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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid