During a Tuesday news conference with reporters in Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “called on countries to urgently support United Nations agencies in their efforts to respond to the crisis in the Horn of Africa, where more than 11 million people are in need of life-saving assistance as they face the worst drought in decades,” the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. agencies have called for $1.6 billion in aid for the region, but only half of that amount has been received, according to the news service (7/12).
Food Security and Nutrition
“Food price levels are at historic highs, but food price volatility, although high these past few years, is not out of line with historical experience and is generally lower than it was in the 1970s. This means that the world does not necessarily face a price volatility problem. It faces a high food price problem,” Christopher Barrett, a professor at Cornell University, and Marc Bellemare, a professor at Duke University, write in a Foreign Affairs opinion piece.
“U.N. officials sounded the alarm Tuesday about a deepening crisis in East Africa, saying they are struggling to cope with the number of people on the move in the region because of the severe drought and continued fighting in Somalia,” the Associated Press reports. “World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran said the drought has left millions hungry, farmers at risk of losing their livelihoods and the lives of hundreds of thousands of children at risk,” the AP writes (7/12).
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and Oxfam issued a joint appeal on Friday asking the international community to provide the “political, moral and financial means” necessary to fight the severe drought affecting more than 10 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, the Associated Press reports (7/8).
USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg writes in a post on the agency’s “IMPACTblog,” “This week, USAID activated a disaster assistance response team (DART) operating out of Ethiopia and Kenya to work with the World Food Program, UNICEF, and over a dozen other organizations to coordinate emergency efforts to relieve the…
In addition to ecological influences, “[l]ong and recurrent conflicts, poor infrastructure, misguided policy options, weak market system[s] and seasonal migration patterns account [for] the ever-increasing drought problems” in the Horn of Africa, Abeje Chumo, an international law expert and editor of the Horn of Africa blog for the Foreign Policy…
In a New York Times opinion piece, Robert Jensen, an associate professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Nolan Miller, a professor of finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, suggest an alternate strategy for measuring hunger, called the “staple-calorie-share approach,” which “can give us a radically different view of who is hungry and who is not.”
For the first time, Guinea is including a nutrition component in its agricultural investment strategy, a move that experts “say â€¦ stems from an increasing recognition that agriculture must be harnessed to improve nutrition and health,” IRIN reports.
“[T]he problem is not just assessing the size of the current crisis” of drought and hunger in East Africa, “[i]t is also the fact that the droughts in this region have become an almost annual occurrence,” a Guardian editorial states.
Significant progress is being made toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline, but the poorest countries are not progressing as quickly and more must be done to improve health and development outcomes in those nations, according to this year’s MDG report (.pdf), VOA News reports. “Despite the global economic downturn and the food and energy crises, we are on track to meet the MDG targets for poverty-reduction,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the report on Thursday in Geneva (Schlein, 7/7).