With the retreat of the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, where famine is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, “the U.N.-backed peacekeeping force can and should be quickly expanded,” according to Somalia’s prime minister and the U.N. envoy to the nation, in order to “allow the force to move out from the capital to secure routes for aid,” a Washington Post editorial states.
Food Security and Nutrition
“Twenty years after the central government collapsed,” Somalia is facing drought, food insecurity and conflict larger in scale than when famine conditions hit the nation in the 1990s, “[a]nd given the world’s limited interest in a major intervention, that is not likely to change anytime soon,” the New York Times reports in a news analysis on the situation.
Chad Faces Food Security And Health Challenges, But Opportunity Exists For Improvement, U.N. Official Says
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad Thomas Gurtner “says Chad faces daunting food security and health challenges” but that “peace and growing stability in Chad bodes well for the country’s future,” VOA News reports. He cited high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition among children, “insufficient rainfall” that likely will “limit agricultural production,” rising food prices, the “worst cholera epidemic in years,” and the return home of more than 80,000 Chadian migrants who were working in Libya and sending money home to their families, the news service notes.
The PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” features an interview with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, in which he discusses a new website initiative called “FWD,” “aimed at giving viewers a better sense of the scope of the famine in the Horn of Africa — its worst in more than 60 years.” The site includes infographics and data maps “intended to contextualize the problem by showing the recent increase in food prices, where internally displaced peoples camps are located, and where various aid groups are operating,” according to the blog (Epatko, 9/20).
On the sidelines of the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on Tuesday, “[r]epresentatives of governments, civil society and the private sector joined United Nations agencies … to emphasize the importance of good nutrition, which is vital not only for human health but also for national economic and social development,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The event “took place one year after the launch of the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, a global initiative that aims to improve maternal and child nutrition,” the news service reports (9/20).
PepsiCo, WFP, USAID Announce Partnership To Increase Chickpea Production, Address Hunger In Ethiopia
PepsiCo on Wednesday announced a public-private partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and USAID to increase chickpea production in Ethiopia in order to secure access to the legume, which “play[s] an increasing role in its food products,” the New York Times reports. If the project is successful in working with small farmers to increase chickpea production, the “increased yield would exceed PepsiCo’s needs,” therefore “some of the additional crops will be used to make a new, ready-to-eat food product that the World Food Programme has used to address famine in Pakistan,” according to the newspaper (Strom, 9/20).
Annual World Disasters Report Focuses On Hunger And Malnutrition, Highlights Dichotomy Between Economic Classes
This year’s annual World Disasters Report, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Thursday, focuses on hunger and malnutrition, but highlights a growing gap between economic classes, the Australian reports, noting “15 percent of the world’s population is going hungry while a record 20 percent now suffer the effects of ‘excess nutrition'” (Hodge, 9/23).
“Gender discrimination lies behind much of the malnutrition found in under-five children in Nepal, say locals and experts,” IRIN reports. “Women live hard lives from day one, born with no fanfare, contrasting starkly to the six-day celebration to mark the birth of a boy. Despite the physical demands of a woman’s daily life, boys and husbands eat first and are offered the most nutritious food, often leaving girls and women with leftovers,” the news service writes.
Twenty aid agencies on Wednesday issued an open letter (.pdf) “urg[ing] the international community to change its approach to Somalia ‘and enhance diplomatic engagement with the parties to the conflict, to ensure the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid,'” particularly before the rainy season brings the threat of disease, IRIN reports (9/21).
PRI’s “The World” recently spoke with Matt Ellingson, director of Program Development at Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization, who was part of a mission to North Korea this month during which five U.S.-based, non-governmental organizations were allowed to send observers to the country to monitor delivery of aid to areas affected by severe floods this past summer. The group “came away concerned about widespread malnutrition and starvation in North Korea” and “is now calling for an urgent humanitarian intervention,” “The World” reports. The radio show provides audio of the interview and a link to a “factfile” on the North Korea food crisis published in The Telegraph earlier this month (9/23).