Tag Archives: Somalia

Roundup of funding shortages for UN hunger relief

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the lead agency fighting hunger, requires voluntary donations for its aid missions. Without these contributions they cannot feed the hungry in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and many other countries in need.

Read the full article at Examiner.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

Somalia facing a new year of tragedy

There is alarming news coming from Somalia. The East African nation, which just three years ago suffered a famine, is in danger of a new hunger emergency.

Read the full article at Examiner.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

Somalia facing emergency levels of hunger

The Famine Early Warning (FEWSNET) system is sounding the alarm in Somalia.

Read more at Examiner.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

Norwegian Charity Says More Aid Needed for Somali Refugee Children

Displaced children in Somaliland are deprived of basic rights such as access to clean water, food, health services and education. Photo: NRC/Astrid Sehl

The Norwegian Refugee Council is calling on the world to increase aid for Somali children displaced by conflict and famine.

Last summer the world was stunned with tens of thousands of Somali children starving to death. A severe drought had struck Somalia and East Africa, causing massive food shortages. Conflict within Somalia made the situation far worse by preventing aid from reaching the needy.

Thousands of children and their families were able to flee the worst hunger and conflict areas. Many of these “children of famine” found refuge in camps in Dadaab, Kenya.

A year later their plight in the refugee camps is largely silent to the world. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) wants to change this by focusing on these children’s needs. They have a chance to recover if the world gives them enough help.

Somali refugees need the basics of food, water, shelter. They also need education to learn and develop the skills needed to get out of these camps and build a life. NRC issued a report in May about the lack of educational resources at the Dadaab camps.

Dadaab does not have enough school facilities and teachers. There are 221,000 school age children in the refugee camps but only 57,000 are enrolled in school. Funding is needed to build up the schools.

The NRC Regional Director Hassan Khaire says, “The universal right to education applies also for refugee children in Dadaab, but only in theory. The international community has to step up and demonstrate the importance of investing in the development and future of young Somali refugees.”

NRC is partnering with other organizations on developing accelerated learning programs to help children “catch up” and get their education back on track.

For those who are already enrolled in school at Dadaab, there is the problem of staying the course. The NRC report says, “The number of students who actually complete school is much lower, as the drop out rates are very high especially for girls.” The challenge is getting kids into school in East Africa and then keeping them there to finish their education.

School feeding programs run by the UN World Food Programme and other groups are vital especially with malnutrition being such a threat to the refugees.

Astrid Sehl, an NRC officer, recently took some time to answer a few questions on how the world can help the children of the East Africa famine.

What is being done to increase the number of schools and teachers in the Daddab refugee camp?

UN and non-governmental organizations are doing what they can to build more schools and educate more teachers in Dadaab – e.g. the joint Education strategy (Accelerated learning program). However, as always, funding when it comes to crises and education, is very limited, and a lot more should be done!

Could take home rations be added to any existing school feeding in order to reduce the dropout rate?

Yes, take home rations is a good idea. For the time being, we provide school feeding and we are investigating funding opportunities for take-home rations (or introducing school gardens, where the kids are taught how to grow vegetables and they can bring the knowledge and produce home).

For children displaced inside Somalia has NRC been able to reach them with educational materials?

Yes, we have large educational programs for internally displaced persons across Somalia – in Somaliland, Puntland and South Central. So we’re supporting thousands of internally displaced children and youth with education, skills training, we train teachers and build schools – but again – more efforts are required to meet children’s right to education.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

Save the Children Starts School Meals for Somali Refugees

Scene from a refugee camp in Ethiopia where Somalis fled to when food supplies ran out in their homeland. What future do these children face? (WFP/Natasha Scripture)

Imagine if you were a child living in the Gebo and Bay regions of Somalia last summer. Instead of having the opportunity to go to school in the fall you were trapped in a massive drought zone. With food supplies low your family would be forced to flee the region as a matter of survival.

Starting in the summer of 2011 streams of hungry Somalis fled Gebo, Bay and other crisis areas. Some parts of Southern Somalia were declared in famine as starvation had set in. The drought, combined with conflict, placed over 13 million people were put at risk of starvation in Somalia and other countries in East Africa.

Thousands of residents of Gebo and Bay are now in the Kobe and Hilaweyn refugee camps in Ethiopia and depending on relief from aid agencies. Save the Children is helping kids within these camps by providing emergency education and school meals. The meal will be a porridge, made of a corn-soy blend, served as a breakfast at school.

In addition Save the Children wants to provide school meals to children in the Melkadida and Bokolmayo camps, also in Ethiopia.

Save the Children hopes to provide meals to 8,037 children who are currently receiving emergency education in these four refugee camps.  And they want to expand the program to reach more children. There are 43,966 school age children in the four camps.

Save the Children is also working on the construction of schools to expand educational opportunities.

The school meal program, with supplies from the UN World Food Programme, will improve child nutrition. It’s also expected to improve enrollment and enhance the teaching and learning process.

Funding though is critical. Save the Children says resources for the program is expected to run out later this year. That is where the public can help by supporting Save the Children’s East Africa appeal.

Article first published as Save the Children Starts School Meals for Somali Refugees on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

Remembering the Horn of Africa This Holiday Season

The UN World Food Programme and CARE team up to provide food to refugees who have fled Somalia (WFP/Mariko Hall). Both of these agencies are accepting donations for East Africa.

President Obama issued a statement last week thanking Americans who had donated to relief efforts in the Horn of Africa this year. He also cautioned that much more needs to be done to overcome the humanitarian tragedy of 2011.

Obama said, “As we enter the season of giving and renewal, more than 13.3 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance amid the worst drought the region has seen in 60 years. The heartbreaking accounts of lives lost and of those struggling to survive remind us of our common humanity and the need to reach out to people in need.”

The U.S. has a great tradition of leading the fight against famine wherever it occurs. In 1946, just a year after World War II ended, the threat of massive famine loomed over the globe as food supplies were running low. In this case, the paths of the U.S., Somalia, and Ethiopia crossed briefly.

Herbert Hoover, who was appointed food ambassador during this crisis, first reviewed the food supply of as many nations as possible. In this report were listed Somaliland and Ethiopia. Hoover writes “of self-sufficient nations in Africa, we classified Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, and Somaliland, with a total population perhaps of 35,000,000 people.”

There were no reports of drought that year in East Africa. Of course, any country not in food deficit at that time was a huge relief with the impending worldwide famine. It was going to be enough of a challenge to meet the food needs of the war-devastated countries.

Whether or not there is a drought is all about luck. In 1946 there was luckily none in East Africa. This year a different story–a huge drought.

What does not depend on luck though is how well nations are prepared to deal with drought. Many actions can be taken by the international community to help build up the resilience of farmers in developing countries so that when drought does hit, it is not catastrophic. Food reserves can also be in place to prevent a year of setbacks from drought and keep a country moving toward food security.

So, this is one of the lessons of this year. Invest in farmers today to avoid the famine of tomorrow.

Article first published as Remembering the Horn of Africa this Holiday Season on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, History