“Up to three million people in Afghanistan are facing hunger, malnutrition and disease after a severe drought wiped out their crops and extreme winter weather risks cutting off their access to vital food aid, a group of aid agencies warned Friday,” Reuters reports. Poor rains in many parts of the country destroyed crops and food prices have nearly doubled since last year, causing many families to skip meals, move into neighboring countries, or take loans to purchase food, the groups said, according to the news agency. The U.N. made an emergency appeal for $142 million in October to help families affected by the drought, but only seven percent has been funded by international donors, Reuters notes (Bhalla, 11/18).
Environment and Climate Change
U.S. and U.N. food agencies on Friday said three famine zones in Somalia had been downgraded to emergency status, as aid had reduced death rates, but “three other areas — including the refugee communities of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu — remain in the famine zone,” the Associated Press/CBSNews reports. The agencies “warn[ed] that a quarter million Somalis face imminent starvation, and that military battles are preventing food deliveries,” according to the AP (11/18). The U.N. Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) said in a statement, “Overall, food security outcomes remain the worst in the world, and the worst in Somalia since the 1991/92 famine,” Agence France-Presse notes (11/18).
Inter Press Service examines how doctors and aid workers in and around Mogadishu, Somalia, “are warning that famine victims in internally displaced camps have become vulnerable to contagious diseases like cholera and measles, as conditions here are ripe for an outbreak.” Sanitation and access to food and drinking water are the greatest concerns, IPS reports, adding that “[w]hile international aid continues to be delivered to Somalia, relief efforts at some camps have dwindled or stopped.” The news service writes, “The Somali government’s Mogadishu spokesman Mohamed Abdullahi Arig told IPS that the government needed help to prevent a possible cholera outbreak and to prevent other communicable diseases from spreading in the camps. ‘The government is more vigilant, but our capacity is too little. We need the international community’s assistance in this sector,’ Arig said” (Abokar, 11/17).
High-Level Panel Releases Recommendations To Address Food Security, Climate Change In Anticipation Of U.N. Meeting
In advance of a U.N. climate change conference this month in Durban, South Africa, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, a high-level international panel, on Wednesday announced its recommendations (.pdf) for achieving food security while addressing the effects of climate change, VOA News reports. The panel, which includes scientists from 13 countries who are experts in agriculture, climate, economics, trade, nutrition and ecology, “spent the past year analyzing many climate studies — a year that included climbing food prices, humanitarian disasters and political unrest — all of which, it says, threaten food security,” VOA writes (DeCapua, 11/16). “The seven high-level recommendations include significantly raising the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade; sustainably intensifying agricultural production on the existing land base while reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and reducing losses and waste in the food system,” a commission press release states (11/16).
“Cholera has broken out in the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya, home to nearly 500,000 Somali refugees, the United Nations said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Nebehay, 11/15). “There are now 60 cases of cholera in [Kenya’s Dadaab complex], including 10 laboratory-confirmed cases and one refugee death, according to Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),” the U.N. News Centre writes.
Health Of Millions Of Children In East Asia, Pacific At Risk Due To Climate Change, UNICEF Report Says
“Climate change is expected to worsen the plight of millions of children in East Asia and the Pacific who already lack food and clean water and are vulnerable to disease, … UNICEF said Monday … in its report (.pdf) ‘Children’s vulnerabilities to climate change and disaster impacts in East Asia and the Pacific,'” AlertNet reports. “‘Higher temperatures have been linked to increased rates of malnutrition, cholera, diarrheal disease and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria,’ putting children at far greater risk of contracting these diseases and succumbing to their complications, the report said,” the news service writes.
“[A] lack of action on climate change and habitat destruction will threaten the progress of developing countries,” because environmental sustainability affects “a wide range of social issues,” including “health, education, income, gender disparities and energy production, combined with protection of the ecosystem,” according to the U.N. Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2011, titled, “Sustainability and Equity: a Better Future for All,” VOA News reports. The report “argues that if you invest in people’s health and schooling, the population will be a better keeper of its environmental resources over the long term,” according to the news service (Lewis, 11/8).
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg on Tuesday “urged donors to give generously to assist Nicaragua and El Salvador cope with the aftermath of the recent floods, saying that the scale of the disaster is beyond what the small Central American nations can handle on their own,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, approximately 1.2 million people in the region are affected by flooding, “[t]housands of homes have been damaged and hundreds of schools, roads and health facilities are closed,” and [w]ater-borne diseases are spreading …, she added.” Bragg also said food security was a concern, as thousands of acres of crops were destroyed, “‘making it increasingly difficult for people to get enough food for the next six months,’ she stated,” the news service notes (11/8).
“South Korea on Tuesday authorized the World Health Organization [WHO] to resume distribution of Seoul-funded medical aid to North Korea, amid growing calls for humanitarian assistance for malnourished North Korean children,” the New York Times reports (Sang-Hun, 11/8). “Seoul has authorized the WHO to release $6.94 million to equip hospitals in the North, said the official of the unification ministry, which handles cross-border ties,” Agence France-Presse writes. “Seoul decided to unblock its WHO funding ‘by taking into account its stance of maintaining its humanitarian aid for infants, children and other vulnerable people in the North, and the WHO’s request,’ [a South Korean] ministry official said on condition of anonymity,” AFP notes (11/8).
Kristi York Wooten, founder of SustenanceGroup.org and an advocate for fighting hunger and poverty, “canvas[sed] a panel of colleagues and experts for thoughts on how corporations and governments (and the rest of us) can make a difference to ensure a sustainable future,” and presents her findings in this post on the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog.