Hunger's global hotspots

In regions wracked by violence or submerged by floods, the first emergency is how to deliver enough food as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here are some of the crises counted among WFP's "global hotspots".

Introduction

In regions wracked by violence or submerged by floods, the first emergency is how to deliver enough food as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here are some of the crises counted among WFP's "global hotspots".

Afghanistan

Growing insecurity remains the major challenge for delivering food to populations who are in need, particularly in the southern and south-eastern regions.

Heavy spring rains and floods have worsened the conditions of roads and have delayed or prevented food deliveries.

Flood response efforts continue in much of the country with the exception of the north-eastern region - where on-site assessments are still ongoing. WFP has delivered food assistance to over 85,000 flood-affected in 77 districts of 13 provinces since early April.

Cooperation

Together with Government and other UN agencies, WFP is responding to the drought, intending to provide food assistance to up to 1.9 million people each month until the next harvest in May/June.

Stocks of cereals and pulses will be depleted by August-September. This requires an immediate response from donors to avoid disrupting implementation of key activities.

WFP provides food to poor, food-insecure families, schoolchildren, teachers, illiterate people, tuberculosis patients and their families, battle-affected internally displaced persons - with a particular emphasis on children, the disabled, vulnerable women and girls.

Chad

WFP is operating in a challenging security environment in the east of the country. Security concerns are the main constraints to humanitarian operations in the country.

In addition to assistance for Sudanese refugees WFP is also providing food aid for IDPs displaced as a result of inter-ethnic fighting in eastern Chad. Over the past month the IDP caseload has increased to about 140,000.

WFP's Executive Director Josette Sheeran visited Chad on Saturday, 28 April 2007 and met with government and donor country representatives to discuss assistance for some 365,000 refugees and internally displaced.

Pre-posititioning

In support of the ED’s visit, WFP’s West and Central Africa Regional Director arrived in Ndjamena on 24 April and visited eastern Chad on 26 April 2007.

WFP is currently concerned with pre-positioning enough food stocks for the Sudanese refugees and IDPs before the start of the rainy season in June, when roads are officially closed and most camps become inaccessible.

WFP needs to pre-position up to 30,000 mt of food for 5 months in the East.

Congo D.R.

Thousands of civilians have fled renewed fighting in the north east where violent clashes between various militias and government troops over recent weeks have forced more than 64,000 people to flee their homes in North Kivu province alone.

Some victims, who have gathered in makeshift camps 100 km from Goma, have reported that thousands of others are still living in the bush, hiding during the day and going to their fields at night.

In response, WFP has distributed more than 1,000 metric tons of food to 68,000 displaced people in North Kivu and is currently distributing food to 10,000 people in the localities of Kiwanja and Kinyagoni.

More pledges needed

From January to June 2007, WFP aims to feed more than 750,000 people each month with 6,700 mt of food. Most of the beneficiaries are displaced persons in eastern DRC.

WFP will need additional pledges for the period beginning May 2007 to ensure a steady flow of assistance for the next project, starting in July 2007; vulnerable people in DRC will need support for a considerable period following the first free elections in 46 years last year.

In South Kivu province, following government troops’ recent raids to disband uncontrolled militias, about 500 mt of WFP food will not be delivered to over 4,500 households - i.e. 22,500 individuals.

The UNHCR and WFP are hosting a joint exhibition of photos from eastern Congo, which opens on April 25 in London. "Exposed and Hungry: Life in eastern Congo" is a collection of images portraying civilians caught up in the fighting and families returning home.

DPRK

Currently, WFP is reaching just 3 percent of the population (ie. 700,000 beneficiaries) due to limited funding.

The Government has indicated new openness regarding the possibility of having WFP expand the size of its operation currently programmed and budgeted to provide 75,000 tons/year to 1.9 million beneficiaries.

Only five contributions (ie. CERF, Germany, Luxembourg and now Australia and Turkey) have been confirmed to the PRRO since the beginning of the year.

Pipeline break

WFP welcomes the US$1.5 million donation from Australia but points out that, despite this new donation, still expects the pipeline for cereals (wheat and wheat flour) to break for a full month in June.

WFP’s food supplies will progressively start being depleted over the coming months which will correspond to the “lean season” that will be particularly harsh and difficult this year.

On 21 April, the Republic of Korea announced a bilateral contribution to DPRK of 400,000 tons of rice. The rice will not arrive in DPRK before the end of May at the earliest.

Ethiopia

WFP's Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, arrived in Ethiopia on 23 April, on her first overseas mission since she assumed her post in April 2007.

She held a series of high-level meetings, including with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, and held talks with traders and market experts at two round table discussions.

During her two-day visit, she examined how WFP, the largest purchaser of surplus grain in Ethiopia, can explore new opportunities to further support food markets and trade in the country.

Local purchase

In 2006, WFP purchased 779,634 metric tons of food from Africa, of which 158,214 metric tons was purchased locally costing some US$37 million, ranking Ethiopia second in the top fifteen countries supplying food to WFP for purchase.

Seasonal rains in the central and southern parts of Somali region were reportedly more sporadic in the past week, lowering the previously rising water level in the main Shabelle River, thus diminishing threats of flooding.

Unprecedented flooding

Last year over 700 people died in unprecedented flooding throughout much of the country. Unofficial estimates say over 500,000 people were affected, many of whom were forced to leave their homes and live in temporary shelters after having been displaced by flood waters.

WFP Ethiopia continues to face serious pipeline breaks for a number of its programmes, the most immediate being for refugees and targeted supplementary feeding.

Kenya

The short rains assessment report issued in April, found a much-reduced requirement for free-food distribution in Kenya.

It recommended that food resources be used as a safety net to support the most vulnerable in collaboration with other approaches such as cash transfers and food for assets creation.

In some areas, general food distributions will transition into such approaches.

School feeding

Therefore, WFP will provide free-food assistance to 919,000 people in 10 districts, while 271,000 primary school children will be helped under the expanded school feeding programme and 120,000 people will be targeted for selective feeding.

A further 100,700 people will be targeted for cash/food-for-assets projects. Eleven districts will no longer receive emergency food aid because of improved food security situation following last year’s drought and floods.

The assessment put gross food requirements for the next six months at 85,000 mt, valued at US$48 million, for 1.3 million people. Of this, 60,000 mt is already resourced either in-country or in the pipeline, leaving a net requirement by WFP of 25,000 mt or US$14 million.

Causes of vulnerability

Overall, the assessment noted that it is critical for the government and its partners to seize the opportunity of improved food security to implement programmes addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability by assisting communities to recover before the next drought.

WFP is preparing for any new influx of asylum-seekers from Somalia into Kenya whenever the border, closed by the Kenyan Government since 3 January, reopens.

New arrivals

During 2006, there were some 34,000 new arrivals from Somalia to Dadaab.

Despite the border closure, 2,200 people have arrived from Somalia since January.

WFP is providing food assistance to them and has pre-positioned several months of food stocks in the camps, including HEBs and BP5s, to ensure an immediate response in case of a larger influx

Occupied Palestinian territories

WFP remains concerned about the continuing violence and kidnappings in Gaza. UN staff are working under extremely hazardous conditions to bring vital aid and daily services to the population in Gaza. They can only continue to do so with the full support of all parties concerned.

A WFP/FAO report warned that rising unemployment and poverty, coupled with an economic crisis, are posing acute challenges to food security.

Increasing restrictions on trade and movement as a result of the closures and barrier in oPt in 2006 have led to the gradual fragmentation of the economy. Previously self-reliant sectors of the population are increasingly aid dependent.

Decline

The weakening economy is leading to a marked decline in living standards. Some 80 percent of the population in Gaza and 60 percent in the West Bank were found to be selling off assets to buy food.

The poorest families are totally reliant on assistance, with no electricity or heating and lack of access to clean water, putting their long-term health at risk.

Thirty-four percent of the population in oPt remains food insecure.

Sri Lanka

Renewed hostilities between the LTTE and the Government Security Forces since April 2006 have led to the displacement of roughly 302,373 civilians and disrupted the livelihoods and income-generating activities for thousands more.

The districts of Jaffna, 'the Vanni', Trincomalee and Batticaloa, all in the North and East of Sri Lanka, have been the worst affected.

WFP remains concerned about the continued fighting in Batticaloa and the recent commencement of skirmishes on the southern Vanni border, resulting in large numbers of IDPs.

Deteriorating situation

It is now estimated that around 139,905 IDPs in Batticaloa district alone need immediate relief assistance.

Overall WFP estimates that more than 400,000 displaced and conflict-affected people are in need of emergency food assistance in the North and East due to the current crisis and deteriorating situation.

Presently WFP is providing about 70 percent of the food required for the Batticaloa IDPs – feeding 100,000 people including 65 percent of the camp residents and 75 percent of the people with host families.

IDPs

NGOs are providing food for 18 percent of IDPs and the Government has committed to provide for the remaining 12 percent.

While donors have pledged resources during recent weeks, more resources are urgently needed by WFP to continue to support displaced and affected populations.

Current food stocks will be utilised by late June. Aid agencies distributing complementary foods are also in need of resources if they are to continue to provide this service.

Sudan

WFP’s new Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, completed her first field trip to Africa, covering Ethiopia, Sudan and Chad.

During the visit, the Government of southern Sudan has pledged US$55 million towards WFP construction projects -- US $41 million for the Road Repair and Mine Clearance project and US$14 million towards the rehabilitation of several airstrips to make them usable year-round.

The announcement was made by Minister of Roads and Transport Madame Rebecca Garang Nyandeng, during a meeting with WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

The ED travelled to North Darfur on April 26, where visited Kassab IDP camp (pop. 22,000) near Kutum, about 100 km north of El Fasher.

She viewed a food distribution and presented local women with hand mills for grinding cereals.

During the visit, the ED called on all parties to respect the security of humanitarian workers and the people they are trying to assist in Darfur.