Category Archives: Africa

Food for Peace and the UN World Food Program

Food for Peace is the primary tool by which the United States fights global hunger.See below President Dwight Eisenhower proclaiming the Food for Peace program (originally titled Public Law 480 in 1954)

The U.S. Food for Peace program opened the door to an international version, The United Nations World Food Program. Listen to President John F. Kennedy announce the creation of the UN World Food Program

Now today the two programs, U.S. Food for Peace and the UN World Food Program work together to fight global hunger.

See an example here where U.S. Food for Peace made donations to the UN World Food Program

Food for Peace makes donation to the Central African Republic

U.S. Food for Peace To Aid Conflict Victims in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia

 

 

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Filed under Africa, Dwight Eisenhower, global hunger, History, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, World Food Programme

Giving Children a Chance in Post-Conflict Ivory Coast

Ten-month-old Sara has been found to be malnourished, and will receive treatment with plumpy'nut to make her strong and healthy again. Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d'Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

The conflict may have ended in the Ivory Coast, but building a lasting peace is now the struggle. This emphasis is on the rehabilitation of children so they do not suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease. It also means giving them a chance to go to school.

Save the Children’s work in the Ivory Coast involves reducing the danger of malnutrition among infants. They are using a special food called Plumpy’nut, which was just featured on NBC Nightly News.

Save the Children’s Plumpy program has just gotten underway in the West African nation. Sophie Bruneau of Save the Children says there are “182 severe acute malnourished children in Outpatient Therapeutic Care in treatment under Plumpy’nut.” In addition, there are another 255 children receiving Supplementary Plumpy which is used to treat less severe cases of malnutrition.

Bruneau says Plumpy’nut has many benefits, including being “ready to eat, easy transport for the mothers, and easy to store.” Of further importance Plumpy’nut treatment “Allows the children to stay with the family and follow the treatment at home, that is essential in terms of child care practices.” Bruneau adds another key benefit of Plumpy’nut: “Children like it.”

The key now is to make sure Save the Children has enough Plumpy supplies to treat cases of child malnutrition. This is essential because during the reconstruction from the conflict, it will be very easy for children to fall into malnutrition. Families are going to be struggling without access to basic services. Rebuilding from conflict does not happen overnight and for communities already in poverty, there is not much to fall back on.

Plumpy’nut helps to keep things together during these emergency and recovery phases. It’s a short-term solution with long-term benefits as it can save the smallest children from being damaged for life from malnutrition.Bruneau says Plumpy’nut is very much the miracle food as “we can really see the weight gain week after week.”

For school age children the key is getting them fed and back to class. School meals programs, when given enough support, accomplish this. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) “plans to feed 568,000 school children in 3,320 primary schools” beginning in November.

WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community. They have enough funds to get Ivory Coast school meals programs started again. WFP has not run the program since October 2010, right before the conflict began after disputed elections.

But will there be enough support to sustain the school feeding? Will there be enough support to help Ivory Coast eventually have its own national school lunch program? As the U.S. and other governments make their foreign policy amid budget crunches, will food aid for Ivory Coast and other countries get left out?

These questions remain to be answered. To help Save the Children, visit their Ivory Coast Emergency fund page. For more about the UN World Food Programme visit their home page and their We Feedback page

Article first published as Giving Children a Chance in Post-Conflict Ivory Coast on Blogcritics.

The UN World Food Programme plans to resume school feeding in the Ivory Coast. (WFP/Ramin Rafirasme)


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Filed under Africa, global hunger, Ivory Coast, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme

Norwegian Refugee Council providing aid in East Africa

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is taking action against the massive hunger crisis facing East Africa. Famine has been declared in parts of Somalia and severe drought has struck Kenya, Ethiopia and other areas of the region. Thousands of people have already perished and millions more are at risk of starvation.

In my article Thoughts on the Norway and the Famine in Somalia I highlighted the NRC airlift of emergency food rations into Mogadishu, Somalia. These rations were ready-to-eat biscuits for adults and children, a way to provide quick nutrients without special preparation or storage unavailable in disaster zones.

Kaja Haldorsen of NRC says another shipment of 28 tons of food rations arrived in Mogadishu in late August. In addition Norwegian citizens have donated 6.2 million (Norwegian dollars) to NRC. The government has donated 50 million to NRC relief efforts in East Africa.

NRC Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson said earlier this summer, “What we have seen so far, is only the beginning of a large scale humanitarian catastrophe that will continue to unfold for at least six months ahead, given that the next harvest in January will be successful. Pending donor support, NRC is committed to do anything within its capacity to assist and prevent as many people as possible from starvation, death and displacement.”

You can donate to NRC’s East Africa relief mission at their web site.

Originally published at Examiner.com

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Filed under Africa, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, Kenya, malnutrition, Norway

Plumpy’nut in the Ivory Coast

Edesia, a producer of the life-saving food plumpy’nut, was profiled this week on NBC Nightly News. In my articles I have featured a number of countries that need plumpy’nut. One of them is the Ivory Coast as documented in the interview with Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children. Here is one of the recipients of plumpy’nut.

Ten-month-old Sara has been found to be malnourished, and will receive treatment to make her strong and healthy again. Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d’Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)


Plumpy’nut is a special peanut paste used to treat severe child malnutrition in small children. Countries suffering from conflict, natural disasters, or poverty need adequate supplies of plumpy’nut to combat child malnutrition. The plumpy’nut requires no cooking and can be easily stored and distributed. Children who suffer malnutrition in the first 1,000 days will have lasting physical and mental damage. (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

 


Sara receives a supply of plumpy’nut: Genevieve, 34, heads home from the local health clinic with her son Komène and her daughter Sara, 10 months, asleep wrapped up against her mother’s back in the town of Guezon, western Ivory Coast. Genevieve has just received a bag full of plumpy’nut, a peanut paste packed with vitamins and minerals, designed to help babies like Sara recover from malnutrition. (photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

Save the Children has an emergency fund set up for the Ivory Coast at their web site.

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Filed under Africa, Edesia, global hunger, Ivory Coast, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, West Africa

College Class Takes on Hunger and Poverty at Home and Abroad

The College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio (College of Mount St. Joseph photo)

This week I spoke to the College of Mount St. Joseph’s (MSJ) UN Millennium Development Goals class. The MSJ class just returned from a trip to the United Nations in New York where they met with UN delegates. The students aim to take action on ending hunger and poverty, achieving universal education for children, and working on other development goals.

The class runs for the fall semester. Professor Elizabeth Barkley says, “Through their Service Learning with local agencies, students begin to make an impact in their world and realize that, although problems can seem overwhelming and unsolvable, young people can still make a difference.”

At the class I discussed ways you can take action to support the Millennium Development goals. One of the easiest ways is playing a game called Free Rice . In fact, MSJ has its own team . Playing Free Rice, you answer vocabulary questions and other subjects. For each correct answer 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Programme to fight hunger. The rice is paid for by advertisers on the site.

Currently, Free Rice is supporting school feeding in Cambodia. Earlier this year Free Rice proceeds supported school feeding in Haiti.

What better way to support the Millennium Development goals than through school feeding? The meal at school fights child hunger and malnutrition and improves class attendance and performance, giving children an opportunity to escape the poverty trap through an education. In many developing countries, school meals are the only meal children receive the entire day. Free Rice is a quick and easy way to take action and help children get these vital school meals.

Another idea we discussed in the class was advocacy, making your voice heard to your elected officials. Current budget proposals in the Congress threaten achievement of the Millennium Development goals. For instance, Congress is proposing reducing both domestic and international food aid.

One of the programs being threatened is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which supports food banks across the U.S. With demand for food banks fast rising, TEFAP takes on even more urgency. However, the program is below last year’s funding levels and Congress is planning more cuts to it in 2012. Unless citizens take action, this vital source of supply for food banks is at risk.

One of the handouts I gave at class was a guide for how to use Twitter and Facebook to take action to contact your representatives on these key issues.

Another area where Congress is proposing cuts is to the U.S. Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs. These are two major global hunger-fighting initiatives sponsored by the United States. If funding is reduced, it is a major blow in the struggle to fight hunger and poverty around the world. Food for Peace was started back in the Eisenhower administration with the idea of sending U.S. surplus food abroad to help countries fight hunger and build stability.

The McGovern-Dole program supports international school feeding. For just several billion a year, we could provide food for children at school around the world. Contrast that to the 52 billion (at least) price tag for supporting nuclear weapons programs, with the Cold War long in the rear view mirror–something to think about if want to talk social justice and an intelligent search for peace in today’s world.

One of the highlights of the class was our discussion of Plumpy’nut, a vital life-saving nutrient. Ironically, at that very moment on NBC Nightly News, a segment featuring the plumpy’nut producer Edesia was being aired. Edesia and plumpy’nut have been featured In many of my articles over the past year, such as the Silent Guest , and also in the Providence Journal .

I talked about how critical Plumpy’nut is for rescuing children from dangerous malnutrition, and its easy storage and distribution. Plumpy’nut is a key part of the famine relief effort ongoing in East Africa, but is also critical to many other areas.

The problem with plumpy though is that low funding prevents aid agencies like the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF from having enough supply on hand. Therefore, many children needlessly suffer the effects of malnutrition. One of the students pointed out the need for establishing plumpy facilities in many countries. This creates jobs for the people in the country and provides a plumpy supply for faster and cheaper distribution.

I tried to talk the class into having a plumpy’nut mascot appear on campus for an event. Am waiting for word on this. I also learned that there was concern about the MSJ football team’s season. However, the team has compiled an outstanding record over the past decade with a number of conference titles. So history would suggest the team will do well.

And the class will do well also in working toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Professor Jim Bodle says a main purpose of the class is for students “to become aware of how our actions have an impact on the rest of the world.”

And that sums it up in a nutshell. Actions you take today can make a difference. Whether it’s service to a charity in your community, playing Free Rice, writing a representative, or even promoting Plumpy’nut using a mascot, all are ways you can take action to end hunger and poverty.

Article first published as College Class Takes on Hunger and Poverty at Home and Abroad on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Africa, Books, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Edesia, global hunger, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, Mercy Corps, Middle East, plumpy'nut, West Africa

Obama, Congress, Global Hunger and Plumpy’nut

Refugees about 200 meters from the Somali Border Refugees at the pre-registration center, about 200 m from the Somali Border, wait to enter into the transit center in Ethiopia Credit: WFP/Judith Schuler

President Obama and Congress need to work together in an area where bipartisan cooperation has been present before : fighting hunger.

With high unemployment at home, the demand for food banks is increasing. Child hunger rates in the U.S. are alarming. A recent Feeding America report says, “There are 314 counties in the U.S. where approximately one-third of children are struggling with food insecurity.” Is your county one of them?

Children are struggling to access food. Nothing threatens America’s future more than hungry and malnourished children.

Catherine D’Amato, president of the Greater Boston Food Bank, states, “These new statistics are staggering. Children suffer disproportionately from hunger. Not only are they more likely to experience hunger than adults, the impact on their young and growing bodies can leave lasting damage in the form of developmental delays that affect their health and school performance.”

While hunger is growing in the U.S., support from the federal government is down. Food banks around the country face the prospect of empty shelves, unless action is taken.

The Federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) needs to be fully funded for the rest of 2011, and also be assured of congressional support for next year. TEFAP provides supplies for emergency food banks around the country. Even with the increased demand for food aid, TEFAP is currently about 37 percent below last year’s funding level of 655 million. Food banks are facing supply shortages because of this. In addition, Congress has proposed reducing next year’s TEFAP funding level.

Vicki Escarra, the president of Feeding America, says “With the holiday season approaching and with food banks still facing the very real possibility that federal funding for food programs could be cut in FY2012, more help is still needed.”

On the global scene, hunger is so powerful a force that, if unchecked, will devastate America’s foreign policy. There is a famine taking place in East Africa, and tens of thousands of children have perished.

There are many other hunger crisis points where lack of food threatens lives, stability and development. Take the country where peace has remained elusive for years: Afghanistan. Fighting hunger is an essential part of the solution to the problem of peace in Afghanistan. Yet they too are experiencing drought. We can hear the warnings of a hunger storm there.

Silke Buhr of the UN World Food Programme says, “WFP is concerned that drought conditions in the country have had a significant impact on crop production and will lead to more people needing food assistance. These new needs come at a time when we are already facing major resource shortfalls and have already had to make some really tough decisions to priorities how we use our resources.”

WFP relies on voluntary funding for its hunger relief missions. Yet funding has been so low it has been forced to reduce the number of children who will receive school meals. What could be more inexpensive and basic to a country’s reconstruction than a school lunch? Yet right now almost 500,000 children are not able to get them. In developing countries, meals at school are often the only one children receive all day.

In Yemen, hunger and malnutrition threaten our effort to help bring stability to the Middle Eastern country. Special foods like plumpy’nut are needed by UNICEF to treat cases of child malnutrition in Yemen. This special peanut paste is produced by Providence-based Edesia and other factories around the globe. However, low funding prevents Yemen from obtaining the supply of plumpy’nut they need.

Plumpy’nut requires no special storage or preparation which is critical for a country in turmoil like Yemen. The constant power outages there can make food unsafe for children which leads to sickness and more malnutrition. Foods like plumpy’nut are safe for the children.

In Haiti we have to follow through and support the national school lunch program and agricultural reconstruction projects.

The focus also has to go beyond reacting to hunger crisis points to establishing conditions where these emergencies are less likely to occur. At least, their impact can be minimized. This means a year-round commitment to fighting and preventing hunger. The U.S. needs to be the leader.

If Congress goes through with proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole school lunch program, we place millions of lives in peril. Our own national security will be at risk too.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “people who are hungry are weak allies for freedom.” Hunger and suffering overseas create another generation of children stunted in growth and mind. American’s simply cannot afford to let that happen.

Article first published as Obama, Congress, Global Hunger and Plumpy’nut on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Africa, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Edesia, global hunger, Ivory Coast, Josette Sheeran, Kenya, malnutrition, Middle East, plumpy'nut, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme

Thoughts On Norway and the Famine in Somalia

How will history remember the summer of 2011? You could make a long list of events. Certainly at the top are the famine in East Africa and the mass shootings that took place in Norway.

These two tragedies intertwined when representatives from Norway attended an East Africa donor conference in July, right after the shootings.

Arvinn E. Gadgil of Norway’s foreign ministry said, “It was an astonishing moment. In a meeting about the potential death of 12 million people, Norway got a standing ovation for a full minute. I asked our UN ambassador who said that he had not seen anything like it during his 30 years in the UN system. People all around the world were clearly shocked by the events in Oslo.”

Norway could have turned inwards in the wake of their own tragedy. They could have put aside areas of international concern. They could have stopped reaching out, for at least the time being. That did not happen.

Instead, Norway went to work to save lives in East Africa. At the end of July, two planes from Norway touched down in Somalia to distribute emergency rations for 50,000 hungry Somalis. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) distributed the food in the Mogadishu area.

On Saturday July 31, two AN-12 planes from Norway landed in Mogadishu loaded with almost 28 tons emergency rations. Credits: Gunhild Forselv/NRC

Marianne Alfsen of NRC wrote, “People are dying as we speak. The quicker we act, the more lives can be saved. More shipments by plane are being planned, while emergency food is also on its way by sea.”

The Norwegian government continued its donations to UN agencies to help them fight hunger. Dena Gudaitis of the UN World Food Programme says, “WFP is incredibly grateful to Norway for providing a generous and flexible contribution to WFP on a yearly basis for our overall relief operations. This year, WFP has allocated US$ 5 million from Norway funding to operations in Kenya and Ethiopia.”

This outpouring of generosity is a way of life for Norway. It can be seen in the actions of the government and charitable agencies. It’s also seen in the acts of individuals.

When Hanna Helmersen penned her memoir War and Innocence, she characterized the generosity of her home country during the Nazi German occupation. Children reached out to the hungry. Helmresen and her classmates gave some of their food, which was in short supply, to Russian prisoners being held by the German army in a camp near their home.

After the war, the Norwegian government showed this same spirit working with Herbert Hoover, America’s food ambassador. Hoover sought to organize relief to defeat the post-war famine. Norway was very cooperative in this effort, doing what it could even though the country had great needs of its own.

The charity American Relief for Norway typified the same spirit too. This agency, which was led by Norwegian Americans, did not forget the suffering in other countries. American relief for Norway helped to buy CARE packages for their hungry neighbors. That same generosity carries on today.

Gadgil said in July, “The question of whether I should travel to Rome when so many people have lost so much in the terrorist actions in Norway was a difficult one. But, as Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has said, we will respond to these atrocities with more humanity. Norway’s fight against poverty, for development and humanitarian compassion are what define us as a nation.”

Article first published as Thoughts On Norway and the Famine in Somalia on Blogcritics.

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