In a systematic review published by the Cochrane Collaboration last week, researchers found that the micronutrient powder used in recent years to combat malnutrition, anemia and iron deficiency in children was very helpful in preventing malnutrition in children six to 24 months old, VOA News reports. World Health Organization epidemiologist Luz Maria De Regil “and other researchers combined the results of eight previous studies involving thousands of children,” VOA writes, adding, “The studies were done on three continents, in countries as varied as Haiti, Cambodia, and Ghana.”
Food Security and Nutrition
News Corp Australian Papers/Fox News reports that scientists in Australia have created genetically modified rice that “has up to four times more iron than conventional rice and twice as much zinc” in an effort to “provide a solution to the iron and zinc deficiency disorders that affect billions of people throughout the world.” “Rice is the main food source for roughly half the world’s population, including billions of people in developing countries across Asia, but the polished grain is too low in iron, zinc and Vitamin A to meet dietary needs,” the article notes.
The Washington Post looks at the conditions within Banadir Hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. “The scenes … reflect the immense challenge facing this Horn of Africa nation, already besieged by multiple woes, from civil war to radical Islamist militants to a weak transitional government incapable of governing effectively, despite massive support from the United States and its allies,” the newspaper writes (Raghavan, 9/7).
Nancy Lindborg, USAIDâ€™s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, writes in this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” that the U.S. “continue[s] to call on all parties involved to allow unfettered humanitarian access to Somalis in need.” She continues, “The unfortunate reality is that Somalia is the most difficult operating environment for humanitarians in the world today,” adding that “unless we — the international community — can get access to provide humanitarian assistance to southern Somalia, the already horrific situation will get worse. Without access, the number of people in crisis will increase, and famine will continue to spread in Somalia” (9/6).
Reuters examines how budget debates in Congress “could undo” President Barack Obama’s “‘smart power’ approach, which elevates diplomacy and development alongside military power as guarantors of U.S. security in a rapidly changing world.” Programs run through the State Department and USAID that provide “[f]ood aid to hungry countries, … improved medical services for expectant mothers and the U.S. response to natural disasters such as earthquakes and droughts could be hit in a major scale-back of U.S. assistance,” the news agency writes.
The U.N. “announced Monday that Somalia’s famine had spread to a sixth area within the country, with officials warning that 750,000 people could die in the next few months unless aid efforts were scaled up,” the New York Times reports (Gettleman/Kyama, 9/5).
In this New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog post, journalist and author Tina Rosenberg examines the contrasts between refugee situations in rural camps — such as Dadaab in Kenya, where tens of thousands have sought relief from drought and famine in Somalia — and more urban areas, such as cities in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, where approximately 1.6 million Iraqi refugees are living. “At Dadaab, [refugees] receive food, medical care, basic shelter — the emergency relief they need,” but “[t]he camp lacks the money to provide even subsistence rations” and “the refugees give up their rights to move freely and to work,” she writes. In urban areas, refugees “get help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with an ATM card that allows them to withdraw money every month. … They buy their own food and rent their own apartments. They use the local schools and health clinics,” Rosenberg says.
Progress In Reducing Child Mortality Rates At Somalia, Ethiopia Border Refugee Camps Is Slow, U.S. Official Says
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Reuben Brigety, “[t]he top U.S. official for refugee issues, … says that despite intensive efforts, relief agencies have made little progress in reducing child mortality rates at refugee camps along Somalia’s border with Ethiopia,” VOA News reports. Brigety, “comment[ing] as he returned from Dollo Ado, a sprawling camp complex in Ethiopia that houses 120,000 refugees from famine-stricken southern Somalia … tells VOA that humanitarian agencies have made impressive progress in establishing health facilities and registering the backlog of refugees arriving daily from Somaliaâ€™s famine zone. But he said children are still dying at an alarming rate of malnutrition and other complications, such as measles,” the news agency writes.
At a public forum on the famine in the Horn of Africa held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “announced the U.S. is pledging an additional $23 million in grants to support famine relief efforts, bringing the total commitment from the United States to $600 million,” the Associated Press/KSTP reports (Theisen, 8/31). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) also attended the forum, which was moderated by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and drew about 350 people, including many in the local Somali community, KARE 11 writes (Croman, 8/31).
“U.N. refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that relief groups should increase aid to war-battered and drought-hit Somalis to reduce the exodus to neighboring countries,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Our objective is to create conditions for Somalis to be able to live in Somalia and for Somali refugees, when they have the opportunity, to go back home safely,’ Guterres added,” the news agency notes. “Tens of thousands of Somalis have in recent months fled to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya due to the drought, the Horn of Africa’s worst in decades,” AFP writes (8/30).