“The U.N. on Wednesday said food assistance has reached nearly half the Somalis in need, [and] it warned cases of diarrhea and cholera could spike with the seasonal rains expected in October,” the Associated Press reports (9/28). “However, the report released Tuesday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that four million Somalis remain in crisis nationwide, and that 750,000 people risk death in the Horn of Africa nation within the next four months,” according to VOA News.
Food Security and Nutrition
U.N. agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), are warning that South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, “will face chronic food shortages next year due to internal and border insecurity, erratic rains and a huge influx of returnees from the North,” IRIN reports. “U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande said more than three million people (36 percent of the population) in South Sudan were classed as moderately or severely food insecure in 2011, and the burden was increasing,” IRIN writes (9/27).
“Several American aid groups are criticizing the U.S. government delay on deciding whether to resume large-scale food donations to North Korea” after recent flooding deteriorated health and food security in the country, VOA News reports. The five U.S.-based, non-governmental organizations “warn that if substantial aid is not permitted in the next six to nine months, many vulnerable people in the impoverished communist state could die from starvation,” the news service writes.
USAID is working with non-governmental organization partners to test a “nutritional impact assessment tool” that “‘would be a way for organizations designing or reviewing agricultural programs to mitigate any risks or potential negative effects on nutrition — in other words a “do no harm” approach,’ said Michael Zeilinger, head of the nutrition division with USAID’s office of health, infectious disease and nutrition,” IRIN reports. “‘As we start to design major agriculture programs around value chains and increasing production (such as Feed the Future and Global Agriculture and Food Security Program), we should really remember that there are some practices in agriculture that may have potential negative effects on nutrition, and this is just to make sure that they’re thought through,’ Zeilinger told IRIN.”
Despite a seven percent annual growth rate over the past five years and a prediction from former President Alan Garcia that Peru will meet the millennium development goals (MDGs), “chronic infant malnutrition has been difficult to stamp out, particularly in rural areas,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports. In addition to geography challenging health workers in this mountainous country, language barriers, economic class and habits of eating lower-cost, low-protein foods contribute to malnutrition in children five years of age or younger, according to the blog.
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).
World Bank Pledges $1.88B To Address Drought In Horn Of Africa; Additional Funding Announced At U.N. Meeting, By U.S.
“The World Bank said on Saturday it was more than tripling funding to $1.88 billion for a worsening drought in Horn of Africa countries affecting more than 13 million people,” Reuters reports. “World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the financing would help fill a $1 billion funding gap needed to tackle drought and a food crisis engulfing parts of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Uganda,” the news agency writes, noting the bank initially had pledged $500 million in July. Zoellick said the majority of the funding was to go toward long-term solutions to drought relief, with $288 million reserved for humanitarian aid through June 2012, according to Reuters (9/25).
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).