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
2 February 2009

Delta agricultural sector in ‘critical need’ of funding: UN

The United Nations said last week there was a “critical need” for funding to help rebuild the lives of millions of people in the agriculture sector whose livelihoods were shattered when cyclone Nargis battered the Ayeyarwady delta last May. A United Nations statement issued after a meeting of international donors in Yangon last Thursday said only US$16.3 million had been provided out of $58.4 million sought for the sector under a UN Revised Appeal for funding made last July. [...] It follows a UN report issued a day earlier that said food security was still a major concern in the delta, Myanmar’s main rice-producing region. The report by the World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organisation said rice production in cyclone-affected areas of the delta had fallen to half last year’s output.
The Myanmar Times
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Five-pound note buys two souvenirs and a wide smile in Zimbabwe

It was, in every respect but one, a perfectly normal purchase — an inspection of the carved wood animals on sale at a Harare flea market, the selection of a cheetah and hippopotamus, and some good-natured haggling. What made it remarkable was that The Times paid with a British £5 note, the currency of the colonial power from which Zimbabwe gained independence 29 years ago and which Robert Mugabe constantly denounces. The stallholder was delighted. “The Zimbabwean dollar is useless,” she declared. [...] Zimbabwe's once-flourishing agricultural sector has collapsed so dramatically that the World Food Programme says that seven million Zimbabweans — three quarters of those who have not fled — are now completely dependent on UN food aid. That is the largest number anywhere, except Afghanistan and Ethiopia, and the largest, proportionally, in the world.
The Times (UK)
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Hungry Again

Fears over global hunger are back, and this time there are two drivers—not only volatile commodity prices, but also job losses and plunging incomes around the world. A study released last week by the International Labor Organization predicted that if current economic conditions continue through the new year, 200 million workers, mostly in developing countries, will be pushed into extreme poverty by loss of jobs or lowered wages. "Our message is realistic, not alarmist," says ILO Director-general Juan Somavia. "We are now facing a global jobs crisis." And, by proxy, a potential food crisis. Even though agricultural commodity prices are down from their peak last summer, hunger is likely to increase this year in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which have the world's harshest labor markets and highest hunger levels, as well as in the Caribbean and parts of Central Asia. [...] A Chatham House report released last week notes that even the recent fall from peak prices is only temporary, as future supplies are likely to be constrained in part by a continuing lack of investment in agriculture.
Newsweek
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

KC misses UN World Food Programme event due to illness

Despite the absence of National Ambassador against Hunger KC Concepcion, Philippine Pizza, Inc. successfully turned over the amount of P1,299,909 to the United Nations World Food Programme last January 29 at the Mandarin Suites in Gateway Mall, Araneta Center. The amount was raised through donations made by Pizza Hut and Taco Bell customers around the country. Representing Philippine Pizza, Inc. was Chief Operating Officer Lars Peterson while WFP Country Director and Representative Stephen Anderson came to accept the donation. Cited as the biggest health dilemma facing mankind worldwide, hunger and malnutrition remain to be the United Nations top primary concern particularly to countries categorized under the so-called Third World bracket. Here in the Philippines, the UN's World Food Programme focuses its anti-hunger campaign in Mindanao.
GMA News TV
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Swaziland: Brighter future but the need is now

Goods rain, after years of drought, promises a better harvest for Swaziland in the next few months, but right now urban Swazis are struggling with soaring food prices in the shops. "It's one step forward, but one step backward," said Amy Dlamini, a food aid worker at a briefing of humanitarian officials last week by the Swaziland Vulnerability Assessment Committee. [...] The price of the staple starch, maize-meal, rose 25 percent from the end of 2007 to the end of 2008, enough to push the borderline vulnerable into making hard choices. "They usually opt to do without a meal," said Abdoulaye Balde, country representative for the World Food Programme (WFP). "Families that used to have two meals a day are having one." WFP and the UN Children's Agency, UNICEF, have announced shifts in aid distribution to target not just vulnerable children, who for several years have been fed at schools and neighbourhood care points, but also their families: in the past they had not always qualified for food relief.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

UN chief: Zimbabwe compromise is 'imperfect'

The U.N. chief said Monday that Zimbabwe's newly forged national unity government is an "imperfect" solution, and that it can only resolve the country's political crisis if President Robert Mugabe makes further progress. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon _ who met Mugabe on Sunday on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa _ said he urged him to move the country forward politically by taking important steps such as releasing political prisoners. [...] Zimbabwe has been in a political crisis since disputed presidential elections last year. Today, it has the world's highest official inflation rate, cholera has killed more than 3,000 people since August, and millions need food aid.
Washington Post / AP
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

UNHCR Seeks to Open Additional Refugee Camp in Kenya

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Tuesday it was holding consultations with the Kenyan government to open an additional refugee camp in northeast Kenya. Speaking during a meeting in Nairobi with Kenya's Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang, visiting UNHCR Deputy Commissioner Craig Johnstone said the additional camp in Fafi district will cater for an influx of the refugees from war-ravaged Somalia. Daadab, the largest camp for those fleeing conflict in Somalia, has already hosted 240,000 refugees against a capacity of 90,000. Johnstone said the UN agency is working with the World Food Program (WFP) to ensure the refugees do not go hungry as a result of the current famine being experienced in many parts of the country.
CRI / Xinhua
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Water - another global 'crisis'?

If you look at the numbers, it is hard to see how many East African communities made it through the long drought of 2005 and 2006. Among people who study human development, it is a widely-held view that each person needs about 20 litres of water each day for the basics - to drink, cook and wash sufficiently to avoid disease transmission. Yet at the height of the East African drought, people were getting by on less than five litres a day - in some cases, less than one litre a day, enough for just three glasses of drinking water and nothing left over. [...] A changing climate is only one of the factors likely to affect the amount of water at each person's disposal in future. A more populated world - and there could be another 2.5 billion people on the planet by 2050 - is likely to be a thirstier world. Those extra people will need feeding; and as agriculture accounts for about 70% of water use around the world, extra consumption for growing food is likely to reduce the amount available for those basic needs of drinking, cooking and washing.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Zambian Farmers Try their Hand at Fish Farming

The rising cost of food in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa has left close to 900 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition. This has led UN agencies such as the World Food Program and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to call on developing countries to invest in fish farming. From Kazungula District on the Zambia-Botswana Border, VOA English to Africa Service Reporter Sanday Chongo Kabange interviewed a retired police officer who is tackling the rising cost of food through aquaculture.
Voice of America News
Hunger in the news
1 February 2009

Barter beware

Before all else, a government must safeguard the basic needs of its citizens. Yet, from north Africa to China, and from Russia to south Asia, governments have started entering into a secretive web of barter deals as a substitute for global commodities markets, because the financing for the international food trade is drying up or becoming too expensive. This is a dangerous trend that rich and poor countries must work to reverse. It is understandable that food-importing countries use any available means to secure supplies. Being cut off from trade puts too much pressure on domestic food markets. In sub-Saharan Africa local food prices have increased even as global commodities prices have fallen. The World Food Programme has too few resources. But beyond the very short run, solutions based on barter will only make things worse.
Financial Times

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