News / Africa

Oxfam: 2013 Decisive Year for Breaking Sahel Hunger Cycle

A Zimbabwean collects her monthly rations of food aid from Rutaura Primary School in the Rushinga district of Mount Darwin, north of Harare, March 7, 2013.
A Zimbabwean collects her monthly rations of food aid from Rutaura Primary School in the Rushinga district of Mount Darwin, north of Harare, March 7, 2013.
Jennifer Lazuta
2013 will be a decisive year for breaking the cycle of hunger and building up people’s resilience, the aid agency Oxfam says.

An estimated 10 million people living in Africa’s Sahel region remain vulnerable following last year’s food crisis, which jeopardized the livelihoods of more than 18 million across nine countries and put more than one million children at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

It was the fourth such crisis in seven years.

Elise Ford, Oxfam’s humanitarian policy advisor and author of a new report that analyzes the response to the 2012 food crisis, said despite a response last year that was bigger, better and faster than ever before, major changes need to made to the current system of food crisis aid.

“I think the first thing is to have much more urgent action and recognition of the crisis," said Ford. "I think it’s really very clear how precarious the situation still is.  Ten million people are still in the situation of food insecurity. The crisis has left them indebted, they’ve lost animals, their stocks have run out, and so really this year is going to be a key transition year if people are going to be able to get back on their feet.”

Early warning systems, put in place following criticism that the response to the 2010 crisis was “too little, too late,” allowed governments and aid agencies to react more quickly in 2012.

But while more than 5 million people received food aid from the World Food Program last year, Ford said that initial disagreement over the severity of the crisis and a critical delay in receiving pledged funds meant that millions more were never reached.

This left many people unable to recover from the crisis and has made them more vulnerable to future shocks such as drought.

Mbacké Niang, who oversees Oxfam’s regional programs, said that in order to break this cycle of food insecurity, aid workers and local authorities must not only react earlier, but also address structural challenges.

Niang said there must be a clear understanding of who is most vulnerable and why before addressing the gap that exists between short-term emergency response and long-term development work.  And donors and governments should increase investment in local and national food reserves, small-scale agriculture and social protection programs to better support citizens.

Ending the divide between short and long-term aid is particularly important, said Niang, because humanitarian workers tend to have different goals and ways of working than development experts.  Niang believes what is needed is a consensus - a joint-action plan between the two groups - a system that doesn’t sacrifice long-term security for short-term relief, and vice versa.

While some steps are being taken in the right direction, Ford said aid agencies and governments must take charge of their financial pledges before it is too late.

The United Nations has estimated that $1.66 billion will be needed in 2013 to tackle food insecurity issues in the region. 

Oxfam reports that, as of April 5, only 24 percent of the U.N. appeal for aid had been funded.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bheki Moyo
April 18, 2013 11:09 AM
The reality of realization is the agricultural debacle and the collapse of the economy, resulting from land seizures, some farmers and many employees losing their lives and numerous people subsequently unemployed. These are the facts and to
deny them serves no purpose - statistics prove otherwise.
Food Aid is only a temorary quick fix. Despite any denials
honesty is the best policy to address the terrible wrongs of land seizures and put agriculture back on track to eliminate hunger.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid