Good health is impossible without healthy food

Corona makes it even more difficult to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. So that this perspective does not get out of sight, Germany must play a stronger role internationally - a summary of the Strategic Advisory Group of SEWOH.

 

Republic of Niger: Nutrition talk for mothers in a village center. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe
Republic of Niger: Nutrition talk for mothers in a village center. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe

Heino von Meyer

Heino von Meyer moderates the Strategic Support Group of SEWOH, in which representatives from civil society, science, the business world and associations advise the BMZ. After the April meeting, he was asked to summarise the discussion on the Covid-19 crisis as a guide and recommendations of the group for Federal Minister Dr Gerd Müller. The present text summarises key statements of the paper and the Minister’s reply.

 

‘Health protection, food security and poverty alleviation, SDGs 3, 2 and 1 belong together’, is the key message of a paper with directions and suggestions on the Covid-19 crisis, which special initiative 'One World – No Hunger' (SEWOH) addressed to German Federal Minister Dr Gerd Müller. According to the paper, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has created structures and instruments with SEWOH that enable the BMZ to quickly achieve broad-based results on the ground and to organise effective international cooperation. During the Covid-19 crisis, it ensured that Germany was well positioned to assume global responsibility in close coordination with the EU and set an example in the areas of food security and agriculture – in the short, medium and long term as well as locally, nationally and globally.

 

Due to the broad approach and the diversity of SEWOH’s partners, Germany is predestined to help quickly in the Covid-19 crisis and to secure long-term structures. These efforts must focus on food security, because without it successful health protection cannot be ensured. Through strong networks, SEWOH can quickly implement problem-specific solutions with African partners. In Germany, SEWOH is supported by a broad network of experts from civil society, the business sector, associations and science.

 

The paper continues to point out that the German EU Council Presidency should be considered an opportunity but at the same time also a responsibility. The paper recommends that the German government should use it to consolidate the issues of health, food security and employment. The regional focus should be on collaboration with Africa. Global crises require global responses. While many other donors withdrew from SDG 2, Germany also set a strong example internationally with SEWOH. It enables Germany now to assume a stronger role worldwide.

 

‘Ostensibly, Covid-19 is a health crisis, but for many of our partner countries, especially in Africa, it can also lead to a dramatic food and agricultural crisis’, writes German Federal Minister Dr Gerd Müller in his reply to the SEWOH Strategic Support Group. ‘The two crises are feeding into each other.’ He then refers to the rapid response of the BMZ, which has reallocated one billion euros at short notice for emergency measures against Covid-19, which are being implemented quickly and flexibly on the ground by SEWOH’s partners and multilateral organisations. Furthermore, he is campaigning for additional funds, says Federal Minister Müller: ‘I have submitted an additional requirement of 600 million euros for the areas of food security and agriculture to the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development (AWZ) of the German Bundestag.’ The objective is to make the agricultural and food supply system more crisis-resistant, especially in Africa, ‘because we can only solve the crisis globally – or we will fail to provide a solution’.

 

The goal of creating a world without hunger by 2030 and achieving SDG2 was already under threat before the Covid-19 crisis, not least because of climate change. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates the problem. With SEWOH and annual investments of €1.5 billion in food security and rural development, the BMZ is the largest bilateral donor worldwide. German Federal Minister Dr Gerd Müller thus sent a strong signal that has attracted global attention, including at the G7 summit declaration in Schloss Elmau (2015) and the German G20 presidency (2017).

 

It is necessary to think beyond the humanitarian crisis now. The challenges of climate change and the preservation of biodiversity must be taken into account during crisis
management.

 

SEWOH and the Green Innovation Centres can make important contributions in the medium term to stabilise value chains, keep markets functioning and provide high-quality food. For example, they can recommend to switch to particularly supply-relevant products such as vegetables and legumes. The reinforcement of decentralised, local and regional value chains and markets is extremely important and can have a crisis-mitigating effect. What SEWOH has created must be mobilised during and after the crisis and can establish itself.

 

Many large and small civil society organisations are actively participating in SEWOH. In addition to their own configurations, they have also established stable networks with local partner organisations in many countries worldwide, including farmers’ organisations consisting of hundreds of thousands of smallholders. Especially in a crisis situation, in which external aid organisations are sometimes forced to withdraw, these partner networks and organisations create resilience, become locally active, organise and distribute aid, produce food and keep markets running. They also call on their own governments to take action.

 

The projects of the German agricultural industry and the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Association can help to establish a modern agricultural sector based on local private enterprise in the medium and long term. They can also increase the prosperity of countries and societies and simultaneously make them more resilient to future crises. In particular, the German agricultural industry participates in agricultural projects that serve to secure the income and food supply of family farms and smallholders. Self-help organisations such as cooperatives and associations play a key role in that regard.

 

It is already necessary to think beyond the humanitarian crisis now. The major systemic challenges of climate change and the preservation of biodiversity must be taken into account during crisis management. They must especially be addressed in medium and long-term development strategies and programmes. Roughly 60 per cent of all infectious diseases known today are zoonoses that spread from animals to humans at some point. Protection of biodiversity is a key factor in preventing the spread of new infectious diseases. The health of people, wildlife and the environment (One Health) must be consistently considered together. Promotion of sustainable and deforestation-free supply chains, research financing and vaccination of farm animals are important pillars of SEWOH in this respect.

 

Global crises require global responses. While numerous stakeholders, who have pushed for the achievement of SDG2 in the past, have recently retracted their commitment, Germany has sent a strong signal worldwide with SEWOH. It will enable Germany to play a stronger role on the international landscape and use its position in the G7, the G20 and during its forthcoming EU Presidency to push for global processes that are necessary to achieve SDG2. The Federal Government should use central activities of the German EU Council Presidency beginning on 1 July to consolidate the issues of health, food security and employment – with a regional focus on Africa.

 

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Hunger must not be a consequence of the epidemic!

By Michael Brüntrup (DIE)

Even though COVID-19 poses a threat to the health of humanity, the reaction to the pandemic must not cause more suffering than the disease itself. This is particularly relevant for poor developing countries, where the impact of the corona crisis on food security is even more severe!

 

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From Berlin to Yen Bai: 10,000 trees for Vietnam

By GIZ and BMZ

It began with clicks at a trade fair and ends with concrete reforestation: a campaign at the Green Week in Berlin is now enriching the forests of the Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. A chronicle of an education about climatic relevance to concrete action - and about the short distances on our planet.

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