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).
Food Security and Nutrition
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.
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on the international community to give rural women the same access to productive resources as men, noting the huge benefits that would ensue, from increased food production to a drop of 150 million in the number of the world’s hungry people,” the U.N. News Centre reports (10/14).
As the world’s population approaches seven billion, “experts say most of Africa — and other high-growth developing nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan — will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially without major new family-planning initiatives,” the Associated Press/San Jose Mercury News reports. In the article, “Associated Press reporters on four continents examin[e] some of most distinctive examples” of how “population challenges vary dramatically around the world” (Crary et al., 10/15).
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, writes, “We must politicize undernutrition, which is still a major global problem, so that it gets the attention it deserves.” He adds, “Three key elements of governance are critical to tackling undernutrition: capacity, accountability and responsiveness.”
“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.”