Hunger in the news

A daily selection of news reports from the world's media dealing with hunger and responses to it.
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Hunger in the news
1 April 2009

Agony as food, water shortage persists

His emaciated face and protruding ribs betray his once cheerful face and stable gait. Lying besides his three children in the manyatta in Tana River District, Farah Abdi’s image is that of desperation. He has not had a decent meal for a week and is too weak to rise from his creaking bed. [...] His daughter Khadija, who was the interpreter, says there has not been provision for the sick, aged and children in relief food distribution in Bangale Location. [...] Bangale Chief Abdi Buru admitted that food distribution was unfair to the sick, children and the aged. Mr Buru said the World Food Programme brought food, but was only enough for 1,550 people. "I have been forced to come up with a fresh list of people who are sick or aged who need relief food or else they could die," Buru said. The chief said several deserving people miss out.
The Standard
Hunger in the news
1 April 2009

Feed the children

The ironies of life. We are an archipelago of 7,000 islands buffeted by 26 typhoons each year and yet half of the population have no drinking water. Now we are seeing millions of children starving for food, in the middle of a tropical paradise of seafoods and wondrous fruits. It has gotten so bad that multinationals like the World Food Program, Unilever and Mead Johnson have to be invited to partner with government and NGOs to feed our children. [...] We are talking not only about kids in some farflung barangay out there in the boondocks, we are also talking about children fainting in a classroom in Metro Manila at 8 o’clock in the morning because they have had nothing to eat for the last 24 hours.
Manila Bulletin
Hunger in the news
1 April 2009

Myanmar: Rohingya face rising food insecurity

Food insecurity is nothing new for many Rohingya in northern Rakhine State, most of whom live in abject poverty, but this year is particularly bad. Of the state's almost one million inhabitants, about 85 percent are Rohingya, an ethnic, linguistic and religious minority that are de jure stateless in line with the country's laws. [...] The price of rice, a staple, was 75 percent higher in June 2008 against 2007, prompting many Rohingya families to forgo one meal a day. "Our recent field reports indicate a similar, if not worse, situation as regards household food insecurity in the early months of this year, largely due to growing levels of debt, a reduced harvest in the main 2008-2009 agricultural season, coupled with declining opportunities for wage labour," Chris Kay, country director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), told IRIN in Yangon, the former Burmese capital.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
1 April 2009

Yemen: Anger over delays in food distribution to flood victims

Delays in distributing food aid are generating anger and despair among people in the southern Yemeni governorate of Hadhramaut affected by the October 2008 floods, flood-displaced people and community leaders say. [...] The government has asked the World Food Programme (WFP) to handle food distribution. “We agreed with them in November, signed the contracts in December and handed over the food items to them in February,” Fahad al-Ajam, deputy governor of Hadhramaut, told IRIN. Sasha Hafez, WFP’s senior logistics assistant, told IRIN in Seyoun there had been delays: “It seems there have been some kind of administrative disputes… We received the second batch [of food] for distribution in March.” [...] “For reasons we don’t know, they [government officials] are not revealing how much food they have in their warehouses. WFP is only the logistics organiser for this operation,” said Hafez, explaining that such information was vital in order to plan and coordinate future food shipments with donors. WFP was now combining in its distributions food items from donors and those from the government, and trying to shift perishable items first, he said.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
31 March 2009

Food security still a problem as hunger rises: FAO

A fall in grain prices has led to the impression that food security is no longer a concern, but the number of people without enough to eat is still rising in a world facing recession, the United Nations said Monday. "The level of prices is still 19 percent above the average of 2006 ... so we're still in a period of high prices," Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), told reporters at a conference in Bangkok. In addition, recent FAO studies showed that even though prices had fallen in international markets, retail prices in most developing countries had not. "Not only is the crisis here, but it's been worsened by the financial and economic crisis," Diouf said.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
31 March 2009

Farmers to cut US planting

US farmers are set to sow fewer acres this spring with crops such as corn and wheat, breaking a string of four years of increases in a move likely to support agricultural commodities prices through the economic crisis. The US Department of Agriculture will reveal its first acreage estimate on Tuesday in its Prospective Plantings report. Because the country exports half the world’s corn, a third of world soyabeans, and a fifth of the world’s wheat, changes in acreage and hence in output have a huge impact in global food prices. Traders anticipate a drop in almost every major crop with the exception of soyabean, bringing the country’s cropland to about 248m acres, down 2 per cent from last year. Farmers are planting less because reduced profitability on the back of current low prices and high cost for fertilisers.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
31 March 2009

Number of chronically hungry people tops 1bn

The number of chronically hungry people has surpassed the 1bn mark for the first time as the economic crisis compounds the impact of high food prices, the United Nations' top agriculture official has warned. In an interview with the Financial Times, Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, warned that the increasing numbers of undernourished people could trigger political instability in developing countries. "The issue of world food security is an issue of peace and national security," he said, urging world leaders who are discussing ways to resolve the economic crisis not to forget that last year more than 30 countries suffered food riots. The Rome-based organisation estimated last year that about 960m people were chronically hungry in 2008. Mr Diouf said that had since risen and "unfortunately, we are already quoting a number of 1bn people on average for this year".
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
31 March 2009

Afghanistan:Food aid not reaching most vulnerable women, children

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.
IRIN
Hunger in the news
31 March 2009

‘Hesco Bastion’: a new way to thwart terror attacks

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.
The News International
Hunger in the news
31 March 2009

Haiti’s Big Chance

It is easy to visit Haiti and see only poverty. But when I visited recently with former President Bill Clinton, we saw opportunity. Yes, Haiti remains desperately poor. It has yet to fully recover from last year’s devastating hurricanes, not to mention decades of malign dictatorship. Yet we can report what President René Préval told us: “Haiti is at a turning point.” It can slide backwards into darkness and deeper misery, sacrificing all the country’s progress and hard work with the United Nations and international community. Or it can break out, into the light toward a brighter and more hopeful future. [...] President Clinton and I saw many good signs during our trip, both large and small. One day we visited an elementary school in Cité Soleil, a slum in Port au Prince long controlled by violent gangs before U.N. peacekeepers reclaimed it. It did my heart good to see these children. They were well-fed, thanks to the U.N. World Food Program. Even better, they were happy and they were learning — as children should. It was a sign of more normal times.
New York Times

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