On the brink. -
On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis?
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On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? 3 Contents 04 Glossary 05 Executive summary 05 A triple crisis 06 Recommendations 09 Section 1 - Reality bites: How prepared are we for the triple crisis? 10 Are countries prepared? 11 Crisis one: The climate crunch 12 Crisis two: The resource crunch 15 Crisis Three: The food price crunch 17 Ways forward and conclusions 18 What can we do to halt a deepening triple crisis? 19 Recommendations 20 - 76 Section 2 - HungerFREE scorecards 77 Information on indicators, methodology and sources 78 Total scores across indicators 80 The vulnerability index 80 Indicator: Hunger 83 Capacity and preparedness index 83 Indicator: Legal framework 84 Indicator: Sustainable agriculture 85 Indicator: Social protection 87 Indicator: Gender equality 89 Indicator: Climate adaption plans 92 Endnotes
4 On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? AA ActionAid ADP Agricultural Development Programme AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome AU African Union CAADP Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme CCAFS Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research COP United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties CPI Consumer Prices Index DRC Democratic Republic of the Congo FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations FISP Farmer Input Support Programme GDP Gross Domestic Product GMO Genetically Modified Foods GNI Gross National Income GOANA Great Offensive for Food and Abundance HDI Human Development Index HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus HNPSP Health, Nutrition and Population Sector Programme IAASTD International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development IMF International Monetary Fund IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change MNREGA Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act NAPAs National Adaption Programmes of Action NARP National Agricultural Response Programme NGO Non-Governmental Organisation OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development PARPA Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper PDS Public Distribution System PEAP Poverty Eradication Action Plan SISAN National System on Food and Nutritional Security SOFI State of Food Insecurity in the World UN United Nations UNEP United Nations Environment Programme US United States WB World Bank WFP World Food Programme WHO World Health Organisation Glossary
On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? 5 A triple crisis Accelerating climate change, growing population and rising food prices pose a triple crisis that could lead to a collapse in global food systems. A predicted 30 per cent increase in world population by 2050, together with the severe impact of severe climate change on harvests, is widely forecast to set the scene for food scarcity in decades to come. This year’s famine in East Africa provided a terrible preview of how such crises could play out in years to come, with severe drought, conflict over access to water and land, and high food prices interacting to push 13 million people into starvation. “Earth to run out of food by 2050?”, Time magazine’s December 2010 headline,1 may have been an overstatement, but UN agencies, scientists and food policy experts concur that we are in serious trouble. There has been a flurry of conferences and reports calling for governments to act now. However, ActionAid’s new report is the first to show which of 28 developing countries are taking action against the climate/hunger crunch, and which are burying their heads in the sand. We examine the record of these 28 countries in two core areas: overall vulnerability to the climate/ hunger crunch, and key policy measures that can reduce vulnerability. These are measured by our ‘Vulnerability’ and ‘Capacity /Preparedness’ indices (see Tables 1 and 2, for more information). Crisis One: the climate crunch The impact that climate change is predicted to have on farming is the first of three major threats to world food security. Over half a billion additional people in the tropics – 526 million people – could be at risk of hunger because of climate change by 2050, according to recent estimates by the Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) used by ActionAid. Scientists estimate that already global production of key staples, such as wheat and corn, has fallen by 3.8 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively over the last three decades, as a result of climate change. Crop yields from rain-fed agriculture in some southern African countries could fall by up to 50 per cent by 2020 because of climate change, and yields in central and south Asia could fall by 30 per cent by 2050. Rich countries bear the overwhelming responsibility for the devastating impact that climate change is having on food production in poor countries. And their current actions are making things worse. A binding deal to limit global warming is nowhere in sight. Promised ‘fast start’ funding to cope with climate change is still only a trickle and aid funds for agriculture are still woefully inadequate, badly undermining poor countries’ chances of taking adequate steps to increase food production in time. Crisis Two: the resource crunch Pressure on ecosystem resources is the second part of the triple crisis. Land and water are being diverted away from the small-scale farmers who produce most of the food consumed in poor communities, and the natural resources needed to grow food are increasingly degraded. Since 1960, a third of the world’s farmland has been abandoned because it has been exhausted beyond use about 10 million hectares are destroyed every year. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organi- sation (FAO) says that in Africa alone 6.3 million hectares of degraded farmland has lost its fertility and water-holding capacity and needs to be regenerated to meet the demand for food from a population set to double there by 2050. The concurrent loss of locally-adapted and locally-available crops and plant varieties is of mounting concern, because it leaves rural communities less resilient and adaptive to changing weather patterns and conditions. Furthermore, it can take around 20 years to reverse land degradation, meaning that only long-term vision and action can halt these worrying trends. Crisis Three: the food price crunch Rising food prices – as a result of rapid population growth, stagnating yields and the conversion of cropland into biofuels production – is the third part of the crisis. High and volatile prices are already causing misery (with the real price of a typical Executive Summary
6 On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? food basket up nearly 50 per cent over last year), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and FAO say there will be no let up. In real terms, commodity prices are projected to be 20 per cent higher for cereals and 30 per cent higher for meats from now until 2020 compared to 2000–2010. With poor people in developing countries spending anything between 50 to 80 per cent of their weekly household income on food, it is no surprise that the World Bank estimates that 44 million people fell into extreme poverty from June 2010-Feburary 2011 because of high food prices. New research findings ActionAid’s research shows that 1.6 billion people – nearly a quarter of the world’s population – live in countries that are highly vulnerable to climate-related food crises. They have very high underlying levels of chronic hunger and child malnutrition, coupled with rapid rates of land degradation that will make food production increas- ingly difficult as global warming intensifies. Only a few of these countries are putting adequate measures in place to assure future food security. Our Hunger Scorecard, backed with in-depth surveys of the communities ActionAid works with, shows that these scenarios are no longer a distant nightmare. Across Asia, Africa and Latin America communities are recording higher food prices, inci- dences of land-grabbing for biofuels production or other purposes, and increased vulnerability to drought and floods. Every rural community surveyed reported that erratic and extreme weather is reducing their ability to feed themselves. What needs to happen? There is no time to waste. Leaders must invest in making agriculture robust and resilient right now, enabling more food to be grown in a climate-stressed environment without further exhausting finite natural resources. It takes years to boost food production and make farming systems resilient. It cannot be done overnight. A big part of the problem is getting rich countries to step up and take responsibility for their past and current emissions – the major cause of global warming. They must agree binding cuts to emissions and pay their climate debt by funding the costs of coping with the devastating impacts of global warming in poor countries, including collapsing food security. Poor countries, however, do not have the luxury of waiting any longer to start doing what they can themselves to protect their citizens from the possibility of future famine. It is inspiring that second and third places in this year’s scorecard index measuring policy preparedness go to Malawi and Rwanda – two of the poorest countries in the world but nevertheless investing strongly in agriculture, planning well for climate change, and beginning to expand social welfare systems to cushion poor people from hunger shocks. Greater investment in sustainable small-scale farming – which is climate resilient, renews ecosystems and reduces hunger and poverty – will be a central tool in tackling the triple crisis. Putting women smallholder farmers at the heart of these efforts will be essential to success, given that about half of the world’s food is produced by smallholder farmers, the vast majority of whom are women. Recommendations There are many things that leaders can do now to confront the food/climate/ resource crisis. Recognising the scale, speed and urgency of these challenges is the first step. Learning lessons from what is already working in some countries is the next vital stepping stone. 1. Support sustainable small-scale farming techniques that are climate resilient Improve women’s access and control over land and other productive resources. • Devote at least 10 per cent of the budget to agriculture and ensure the majority • of this support is going towards staple crops on which poor communities rely, and towards the small farmers, especially women, who grow them. More widely, those G8 and G20 countries that pledged to support smallholder • based agriculture and rural development in Asia, Africa and Latin America with US$22 billion by 2012 should deliver on their promises. 2. Climate-proof farming and protect fragile natural resource base on which it depends Expand support for sustainable, agro-ecological techniques that integrate water • and soil conservation into farming systems. Such practices (including increased crop rotation, reduced use of chemical inputs, use of local seed varieties, water
On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? 7 harvesting and smarter irrigation techniques) have been proven to increase climate resilience and combat land degradation. Enact national legislation to protect women and other groups with insecure or • customary tenure from land grabbing, and give them secure land ownership and access. The European Union and the US must eliminate biofuel targets and subsidies, • which contribute to increasing food prices, resource crunches and land grabbing. All UN member states should enact binding regulations on cross-border land • deals that threaten food security. National legislation must be enacted that protects women from land grabbing • and gives them secure land ownership and access. 3. Build buffers against food price shocks, such as social protection programmes and national and regional food reserves Social protection is vital to ensuring that the poorest people can access food • governments must expand social protection schemes to ensure households do not fall into hunger. Governments must build better shock absorbers and greater resiliency into • national and regional food systems by strengthening food reserves, in order to tackle food price spikes and emergencies. Many countries in Africa and beyond are currently bolstering their food reserves, • and the G20 has committed to supporting a new pilot project for an emergency regional reserve in West Africa. They must expand this vision and support na- tional buffer reserves. 4. Stop climate chaos Rich nations must agree to deeper cuts to their greenhouse gas emissions to • keep temperatures from rising over 1.5ºC. If they fail, the world could warm up by up to 5ºC, with catastrophic consequences for food systems worldwide. Rich countries must set out plans for delivering the US$100 billion a year they • have promised by 2020 to enable developing countries to adapt their agricul- tural systems and climate-proof their economies. Poor countries must start ensuring that their adaptation plans effectively address • agriculture, especially smallholder famers. Table 1: Overall vulnerability index rankings Countries are ranked from most to least vulnerable, ie most vulnerable at the top and least vulnerable at the bottom. For more information on methodology, see Section 3. Country Climate, food insecurity, vulnerability Existing hunger Overall vulnerability rank Weight 50% 50% DR Congo 1 1 1 Burundi 3 2 2 South Africa 15 4 3 Haiti 12 6 4 Bangladesh 4 8 5 Zambia 2 10 6 India 24 3 7 Sierra Leone 5 9 8 Ethiopia 17 7 9 Rwanda 8 13 10 Liberia 7 13 11 Tanzania 10 14 12 Guatemala 9 17 13 Nepal 6 17 14 Pakistan 28 5 15 Mozambique 18 11 16 Cambodia 14 17 17 Lesotho 11 25 18 Vietnam 13 21 19 Kenya 19 19 20 Malawi 21 18 21 China 16 27 22 Brazil 20 25 23 Nigeria 26 20 24 Uganda 25 23 25 Senegal 23 26 26 The Gambia 27 23 27 Ghana 22 28 28
8 On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? Table 2: Overall capacity and preparedness index Countries are ranked from most to least prepared, ie most prepared at the top and least prepared at the bottom. For more information on how this index was compiled, see Section 3. Country Legal Commitment Sustainable agriculture Social protection Gender equality Climate change adaptation Overall capacity and preparedness rank Weight 10% 30% 20% 10% 30% Brazil 1 2 1 1 3 1 Malawi 4 1 12 13 1 2 Rwanda 23 7 20 15 2 3 Ethiopia 13 5 13 24 7 4 Tanzania 6 8 27 10 9 5 Nepal 10 11 24 14 4 6 Uganda 5 16 28 17 8 7 Bangladesh 15 9 9 25 12 8 Haiti 11 3 25 5 18 9 South Africa 3 22 3 7 13 10 China 27 13 5 20 14 11 Lesotho 25 21 6 6 3 12 Zambia 26 12 22 21 10 13 Burundi 16 4 18 8 21 14 Ghana 17 25 14 11 6 15 Liberia 18 23 15 23 5 16 Sierra Leone 19 10 21 28 25 17 India 7 20 2 27 17 18 Mozambique 9 15 10 18 23 19 Nigeria 14 19 16 22 11 20 Guatemala 2 26 4 4 26 21 Viet Nam 28 6 11 3 28 22 The Gambia 22 14 19 16 22 23 Kenya 8 18 7 12 19 24 Cambodia 20 27 23 2 15 25 Senegal 24 17 8 9 24 26 Democratic Republic of Congo 12 24 26 19 16 27 Pakistan 21 28 17 26 27 28
On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? 9 Section 1 - Reality bites: how prepared are we for the triple crisis?
10 On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? The world today confronts three interlocking crises – climate change, resource scarcity and food price volatility – which all pose major threats to feeding the future. We can no longer treat these challenges to humanity in isolation. We must generate more energy without increasing greenhouse gas emissions or endangering food supplies, just as we must reverse climate change trends without reducing food production or putting energy out of reach of communities who need it for development. To step up national and international responses, we need also to assess where the greatest vulnerabilities lie, and how well countries and their donor partners are addressing them. ActionAid’s 2011 Hunger Scorecard report surveys 28 developing countries to begin answering those questions. We examine the record of these countries in two core areas: overall vulnerability to the climate/hunger crunch, and key policy measures that can reduce vulnerability. These are measured by our Vulnerability and Capacity /Preparedness indicators (see Tables 1and 2 above for more information). This enables us to determine the most appropriate strategies for tackling hunger and pinpoint the areas that will need the most attention – now and in the future. The scorecard Vulnerability Index assesses countries’ vulnerability to increasing hunger in the face of climate change. It uses current hunger levels and child malnutrition rates to assess underlying food insecurity. It then looks at pre-existing environmental and land degradation as a simple proxy for likely vulnerabilities of the agricultural sector in the present and in the future. Our Capacity and Preparedness Index gauges policy interventions that can mitigate hunger and climate risks, such as increased support for agriculture, rural development and smallholder farmers, while also assessing countries’ plans to adapt their agricul- tural sectors to increasing pressures from climate change. For more information on the indicators, see Section 3. Are countries prepared? Perhaps unsurprisingly, seven out of 10 most vulnerable countries in our Vulnerability index are in Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia, and Burundi. Two – India and Bangladesh – are large South Asian countries. Of these 10 most vulnerable countries, only Rwanda and Ethiopia score well on the Capacity and Preparedness index (ie they are relatively well prepared). The remaining 10 extremely vulnerable countries are dramatically underprepared. These countries alone account for a total population of 1.6 billion people. This means that almost a quarter of the global population is living in countries we ranked as falling into a category of very high future vulnerability.2 Some countries in our survey already have severe levels of hunger, with negligible capacity to cope with future shocks. For instance, in the DRC, already 60 per cent of the population are chronically hungry, while one in three children is malnourished. Meanwhile, over 50 per cent of land, which could have been used for agriculture, is degraded, and the country’s climate adaptation plans are wholly inadequate.3 Taken together, this pre-existing vulnerability and lack of policy preparedness will have a devastating impact on already staggering hunger figures. Other countries, already contending with growing food insecurity, could have to deal with deepening hunger scenarios if they do not dramatically reverse their current policies. Take Pakistan, where conflict, natural disasters and rising global food prices4 have pushed 83 million people – almost half its population – into hunger.5 Pakistan is already ranked as our fifth most hungry country. It could take years to get the agricultural sector back on track following the devastating floods that swamped one-fifth of the country last year.6 The picture is foreboding, with flooding Reality Bites: how prepared are we for the triple crisis?
On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? 11 happening again this year and Pakistan falling at the bottom of our scorecard rankings for climate and agriculture preparedness. Other countries such as Vietnam, which have been spectacularly successful in reducing hunger and poverty in recent years, are in serious danger of being derailed by climate change. It is predicted that rising sea-levels could affect 5 per cent of Vietnam’s land area, 11 per cent of its population and a whopping 78 per cent of its agriculture.7 The Mekong Delta region is likely to suffer the most from climate change. When the sea level rises, one-third of the region’s agricultural land will vanish, seriously affecting production.8 At present, Vietnam’s adaptation plans do not sufficiently reflect the urgency of the need to adapt its farming systems to a changing climate. It is for this reason that, in spite of good grades in areas such as agricultural investment and overall hunger numbers, the country is pulled down our scorecard rankings through a lack of policies to effectively adapt to the impacts of climate change. Overall, many of those countries most likely to be climate and hunger hotspots by 2050 appear to be doing least to adapt to and confront the challenge. Our review of 28 countries shows that potential hunger hotspots such as South Africa, Burundi, Guatemala, Kenya, Lesotho and Sierra Leone are all ill-prepared. These countries need rich countries to cut their emissions now, but their farmers also need urgent support from their governments and from the international com- munity to fund investment in climate-resilient agriculture. Crisis one: The climate crunch Projections of the likely impacts of climate change on agriculture by 2050 are getting more acute by the year. Climate change is already having dramatic consequences for agriculture and inter- national food security. Scientists estimate that global production of key staples such as wheat and corn fell by 3.8 per cent and 5.5 per cent, respectively, over the last three decades as a result of climate change.9 Increasing temperatures, leading to lower and erratic rainfall, warming and rising sea levels, melting glaciers, more frequent storms, typhoons, hurricanes and wildfires, plus droughts and run-away land degradation, are already a reality. Periodic surveys by ActionAid in 28 countries over 2011 indicate that climate impacts are disrupting farming practices in all countries surveyed. The question is how much worse will it get? Most experts believe that thanks to a deadlock in international negotiations over emissions cuts, the window to limit temperature increases to 2ºC has already closed. If leaders fail to implement binding emissions targets soon, the world could be on track to warm up by 4–5ºC, with disastrous consequences for farmers and agriculture. Alarmingly, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, says that global temperatures have not been 3ºC higher than today for about 3 million years.10 The longer-term implications for agriculture are particularly daunting, as shifts in rainfall, temperature and relative humidity occur. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that crop yields from rain-fed agriculture in some southern African countries could fall by up to 50 per cent by 2020 because of climate change. Other scientists project that yields in central and south Asia could fall by 30 per cent by 2050.11 The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research and the Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) recently identified hunger hotspots in the tropics that may be highly vulnerable to climate change by 2050 due to shorter growing periods, less reliable growing pe- riods, erratic rainfall and less predictable temperatures. Most regions in the tropics will experience a change in growing conditions that will require adaptation to current agricultural systems, says CCAFS. Shorter growing periods will hit heavily-cropped areas as diverse as Mexico, northeast Brazil, the African Sahel, Morocco, and parts of southern Africa and India.12 Over half a billion additional people in the tropics – 526 million people – could be at increased risk of hunger because of climate change by 2050, according to recent estimates by CCAFS used by ActionAid.13 Reliable crop growing days (more than 90 reliable growing days per year) will drop to critical levels below which cropping might become too risky to pursue as a livelihood strategy in a large number of places, including West Africa, parts of East Africa, southern Africa, the Indo-Gangetic Plains and south India.
12 On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? While these projections contain considerable uncertainties, overall, CCAFS says that southern Africa has the largest area with multiple climate change threats – including Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa. Next are north-eastern Brazil, Mexico, Guyana, Nicaragua, and small areas in Tanzania, Ethiopia, the DRC, Uganda, India, Pakistan and the Middle East.14 With such alarming climate scenarios becoming starker by the day, it is little wonder that the World Bank estimates that developing countries will need US$75–$100 billion per year to mitigate and adapt their economies, natural resources and agricultural systems to rapidly intensifying climate change.15 Agriculture is a source of livelihoods for 86 per cent of rural people (or an estimated 2.5 billion people).16 But do current climate adaptation plans focus on supporting and equipping those on the agricultural front lines – poor women and smallholder farmers? Our review of existing vulnerability and of the National Adaptation Plans and other climate adaption plans in the hunger scorecard shows that potential hunger hotspots such as Mozambique and Pakistan are dramatically underprepared for the challenges underway. Even South Africa is only moderately prepared – with little focus on women or smallholders in its adaptation plans – even though it is expected be a climate/ hunger hotspot by 2050.17 Our Hunger Scorecard shows that Bangladesh will be particularly hard hit by global warming, which threatens to overturn all of the good work the country has done in recent years to get hunger levels beneath 30 per cent.18 Bangladesh is ranked in our top five most vulnerable countries to climate change and hunger, with devastating predictions for much of the country over the coming years. Crisis two: The resource crunch The rapid depletion of natural resources needed to grow food is the second part of the triple crisis, leaving millions of the poorest people unable to produce enough food and, also, in many places, threatening large-scale commercial farming with stagnating yields, rising costs and sustainability challenges. Box 1: The Horn of Africa crisis: A forecast of more to come? The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa and the ensuing famine has demonstrated how vulnerable rural people’s food security has already become. An estimated 13.3 million people are affected in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda, following the failure of seasonal rains which has resulted in one of the driest years since 1950 and the worst harvests in nearly two decades.19, 20 This crisis has revealed how ill-equipped and un-prepared we are for future challenges. Fragile ecosystems continue to be overexploited, and rural producers such as farmers are already on their knees following the withdrawal of government and donor support in past decades. Promised climate adaptation funding is only a trickle. This dire situation has been exacerbated by high local cereal prices and conflict over scarce water and pasturage for animals.21 Local cereal prices have more than tripled since 2010 in some areas of Somalia. And recent surveys from 34 areas across southern part of the country show that the average acute malnutrition prevalence is 36.4 per cent, with an average of 15.8 per cent with severe acute malnutrition.22 “Hunger is dehumanizing. It gets to a level where you do not know how you will survive and you will do anything for a simple kernel of corn. “It is a traumatizing situation as a young child to be without food. Your stomach is so empty that even when you are thirsty and you take water it makes you dizzy. You get so nauseated your body wants to vomit, but you haven’t eaten,” Peter Kimeu, a small-scale farmer in Machakos, Kenya, on hunger and drought in Kenya, International Herald Tribune, 12 September 2011
On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? 13 Environmental constraints The pursuit of high-input agricultural intensification is directly threatened by the depletion of many of the resources that have sustained it. Soil degradation and water shortages are putting increasing pressure on agricultural production. Water depletion is a major concern and constraint. Agriculture already accounts for 70 per cent of all freshwater withdrawals from rivers and aquifers. In arid regions – for example, in the Punjab, Egypt, Libya and Australia – non-renewable fossil aquifers are increasingly being over-pumped and depleted, and cannot be replenished.23 In many areas of China and India, groundwater levels are falling by one to three metres a year.24 Up to a quarter of India’s annual agricultural harvest is estimated to be at risk because of groundwater depletion.25 Nevertheless, demand for water for agriculture could rise by over 30 per cent by 2030 and total global water demand could double by 2050 owing to pressures from industry and urbanisation.26 Biodiversity has been destroyed too, posing a key but less recognised constraint going forward. The last century has seen the greatest loss of biodiversity through habitat loss, for instance, from the conversion of diverse ecosystems to agriculture.27 The switch to high input, monoculture, and intensive agriculture, and associated habitat loss, means the variety of plants and crops that poor communities cultivate has declined dramatically. This loss of locally-adapted and locally-available crops and plant varieties is of mounting concern. It leaves rural communities less resilient and adaptive to changing weather patterns and conditions. Many of the traits and qualities from community and locally-bred crops and plants – such as tolerance to drought or heat, waterlogging, saline soils or early or late maturity – are precisely the qualities that smallholder com- munities will need increasingly in their armoury to confront what are predicted to be highly localised climate change impacts. Land degradation Since 1960, a third of the world’s farmland has been abandoned because it has been degraded beyond use, and about 10 million hectares are destroyed every year.28 Of the 11.5 billion hectares of vegetated land on earth, it is estimated about 24 per cent has undergone human-induced soil degradation, in particular through erosion.29 Degraded areas include around 30 per cent of all forests, 20 per cent of cultivated areas and 10 per cent of grasslands. About 1.5 billion people depend on ecosystems that are undergoing degradation.30 In Africa alone, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that 6.3 million hectares of degraded farmland has lost its fertility and water-holding capacity and needs to be regenerated to meet the demand for food from a population set to double by 2050.31 In China, a recent report revealed that agriculture is a larger source of pollution than industry, and the use of heavy nitrogen fertiliser has led to widespread and highly acidic soils.32 Overall, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that about 2 billion hectares of the world’s agricultural land is degraded from deforestation, salinisation and poor farming practices.33 Climate-related soil erosion has intensified, too, with two huge dust bowls emerging recently – one in north-west China and western Mongolia, the other in central Africa.34 Indeed, one study projects that by 2080 land with severe climate or soil constraints in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 26 million to 61 million hectares, or 9–20 per cent of the region’s arable land.35 The Hunger Scorecard recognises the long-term impacts that land degradation has on countries’ abilities to turn back the tide on environmental devastation to what was once arable soil. Bringing depleted or degraded soils back to life can take any- thing in the region of 20 years of interventions to replenish soils – in most cases, this is time we do not have.36 Some countries in the Hunger Scorecard, such as Rwanda, are attempting to respond to land degradation issues. Landlocked and mountainous, with a high population density and staggering rates of deforestation and soil erosion, the country has a hard battle ahead to continue to boost farm production.37 Rwanda has lost half its forest cover since 1990, including all remaining primary forest. Trees have been cleared for agriculture and settlements, triggering periodic floods and heavy rains that destroy crops.38 However, recognising the severity of the problem, Rwanda’s government announced in February 2011 that it would undertake a countrywide restoration of its degraded soil, water, land and forest resources over the next 25 years. This is a welcome step in a country with such poor land degradation.39
14 On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? Other countries have a much bleaker outlook. For instance India, already home to around one-quarter of the world’s hungry,40 has seen monsoon failure adversely affect the soil, leaving land barren. In fact, half of India’s land is now classified as desertified.41 Since India’s land supports 16 per cent of the world’s population and 18 per cent of its livestock, these pressures alone play a major role in promoting desertification.42 India must develop climate and environmentally-responsive agricul- tural practices to halt further degradation.43 Land grabs and biofuels At the same time, poor rural communities are rapidly losing control over land, water and forests. This is partly due to urbanisation, but is also fuelled by governments’ zeal to promote private sector development and foreign investment, and companies’ rush to control and extract increasingly valuable resources such as minerals, oil, timber, water and land. The FAO estimates that land lost to non-agricultural purposes could be almost 90 million hectares by 2050, and warns that rising competition for land is a growing concern.44 Intense and unprecedented demand for land for biofuels has been added to this mix. Biofuel mandates in rich countries – such as the EU target to generate 10 per cent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020 – are stoking demand for biofuels. It is now estimated that 18 to 44 million hectares of land could be converted for biofuels by 2030.45 Compared to an average expansion of global agricultural land which is less than 4 million hectares per year before 2008, an enormous 50 to 80 million hectares of land in middle- to low-income countries has been leased or bought up cheaply by foreign investors in secretive deals over the last five years.46 About a fifth of these deals are for biofuels projects, whilst others are for export agriculture, mining or tourism.47 Poor tribal communities in the Dakatcha woodlands in southern Kenya, for example, are currently campaigning with ActionAid to scrap a proposed Italian-owned 50,000 hectare biofuels plantation, which threatens the livelihoods of 20,000 Watha and Giriama people, plus large swathes of endangered forest and thousands of rare plants and animals.48 Box 2: Seven billion… and counting… On 31 October 2011, the world’s population will hit a key milestone of 7 billion people. By 2050 the global total will be 30 per cent higher than now, hitting 9.3 billion. This means 78 million more people to feed each year – 214,000 additional mouths every day.53 Much of this increase is projected to come from high-fertility countries – 39 in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America.54 Significantly, the vast majority of the population growth by 2020 (86 per cent) is set to take place in large urban centres and megacities in poor countries.55 By 2050 there will be only one European country among the 20 most populous nations – the Russian Federation – and India will have become the most populous country, with 400 million people more than China.56 Asia’s population, currently 4.2 billion, is expected to peak around 5.2 billion in 2052.Africa’s is expected to more than triple by 2100, from 1 billion in 2011, to 2 billion by 2050, and reaching 3.6 billion in 2100.57 Africa’s population is expected to account for almost 24 per cent of the world population in 2050 – up from 15 per cent at present – and by the end of the 21st century 10 out of the 20 most populous countries will be in Africa –Nigeria, Tanzania, the DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Niger, Malawi and Sudan. Nigeria, by then, will be the fourth most populous country in the world.58 However, people born in the developing world will use a much tinier share of the world’s food, water, energy and carbon space over their lifetimes than those born in rich countries. The ecological footprint of an average person in a high-income country is currently about six times bigger than that of someone in a low-income country. To cite just one example, according to the UN population agency, each U.S. citizen consumes an average of 260 lbs. of meat per year, about 40 times more than the average Bangladeshi. To produce just one pound of feedlot beef requires about 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain. So the problem is not overpopulation in poor countries: the problem is rampant overconsumption by the rich world, driving climate change and resource scarcity, which in turn makes it difficult or impossible for poor countries to accommodate the rates of population growth that are normal for their stage of development.
On the brink: Who’s best prepared for a climate and hunger crisis? 15 Besides the unacceptable loss of livelihoods, ActionAid argues that the jatropha grown on the proposed biofuel plantation would produce up to six times more greenhouse gas emissions than the fossil fuels they are meant to replace.49 “My people have lived here for generations,” says Joshua Kahindi Pekeshe, a tribal elder in the forest community of Dakatcha in Kenya. “If the plantation goes ahead, we will become squatters on our own land. We will lose our homes and farms, and the only school our children have. Why should we pay this high price to meet Europe’s energy needs?”50 Roughly two-thirds of all of these recent land grabs have been in sub-Saharan Africa,51 and thousands of poor women and local people with weak, scant or non- existent land rights have invariably lost out. There are widespread reports of unfair encroachment and sometimes violent clearance of land, lack of prior and informed consent, intimidation, physical attacks, meagre compensation and non-materialisation of promised jobs and social benefits.52 Not all land deals benefit foreign interests. In Guatemala and India, for example, local companies are also major drivers of land grabs. Crisis Three: The food price crunch A new era of high food prices, caused by rising demand for food and stagnating yields, is the third and final part of our triple crisis. High and volatile prices are already causing misery right now, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and FAO say there will be no let up. In real terms, commodity prices are projected to be 20 per cent higher for cereals and 30 per cent higher for meats from now until 2020 compared to 2000–2010.59 Demand for food, feed, fibre and biofuels is increasing, and considerably more food and crops will need to be produced by 2050. Total cereal demand is projected to grow by 70 per cent – or by 1,305 million tonnes – by 2050,60 and demand for animal feed will increase by 553 million tonnes, or a staggering 42 per cent of the total cereal demand increase. Much more meat will be consumed, with consumption predicted to increase from 37.4 kg/person/year in 2000 to over 52 kg/person/year by 2050. To meet this demand, the global population of bovine animals is projected to increase from 1.5 billion animals in 2000 to 2.6 billion in 2050, and poultry numbers will more than double.61 The FAO also notes that the rate of growth in agricultural productivity is expected to slow by 1.5 per cent between now and 2030 and fall to 0.9 per cent between 2030 and 2050, compared with 2.3 per cent per year since 1961.62 High and volatile prices Poor people have been worst hit by this demand-squeeze. Local prices surged in India China USA Nigeria Indonesia Pakistan Brazil Bangladesh Philippines Congo Ethiopia Mexico Tanzania Russia Egypt Japan Viet Nam Kenya Uganda Turkey Graph 1. Population of the 20 most populous countries in 2050 (mil- lions) From: World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, visit www.unpopulation.org 0 250 500 750 1,000 1,250 1,500 1,750