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
27 March 2009

Scaling up pre-positioned food aid

In a time of growing food shortages and high prices, humanitarian agencies have begun exploring ways to respond to crises sooner. Pre-positioning food aid closer to where it is needed to save money and time is one idea gaining ground. Leading the efforts to scale-up positioning food ahead of a crisis is the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the aid arm of the United States of America, the world's largest food aid donor. The agency will set up several food aid warehouses in 2009 to be able to respond rapidly to hunger crises across the world. [...] The example of USAID has been followed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the world's largest food-aid agency, which recently said it would launch a global campaign to raise money for an advance-purchase facility, and to position the food ahead of distribution needs. [...] Marc Cohen, a humanitarian researcher at Oxfam America, an international non-governmental aid agency said pre-positioning opened up more possibilities for sourcing and dispensing aid. "WFP is increasing its flexibility [in dispensing aid] with this approach: to have cash in hand to either dispense cash vouchers, or position a supply of food near where it could be needed." [...] WFP's intended "forward purchase facility" is currently in its pilot phase, according to Natasha Scripture, a spokeswoman for the agency. "The facility is part of a wider WFP toolbox and allows us to purchase food in advance of having a specific project to allocate it to," she said.
Reuters / IRIN
Hunger in the news
27 March 2009

Billion people face famine by mid-century

Famines affecting a billion people will threaten global food security during the 21st century, according to a leading US scientist. Nina Fedoroff, the US State Department chief scientist, is convinced that food shortages will be the biggest challenge facing the world as temperatures and population levels rise. Food security in the coming years, she said, is “a huge problem” that has been met with little more than complacency. “We are asleep at the switch,” she said. Her warning echoes comments by John Beddington, Britain’s chief scientist, last week in which he forecast a “perfect storm” of food, water and energy shortages by 2030.
The Times (UK)
Hunger in the news
27 March 2009

Drought is key factor in Kenya’s food crisis

Rose Mwembe has not had a corn harvest in six months. Last year’s late season rains never came and the current rainy season is already a month late, meaning she cannot plant for at least another month. [...] The irony of this drought-stricken region is that it is just a few dozen kilometres from Kenya’s verdant coast, where people survive on fish rather than agriculture. The drought has hit parts of central and northern Kenya as well and has added to the growing food crisis here. “We depend on rain-fed agriculture,” said Simon Mwangi, a programme assistant with the World Food Programme (WFP). “Our problem is an overdependence on maize as a staple food. People should diversify and plant crops that are more drought resistant.” The drought is just one factor contributing to Kenya’s food crisis.
The National (UAE)
Hunger in the news
27 March 2009

WFP Vouchers Help Feed Poorest of Burkina Faso's Urban Poor

Rising prices in Burkina Faso have put some staple foods beyond the reach of the urban poor. So the World Food Program has launched its first ever emergency food voucher program in Africa to help make up the difference.
VOA News (USA)
Hunger in the news
26 March 2009

New online price tool shows food still expensive

If you are a humanitarian food aid agency with limited resources, operating in Afghanistan and trying to access wheat supplies at the lowest prices, a new UN online tool can help you shop around. A couple of clicks on the National Basic Food Prices Data and Analysis Tool, developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) can give you the price of food staples in 55 developing countries, in local currencies and measurements.
Reuters Alertnet
Hunger in the news
26 March 2009

Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Calls for Development

(...) In terms of agricultural research and educational exchanges, Catherine Bertini, former head of the World Food Programme, said the United States "has fallen back dramatically" in recent years on its commitments. Once, said Bertini, the United States gave hundreds of scholarships to foreign students wanting to study agriculture and science at U.S. universities, but today, only 42 are available. At its height, agricultural extension workers -- specialists from U.S. universities, government and the private sector -- trained 15,000 individuals from other countries in one year in modern agricultural methods. The number trained today is just 1,000.
All Africa
Hunger in the news
26 March 2009

NATO resuming anti-piracy mission

NATO's anti-piracy flotilla will resume patrols off the Horn of Africa soon, joining an international squadron already operating in the region, the alliance said Thursday. A NATO statement said the five ships will reach the pirate-infested waters off the Somali coastline within days. They will do a stint with the anti-piracy patrols there before sailing on for a tour of Southeast Asia. "This is another contribution by the alliance to the overall international effort to tackle piracy in this part of the world," spokesman James Appathurai said. "We have many partners alongside us and it appears that international efforts seem to be having a positive effect." The NATO flotilla, codenamed Allied Provider, is to return to Europe in June but at least some of its warships may stay on station to help monitor the waters of the Gulf of Aden. The flotilla of ships from Portugal, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States is commanded by a Portuguese admiral. Pirate attacks in the busy sea lanes off the Somali coastline hit unprecedented levels in 2008, and NATO responded to appeals by the United Nations by deploying a three-warship flotilla to escort World Food Program cargo vessels carrying desperately needed food aid to Somalia.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
26 March 2009

Despite ICC's arrest warrant, Mubarak welcomes Al-Bashir

(...) Sudan ordered the aid agencies out of Darfur after ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir earlier this month over alleged war crimes in Darfur. Sudan, which does not recognise the ICC, rejects the charge. Holmes said that to feed the hungry in Darfur "we need to find some proper partners for the WFP (World Food Programme) if the decision is not reversed". The expulsion of aid groups "seems to us a reckless act", he added.
The Guardian (South Africa)
Hunger in the news
26 March 2009

South Sudan clashes leave 750 dead: UN

New fighting in the area of south Sudan where the 1983-2005 civil war erupted has left about 750 people dead, with growing insecurity in the wider region hampering aid efforts, United Nations officials said on Wednesday. (...) "We have seen reports of up to 750 dead, that seem to have been caused by cattle rustling," said Geoff Wordley, assistant representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in south Sudan. "We have seen a number of disturbing and alarming events in terms of security in recent weeks," Wordley told AFP. Officials said the situation in Jonglei's Pibor County now appeared to have calmed, but that it had had an impact on the work of relief organisations. "During the disturbances, at least one World Food Programme convoy carrying food aid was attacked and looted near Pibor, and therefore the situation of the delivery of humanitarian aid in that area is also of concern," Wordley added.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
26 March 2009

UN warns of growing death toll in Darfur

Humanitarian officials have warned that Sudan's pledge to fill the aid gap is unlikely to succeed while supplies of food, medicine and water are under threat. Darfur's main rebel group has urged people to reject all government help. The World Food Program is distributing a two-month ration to 1.1 million displaced people who were served by Care, Solidarites, Action Against Hunger and Save the Children, which have all been expelled. But Rachid Jafaar, a WFP official, warned that this was unsustainable and the organisation could not guarantee that all the people affected, at 140 sites, would receive food.
The Age

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