworms are attacking maize plants at alarming speed on farms in South Africa (AFP Photo/GULSHAN KHAN) Onderstepoort (South Africa) (AFP) - Peeling back the maize plant's leaves reveals a small brown caterpillar -- an armyworm that writhes as it burrows into the heart of the crop, producing a sticky dark paste. Eighty percent of the Prinsloo family's maize plants are under attack, as are those of other farmers in Haakdoringboom, a farming community 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of South Africa's capital Pretoria. "These worms are eating everything that they touch," said farmer Jacques Prinsloo, who held up a damaged leaf to demonstrate the alarming speed at which the fall armyworms devour the crop. Leaves are shredded and residue speckles the inside of the plants -- a tell-tale sign of trouble. The recently-arrived pests, which are proving immune to existing pesticides, are devastating crops and threatening southern Africa's fragile food supply having spread through Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as South Africa. Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia are also reported to be affected by the worms. They originate from South America and are thought to have arrived in Africa in shipments of plants or on commercial airliners, with the first fall armyworms in Africa seen in Nigeria and Togo last year. "I tried everything on the market. I spent 45,000 rand ($3,400) on pesticides alone," said Jacques, 24, who has been battling the pests for six weeks. "Last year the drought, this year the worms, what next year? Everyone thinks it's easy to farm. It seems easy until you start doing it." Jacques estimates that as many as four in five of his maize plants are affected. If the crop fails entirely, he estimates it will cost his family up to 700,000 rand ($53,000) this year alone. Crops in neighbouring farmers' fields are also being ravaged by the pests, according to Adele who, along with her son Jacques, employs six staff on their roughly 100 hectare farm. "We're fighting. The farm next door to us is fighting," said Adele. Across southern Africa, fall armyworms are wreaking havoc with staple crops for the first time. Key food sources like maize, wheat, millet and rice have all come under attack, raising fears of imminent mass food shortages. Nearly 40 million people in southern Africa have been affected a two-year-long drought caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon reducing food availability by 15 percent, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). David Phiri, the FAO's coordinator for southern Africa, warned experts at a crisis summit in Harare this week that the armyworm poses "a huge threat to food security". Despite their proximity to South Africa's seat of power, the Prinsloos feel that their plight, and that of hundreds of other farmers, is being ignored by the government. "I'm feeling hopeless, angry, heartbroken -- it feels like I could go and sit and cry myself to death," said 50-year-old Adele who has been involved in farming for nearly half her life. "All the money and effort that's been put in there and I'm getting no help. "We were promised a visit by the farming minister on Sunday but they cancelled. Nobody is doing anything. They said they would import a poison from abroad but we've heard nothing." The region around the Prinsloo farm had only just begun to recover from one of the worst dry spells in recent history when the armyworms struck. "A year ago we had the drought but then we had good rains. Now the worms are destroying the crop," said Adele. In one badly affected field, nearly every plant is showing signs of damage. Looking out over his family's fields, bordered by tracks of rich red earth and criss-crossed with mechanical irrigation systems, Jacques is doubtful there will be a quick solution to the crisis. "(The plants) are not going to make corn because of the damage," he said of this year's crop. "The larvae is making new worms and you must fight them again. Burning it might be the only option."
News Article | February 27, 2017
BARCELONA, Espanha--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A GSMA lançou hoje, no Mobile World Congress, a iniciativa “Big Data for Social Good” (em tradução livre, “Grande Conjunto de Dados para o Bem Social”), que vai aproveitar as capacidades de big data das operadoras de telefonia móvel para abordar crises humanitárias, incluindo epidemias e desastres naturais. O programa tem o suporte de 16 das maiores operadoras do mundo – Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison, KDDI, KT Corporation, Millicom, MTS, NTT DOCOMO, INC., Orange, SK Telecom, Telefónica, Telenor, Telia, Turkcell, Vodafone e Zain –, que juntas contabilizam mais de 2 bilhões de conexões em mais de 100 países. A Fundação das Nações Unidas é uma parceira de apoio, proporcionando coordenação e integração com um ecossistema mais amplo, incluindo organizações como a Parceria Global para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável (GPSDD) e a Aliança de Impacto Digital (DIAL). Os testes da “Big Data for Social Good”, com foco em epidemias, vão começar em junho deste ano em Bangladesh, Brasil, Índia, Mianmar e Tailândia. “Há um ano a indústria móvel se tornava o primeiro setor, como um todo, a se comprometer com os Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável da ONU e, conforme descrito no nosso Relatório de Impacto da Indústria Móvel, publicado em setembro de 2016, já estamos abordando todos os 17 objetivos em graus variados”, disse Mats Granryd, diretor geral da GSMA. “Estamos centrados agora em amplificar e acelerar o impacto da nossa indústria na consecução dos ODS e a iniciativa anunciada hoje vai contribuir para abordar alguns dos maiores desafios enfrentados pela humanidade: as epidemias e os desastres naturais.” O impacto das crises humanitárias, tais como epidemias e catástrofes, é assustador. Cada ano, 15 milhões de pessoas morrem e outras milhões ficam gravemente doentes como resultado de doenças infecciosas1 transmitidas através do contato humano, bem como por outras fontes, como mosquitos. Estima-se que 1,8 bilhão de pessoas foram afetadas por desastres na última década2 e as perdas econômicas causadas por desastres totalizaram US$ 1,5 trilhão entre 2003 e 20133. Através da “Big Data for Social Good”, as operadoras de telefonia móvel vão fornecer importantes insights baseados em metadados anonimizados gerados por suas redes para apoiar a resposta nessas situações críticas. Por exemplo, ao monitorar o fluxo de pessoas para e das áreas afetadas, as organizações de saúde pública podem responder de modo mais eficaz a fim de prevenir epidemias, retardar a propagação de doenças e otimizar ainda mais os esforços de ajuda. Com o acesso a informações sobre a rede móvel, as agências humanitárias podem ajudar com mais precisão as ações de evacuação, resposta e recuperação. Os primeiros testes da “Big Data for Social Good” para epidemias começam em junho, com a Bharti Airtel na Índia, Telefónica no Brasil e Telenor em Bangladesh, Myanmar e Tailândia. O objetivo do piloto envolvendo várias operadoras de telefonia móvel é desenvolver capacidades comuns para monitorar, alertar, prever e gerenciar a disseminação de doenças que, se não tratadas, poderiam criar epidemias. Nos testes, as operadoras vão fornecer insights baseados em metadados anônimos usando algoritmos e feeds de dados comuns para fornecer insights sobre os padrões de movimento humano. Os testes vão enriquecer essa informação com fontes de dados de terceiros, tais como internações hospitalares, contagem de mortes e dados meteorológicos, entre outros, para fornecer insights significativos que governos locais e internacionais e agências humanitárias podem usar para tomar decisões sobre quando, onde e como implementar recursos. A GSMA espera publicar os resultados desses testes no Mobile World Congress de 2018. Juntamente com a iniciativa “Big Data for Social Good”, a GSMA e o projeto Global Pulse da ONU colaboraram em um em um relatório sobre o “State of Mobile Data for Social Good” (“Estado dos Dados Móveis para o Bem Social”). O documento demonstra o valor potencial de percepções derivadas de dispositivos móveis para alcançar importantes objetivos de políticas públicas, sintetizando o conjunto de evidências disponíveis até o momento. O relatório também oferece exemplos de pesquisas e pilotos que já foram realizados e destaca os principais desafios e limitações nos dois lados da procura e da oferta. Além disso, o estudo faz recomendações sobre o avanço das parcerias público-privadas sustentáveis e uso de dados móveis para o impacto social. Para mais informações, acesse www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programme/disaster-response/data-for-development. “A iniciativa ‘Big Data for Social Good’ vai se basear em exemplos do mundo todo, de grandes e pequenas operadoras, em economias desenvolvidas e em desenvolvimento, investindo em grandes conjuntos de dados para melhorar a sociedade em diversas áreas”, continuou Granryd. “Isso também complementa a experiência e os insights adquiridos através de programas da GSMA, como o ‘Disaster Response’, ‘mHealth’, ‘Connected Living’ e outros, com ênfase na entrega de impactos acelerados e demonstráveis que podem ser estendidos ainda mais para abordar outras áreas de interesse global.” 1. Dye, Christopher. “After 2015: Infectious Diseases in a New Era of Health and Development.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 369.1645 (2014): 20130426. PMC. Web. 23 fev. 2017. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1645/20130426 3. “Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security”, UOrganização das Nações Unidas para Alimentação e Agricultura (FAO), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5128e.pdf A GSMA representa os interesses das operadoras de telefonia móvel do mundo inteiro, reunindo cerca de 800 operadoras de aproximadamente 300 empresas do amplo ecossistema da tecnologia móvel, incluindo fabricantes de aparelhos e dispositivos, empresas de software, fornecedores de equipamentos e empresas de Internet, assim como organizações de setores industriais adjacentes. A GSMA também realiza os principais eventos do setor, como o Mobile World Congress, o Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress para toda a América e as conferências Mobile 360 Series. O texto no idioma original deste anúncio é a versão oficial autorizada. As traduções são fornecidas apenas como uma facilidade e devem se referir ao texto no idioma original, que é a única versão do texto que tem efeito legal.
News Article | February 15, 2017
The armyworm has already caused damage to staple crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana, with reports also suggesting Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia are affected. Experts say it appears to be the first time that the "fall armyworm" species from the Americas has caused widespread damage in Africa. "So, farmers do not know really how to treat it," said David Phiri, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's coordinator for southern Africa. "Nobody seems to know how it reached Africa," he said, adding that it started in places like Nigeria and Togo, which had it last year. One theory is that the caterpillars arrived in Africa on commercial flights from South America or in plants imported from the region. The caterpillars eat maize, wheat, millet and rice—key food sources in southern and eastern Africa, where many areas are already struggling with shortages after the most severe drought in recent years. Experts from 13 countries will spend three days at the summit in the Zimbabwean capital forming a battle plan to defeat the pests. The armyworm is "spreading rapidly" in Africa and could threaten farming worldwide, the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) warned last week. It said maize is particularly vulnerable to the larvae, which attack the crop's growing points and burrow into the cobs. Unlike the native African armyworm, the fall armyworm does not "march" along the ground in huge numbers seeking more food, the FAO said. "This sequence of outbreaks began in mid-December 2016 in Zambia," Kenneth Wilson, professor at Lancaster University in Britain, wrote in a briefing paper Monday. "It is now as far south as South Africa. Because armyworms feed on many of the staple food crops they have the potential to create food shortages in the region." The fall armyworm also attacks cotton, soybean, potato and tobacco fields. Chemical pesticides can be effective, but fall armyworms have developed resistance in their native Americas. "You use different methods. One of them is pesticides, another is to use biological control. Another is to use natural control, like digging trenches around the farm (or) natural predators, like birds, to eat those worms," said Phiri. "If it is a small level of the worms, it's easy to control, using pesticides. Otherwise, it's very difficult to control it, so they will have to use different methods—including sometimes burning the crops." Zimbabwe's deputy agriculture minister Davis Marapira confirmed to AFP that the pest had been detected in all of the country's 10 provinces. "The government is helping farmers with chemicals and spraying equipment," Marapira said. The FAO, which is hosting the Harare meeting, said armyworm outbreaks combined with current locust problems "could be catastrophic" as southern Africa has yet to recover from droughts caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon. In December, Zambia deployed its national air force to transport pesticides across the country so that fields could be sprayed.
News Article | February 28, 2017
1. クリストファー・ダイ「After 2015: Infectious Diseases in a New Era of Health and Development」 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 369.1645 (2014)：20130426. PMC. Web. 2017年2月23日：http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1645/20130426 3. 「Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security」国連食糧農業機関（FAO）：http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5128e.pdf
News Article | February 17, 2017
BEIJING (Reuters) - Bird flu infection rates on Chinese poultry farms may be far higher than previously thought, because the strain of the deadly virus that has killed more than 100 people this winter is hard to detect in chickens and geese, animal health experts say. Poultry that have contracted the H7N9 strain of the avian flu virus show little or no sign of symptoms. That means any infection is only likely to be detected if farmers or health authorities carry out random tests on a flock, the experts said. But in humans, it can be deadly. That's different to other strains, such as the highly pathogenic H5N6 that struck South Korean farms in December, prompting the government to call in the army to help cull some 26 million birds. But that strain didn't kill any people. There have been multiple outbreaks of bird flu around the world in recent months, with at least half a dozen different strains circulating. The scale of the outbreaks and range of viral strains increases the chances of viruses mixing and mutating, with new versions that can spread more easily between people, experts say. For now, H7N9 is thought to be relatively difficult to spread between people. China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said the vast majority of people infected by H7N9 reported exposure to poultry, especially at live markets. "There are very few, if any, clinical signs when this (H7N9) virus infects birds, and that's the main reason we're not seeing reporting coming from poultry farms in China," said Matthew Stone, deputy director general for International Standards and Science at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). As many as 79 people died from H7N9 bird flu in China in January alone, up to four times higher than the same month in past years. While spikes in contamination rates are normal in January - the main influenza season - the high level of human infections has prompted fears the spread of the virus among people could be the highest on record - especially as the number of bird flu cases reported by farmers has been conspicuously low. The high number of human infections points to a significant outbreak in the poultry population that is not being detected, says Guan Yi, director of the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Center of Influenza Research at the University of Hong Kong. "If we have so many human infections, naturally it reflects activity, an intensive outbreak in chickens. They are highly associated," he said. China has the world's largest flock of chickens, ducks and geese, and slaughtered more than 11 billion birds for meat in 2014, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The last major bird flu outbreak in China, in 2013, killed 36 people and cost the farming industry around $6.5 billion. The experts' assessment underscores the challenge for China's government and health ministry in monitoring and controlling the H7N9 outbreak in both people and poultry. While, with few visible signs of infection in birds, it's easier for farmers to flout the reporting rules and continue selling poultry at market, Stone at the OIE said China has a "very significant" surveillance program at live markets. The government promised on Thursday to tighten controls on markets and poultry transport to help battle the virus. The agriculture ministry last month collected more than 102,000 serum samples and 55,000 virological samples from birds in 26 provinces. Of the latter samples, only 26 tested positive for the virus, according to data on the ministry's website. But the rapid rise in human infections and spread to a wider geographic area is likely to increase pressure on Beijing to do more poultry testing at markets and on farms. The ministry did not respond to faxed questions on its surveillance efforts. The National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Thursday the spread of H7N9 among people was slowing. Some Chinese netizens have called for more timely reports on infections, and some experts have said China has been slow to respond to the human outbreak. The authorities have warned the public to stay alert for the virus, cautioning against panic. Others played down the threat to humans, as long as they stay away from live markets.
News Article | January 31, 2017
The Bay of Bengal’s basin contains some of the most populous regions of the earth. No less than a quarter of the world’s population is concentrated in the eight countries that border the bay1. Approximately 200 million people live along the Bay of Bengal’s coasts and of these a major proportion are partially or wholly dependent on its fisheries2. For the majority of those who depend on it, the Bay of Bengal can provide no more than a meagre living: 61% of India’s fisherfolk already live below the poverty line. Yet the numbers dependent on fisheries are only likely to grow in years to come, partly because of climate change. In southern India drought and water scarcity have already induced tens of thousands of farmers to join the fishing fleet3. Rising sea levels are also likely to drive many displaced people into the fishing industry. But the fisheries of the Bay of Bengal have been under pressure for decades and are now severely depleted4. Many once-abundant species have all but disappeared. Particularly badly affected are the species at the top of the food chain. The bay was once feared by sailors for its man-eating sharks; they are now rare in these waters. Other apex predators like grouper, croaker and rays have also been badly hit. Catches now consist mainly of species like sardines, which are at the bottom of the marine food web5. Good intentions have played no small part in creating the current situation. In the 1960s, western aid agencies encouraged the growth of trawling in India, so that fishermen could profit from the demand for prawns in foreign markets. This led to a “pink gold rush”, in which prawns were trawled with fine mesh nets that were dragged along the sea floor. But along with hauls of “pink gold” these nets also scooped up whole seafloor ecosystems as well as vulnerable species like turtles, dolphins, sea snakes, rays and sharks. These were once called bycatch, and were largely discarded. Today the collateral damage of the trawling industry is processed and sold to the fast-growing poultry and aquaculture industries of the region6. In effect, the processes that sustain the Bay of Bengal’s fisheries are being destroyed in order to produce dirt-cheap chicken feed and fish feed. The aid that flowed in after the massive tsunami of 2004 also had certain unintended consequences7. It led to the modernisation and expansion of the small-scale fisheries sector, which generated an illusory boom followed by a bust. In recent decades the governments of the nations that surround the Bay of Bengal have striven to expand and encourage their fisheries. But unfortunately these efforts have often ignored questions of long-term sustainability. Although attempts have been made to regulate fishing in the bay they have been largely ineffective. In the 1980s and 90s, fisheries expanded into new grounds and began to target new species and for a while there was an increase in catches5. But catch rates began to decline in the late 1990s and trawlers were forced to move farther and farther from their home waters. This in turn has created a little-noticed grid of conflict. In 2015 Sri Lankan authorities claimed to have spotted 40,544 Indian trawlers in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters8. Seventy trawlers were seized and 450 fishermen were arrested. At least 100 deaths have been reported9. Conversely, many Sri Lankan tuna fishermen have also been arrested in India. On the other side of the subcontinent, large numbers of Indian fishermen are frequently arrested in Pakistan: 220 of them were released in December 2016, as a goodwill gesture. In Myanmar, until a ban was enacted in 2014, the catch collected by foreign fishing boats was 100 times greater than that of local fishermen10. In the troubled Arakan region, where 43% of the population is dependent on fisheries, catches have declined so steeply that many families are mired in debt11. Conflicts over fisheries and other resources are a significant but largely unnoticed aspect of the explosive tensions of the region. The Mergui archipelago on the Thai-Myanmar border is one of the more secluded parts of the Bay. In the late 19th century an English fisheries officer described this area as being “literally alive with fish”1. Today the archipelago’s sparsely populated islands remain pristinely beautiful while some of its underwater landscapes present scenes of utter devastation. Fish stocks have been decimated by methods that include cyanide poisoning. The region was once famous for its coral reefs; these have been ravaged by dynamite-fishing and climate-change induced bleaching. Yet the exploitation of these waters continues without check. At night specially equipped, long-armed boats materialise around the islands and shine high-powered green lights into the water to attract plankton and the squid that follow in their wake. After nightfall, a glow that is bright enough to be visible from outer space12 hangs above the archipelago, like a miasmic fog. These squid boats, some of which are probably crewed by men who have been trafficked like slaves13, help to make Thailand the world’s largest exporter of squid – at least for the time being. At the same time the bay’s ecosystems are also being disrupted by other environmental pressures. Several large rivers empty into the bay, carrying vast tides of untreated sewage, plastic, industrial waste and effluent from the agriculture and aquaculture industries14. The impact of this pollution could be catastrophic. The high load of organic pollutants, coupled with the diminution of the fish that keep them in control, could lead to massive plankton blooms, further reducing the water’s oxygen content. Last month a multinational team of scientists reported an alarming finding – a very large “dead zone” has appeared in the bay. Apart from sulphur-oxidising bacteria and marine worms, few creatures can live in these oxygen-depleted waters15. This zone already spans some 60,000 sq km and appears to be growing16. The dead zone of the Bay of Bengal is now at a point where a further reduction in its oxygen content could have the effect of stripping the water of nitrogen, a key nutrient. This transition could be triggered either by accretions of pollution or by changes in the monsoons, a predicted effect of global warming. What is unfolding in the bay is a catastrophic convergence of flawed policy, economic over-exploitation, unsustainable forms of waste management, and climate change impacts that are intensifying in unpredictable ways. The scientists who identified the bay’s dead zone warn that this stretch of ocean is approaching a tipping point that will have serious consequences for the planet’s oceans and the global nitrogen cycle. Should the bay’s fisheries collapse there will also be very serious human consequences, including intensified conflict and mass displacement. If millions of people lose their livelihoods then we can be sure that the resultant churning of populations will create huge new streams of migration, across the bay, the Indian Ocean, and indeed, the planet. Recent refugee flows in the region suggest that such a process may have already begun. For these issues to be addressed there needs to be a sea change in governmental attitudes and policies. For too long the governments of the region, often with international encouragement, have looked upon the sea as a bottomless resource pit to be despoiled at will. They need instead to view it as a wilderness that requires conservation and informed management, in consultation with the communities that are dependent on it. The situation demands carefully crafted solutions since it involves millions of livelihoods that are already imperilled by the dwindling of the bay’s resources. • Amitav Ghosh is a novelist and non-fiction writer. His most recent book is The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. • Aaron Savio Lobo has a PhD in marine conservation from the University of Cambridge. He is currently a technical advisor for the Indo-German Biodiversity program of the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit ) in India. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of his organisation. 1. Amrith, S. Crossing the Bay of Bengal: the furies of nature and the fortunes of migrants. (Harvard University Press Cambridge, MA, 2013). 2. BOBLME. Results and achievements of the BOBLME Project. (2015). 3. Swathilekshmi, P. S. & Johnson, B. Migrant labourers in the primary sector of marine fisheries: A case study in Karnataka. 38 (Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, 2013). 4. Vivekanandan, E., Srinath, M. & Kuriakose, S. Fishing the marine food web along the Indian coast. Fish. Res.72, 241–252 (2005). 5. Bhathal, B. & Pauly, D. ‘Fishing down marine food webs’ and spatial expansion of coastal fisheries in India, 1950–2000. Fish. Res.91, 26–34 (2008). 8. Scholtens, J. Fishing for access in transboundary waters. The reproduction of fishers’ marginality in post-war northern Sri Lanka. (University of Amsterdam, 2016). 9. Suryanarayan, V. & Swaminathan, R. Fishing in Palk Bay: contested territory or common heritage? Thinking out of the box. (Ganesh and Co.). 11. Ei Cherry Aung. As catch and sales fall, Burma’s fishermen sink into debt. The Irrawaddy (2017). 12. Schonhardt, S. What’s the one thing in Thailand visible from space? The Wall Street Journal (2014). 13. Jones, S. Trafficked into slavery on a Thai fishing boat: “I thought I’d die there”. The Guardian (2015). 14. Kaly, U. L. Review of land-based sources of pollution to the coastal and marine environments in the BOBLME Region. 100 (FAO-BOBLME Programme, 2004). 15. Bristow, L. A. et al. N2 production rates limited by nitrite availability in the Bay of Bengal oxygen minimum zone. Nat. Geosci10, 24–29 (2017).
News Article | February 28, 2017
South Sudan is suffering the world's first famine in six years, after Somalia in 2011 where an estimated 260,000 people died (AFP Photo/TONY KARUMBA) Nairobi (AFP) - From ancient Rome to modern times, mankind has suffered devastating periods of hunger caused by drought, war or misguided politics. Last week South Sudan was declared the site of the world's first famine in six years, affecting about 100,000 people. Here is an exploration of a term that evokes the very worst of human suffering. "Famine is not a word that we use lightly," said Erminio Sacco, a food security expert with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Since 2007 the term has been employed according to a scientific system agreed upon by global agencies, as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale. According to the IPC scale, famine exists when at least 20 percent of the population in a specific area has extremely limited access to basic food; acute malnutrition exceeds 30 percent; and the death rate exceeds two per 10,000 people per day for the entire population. "This scientific methodology helps to avoid famine becoming a term misused for political reasons," Sacco said. Over the last century, famines hit China, the Soviet Union, Iran and Cambodia, often the result of human actions. Europe suffered several famines in the Middle Ages, but its most recent were during World War I and II, where parts of Germany, Poland and The Netherlands were left starving under military blockades. In Africa there have been several famines in recent decades, from Biafra in Nigeria in the 1970s to the 1983-1985 Ethiopian famine, which ushered in a new form of celebrity fundraising and unprecedented media attention on the suffering. The last famine in the world was in Somalia in 2011, which killed an estimated 260,000 people. - Why are there still famines today? - While South Sudan is officially experiencing famine, the UN has warned that Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen are all on the verge of the classification, which could affect more than 20 million people. "The common denominator is protracted armed conflict and its negative impact on access to food, farming and livestock production... livelihoods, trade and, not least, humanitarian delivery," Sacco said. Of the four famine alerts, only one -- Somalia -- is caused by drought, while the other three stem from conflicts. - What is life like under famine? - In South Sudan, people have gone through cycles of displacement over the past three years which have driven many of them to hide in swamps, having lost their homes, crops and livestock. With nothing else available, they spend days foraging for wild foods such as water lily roots, fruit or fish, Sacco said. They also spend days walking in search of food aid through areas controlled by armed groups. "They are extremely weak, hungry, and drink unsafe water from ponds and rivers," he said. Cholera is a constant threat. - What does it mean to die from hunger? - When lack of food has led to an 18 percent loss of weight, the body starts undergoing physiological disturbances, according to a 1997 study of hunger strikes published in the British Medical Journal. "The body metabolism gets increasingly dysfunctional, impacting the brain and other vital organs. At that point, therapeutic feeding treatment is necessary to save their lives, as the body has lost the ability to process normal foods," Sacco said. When people have insufficient food over several weeks, it leads to organ failure and eventually death. - What are the long-term impacts? - Even without reaching famine, parts of the Sahel, Somalia and Ethiopia go through regular cycles of hunger that have long-term social consequences. "The biological damage erodes the physical well-being of entire generations of children and their development potential, possibly resulting in a weak workforce and retarded students," Sacco said. Hunger leads to stunted growth and impacts cognitive development, and can lead to poor health throughout a person's life.
Public health nutrition | Year: 2011
To present the Mediterranean diet as an example of a sustainable diet, in which nutrition, biodiversity, local food production, culture and sustainability are strongly interconnected. Review of notions and activities contributing towards the acknowledgement of the Mediterranean diet as a sustainable diet. The Mediterranean region and its populations. Mediterranean populations. The acknowledgement of the Mediterranean diet as a sustainable diet needs the development of new cross-cutting intersectoral case studies to demonstrate further the synergies among nutrition, biodiversity and sustainability as expressed by the Mediterranean diet for the benefit of present and future generations.
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2010
This article gives a brief review of the development and current situation in global irrigation, and looks at the drivers affecting irrigation performance, development and modernization. The article concludes that the options for new developments are limited, and that future investment will need to be more precisely targeted to specific niches in different agroecological and economic contexts. The paper notes the powerful implications of global climatic change on irrigation through changes in hydrology and water supply that, in conjunction with (1) continued demand for cheap food to satisfy continuously growing populations and changing dietary preferences (projected to 2050) and (2) increasing competition for high reliability water from higher value economic sectors, indicate irrigation performance and the productivity of agricultural water use must further improve, and are also likely to become more targeted at higher value enterprises. Improving management, through better institutions and better technology will require constant adaptation and finessing, with no silver bullets currently on the horizon. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Euphytica | Year: 2011
Major changes have occurred in the global wheat-rust disease landscape over the last century. At the turn of the twentieth century pioneering rust research was driven by the need to combat devastating stem rust epidemics. A fundamental understanding of rust genetics and dispersal pathways emerged from this early work. Stem rust epidemics were also the driver behind the breeding programs that resulted in the green revolution of the 1960/70s. Successful incorporation of durable stem rust resistance into high yielding semi-dwarf wheat cultivars would change the wheat-rust disease situation beyond recognition. Associated intensification of the wheat cropping systems would also produce dramatic changes. Despite localized outbreaks, by the early 1990s stem rust was a disease under control. During this period of low stem rust incidence, yellow rust began to emerge as a substantial threat. Breakdown of Yr9 resistance resulted in damaging epidemics in Asia; an exotic incursion introduced yellow rust into Australia with highly significant subsequent impacts. The Australian incursion was almost certainly transmitted via an air traveller and the exponential growth in international air travel has increased the probability of other cross-continental movements. By the start of the twenty-first century, new rust threats had emerged. Durable stem rust resistance was broken down by the Ug99 race lineage identified in East Africa; new aggressive strains of yellow rust adapted to warmer temperatures were identified and spread across continents at a rapid rate. As in the past, major rust developments are one driver of global initiatives to mitigate the threat. Climate change and the response of pathogens to changing conditions are possible emerging issues, although other changes may prove to be more significant. Throughout this century of change a consistent theme is the adaptability of wheat-rust pathogens to cause recurring damage. Maintaining the gains of the previous decades will require sustained, collaborative, multi-disciplinary efforts. To keep pace with the evolving threats posed by wheat rusts there is a clear need for continuous vigilance and surveillance of both pathogen and host. Current international monitoring and surveillance efforts are described along with associated challenges. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.