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21 April 2009

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry has delivered 18,000 tons of flour to Afghanistan in humanitarian aid, the ministry press service announced on Tuesday. The shipment of flour was delivered to the Afghan Agriculture Ministry in the northern city of Hairatan, from where it will be distributed to needy Afghan families. "In total, 275 rail cars have delivered 18,000 tons of flour," the ministry said in a statement. The Russian Embassy's economic and trade aide in Kabul, Georgy Mishin, said an additional delivery of some 7,000 tons would be sent to Afghanistan in the summer. The flour is being delivered within the framework of UN World Food Program aid commitments.


18 April 2009

Hundreds of earthquake-affected people in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan, are in urgent need of shelter and drinking water, aid workers and local residents say. More food and better essential health services are also required. [...] Aid agencies have launched needs assessments in order to ensure a coordinated humanitarian response and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) conducted an oversight flight of the area to examine the extent of the damage.


7 April 2009

A tsunami was the image of choice to describe the blow of last year's food crisis. Today's situation resembles more the slow but relentless surge of a tide, gradually dragging more and more people into the ranks of the undernourished. Almost unnoticed behind the economic crisis, a combination of lower growth, rising unemployment and falling remittances together with persistently high food prices has pushed the number of chronically hungry above 1bn for the first time. The surge has reversed a decline over the past quarter century in the proportion of chronically hungry people in the world. "We are not out of the woods of the food crisis," says Josette Sheeran, head of the UN's World Food Programme in Rome, which needs about $6bn (€4.5bn, £4bn) this year to feed the poorest, up 20 per cent from last year's record of $5bn. [...] Domestic food prices in many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, have not fallen at all and in some cases are rising again because of the impact of poor harvest and lack of credit for imports. Ms Sheeran points precisely to that problem: "Local prices are rising. For example, the price of maize in Malawi has risen 100 per cent in the last year while wheat prices in Afghanistan are 67 per cent higher than a year ago."


3 April 2009

Despite a July 2008 joint emergency appeal for US$404m to help the most vulnerable 550,000 pregnant and lactating women and under-five children in Afghanistan, nutritious food aid - specially fortified food -is yet to reach those in need. Some 24 percent of lactating women are malnourished, over 19 percent of pregnant women have a poor nutritional status (low on minerals, vitamins, food insecure and weak) and about 54 percent of under-five children are stunted, according to a joint survey by UN agencies and the government, reports Integrated Regional Information Networks. [...] Donors have responded by providing about 70 percent of the over $185m the World Food Programme (WFP) requested for emergency food assistance in the joint appeal. [...] "The nutritious food aid programme is due to begin around May after all of the required commodities have arrived in Afghanistan and once the implementation details have been finalised and also once the training of the field implementers has taken place," Susannah Nicol, WFP's spokeswoman in Kabul, told the UN Information Networks. Logistical hurdles, insecurity and several other factors have often delayed aid delivery, but WFP's spokeswoman pointed to others: "The reason why it is still in process is because there has to be specialised training; there has to be special food and the whole system has to be set up," she said.


31 March 2009

Despite a July 2008 joint emergency appeal for US$404 million to help the most vulnerable 550,000 pregnant and lactating women and under-five children in Afghanistan, nutritious food aid - specially fortified food -is yet to reach those in need. Some 24 percent of lactating women are malnourished, over 19 percent of pregnant women have a poor nutritional status (low on minerals, vitamins, food insecure and weak) and about 54 percent of under-five children are stunted, according to a joint survey by UN agencies and the government. [...] Women and children are among the most vulnerable of the millions of Afghans who have been affected by insecurity, high food prices and drought, aid agencies say. Donors have responded by providing about 70 percent of the over $185 million the World Food Programme (WFP) requested for emergency food assistance in the joint appeal.


18 March 2009

Bobogul, 60, has been finding it hard to get by. Recently widowed and now the head of the household, she has nine people to feed. Her son tries to find work, but casual labour is erratic and the wages haven't kept up with food prices. Bobogul, like thousands of other Kabul residents, is relying on one of the U.N. World Food Programme's recently launched urban food distributions. [...] The scene is familiar enough in rural Afghanistan, where food is often scarce. But this is Kabul. Not far away is a bustling market where stalls overflow with fresh fruit and vegetables, and hunks of meat hanging from butcher's hooks. Nowadays, many people are too poor to afford the food that is available. It's the result of a poor harvest last year and high food prices the world over.


9 March 2009

Less than 30 percent of the 166,000 tonnes of wheat the Afghan government promised to distribute to tens of thousands of people during the winter months (October-March) has been delivered so far, according to the Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA). With only two a few weeks till the end of the cold season, the government is yet to source and deliver over 115,000 tonnes of wheat to people affected by drought, high food prices and conflict. [...] Several government bodies, including the ministries of commerce, rural rehabilitation and development, as well as ANDMA, were tasked with implementing the national winter aid programme, in collaboration with international aid agencies such as the UN World Food Programme (WFP).


5 March 2009

A 25-year-old man we will call Shakir has told IRIN he rues rejecting an offer of “work” from a Taliban agent whereby he would get 500 Afghanis (about US$10) a day for carrying out attacks on government offices in Farah Province, southwestern Afghanistan. Those who accepted the offer are better off, he thinks. “People are jobless, hungry and destitute so they agree to do anything for a small payment,” he told IRIN, refusing to give his name for fear the insurgents would kill him. The Farah ring-road linking southern and western provinces is risky for relief convoys. Dozens of food aid trucks hired by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) were attacked there in 2008, and Farah Province is seen as a hotbed of insurgency


19 February 2009

A total of 25 rail cars loaded with high-quality Russian flour have already arrived in the Afghan city of Hairaton, an economic and trade advisor to the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan said on Thursday. The deliveries of food to Afghanistan, where about 300 people have recently died of hunger and cold during an unusually severe winter, were set up by the UN World Food Program. Russia is one of the program's leading donors.


4 February 2009

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday declared Afghanistan a priority for the United Nations and pledged to do the utmost to support key presidential elections this year. Ban made a surprise visit to Kabul as the embattled country prepares for its second-ever presidential vote in August while facing an insurgency at its highest point since a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime in 2001. [...] The United Nations has said security reached its lowest point in Afghanistan last year since the Taliban was removed from government with a spike in attacks, including on aid workers. "The situation in Afghanistan is serious and it's getting worse," the UN's top relief official, John Holmes, said in Geneva on Tuesday. The reasons were "escalating conflict and also because of the serious drought which has been raging there for two years in some parts of the country," he said. Violence has prevented UN and other aid workers from accessing large swathes of the country, and several World Food Programme aid convoys have been attacked and looted in recent years.