Mark Bowden, the U.N.’s official in Somalia, on Sunday said “tens of thousands of people will have died over the last year” in the country’s famine, adding that the rates of malnutrition are “amazingly high,” BBC News reports. “He said a quarter of a million Somalis were still suffering from the famine,” and he “said malnutrition rates have begun to drop but the crisis was likely to continue for the next six or seven months,” the news service notes (1/15).
Food Security and Nutrition
A U.S. Embassy statement on Saturday said the U.S. would provide nearly $1 billion to Bangladesh over the next five years “towards alleviating poverty and malnutrition, as well as family planning and the fight against infectious diseases,” Reuters reports. “The funds will also be used to support research in improving farm productivity and deal with the impact of climate change,” the news service writes, adding, “As of 2011, the U.S. government has provided over $5.7 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh” (Quadir, 1/14).
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on Thursday appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to discuss rebuilding efforts in Haiti two years after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Shah said, “[O]ver the last two years, we’ve seen real signs of hope. A number of things have worked. Partners and the Haitian government and Haitian leaders have done things differently so that today, … more people have access to clean water and safe sanitation in Port-au-Prince than the day before the earthquake,” according to the transcript.
In this post in the Department of State’s “DipNote” blog, Jonathan Shrier, acting special representative for global food security, reflects on food security issues and accomplishments in 2011, writing, “These efforts leave us well situated in 2012 to lead the [L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI)] group, which aims to strengthen mutual accountability among participating governments in meeting food security commitments. … Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that food security remains a high-level global priority through the U.S. presidency of the G8 and beyond” (1/10).
Report Finds 42% Of Children Under 5 Malnourished In India; Prime Minister Deems Child Malnutrition ‘National Shame’
“Roughly 42 percent of all Indian children under age five suffer from malnutrition, a sobering reminder of the persistence of poverty and hunger in the world’s largest democracy, according to a major report released” on Tuesday by the Naandi Foundation, an independent charitable organization, the New York Times reports. “Levels of malnutrition, while still high, have fallen by 20 percent in the last seven years,” the newspaper notes (Yardley, 1/10). “The Hunger and Malnutrition Survey monitored over 100,000 children in 112 districts across nine states in the country from October 2010 to February of last year,” the Associated Press writes (1/10).
“Yemen’s populist uprising and the political crisis that followed have pushed the country to the brink of a humanitarian emergency, according to the United Nations and aid agencies,” the Washington Post reports, noting that “children have been hit especially hard.” The newspaper continues, “Fresh conflicts, including a raging battle between the government and Islamist militants, have disrupted basic services; water, fuel and electricity shortages affect nearly every aspect of life, from hospital operations to trash collection. Food prices are rising, and health services have collapsed. In a nation in which half the population is younger than 18, many aid workers fear that the political crisis and the problems it has spawned will be felt beyond this generation of children” (Raghavan, 1/8). The newspaper also provides a graphic on malnourishment rates in Yemen and select other countries (1/8).
In this post in the Department of State’s “DipNote” blog, Ertharin Cousin, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, examines how improved nutrition and agricultural development are helping to bring Hondurans out of poverty and hunger. Reflecting on a recent trip to the country with “five journalists from Central and South America to see the work the United States and the U.N. Food and Agriculture agencies are doing in the field,” Cousin highlights a number of projects “improving the lives of poor and hungry rural families in the region” and concludes, “All the projects we saw are making a difference. Now we must scale them up, so more people can participate and benefit, and ultimately break free of assistance” (1/6).
Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece, “My top priority for 2012 will be to make a renewed push towards [achieving the first millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people living in hunger and extreme poverty by 2015], but also to look beyond it, to the final, total eradication of hunger from this planet. Obviously, it is not something that FAO can do alone. It needs a new international mobilization, the support of decision-makers everywhere, and a concerted effort by the entire U.N. family and other development partners.”
The U.N. “has received alarming reports of malnutrition in two Sudanese border states where the army is fighting insurgents,” according to Valerie Amos, U.N. under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Reuters reports. Since fighting broke out in June in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states near the border of the newly independent South Sudan, “U.N. agencies and aid groups have only been able to keep small teams of local staff on the ground and the government has stopped any aid workers visiting areas where there has been fighting,” the news service writes. Amos “urged Sudan to lift a ban on international U.N. staff traveling to both border states” so the agency could ensure it has staff with the correct skills on the ground, according to Reuters (Laessing, 1/4).
In Nepal, “a child malnutrition epidemic described by humanitarian organizations as a ‘silent emergency’ is claiming the lives of thousands of infants each year,” Agence France-Presse reports. “According to government statistics 1.7 million children — nearly half of all under-fives — suffer from chronic malnutrition, a long-term condition also known as stunting,” the news service writes, adding, “Acute malnutrition, a condition known as ‘wasting’ blamed for half of Nepal’s infant deaths, is thought to affect 18 percent.”