|Source: UNICEF Australia|
An article in The New York Times today reports that the Shabab Islamist insurgent group has set up a camp and is imprisoning people who are trying to flee the Shabab-controlled areas of Somalia—the only regions in which the United Nations declared famine nearly two weeks ago.
U.S. NGOs urge strong global response to East Africa crisis
WASHINGTON (July 19, 2011)—The United Nations is expected to officially declare famine in parts of southern Somalia tomorrow (Wednesday, July 20), marking a new phase in a crisis that has affected the East Africa region.
“Governments need to wake up to the severity of this crisis and meet critical funding needs. Severe malnutrition rates, acute hunger and alarming refugee flows demand an extraordinary international response,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs.
At least 25 of InterAction’s members are responding to the crisis in East Africa, which has been hit by the worst drought in 60 years, spiraling food prices and ongoing conflict. More than 11 million people are at risk, according to U.N. estimates, and hundreds of thousands have fled Somalia to overcrowded refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.
The response by the humanitarian community has been hampered by complex security issues as well as legal restrictions in place to prevent donor funds from reaching extremist groups such as al-Shabaab, which controls much of southern Somalia.
Al-Shabaab has said it will allow international humanitarian groups access to affected areas, a promise it needs to keep if aid is to reach populations most in need.
“For aid to flow into southern Somalia at the levels required, al-Shabaab will have to cease its harassment of international aid agencies and staff, while the U.S. and other donor governments will have to trust the procedures of experienced aid organizations to ensure that aid reaches vulnerable people without diversion,” said Worthington.
The U.S. government has provided $383 million in fiscal year 2011, including emergency food, water and hygiene supplies.
“While the United States has been more generous than other nations, we need to do more. We appeal to U.S. lawmakers not to cut budgets that could affect millions affected by this crisis. It is the right thing to do,” said Worthington.
We shared last week about the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated how higher agriculture commodity prices are here to stay. Global warming has already raised food prices by as much as 20% and the global price for a basket of basic food is still 37% higher than it was this time last year.
In this video you’ll see Fatou Dione walking in oven-hot wind churning with dust to fetch water for her husband and four children. It’s the dry season in her village of Diarrere in Senegal, and both water and food are running low. At the time this video was shot, they were eagerly anticipating the rains the following month.
These really make sense when running water isn’t available. Much better than a bucket, that’s for certain. We all know hand washing is a key way to stop the spread of many diseases. In a country like Uganda, which has a life expectancy of 52.98 years (yes, in large part a result of HIV/AIDS), avoiding disease like bacterial diarrhea is of the utmost importance.
The Tippy Tap is a cheap device made of locally available materials. It was initiated by Heifer Uganda at this farm and others as one way of ensuring that family members and their visitors wash their hands with soap each time they use the pit latrine. In so doing, the possibility of spreading disease is minimized.
For more information about World Water Day please visit http://www.worldwaterday.org/ and http://oneweekforwater.org/.
This week, members of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity are meeting in Japan to talk about how to protect the planet’s flora and fauna. It’s a noble and challenging goal, especially considering that they hope to do it without displacing or disenfranchising any of the world’s poor, 70 percent of whom live in rural areas and are therefore more likely to look to hunting, fishing and resource extraction for their livelihoods.
The online magazine Slate takes a look at this challenge today and considers ways that biodiversity can be preserved at the same time poverty is reduced. Agroforestry, in which trees and agriculture are integrated, is one solution that Heifer promotes in many of its projects. Protecting soil by planting trees simply makes sense for the farmers who rely on healthy soil to produce healthy crops. You can learn more about some Heifer’s work with partner Green Mountain Coffee to preserve biodiversity in Mexico in the Winter 2010 issue of World Ark magazine.
Read more about the Convention on Biological Diversity here.