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
19 February 2009

Kenya: Turkana at risk of further food shortages

Food shortages in the arid Turkana region of north-western Kenya, where an increasing number of people are already unable to find enough to eat, could escalate if rains fail in March, an official warned. [...] Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said the Kenyan government, UN agencies and NGOs were conducting assessments following the October-December short rains to determine the numbers in need in Turkana and other districts. "We expect preliminary results from areas hit by the failure of the short rains, which include Turkana, to be released later this month and the final report in March," he told IRIN on 17 February. "WFP will adjust the numbers of people it feeds in Kenya accordingly."
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

Madagascar: No end in sight to standoff

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.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

O'Keeffe: Halt funding aid to Third World

OUTSPOKEN Cork East TD Ned O'Keeffe has called on his government colleagues to halt food aid funding to the Third World until Ireland recovers from the current economic crisis. The Fianna Fail TD has said he believed that the money Ireland spends on overseas aid must be diverted to help Irish people affected by the recession. His comments come following a recent announcement by the government that it is to reduce Ireland's overseas aid budget by €95 million. However, there are no plans on the table to reduce the Dept of Agriculture's annual contribution to the World Food Programme. Ireland currently gives almost €10 million per annum to the programme, making it one of the top ten per capita contributors to the initiative.
Corkman
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

U.N. looks into charge over Clooney guard in Chad

The United Nations said on Thursday it was looking into a media allegation it had withdrawn a security escort for actor George Clooney, a U.N. "messenger of peace," as he visited a lawless area of Chad. U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas cast doubt on the report, saying the U.N. mission in the West African country had no armed military police and relied on others for armed escorts. In a column published on Thursday, New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, who is traveling with Clooney, linked the alleged U.N. move with nervousness in the region over a possible indictment by the International Criminal Court of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of neighboring Sudan. "We are still trying to ascertain the facts," Montas told a regular news briefing. [...] Montas said the U.N. World Food Program had flown Clooney's party to eastern Chad and enabled it to visit WFP project sites in the area, where hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region are encamped.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

UN envoy in SLanka expresses fears for civilians

The United Nations humanitarian chief John Holmes held talks with leaders in Sri Lanka on Thursday and said he was gravely concerned for thousands of civilians trapped in the island's war zone. Holmes met Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama after the Tamil Tiger rebels suffered a series of defeats that have left their decades-long campaign for an independent Tamil homeland in tatters. [...] The government estimates 42,000 people have sought safety in areas under their control, while about 70,000 civilians remain inside the conflict zone. The UN also launched an appeal on Thursday to raise 155 million dollars to fund aid projects in the regions of Sri Lanka devastated by the fighting.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
18 February 2009

In the Wheat Fields of Kenya, a Budding Epidemic

A virulent new version of a deadly fungus is ravaging wheat in Kenya's most fertile fields and spreading beyond Africa to threaten one of the world's principal food crops, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. Stem rust, a killer that farmers thought they had defeated 50 years ago, surfaced here in 1999, jumped the Red Sea to Yemen in 2006 and turned up in Iran last year. Crop scientists say they are powerless to stop its spread and increasingly frustrated in their efforts to find resistant plants. [...] Coming on the heels of grain scarcity and food riots last year, the budding epidemic exposes the fragility of the food supply in poor countries. It is also a reminder of how vulnerable the ever-growing global population is to the pathogens that inevitably surface somewhere on the planet.
Washington Post
Hunger in the news
18 February 2009

Tamils in US to protest Lanka 'genocide'

Tamils in the US will hold a demonstration in front of the state department and the White House here on Friday protesting against the "genocide" against their community in Sri Lanka. Tamils Against Genocide', a pro-Tamils organisation, will organise a rally and hunger strike to urge US President Barack Obama to bring an end to the "genocide" in northern Sri Lanka, where the Army and LTTE are engaged in a war. [...] Tamil Americans and their friends would descend on Washington to fast in solidarity with Tamils in Sri Lanka, who are experiencing a food crisis according to the World Food Programme, [the group said in a statement].
Times of India
Hunger in the news
18 February 2009

Modern Technology to Improve Farmers' Yields

[…] For more than 25 years, Everest Kambuda a resident of Ruhiira Village, Kabuyanda had never realised bumper harvest from his maize gardens because of lack of information on how to increase crop yield production. But having heeded the advice and adaptation of modern farming methods, things have taken a new twist. […] Kambuda is not alone, very many farmers have taken up maize and bean growing in the sub county. This has increased the yields that call for intervention of strategic marketing so that farmers can benefit from their produce without being cheated by middlemen. [Science project coordinator David Siriri] says: “Arrangements are being made with Uganda Commodities Exchange and World Food Programme to see how the farmers can benefit from good prices."
Daily Monitor
18 February 2009

Arrested Development

USAID has become ineffective because it is underfunded, understaffed, and losing influence. The next president should revive it by either making it autonomous or elevating it to a cabinet-level department.
Foreign Affairs
Hunger in the news
18 February 2009

Green growth is essential to any stimulus

Economic stimulus is the order of the day. This is as it must be, as governments around the world struggle to jump-start the global economy. But even as leaders address the immediate need to stimulate the economy, so too must they act jointly to ensure that the new de facto economic model being developed is sustainable for the planet and our future on it. [...] Last year, food riots and unrest swept more than 30 countries. Ominously, this was even before September’s financial implosion, which sparked the global recession that has driven a further 100m people deeper into poverty. We must act now to prevent further suffering and potential widespread political instability. This means increasing overseas development assistance this year. It means strengthening social safety nets. It means investing in agriculture in developing countries by getting seeds, tools, sustainable agricultural practices and credit to smallholder farmers so they can produce more food and get it to local and regional markets.
Financial Times

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