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
17 February 2009

Govt faces big task to get total literacy

The government faces a great challenge in realising its election pledge of total literacy in the country by 2014 because of the heavy dropout of children from primary schools and acute shortage of teachers. [...] The government is able to supply new textbooks to only 60 per cent of the primary schools. Besides, the School Tiffin Programme, with support from the World Food Programme (WFP), covers only one per cent of total primary school students in the country. Experts say that the government will have to improve these situations if they are to make a headway towards their targets.
The Daily Star (Bangladesh)
Hunger in the news
17 February 2009

High malnutrition rates in slums “alarming”

With malnutrition rates as high as 25 percent in some areas, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is alarmed at the condition of children under five in Djibouti's slum areas. "This is a chronic but silent emergency," Georges Gonzales, the acting UNICEF representative in Djibouti, told IRIN. [...] Community-based organisations were also involved, being trained by UNICEF to work within the health system. These community groups, mostly women, do simple screenings to identify children with malnutrition symptoms and are trained to provide ready-to-use therapeutic food. "They are our first line of defence," said a medical official. In one of the health centres supported by UNICEF, with WFP and WHO and support from USAID, dozens of women with malnourished children come for feeding and screening, said Madina Ali, a doctor.
All Africa / IRIN
Hunger in the news
17 February 2009

Residents fury as relief food runs out

Thousands of residents of Mathingira and Leshau locations in Nyandarua North on Monday flocked the chief’s offices for relief maize donated by the Government. The maize was however not enough and many returned home empty handed. “I had 50 bags of maize only whereas those who turned up were nearly 3,000. What can you do to such a figure?” Posed Mr John Kamondo, the chief Mathingira location, whose population of 16,000 are in need of food. [...] And in Nyandarua North, area DC Hassan Farah yesterday appealed to the World Food Programme to give relief to 13,000 internally displaced people living in a 50-acre farm in Ol Kalou constituency. Mr Farah, who is also the district disaster committee chairman said the WFP food distribution programme set to end next week should continue until the displaced families find ways of fending for themselves.
The Daily Nation
Hunger in the news
17 February 2009

They Kill Journalists, Don't They?

Somalia has the sad distinction of being the quintessential failed state. It is also one of the most underreported disasters in the world. The one phenomenon that penetrates international headlines—piracy—is the offshore symptom of a land-based problem. [...] It is therefore most unsettling, to say the least, when a special representative of the secretary-general of the United Nations for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, speaks about the work of Somali journalists in highly derogatory, indeed inflammatory terms. [...] In the humanitarian community—to which I migrated from the world of pure journalism—our operating space is also shrinking due to security concerns, and Somalia is among the most dangerous places in the world. In 2008, two dozen aid workers were reported killed in Somalia, and this year, two employees of the World Food Program were shot dead, while four employees of Action Against Hunger and two European Commission-contracted pilots are currently being held hostage along with around 20 other humanitarian workers.
Slate
Hunger in the news
17 February 2009

WFP Starts Food Vouchers in Burkina Faso

The United Nations is giving food vouchers to poor families in Burkina Faso who have access to private sector markets, but can not afford higher food prices there. The innovative program is alsp helping local shopkeepers This is the first time the World Food Program is working through food vouchers in Africa. It is targeting more than 120,000 people in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, who have access to staples such as millet and sorghum, but can not afford them because their price is up more than 25 percent from last year. "We have markets in urban areas that are functioning properly. You have food in the markets, but it is still unaffordable for the poorest," says WFP West Africa spokeswoman Stephanie Savariaud.
Voice of America News
Hunger in the news
16 February 2009

Solar cookers: saving lives in Chad and Darfur

In one Darfur refugee camp in Chad, thousands of women have learned a whole new way to cook. Instead of relying on the usual wood-fueled fires, families are eating meals cooked by sunlight. Solar cooking could be saving their lives. [...] In the Iridimi camp, as with many other camps, the occupants are mostly women and children, as a large number of Darfur men have been killed. The women are tasked with caring for their own families and for orphans, and that means feeding everyone in their care with supplies distributed by aid organizati ons. Each month, the World Food Program gives each family a month's worth of food and firewood. The food typically lasts the month. The firewood doesn't.
HowStuffWorks.com
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

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