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Crop Failures, Returning Migrants, Weather Patterns Threatening To Worsen Malnutrition In Africa’s Sahel, Horn Regions

“Sahel states are bracing for a long, potentially deadly hungry season, many weakened by the return of people from Libya who are unemployed, armed and creating fresh strife in already-vulnerable countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Crops have failed across a massive swathe of eight countries after late and erratic rains in 2011, and aid agencies have raised the alarm of a food crisis bigger than that which left millions hungry in 2010,” according to the news agency (Blandy, 2/11). In an article examining hunger among children in Mauritania, Inter Press Service writes that “other countries in the Sahel … are affected as well: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal,” adding, “Twelve million people will soon suffer severe food insecurity and hunger in this region, aid agencies warn” (Palitza, 2/10).

WFP, FAO Warn Food Security Worsening For Millions In South Sudan, Call For Action

The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “warned [Wednesday] that millions of people in South Sudan are facing worsening hunger and called for urgent action to improve food security through adequate food aid and projects to boost agricultural production,” the U.N. News Centre reports (2/8). “[C]onflict, population displacement and high food prices” are threatening food security for 4.7 million in the new nation this year, up from 3.3 million in 2011, according to a report (.pdf) from the agencies, Reuters notes. “Of those, about one million people are severely food insecure, and that number could double if fighting continues and prices keep rising, the report said,” the news agency writes (2/8).

U.N. Says Famine Has Ended In Somalia But Emergency Conditions Remain For Millions

“Famine conditions have ended in war-torn Somalia six months after they were declared, but the situation remains dire with a third of the population needing emergency aid, the U.N. said on Friday,” Agence France-Presse reports (Vincenot, 2/3). “‘Long-awaited rains, coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response deployed in the last six months, are the main reasons for this improvement,’ the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva told journalists in Nairobi after visiting southern Somalia,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C writes (2/3). “‘We have three months, let’s say, to work to avoid another possible famine from a drought. We cannot avoid the drought … but we can avoid famine from drought,’ Graziano da Silva said, stressing the need for long-term measures to strengthen agricultural capacity,” the Guardian reports (Chonghaile, 2/3).

Islamist Rebel Group Bans ICRC From Southern Areas Of Somalia Under Its Control

The Islamist rebel group al-Shabab has banned the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from distributing food in southern areas of Somalia under its control, accusing the organization of delivering out-of-date food, the Guardian reports. “The new ban could deal a major blow to aid operations in the dangerous south of the country as the ICRC was one of only a few international agencies still able to operate there after al-Shabab banned 16 other groups last November,” the newspaper reports. Famine continues to threaten 250,000 people in the region, according to the Guardian (Chonghaile, 1/31).

UNICEF Appeals For $1.28B To Provide Humanitarian Assistance For Children In 25 Nations

UNICEF on Friday “appealed … for $1.28 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to children in over 25 countries this year, with nearly one-third of the total amount earmarked for the crisis in the Horn of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (1/27). The agency also released its annual “Humanitarian Action for Children 2012” report, which “decried the rising levels of starvation and malnutrition among children under the age of five in many of the world’s troubled regions,” GlobalPost writes (1/27). UNICEF “said it was seeking nine percent less than in 2011, linked to lower needs in Pakistan and Haiti, but that its needs for fighting hunger had jumped by nearly 50 percent,” according to Agence France-Presse (1/28). The agency said more than one million children in Africa’s Sahel region are at risk of severe malnutrition, Reuters reports (1/27).

Global Hunger Estimates ‘Are Not Infallible’

“While the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) estimated figures on global hunger often grab headlines, the uncertainty surrounding the numbers receives relatively little media attention,” Guardian reporter Claire Provost writes in the newspaper’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” In 2009, the FAO responded to a demand for global hunger figures with the projections that “by the end of the year … world hunger was likely to reach a ‘historic high,’ with 1.02 billion people going hungry every day,” Provost writes, adding, “Almost immediately, these figures seemed to take on a life of their own. References to the global hunger crisis affecting ‘one billion people’ or ‘one-sixth of humanity’ began appearing in speeches, media reports, and advocacy campaigns around the world.”

Financial Times Examines Global Food Security Issues

This Financial Times analysis examines food security, writing, “Climate change, ill-judged policies, protectionism, urbanization and plain greed have all conspired to reignite Malthusian prophesies of a growing world population unable to feed itself.” The article states, “The prospect of more starving people as staples become unaffordable has put the question of food security firmly on to the top table of global policymaking,” and discusses the economics of food; production, access, and waste; and genetic modification of crops (Lucas/Fontanella-Khan, 1/25).

U.S. Officials Report On Progress Made In Somalia Famine But Note Aid Still Needed

During a briefing on Tuesday, U.S. officials said famine conditions in Somalia have improved, but more than 13 million people in the Horn of Africa remain in need of emergency food, shelter or other aid, the Associated Press reports. “David Robinson, acting assistant secretary for population, refugees and migration, told reporters Tuesday the flow of refugees out of Somalia into neighboring countries has diminished, but thousands are still trying to get out and new camps are opening in Ethiopia and Kenya,” the news agency writes (Birch, 1/24). Bruce Wharton, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy for the Bureau of African Affairs, noted the U.S. has provided about $870 million in humanitarian aid to the region, with about $205 million going specifically to Somalia, according to the briefing transcript (1/24).

U.N. Official Urges Global Community To Act On Drought, Hunger In Africa’s Sahel Region

Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, on Tuesday “urged the global community to take quick action to prevent millions of people in Africa’s Sahel region from slipping into a full-scale food emergency, warning that drought, poor harvests and rising food prices have left the region on the brink of a humanitarian crisis,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The area currently affected by the crisis covers a vast swath of territory, including Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger but concerns have also been extended to other countries in the region such as Burking Faso and Senegal,” according to the news service (1/24).

PBS NewsHour Examines Family Planning In The Philippines

PBS NewsHour on Monday aired the second installment in its “Food for 9 Billion” series, in which “Sam Eaton of Homelands Productions goes to the fishing village of Humay-Humay” in the Philippines and “speaks with families about their concerns that future generations won’t enjoy the same access to fish as a food staple and way of life,” the PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” reports. The video report looks at how “one organization is making birth control more readily accessible to those wishing to keep their families small,” according to the blog.

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