Tag Archives: East Africa

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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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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Famine Warnings: Alarming Hunger Crisis Demands Quick Action

Food Crisis in the Sahel Region of Africa. This map shows food security projections for July-September 2012. Without enough intervention the hunger crisis could quickly descend into the emergency and famine stages. Food Crisis in the Sahel Region of Africa. This map shows food security projections for July-September 2012. Without enough intervention the hunger crisis could quickly descend into the emergency and famine stages. Photo credit: USAID FEWSNET

Drought and conflict are combining to potentially create another summer of famine threatening the lives of millions.

The United States warned last week that East Africa, which suffered from famine and drought last year, may be in for another crisis. Low rainfall amounts are harming food production by farmers in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. The U.S. Famine Early Warning System says, “Poor rains would likely negatively affect food security in a region still recovering from a devastating drought and famine in 2011.”

The U.S. just pledged 50 million dollars in aid for drought hit areas. It is clear though that more donations from the entire international community will be needed. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the largest food aid agency, is currently experiencing huge funding shortages in East Africa. WFP said in a report last week that its 12 month shortfall for the region is $408 million.

WFP revealed this week that “assessment findings in Buhoodle, Somalia, indicate very high levels of food insecurity.” Somalia has been hardest hit by the hunger crisis since last year. But so too are its neighbors which have taken in many Somali refugees, as well as contending with hunger among its own population.

In Kenya, WFP warns of rising food prices and that over 2 million people will need aid. A WFP report said, “Vulnerability is still high in parts of Kenya after two to three successive failed seasons. For farmers in marginal agricultural areas, it is the fourth consecutive poor harvest.”

Refugee camps in Ethiopia, where many Somalis fled after famine struck last year, also revealed that about 24 percent of the population have borderline or poor food consumption.

A drought emergency has been taking place for months in the Sahel region of Africa. This region includes the countries of Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Burkina Faso.

The greatest danger lies ahead between the traditional harvests. The U.S. states, “In areas of the Sahel most affected by poor crop production, high cereal prices, or conflict, some very poor and poor households will require targeted emergency assistance during the peak lean season (July/Sep) to meet minimum food needs and prevent increases in already high background levels of acute malnutrition.”

If strong action is not taken now, famine looms. The World Food Programme is pleading for help to avoid such a disaster in the Sahel. The agency said in a report, “additional resources are urgently required, given long lead times and the upcoming rainy season hampering access. Significant shortfalls in cereals of approximately 124,900 mt could seriously constrain WFP’s crisis response in all affected countries.”

Following a U.S. donation late last month WFP needs about 300 million dollars for its relief activities throughout the Sahel.

In Afghanistan, the massive hunger crisis there has had severe repercussions. While U.S. Food for Peace donations have helped reduce the impact of a drought last year, a protracted relief and recovery operation to help Afghans remains only 10 percent funded. WFP says “a lack of resources is significantly hampering the organization’s ability to implement relief and recovery assistance.”

There are positive signs such as Canada and the U.S. making donations to help start a biscuit factory in Kabul. This helps increase food production in Afghanistan, benefiting farmers, schools and shops. The biscuits are a part of WFP’s nationwide school feeding programs.

More food security projects like this are needed within Afghanistan. Until hunger and malnutrition are dealt a significant blow, the country will not achieve peace or development.

In South Sudan, the World Food Programme “faces a significant financial shortfall of US$145 million.” The country is reeling from conflict with Sudan as well as internal fighting in the Jonglei state between the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes. Drought has ruined crop production and around 4.7 million people are facing hunger. Should conflict escalate, famine could strike South Sudan.

In Yemen, the fight against hunger is key for the country to build internal stability and develop. The country has suffered the last two years through political unrest and fighting in the South between Al Qaeda and the government. The World Food Programme says that 22 percent of the population now suffers from severe hunger. WFP though is short nearly 50 percent of its funding requirement to help Yemen fight hunger.

The growing hunger crisis is going to require the U.S. to build up its Food for Peace program, which is critical for saving lives and improving global stability.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week, “the United States has provided almost $1 billion in humanitarian assistance that has saved countless lives from malnutrition, starvation, and disease. And our sustained commitment has demonstrated the best of America, helping to undermine the extremist narrative of terrorist groups like al-Shabaab in Somalia.”

Article first published as Famine Warnings: Alarming Hunger Crisis Demands Quick Action on Blogcritics.

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