Hunger in the news

23 April 2009

Bangladesh's elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) early on Thursday morning arrested 22 suspected militants including 21 women in the country's southern Barisal district, some 170 km away of capital Dhaka. (...) Officials of the United Nations Children's Fund, World Food Program and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Barisal on Monday received separate letters with death threat which were sent by post in the name of a banned Islamist outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

21 April 2009

Bangladesh tightened security on Tuesday after an outlawed Islamist group threatened to kill local staff of United Nations agencies at a district town, officials and police said on Tuesday. Identical letters, written in English and signed by the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) command in Barisal coastal district, were sent on Monday to the local offices of UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The letters ordered the agencies' local operations to be closed and their staff withdrawn within 24 hours, one officer with a UN office told Reuters. "Otherwise, the JMB threatened to kill our local staff," the officer said.

9 April 2009

Two million children aged between six months and five years suffer from acute malnutrition in Bangladesh, according to a new survey. Of these, half a million suffer from severe acute malnutrition, showed a survey conducted by World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the government's Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN).

6 April 2009

Julekha, 36, can build a more secure life for her family now that she has raised her house out of the reach of floodwaters. She learned how to do this through an "emergency resiliency" course run by the government and the World Food Programme (WFP).

3 April 2009

A poverty map of Bangladesh, estimating poverty at district and upazila levels, was launched yesterday with the aim to enable the government and policymakers to identify the poorer areas and allocate resources for pulling the distressed out of the curse. “It will help us spot areas where the extent of poverty is high. The map will allow us to take programmes and policies for alleviating poverty prioritising the most vulnerable areas,” said Planning Minister AK Khandker at the launching ceremony in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the World Bank in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) updated the poverty map, completed in early 2009. [...] Referring to poverty rate, WFP Representative in Bangladesh John Aylieff said the poverty map would be a critical input for WFP's own planning, targeting, and allocation of resources. “Behind the map, there is statistics. And behind the statistics, there are mothers and children and many more faces,” he said. “Let's use the map as a means for concerted actions,” he said, adding: “It's the poor hungry people to whom we are accountable.”

30 March 2009

The United Nations said Sunday that Bangladesh is battling "a silent emergency" with nearly half of the impoverished country's children under age 5 suffering from chronic malnutrition. UNICEF and the U.N. World Food Program estimated in a report that 48.6 percent of the country's 20 million children aged 6 months to 5 years are chronically malnourished, a devastating problem caused by food shortages and high prices. [...] Food prices in Bangladesh have been relatively stable over the past two months, but some officials say the food crisis still poses a major threat. "Even if the prices of food are now falling, the crisis is far from being over," John Aylieff, the WFP chief in Bangladesh, told a news conference Sunday.

17 March 2009

The volume of direct food aid by the donor countries to Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme has declined considerably recent times because of their waning interest and confidence in this particular project. In a recent letter to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) World Food Programme (WFP) said that though WFP has intensified its efforts with donors to continue its support to the VGD programme it might not be feasible to continue donors contribution in coming months. The waning of donors interest and confidence in this programme has been cited as the reason for the cut in the food aid. The donor countries have instead expressed interest in enhancing support to Food for Education (FFD) Programmes in the country.

13 March 2009

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) [will] provide $179 million over the next nine months to help Bangladesh's poorest people, who have been hard hit by high food prices and natural disasters. Around 259,592 tonnes of food commodities are expected to be procured and distributed among 5 million people in both urban and rural areas who are least able to feed their families, the WFP said in a statement.

24 February 2009

Bangladesh's remote Chittagong Hill Tracts region faces a serious risk of prolonged famine and bubonic plague unless a ballooning rat population is brought under control, experts say. The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing three million dollars of emergency food supplies to some 120,000 people in the southeastern tribal area bordering India and Myanmar last May, after the rat population exploded. The rats -- some weighing as much as 1.5 kilogrammes (3.3 pounds) -- feed on bamboo forests in the hilly region. Dhaka University zoology professor Nurjahan Sarker recently visited the hill tracts and sounded the alarm over the "devastating" impact of the year-long rat plague. "The threats of a famine-fuelled conflict are real as the rats are destroying everything in the hills," she said.

17 February 2009

The government faces a great challenge in realising its election pledge of total literacy in the country by 2014 because of the heavy dropout of children from primary schools and acute shortage of teachers. [...] The government is able to supply new textbooks to only 60 per cent of the primary schools. Besides, the School Tiffin Programme, with support from the World Food Programme (WFP), covers only one per cent of total primary school students in the country. Experts say that the government will have to improve these situations if they are to make a headway towards their targets.