Though emergency humanitarian assistance has helped keep people alive in the Horn of Africa, “this effort is not sustainable,” David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada, writes in a Globe and Mail opinion piece. “Trucking in water and flying in food and medicine save lives, but we must rethink the way aid agencies operate in the region. We need to blend the immediate life-saving effort with creative longer-term community development … and involve everyone affected by the crisis. Farmers, herders, refugees and displaced people, local communities and government officials have valuable insights that a massive humanitarian response all too often overlooks,” he continues.
Environment and Climate Change
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “on Tuesday announced a $2.5 million grant to Mercy Corps to fund relief and longer-term recovery efforts in drought-stricken Wajir County on Kenya’s border with Somalia,” representing “more than 40 percent of the $5.4 million in private funds that Mercy Corps has raised to date for Horn of Africa relief efforts,” the Seattle Times reports. The Gates Foundation on Tuesday also “announced a $1.6 million grant to International Medical Corps to provide emergency food assistance and to help improve health, hygiene and sanitation in northern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia,” the newspaper writes (Bernton, 10/18).
Environmental health experts, scientists and government officials attending a conference in London sponsored by the British Medical Journal on Monday “issued a statement warning that climate change could not only bring a global health catastrophe but could threaten global stability and security as well, a journal release said,” UPI.com reports (10/17).
Security issues and torrential rains are hampering relief efforts aimed at fighting severe malnutrition and disease in the Horn of Africa, the Guardian reports. Last week, two workers with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were kidnapped, allegedly by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, prompting the group to evacuate some of its staff from two of three refugee camps on the border of Somalia and Kenya, according to the newspaper.
“During the past 24 hours, cholera has claimed the lives of nearly 200 women and children in famine-stricken Somalia,” a Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported on Sunday. “More than 800 children suffering from the disease in refugee camps were reportedly transported to medical centers in south Mogadishu,” the news service writes, adding, “As the number of sick is on the rise, doctors are facing a shortage of medicine.” Press TV notes, “According to the United Nations, drought, high food prices and fighting in Somalia have increased the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa to 13.3 million” (10/16).
At a ceremony marking World Food Day on Monday, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “called for more transparency on commodity markets to prevent sharp spikes in global food prices and deplored the scale of world hunger,” Agence France-Presse reports (Le Roux, 10/16). “FAO chose the theme of ‘Food Prices — From Crisis to Stability’ for this year’s day to shed light on the trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable,” the U.N. News Centre writes.
“As South Korean President Lee Myung-bak continued his state visit to the United States on Friday, a group of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) wants the Obama administration to explain what they call unconscionable delays in deciding whether to resume U.S. food assistance to North Korea,” Reuters reports. “Rising global commodities prices coupled with summer floods and typhoons have compounded the emergency this year, and the United Nations estimated in March that more than six million North Koreans urgently need food help,” the news agency writes.
U.S., South Korea Continue To Delay Food Aid To North Korea Despite 'Proven' Ability To Monitor Food Distribution
In this Christian Science Monitor opinion piece, Jim White, vice president of operations at Mercy Corps, and Matt Ellingson, director of program development at Samaritan’s Purse, who “co-led a team from five U.S.-based aid organizations that traveled to North Korea to deliver flood relief supplies” last month, ask why the U.S. and South Korea continue to delay food aid to North Koreans affected by the country’s food crisis despite the fact that “aid groups have a proven ability to monitor the way food is distributed in North Korea.”
The WHO said Thursday that “it plans to recommend tighter nutritional standards in food aid for young children, a move activists say is necessary to improve donations from countries such as the United States,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “The new guidelines are likely to make food aid more expensive in the short term, but the improved formulas will be more effective at reducing moderate malnutrition in children under the age of five,” the news service writes (10/13).
KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog reports on the World Food Prize symposium and Borlaug Dialogue taking place in Iowa this week, where “about 1,000 people, including many former heads of state and top agricultural policy folk, are gathered together to talk about â€¦ how to feed the planet’s growing population.” The blog examines the debate around a “new proposed Green Revolution for Africa,” led by “the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which was launched largely thanks to support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” and provides links to recent media coverage related to global food security and hunger (Paulson, 10/12).