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
26 January 2009

School lunches can nourish hope

Henri is just 11, but already his prematurely wizened face is that of a grown-up - a casualty of a daily job breaking rocks in the sun. By contrast, his small body resembles that of the average American 8-year-old. I met Henri last fall in Guatemala, while taking leave from my job with the World Food Programme. Guatemala has the highest child malnutrition rate in the Western Hemisphere, and like many children, Henri bears hunger's marks. Yet thanks to an alternative school program and his own determination, Henri is able to study in the afternoon. In fact, he is the best math student in his class. [...] The World Food Programme provides meals to an average of 20 million schoolchildren each year. Often, the organization assists children who first came to school just to get a meal; they were too weak to focus on their studies. But with regular attendance - and meals - they are able to learn. Feeding children at school nourishes them and keeps them coming back. With more education and training, the Henris of the world can create a more stable society. But first they have to get out of the sun and into school.
Baltimore Sun
26 January 2009

The Poor Ponder at Saleh’s Mosque

"I scratch my head in surprise when I see Al-Saleh Mosque," said 42 year-old farmer Ali Najee Thabet. The opening of the giant new mosque named after Yemen's president 2 months ago has confused the poor throughout the country, mainly when they hear it cost a surprising $60 million, a massive amount in a country where poor people are struggling to survive. [...] The United Nation World Food Program (WFP) Representative and Country Director Mohamed El-Kohen revealed that WFP warns of new horror times across the globe for poor people in Yemen, mainly because of the price hikes, hinting that hunger and food shortage are the way to political instability, especially in a country which many of its population are wracked by poverty. Additionally, WFP reported that Yemen is the second poorest Arab state, just next to Somalia. Yemen's current population is estimated over 22 million and it has the highest birth mortality rate in the world with an average of nearly 7 children per woman.
Yemen Post
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Transport costs, starvation and SA’s real bottom line

There may be few questions asked at the scene of disaster more terrifying than, how did we get here? [...] South Africans should consider carefully whether the warnings sounded by grain millers and farmers last week, that the country’s contracting freight rail service and its crumbling road network posed a threat to food security, are such a sign. [...] It is important to note that these conditions do not describe anything approaching a famine, as the World Food Programme (WFP) points out. A famine occurs when food insecurity is so acute that entire communities are migrating in search of food. The assumption is that even where conditions are dire, subsistence farming in SA still provides a degree of access to food that is relatively affordable.
Business Day
Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

UN official urges donors to release billions pledged for global food crisis

The United Nations urged donors Monday to release quickly billions of dollars in aid pledged at a food crisis summit last year after riots in developing countries over soaring prices. Jacques Diouf, director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and other delegates to an international meeting on food security warned that the global economic crisis must not cause countries to neglect the nearly billion people in the world that the U.N. says do not get enough to eat. The forum, organized by Spain and the United Nations, was designed to be a follow up to a 180-nation summit in Rome in June. [...] Josette Shearan, executive director of the World Food Program, said developing countries dependent on agriculture run the risk of getting left out as the world focuses on tumbling stock markets, flagging economic growth and failing banks. As people in developed countries fixate on Wall Street and Main Street, she told the conference, "we must not forget places with no streets." Shearan identified four effects the financial crisis is already having on the hunger crisis: remittances to poor countries like Haiti are down, nations that depend on exports of farm goods are suffering because of the economic slowdown in buyer countries, investment in agricultural infrastructure is declining and the credit crunch is particularly painful for small-scale farmers who need to borrow money for seeds and other supplies.
Baltimore Sun / AP
Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

UN debates global food cost rise

Just because the issue of food prices has not been in the headlines recently it has not gone away. Although prices have fallen from the highs recorded during the unprecedented spike at the beginning of 2008, they have not fallen back to where they had been before the crisis began. And many of the factors that contributed to the rise then are still driving prices up. [...] A World Bank report on economic prospects for 2009 concluded that it is not inevitable that there will be shortages of food and oil, but that careful policies need to be followed. The author of the report, Andrew Burns, said aid needs to be better targeted. "Action is needed at the global level to discourage export bans of food grains, strengthen agencies like the World Food Programme, and improve information about and coordination of existing domestic grain reserves," he said.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Warning of 'food crunch' with prices poised to rise

The world faces "the real risk of a food crunch" if governments do not take immediate action to address the agricultural impact of climate change and water scarcity, according to an authoritative report out today. Chatham House, the London-based think-tank, suggests the recent fall in food prices is only temporary and that they are set to resume an upward trend once the world emerges from the current downturn. "There is therefore a real risk of a 'food crunch' at some point in the future, which would fall particularly hard on import-dependent countries and on poor people everywhere," the report states. "Food prices are poised to rise again." [...] Josette Sheeran, head of the UN's World Food Programme, said she was expecting that this year would be at least as "challenging" as last year, when the number of undernourished rose by 40m to 963m people. "We are not seeing an alleviation of the hunger pressure," she told the Financial Times.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Government to release P500 million more for humanitarian assistance to Mindanao

The Philippines will release an additional P500 million for humanitarian assistance to Mindanao as the government and the European Union (EU) renewed commitments to provide support to families affected by violence in Central Mindanao and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). [...] Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo thanked the EU for its two grants totaling €6.5 million EURO for humanitarian relief. International organizations and NGOs such as the World Food Program (WFP), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Organization are implementing the grants for Migration, and Oxfam GB.
Philstar
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Japan to provide 9.5 million dollars in rice aid to Philippines

Japan will extend 9.5 million dollars in rice aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the strife-torn southern Philippine region of Mindanao, a Japanese embassy statement said Monday. The aid will be in the form of 7,500 metric tons of rice, which will be distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP) to people displaced by fighting between government troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Mindanao.
Earth Times / Deutsche Presse Agentur
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Kenya dissolves cereals board

The Kenyan government on Monday dissolved the National Cereals and Produce Board (NGPB) after carrying out an audit on its operations and structure. Agriculture Minister William Ruto said the board managers have been sent home and four new members of the board have been named. [...] Some 10 million Kenyans need food aid because of shortages and the government has appealed for emergency funds to deal with the matter. The UN World Food Program (WFP) said on Thursday it will increase food aid to 3.2 million hungry Kenyans who are facing food crisis. Last week, WFP spokeswoman Gabrielle Menezes told journalists in Nairobi that the UN agency plans to provide food aid for 3.2 million adults and infants and 850,000 school students. Menezes said the organization is currently carrying out an assessment in the affected parts to determine the extent of the famine and drought that has left about 10 million people or more starving.
Xinhua
Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

Kofi Annan warns against blinkers in crisis

The world's economic woes cannot be allowed to eclipse other key priorities, including protecting people from climate change and feeding the hungry, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday. In an interview ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Annan also condemned recent fighting in Gaza as "appalling" and said the piracy near Somalia served as another warning of the risks of letting simmering crises fester. Referring to estimates from humanitarian agencies that the global food crisis could push 100 million more people into hunger, Annan said: "One hundred million starving people are as urgent as some of the issues we are fully focused on."
Reuters

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