Save the Children’s new report shows the horrific devastation to Syria’s health care system after years of civil war. The impact is hardest on children.
Read the full article at Yahoo! Voices
Yesterday, I spoke to a great class at the College of Mount St. Joseph about the fight against hunger, both at home and abroad. We talked about proposed budget cuts in the Congress to food aid programs.
Here are food aid programs at risk of budget cuts:
Domestic Food Aid:
TEFAP: The Emergency Food Assistance Program which supports food bank across the country. If funding is reduced there will be less support at a time of high unemployment when more families need the support of food banks.
WIC- Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children.
Vicki Escarra of Feeding America says, “As Congress and the Administration look for ways to reduce the federal deficit, it is more critical than ever to protect funding for nutrition programs that provide the first line of defense against hunger in America.”
International Food Aid:
Food for Peace: This is the primary tool the U.S. has in fighting global hunger. This program was started during the Eisenhower administration and has saved countless lives and promoted stability worldwide.
McGovern-Dole program: This is geared toward international school meals. Agencies like Catholic Relief Services, World Food Program and others apply for McGovern-Dole funding to run school lunch programs in developing countries.
Here is an excerpt from an interview I did with Nora O’Connell of Save the Children discussing international food aid:
“For every one dollar that the U.S. government spends, roughly one-tenth of one penny goes towards food aid.
Completely eliminating food aid would do virtually nothing to impact either our debt or deficit. And it would not relieve Congress of the need to make the difficult choices required to alleviate the debt crisis. As Congress decides exactly where to make cuts, we urge them to do what’s right for children. Disproportionate and unjustified cuts not only hurt children today, they put our future at risk and move America further away from its values.
The best way to help prevent these cuts is to get in touch with Congress and let them know that programs that fight hunger and poverty are important. Individuals can call, write, email, or tweet their members of Congress and ask that they protect funding for international hunger- and poverty-fighting programs. Communication from constituents is critical to building support for programs that protect children and families across the globe, and help build a more stable and healthy world.”
Catholic Relief Services says “Your action is particularly important now because the funding levels for FY 2012 will become the template for decisions about how much the U.S. invests in life-saving poverty-focused assistance for the next decade. Your voice is critical now to support poverty-focused international assistance so that life-changing and life-saving interventions can continue to reach those who need it most.”
President Reagan called the U.S. Food for Peace program an “instrument of American compassion.” This government program has a tradition of feeding the world’s hungry. It saves lives. It represents the very best of America.
And we see it in action again with the recent Food for Peace donation of $64 million to the charity Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The food will be used as part of a relief mission to drought-stricken Ethiopia.
Ronald Reagan said “people who are hungry are weak allies for freedom.” Today, Food for Peace is threatened with severe budget cuts by Congress. (photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library)
Ethiopia is suffering food shortages from failed crops. For the food that is available, prices are high for many Ethiopian families.
Catholic Relief Services is feeding about a million people there as part of the Joint Emergency Operations Plan. The Food for Peace donation goes to this joint mission.
The charities CARE, Save the Children US, Save the Children UK, World Vision, Food for the Hungry Ethiopia, and the Relief Society of Tigray will assist in the distribution of the food.
Around a million people are being given a lifeline, thanks to Food for Peace, CRS and the other charities working together. In addition, CRS and other aid agencies continue their work to build up the resilience of farmers to drought. This effort has helped make Ethiopia less vulnerable to the drought, compared to parts of Somalia where aid agencies have had far less access in recent years.
Women collect water in a region of Ethiopia where CRS has been working on drought mitigation projects since 2003. Photo by KL Dammann/CRS
Food for Peace, which started during the Eisenhower administration, has come under pressure recently from Congress. Members of the House of Representatives have proposed cutting most, if not all, of the funding for Food for Peace. Yet hunger-fighting programs are a very tiny part of the overall budget and cutting them makes no dent in the federal deficit.
CRS is working with its partners throughout East Africa to bring relief from the massive drought that struck the region. This includes aid to Somali refugees in Kenya, as well as support to host communities there which are also suffering from the widespread drought. In Somalia, within the areas of Mogadishu and Baidoa, CRS is helping 28,000 displaced persons with health and nutrition services.
In addition CRS is providing food, water, and livelihood support to 35,000 drought-affected Somalis in the south-central part of the country. Their work involves not only emergency aid, but also projects for building up resistance to future droughts.
David Orth-Moore of CRS says, “While working to alleviate the immediate human suffering, CRS recognizes the importance of long-term drought mitigation programs, and we’ve seen that some communities are faring better now during this current drought because of those projects.”
You can help Catholic Relief Services by donating to their East Africa Emergency Fund
Article first published as Food for Peace, CRS Working to Feed the Hungry in East Africa on Blogcritics.
Food for Education is the Great Hope for Yemen (Yemen Post)
Fighting Hunger in Yemen (New York Times letter)
“The best way to really get at some of these underlying problems that exist is through an effective development strategy.” — Hillary Clinton
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.
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.
Although the political crisis sparked by last year’s elections has now been resolved, immediate needs remain for hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are still displaced from their homes even today. Save the Children is running an emergency response in the Ivory Coast to make sure that children are able to access enough nutritious food to stay healthy and strong; medical care and treatment; and clean drinking water. We’re also working closely with other agencies and the government so that children are well-protected against violence, abuse and exploitation, also making sure that children can get back into school. As families begin to return home, we are looking at transitioning some of our programmes into longer-term work to ensure that even once the immediate crisis has passed, children and their families are not forgotten, and continue to receive the assistance they need to build their lives back.
Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children
Read the full interview with Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children.