Entries in Hunger (4)


'A Cry for Help': Hunger and Drought Crisis in West Africa

Two-year-old Ouobra Kompalemba, who suffers from severe malnutrition and bronchitis, receives milk through a catheter at a hospital in Diapaga, eastern Burkina Faso. RAPHAEL DE BENGY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- According to the United Nations, the Sahel region of West Africa, which stretches across eight countries including Chad, Mauritania and Gambia, is being affected by a hunger crisis.

The U.N. estimates that 15 million people in the region are suffering from food shortages caused by drought and conflict, and UNICEF says that nearly 1.5 million children are near starvation.

The following organizations are working to stop the famine by supporting livestock, growing crops and giving people cash so they can afford the food on sale in their markets.

Below is more information on those organizations and how you can help:

Save the Children: Save the Children plans to reach 185,000 of the most vulnerable families -- 1.3 million people -- to help prevent them from falling into hunger.

The group's Lane Hartill said, however, that the organization also wanted to help these families to build up their resistance in the long term so they are better prepared for the next drought.

Save the Children also supports families through cash-transfer programs so they have money to buy what they consider appropriate. Cattle and goats -- essentially "savings accounts" in villages -- have been hard hit by the drought, Hartill said, and with animals dying, there is no fodder.

According to the organization, $39 could help support 10 mothers whose children are in a stabilization clinic and $2.35 could pay for sachets of oral rehydration salts to help treat 100 children suffering from diarrhea.

To donate to Save the Children, click here.

Oxfam: Oxfam is starting to distribute unconditional cash to the most vulnerable so they can access food on the markets -- 30 percent to 40 percent higher than in the last five-year average -- and cope until the next harvest.

The organization says that animal feed is "super important" to protect the livelihoods of pastoralists. If they lose their animals on the onset of the rainy season -- which occurred in 2010 when 24 percent of the livestock was lost -- they will be locked in the cycle of hunger.

"One way to put this: Save an animal, save an entire community and help lift them out of poverty," said Gaelle Bausson, an Oxfam spokesperson.

Oxfam said that seeds are also among "the most acute and immediate" need.

Bausson told ABC News that $40 will vaccinate 15 goats so vulnerable families can have food and an income; $80 will give three people the money to buy food and other essentials for the next three months; and $140 will provide clean, safe drinking water for three families by building or repairing water sources.

To donate to Oxfam, click here.

UNICEF: UNICEF is focused on the nutritional needs of children. According to the organization, children who are acutely malnourished cannot consume regular food and require ready-to-use therapeutic food for their bodies to recover.

UNICEF said the donations made for the Sahel crisis would support life-saving relief efforts for children, including: therapeutic food and milk, medicine, immunizations and supplies to provide access to clean water.

Susannah Masur, a UNICEF spokeswoman, said that $100 could save a child from severe acute malnutrition; $50 could buy 1,200 high-energy biscuits to give suffering children protein, vitamins and sugar; and less than $1 could immunize two children against the measles.

To donate to UNICEF, click here.

World Food Programme: According to the World Food Programme, the main help it needs is money. WFP is funded entirely by voluntary donations from governments, companies and private individuals.

The organization is geared to provide for 9.6 million people across the eight countries of West Africa hit by the Sahel drought. The WFP expects the total cost of providing and delivering that food to be $789 million.

Despite donations from countries like the U.S., the WFP needs $361 million to feed everyone who needs help.

Jane Howard, spokeswoman for WFP, said that the organization spent most of its money on buying food to stop people from going hungry or dying from malnutrition. Howard said a No. 1 product needed in this fight against hunger was a "sachet of Plumpy'sup." It costs about 30 cents for a day's ration.

She said that two months of treatment could transform the life of a malnourished child.

WFP also has started to provide more cash or vouchers so that people can have flexibility when buying their own food.

To donate to World Food Programme, click here.

You can also text AID to 27722 to donate $10.

Charges will appear on your wireless bill or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to 27722 to STOP. Text HELP to 27722 for HELP.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontieres: In addition to preventing and treating malnutrition throughout West Africa and the Sahel region, Doctors Without Borders is responding to multiple emergencies related to and exacerbating the hunger crisis, including assisting refugees from Mali and vaccinating against meningitis in Chad.

The organization said that $35 could purchase either enough vaccine to innoculate 85 children against measles during a deadly outbreak or a scale used to weigh children too young or weak to stand.

To donate to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontieres, click here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Facing Hunger Crisis in West Africa, Families Pick Leaves, Berries to Survive

iStockphoto/ThinkstockREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

(GOUBEYDAY, Niger) -- On approach, the tiny village of Goubeyday looks like a typical rural African village.  But immediately after we got out of the four-wheel-drive vehicles that carried us here for hours over sandy, unmarked roads, it is clear something about this village is very different.  There are few animals roaming around, most cooking pots outside thatched roof huts sit cold, and not even the children are playful.

“It’s too quiet here,” whispered World Food Programme Niger Country Director Denise Brown.  “African villages are supposed to have noise. It bothers me because it means there’s a lack of dynamism, lack of movement, lack of life in this village.”

The fields around Goubeyday, Niger, are parched.  When the rains refused to fall at this time last year, crops failed.  With four months left to go before the next possible harvest, the village granaries are already empty.  The people in the village usually spend the vast majority of their meager incomes on food, so they don’t have enough money to compensate for the drastic increase in food prices at the market.

A mother named Mariama shows us the only food she has to cook for her family is leaves she goes out to pick from trees.  Another woman shows us her only meal is made of wild berries so bitter and hard to digest she calls them “poison.”

“We need to get to these people,” said Brown.  “I don’t think any of us can accept that this mother has to go and pick wild food for her children to eat, and if she doesn’t go and do it every day then they don’t have anything to eat.”

Brown said the World Food Programme has not yet been able to provide aid to the people of Goubeyday because of a lack of funding for the food crisis that is now peaking in this region of West Africa.  According to the United Nations, at least 15 million people in the Sahel region just south of the Sahara desert are affected.  Eight million are at serious risk of running out of food before the next harvest, and a million children’s lives could be threatened by severe malnutrition.

Disaster declarations have been declared in seven of the eight affected countries.  Niger is the hardest-hit country, home to about half of the more than 8 million people WFP would like to help.  The impoverished country is still recovering from a drought less than two years ago.  It is one of the world’s least-developed countries, and because of this new drought it recently replaced Afghanistan as the “worst place in the world to be a mother,” according to an annual statistical analysis by Save the Children.

In Niger and across the Sahel, the world’s largest aid agencies– including WFP, Oxfam, UNICEF, Save the Children, and World Vision– have seen this crisis coming for months.  By appealing for help early, they hoped to apply lessons learned from last year’s late response to the famine in the Horn of Africa to keep this crisis from becoming another catastrophe.  But fewer donors have responded, and most aid groups have raised less than half of the funds needed for their planned response.

Brown said the supplies of emergency food and nutritional supplements that have been moved into place in the affected parts of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal will run out before the next possible harvest in October.  The demand for emergency help is rising quickly.   At rural health clinics, the lines of women carrying their thin, young children in for treatment are getting longer each day, and health workers are seeing more severe cases of malnutrition.

In addition to nursing mothers and children under 2, the most vulnerable to the food crisis in West Africa are pastoralists.  Many of them are nomads who roam to find pasture and water for their cattle.  Both are getting harder to find.

“This is big, difficult situation.  Pastoralists must now sell many animals just to be able to buy a little cereal to survive,” said Hassane Baka of the AREN cattle breeders association based in the city of Maradi.  AREN is partnering with Oxfam to provide emergency cattle feed in Niger.

“We are working too hard, walking too far,” said Amadou Damana as he worked with his family to draw water from a well in the district of Bermo.  Damana said his cattle need water every day to stay healthy, but now he is barely able to give them water every other day because he has to walk them so far from the well to find land where they can graze.

At a nearby livestock market, we find extremely thin bulls and sheep waiting to be sold.  Trader Jodi Makau says the price for grain is so high, an animal sold this year can buy only half as much as last year.  He tells us it is a bad time for breeders to sell, but many are so desperate to buy food and animal feed they have no choice.

Mariama’s three children are too thin, but there isn’t much else she can do to help them.  Because her own diet is so limited, she says she is having trouble producing enough milk to nurse her youngest son. Six-month-old Kader is wrapped in beaded cords of traditional charms, which Mariama hopes will protect him from the common illnesses like diarrhea and fever that kill 1 of every 7 young children in Niger, especially those without enough to eat.

“That means she cares. I think we have to keep in mind these women, these mothers, they’re like you, they’re like me. There’s no difference. They have a child. They love that child. They will do what they can to protect that child,” said Brown.  “These women, these children, they deserve our attention.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fighting Hunger in Africa: Obama Announces $3B Private Sector Pledge 

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Announcing a $3 billion private sector pledge to support agriculture and help feed Africa’s starving populations, President Obama said Friday that the U.S. has a “moral obligation to lead the fight.”

“When tens of thousands of children die from the agony of starvation, as in Somalia, that sends us a message we still got a lot of work to do.  It's unacceptable.  It's an outrage.  It's an affront to who we are,” the president said at the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington.

Arguing that food security is a moral, economic, and security imperative, Obama urged the world’s biggest economies to fulfill their promises to aid the cause financially. The president said additional nations, organization and non-governmental organizations also need to “step up and play a role” because government cannot solve the problem alone.

The new shared commitment, which Obama outlined Friday, aims to raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years.

Obama also pushed back against criticisms that the new private sector alliance is a way for governments to shift the burden. “As president, I can assure you that the United States will continue to meet our responsibilities so that even in these tough fiscal times, we will continue to make historic investments in development,” he said.

The president spoke to an eclectic crowd, including singer and activist Bono, celebrity chef Jose Andres and a host of African leaders, in his speech kicking off this weekend’s G8 summit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Superman, Batman Join Fight to Save Horn of Africa

Justice League fights hunger. (DC Entertainment)(NEW YORK) -- As the months of drought and famine drag on in the impoverished Horn of Africa, some heroes are coming to the rescue: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, along with the rest of DC Comics’ The Justice League, are the new face of a joint campaign called “We Can Be Heroes."

A joint advertising campaign by corporate partners DC Entertainment and its parent company Time Warner, Inc, (which also includes Warner Bros., Turner Broadcasting, Time Inc., HBO), and non-profits Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps., seeks to use the famed comic book heroes to raise awareness and funds for the hunger crisis in severely affected regions of East Africa.

Time Warner Inc. has set a fundraising goal of $2 million over the next two years and will match any donations (up to $2 million). Each of the non-profit organizations will split evenly the funds donated by Time Warner.

The companies announced the campaign last week at a press conference in New York.

“We are a global company, and this is a global issue,” said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. "By marshaling our expertise in consumer and fan engagement and creating global awareness, we hope we’re able to inspire others to join us in becoming ‘heroes’ and make a difference in the Horn of Africa.”

Time Warner will run ads and public service announcements featuring the Justice League online and in comics, television programs and possibly in theaters.  Special Justice League merchandise will also be available for sale.

According to the World Bank’s latest comprehensive statistics, drought has put nearly 13.3 million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid across Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, and aid agencies have not been able to help all of them. The U.S. State Department estimates that as many as four million people will remain at risk of starvation through August.

Drought, in addition to pervasive war in countries outside of the Horn like Sudan and Tanzania, has caused millions of refugees to flee to already-resource-depleted areas of East Africa.

Carrie Welch, senior vice president of external relations at the International Resource Committee, thinks that the campaign will help turn public attention to the suffering in the region.

“It’s not on the front page, not the top of the news,” she said. “People will be affected by this for years to come, so any kind of creative, innovative thinking is good for us and very good for the people that we serve.”

Welch hopes that the advertising may attract the attention of children, who have the power to help influence where the charity dollars may go, though they are often forgotten by organizations seeking donations.

“Kids see this and they go home and begin to talk to their parents about the crisis in the horn of East Africa,” Welch said, adding that her 13-year-old daughter is excited about the campaign. “It adds a touch of coolness to what I do,” she said.

Click here to donate.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio