Hunger in the news

2 April 2009

High-ups of the ministry of food and agriculture have said one million tons of wheat disappear every year in [Pakistan]. The revelation came at a time of growing concern over the food security amid indications that 77 million people of the country are malnourished owing to rising poverty. The ministry officials made this startling disclosure to participants of the second day of a conference organised by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), here on Wednesday. [...] On the occasion, the Chairman of the Panel of Economists and former adviser to the PM on finance, Dr Hafez A Pasha, said 77 million people are facing the food insecurity according to the latest estimates given by the World Food Programme.

31 March 2009

After barriers of concrete, road blockers, close circuit television (CCTV) cameras and under vehicle screening systems, the latest mode of protection to thwart terrorist attacks in Islamabad is the ‘Hesco Bastion’ or barrier. A string of offices of international organisations and hotels have fortified their compounds by building this wall filled with tons of sand in a collapsible wire mesh container lined with heavy duty fabric. Some of the offices of United Nations, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN House, Unicef were among the first to have such walls built around their premises, located in residential sectors. The fortifications were done after last year’s suicide attack outside the Danish Embassy in Sector F-6/2 that also wrecked an adjacent UN Project Office. Similarly, a ‘Hesco Barrier’ has also been built to secure the Marriott Hotel after it came under attack last fall.

9 March 2009

In Pakistan, "almost 85 percent of the population live on a marginal income of less than US$ 2 per day," according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Food for Education is a key strategy for helping the impoverished in this nation of over 140 million people, most living in rural areas. Food for Education programs provide school feeding and also take-home rations for children. This is critical to ending hunger and poverty in any country. Let's take a closer look at school feeding with Wolfgang Herbinger, the country director for WFP in Pakistan.

2 March 2009

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday announced the signing of an agreement valued at $22.3 million to help ease the burden of food prices. The agreement was signed by Joseph Williams, Deputy Mission Director USAID/Pakistan and Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP Pakistan Representative in a ceremony held here on Friday. [...] WFP Representative in Pakistan, Wolfgang Herbinger said “This grant comes at a very critical time and will help WFP continue its assistance to three million needy people.” He appreciated the role of USAID as a development partner in addressing the hardships faced by poor people. WFP’s emergency operation in response to high food prices started in October 2008 with the help of generous contributions from USA, Saudi Arabia and later also from Japan.

27 February 2009

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture seeks collaboration of Canada in various sectors of agriculture development including food security, improvement in storage facility particularly for wheat, rice and maize. These views were discussed during a meeting among High Commissioner of Canada Randolph Mank, Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Mohammad Gondal and senior officials of the ministry here today. [...] The High Commissioner of Canada, Randolph Mank expressed his interest in trade of food, Canadian beef, cooperation in agriculture education through University of Gulf and fish farming in Karachi. The ambassador said Japan would give $7 million under World Food Programme aid to Pakistan soon.

15 February 2009

Availability of surplus wheat in the country could lead to collapse of prices in local markets this year. The government has approved a plan to procure 6.5 million tons of wheat at Rs950 per 40kg, or Rs23,750 (nearly $300) per ton, which is about $100 higher than the rates prevailing in the international market. [...] Some 590,000 tons of imported wheat began arriving at the Gwadar port on Friday. This process would continue until March 5. The Trading Corporation of Pakistan would complete import of another 272,000 tons of wheat by March 31. The World Food Programme would also provide 30,000 tons of wheat it had borrowed from Pakistan last year.

10 February 2009

Fierce fighting in Pakistan's border area with Afghanistan could soon drive more than 600,000 people from their homes, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. Spokesman Ron Redmond said the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees will ramp up its relief work in northwestern Pakistan, where security has deteriorated sharply since last year. [...] Redmond said the UNHCR had no news about the fate of the American head of its office in the southwest Pakistani city of Quetta, John Solecki, who was abducted last week after gunmen ambushed his car and shot dead his driver.

2 February 2009

Gunmen in southern Pakistan kidnapped an American United Nations official and fatally shot his driver Monday, the latest in a recent series of high-profile kidnappings and targeted hits on foreigners. Pakistani police in the southern city of Quetta said an unknown number of gunmen ambushed the car of John Solecki, the chief of the U.N. refugee office in the province of Baluchistan, about 8:30 a.m., soon after he left home for his office. The car's driver, Hashim Raza, was killed almost instantly after the gunmen opened fire on the vehicle, said Khalid Masood, a senior police official in Quetta. [...] Abductions and assassinations of foreigners and aid workers have increased in Pakistan within the past year, affecting the operations of several major humanitarian organizations in the country, including the U.N. In April, Taliban gunmen kidnapped and later released two local workers with the U.N.'s World Food Program in northwest Pakistan.

21 January 2009

World Food Programme (WFP), food aid organisation of the United Nations, in collaboration with Unilever Pakistan Limited commended 10 students of the local school Bay View Academy for their unprecedented efforts in creating awareness and collecting goods for WFP's School Feeding Programme. The students were handed certificates in a ceremony on Monday honouring them with the title 'Agent against Hunger' by Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP Representative in Pakistan and Unilever, Marketing Director Foods.

12 January 2009

Since Sep. 22, an estimated 400,000 people have fled their homes in Bajaur Agency in the wake of a military operation launched by the Pakistani army against Taliban militants. Conditions in the Kacha Garhi camp are appalling; the worst affected children. Khanum's seven, between the ages of 12 and a few months, are covered with mosquito bites. "You can hear children weeping through the night," she says. The NWFP government set up 11 camps to shelter internally displaced peoples (IDPs) from Bajaur and Mohmand agencies that are part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and Swat, a district in NWFP that has been riven with violence since 2006. [...] "About 51 percent of the camps' inmates suffer from acute respiratory infections and 19 percent had acute watery diarrhoea," says Dr Saeed Akbar Khan of the World Health Organisation that along with the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN children's agency, UNICEF, launched a 30 million dollars appeal to help IDPs in October. UNICEF estimates that 15 percent of children in the camps are severely malnourished. The worst affected are children from Nowshera, Lower Dir, Mardan, Charsadda, according to Dr Saeed Anwar.