Category Archives: School feeding

We Can Help Yemen With Food Aid

WFP also hopes to run a Food for Education program to give Yemeni children rations and encourage class attendance. This program has suffered from such a lack of funding that WFP has reduced its planned beneficiaries from 115,000 down to 59,000.

Catherine Herridge of Fox News just published a story about the growing threat of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Political instability in Yemen this year, with protesters calling for the removal of President Saleh, has weakened the ability of that government to tackle the Al Qaeda threat.

Herridge’s report quotes Matt Olsen, the new head of the National Counterterrorism Center, telling the Senate about Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Olsen says, “Whether Yemen is a safe haven, we are very concerned about the ability of the Yemeni government at this point to sustain any strong counterterrorism efforts, given the governance challenges that it faces. So, AQAP has had the opportunity to recruit inside Yemen and to plan and plot inside Yemen.”

But it’s critical when having the discussion of Yemen to also go beyond Al Qaeda and the political turmoil.

Far less reported are areas where the international community can take action immediately: hunger and malnutrition. Food for hungry Yemenis will be a most crucial oasis of calm in the storm of political unrest and Al Qaeda.

As we speak, millions of Yemenis are being crushed by high food prices. They cannot access basic foods. This was a crisis even before the Arab Spring came along. The political unrest has made it much worse.

A report from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) states that “the price of bread is still 50% above what it had been at the beginning of the year. In light of the fact that many Yemenis already spend between 30% and 35% of their daily income on bread, the inflation of bread prices could prove to be very damaging to the food security of Yemen’s poorest families.”

There are severely malnourished children in Yemen who could be saved with a simple intervention. Because these children are the future of that country, it’s crucial that those in power remember this when making Yemen policy.

The first step the international community can take is to boost the UN World Food Programme’s response to hunger in Yemen. Currently, WFP operations have received low funding and cannot reach all the hungry. Their plan involves emergency rations to help families afflicted with high food prices. But low funding means not all needy families can receive the rations. In addition, WFP is feeding the displaced in Southern and Northern Yemen.

An investment of around $60 million would ensure that full rations could be provided. Spread out over a coalition of nations, this is a relatively inexpensive investment.

Second is support for UNICEF’s work in treating malnourished children. This is most crucial for building the future of Yemen. A full supply of plumpy’nut needs to be shipped to Yemen as soon as possible to cover all the malnutrition cases. Again, this is another relatively small investment in the millions of dollars.

The third phase is to include Food for Work projects to build infrastructure and improve agricultural development. A national school lunch program including a take-home ration element will need to be instituted. This will be an effort with the government and communities working together. For instance, local shop owners and farmers would ideally become suppliers, at least in part of the school feeding program.

Food is a critical component of any peace plan for Yemen. It will strengthen the people of Yemen so they can better resolve these crisis areas. For food is the foundation of all things, whether it is peace, political stability, education, or economic development, all of which will inhibit Al Qaeda’s growth.

It’s very important to look at Yemen through this lens, particularly for those in power who make policy decisions about how to best help Yemen navigate the stormy waters in the Arab Spring

Article first published as In Yemen’s Arab Spring, Crucial to Look Beyond Al Qaeda on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, malnutrition, Middle East, peace, plumpy'nut, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Yemen

Yemen: Food for Peace Plan Low on Funding

WFP also hopes to run a Food for Education program to give Yemeni children rations and encourage class attendance. This program has suffered from such a lack of funding that WFP has reduced its planned beneficiaries from 115,000 down to 59,000.

As Yemen grapples with political unrest and Al-Qaeda, the Middle Eastern country can ill afford further shocks. But hunger is also threatening Yemen, and funding for food aid programs remains low.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it needs almost $60 million for its 2011 relief operation to help feed the hungry in Yemen. WFP’s mission includes food for victims of conflict in Northern Yemen and rations for impoverished families suffering from high food prices.

In addition, WFP is feeding thousands displaced by fighting in the south between the government and suspected Al Qaeda militants. WFP also hopes to run a Food for Education program to give Yemeni children rations and encourage class attendance. This program has suffered from such a lack of funding that WFP has reduced its planned beneficiaries from 115,000 down to 59,000. Funding for this reduced amount, however, is still in doubt.

In short, hunger-fighting programs in Yemen by WFP and UNICEF have not received support equal to the crisis at hand. It’s a relatively small price for the international community to finance, but huge in terms of aiding Yemen’s quest for peace.

Hunger is a deeply rooted crisis in Yemen. WFP says, “Yemen is the 11th most food-insecure country in the world,” and “Rates of stunting are the second highest in the world after Afghanistan and the number of underweight children is the third highest, after India and Bangladesh.”

The recent political unrest has increased hunger. Food prices have gone up for already impoverished families.

The hunger crisis in Yemen coincides with debate in the Congress on funding for the Food for Peace program, the primary tool for the U.S. in fighting hunger abroad. Food for Peace has made donations, for instance, to the WFP relief program for victims of the conflict in Northern Yemen.

If the Congress scales back overall Food for Peace funding, it could harm hunger fighting efforts in Yemen. Yemen needs a surge in international support for fighting hunger. Support from the U.S. Food for Peace program and action from other governments is crucial for this Middle Eastern country in crisis.

Article first published as Yemen: Food for Peace Plan Low on Funding on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, malnutrition, Middle East, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, World Food Programme, Yemen

Yemen’s Future is Being Made Now

More than 110 malnourished children under the age of five were enrolled and treated at the outpatient therapeutic program, while 38 suffering acute severe malnutrition were admitted to the therapeutic feeding center in Saada’s Al-Jumhori Hospital in August 2011. According to a rapid assessment conducted last year, 45% of under-fives in some parts of Saada are suffering from global acute malnutrition. This is one the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. (Ali Ghailan/UNICEF Saada/August 2011)

White House anti-terrorism advisor John Brennan spoke to reporters yesterday about the growing threat of Al Qaeda in Yemen. According to Laura Rozen’s report , Brennan warned, “Anytime there is a power vacuum, as in Somalia, and Yemen, Al Qaeda is attracted to it.”

Yemen is still in turmoil with protesters demanding that long-time President Saleh step down from office. The hope is now for a smooth, peaceful transition of power.

But the truth is that Yemen’s future is already being made, away from the protests and political halls. In fact, every day that small children in Yemen do not get proper nutrition, they are a step closer to lasting physical and mental damage. No society can advance under such a scenario.

The political crisis needs to get resolved quickly and peacefully. But Yemen clearly needs more. Child hunger takes center stage.

In Yemen, malnutrition among children was a huge problem even before the political turmoil started. About half of Yemen’s children are chronically malnourished. In the Sa’ada governorate of Northern Yemen, years of conflict between the government and rebels has taken its toll on children. Child malnutrition rates are extremely high.

The political unrest in the capital, as well as the fighting in Southern Yemen, have made the situation even worse.

Yet there are things the international community can do to bring some relief and allow Yemen to catch its breath. This would be to set up a child feeding program that would cover all cases of malnutrition with special foods like plumpy’nut. Right now, all children are not able to receive food as there is low funding for aid agencies like UNICEF and the World Food Programme. Relatively inexpensive interventions like child feeding have not received enough attention.

A full supply of plumpy’nut, for instance, would be a rescue line for Yemeni children to get them through the first 1,000 days. This type of interim aid is crucial so you can move on to building longer-term food security after a successful intervention. For example, there needs to be a national school lunch program with the idea of reducing malnutrition among children and getting them to school to complete an education. The ministry of education in Yemen and the World Food Programme once worked on a school feeding program with a take-home ration element. It was cut because of low funding.

But this is the kind of plan that if enacted on a wide enough scale could bring significant change and hope to Yemen. We can take action now to help Yemen as it resolves its political crisis and fights Al Qaeda. There is no better place to start than with the future: the nation’s children.

Article first published as Yemen’s Future is Being Made Now on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, malnutrition, Middle East, plumpy'nut, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, World Food Programme, Yemen

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)


Leave a comment

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

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.

Leave a comment

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

Josette Sheeran of WFP Ranked 30th Most Powerful Woman by Forbes

Josette Sheeran, the director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), has been ranked by Forbes as the 30th most powerful woman in the world. The Forbes rankings were just released this week. Others on the list include Angela Merkel (1), Hillary Clinton (2), Oprah Winfrey (14) and Queen Rania Al Abdullah (54). You can view the complete list at Forbes Magazine .

Sheeran has emerged in recent years as the lead “food ambassador” in the struggle to fight global hunger. As the head of WFP, Sheeran runs the largest agency fighting the hunger that afflicts nearly one billion people worldwide. WFP relies on voluntary donations from governments and the public to fund its relief activities in over 70 countries. The agency constantly seeks to elevate the issue of global hunger in the public consciousness and in the halls of government.

During Sheeran’s tenure numerous challenges have emerged, including the “silent tsunami” of high food prices, the earthquake in Haiti, flooding in Pakistan, unrest and hunger in the Middle East, and this summer’s massive drought and famine in East Africa. Sheeran has rallied support for life-saving missions in each of these disasters, while also pressing for long-term solutions to hunger and poverty.

WFP, for instance, has programs aimed at boosting the production of small farmers in developing countries. WFP’s Fill the Cup campaign calls for school meals for every child. Food for children at school wards off malnutrition and increases class attendance and performance.

Sheeran’s accomplishments continue a family tradition. Her father James, a paratrooper during World War II, organized food aid for a town in France after World War II.

The coming months will be extremely challenging for Sheeran and WFP. Food aid is needed for over 11 million people in East Africa. There is also drought in Afghanistan putting millions more at risk of hunger and malnutrition. Unrest in the Middle East is escalating the hunger crisis in Yemen and other countries. Focus must also be kept on building food security in Haiti.

WFP faces funding shortages for these operations and will need to rally enough support to meet the massive, escalating global hunger crisis.

You can learn more about the World Food Programme and how you can get involved on their website .

Article first published as Josette Sheeran Ranked 30th Most Powerful Woman by Forbes on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under Afghanistan, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, Josette Sheeran, malnutrition, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, World Food Programme

A New Friendship Train to Fight Global Hunger

When hunger ravaged Europe after World War II how did Americans respond? They started a Friendship Train to feed the hungry and help win the peace after the war.

Let’s start a New Friendship Train today to reach the hungry overseas starting first with East Africa which is suffering from famine and a severe drought. Then the train will move to provide relief to drought afflicted Afghanistan. Yemen, Haiti, the Ivory Coast and many other countries also need support.

Start the New Friendship Train. You can donate at these aid agencies……
 

First Destination: East Africa…To Feed the Hungry and Malnourished…..

Train images courtesy of Shortlines of Chicago Historical Society. Crossing lights image courtesy of Amazing Animations.

Leave a comment

Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, World Vision

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger

During 2009 the global hunger crisis escalated with the number of people suffering from hunger climbing over one billion. This great humanitarian crisis calls for action on the part of world leaders. In countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan hunger threatens hopes for peace. This book includes press releases, interviews and perspective on The Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation in Congress. This bill (H.R. 2817) was introduced during 2009 by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.). The legislation is based on the recommendations made by groups such as Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Friends of the World Food Program, World Vision and others. Inside you will hear from offiicials from these organizations as they discuss the Roadmap and its importance in fighting hunger. Also you will see how you can get involved to support the Roadmap to End Global Hunger. Also included in the book is a special historical perspective section on Fighting Hunger and World War II.

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger is available from:

Amazon.com

Google Ebookstore

Leave a comment

Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, global hunger, History, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, Sudan, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme, World Vision, World War II, Yemen

Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World

The book Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World features over 50 interviews with officials from the United Nations World Food Programme, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, the Barefoot Foundation and ChildsLife International. Each interview shows the status of these critical child feeding programs and the potential for expanding them to achieve universal school feeding. The interviews also focus on the impact school meals have for children in developing countries as well as how people can help these programs. Some of the countries profiled are Afghanistan, Sudan, Colombia, Somalia and Pakistan. The interviews published in the book originally appeared online at Blogcritics magazine. The interviews were arranged by William Lambers in conjunction with the UN World Food Programme office in Washington DC.

Ending World Hunger is available at:

Amazon.com

Google Ebookstore

Barnes and Noble

View the short film Ending Child Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World from William Lambers on Vimeo.

1 Comment

Filed under Afghanistan, Books, Catholic Relief Services, East Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, School feeding, Somalia, Sudan, West Africa, World Food Programme, World Vision, Yemen

Haiti: Keeping Focused on Fighting Hunger

Tropical storm Emily just passed through Haiti, fortunately never developing into a hurricane. But it should serve as a reminder that Haiti is still very vulnerable to the shock of these storms. It’s important to build up Haiti’s resiliency so it can better withstand the risk of flooding that comes with these heavy rains.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), as it seeks to help Haiti boost its food production, sponsors projects aimed at preventing damage to agriculture from flooding.

In addition, other WFP Food/Cash for Work projects are aimed at rubble removal, still very much a task even more than a year after the earthquake. There is still a long way to go in Haiti’s reconstruction. That is why the World Food Programme is urging support for its programs in Haiti. Malnutrition and poverty are still massive challenges for Haitians to overcome

WFP’s Stephanie Tremblay reports that the agency is facing a funding shortage for its programs. Without this funding, programs to protect the poor and boost agriculture and other projects will be at risk. WFP’s biggest project, school feeding, will be in jeopardy without funding.

Tremblay says, “We need an additional $14 million to purchase food – that will cover the needs of our school meals and nutrition programs – It also includes a take-home ration that we give students at the beginning of the school year to help families cope with back-to-school costs.”

WFP currently is reaching 1.1 million students with school meals as it helps the government build a national program. There is a long way to go to provide school meals for all children in Haiti.

Currently, there are many children in Haiti not yet enrolled in school. A national school lunch program needs to be developed to reach all these children. The food is what encourages parents to send their children to school.

Principal Sister Bernadette says Haitian children would “simply be too weak to study if they weren’t able to eat something at school. It’s important for them to have a meal here, most of them come from very poor families.” Marie Anika, 8, speaks for all children worldwide when she says, “It would be terrible if we didn’t get a meal at school. I really wouldn’t like that.”

WFP also needs $27 million to keep its cash/food for work projects, which are critical to the reconstruction, moving in the right direction.

The media spotlight may have moved on from Haiti, but the tremendous need is still very much present.

Article first published as Haiti: Keeping Focused on Fighting Hunger on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under malnutrition, plumpy'nut, School feeding