The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “on Friday appealed for an extra $69.8 million to aid 790,000 vulnerable households in the drought-hit Sahel region in West Africa,” Agence France-Presse/Vanguard reports (3/10). “In a news release, the [FAO] said that at least 15 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in countries in the Sahel, including 5.4 million people in Niger, three million in Mali, 1.7 million in Burkina Faso and 3.6 million in Chad, as well as hundreds of thousands in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania,” the U.N. News Centre writes (3/9). FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, “We need to act to prevent further deterioration of the food security situation and to avoid a full-scale food and nutrition crisis,” according to AFP (3/10).
Environment and Climate Change
U.S. Officials Pledge Continuing Support For Solutions To Hunger In Africa; Oxfam Calls For Action Against Emerging Hunger In Sahel
“U.S. officials pledged Thursday to work for permanent solutions to ease hunger in the Horn of Africa, warning that Somalia remained a major crisis even though its famine is officially over,” Agence France-Presse reports. Testifying before a congressional commission on human rights, Nancy Lindborg, USAID assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, “said that the United States and other major donors would meet in Kenya in late March to support longer-term Horn of Africa plans,” according to the news agency. She added, “We cannot afford to let people slide into crisis every couple of years and respond with massive humanitarian assistance,” AFP reports. According to Lindborg, the U.S. “provided $935 million during the crisis, ensuring direct food assistance to 4.6 million people and emergency health care for nearly one million more,” the news agency notes (3/8).
U.S. Envoy For N. Korea Says Administrative Concerns Over Food Aid Resolved, Would Not Provide Details, AP Reports
Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, on Thursday said talks with North Korean officials over food aid had “resolved the administrative issues we were concerned with,” although “[h]e declined to disclose details before reporting back to Washington,” the Associated Press reports. “The talks follow a deal announced last week in which the U.S. offered 240,000 tons of food aid in return for North Korea freezing long-range missile and nuclear tests and for halting a uranium enrichment program that would be monitored by U.N. inspectors,” the news agency writes. “The U.S. … wanted to ensure that the assistance reaches North Koreans who need it, rather than being diverted to the military or other groups as was suspected with some previous international aid shipments,” and while King “said that those concerns about the shipments had been resolved, … he did not discuss how deliveries would be monitored,” according to the AP (3/8).
“While only a small part of the Farm Bill, food assistance is a critical component of our nation’s global development and national security strategies, reaching 50 million people a year,” Ellen Levinson, executive director of Alliance for Global Food Security and president of Levinson & Associates, writes in the Hill’s “Congress Blog,” adding, “Improvements made to international food aid programs in the 2008 Farm Bill have borne fruit.” She notes, “By 2050, world population is expected to reach nine billion and food production will have to increase by 50-70 percent to keep pace.”
“U.S. envoys said there was progress in talks Wednesday on arrangements for the first U.S. government food aid shipment to impoverished North Korea in three years, part of an agreement aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear programs,” the Associated Press reports. Negotiators reached an agreement last week to provide 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid “in exchange for North Korea agreeing to freeze nuclear activities and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors,” the news agency continues. Special envoy Robert King “and senior aid official Jon Brause said the talks are intended to ensure proper procedures and safeguards are in place to make sure that nutritional aid for about one million North Koreans gets to those who need it most,” including children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the elderly, according to the AP. Officials are expected to meet again Thursday, the AP notes (3/6).
In this ONE Blog post, Jennifer Wynn, an intern with ONE’s policy team, reports on a recent panel discussion held at George Washington University that examined the U.S. Farm Bill and its implications for global hunger and food security. “I would have never thought to make a connection between our farms and farms around the world … [b]ut after an evening with some of the field’s experts, it’s clear to me that domestic policy on agriculture has far-reaching impacts,” she writes. The panel included Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group; Margaret Krome of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute; and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (3/5).
“A year after the worst drought in 60 years sent 13.3 million people in the Horn of Africa into crisis, we are now facing a rising threat of crisis in the Sahel — an arid belt that stretches from Senegal through Niger and Burkina Faso to Chad,” Nancy Lindborg, head of democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance at USAID, writes in this post in Huffington Post’s “The Blog.” She notes, “Today, rising food prices, another failed rain, and conflict in Mali and Libya, means that between seven and 10 million people are at risk of sliding into crisis as we enter the lean season of the months ahead,” and writes, “As we focus on the rising crisis in the Sahel, we are committed to responding immediately and acting on the most important lessons learned from the Horn response.”
NGOs Welcome Announcement Of U.S., North Korean Nuclear Arms Agreement That Could Bring Food Aid To Nation
“The State Department’s announcement that North Korea would halt nuclear activities in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of U.S. food aid was welcomed by aid groups that have long struggled to raise money to feed hungry people under an unpopular regime,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog reports. Marcus Prior, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Asia said the group is “encouraged” by the development but it “remain[s] concerned about the level of nutrition, especially for children in poorer areas,” according to the blog. More than 90 percent of U.S. food aid has been delivered through the WFP since 1996, with the remainder channeled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a 2011 Congressional Research Service report (.pdf) says, the blog notes.
“North Korea announced on Wednesday that it would suspend its nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to monitor activities at its main nuclear complex,” a move “signal[ing] that North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is at least willing to consider a return to negotiations and to engage with the United States, which pledged in exchange to ship tons of food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation,” the New York Times reports. Some “analysts said the agreement allowed Mr. Kim to demonstrate his command and to use his early months in power to improve people’s lives after years of food shortages and a devastating famine,” the newspaper writes (Myers/Choe, 2/29).
Only weeks after the U.N. declared an end to the famine in Somalia, regional climate scientists meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 30th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum have said preventive measures should be taken to stem the effects of drought that likely will return to Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa over the next three months, IRIN reports. USAID’s “FEWS NET said people should expect erratic rain in southern Somalia and southeastern Kenya” and will “be releasing a detailed outlook in the coming weeks,” the news service notes. But “[o]ne of the problems highlighted was the lack of linkage between early warning and early action. ‘There is no framework that allows the trigger of funds when the early warning bell is sounded,’ said one aid worker,” IRIN writes (2/29).