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Horn of Africa Famine

The article by William Lambers, reprinted below tells the story. The crisis is rapidly escalating out of control.

Stop Hunger Now joins in calling for immediate action to help avert this unfolding tragedy.

Starvation in the Horn of Africa: we can stop this tragedy

William Lambers

, Global Hunger Examiner

July 6, 2011


They are calling it one of the worst droughts in 60 years to strike the Horn of Africa. Food is out of reach for 9 million people in the already impoverished countries of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and parts of Uganda.

Matt Croucher of Save the Children says, “Thousands of children could starve if we don’t get life-saving help to them fast. Parents no longer have any way to feed their children; they’ve lost their animals, their wells have dried up and food is too expensive to afford. We can stop this tragedy unfolding, but we only have half the money we need. We urgently need to raise the rest so we can save more children’s lives.”

Save the Children reports, “More than a quarter of children in the worst-hit parts of Kenya are now dangerously malnourished, and in Somalia malnutrition rates have reached 30 percent in some areas, making the Horn of Africa one of the hungriest places on earth.”

Rains that were needed to grow food did not come. Whatever food is available cannot be accessed because of high prices.

Adding to the tragedy is the civil conflict in Somalia, which is forcing many to flee to Kenya and Ethiopia where they crowd into refugee camps. Child malnutrition is on the rise in these camps.

Josette Sheeran, the director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says,  “resources are thin and at the very moment that we should be ramping up operations, we have been scaling back some programmes in Ethiopia and Somalia.” WFP, which aims to feed 6 million in the Horn of Africa, depends on voluntary contributions. However, many of it missions worldwide are low on funding.

Both WFP and Save the Children have launched emergency appeals to save lives in the drought-stricken region. Food aid now can break the domino effect of hunger taking place in the Horn of Africa. Failure to act will push more people deeper into dangerous and even deadly malnutrition. Children who are malnourished can suffer lasting physical and mental damage.


What can you do to help? Do what Americans did in 1947 to fight hunger in the World War II affected countries by feeding a “silent guest” at your next meal, this time the guest being a starving child in the Horn of Africa. You send the donation to feed that silent guest to one of the aid agencies, such as Save the Children and the World Food Programme.

If everyone takes in a Silent Guest at one of your next meals, so many lives in the Horn of Africa can be saved. Even a donation of 1 dollar can mean 4 or 5 meals that might make all the difference.

Two places you can donate are the Save the Children Child Hunger Crisis Fund and the UN World Food Programme’s Save Lives in Drought-Stricken East Africa appeal.


food speculation and hunger

Stop Hunger Now believes food and food security has to be a basic human right. When rising global food prices threaten the world’s poor with more malnutrition and and growing hunger, it touches our deepest moral principles. As I have often said, hunger is a spiritual issue.

This year has already seen record highs in the FAO’s Global Food Price Index. And with every rise in food prices, the poor are more at risk. Now, even the Pope says it is time for action. A detailed article posted yesterday by Reuters is reprinted below.

Pope says “selfish” food speculation causing hunger

Posted 2011/07/01 at 7:56 am EDT

ROME, July 1, 2011 (Reuters) — Pope Benedict said on Friday financial trading based on “selfish attitudes” is spreading poverty and hunger and called for more regulation of food commodity markets to guarantee everyone’s right to life.

“Poverty, underdevelopment and hunger are often the result of selfish attitudes which, coming from the heart of man, show themselves in social behavior and economic exchange,” the pope told a U.N. food agency conference.

“How can we ignore the fact that food has become an object of speculation or is connected to movements in a financial market that, lacking in clear rules and moral principles, seems anchored on the sole objective of profit?” he asked.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index hit a record high earlier this year, reviving memories of soaring prices in 2007-08 that sparked riots in developing countries.

That gave fresh urgency to the debate about how to improve a global food system that leaves some 925 million people hungry.

There is controversy over how much a new wave of investments by funds into commodities has contributed to pushing up prices.

The issue has pitted French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who blames speculators for surging food prices and unrest in some countries, against other countries who see little interest in more market regulation.

In June, G20 farm ministers struck a deal that paved the way to more global cooperation on agricultural issues but steered clear of concrete regulatory measures.

The pope said a reform of agricultural markets was urgent to ensure everyone has enough to eat.

“Eating touches on the fundamental right to life. Guaranteeing that means reacting directly and without delay to those factors in the agricultural sector that are negatively affecting the capacity to manufacture and distribute.”

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by Mark Heinrich)

North Korean hunger crisis imminent

An article released today by the KAISER DAILY GLOBAL HEALTH POLICY REPORT states that rising international food prices and collapsing international aid are having a huge impact on food security within North Korea. Not only have rations for the entire 23 million citizens been cut in half, even the North Korean military is now suffering from malnourishment and hunger.

The article reprinted below is frightening in its possible implications.

Experienced North Korean Aid Worker Says Hunger Crisis Imminent

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

North Korea has significantly cut public food aid and could be heading toward a hunger crisis, said Katharina Zellweger, head of a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s office in Pyongyang and “one of the most experience aid workers” in the country, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Food rations have been cut to as low as 150 grammes (5.3 ounces) a day per person in some parts of the country as foreign donations collapse and higher international prices make imports more expensive, said Katharina Zellweger,” the news service writes. “Food supplies to the estimated population of 23 million people have been controlled through a public distribution system for decades,” AFP notes. “Diplomats say the rations have been halved over the past 18 months. One hundred grammes of rice produces about 250-350 calories a day, experts said.” Zellweger reported seeing “a lot more malnourished children” during recent travels in the country. However, “[a]t the same time, Zellweger, who has been active in North Korea for 15 years, said there are definite signs of change” in the capital, such as the emergence of a “new moneyed middle class,” AFP writes (6/28).  

In related news, Global Post’s “The Rice Bowl” blog reports on a new video filed over several months by a North Korean journalist.

“There are some images we might expect to see in a reclusive state known to be experiencing a famine – children caked in dirt begging for food from people who have nothing to give. But the video also sheds new light on how severe the food shortage is. For the first time, it seems, the all-powerful army, which used to be immune from famine, is also going hungry, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp, which obtained the exclusive footage this week after it was smuggled out to China,” according to the blog (Lodish, 6/27). In the video, a “young North Korean soldier is filmed saying to the reporter’s hidden camera that ‘everybody is weak,'” a second AFP article reports. “Within my troop of 100 comrades, half of them are malnourished,” he said (6/27).

Horn of Africa drought

The WFP statement on the impact of the drought affecting the Horn of Africa is reprinted below in its entirity. Stop Hunger Now strongly supports the efforts of the WFP, and encourages all caring and compassionate folks to realize that hunger kills, even if it isn’t in the headlines.

Please go to the WFP website and learn more, or contact SHN to find out what you can do to help.


Desperate hunger is looming across the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of millions who are struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and conflict. 

Around 9 million people – many of them women and children – now require humanitarian assistance across Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and parts of Uganda.  The World Food Programme is aiming to feed more than 6 million of the most vulnerable, but resources are thin and at the very moment that we should be ramping up operations, we have been scaling back some programmes in Ethiopia and Somalia.

The delivery of emergency food assistance is a vital part of the Horn of Africa Action Plan the humanitarian community developed in 2010 to strengthen the resilience of communities caught up in this creeping disaster, and to protect assets such as farming tools, and livestock that help them to produce food.  It is essential that we move quickly to break the destructive cycle of drought and hunger that forces farmers to sell their means of production as part of their survival strategy.

While we work tirelessly to protect the smallholder farmers and pastoralists of the Horn of Africa region, we must also respond to the needs of those who already face a graver plight.  Conflict in Somalia continues to force civilians from their homes, and around 10,000 are arriving each week at crowded Kenyan refugee camps.  The number of malnourished children receiving supplementary or therapeutic feeding in the camps has already tripled in 2011 – a clear sign of the seriousness of the problem and the need for swift international action across the whole region.

A slowly evolving regional hunger crisis may not have the immediate impact of a mega-emergency like the Haitian earthquake, or Pakistan floods, but the drought and rising malnutrition in the Horn affects more people and its effects are equally devastating.

land grabs threaten global food security

The FAO hosted the 27th annual McDougall Memorial Food Security Lecture yesterday. The speaker was Kofi Annan. His address highlighted the growing threat to global food security from the practice of land grabbing.

I have reprinted the article in its entirity as it provides such a clear presentation of the dangers now faced by the poor and hungry of the world.

Stop Hunger Now is against any exclusive deals, protectionism, and land grabbing that puts the poor more at risk of hunger and malnutrition. Global food security is a basic right of the entire human family.

Ending hunger in our lifetime requires all of the world’s nations and peoples to be working together with a common purpose. Any retreat from this is moving in the wrong direction and should be protested in the strongest terms possible.

Annan warns hunger could become permanent disaster
Author: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Published on Jun 25, 2011 – 8:40:13 AM

Kofi Annan addresses the 37th FAO Conference, 25 June 2011.

ROME, June 25, 2011 – Kofi Annan, chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, has warned that the current food security crisis, with almost one billion people hungry, could turn into a permanent disaster, endangering millions of lives as well as international cooperation.

“Along with tackling the linked problem of climate change, delivering global food and nutrition security is the challenge of our time,” he said.

Delivering the 27th McDougall Memorial Lecture on food security today, the former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner said, “if countries cannot come together successfully to deliver food security – this most basic of human needs – our hopes for wider international co-operation look doomed.”

He added that over the past few years there has been “an ominous retreat from the idea of a common purpose based on shared values.

We have seen a worrying rise in protectionism, unilateral export bans, land grabs and exclusive deals that meet the food needs of the rich but not the poor.”

Frank Lidgett McDougall, an Australian citizen was one of the founders of what was then the League of Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation in 1935. Every two years, before the FAO Conference, the McDougall Lecture is delivered by a prominent personality working in the field of agriculture and hunger alleviation.

FAO lead

Annan said FAO can take the lead in increasing the transparency of global food stocks, and therefore dampening speculation and market volatility, by compiling more accurate and accessible information on the quantity and quality of these stocks.

FAO said last week food prices will continue to rise over the next 10 years, threatening the food security of millions of people in developing and even developed countries. World food output will have to rise 70 percent by 2050 as the planet’s population climbs to 9.2 billion from an estimated 6.9 billion in 2010.

Annan was speaking at the opening of the 37th session of the FAO Conference in which the Organisation is expected to elect a new Director General.

Land grabbing criticised

In his lecture, the African statesman also hit out at the phenomena of “land grabbing” by which countries are buying or leasing land in other nations to increase their own food security.

“It is very disturbing that a recent report found that agricultural land that adds up to the size of France was bought in Africa in 2009 alone by hedge funds and other speculators,” he said.

“It is neither just nor sustainable for farmland to be stolen from communities in this way nor for food to be exported when there is hunger on the doorstep. Local people will not stand for this abuse – and neither should we.”

Annan did say, however, that large commercial farms have a role to play but must integrate their activities within communities, serving as a hub to link smallholder farmers to value chains — markets, supermarkets and agribusiness.

Research needed

The former UN Secretary General also called for more research into the benefits and impacts on food security of crop-based biofuels, for more focus on smallholder farmers and women and emphasised the need for increased research and development.

“Even within existing cultivated land, a doubling of cereal yields would turn Africa into a major food surplus region,” he said.

Annan called for fairer trade rules and farm subsidies, pointing out that OECD countries spend over $385 billion dollars supporting their farmers.

“This, according to Oxfam, was nearly 80 times the money spent in development aid to agriculture – a figure which had fallen by over 70 percent, in real terms, in the previous two decades,” he said.

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Congress targets the hungry

Once again, William Lambers has said it far better than I could. And what he has said needs to be shared. I have reprinted his blog below. Please read it and pass it on.

Rick Leach, the CEO of World Food Program USA, quoted in Lamber’s article, is a good friend of Stop Hunger Now. His comments are always right to the point. He knows what he is talking about.

Slashing the McGovern-Dole school feeding programs just makes no sense. It is totally counterproductive. We know that school feeding programs work, and work extremely well.

All of us who care for the world’shungry need to take action to stop this shortsighted and morally outrageous budget proposal by the House of Representatives.

Follow the link at the bottom of the article. We need to stop Congress from cutting these funds for international feeding programs. And those most in need cannot speakup for themselves.


A famous World War II slogan was, “Food will win the war and write the peace.” Today, the House of Representatives, with its budget proposal, has a new take on this slogan: No food. The House is planning over $800 million in cuts to international food aid programs.

Richard Leach, of the World Food Program USA, said, “never before have I seen Congress propose these kinds of budget cuts to life-saving global hunger programs. Never.” The food aid reductions will slash the U.S. Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole international school meals programs, all this with a global hunger crisis afflicting nearly 1 billion people worldwide.

Even without budget cuts, food aid programs are not given much funding, relatively speaking. In a given year, the U.S. might spend a few billion on food aid. Compare that to the cost of a post-cold war nuclear weapons program which was estimated at 52 billion dollars alone in 2008.

So the House is essentially making deep cuts to an already underfunded branch of our foreign policy. The consequences will be devastating. Food is the foundation of peace, as we found out following World War II with the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.

Look at the international challenges we face. How do we build peace and stability in conflict-torn Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Iraq or Yemen? This will not happen if these nations suffer food insecurity, high infant malnutrition rates, and lack of food for education programs. How do we expect Haiti to rebuild and prosper without food for its people.

The cuts proposed by the House are being made with little thought to our own national security strategy. Lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board and start over. Cutting international food aid will do very little for fixing the deficit, but will have grave consequences to our national security.

Visit the World Food Program USA take action page for contacting Congress.


“food can tip the balance”

Over a billion of our brothers and sisters suffer from constant hunger. The proposed budget cuts would have a devastating impact on their already tragic circumstances.

In the article by William Lambers copied below, he does a masterful job at pointing out that proposed cuts would also threaten our security, as well. Food security and global security are intergrally linked.

Ending hunger is absolutely essential to achieving true global security. Peace and justice cannot exist in a world where a billion people are stalked by hunger.

Stop Hunger Now has a vision of ending hunger in our lifetime. The proposed budget cuts to international food aid will not help achieve that vision. They are short-sighted and morally indefensible.

Cuts in food aid threaten lives and national security

  • February 16th, 2011 2:55 pm ET

The budget cuts to international food aid, as proposed by the House of Representatives, will threaten millions of lives. These funding cuts, which total over $800 million, will cause immense damage to our foreign policy.
There is a hunger crisis afflicting nearly 1 billion people worldwide. This crisis is hardest on children who, trapped in war or disaster zones, or living in poverty, depend on access to proper foods for their survival and growth.
How do we expect peace and stability to emerge in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan and other countries if the people are hungry and malnourished?   We all saw in Egypt how high food prices and malnutrition caused massive discontent among the population. Food security is integral to any nation’s well-being.
The cost of food aid is a relatively small part of the budget. There is not much to be saved by cutting hunger-fighting programs. Clearly, there are  programs far less important that can be cut instead. Look at some of the ongoing waste identified by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
According to Reuters, Gates  “blasted lawmakers blocking the Pentagon’s five-year effort to cancel a $6 billion interchangeable engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter being built by General Electric (GE.N) and Britain’s Rolls-Royce Group (RR.L).”
Gates said, “We consider it an unnecessary and extravagant expense.”  If Congress were to budget a small portion of that money toward the World Food Programme, it could fund operations in multiple countries where peace and reconstruction are on the line. Food is what can tip the balance.
But instead, food aid is being reduced in the House proposed budget with little regard to the consequences.   We can cut every program we have, but we still need to have a foreign policy. Fighting hunger and boosting agricultural production are crucial elements of our foreign policy, and not emphasized nearly enough.
The question to lawmakers is have you thought these proposed budget cuts through? Considering that hunger and malnutrition afflict nearly 1 billion people worldwide suggests that the House of Representatives has not.
Visit the World Food Program USA take action page to contact Congress.

October: Food Security Month

Tomorrow is World Food Day, but USAID recognizes the entire month of October as Food Security Month. Their press release, copied below in its entirety explains what food security involves. It is far more than just food on the table.

Stop Hunger Now is a staunch supporter of the Millennium Development Goals. Hunger and extreme poverty can be cut in half. And the other seven goals are also achievable, as well.

October 2010: Food Security Month

Chairwoman Rose Peter of the Upendo Women Growers Association in Mlandize, Kibaha, Tanzania, shows off the first batch of sweet peppers the women have grown in their new greenhouse.

Young woman washing corn in Joyabaj, Guatemala.

Alimatu Zakaria of Suglo women’s rice processing group in Tamale sieving parboiled paddy

Improving tomato crop production in Honduras.  USAID's Rural Economic Diversification Project, (RED) has assisted farmers to increase their crop production not only to feed their families, but to sell to grocery stores to improve the family income.

Food security is about more than reducing global chronic hunger. Food security is about economic security, environmental security, and human security. It is also about adequate nutrition, ensuring that children, especially under the age of two, are receiving quality food to foster their development.

According to a recent FAO report, there are now 925 million chronically hungry people in the world. While this number is down from one billion in 2009, it is still unacceptably high. The Obama Administration demonstrated its commitment to address global hunger through ground-breaking initiatives such as Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative. In a whole-of-government approach, USAID is working across U.S. agencies through these initiatives to tackle one of the most serious development issues: food security.

This month, in support of USAID’s Food Security Month, we are reaffirming our commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, most specifically, MDG 1-to reduce by half the number of people who suffer from hunger.

USAID’s Approach

USAID is making long-term, large-scale investments in a small number of partner countries to concentrate our resources on the approaches we know work well. We understand that country ownership provides the most effective means to coordinate development efforts and achieve sustainability, so we are aligning our resources with country-owned plans to address global hunger.

The Feed the Future Initiative is a renewed commitment to agriculture, investing $3.5 billion over three years in agricultural development, a proven lever for combating food insecurity and an engine for broader economic growth, prosperity and stability. Feed the Future aims to improve lives by focusing on the important role of gender, private sector investment, research, and nutrition.

For nearly 60 years, USAID Food for Peace has brought hope and nourishment to the hungry corners of the world. Food for Peace responds to natural disasters and complex emergencies worldwide while also promoting long-term food security through agriculture and natural resource management; health and household nutrition; and education, and microenterprise. During FY 2009 (pdf, 1.92mb), Food for Peace provided more than $2.6 billion to assist approximately 61 million people in 61 countries.

Nutrition is a major objective of both the Global Health and Feed the Future initiatives and is integral to USAID’s development programs across sectors. Addressing undernutrition is not just more food, it is the right food, to the right target at the right time. Agriculture programs are designed to not only improve access to food, but to improve its quality. Humanitarian assistance programs for the most vulnerable aim to prevent undernutrition—rather than treat it when it might be too late. USAID health programs deliver a package of holistic nutrition interventions—and maximize benefits to women and young children by coupling these efforts with water-, sanitation-, and health-systems. .