Category Archives: The Roadmap to End Global Hunger

Articles on Fighting Hunger in Yemen- by William Lambers

Interview in Yemen Times

Hunger in Yemen: An Activist Spotlight

Food for Education is the Great Hope for Yemen (Yemen Post)

Fighting Hunger in Yemen (New York Times letter)

Interview: Rajia Sharhan of UNICEF Yemen

Interview: Geert Cappelaere of UNICEF on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

Plotting the 2012 War Against Hunger in Yemen

Budget Debates in Congress Loom over Yemen Crisis

WFP Director Warns of Hunger Threat Stalking Yemen

Over 1 Million in Yemen Denied Emergency Food Rations

Inside Yemen: Hunger from Conflict, High Food Prices

Without Nutrition and Education Yemen Cannot Thrive

Yemen Nears Breaking Point, Humanitarian Crisis Could Worsen

U.S. Increases Drone Attacks in Yemen, Hunger Relief Remains Low on Funding

In Yemen’s Arab Spring, Crucial to Look Beyond Al Qaeda

Yemen: Food for Peace Plan Low on Funding

Yemen’s Future is Being Made Now

Could Yemen be the Next Somalia?

Crisis in Yemen: Children Suffering from Malnutrition

1000 Days of Peril in Yemen: The Children Must Be Fed

Rapidly Deteriorating Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

U.S.- Yemen Partnership Can Mean Food for Peace

For Yemen it’s Bread, Fuel or Chaos

Hunger in Yemen Expanding at Alarming Rate

Yemen Undergoing Its Worst Humanitarian Crisis Ever

U.S. Strategy in Yemen Should Fight Hunger

Underfunded Hunger Relief Mission Resumes in Yemen, but Thousands Displaced

Street Battles in Yemen

Plumpynut to the Rescue in Yemen

Yemen: What Can Be Done to Help Now

Yemen: Low Funding Limits Hunger Relief Operation

Yemen: When a “CARE Package” Brings Education and Hope

Osama bin Laden Dead, Al Qaeda Lives on in Food Insecure Yemen

Yemen: Recovering Livelihoods in Conflict-Torn North

Yemen: Children Echo Timeless Call for Peace

U.S. Wants Change in Yemen, But Where Is the food?

Food to Reinforce Peace Process in Yemen

For Yemen There Is No Alternative To Peace

Yemen: Protests, Chaos and Hunger

Protests in Food-Insecure Yemen

London, Yemen, and Plumpy’nut

Like Egypt, Yemen Suffers from High Food Prices

Yemen Hunger Relief Mission Underfunded by Nearly $70 Million

Clinton in Yemen as Humanitarian Crisis Reaches Tipping Point

What Matters to the People of Yemen

More Powerful Than Al Qaeda: Hunger in Yemen

Malnourished Children in Yemen Need Plumpy’nut

Yemen: hunger relief mission remains woefully underfunded

Petition to President Obama and the Senate on fighting hunger in Yemen

WFP, Yemen launch emergency operation

Fighting Al-Qaeda, Hunger, and Poverty in Yemen

U.S. and Allies Ignoring Child Hunger Crisis in Yemen

Friends of Yemen can restart vital Food for Education program

Obama’s MDG Speech Will Test Yemen Policy

Civilians need aid after Yemen offensive against Al Qaeda

Food for Education critical for Yemen and the Millennium Development Goals

Feed Those Displaced by the War in Yemen

What’s troubling about the Pentagon’s plan for Yemen

Against Hunger, Poverty, Desperation and Chaos in Yemen

Senate needs to back Yemen resolution with food aid

Al Qaeda, War, Hunger, and Poverty

Relief Fund Created for Victims of Conflict and Hunger in Yemen

Food For Education Is The Great Hope For Yemen

Yemen Needs Its Own Roadmap to End Hunger

White House says UN relief plan for Yemen woefully underfunded

Obama’s Feed the Future Should Include Food for Education in Yemen

Stopping the Hunger and Despair in Yemen

World Food Programme provides aid to Somali refugees in Yemen

Remembering Hoover’s child feeding message as we face hunger crisis in Yemen

Unrest in Yemen Over Food Shortages: U.S. and Allies Need to Take Action

World Food Programme provides aid to Somali refugees in Yemen

Obama’s Policy Toward Yemen is Failing on Food

Hunger crisis escalates in Yemen, World Food Programme appeals for help

Hunger crisis escalates in Yemen, U.S. needs to show leadership

Low funding for World Food Programme causes ration cuts for victims of conflict in Yemen

Low Funding for WFP Threatens Vital Child Feeding Programs in Yemen

Interview with Andrew Moore of Save the Children in Yemen

Clinton’s Call for Development in Yemen Cannot Go Forward Without Food for Education

“The best way to really get at some of these underlying problems that exist is through an effective development strategy.” — Hillary Clinton

Humanitarian aid critical for peace process in Yemen

President Obama must lead to stop hunger crisis in Yemen

Sounding the alarm on hunger in Yemen

Conflict, hunger and the suffering of women in Yemen

U.S. Policy Toward Yemen Missing Key Component: Food

Hunger, Conflict, and the Suffering of Women in Yemen

150 Million in Military Aid for Yemen, Still No Funding for School Feeding

Jennifer Mizgata of the UN World Food Programme on the Hunger Crisis in Yemen

Hunger the Worst Enemy of Peace in Yemen

Lack of Funding for School Feeding in Yemen Not a Sound Strategy for Peace

Interview: Salman Omer of the World Food Programme in Yemen

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Senate Urged to Support Food for Peace Program

This week the Senate will be considering how much funding to give to the Food for Peace program, our main tool in the fight against global hunger. It’s vital the Senate give full support to Food for Peace.

For if you are looking to have a cost-efficient and effective foreign policy, then look no further than Food for Peace. We know this plan works.

Food for Peace was essentially born out of the World War II era where the famous motto was, “Food will win the war and write the peace.” Every CARE package, Friendship Train, or people taking in a silent guest at their home on Thanksgiving was food for peace in action.

The Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe stood on a foundation of food. These post-war actions paved the way toward the official launch of Food for Peace (Public Law 480) in 1954 by President Dwight Eisenhower. President Kennedy continued and strengthened Food for Peace, showing the bipartisan support for the initiative.

But today there is a different tune. Amid all the talk of budget cuts, Food for Peace has been placed on the cutting block. Some members of the House have proposed eliminating all funding for the program. Others want to keep funding levels at 1.69 billion, which is relatively inexpensive compared to other foreign policy expenditures.

Hunger-fighting programs make up less than one tenth of one percent of the federal budget. In short, Food for Peace is not the cause of our spending problems.

What Food for Peace does is it combats hunger and gives hope for peace and stability. Peace cannot be founded on empty stomachs. Whether it’s Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or Haiti, they all share one thing in common: the need for food for healthy generations of children.

The Senate could cut Food for Peace and its partner program Mcgovern-Dole just to save a few dollars. But that would be ill-advised foreign policy.

What Eisenhower said in 1959 holds true today. Food is essential so that “our bodies may be fit for every task and duty and service; our minds free from the fear of hunger; our eyes undimmed by the tragedies of famine, searching out new horizons; our aspirations not frustrated by failure of crop or catastrophe of weather.”

The world’s nearly 1 billion hungry people wonder each day where their next meal will come from. We cannot just skip over this crisis because of tough times domestically, for withdrawing from the fight against hunger will pose grave consequences.

Reducing food aid will threaten millions of lives and will help create desperation among people that will lead to a dangerous instability. The chaos caused by hunger is powerful enough to topple governments.

The Senate needs to stand united and fight global hunger with Food for Peace.

See the World Food Program USA take action page for supporting Food for Peace.

See Food for Peace and the World Food Program.

See also Bringing Dems and Reps Together over Food (Bakersfield Californian 1/9/2011)

Article first published as Senate Urged to Support Food for Peace Program on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Africa, drought, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, malnutrition, Middle East, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, World Food Programme, Yemen

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

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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Filed under Africa, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, Kenya, malnutrition, Norway, Somalia, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger

Twitter, Facebook and Fighting Global Hunger

Twitter and Facebook are everywhere! But can these powerful social media tools help defeat man’s ancient enemy– hunger? Can they support relief operations for famine and drought-ravaged East Africa? Jen Hardy of the charity Catholic Relief Services recently took time to discuss Twitter, Facebook and fighting global hunger.

Can someone use Twitter to mobilize support for famine relief in East Africa and other areas suffering from hunger?

Absolutely! Twitter is a great way for people who share common interests to share information. It’s also a wonderful resource for searches about a particular topic. I suggest doing a few searches on Twitter to find out what people are saying about the drought and food security in East Africa. That way, your advocacy messages will be informed by the conversation that’s already happening.

Go to the Twitter homepage (even if you don’t have an account!) and try searching a few of these terms: drought, famine, East Africa, the name of a specific country (like Kenya or Somalia), and Horn of Africa.

Are there ways to make tweets about global hunger stand out?

Tweets with a link for more detailed information are great. You can share the most interesting tidbit in the text of the tweet, and then add a shortened url that provides further context.

It’s also a good practice to use hashtags when crafting a tweet about a specific topic, such as hunger. A hashtag is simply the “#” sign in front of a search term. On the Twitter platform, using a hashtag creates a clickable link to search for other posts with that same hashtag. It’s also a way to sort information quickly at an event, such as during a local fundraiser for famine relief.

Here are a few tips for using hashtags:

  • Don’t litter each tweet with multiple hashtags. Two or three is plenty.
  • Don’t leave spaces between a multi-word hashtag. For example, use “#HornofAfrica,” not “#Horn of Africa.”
  • Do use What the Trend or another site devoted to explaining hashtags if you’re not sure what something means and to find the best hashtag for a specific topic.

Can Facebook also be used for helping to feed the hungry?

Not only can Facebook help fight global hunger, I think it’s vital for raising awareness of the issue and sharing ways to get involved. A crisis that’s half a world away and slow moving, like the drought in East Africa, is so much more real when we feel a personal connection to the people living through it. Media coverage and advocacy by organizations are just parts of the puzzle in getting people to care. A few of my friends, for example, posted about how sad the pictures coming out of East Africa were, but they didn’t actually make a donation to hunger relief until I reached out through a personal message with a list of several of the most efficient organizations working in East Africa. That personal contact helped them take the final step from empathy to action.

There are so many ways to get involved in hunger relief on Facebook. “Like” a few organizations working in East Africa to get updates right to your Facebook feed. Recruit your friends to “Like” those organizations. Donate to an organization you trust through Facebook Causes. And share your own links to useful information as the East Africa crisis continues. Catholic Relief Services has a good collection of resources if you need a starting point.

Can sites like Blogger, WordPress and others be used to help hunger relief missions overseas?

Any blogging platform can be a wonderful way to share both the need in East Africa and resources for how to get involved. Blogs are a public way to share personal commitment to a cause like hunger relief, and most bloggers are savvy with search engine optimization. Many organizations working in East Africa either have a downloadable button for bloggers or can provide one on request. Blogs are also good platforms for discussing the politics of food aid and budget cuts. Calls to political action should include a link to find elected officials’ contact information .

There’s also a robust community of international aid and development bloggers who offer suggestions and critiques for how development can work better.

What are some other social media sites that can be used to help end hunger worldwide?

Social media facilitates connections between people, so any social media platform can build on existing relationships to help others. YouTube is perfect for those supporters who react to a more visual medium and it integrates well with Facebook in terms of sharing videos. If you’re an early adopter on Google+, search “Sparks” for drought and hunger topics. Post photos of a local awareness event on Instagram, Picasa or Flickr. If you sell your art or handicrafts on Etsy, donate a percentage of your sales to hunger relief, and link to your preferred organization. There are too many possibilities to list, and I’m sure there are many more that haven’t occurred to aid organizations yet (please add your ideas to the comments!).

Congress is proposing cuts to international food aid in the budget. Can Facebook, Twitter and other sites be used to get Congress to support international food aid programs?

Gritty details about the inner-workings of Congress make most people’s eyes glaze over. If you’re going to share anything about an upcoming vote or appropriation process, break it down for your friends and followers. Explain exactly what’s happening in simple terms, provide a clear ask for how they can get involved, and then provide instructions for next steps. If you want a shortcut to this whole process, sign up for the Catholic Relief Services/USCCB joint effort Catholics Confront Global Poverty . The CCGP action alerts break everything down into plain language and clear instructions (plus, we won’t bombard your inbox!).

Twitter is especially useful for contacting representatives. If your representative uses Twitter, send him or her @replies (beginning a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle directs a public message to their attention). It’s a nice way to break through the clutter of emails and phone calls, and the staffer assigned to the account will bring highlights back to the representative.

How can someone contact Catholic Relief Services with questions?

Besides our normal contact information , find us on Facebook , Twitter , LinkedIn and YouTube . Our Twitter feed for journalists is @CRSNews . And if you have any ideas for using social media to fight hunger, find me on Twitter ( @JenHardy ).

Article first published as Twitter, Facebook and Fighting Global Hunger on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, malnutrition, social media, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa