Several news sources have published opinion pieces regarding the ongoing famine in Somalia and hunger situation in the Horn of Africa, some of which are summarized below:
Water and Sanitation
A VOA News editorial says U.S. support to Haiti since the early days of an outbreak of cholera, which has affected more than 439,600 people since it was first detected almost a year ago, “remains unfailing.” The editorial continues, “To date, the U.S. government has spent more than $75 million on improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, … has established and operated treatment centers and trained Haitian health care workers in preventing, diagnosing and treating cholera,” among other treatment, prevention and monitoring initiatives. “While some humanitarian groups are gradually reducing their operations in Haiti, the U.S. remains focused on giving the Haitian government the aid and tools needed to prevent and treat this potentially deadly disease,” the editorial says, adding, “The medical and public health response has been effective in limiting deaths associated with the disease” (9/12).
A cholera epidemic in West and Central Africa, which is being worsened by heavy rains and flooding, has already caused nearly 40,000 cases this year in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, killing almost 1,200 people in the countries adjacent to the Lake Chad Basin, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), VOA News reports.
Yves Engler, a Canadian writer and author, writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” blog that local citizens and investigative journalists have alleged that the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) dumped feces and other waste in holes a few feet from water used for drinking and bathing in the central plateau city of Hinche on August 6 and again 10 miles from Hinche on August 21, as well as cites a report (.pdf) stating that sewage disposal at the U.N. base near Mirebalais 10 months ago caused a devastating cholera outbreak.
U.N. Agencies, Pakistan Government Launch Rapid Needs Assessment, Provide Aid In Flood-Affected Regions
“United Nations humanitarian agencies have begun to assist communities in southern Pakistan that have been pummeled by monsoon rains which have claimed the lives of almost 200 people and destroyed or damaged nearly one million homes in an area still recovering from last year’s catastrophic floods,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The U.N. and the Pakistan government “have begun a rapid needs assessment in Sindh, with shelter, food, water, sanitation, hygiene and health care expected to be the priorities,” the news service writes (9/10).
Stacey McMahan, sustainability advisor and design fellow with Architecture for Humanity, who has resided in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a year teaching the locals how to build safe structures, writes about the importance of clean drinking water as an integral part of post-earthquake recovery in Haiti, which she writes will be ongoing in Haiti for decades, in this post in Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog.
“Cholera in Haiti is the worst epidemic that this hemisphere has seen in decades, yet it has received relatively little attention,” Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy writes in this Al Jazeera opinion piece, adding, “The international community has failed Haiti in so many ways and for so many years that it is almost unimaginable.”
The U.N.’s Pan-American Health Organization, the United States and the international community “should be working with the Haitian Health Ministry to wage a more aggressive and effective effort” against the cholera epidemic that hit the country last year, and those efforts “should include not only clean water and sanitation systems but more antibiotics and cholera vaccinations,” a New York Times editorial says. “Ramping up manufacturing” of the cholera vaccine — of which there are less than 400,000 doses worldwide — “could be readily done and would have global benefits,” the editorial states.
UNICEF and non-governmental organizations “operating in West Africa say the main barrier to more pit latrines in rural areas is not poverty or lack of resources, but a lack of understanding about costs and benefits,” IRIN reports. “Plan International, WaterAid and UNICEF programs all encourage communities to recognize the need for better sanitation, and to build latrines themselves,” the news service writes, adding, “Building and using latrines is one of the most effective ways to combat diarrhea, which kills 1.5 million under-five children globally each year.”
In this “End The Neglect” blog post, Ann Kelly, representative of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s Global Water Initiative and co-founder of Partner at Global Philanthropy Group, provides an overview of a Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases co-hosted seminar at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. Kelly writes of “a…