Mark Bowden, who leads the UN relief efforts in Somalia, says many people remain in a precarious position and would need assistance on a regular basis. Bowden said last year’s aid enabled relief agencies to reduce the number of people at risk of outright famine from 750,000 to 150,000, and prevented the spread of diarrhoeal illness and other infectious diseases through chlorination of water and increased health services.
After an intense year of diplomacy sparked by revolution and repression across the Arab world, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is taking stock this week of an entirely separate democratic advance a half-continent away in West Africa.
Recently, after travelling on the bumpy to non-existent “roads” of South Sudan, I came away impressed — impressed with the hopeful vision of a country that has enormous potential to move quickly into a state of relative food self-sufficiency, perhaps within less than a generation. While on my field visit to the Eastern and Central Equatoria states, I witnessed the collective efforts of FAO and WFP.
Distribution of food, seed, and medical relief intended for drought victims in Somalia has been suspended, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced Thursday. The aid intended for up to 1.1 million people has been held up because local authorities blocked distribution of ICRC food and seed relief in the Middle Shabelle and Galgaduud regions in central and southern Somalia.
Hundreds of armed attackers from a South Sudanese tribe that suffered a devastating assault last month charged into three villages, burned them to the ground and killed 57 people, an official said Friday, an act that perpetuates a cycle of revenge attacks in the world’s newest nation. The UN mission in South Sudan estimates at least 60,000 people have been affected by the on-going violence.
Food Inflation Abates As Grain Stocks Rise –The Financial Times
FAO said on Thursday its food index had fallen last month to its lowest level in more than a year, reflecting reduced inflation across Asia. The drop in corn, wheat, rice, soyabeans and other agricultural commodities’ prices pushed the FAO food index in December to its lowest since October 2010.
According to a survey conducted by National Nutritional Survey in 2011, almost 58% of Pakistanis are food insecure. A WFP representative said, “The situation has gone from bad to worse especially in Sindh where malnutrition and food insecurity among women and children has increased.”
Syria Battles Food Security Issues —The Wall Street Journal
Syria is struggling to afford and secure ample food supplies for its domestic population as the European Union’s ban on oil imports puts severe strain on the country’s finances. “The prolonged unrest is often causing disruptions in food distribution channels, leading to localized shortages in several markets,” according to FAO.
10 Easy Ways to Give Back in the New Year —Shine From Yahoo
Don’t have the extra cash or time to max out your karmic potential? Read our charity cheat sheet - a roundup of 10 easy ways to pay it forward. Give back and goof off with a Web game instead. Free Rice donates rice to WFP for right answers
Malnutrition Widespread In Indian Children, Report Finds –-The New York Times
Roughly 42% of all Indian children under age 5 suffer from malnutrition, a sobering reminder of the persistence of poverty and hunger in the world’s largest democracy, according to a major report released on Tuesday. The extensive food subsidy program that India already operates allocates grain and kerosene to the poor.
To Create Food Security In Africa, Focus On The Value Chain –-Newstime Africa
The tragic famine in Somalia has once again focused concern on food security in Africa. There are many facets to this issue, and many solutions. While there is a role for relief in addressing food insecurity, the only real solutions center on development.
While a Deal Sets Up New Climate Talks, Scientists Help Africans Adapt Now —The Christian Science Monitor
Challiss McDonough of WFP confirms that technology systems like FEWS-NET are useful tools. “FEWS-NET was among the first to predict that some areas of southern Somalia could slide into famine conditions, and that warning was instrumental in getting the attention of some donors before the crisis peaked,” says McDonough.
Relief organizations have been working year round to provide emergency aid when disaster strikes and long-term assistance in the months and years that follow. WFP is aiming to feed 11 million people in East Africa. The organization is currently reaching almost 8 million.
Sudan and South Sudan face severe disputes over sharing oil revenues and ending fighting in a border region, as both nations seek to overcome enormous economic challenges. With oil revenues expected to fall, it will be harder for the government to get foreign currency needed for food and other imports.
Droughts like the current one in east Africa may not be preventable, but famines are. The international community has the tools to prevent the “roads of death” we are witnessing in parts of Somalia. In areas where the humanitarian community has access, millions of hungry people are being reached with life-saving action.
Afghanistan Faces Drought, Hunger —Huffington Post
An estimated 2.6 million Afghans are facing food shortages after one of the worst droughts to strike northern Afghanistan in a decade, according to Afghan officials and aid agencies. Already living in poverty in a country at war, many have been left destitute by the drought, which has affected 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces – all in the north. Hundreds of children have been treated for malnutrition. Families are selling their animals at below-market prices.
WFP Highlights Importance of Nutrition for HIV People –Ghana Broadcasting Corporation
WFP has stressed the need to increase the provision of food with enhanced nutrition for people living with HIV especially those undergoing Anti Retro Viral treatment. In a statement to mark World AIDS day, the Chief of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Policy Martin Bloem, said the WFP will continue to provide the right food to vulnerable populations, to help promote good health for patients while protecting their families from the negative impacts of HIV.
At Thanksgiving, a Different Kind of Food Problem —The Washington Post
While Americans gather to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, all signs point to a food crisis in West Africa that could eclipse the current epidemic impacting the Horn of Africa. Food for the Hungry is partnering with WFP and the German Society for International Cooperation for the distribution of fuel-efficient stoves to 6,200 Somali families in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp.
Four months after the U.N. declared famine in much of Somalia, some regions are beginning a slow recovery from a disaster that has killed tens of thousands of people. Challiss McDonough, a WFP spokeswoman, said the displaced Somalis “have to feel physically secure and have a livelihood that will allow them to make ends meet” in their home regions.
The switch by many farmers in Kenya’s Rift Valley province from staple cereals to more profitable coffee is likely to increase the country’s dependence on grain imports and possibly affect food security, agricultural experts have warned. Kenya will have to import 2.3 million tonnes of cereal during the 2011-2012 marketing year to meet demand, a year-on-year increase of 37%, according to FAO.