There is no arguing that high food prices are taking a heavy toll on Latin America’s families, business and governments, fueling ripple effects on people’s budgets and the economy as a whole.
But behind the cold hard numbers of price increases, shrinking budgets and inflationary fears, the simple truth is high food prices can kill –or severely impair- people, especially kids from underprivileged environments.
As food prices creep up again for the third time in five years, concerns about global food security are also on the rise. Right off the bat, three questions come to mind: Why this is happening? How does this affect Latin America and the Caribbean? What should we do about it?
How much is a jar of jam worth? A couple of pesos, at most. But for a group of women from a remote Guatemalan village, it’s worth its weight in gold. It has helped them develop as individuals and has made a significant contribution to their income and that of their community.
With a sweet voice that cracks with emotion, Blanca Estela, a single mother of four, tells us that making jam marked a turning point in her life. She is one of 30 women from Nueva Esperanza, a company that makes jams and sauces in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. The company has helped the women become independent in a society that continues to be patriarchal. It has also promoted local economic growth.
When I visited the women to make this video, they told me that the Rural Economic Development Program supported by the World Bank enabled them to open new markets and increase their earnings. “This is the dream of a lifetime. We’ve been able to develop as individuals and as businesswomen,” says Esperanza. It has turned these rural homemakers into businesswomen. They now serve as an example for the rest of the women and men in the village.
A few weeks ago a rare storm event known as "Derecho" ravaged the Washington, DC area, claiming many lives and leaving 1.3 million homes and business without electricity. My house was unfortunately among those hit hard by the power outage and in an attempt to cope with the 90F+ temperatures unleashed by the storm, we moved down to the basement -- generally, the coolest part of the house.
For the first few days the novelty was fun for the kids, but as the days wore on, frustration grew, in part because we had no idea when the power would come back on.
Over the past two decades the region has significantly raised the level of the conversation and awareness around the issue, developing national HIV/AIDS strategies, integrating responses to the epidemic into health systems and ensuring almost universal awareness of HIV risk factors.
The global events of the last few years, beginning with the 2008 financial crisis, have revived the debate around job creation as a key element for economic recovery.
In Central America, the global financial crisis had a significant effect on production and employment, and even though the region has recovered, the debate regarding how to create better jobs is still going strong.
At this stage in the debate about Natural Hazard Management, there is already agreement that so-called "natural" disasters are really due to poor planning or lack of it.
And this is something that has enormous consequences both in terms of lives and material costs. You only have to look at the statement from the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, to fully understand the enormity of the problem.
For many of us, the word 'agriculture' evokes bucolic images of lush fields of grain and pastures populated by peacefully grazing cows. In this light, the notion of "greening agriculture'' seems almost oxymoronic; could anything be greener than this?
Well, maybe not in terms of color, but in terms of environmental impact, agriculture has a sizable footprint. In many countries, including large areas of the high-income countries, those lush fields of grain used to be forests. And the fertilizer that keeps those fields so green is mostly nitrogen based, generating nitrous oxide, which – kilo per kilo – has an impact on global warming several hundred times that of carbon dioxide. And those cows – how to put this delicately? – have greenhouse gases coming out of both ends! (Methane emitted by livestock is over 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.) And (surprise!) crops and livestock need water –lots of it. Agriculture accounts for around 70 percent of water use worldwide.
While government representatives attend interminable sessions to reach a consensus on the final text for the Sustainable Development summit, legislators from 85 countries managed to reach an agreement in record time. They made a commitment to promote legislation in their respective countries on green and inclusive growth, in other words, growth that respects the environment and benefits everyone in society.