Early warnings about rising malnutrition, drought and possible famine in the Horn of Africa “went unheeded” for the past year, but “[w]hat is the point of an early warning system if nobody is listening?” a Globe and Mail editorial asks.
Food Security and Nutrition
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Mark Bowden, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said the U.N. had officially declared a famine in the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia, VOA News reports (7/20).
During a speech to the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laid out his vision for his next term, telling “trade officials and diplomats that ‘the United Nations’ top priority for this year and many years beyond will have to be sustainable development’ â€“ lifting people out of poverty while working on environmental concerns,” the Associated Press reports. Ban “described sustainable development as a theme that would ‘tie together many other goals’ such as addressing climate change, global health, women’s issues and food, water and energy shortages,” according to the news service (Heilprin, 7/19).
PBS Newshour’s global health unit on Monday began a four-part series examining major health challenges in Indonesia, which “sheds light on the diverse nation’s changing political landscape, deplorable conditions for people there with severe mental illness, the effect of rising food prices and research into a plant that could be used as a male contraceptive,” the Newshour’s “The Rundown” blog states. The blog links to other video, photo and written reports from the team, including a piece on an Indonesian law that encourages breastfeeding (Miller, 7/14).
GlobalPost examines the prevalence of chronic malnutrition in Guatemala, which is one of the countries targeted by the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). It also looks at how the GHI is being implemented in that country.
“Since October 2010, the U.S. Government has provided more than $383 million worth of assistance, including 314,000 metric tons of food,” to countries in the eastern Horn of Africa region, where “[m]ore than 4.1 million people have benefitted from this help,” Donald Steinberg, USAID deputy administrator, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece.
Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office said the U.S. is willing to provide humanitarian aid to Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab controls parts of the country, but “[i]n reality, her hands are tied by paperwork,” Eliza Griswold, author and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, writes in a Daily Beast opinion piece.
“The first U.N. emergency airlift flight arrived in” Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, on Sunday, “to assist the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the drought and famine afflicting their homeland,” ABC News reports (Hasan, 7/17). The jet, which was chartered by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), delivered 100 tons of tents meant for the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, the U.N. News Centre writes. An additional four flights are scheduled to arrive in Nairobi this week (7/17).
People who have fled the drought in Somalia to camps near the capital Mogadishu are being hit by cold, heavy rains, and at least five people have died of exposure, according to aid workers, BBC News reports.
The nations in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa “are at risk of ‘massive famine,’ Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told the Huffington Post Wednesday.” “It’s very severe,” Shah said. “We know from the data that we’ve been collecting that this is the worst drought in 60 years and itâ€™s going to have severe consequences. Eleven and a half million people are at real risk of malnutrition and famine already,” the Huffington Post reports (Hersh, 7/13).