“Sahelian governments and local and international aid groups are struggling to cope with both the continual arrivals of people fleeing … northern Mali, and the mounting number of hungry people across the region as the lean season gets underway,” IRIN reports. According to UNHCR, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced within Mali or fled to surrounding countries, and IRIN reports “governments are already struggling to get aid to millions of their inhabitants, who are facing hunger due to drought.” The news service writes, “The U.N. estimates that 16 million people across the Sahel are facing hunger this year, and hunger levels are rising.” IRIN continues, “This complex mix of slow and fast-onset crises means the U.N. will be revising or launching new funding appeals from the current $1 billion to $1.5 billion in coming weeks, said Noel Tsekouras, deputy head of office at the West Africa bureau of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Dakar” (5/4).
Food Security and Nutrition
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) “has warned clashes along the border between Sudan and South Sudan threaten to plunge the region into widespread hunger” and “said it is scaling up its humanitarian operation in South Sudan to assist a growing number of refugees and displaced people,” VOA News reports. WFP “plans to assist 2.7 million people in South Sudan this year under an emergency operation covering the border region and other areas,” the news service writes. WFP spokesperson Elizabeth Byrs “said [the agency] is providing special supplementary, nutritional feeding to about one-half-million young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers who are suffering from, or are vulnerable to, malnutrition,” according to VOA (Schlein, 5/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, said in a press release it also is concerned about the rising number of malnourished refugees arriving in South Sudan and the threat of water shortages in several border areas, the South Sudan News Agency notes (5/2).
“During his visit to Kenya, E.U. Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs announced new support to address food security in Kenya, which is often affected by recurrent drought,” an E.U. press release states. “Up to 40 million euros [approximately $52.5 million] will be dedicated to nutrition, water supply, and livelihood support,” and “mothers and children will be in particular focus of this initiative, as they are the first victims of drought and hunger,” the press release notes, adding, “The funding comes as a part of the new 250 million euro E.U. initiative, called ‘Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE),’ to support the people in the Horn of Africa to recover from the recent drought and to strengthen the population and regional economy to better withstand future crises” (5/2).
UNICEF on Wednesday “warned that thousands of acutely malnourished children in Somalia are at risk of death because little money is available to help them,” VOA News writes, adding, “UNICEF said it has received only 12 percent of its $289 million emergency appeal for humanitarian operations this year.” “The famine declared in southern Somalia last year is over,” but “Somalia remains the world’s most complex humanitarian situation,” the news service writes, noting that UNICEF “reported that almost one-third of Somalis are unable to meet their essential food and non-food needs.”
“Calculating the number of hungry people around the world at any given moment, let alone predicting how that number is likely to change in the future, is no easy task,” Reuters reports in an article examining the numerous challenges of estimating the number of undernourished people worldwide and noting the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is expected to release new data and methodology in October “as part of [its] annual report on food insecurity.” According to the news service, “The question is not whether metrics are necessary, but how to collect, interpret and share the data to present a realistic and accurate picture of the food security situation.” While “[i]mproving the way hunger is calculated could have far-reaching consequences for the way governments and aid agencies respond more effectively to hunger crises, experts say,” “[u]ltimately … it is not data, but action, that makes a difference,” according to Reuters (Rowling, 5/2).
At Least 1M Children At Risk Of Death In Sahel Drought Crisis; European Commission Donates Over $20M To UNICEF Appeal
“At least one million children are at risk of dying of malnutrition in the central-western part of Africaâ€™s Sahel region due to a drought crisis, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said [Wednesday], adding that more resources are urgently needed to help those in need,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “There are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea,” the news service writes, adding, “The nutrition crisis is affecting people throughout Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal.”
The Huffington Post is running “a series of blogs by leading NGOs to call attention to a range of issues that should be raised at the G8 summit at Camp David in rural Maryland from May 18-19,” according to the news service. The following summarizes some of the posts published over the past three days.
“This G8 summit was, yet again, a missed opportunity for international leaders to make a real commitment to long-term food security and support for African and developing world farmers,” Eva Clayton (D-N.C.), a former Congresswoman and former assistant director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “The World” blog. “In the realm of food security, the G8 had an ideal opportunity to provide a clear solution that embraces trade and opportunity, a new paradigm if you will, in international development and food security,” she continues, adding, “Unfortunately, G8 leaders emerging from Camp David still spoke of the same old aid commitments without any backbone, all the while ignoring the impact that trade barriers and U.S. and European multi-billion dollar subsidies have on food production in those countries most in need of development.”
Following President Barack Obama’s announcement of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition at a food security summit last week, “USAID launched a Food Security Open Data Challenge that invites technologists, agriculture stakeholders, entrepreneurs, academics, and others to determine the most creative and wide-reaching use of open data for food security solutions and better, cheaper, and faster results,” Maura O’Neill, chief innovation officer at USAID, and Kat Townsend, special assistant for engagement at USAID, write in a post in the agency’s “DipNote” blog (5/27). “Over the next few months, the Food Security Open Data Challenge will have three key components,” including “an Ideation Jam where technologists and agriculture stakeholders will identify key innovation opportunities by focusing on the overlap of food security priorities and the potential of available data”; “a Codeathon to create and finalize solutions that are available for investment”; and “a Datapalooza, hosted by USAID Administrator Raj Shah, to announce challenge winners and showcase some of the best ideas for data-based solutions to food security,” Hillary Chen, a senior adviser to the deputy director of global development at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, writes in this post in the White House Blog (5/25).
Aid Agencies Warn April's Steep Increases In Grain Prices Will Affect Sahel Nations During Lean Season
“Unexpectedly sharp price rises in April for local cereals like millet, rice, and maize in parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad mean many vulnerable people in the drought-hit Sahel could find it even harder to get enough to eat,” IRIN reports. “Prices are expected to keep rising until the end of August — during the lean season — but the size of recent hikes has surprised food price analysts and humanitarian aid personnel,” the news service writes (5/25). In an article detailing the situation in Senegal, the Associated Press notes, “More than one million children under five in this wide, arid swath of Africa below the Sahara are now at risk of a food shortage so severe that it threatens their lives, UNICEF estimates” (Larson, 5/27).