Category: "Food Shortage"

A grotesque symbol of starving Africa

July 16th, 2011
SSANYU KALIBBALA/ACTIONAID Mothers, especially, bind their stomachs to lessen hunger pangs: 'Only the rich around here don't tie a rope in times like this,' says Zippora Mbungo (above) of Makima, Kenya

A grotesque symbol of starving Africa

Desperate women bind their stomachs to deaden hunger pains, eating next to nothing so children can be fed

By David Randall and Nada Issa

Increasing numbers of children are dropping dead on the long trek to refugee camps. Those who do get there are more severely malnourished than ever before. And, says the UN, the number of people under threat has now reached 11 million – equivalent to every man, woman and child in Belgium facing starvation. Thus, the chronic food crisis of the Horn of Africa edges with every hungry day towards full-blown famine.

One image captures the degrading awfulness now facing millions. It is not that of a wide-eyed, swollen-bellied child crying for food – although there are countless numbers of them. It is the sight of mothers using rope to bind their stomachs so they will deaden the pangs of hunger as they give what little food they can get to their children – a grotesque parody of the gastric bands used for slimming in the West.

This potentially life-threatening practice has been highlighted by ActionAid. Zippora Mbungo, an 86-year-old grandmother from Makima, Kenya, told the agency's workers: "I tie this rope around my waist to hold my stomach in and avoid feeling hungry. Most of the time we have very little food, so I give it to my grandchildren first, leaving little or nothing for me. That is why I tie this rope around me. Only the rich people around here don't tie a rope in times like this." She added: "This is one of the worst droughts I have ever seen in my life." Philip Kilonzo, of ActionAid Kenya, said: "This practice shows just how desperately hungry women are. But it can be lethal – women have died after suddenly untying their stomachs once food is available."

Read More from The Independent

WHO Has Growing Fear Of Disease Outbreaks In Horn Of Africa

July 16th, 2011

WHO Has Growing Fear Of Disease Outbreaks In Horn Of Africa

By Lisa Schlein | Geneva

VOA News

The World Health Organization is warning of an increased risk of disease outbreaks in the Horn of Africa. It says it is particularly concerned about the spread of measles and water-borne diseases, such as acute watery diarrhea in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The World Health Organization says communicable diseases already are spreading throughout the Horn of Africa. It says disease outbreaks are likely to worsen because of extensive population movements in drought-affected areas, which have poor health care systems, low immunization coverage, and lack of clean water and sanitation.

WHO Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says the situation in Ethiopia is particularly critical.

“Taking into account the size of the population in the worst hit areas in Ethiopia, WHO estimates that two million children under five are at risk of measles, and already since the beginning of the year, there were 5,000 cases reported of measles," said Jasarevic. "More than three million of children under five should be screened for malnutrition and given vitamin A supplements.”

The World Health Organization says nearly nine million people in the worst affected areas are at risk of water-borne diseases, such as acute watery diarrhea. Although no cholera cases, so far have been detected, it warns some five million people are susceptible.

The U.N. refugee agency is caring for tens of thousands of refugees, mainly from Somalia in camps at Dollo Ado in southeast Ethiopia. Spokesman, Adrian Edwards, says one in every two children below the age of five who is arriving at the camp is malnourished. He says this is adding to life-threatening conditions there.

“The data we have from Dollo Ado is still incomplete at the moment," said Edwards. "But, at the worst incidents we are seeing-the mortality rates are at the Kobe camp at the moment, where we are registering 7.4 deaths per 10,000 people per day. To give you a sense of what that means, the normal baseline is below one.”

Aid agencies report health conditions in Kenya also are deteriorating. They say in all areas where large numbers of people are gathering, health facilities are overwhelmed and this is leading to shortages of medical and other supplies.

The World Health Organization reports in Mwingi districts and in the Dadaab refugee camps, 462 measles cases are confirmed and so far, 11 related deaths are reported.

It says population movements increase the risk of the spread of infectious diseases especially of polio, cholera and measles.

The U.N. Children’s Fund and WHO, along with the Kenyan Ministry of Health will begin vaccination campaigns at the end of the month along the Somali-Kenyan borders and in the Dadaab refugee camps. More than 200,000 children under five will be immunized against polio and measles and they will receive vitamin A supplements and de-worming tablets.

WHO says it is stepping up its disease surveillance systems in Ethiopia and Kenya. It is training more health workers and providing medicines and medical supplies to the drought-stricken areas.

ETHIOPIA: Floods pose new threat to food security

July 14th, 2011
Photo: Ben Parker/IRIN Expected flooding between August and September could exacerbate food insecurity for up to 4.5 million Ethiopians (file photo)

ETHIOPIA: Floods pose new threat to food security

ADDIS ABABA, 14 July 2011 (IRIN)
- While the ongoing drought has seriously undermined the food security of up to 4.5 million people in Ethiopia, a threat posed by expected flooding during the second half of 2011 could exacerbate the situation, say meteorological officials.

Ethiopia's meteorological agency has forecast normal to above-normal rainfall during the June-September rainy season, with the risk of flooding in western, northwestern and central areas. Areas around Lake Tana in Amhara region, parts of Gambella and along the Awash basin in Afar region are likely to be affected by floods.

"Parts of these areas, particularly in low-lying [areas] and near riverbanks, could face flooding as we usually anticipate in this season," said Diriba Koricha, the director of Forecast and Early Warning Department at the agency.

However, "as the season progresses in August and September, swift but heavy rainfalls could result in flooding anywhere", he said, adding that further preparation was needed to prevent any humanitarian crisis.

Launching an appeal on 11 July for drought aid, Ethiopia's Agriculture Ministry said the country's food security situation had deteriorated since the beginning of the year to the La Niña-induced drought currently ravaging parts of the country.

The country requires US$398 million for food and non-food aid between July and December 2011.

The government made the appeal as humanitarian actors reported funding shortfalls.

Judith Schuler, World Food Programme (WFP) Ethiopia spokeswoman, said many of its food assistance activities in Ethiopia "face significant funding shortfalls".

WFP has a shortfall of 120,000MT of food, equivalent to about $112 million, until the end of the year.

"Due to this lack of funding, WFP reduced food rations in relief operations in certain areas of the country from March onwards," said Schuler.

A recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia indicated that food rations had been allocated without vegetable oil and with a reduced amount of corn-soya blend.

Schuler said: "In order to resume full rations for all people badly hit by the drought, new contributions are urgently needed. Compounding the issue is time: from the moment a contribution is confirmed, it takes between four to five months until the food arrives in the country."

Between January and June, WFP assisted 269,300 moderately malnourished Ethiopian children under five through the targeted supplementary food (TSF) programme for malnourished children under five and pregnant and nursing mothers.

Somali refugees

The food needs are not just limited to Ethiopians; an influx of refugees from Somalia to Ethiopia has also been recorded.

"Numbers are increasing on a daily basis, and the nutritional status of the refugees upon... arrival is worrying," said Schuler, adding that a March/April survey had found malnutrition rates of 45 percent among newly arrived children under five at a camp in Dolo Ado, at the border between Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

At least 55,000 new Somali refugees have been recorded in Ethiopia since January, according to the UN. The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has set up a new camp to help them.

Eastern Africa is experiencing what the UN has described as the most severe food crisis in the world today.

On 4 July, international charity Oxfam GB made a £50 million ($80 million) appeal for drought-hit eastern Africa, saying at least 12 million people had been pushed "into a fight for survival".

"The aid effort faces enormous hurdles; there is not enough money to buy food in the quantities required and the price of maize has risen by up to 40 percent since a year ago in the region," Jane Cocking, Oxfam's humanitarian director, said. "The cost of fuel needed to transport food to the epicentre has also shot up."

On 1 July, the NGO, Christian Aid, also launched an emergency humanitarian appeal to help provide water, food and animal feed in the region.

"People are desperate and if we don't act now we could be looking at one of the worst humanitarian situations the world has seen in a long time," warned Nick Guttmann, Christian Aid's humanitarian director.

US official: Ethiopia underestimating drought need

July 12th, 2011

US official: Ethiopia underestimating drought need



A U.S. official said Monday he fears Ethiopian officials may be underestimating the country's needs in its drought crisis, even as the government announced that 4.5 million Ethiopians need food aid, 40 percent more than last year.

The U.S. government aid arm is looking for ways to help the hungry on Ethiopia's side of a three-country drought crisis that is also devastating communities in Kenya and Somalia.

"We are concerned that we are underestimating the situation, especially in the southern provinces," Jason Frasier, mission director of USAID in Ethiopia, said of that country's food crisis.

Ethiopia's state minister of agriculture, Mitiku Kassa, said Monday that nearly $400 million is needed to fill the country's food gap. He said Ethiopia needs to distribute 380 metric tons of food

Read More from Bloomberg News

Somali children in refugee camps suffer from lack of aid - Al Jazeera Video

July 9th, 2011

Somali children in refugee camps suffer from lack of aid

More than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are facing starvation, following the worst drought in decades.

Many Somali refugees trying to reach camps in Kenya are being prevented from leaving by Al Shabab fighters.

As Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri reports from Dadaab,Kenya the children are suffering the most.