Category Archives: Somalia

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.

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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

Somali Child: I Just Want to Go to School Again

Mindy Mizell of World Vision is traveling through the Horn of Africa to report on the relief efforts for famine and drought victims. Amid so much chaos and horror Mizell finds rays of hope, such as 13-year-old Abdillahi, a Somali refugee living in Dadaab, Kenya. His family was forced to flee Somalia to find food and escape the violence.

Here is a child confronted with war and famine and Mizell said he never uttered a single complaint or talked about how unfortunate he was. Instead, he remained positive and upbeat.

Mizell writes, “I guess I expected him to say that he wanted more food, more water, better clothes or maybe a soccer ball. Instead, Abdillahi told me he wanted to go to school again! Not only did Abdillahi believe he had a bright future, but he spent several minutes advocating on behalf of his Somali friends and telling me that they all needed to go to school in order to find good jobs someday.”


World Vision’s Mindy Mizell interviews Abdillahi, 13, in the Dadaab refugee camp. (World Vision photo)

Young Abdillahi just pointed the way to what can end hunger and build peace in the Horn of Africa: education and food.

In responding to the drought in East Africa, it’s vital to ensure that all children can receive school meals and an education. This is extremely challenging, especially in areas where there are refugees and host communities all with great needs.

Lisa Doherty of UNICEF explains, “In some cases there have been massive influxes of communities and school-aged children into urban areas where there aren’t school facilities to absorb them all.”

UNICEF states that “school feeding, provision of learning materials and teacher incentives and additional learning spaces are the top priorities in order to ensure that children can access learning opportunities, many for the first time.”

Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF Somalia Representative says, “Education is a critical component of any emergency response. Schools can provide a place for children to come to learn, as well as access health care and other vital services. Providing learning opportunities in safe environments is critical to a child’s survival and development and for the longer term stability and growth of the country.”

This is similar to what the U.S. Army did after World War II. For example, in Vienna, Austria, the U.S. military government helped reopen schools and start a feeding program. They did not want children roaming the streets, and giving them food at school was a top priority with post-war malnutrition rates climbing. The Army and food ambassador Herbert Hoover recognized the such programs were critical and needed to be strengthened and expanded. School feeding provided by the Allies and others after the war was a key defense, as famine threatened to attack many nations at that time.

Today, school meals play an urgent role in providing for refugee children in East Africa. Sandra Bulling of CARE says, “we are currently planning to set up lunch programs for the accelerated learning program of newly arrived refugee children, many of whom have never been to school before.”

Aid agencies are mobilizing to help children through this crisis and open the door to a better life in the future. But will there be enough funding? Fighting hunger and building children’s education is an area of neglect in the foreign policy of many governments. How do you change this?  It’s up to the public to tell their representatives in government that it should be a top priority for all children to receive school meals and an education.

That is what can make a difference in the long term for children in East Africa and elsewhere who just want to go to school again.

See videos from the World Food Programme’s WeFeedback page.


Article first published as Somali Child: I Just Want to Go to School Again on Blogcritics.

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Filed under drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Kenya, malnutrition, School feeding, Somalia, Uncategorized, UNICEF, World Vision, World War II

Plumpy’nut in Somalia – An Update from CESVI

Elizabeth Stoltz of Plumpy’nut Press just interviewed Irene Moora, a Nutrition Specialist from CESVI, an Italian humanitarian organization, who just returned from Galkayo, Somalia. Learn about the use of the miracle food in the famine relief mission in Somalia.

Read the interview at Plumpy’nut Press.

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Filed under East Africa, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Somalia

East Africa Famine: An Interview with Laura Sheahen and Sara A. Fajardo of Catholic Relief Services

At a GIZ hospital at a refugee camp in Kenya, a severely malnourished Somali refugee child receives treatment. (Photo by Laura Sheahen/Catholic Relief Services)

The famine and drought striking East Africa have created one of the worst humanitarian tragedies of this generation. Thousands of children have starved to death and many more are in grave peril from malnutrition.

Somalis are desperately fleeing into Kenya and Ethiopia in the search for food, only these countries are also suffering from food shortages. With the unrelenting drought, the crisis could get much worse. Children are suffering from severe malnutrition. Aid agencies are struggling to keep up.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is one of the aid groups in a race to save lives. CRS officers Laura Sheahen, who just visited one of the refugee camps in Kenya, and Sara A. Fajardo, took time to discuss the massive relief effort underway.

How is Catholic Relief Services helping the victims of famine and drought in East Africa?

Sara A. Fajardo: To give just a few examples, we are currently helping to feed more than a million people in Ethiopia and have launched projects in Isiolo and Wajir, Kenya and about to launch projects in Mandera where the drought’s impact has been severe. Some of the pastoralist communities living there have lost 50-100 percent of their livestock. These projects include rehabilitating wells, assisting with school-feeding programs and working on conflict mitigation projects between different pastoralist communities who may be trying to access the same limited resources.

In the Dadaab Refugee area we will be working through partners to distribute around 10,000 hygiene kits to arriving refugees. As part of our “do no harm” approach to humanitarian aid, we will also be providing assistance to the host communities surrounding the Dadaab refugee camps. These communities have also been severely impacted by the drought but are often overlooked because of the seemingly more pressing needs of the incoming refugees. Tensions can often flare up when one community perceives another as receiving assistance while they are left to fend for themselves. We will provide them with water and food aid and work with them to help weather the difficult months ahead.

Even before this drought hit, Catholic Relief Services was on the ground working to help communities prepare for this current emergency. In Kenya our staff has been working over the past three years alone to provide 91 water points to local communities, helped to create tree nurseries with more than 3.7 million seedlings, worked to get more than 2,500 miles of agricultural terraces built, and provided more than 108,000 female goats to our beneficiaries.

In Ethiopia we’ve worked over the past eight years to fight the effects of recurrent drought by drilling wells 1,000 feet into the earth. In much of Ethiopia, water runs below the surface in underground caverns as deep as 1,000 feet. This water is difficult, but not impossible to access. A recent visit to the field revealed that 95 percent of 28 wells CRS has constructed are still operational. The difference between communities with water sources and those without is remarkable. The livestock are plumper and produce more milk, which in turn means that the people themselves are nourished better. People in these areas rely less on food aid and more on their own means.

Somali refugees at Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Following a severe drought, many families faced starvation and left Somalia on foot. Thousands of refugees are flooding into Dadaab every week. (Photo by Laura Sheahen/Catholic Relief Services)

You met some of the refugees escaping from Somalia, what are some of the stories they told you about what they have faced?

Laura Sheahen: Almost every refugee I spoke to had a horror story about the long walk from Somalia to Kenya. Armed bandits are a huge problem, and the vast majority of refugees I spoke to had been robbed at gunpoint. There has been an appalling number of rapes as well.

Some of the refugees were robbed not just of the little food and clothing they carried, but the actual clothes they were wearing; they are walking naked. People fleeing the famine and war in Somalia are also fighting off lions and hyenas in the night.

And of course, walking for weeks in the bush, under a baking sun and with no food, is bringing refugees to the brink of collapse even when they don’t meet bandits or wild animals.

What do you see is the greatest risk to refugees at these camps? Is it spread of disease, malnutrition?

Laura Sheahen: Right now, just keeping up with the food and water needs is a gargantuan task. The refugee camps in Kenya near the border have existed for years because Somalia has been troubled and dangerous for so long. But because of the drought, the camps are overflowing now and it’s hard to get food to everyone quickly enough. Waterborne diseases will be a problem if sanitation for the newcomers isn’t worked out fast. Any contagious diseases–anything that spreads when too many weak, hungry people are crowded together–could be an issue. For example, there was a recent outbreak of measles.

How many more refugees potentially could arrive?

Sara A. Fajardo: It’s hard to say. Currently the United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that between 1300-1500 new refugees are arriving daily. Aid agencies of course would prefer to help Somalis stay in their own countries. Whenever people are forced to migrate, it places them at undue risk for rape, theft, or other forms of exploitation. There is also the very real possibility of families becoming separated. In the measure that is possible the humanitarian aid community would like to provide direct assistance in the towns in villages most affected by the drought in order to avoid anyone having to make this often life-threatening trek.

How long do you think the refugees, as well as the host communities, will require extensive international assistance?

Sara A. Fajardo: This is a problem that will not be resolved over night. Droughts are cyclical in eastern Africa and their frequency (due to a variety of factors) is on the rise. Even if it rains tomorrow and the crops start growing, it will be quite awhile before things stabilize to the point where people can harvest enough food to sustain a family. It’s also important to remember that many of the drought-affected communities are pastoralists and rely on livestock for their survival. The UN estimates that it can take up to 5 years for herds of livestock to regenerate to a point that they can be relied as a consistent source of food. This emergency will require short, medium and long-term solutions, but of course the eventual goal of all concerned is to help people become self-reliant and not aid reliant.

Article first published as East Africa Famine: An Interview with Laura Sheahen and Sara A. Fajardo of Catholic Relief Services on Blogcritics.

You can donate to the Catholic Relief Services East Africa Emergency Fund.

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Filed under Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Kenya, Somalia, Uncategorized