Tag Archives: Drought

How We Can Help Haiti’s Children During Drought Emergency

The news coming from Haiti is very alarming. The El Niño weather phenomenon has struck again, this time leading to a severe drought.

It’s been so bad for farmers that many have lost more than 82 percent of production. That is leaving Haitian families with low food supply. Any food that is available at markets is high priced.

See my full commentary at The Huffington Post.

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Alarming increase in hunger for Ethiopia

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said Monday the number of Ethiopians needing food aid to survive had risen to 8.2 million. This is a rapid escalation in hunger since the beginning of the year, when around 2.5 million were needing food assistance.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Major El Niño event sounds alarm on hunger

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), in a report released today, is warning of a hunger emergency because of a major El Niño event. The weather patterns of El Niño lead to warmer temperatures and drought.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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El Niño worsens drought in Central America

Over 2 million people in Central America are going hungry because of a severe drought, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today. Crop losses have been significant.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Ancient grain fights hunger in climate change

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Drought causing hunger emergency in Central America

The worst drought in a decade has caused food shortages in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Read the article at Examiner.

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Drought is a new enemy for Syria

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned today of drought taking hold on war-torn Syria. A special report released by WFP shows how the drought will make the hunger crisis in Syria even worse.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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School Feeding Vital to Ethiopia As Drought Revisits Region

It is critical that the U.S. and international community ensure that child feeding programs are provided during this time of great drought and conflict throughout East Africa (WFP photo)

Lack of rainfall is placing Ethiopia at risk of a severe hunger crisis in the coming months. This development comes on the heels of last year’s massive drought which struck East Africa.

What is called the “Belg” rains in parts of Ethiopia were late in arriving this year. Crops have not been able to get planted in time.

A report from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says in Amhara region “the area covered with Belg crops so far is less than 10 percent of the planned area….In view of the very late arrival of the rains and the associated limited planting so far, there is high probability for near total failure of Belg production in most Belg dependent areas of the country, especially those in Tigray, Amhara, and central and eastern Oromia regions.”

Coinciding with crop failures in these areas is an increase in food prices. A report from the U.S. Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET) says, “Staple food prices have started rising again in many parts of the country, possibly due to the late start of the Belg. Prices typically do not start to seasonally rise until May.”

Ethiopia, which is also hosting refugees who fled the famine in Somalia, will need food assistance in the coming months. The school feeding program becomes urgent because this not only feeds hungry children but keeps them in school.

The World Food Programme (WFP) helps provide school meals in Ethiopia. WFP just earned a grant of 26 million dollars for Ethiopia from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) McGovern-Dole school meals program. However, these supplies can take as much as 6 months to arrive.

So WFP needs help covering the interim period until the McGovern-Dole “cavalry” gets there. With the drought and high food prices taking hold, the USDA and WFP will be working to ensure McGovern-Dole supplies arrive as soon as possible, and finding key interim sources of funding. WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations whether from the public or governments.

Judith Schuler, WFP information officer in Ethiopia, provides us an update on where WFP’s school meals program currently stands.

WFP is reaching 689,000 students currently. Do you hope to expand the program?

Currently WFP’s “Food-for-Education” programme is operational in 1186 schools in 6 regions. Because of resource constraints, there is no plan to expand school meal programme at the moment.

What is the funding shortage that you are currently facing?

The funding requirement for 2012 is US$ 28.5 million and the shortfall for 2012 is about US$ 17.4 million.

Is the school feeding a lunch/breakfast ration? Is there a take home ration aspect?

The school meal is provided either as a breakfast or a mid morning snack. But in schools where there are two shifts , the morning shift students receive the meal mid morning and the afternoon shift students receive the meal at mid-day before they start classes in the afternoon. A take home ration of vegetable oil is provided to girls to encourage attendance in the pastoralist areas of the country and where girls attendance is lower due to economic and cultural reasons. Currently 127,000 girls in pastoral areas are benefitting from the programme.

What percentage of the school feeding is for refugees and what is for the population of Ethiopia?

The School Meal programme for refugees is a separate programme and is run as part of the Refugee Operation. Currently, 35,000 refugee children in all refugee camps benefit from the programme. The regular School Meal programme targets 3 percent of the primary school children in the country.

Article first published as School Feeding Vital to Ethiopia As Drought Revisits Region on Blogcritics.

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U.S. Food for Peace and WFP Feeding Hungry Afghans

WFP recently distributed wheat to Afghans low on food supplies following a drought. (WFP/Silke Buhr)

Many people are accustomed to having three meals a day. Imagine though if you were allowed just one meal a day for an extended period of time. How would this affect your health, your work? If you were a child how would you be able to go to school and learn?

In Afghanistan, because of a severe drought last year, many already impoverished people were forced to cut back on their daily food intake. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), with support from the U.S. Food for Peace plan, is providing life-saving aid to millions of hungry Afghans as part of a drought relief operation.

Little rain meant Afghans could not grow enough food to support themselves. When drought strikes the impoverished, they have little to fall back on. The drought causes a spiraling disaster.

An Oxfam press release last November reported that “Families are coping by cutting down their meals, borrowing money and even migrating to Iran or Pakistan. Some 90 per cent of households in the affected area are now living in debt after borrowing money to buy food, and schools have closed as children are being put out to work.”

WFP’s Silke Buhr recently visited one of the food distributions in Samangan, which was one of 14 Afghan provinces struck by the drought. Buhr says WFP distributed a wheat ration which was the result of the U.S. Food for Peace donation. The wheat was purchased in Kazakhstan in order cut the shipping distance down as much as possible.

It was last October that the U.S. Food for Peace program made a $40 million donation to WFP’s Afghanistan relief mission. Food for Peace, which originally started during the Eisenhower administration, has long been the U.S.’s main tool for fighting global hunger. Food for Peace makes donations to support the hunger relief work of WFP as well as other agencies like Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children.

In Afghanistan Food for Peace donations are desperately needed. Even before the drought struck there were at least seven million Afghans suffering from hunger, and many others on the brink of what is called “food insecurity.” Hunger and malnutrition were already a crisis in Afghanistan and the recent drought has made the situation even worse.

Food for Peace and WFP can make the difference for Afghanistan moving toward peace and development. It’s all about the food. Without a base of food security no progress can be made in Afghanistan.

Emergency relief to drought-impacted persons is just the start. Support for the small farmers so they can withstand drought, food for education for children, and food for work to build roads are all critical to Afghanistan turning the corner.

It comes down to funding. Right now WFP needs a significant amount of donations to carry out its 2012 relief mission in Afghanistan.

The recent Food for Peace and WFP collaboration is promising. But will there be enough of it to turn the tide for hungry Afghanistan? It will be up to the political will of the international community to use food to build peace.

Article first published as U.S. Food for Peace and WFP Feeding Hungry Afghans on Blogcritics.

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Top Foreign Policy Goal for 2012: Feeding the Children of Drought and Conflict

As the State of the Union is upon us for 2012, let’s look briefly at history to tell us what should be atop the foreign policy agenda.

When the fighting of World War One came to an end on November 11th, 1918, there still was an “enemy” who remained on the offensive. The war had ruined agriculture and food supply systems, thereby unleashing the most unrelenting of foes–hunger and malnutrition.

Lieutenant Harwood Stacy saw in Poland such terrible conditions with infants that “looked terribly emaciated.” He said a basic item like milk “was as precious as gold.” A Polish hospital director pleaded for food for children “so we may supply the needs of these little ones who cannot comprehend why they are not fed.”

The American Relief Administration, backed by Congressional funding as well as donations from citizens, came to the rescue. Millions of children were spared a lifetime sentence from malnutrition that damages both mind and body. Without this aid World War One, which leveled enough suffering, would have led to millions more lives being lost.

All it took was providing the children meals, even similar to the “penny lunch” programs that had been pioneered in Cincinnati, Ohio in the early 1900s by teacher Ella Walsh. Another Cincinnati “penny lunch” organizer, Alice Wheatley, was also a supporter of the Red Cross during World War One. It was the Red Cross which provided school meals to thousands of children in France during the World War One years.

Now, nearly 100 years later, a different hunger crisis is unfolding that demands to be the top foreign policy priority. For hunger has started a new powerful offensive against the poor and vulnerable. Last year a massive drought occurred in East Africa placing over 13 million people at risk of starvation. That crisis is still ongoing and humanitarian aid has to keep flowing. However, there is also drought striking large parts of West Africa as well.

People in Niger, Chad, Mauritania and other parts of the Sahel region of Africa are feeling the effects of reduced harvests and high food prices. A massive humanitarian disaster waits around the corner if we do not act now.

In some parts of Yemen, a country known in the U.S. as a haven for Al Qaeda, child malnutrition rates rival those of famine-ravaged Somalia. Aid agencies, who rely on voluntary donations, cannot keep up with the growing tragedy.

In the new nation of South Sudan, conflict among tribes continues to leave many people hungry and displaced. Peace has not yet been achieved with neighboring Sudan. To add to this, drought has struck. In North Darfur, the UN World Food Programme says the “overall food security situation has considerably deteriorated compared to November 2010.” Poor harvests and high food prices now strike at a population trying to build peace.

In Afghanistan, a country devastated by years of conflict, drought hit 14 provinces last year. Low funding for aid agencies led to a reduction in food and agricultural assistance to the needy population. Food for peace therefore has a limited reach when it’s most needed.

In 2012 America’s top foreign policy objective should be to rehabilitate the children of drought and conflict across the globe. For if we do not, we give up on peace and stunt the future of so many suffering countries.

This is not an insurmountable challenge. It is far less expensive than war. But it needs to get on the agenda of our leaders in Washington and in the public conscience as it did after World War One, World War II and the Korean War. Feeding the children of “drought and conflict” is the U.S. foreign policy mission for this new year.

Article first published as Top Foreign Policy Goal for 2012: Feeding the Children of Drought and Conflict on Blogcritics.

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