Delegates from humanitarian aid groups from the Arab and Muslim world at a conference in Cairo on Sunday urged international aid agencies to utilize Syrian civil society and private sector groups to deliver medical and food aid inside the country, where anti-government protests have displaced hundreds of thousands and pushed many below the poverty line, IRIN reports. “Access was among the main points of discussion at the meeting, hosted by the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and The Humanitarian Forum, which called for better coordination in the delivery of aid both inside Syria and to refugees in neighboring countries, especially in the area of access to health care,” the news service writes.
Food Security and Nutrition
In this ONE Blog post, Jennifer Wynn, an intern with ONE’s policy team, reports on a recent panel discussion held at George Washington University that examined the U.S. Farm Bill and its implications for global hunger and food security. “I would have never thought to make a connection between our farms and farms around the world … [b]ut after an evening with some of the field’s experts, it’s clear to me that domestic policy on agriculture has far-reaching impacts,” she writes. The panel included Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group; Margaret Krome of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute; and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (3/5).
“A year after the worst drought in 60 years sent 13.3 million people in the Horn of Africa into crisis, we are now facing a rising threat of crisis in the Sahel — an arid belt that stretches from Senegal through Niger and Burkina Faso to Chad,” Nancy Lindborg, head of democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance at USAID, writes in this post in Huffington Post’s “The Blog.” She notes, “Today, rising food prices, another failed rain, and conflict in Mali and Libya, means that between seven and 10 million people are at risk of sliding into crisis as we enter the lean season of the months ahead,” and writes, “As we focus on the rising crisis in the Sahel, we are committed to responding immediately and acting on the most important lessons learned from the Horn response.”
NGOs Welcome Announcement Of U.S., North Korean Nuclear Arms Agreement That Could Bring Food Aid To Nation
“The State Department’s announcement that North Korea would halt nuclear activities in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of U.S. food aid was welcomed by aid groups that have long struggled to raise money to feed hungry people under an unpopular regime,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog reports. Marcus Prior, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Asia said the group is “encouraged” by the development but it “remain[s] concerned about the level of nutrition, especially for children in poorer areas,” according to the blog. More than 90 percent of U.S. food aid has been delivered through the WFP since 1996, with the remainder channeled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a 2011 Congressional Research Service report (.pdf) says, the blog notes.
“North Korea announced on Wednesday that it would suspend its nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to monitor activities at its main nuclear complex,” a move “signal[ing] that North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is at least willing to consider a return to negotiations and to engage with the United States, which pledged in exchange to ship tons of food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation,” the New York Times reports. Some “analysts said the agreement allowed Mr. Kim to demonstrate his command and to use his early months in power to improve people’s lives after years of food shortages and a devastating famine,” the newspaper writes (Myers/Choe, 2/29).
Only weeks after the U.N. declared an end to the famine in Somalia, regional climate scientists meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 30th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum have said preventive measures should be taken to stem the effects of drought that likely will return to Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa over the next three months, IRIN reports. USAID’s “FEWS NET said people should expect erratic rain in southern Somalia and southeastern Kenya” and will “be releasing a detailed outlook in the coming weeks,” the news service notes. But “[o]ne of the problems highlighted was the lack of linkage between early warning and early action. ‘There is no framework that allows the trigger of funds when the early warning bell is sounded,’ said one aid worker,” IRIN writes (2/29).
With each of the three droughts in the Horn of Africa over the last decade, “the international community agreed that long-term measures were needed to prevent another tragedy. But each time, when the rains finally came, the world’s good intentions melted away,” Jose Graziano de Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) writes in a Project Syndicate opinion piece. “We must ensure that this does not happen again by joining forces now to banish hunger from the region once and for all,” he continues.
“[T]oday, with the national debt approaching $14.7 trillion, Americans rightly demand fiscal responsibility. Yet efforts in Congress to cut billions from the president’s proposed budget for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are short-sighted,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He adds that “all of our foreign aid programs and foreign policy initiatives — from sending diplomats to Afghanistan to helping reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa — cost less than one-tenth of our annual military expenditures” and “comprises a mere 1.5 percent” of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request.
“People look to [the U.S.] to protect our allies; stand by our principles; serve as an honest broker in making peace; to fight hunger, poverty, and disease; to stand up to bullies and tyrants everywhere,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and she added that to do so “takes more than just resolve. It takes resources,” ABS-CBNnews.com reports (Jaleco, 2/29).
Gates Calls For Greater Coordination Among U.N. Food Agencies, Announces Nearly $200M In Grants For Agricultural Development Projects
In a speech delivered at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome on Thursday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told IFAD, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the “approach being used today to fight against poverty and hunger is outdated and inefficient” and asked the agencies “to unite around a common global target for sustainable productivity growth to guide and measure their efforts,” a Gates Foundation press release states. “Gates also announced nearly $200 million in grants, bringing to more than $2 billion the foundation’s commitment to smallholder farmers since the agriculture program began in 2006,” according to the press release (2/23).