Tag Archives: Famine

Why 20 Million People Are on the Brink of Starvation and How You Can Help

It’s difficult to fathom that 20 million people are on the brink of starvation in Sub-Sharan Africa and the Middle East, but the statistic is true. In fact, the region is facing the largest humanitarian crisis in over seventy years and if no help is provided 1.4 million children are at risk of death. Not only is weather to blame for the lack of crops, but political unrest, regional conflicts, and displacement have all placed a heavy burden on countries that cannot feed vast swaths of their citizens.

“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year, we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council in March.

GERC Collage

In order to save men, women, and children from starving to death in South Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, and surrounding countries, a mass appeal to the American people by eight of the largest global NGOs is currently underway. The appeal is being called now because if more time goes by more people are at risk of dying.

Called the Global Emergency Response Coalition, CARE, Save the Children, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Oxfam, and Plan International have collectively created the Hunger Relief Fund. The Fund allows American citizens to donate to hunger relief through July 28. Their donations will be matched dollar for dollar by corporate partners including Pepsico and BlackRock. Other partners include Google, Twitter, and Visa.

Nissafa, 9 months

“Drought, displacement, and conflict have converged with alarming consequences,” according to the chief executive officers of the organizations in the Global Emergency Response Coalition. “In the 21st century, innocent children should not be dying from hunger. People caught in this crisis are generously opening their homes and sharing what little they have, but they have run out of time and resources — they need our help now.”

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The Hunger Relief Fund appeal only lasts through July 28. No donation is too small. Donate today! For every dollar you donate, Pepsico and BlackRock will match all donations up to $2 million dollars. 

 

5 Organizations to Support During South Sudan’s Famine

In February the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan. What is most disheartening about this most recent famine in the world’s youngest country is it’s largely man-made. Constant infighting among South Sudanese opposition forces and the government makes growing crops nearly impossible. And, the instability in the country continues to drive up food costs. 100,000 people are directly suffering from famine, and another 4.9 million are living in extremely food insecure situations according to the United Nations. One million children in South Sudan are malnourished.

In April, Congress unanimously called upon the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID)  in partnership with the World Food Program to continue food aid to the millions affected by the famine. Congress, however, did not appropriate new relief funding to the region keeping in step with the Trump administration’s continued cuts in foreign aid.

The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said last week that if nothing is done, 20 million people could starve to death within the next six months in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria combined.

“Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades,” said the UN FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

While the problem is monumental there has been a budget put aside for famine relief by the international aid community. Governments will also have to do their part to help stabilize the region including the United States, even though the task of some in Congress to attach new funding to the cause seems well-intentioned, but probably a pipe dream for now.  There are organizations that you can support with your own donations to support famine relief.

There are organizations that you can support with your own donations. Here are five I recommend because I have seen their work in the field and have always remained impressed by their infrastructure and aid relief. Links go directly to donation pages.

  1. Save the Children
  2. Oxfam America
  3. World Vision USA
  4. World Food Program
  5. UNICEF USA

UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis

Logistics Team Visits South Sudan to Assess Road Conditions Amid Looming Famine

Last month, a United Nations team travelled to Western Equitoria,  Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan to assess road conditions, an important task when famine looms in a region that is mostly agrarian. Without passable roads it is impossible for lifesaving, critical health supplies, health workers, aid agencies,  and most importantly food to reach remote areas that are cut off from main city centers especially during the rainy season and when the need is most critical for vulnerable populations.

Aid agencies including UNICEF, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and the World Food Program have warned the world that a famine is quickly nearing in South Sudan amid continued failed peace talks and violence. Famine is an extremely strong word  to use when it comes to food insecurity and no one wants to utter it until the very last moment when people, especially children, are already on the brink of dying.

The United States has already provided nearly $400 million in humanitarian aid and due to impassable road conditions much of the relief will be delivered via air drops and river transport. The United Nations has estimated that $1.8 billion will be needed to provide aid for 3.4 million people.

Logistics Cluster posted a telling map of South Sudan dated from May 2, 2014. In Western Equitoria,  Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal there is little infrastructure save for some primary roads, which are questionably passable, and a few primary cities. The lack of reliable infrastructure continues to make humanitarian relief difficult to fulfill.

According to UNICEF, nearly one million children in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition this year and according to Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, 50,000 may die from malnutrition in the coming months.

“The world should not wait for a famine to be announced while children here are dying each and every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement, speaking after a visit to the devastated city of Malakal, where tens of thousands of people still take shelter on a UN base. “Today we spoke to mothers who have struggled through conflict, displacement and hunger to stop their children from dying. We all have to do more, and quickly, to keep more children alive.”

 Country: South Sudan Year: 2014 Photographer: Christine Nesbitt title / Job name:  caption:      On 11 August, Nyabol Hion holds her 2-year-old daughter, Nyanmot Lam, at Al Sabbah Paediatric Hospital in Juba, the capital. “I travelled here by boat with my husband’s brother,” says Ms. Hion. “My three other children stayed with my husband in Walyar in Unity State." Her home was destroyed during the conflict, and she lived for a while in the bush after fleeing the fighting. Nyanmot’s illness began in April 2014, but she has been in hospital for only three days, receiving therapeutic milk every two hours for her malnutrition, as well as antibiotics to treat her diarrhoea and vomiting. “Nyanmot is not the only sick child I’ve seen,” say Ms. Hion. “Many children are sick, and many are passing away.” After Nyanmot’s treatment, they will return to Walyar. “My wish is for a good life and peace,” says Ms. Hion, who advises mothers that “if your child is sick, take the child to the hospital.” In early August 2014 in South Sudan, 1.1 million people have been displaced since resurgent conflict erupted in mid-December 2013. An estimated 588,222 of the displaced are children. Some 434,000 people have also sought refuge in neighbouring countries. UNICEF has appealed for US$151.7 million to cover emergency responses across the vital areas of nutrition; health; water, sanitation and hygiene; protection; education; multi-sector refugee response; and cholera response. By 5 August, 62 per cent remained unfunded.

On 11 August,NyabolHion holds her 2-year-old daughter,Nyanmot Lam, at AlSabbahPaediatric Hospital in Juba, the capital. “I travelled here by boat with my husband’s brother,” says Ms.Hion. “My three other children stayed with my husband inWalyar in Unity State.” Her home was destroyed during the conflict, and she lived for a while in the bush after fleeing the fighting. Nyanmot’s illness began in April 2014, but she has been in hospital for only three days, receiving therapeutic milk every two hours for her malnutrition, as well as antibiotics to treat her diarrhoea and vomiting. “Nyanmot is not the only sick child I’ve seen,” say Ms.Hion. “Many children are sick, and many are passing away.” After Nyanmot’s treatment, they will return toWalyar. “My wish is for a good life and peace,” says Ms.Hion, who advises mothers that “if your child is sick, take the child to the hospital.”

 

A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. A woman mixes cassava flour in the back of an old UN vehicle in Langwa Payam, on the road between Maridi and Mundri, Western Equatoria. 26 July 2014 Western Equatoria, South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel.A woman mixes cassava flour in the back of an old UN vehicle in Langwa Payam, on the road between Maridi and Mundri, Western Equatoria.
26 July 2014
Western Equatoria, South Sudan

 

A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. A group of truck drivers take turns clearing earth to drain water from an impassable section of road that has stopped close to 100 trucks on the road linking Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal

A group of truck drivers take turns clearing earth to drain water from an impassable section of road that has stopped close to 100 trucks on the road linking Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. Children stay in the cab while the Security Team jump-starts a truck with a dead battery in Western Equatoria. 23 July 2014 Western Equatoria, South Sudan
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. The Security Team tows out a stuck vehicle in Western Equatoria, near the town of Lui.
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. Drivers of an overturned truck set up a tarpaulin for shelter from the rain near Yambio, Western Equatoria. 23 July 2014 Yambio, South Sudan

Photos: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Southern African Countries Face Hunger Threat

Malawi 71
Malawi  (Photo credit: al_green)

It sounds seemingly impossible, but there is yet another area of Africa that is under threat of a food shortage due to erratic rains during the growing season. While the Sahel is still experiencing food shortages, southern Africa is now joining ranks with the northwestern part of the continent.

According to the World Food Programme, 3.5 million people are living in drought-hit areas in Malawi, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe and are in need of food assistance. The hunger season lasts from December through March.

“Large numbers of smallholder farmers and their families are in the grip of what is set to be one of the harshest hunger seasons of recent years,” says Brenda Barton, WFP Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa. “With the help of  governments, donors and regional organizations, we’re mobilizing resources to help the most vulnerable, not only with food distributions but also with innovative solutions like cash transfers via mobile phones so people can buy their own food.”

 Malawi   Lesotho  Zimbabwe
1.8 million people are receiving food assistance 200,000 people are receiving food assistance 1.6 million people are receiving food and cash assistance

What can you do to help? You can donate securely on the World Food Programme web site. There is currently a $4 million emergency operation shortfall in Lesotho and a $14 million shortfall in Malawai, so every donation counts.

UN Photo/WFP/Phil Behan

Can You Imagine Not Being Able to Feed Your Children?

Can you imagine not being able to feed your children? I can’t either. I have never been in this situation, but mothers all across the Sahel are facing this dire dilemma even as I write this.

In Mali in particular where one president stepped down on Sunday, another takes office on Thursday and rebels are holding the north, mothers and their children are facing an even harder challenge getting the food they need to survive.

UNICEF wrote on Twitter today that the crops have failed and the food crisis is worsening.

The annual rains didn’t come this year, crops failed, food prices are high and rising, and now there is political and military unrest in the country which leads to massive displacement. All of these factors combined leads to food shortages and eventually famine. Famine in the Sahel is what relief agencies are trying desperately to avoid.

Watch the video below to see what is going on in Mali regarding the Sahel food crisis and click here (UNICEF) and here (World Food Programme)  to see how you can help!