Tag Archives: WFP

Old Fangak field report

Stop Hunger Now works in dozens of countries around the world. Our implementing partners are dedicated and caring folks who are committed to helping the poor and hungry.

Old Fangak in South Sudan is the most remote and difficult place we work. The need there is immense and the challenges are almost unimaginable. But, by working together we are making real difference. Here is a report we received this past week from Gretchen Stone, a volunteer nurse working with Dr. Jill Seaman in the village.

Subject: Feeding issues

Lots of people here are hungry.  It’s the end of the dry season, which means the harvest finished about 4 months ago.  Old Fangak and its surrounding villages are normally home to 5000 souls. The resurgent civil war has meant a population boom of 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), most of whom arrived about a year ago.  You can imagine what that does to the food supply.  World Food Program provides food for IDPs, but WFP has its own issues. They were supposed to fly a month’s worth of food in this week, but emailed that they would be here April 7 instead–to which Jill wrote a very tactful letter saying she knows how challenged they must be, and how hungry folks are here–please don’t take this merely as a scheduling problem–and now they are coming on Tuesday!

But the feeding issues closest to home often sit right in our laps.

Many of the IDPs are big city folks.  You can tell by the way they dress.  Sometimes they have cell phones (no reception here, but they still play music) or fingernail polish. Women wear outfits that match, and often wigs with hundreds of tiny braids, and dangly gold earrings.

In the big city, they see doctors who tout infant formula in place of breast milk.  The market here no longer has bread for sale, let alone infant formula. The other day, a regal woman with her so-cute-you-want-to-eat-him three month old presented with an official letter from the commissioner, asking that we give her formula. Pity.  We explained that breast is best, and we can’t provide formula, but we could offer her some fortified milk powder to improve her supply.  She was not impressed.

Yesterday, a scrawny, shriveled 2 1/2 month old appeared.  His healthy-looking mom explained that his jaw wouldn’t grasp her nipple properly.  He weighed in at 2 kg even. His facial shape and muscle tone indicate a congenital problem, which we are woefully unable to diagnose, let alone do much about. Jill explained that this is “from God”.  We tried a bottle, but found that dribbling milk into his mouth with a syringe worked best.  They went home with a tub of milk powder.  We are not at all confident that he will live to finish it.

Then came the little sweetheart, with a child health card saying “Feeding problem. Refer Old Fangak.”

Her feeding problem?  When this kid was 4 days old, her mum was bitten by a cobra, and died.  Grandma spoon-fed her milk for 3 months–but then the cow died as well!  It had taken a week from the time the referral was written for Grandma to walk the 12 hours, with babe in this basket on her head, to request help.  We figured that was one of the better justifications for infant formula.  She went home with a bottle, mosquito net and blankets as well.

Now we have one tub left.  What baby out there needs it most?

World AIDS Day

Today is World Aids Day. HIV/AIDS is always linked to hunger and malnutrition.

In many countries in Africa the death toll from HIV/AIDS has left millions of orphans that struggle daily  to find sufficient food.  At the same time food production suffers from lack of productive workers.

Those suffering from HIV/Aids cannot take antiretroviral medicine with sufficient food,even if it is available. The medicine must be taken with food. Ending hunger will help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

I learned another fact about HIV/AIDS and hunger this morning:

Malnourished people living with HIV are two to six times more likely to die when starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) compared to people with optimal nutritional status.” –  Ertharin Cousin, Director of WFP

war and famine in South Sudan

This article by William Lambers is one more warning of the impending famine in South Sudan. Due to the seriousness of the situation I have taken the liberty to reprint it in its entirety.  Four million people are facing starvation. The global community needs to act now.

Kerry warns of mass starvation in South Sudan

July 25, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today warned that South Sudan is on the brink of famine. War between the South Sudanese government and opposition forces has destroyed food supplies, threatening millions with starvation.

Kerry is urging the two sides to build peace before it’s too late. In a statement today Kerry said,

This is not a crisis caused by drought or flood: it is a calamity created by conflict. Unless the fighting ends and a peace agreement is concluded, the number of those at risk of starvation — now as many as 3.9 million people, fully one-third of the population – will reach even more catastrophic levels.”

Since the war erupted, over 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. Many have lost their livelihoods in the process. With farmers unable to plant because of the fighting, hunger in the country has dramatically escalated. This is hardest on small children, who suffer lasting physical and mental damage, or death from malnutrition.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF are leading the hunger relief mission. The two agencies, and their partners, are low on funding. Wars in Syria, Iraq and the Central African Republic have demanded humanitarian resources, making it harder to focus on the South Sudan emergency. In fact, there are more refugees globally now than any time since World War II. Humanitarian agencies need a huge influx of funding to contend with famine threats in South Sudan and other areas.

WFP’s director, Ertharin Cousin, today pleaded for more support. Cousin stated,

“WFP, UNICEF and our partners here on the ground have been working tirelessly to bring assistance to those suffering the consequences of this conflict and we are ready to do more and to reach more. But if we are to rapidly expand our operations and save more lives, then we need more resources, and the international community has to act now.”

Both WFP and UNICEF rely on voluntary donations. WFP has set up a South Sudan relief fund. UNICEF USA also has a donation page to help.

South Sudan: “tens of thousands of under-fives will die”

Today (Easter, April 20, 2014) the United Nations reports that the violence in South Sudan has now displaced almost 1,000,000 people from their homes.  That huge displacement is causing hunger to rapidly increase throughout the country as it has since the violence first began escalating in December of last year.

The risk of famine is growing more imminent as time is running out to preposition necessary food before the rains start. Once the rains begin roads become totally impassable. Airlifts then have to be utilized and those are far more expensive. And the WFP mission in South Sudan is already low on funds. Food needs to be prepositioned and in place before the end of May or it will be too late.

This is just the latest in a string of reports that describe the worsening conditions in the world’s newest country. On March 27th, Hilde Johnson, the top UN peacekeeping official in South Sudan, warned of a pending famine for the country. In Johnson’s words,” Famine as it is being defined is likely within 5 months unless humanitarians…get all the food they need into the respective locations before the rains start. The clock is ticking and it’s a race against time.”

Johnson warned, “We think eight to ten hundred thousand people are in a very critical situation.” Even in March as Johnson was warning of famine,  reports were already coming in of malnutrition among those being displaced.

Valerie Guarnieri, the World Food Program Regional Director For East and Central Africa wrote, “We are concerned about reports of alarmingly high rates of malnutrition among children at refugee camps in neighboring countries, particularly Ethiopia. While we are working with partners to provide specialized nutritious foods for refugee children, the high levels of malnutrition are a sign that the humanitarian situation in inaccessible regions of South Sudan may be rapidly deteriorating.”

On April 11th UNICEF warned that 50,000 South Sudanese children would starve to death unless immediate action was taken, and the crisis could grow even worse. The UNICEF report stated that over 3.7 million people in South Sudan were suffering from hunger as food supplies had been disrupted by the escalating conflict.

Jonathan Veitch, the UNICEF Representative for South Sudan also warned of children starving. He stated, “Sadly, worse is yet to come. If conflict continues, and farmers miss the planting season, we will see child starvation on a scale never experienced here. If we cannot get more funds and better access to reach malnourished children in South Sudan, tens of thousands of under-fives will die.”

Veitch added, “These are not mere statistic. They are the children for whom South Sudan holds so much potential and promise. We must not fail the children of this new and fragile nation.”

Act now. Go to the Stop Hunger Now website for more information on how to help. Also look at the WFP and UNICEF websites, as well. Immediate action is needed to avert the senseless starvation of tens of thousands of infants and young children.

the loss of a moral champion

The world  has lost one of its true giants. Even though I knew it would soon happen, I was stunned yesterday when I heard of Nelson Mandela’s passing.

Like so many others of my generation, Nelson Mandela was a larger-than-life hero to me. He was in the ranks of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Desmond Tutu as real people who lived out their beliefs and never flinched when facing the ugly reality of global injustice. He was a flesh and blood champion of the poor and oppressed and demonstrated that one person can make a real difference in the world.

Living out his convictions, Nelson Mandela was a leader that helped change the world. He was a champion of peace, and never ceased to fight against injustice and hatred. Mandela recognized that hunger needed to be addressed as a moral issue. He was a constant inspiration to me and I have often used his wisdom and words in my writing. Was he perfect? Certainly not. But he was truly one of the greatest men of our time, and our world is a smaller, meaner place without him.

So today, with the rest of the world, I mourn the loss of a courageous leader and moral hero.  The following is an excerpt from a news release from the United Nations WFP.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today is mourning the loss of President Nelson Mandela. WFP, in a statement today said Mandela was “a champion against injustice and a true ally in the fight against hunger.”

Mandela delivered a special message to WFP’s staff in 2004, stating, “Hunger is an issue of social justice and not economics. Our economic approach to food and its distribution reflects our basic moral values. There are relatively poor countries where almost everyone is reasonably fed and richer ones where there is widespread malnutrition. The economic systems in these countries vary. Those who have succeeded have done so because they have made it a priority to end it. Hunger is a moral issue.”

May he rest in peace.