Hunger in the news

3 June 2009

The UN humanitarian wing said on Tuesday it has allocated 6.45 million U.S. dollars to help190,000 people in the rural southern regions of Madagascar who are suffering from the combined effects of drought, cyclones and political instability. ¡¡¡¡The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the money would be shared by the World Food Program (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for emergency work in the island nation.

22 May 2009

Communities in southern Madagascar have a wealth of experience in dealing with the unforgiving, arid conditions of their region, but not even their finely honed farming skills and knowledge passed down for generations can withstand the relentless drought. (..) Krystyna Bednarska, head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Madagascar, acknowledged that the problem was escalating. "[The] most recent rapid assessment by WFP in April confirmed that 100 percent of 160 sampled households in 16 food insecure communes were 'severely food insecure'".

15 May 2009

In Tanandava, a small village in the arid south of Madagascar, the community's most valuable asset is kept behind two padlocks to which two people each have a key. (..) "[The] most recent rapid assessment by WFP in April confirmed that 100 percent of 160 sampled households in 16 food insecure communes were 'severely food insecure'," said Krystyna Bednarska, head of WFP in Madagascar.

23 April 2009

Madagascar is facing an evolving humanitarian crisis of proportions unprecedented in its history. The country was already facing an extremely worrisome drought in the south, to which has been added the effects of cyclones and tropical storms while also being hit with food insecurity caused by the ongoing civil unrest in the capital of Antananarivo and elsewhere. (...) CARE International, the World Food Program and other organisations are already responding with food for work activities as well as direct food assistance to nursing mothers and children under age two, but the need is outstripping supply of food and if other funding is not found soon, the consequences could be catastrophic.

7 April 2009

Aid agencies and Madagascar's disaster management authority, which has been paralyzed by months of political turmoil, are scrambling to asses the damage after tropical cyclone "Jade" struck on 6 April. [...] "We still have no data - assessments are still underway and the situation remains unclear," Dia Styvanley Soa, spokeswoman for Madagascar's disaster management authority (BNGRC), told IRIN. [...] Aid agencies were also awaiting further reports. "At the moment we don't have much information on the impact," Krystyna Bednarska, head of the World Food Programme in Madagascar, told IRIN. The harsh weather conditions have made it impossible for helicopters to be dispatched to affected areas.

7 April 2009

Despite international condemnation of a recent coup-style change of government, aid agencies have appealed for over US$35.7 million "to prevent the deterioration of the humanitarian situation", according to the 2009 Madagascar Flash Appeal for funds launched by the Madagascar Humanitarian Country Team on 7 April. [...] The appeal document estimated that the combined crises had increased the number of people needing humanitarian aid to an estimated 2.5 million, mainly in the urban centres, with an additional 880,000 in the drought-affected south needing assistance. Krystyna Bednarska, head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Madagascar, said: "WFP's food resourcing shortfall to address immediate food needs in the drought-affected south and the urban centres is around USD13 million." Food insecurity in the south is expected to deteriorate even more, while the lack of rain is expected to delay the next harvest by three months, and reduce it to by up to 40 percent.

20 March 2009

Weeks of opposition protests and turmoil on the Indian Ocean island have killed more than 135 people, crippled tourism and left former President Marc Ravalomanana in the lurch. Using agency reports, Ben Ukwuoma writes on the dramatic victory for the young politician, Andry Rajoelina who was sacked as mayor of the capital only last month. (...) The crisis hit the cities hardest. "Loss of employment due to the political crisis threatens to push the vulnerable poor and lower-middle classes into destitution. For those who are already indigent, estimated at over 500,000 the current crisis has put even the most basic foodstuffs beyond their reach," Krystyna Bednarska, head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said.

10 March 2009

Ahead of a planned three-day National Consultative Conference to resolve Madagascar’s deep political turmoil, the country’s senior military commander warned on 10 March that the army will step in and impose order if a solution is not found within 72 hours. [...] As looting on the streets of Antananarivo continues and the security situation deteriorates, NGO’s are preparing themselves for a potential humanitarian crisis. The United Nations World Food Programme has expanded food distribution operations in the country. “There is a greater demand for nutritional aid since the crisis began,” Krystyna Bednarska, head of the WFP in Madagascar told IRIN. “The problems mean that people can’t work. Many have lost their jobs and it is the most vulnerable people that are being affected.”

19 February 2009

Representatives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have arrived in Madagascar to facilitate talks between the feuding president and opposition leader. In the capital, Antananarivo, anti-government protestors marched on ministries for a third day in an attempt to install a new government as heavily armed security forces kept them at bay. The demonstrations on Wednesday 18 February ended peacefully. [...] The political unrest has coincided with the country's annual cyclone season, which is also usually a time food of shortages in southern Madagascar. In the southwestern city of Toliara, looters have targeted food warehouses and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has had to enhance security at its depots throughout the country. WFP warned that the political situation was making it more difficult to operate.

5 January 2009

Resource-hungry nations are snapping up huge tracts of agricultural land in poor Asian nations, in what activists say is a “land grab” that will worsen poverty and malnutrition. Global trends including high prices for oil and commodities, the biofuel boom and now the sweeping downturn are spurring import-reliant countries to take action to protect their sources of food.