Saturday, July 21, 2012

Famine Danger Continues in Parts of Somalia | - Somali News in English

food distibution center for famine victims
NAIROBI — A year ago, United Nations officials declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia: Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Overwhelming support from the international community, together with favorable rains, helped improve food security in some parts of the country, saving millions of Somalis. But the crisis is far from over.
One of the reasons famine was declared in parts of Somalia last July was the malnutrition rate among children exceeded 30 percent. Tens of thousands of people died in south central Somalia alone.
The U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden says Somalia has moved from that situation and during the last six months the worst of the famine conditions have been dealt with.
However, Bowden says in parts of southern Somalia people still need emergency assistance and one in five children is still suffering from acute malnutrition.
“Some 2.5 million people are in need, critical in need of humanitarian emergency assistance and then we estimate another 1.3 million need continuous longer term support to help them maintain their livelihoods,” Bowden added.
At this time of the year last year, the situation was dire inside Somalia with no aid assistance reaching the needy people and the effects of four consecutive years of drought and two decades of war visible everywhere.
Thousands of Somalis trekked vast distances in search of water, food, and medical supplies.
Maulid Warfa, a Somali aid worker and also emergency coordinator for the U.N. Children’s agency UNICEF, said there is now a reduction of the number of people seeking assistance and there is a strong need to sustain the level of intervention currently in place.
“We do not have people dying in the number they were dying before,” said Warfa. “The malnutrition rate has been reduced at least by half, a lot of people were provided with food rations several, actually many of them have recovered. The situation has significantly improved not to level we want and the worrying we have now is if we do not sustain the current level of intervention the situation might deteriorate.”
Warfa also says accessibility has improved in some parts of the country and also level of services provided to the people has increased.
The U.N.’s Mark Bowden said the cycle of humanitarian crisis facing Somalia must be broken.
“We also need to start this year jointly with donors and government donors to ensure that recovery is taking place so that we ensure people don’t lurch from crisis to crisis depending on the weather conditions and we really take this opportunity to build back and their livelihoods,” he said.
According to Bowden, no matter how much food aid is brought into Somalia, the major part of breaking the cycle of very long term humanitarian crisis is to bring a lasting and durable peace to the war-torn country.
Source: VOA

Horn of Africa crisis one year on – Famine reversed, countless lives saved, but situation of millions of women and children still grave, news,

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 20, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A year ago today, the crisis...

NAIROBI, KenyaJuly 20, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A year ago today, the crisis in theHorn of Africa reached boiling point when the United Nations declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia. The extraordinary international support, coupled with favourable rains, helped save countless lives and reverse the famine. However, the crisis is far from over. Eight million people across SomaliaEthiopia and Kenya are still in need of humanitarian assistance. Children, in particular, are threatened by a combination of poverty, insecurity, malnutrition, and disease.
“While our life-saving interventions and supplies reachedmillions of children and their families, many could not be reachedand remainextremely vulnerable,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Elhadj As Sy. “This was, and continues to be a children's emergency. We must continue to provide emergency assistance where needed, butmust also work moreclosely with communities to boost their capacities against future shocks.”
With generous support from donors, who provided US$396 million in 2011,UNICEF was ableto expandboth its emergency and development work in drought-stricken parts of SomaliaKenya,Ethiopia and Djibouti, where more than 13 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance. Between July and December 2011, about 63,000 metric tonnes of humanitarian supplies were delivered - half of these were supplementary and therapeutic food. To date, nearly one million children have been treated for malnutrition across the region.
To further build resilience, disaster risk reduction is now being integrated into UNICEF's emergency and development programmes. Basic services for health, nutrition, sanitation and education at community level are being strengthened. UNICEF is also working with partners to strengthen safety netsfor vulnerable families using cash transfers.
With a third of the population, or 2.5 million, still in need of emergency assistance, Somalia remains the worst affected countryIn some regions of the South, one in five children is suffering from life-threatening acute malnutrition.In Kenya, 2.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, so are 3.2 million people in Ethiopia. Malnutrition continues to be a serious concern. Currently 900,000 children are estimated to be suffering from malnutrition in the three countries.
The crisis forced thousands of people out of their homes. There are now more than 626,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia. Inside Somalia, more than one million people are internally displaced,nearly 60 per cent of themchildren.Conflict, instability, poor rains and continued restricted access for aid agencies pose a major threat to children and their families.There are already indications that the situation could deteriorate in southern Somalia, where acute malnutrition among children under five in some places is nearly twice the emergency threshold.
Short-term emergency assistance, although crucial to address health, nutrition, and water and sanitationneeds, will not prevent future crises. Drawing inspirations from communities' own responses and coping strategies to crises, UNICEF has been increasingly working over theyears on long-term interventions tobuild resilienceand address the needs of the most vulnerable.
“Traditional coping mechanismsarebeing stretched to the limit for many communities,”saidMr. Sy. “The cycle of crisesmust be broken through new means of supporting communities to withstand and recover better from disaster.
“We need to preserve our hard-won gains, and invest in children today to prevent similar crises from happening again in the future.”
UNICEF has fully programmed and committed the generous funding received for the Horn of Africacrisis in 2011. To continue its ongoing relief efforts, as well as invest in resilience-buildinginSomaliaKenya and Ethiopia, UNICEF needs a total of US$273 million for 2012. As of 12 July 2012, only 33 per cent of the funds had been received.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How neo-Malthusians demonise dissent | Tom Bailey | spiked

Michael Buerk, the broadcaster famous for bringing images of Ethiopia’s famine to BBC viewers’ attention in 1984, claimed this week that the issue of human population growth is the ‘invisible issue of the twenty-first century’.
And why is population growth the great unmentionable of our time? Because, as Buerk puts it, of ‘the population deniers’. This evil constituency seems ‘to regard the whole issue as bad taste, a kind of disguised racism’, he said. As a result, overpopulation ‘does not seem to be up for discussion’.
Really? An ‘invisible issue’? Not ‘up for discussion’? In fact, here’s just a few of the people who have joined the choir singing about the perils of population growth: former US president George HW Bush, the Dalai Lama, Hillary Clinton, David Attenborough, Bob Geldof and Cameron Diaz. They’re not exactly low-profile people. Even Queen Elizabeth II has chimed in with some miserable Malthusian rhetoric. When speaking of the Caribbean island of St Vincent’s, she said: ‘One must remember that its resources are finite and cannot accommodate indefinite population growth.’
And if recent surveys are any indication, this ‘invisible issue’ which is ‘not up for discussion’ seems to be pretty visible and widely discussed among the public. According to Guardianpoll, for instance, 75 per cent of respondents agreed that ‘the planet can’t sustain more mouths to feed’. Elsewhere, a YouGov poll found that ‘over four out of five (84 per cent) thought the world population was too high’. Overpopulation hardly seems to be a taboo issue in polite conversation.
In fact, it seems to be Buerk himself who is attempting to shut down debate about population growth by using the pejorative ‘population deniers’ to describe those with differing views. The use of the term ‘deniers’ is a cheap attempt to place those who dissent from neo-Malthusian malarkey on the same level as those with whom the term is most closely associated: Holocaust deniers. By labelling opponents as such, Buerk is trying to portray them as being as mad and irrational as those who refuse to acknowledge the mass slaughter of European Jewry during the Second World War.
Besides, there’s a reason why neo-Malthusian population obsessives are accused of racism – and it has nothing to do with trying to shut down debate. Rather racism is an inescapable feature of the Malthusian tradition. Thomas Malthus, the awkward godfather of the modern overpopulation movement, attempted to set in biological stone the social problems of early industrial Britain at the turn of the nineteenth century. By claiming that population always outgrew the development of the means to support it, he was able to blame poverty on the copulating habits of, as he put it, the ‘race of labourers’. This elitist and prejudiced view of Britain’s emerging working class is now projected on to the people of Africa and Asia by today’s neo-Malthusians. Where Malthus portrayed the impoverished workers of early capitalism as causing their own misfortune and misery through being so stupid as to have lots of children, his contemporary equivalents frame the impoverished Africans and Asians in the same way.
The racism of neo-Malthusian types is often apparent today. Hence when ever the alleged issue of overpopulation is discussed, the focus is always on the dark-skinned people of the Third World. Despite their meagre consumption levels, the dark mass of people Over There are accused of using up too many of the world’s resources. That’s why, as Brendan O’Neill has pointed out, news articles discussing overpopulation often use pictures of ‘Indians squeezing on to a train, Chinese women going shopping, [and] black babies sleeping’.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nations with most food may lack best diets, global study finds | The News Journal |

DuPont Co. CEO Ellen Kullman
DuPont Co. CEO Ellen Kullman
An abundant food supply doesn’t guarantee that a nation will have the healthiest or safest diet, according to a study of global food security.
The U.S., Denmark, Norway and France are the world’s most “food-secure” countries in terms of availability, cost and nutrition value, while Israel, 22nd overall, had the best quality and safety, according to the study released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Germany, while 10th in food security, ranked 21st in quality, measured by nutrient content and balance. The Democratic Republic of Congo ranked last.
The findings are part of a global food-security index developed to measure hunger worldwide and identify areas for improvement. World food prices may rise this month after a drought in the U.S. Midwest wilted crops, the United Nations forecast this month. Rapid price gains contributed to more than 60 food riots from 2007-09, while nutrition costs that peaked in April 2011 sparked revolutions in North Africa.
“To truly address the root cause of hunger, we must have a common path forward to tackle such pressing issues as food affordability, availability, nutritional quality and safety,” said Ellen Kullman, chief executive officer of DuPont Co., which sponsored the study. “What gets measured, gets done.”
The global food security index counts affordability, availability and quality, DuPont said. The index was designed with help from Ademola Braimoh of the World Bank, Eileen Kennedy of Tufts University, Samarendu Mohanty of the International Rice Research Institute, David Spielman of the International Food Policy Research Institute and Robert Thompson of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, according to the report.
The research examines food security in 105 nations on the basis of affordability, availability, nutrition content and food safety. After Congo, the nations with the worst nutrition situation were Chad, followed by Burundi and Haiti. Some countries in the bottom third, including Ethiopia and Niger, may improve with rapid economic growth, according to the report.
Residents of wealthy nations have 55 percent more food available than people in poorer countries, with 3,400 calories a person per day compared with 2,200 in less-developed regions, the study found. The United Nations recommends a daily intake of 2,300 calories. In the three main areas of food security, the U.S. was first in affordability, fourth in availability and third in quality and safety.
Global food supplies were a topic of discussion at the Group of Eight summit held in the U.S. in May. Before the meeting, President Barack Obama, in his first speech on global food security, announced $3 billion in pledges from companies including Cargill Inc. and Syngenta AG for farm development in Africa, the world’s most food-insecure region, over the next decade.
“Fifty years ago, Africa was an exporter of food,” Obama said. “There is no reason why Africa should not be feeding itself and exporting food again.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The distance between Sydney and Ethiopia -Youth Ambassador blog

Monique plays with Burtukan, who shares one bed with her entire family.
Looking back at our trip it totally doesn’t feel like it was five months ago! 
Everything about it still seems so real, and even now there are still things that I’m trying to process from what we saw and learnt. 
One of the key things that hit me about Ethiopia was just how different it was to Australia, yet at the same time it could also be so similar.
When we first got there we were thrown into the big bustling city and went driving through this place called Merkato, which is the largest open air market in Africa. There were animals walking around in the middle of the streets, people chasing our car and everywhere we went people were yelling out "FERENJI" to us which means "foreigner". 
Though those first few hours in Addis Ababa were seriously crazy, once we went out into the rural parts of the country our experience totally changed. People weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere, they would happily stop and chat to us. 
But it wasn’t only the people that changed, the whole environment was totally different. Rather than having tall buildings, cars and tarred roads there was hardly anything. Almost everything was stained with this earth brown colour, which was the colour of the ground as far as we could see. There were no tarred roads, no tall buildings and there were all these animals just casually strolling down the street. 
The sheer difference from Sydney to Addis was one thing to think about, but then being taken out to rural Ethiopia, Wukro, was something totally different all together. Staying in a "hotel" with no actual toilet in my room and water only delivered every few days off the back of a donkey’s cart was something that took a bit of adjusting to. 
At first we were all a little taken aback by the...primitive living conditions, but then after having the opportunity to go and meet with some of the local people we all just managed to take it in our stride. It became a bit of a "When in Africa!" kind of thing. 
Once we had been out and met a number of people in the local community we realised just how blessed we were to even be staying in a place like we were. We were visiting families like Burtukan’s where they had four people staying in one bed. And this wasn’t even what the average Australian would consider as a bed. I’m talking compressed mud, covered with some animal skins. And all they had for a bathroom was just a walled off area with a squat toilet – that they shared with their whole village... That really put a stop to our complaints.
I had such an incredible time in Ethiopia, and I would definitely go back in the blink of an eye. The absolute best thing that I found was the people; they had such a different outlook on life to most Australians. They were some of the most joyous, loving and caring people I have ever met. Even despite the fact that they were living with what you or I may consider as nothing. 
What we saw was heartbreaking, but also empowering, and it spurred us on to help people like these.
Do something real. Register for the 40 Hour Famine now.