Psychological, organizational and budgetary factors contributed to why governments did not respond sooner to early famine warnings in the Horn of Africa, Hugo Slim, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict at the University of Oxford, says in this Guardian opinion piece. In a new report (.pdf), Save the Children and Oxfam “suggest that government officials were reluctant to call a crisis until there was a crisis”; that organizing “NGOs and U.N. agencies to agree the scale of a problem and then to act in concert is always going to be difficult”; and that, “[m]ore importantly, budgets are still divided too strictly between emergency and development funds,” he writes.
Reuters examines cancer in Africa, writing, “Most of Africa’s around 2,000 languages have no word for cancer. The common perception in both developing and developed countries is that it’s a disease of the wealthy world, where high-fat, processed-food diets, alcohol, smoking and sedentary lifestyles fuel tumor growth.” However, according to the news service, sub-Saharan Africa will see an estimated one million new cancer cases this year — “a number predicted to double to two million a year in the next decade,” and, “[b]y 2030, according to predictions from the [WHO], 70 percent of the world’s cancer burden will be in poor countries.”
“Algeria will partner with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to build the first HIV/AIDS research center in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Nature Middle East reports. “The center, which should be operational by 2013, will be based in the city of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria” and “will bring together researchers from Africa, Europe and the United States working on treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” the magazine writes.
Speaking at an economic forum in Madrid, Spain, “[t]he head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], Jose Graziano da Silva, warned Thursday of a major funding gap for activities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports. “He added that boosting food security entailed combining emergency action with support for family farming and smallholder production, as well as promoting long term development and reducing vulnerability to extreme events, like drought,” the news agency writes (5/10). According to the U.N. News Centre, Graziano da Silva also called for the involvement of “civil society, private enterprise, international agencies, and the governments of developing and developed countries” to help fight chronic hunger and malnutrition — which affects one of every seven people in the world — because it “is a challenge too great for FAO or any government to overcome alone” (5/10).
In this opinion piece in the Kansas City Star’s “As I See It,” Nancy Lindborg, USAID assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance and a guest speaker at this week’s International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City, discusses food aid and highlights USAID’s response to last year’s food crisis in the Horn of Africa. She writes, “None of this would have been possible without the hard work and generosity of the American public, and especially the farmers, manufacturers and shippers that I am honored to meet with again this week in Kansas City.”
Millennium Villages Project Research Yields Positive Results, But Some Researchers Question Methods Used
“Death rates among children under five at the [Millennium Villages Project (MVP)] — set up in Africa to demonstrate what is possible if health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are tackled simultaneously — have fallen by a third in three years compared with similar communities, according to the project’s first results,” published in the Lancet on Tuesday, the Guardian reports (Boseley, 5/8). The study “offers quantitative evidence of the success of the MVP model at nine Millennium Village sites in sub-Saharan Africa,” Nature News writes, adding, “Between 2006 and 2009, mortality in under-fives fell by an average of 22 percent, reaching a level roughly two-thirds of that in control villages not involved with the project, where child mortality seemed to rise.”
Citing a U.N. report released in May, titled “Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010,” which shows “the number of women worldwide dying of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications has almost halved in the last 20 years,” Agnes Odhiambo, a researcher for women in Africa at Human Rights Watch, writes in this Inter Press Service opinion piece, “Although there was a 41 percent reduction in sub-Saharan Africa, the progress is slow and uneven. â€¦ Greater effort is urgently needed to save pregnant women.” She continues, “African governments need to invest in strong health care systems and to ensure that there are enough health care facilities that can provide emergency obstetric care, equitably dispense suitable drugs and supplies, and employ a sufficient number of adequately trained health professionals, including those with midwifery skills.”
“U.N. officials say they expect 18 million people in West Africa will go hungry this year, including three million young children whose lives or health will be at risk,” the Associated Press reports. David Gressly, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for nine countries in Africa’s Sahel region, told reporters on Tuesday that at least one million children’s lives will be threatened by malnutrition in 2012, and malnutrition will cause health problems for another two million children under age five, according to the news agency. Gressly said drought, failed harvests, and political instability were making this the worst hunger crisis to hit the region since 2005, the AP notes (5/29).
Several humanitarian groups say that despite the G8’s pledge made at the 2009 L’Aquila Summit to provide $22 billion over three years to improve agriculture and food security, “the commitment is about to expire” and “much more needs to be done to end hunger,” VOA News reports. Neil Watkins, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid, said he expects G8 leaders at their upcoming summit at Camp David later this month will promote a new food security initiative with greater private sector involvement, according to VOA. “Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America praised President Obama’s food security efforts since 2009,” the news service writes, adding that Kripke said, “[W]e’ve been calling for President Obama to keep that momentum up — to keep pushing for bigger and better and more ambitious goals and more ambitious resource commitments.”
“Sahelian governments and local and international aid groups are struggling to cope with both the continual arrivals of people fleeing … northern Mali, and the mounting number of hungry people across the region as the lean season gets underway,” IRIN reports. According to UNHCR, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced within Mali or fled to surrounding countries, and IRIN reports “governments are already struggling to get aid to millions of their inhabitants, who are facing hunger due to drought.” The news service writes, “The U.N. estimates that 16 million people across the Sahel are facing hunger this year, and hunger levels are rising.” IRIN continues, “This complex mix of slow and fast-onset crises means the U.N. will be revising or launching new funding appeals from the current $1 billion to $1.5 billion in coming weeks, said Noel Tsekouras, deputy head of office at the West Africa bureau of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Dakar” (5/4).