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
16 February 2009

Bamboo, rats and famine: Crisis brewing

Since 2007, unusually large numbers of rats have been flooding out of the forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), causing major suffering and hardship for local communities. These rat floods in the CHT are a real and scientifically accepted phenomenon, and similar events are known to periodically occur in many parts of the world. Because there are suddenly so many rats, communities don't know how to control the problem, and the rats are devouring everything they can find in farmers' fields and houses. [...] In this past year, the World Food Programme has been delivering emergency aid to some of the affected communities, but more needs to be done to deal with growing food shortages and other potential implications. Because it doesn't happen often, little is scientifically understood about rat floods. This lack of knowledge has been recognised, particularly by the United Nations Development Programme which recently commissioned a team of scientists to gather together all the existing knowledge.
The New Nation (Bangladesh)
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

Changing face of the US in Asia

The merits, or otherwise, of embedding yourself with a military force and seeing their very one-sided view of the world, has been the subject of some debate in recent years. But against all expectations, I recently found myself gathered around a cage of bunny rabbits with a group of combat-hardened US soldiers, cooing as they petted the cuddly balls of fur. It was all part of a friendship building visit to a local agricultural initiative organised by their Thai counterparts. Could this be the new face of the US military under the Obama administration? [...] Under exercise on the training grounds in central Thailand, Indonesian troops guarding a convoy of supplies for the World Food Program come under ‘attack’ by insurgents in a scenario designed to teach them not only the best methods of defence, but how to work with civilian agencies who have strict rules about engagement and neutrality. After the exercise is completed, an overseeing US officer rebukes them mildly for loading their 'dead' and wounded comrades into the back of the WFP truck without asking permission of the UN agency, thus invalidating the neutrality of the vehicle.
Al Jazeera
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

Kidnappings: relief agencies continue operations

International relief agencies are continuing their operation amid a series of kidnappings involving foreign aid workers in the troubled southern Philippines, UNWFP said today. "We don't feel we are the targets, but our security experts are closely coordinating with the military," Stephen Anderson, country director of the United Nation's World Food Programme (UNWFP), said while they were distributing relief assistance to thousands of people displaced by the conflict between the military and separates rebels.
Philippine Star / Xinhua
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

WFP: averting high food prices in Africa

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has launched its first food voucher operation in Africa, deploying a new tool to address hunger in an urban environment where food is available, but beyond the reach of many because of high prices. In a statement received here Monday, the UN agency said the new voucher program is targeting 120,000 people who are suffering from the impact of high food prices in urban areas of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, where the prices of basic staples such as millet and sorghum are more than 25 percent higher than they were last year. "Sometimes it makes more sense to give people vouchers than bags of food," said Annalisa Conte, WFP Country Director in Burkina Faso. "This is an innovative solution to hunger needs among people who live in a city where shops and market stalls may be full of produce, but prices are still too high for the poor and the vulnerable."
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

In Brooklyn, Working to Help Haiti

For two decades and more, Haiti, a land of grinding poverty, has endured coups, riots, a repressive military regime and hurricanes, travails that have often been overlooked beyond its borders. [...] In September 2004, heavy rains caused by Hurricane Jeanne led to severe flooding in Gonaïves, killing 2,800 residents. [...] The crisis in Gonaïves is far from over. By the end of last month, about 73,000 people in the city were still relying on food distributed by the United Nations World Food Program, according to Bettina Luescher, a spokeswoman for the program in New York.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

Interview: Abdou Dieng of the World Food Programme in Guinea

The African nation of Guinea has seen increasing poverty rates in recent years. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reports that "the country's Forest region has long been host to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone," which puts a big strain on Guinea's resources. Guinea is working to provide basic education for all its citizens as a means of combating poverty. The World Food Programme is helping by providing school meals to children. In the following interview with Abdou Dieng, WFP country director in Guinea, we will look at how crucial school feeding is toward breaking the cycle of poverty.
BlogCritics Magazine
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

Philippines: Government order on IDP camps raises concerns

A government order for tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) to move out of camps on southern Mindanao island could expose them to grave danger, as sporadic fighting between government troops and Muslim separatist rebels continues, according to aid workers. [...] Stephen Anderson, World Food Programme (WFP) country director in the Philippines, told IRIN that while the overall situation seemed to have improved, with local governments helping the displaced, people still feared being caught in the crossfire. "Most of the people here are not keen to go back because they do not feel the security situation has improved," Anderson said on 16 February. "In some cases people have lost their homes, and many have lost their livelihoods. This is a big dilemma in fact, because large numbers remain displaced."
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

Policy of UN's food program in Honduras

The UN's World Food Program in Honduras appears to be working the way development aid should, and Canada has stepped into a lead role. What's going right? For one thing, in the decade since this Central American country was laid low by Hurricane Mitch -- a disaster that left scars that still linger -- the number of children fed through a school-feeding program has grown from 200,000 to 1.3 million. That's a big deal in a country where one child in four is chronically malnourished. [...] Food aid, [Jamie Vallaure, the WFP representative in Honduras ] points out, can be remarkably cost-efficient. WFP spent $5 billion last year, up from $3.5 billion in 2007 as a result of the steep rise in food prices, to feed 100 million of the 900 million who need help. But nearly two-thirds of this money goes to feed just one-third of recipients, those who are hit by war or famine or natural disasters and are at imminent risk of starvation.

Vancouver Sun
Hunger in the news
15 February 2009

Over 80% of first wheat batch distributed

Almost 80 percent of the first batch of wheat donated by the United Arab Emirates has been distributed to those in need, according to Deputy General Manager of the Yemeni Economic Corporation for Trade Affairs Abdullah Al-Kuhali. [...] According to a recent assessment by the World Food Program, families in remote villages in Yemen are regularly skipping meals and spending over two-thirds of their income on food due to high international prices, forcing some families to pull children out of school because they cannot afford to keep them there.
Yemen Times
Hunger in the news
15 February 2009

Red Cross Is in Talks to Resume Sri Lanka War Zone Food Convoys

The International Committee of the Red Cross is in talks with the Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebels on resuming food convoys to civilians caught in war zones after halting deliveries last month amid increased fighting. [...] The last ICRC-escorted convoy, carrying food provided by the World Food Programme, went into the areas on Jan. 29.
Bloomberg

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