Mar 20th, 2012 11:26 AM UTC
By Isabelle De Lichtervelde
Last Friday in Copenhagen, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva and EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs together launched a €250 million initiative called ‘Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience’ (SHARE). ‘SHARE’ aims to break the vicious cycle of humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa and strengthen the population’s resistance to future crises.
During the height of the crisis, ONE members participated in a call with Commissioner Georgieva, to learn about the EU’s response at the time and urged her to increase the EU’s efforts. Following that, ONE launched its Hungry No More campaign and more than 400,000 members signed our petition urging leaders to break the cycle of famine.
Alexander Woollcombe ONE’s Acting Brussels Director said:
“ONE’s members called for leadership and EU leaders have listened. The ‘Charter to End Extreme Hunger’ lays out what needs to be done to prevent such crises from happening again. ONE welcomes the EU’s recognition of the need to link emergency aid with support for agriculture”.
Launching SHARE, Commissioner Georgieva explained:
“Europe has done its best to alleviate the suffering caused by hunger to millions of people in the region, but humanitarian assistance is like a dressing on a deep wound – it can offer relief, but it cannot cure the disease. To prevent future famines we need to combine the short-term humanitarian response with long-term support for resilience to future droughts. This is what we intend to do with SHARE,”
And Commissioner Piebalgs pointed out on his blog:
“Thanks to EuropeAid’s assistance, more than 750,000 Somali households benefit from increased access to improved drinking water and water for agricultural purposes; more than 50,000 Somali households benefit from support to livestock production, processing and trade; and more than 50,000 Somalis benefit from support to agricultural production”.
Much more remains to be done but this is a welcome step in the right direction.
Feb 17th, 2012 9:40 AM UTC
By Emily Alpert
On February 3rd the famine in Somalia was declared over. “This is hardly a cause for celebration”. And I couldn’t agree more. If you think about it, the technical definition of famine is more than 2 people or 4 kids under 5 per 10,000 die each day from lack of access to food and water. So people can still be dying, just fewer of them or families can still be experiencing extreme hardship. Even if there isn’t a famine, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a food crisis. We are clearly not ‘in the clear.’
For starters, many people in Somalia and the wider Horn region are still at risk, although the situations in Ethiopia and Kenya are stabilising. Across the Horn of Africa there are still 10.4 people in need. In Somalia, 2.3 million people at risk and 1.4 million people in urgent need of assistance. In order to assist those Somali’s in need there is a new 2012 UN Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP). Albeit revised a few times, it’s actually been in effect since September 2011. Yet somehow, nearly 5 months later in February 2012, the 2012 appeal of $1.4 billion is just 7% funded for Somalia, and just 16% funded for the Horn of Africa. Have we actually forgotten our hard learned lessons so quickly?
There is no doubt that famine could have been prevented if donors had responded sooner. ONE’s Hungry No More campaign stressed that drought is inevitable, but famine is not. We have the early warning systems in place, the calls have gone out, but action once again is too slow.
Hopefully the conference hosted by the UK on February 23rd on Somalia will help write a different tune. Although much of the conference will be dominated by security concerns, there is a platform dedicated to addressing humanitarian issues where David Cameron is expected to highlight the need for continued and sustained momentum. NGOs will also be gathering a few days before to keep up the pressure.
And momentum and pressure are exactly what’s needed. In addition to the on-going crisis in Somalia and the wider Horn region, Africa’s opposite coast is looming under the threat of another food crisis. The situation hasn’t escalated yet, but what are we waiting for? According to TIME, a third of the population in the Sahel – a mainly semi-arid region that stretches across West Africa – are at risk of hunger.
But this is not new. Hunger for many people in West Africa is chronic and occurs each year during the hunger season. This only underscores the need for long-term investments in agriculture – just like the ones that donors promised at the 2009 G8 L’Aquila summit and just like the ones African governments promised to spend on their own populations.
ONE will continue to hold donors accountable to these promises to increase spending on agriculture, food security and nutrition. By heading early warnings of food crises on the rise and making smart investments in long-term solutions, together we can break the cycle of poverty.
Feb 7th, 2012 1:07 PM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
“Famine outcomes no longer exist in southern Somalia”. These eight words, at the start of a dry assessment released on Friday by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit in Nairobi, can hardly be considered a cause for celebration. For the last four months, a part of the world had been struck by famine – not just food shortage, or even extreme hunger, but the appalling conditions that meet the strict technical definition of a famine. As ONE insisted, no f-word could be more obscene. Drought may be inevitable, but famine is not – and famine in the 21st century is an obscenity.
So it’s difficult to jump for joy at the news that this famine has come to an end – not least because millions of people in the Horn of Africa are still in desperate need. In Somalia especially, where new concerns about access for humanitarian organisations are emerging, the famine has left people more vulnerable than ever. Like a determined boxer who hauls himself to his feet after taking a beating, the next punch could be the most devastating of all.
And yet, the fact remains that while the world took too long to act on early warnings of crisis in 2011, it did act. Millions of people, from ordinary citizens to policymakers, stepped forward. The global African diaspora demanded action. 400,000 people signed ONE’s petition urging leaders to do more. Leading politicians responded in the European Commission, the African Union, the UK, Sweden and Kenya. Millions of people contributed to the UN’s most successful humanitarian appeal and record public appeals in Britain, Germany and countless other countries. Critically, aid workers from Africa and across the world delivered relief in the most challenging of conditions, and continue to do so right now. All these actions saved lives.
And now this belated but strong effort has been rewarded with a little good fortune. Somalia has enjoyed a better-than-expected harvest. That has pushed food prices down in local markets and there is, for now at least, room to breathe.
Now the obvious question: can we stop this happening again? If political promises made years ago had been kept in the first place, we could have avoided much of the terrible human cost of the last few months. They must be kept now – by African governments who promised to invest ten per cent of their money on agriculture, and by richer nations who made commitments at the G8. And of course it isn’t just about money. More progress was made at last year’s Cannes G20 summit to reduce the volatility in global food prices that has caused havoc in the poorest families’ budgets. That progress needs to be built on urgently.
Together, we managed to force action on this famine over the last few months. Let’s keep that pressure up. We need to build a movement that can keep food and agriculture at the top of the agenda. The US, who host this year’s G8 summit, have a big leadership role. The Horn of Africa’s wealthy neighbours in the Gulf are global players too, well able to do their part. And governments in Europe must keep their promises, starting with the British-led conference on Somalia later this month. Overcoming extreme hunger is not just a fight we must face. It’s one we can win.
Jan 20th, 2012 11:34 AM UTC
By Michael Healy
Mo Farah’s list of accolades is jaw dropping. Since arriving in the UK from war torn Somalia at the age of 8 he has risen through the ranks to become arguably the greatest long-distance runner in the history of UK athletics. He is currently 5,000m world champion, 10,000m silver medallist and one of the favourites for the pinnacle of athletics success at this summer’s Olympic games in London. He also holds a number of British and European records over those two distances. I’m exhausted just writing about it!
Mo can now add founding the Mo Farah Foundation to his impressive list of achievements. As a Somali native, Mo regularly visits family in the Horn of Africa and is all too aware of the problems that many in the region faces today. As such, his foundation is working to raise funds to provide essential lifelines to those suffering from malnutrition and starvation. In the longer term, they aim to provide and maintain community water wells, crop seeds for agricultural farming and the tools to sustain this essential way of life. Mo’s links to the country mean that this is an issue very close to his heart:
“As someone born in Somalia this is something that is very important to me. I’ve seen the situation out there and I want to help make a difference. There are kids out there right now who are starving and I want the foundation to be able to help them get over this and plan for the future. That’s why the work of organisations like ONE, which campaigns for better funding for solutions to the problems that lead to famine, is so important.”
This long term work is crucial for the development of the region and the importance of the work of groups like Mo’s Foundation cannot be underestimated. Most food crises are preventable and investments in agriculture can actually help people become more resilient to shocks such as drought. Other types of investments in rural roads, proper storage facilities, and access to improved seed varieties can also build tolerance to drought, save grains from previous seasons and help communities access food when drought strikes. But it is not just up to private foundations to tackle the problem. Government’s around the world need to improve their funding of long-term agricultural solutions for drought-stricken regions like the Horn of Africa.
In 2009, the G8 pledged $22 billion for agricultural development in developing countries and committed to principles to guide the quality, effectiveness, and accountability of their aid. Some countries have clarified their commitments, outlining how much is new money and constructing plans that will ensure that the principles are upheld. However our recent report “Agricultural Accountability” revealed that G8 and G20 countries had only delivered on a fifth of the promised amount. This is unacceptable. We need governments to step up and work with partners like the Mo Farah Foundation to ensure that the world doesn’t slide back into another food crisis and, instead, find successful solutions to help ensure that droughts do not inevitably to famine.
To find out more, please visit www.mofarahfoundation.co.uk
Dec 19th, 2011 2:48 PM UTC
By Dr Sipho Moyo
Beyond being a season for being merry, this is also traditionally a season for giving. As we wind down the year, we at ONE in Africa are asking you to give a thought to the 13.3 million people in the Horn of Africa, who still face extreme hunger. If this thought leaves you unsettled, you’re exactly the person who should join ONE in Africa today together with our partners, the National Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition in Nigeria and the Agricultural Non State Actors Forum in Tanzania, as we launch our Hungry No More campaign in Africa.
This campaign will be focused on challenging African leaders to demonstrate their resolve in tackling famine and other agriculture related problems on the continent by:
As part of the campaign we have also launched a video featuring a host of African stars including Didier Drogba, Nameless, Habida Malooney, John Allan Namu, Sauti Sol, Camagwini, Tumisho Masha, Dady Owen, Omotola Jalade and Sipho Mabuse. With their help we aim to focus the world’s attention once again this critical issue.
Farming is vital to African economies, where 70 % of the population derives its livelihood from the soil. At the same time, agriculture development is crucial to poverty reduction, where food security is tied to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and especially MDG-1, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This campaign intends to elevate this issue on the global political and public agendas because there is a powerful connection between the Horn of Africa crisis and agriculture, and it is a shame that we still debate famine in the 21st century. We also need to help ensure African governments keep the promises they have made so that we can break the cycle of famine on the continent.
While the food crisis in the Horn of Africa tragically illustrates the impacts of drought and conflict, it also brings to the fore the effects of neglecting agriculture and local food systems. Reports of an emerging food crisis in the Sahel region highlight just how important this issue is.
Got to one.org/africa, sign the petition, and let’s put an end to famine.
Dec 13th, 2011 3:13 PM UTC
By Tamira Gunzburg
Right now, the Horn of Africa – Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti – is experiencing the worst food crisis in 60 years, with 13.3 million people in crisis and 250,000 people at imminent risk of starvation. Yet while drought may be an act of nature, famine is not.
Last month, more than 400,000 ONE members sent a resounding message signing our Hungry No More campaign petition urging G20 leaders to break the cycle of famine.
Now, on 15 and 16 December, the European Development Days are taking place in Warsaw, Poland. The European Development Days are Europe’s premier forum on international affairs and development cooperation, every year attracting political leaders and world-renowned authorities on development.
This year ONE has partnered up with Oxfam International, Caritas Europa, and Polish Humanitarian Action, to organise a high-level event on “How to prevent another famine in the Horn of Africa: the role of the EU in building resilience”.
This panel will bring together practitioners from the field and policy-makers in the EU to exchange experiences on responding to the Horn of Africa famine and discuss how to prevent another crisis on this scale. The speakers include Kristalina Gerogieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Fran Equiza, Oxfam GB’s regional director for the Horn, East and Central Africa, and Marc Breusers from Caritas Belgium.
Follow the debate live, here on ONE.org, on Friday 16 December at 11am CET (10 am GMT). Just check out the ONE blog on Friday for more information.
You can also submit a question in advance to the panel in the comments below or tweet it using the #EDDendfamine hashtag.
We will select two to three questions and put them to the moderator, Nazanine Moshiri, East Africa correspondent at AL Jazeera English, to ask the panellists.
I hope you’ll join me on Friday for what promises to be fascinating discussion!
Dec 6th, 2011 4:12 PM UTC
By Emily Alpert
Many thanks to ONE’s members, our collective voice has helped raise UN Appeal funding for the Horn of Africa by $1 billion and elicit another $700 million-plus in pledges. If combined and fulfilled, these pledges would more than fill the $530 million funding gap.
While ONE continues to press world leaders to deliver on their pledges and deliver much-needed life-saving support now, many Africans in the Horn are far from in the clear. Although the regions of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle in Southern Somalia were downgraded from famine to humanitarian emergency status on November 18th, the situation in Somalia is still particularly dire.
Four million people remain food insecure in Somalia and 250,000 in Southern Somalia continue to face famine conditions. These conditions are expected to persist at least through December 2011 and depending on the favorability of rains in spring 2012, could be prolonged.
Displaced people face heightened risk of measles, cholera, polio, diarrhea and other diseases, due to malnutrition, close living quarters and inadequate toilet facilities. In Somalia, the number of children facing severe malnutrition nearly doubled in the second half of 2011. Cases of cholera and related deaths continue. Outbreaks of measles have been declining since September, but saw a small uptick in November.
The international community and local NGOs have resettled 4,000 drought-displaced Somali families (24,000 people) who were camped in Mogadishu. The returns are voluntary with most eager to take advantage of what’s left of the rainy season and start to rebuild their lives. United Arab Emirates-Red Crescent Society (UAE-RCS) in Somalia, one of the agencies involved in the resettlement process, is giving families $150 each in addition to a three-month supply of food, livestock and other resources.
A new two-part television program from Al Jazeera English, “Fault Lines” (watch in the player above) takes a look inside Mogadishu, where parents are burying their children and asking what more could have been done to prevent this crisis and what more can be done now. A very timely question as Al Shabaab ordered 16 aid agencies –- many of them from the United Nations –- to leave their territory.
After sporadic attacks and kidnappings inside Kenya’s borders by Al Shabab, Kenyan military forces invaded Somalia last month. The objective was to seize the transportation hub of Afmadow and the Indian Ocean port city of Kismayo, both important al-Shabaab strongholds south of Mogadishu. By doing so, Kenya is hoping to establish a buffer zone in Southern Somalia to prevent infiltration by terrorists and help humanitarian agencies in the region gain better access. Already Kenya has seized a few towns and is calling on aid agencies to return. Reuters reports that Kenya has been “plagued by a wave of attacks” since troops entered Somalia.
Ethiopia, despite the losses incurred from invasion from 2006 to 2009, is reported to be back across the Somali border. Although the Ethiopian government have not confirmed their participation, many eyewitnesses report Ethiopian troops in the town of Guriel. Little is known about Ethiopia’s intentions at this point.
What about the Somali government? Richard Dowden of the Royal African Society writes that with Al Shabaab withdrawn from Mogadishu in mid-August and “with the Kenyan military incursion in the south, presents the government –- known as the Transitional Federal Government -– with an opportunity to prove itself and deliver food and security to the people. But this is unlikely to happen…” He quotes from Horn of Africa specialist Ken Menkhaus “the TFG’s track record so far points to the opposite conclusion -– it has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Oct 28th, 2011 3:58 PM UTC
By Roxane Philson
Today we are releasing a new animated video, “A Future Free from Famine,” to show that with the right investments, it is possible to see a future without famine — and with G20 leaders set to meet in Paris next week the timing is not a moment too soon.
Creatively, we are trying something a bit different, an animated piece to try and spread the word. Our recent famine ad took an approach that seemed to work for most of the 700,000 people who have viewed it (if you haven’t seen it yet please watch it and help us get to a million). It’s a bit of a slap in the face from some people you might recognize and others who might surprise you. But that’s not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey… and it doesn’t illustrate what a catalyst simple things like training and tools can be for a farmer living on less than $2 a day.
So, ahem, without further ado, take a minute, well, 90 seconds to be precise, to check out our latest offering. It’s not the usual charity creative, but then its not supposed to be –- we want it to cut through some of the inertia. Let us know if it floats your boat and thanks for everything you do to support the campaign –- your support is critical because while I believe wholeheartedly that a future free from famine is possible, I know it won’t happen without you.
Oct 10th, 2011 1:44 PM UTC
By Malaka Gharib
This post is part of our contribution to Change.org’s Blog Action Day 2011, an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers with the goal of sparking discussion and collective action. This year, it takes place on World Food Day, October 16, and centers around the topic of food.
For last year’s Blog Action Day, we highlighted five actions that our ONE members could do from their desks to celebrate and educate others about the importance of water. In keeping with tradition, we thought we’d do the same for this year’s theme: food.
The beauty of Blog Action Day is that you can interpret the topic any way you’d like — and for us, “food” most certainly means famine, hunger and agriculture. As you know, people living in the drought-stricken parts of the Horn of Africa are going through the worst food crisis in 60 years, and famine in Somalia alone has killed 30,000 children in the past three months. Let’s use Blog Action Day 2011 to raise global awareness for hunger, famine and sustainable agriculture.
Here are five things you can do to make this happen on October 16:
1. Sign and share our petition: Take immediate action against the famine by signing our petition and asking world leaders to ensure people are hungry no more. Then, share the petition with family and friends. If using Twitter, make sure to use the hashtag #BAD11.
2. Post “The F Word” video to your Facebook wall: Get your friends and family MAD about the famine by posting our provocative new film, “the F-Word” on your Facebook wall. Besides being an excuse to drop the F-bomb, it truly is a wake-up call for those who think that we can’t put an end to the cycle of hunger for good.
3. Share our infographic: Our beautifully designed infographic, “Fight the Famine” illustrates the countries that are leading relief efforts in the Horn of Africa and those that are lagging behind. Canada, Germany and the UK have fulfilled their aid commitments, while France and Italy still have work to do. Let’s make sure the public knows that!
4. Write a blog post: These days, almost everyone has a personal blog. If you have one, register your blog on Blog Action Day’s website and write a blog post on the famine for the big day. You can use helpful facts and resources from our Hot Topics page, “Hungry no more,” and our blog series.
5. Email the Hunger Map to a friend: A column of numbers cannot possibly tell the story of the famine alone. That’s why we published a new interactive online feature to map the famine crisis in the region. Play around with the map to understand the scope and causes of the famine, then email it to a friend.
We are incredibly honored to be a part of Blog Action Day again this year, and we hope that through these actions, you can be a part of it, too. The topic of food is especially important this year and we’d love your help to get the word out. To view a full list of all participating blogs, go to Blog Action Day’s website and follow the hashtag #BAD11 on Twitter.
Oct 4th, 2011 12:12 PM UTC
I’ve been known to drop the occasional expletive, but the most offensive F word to me is not the one that goes f***. It’s F***** — the famine happening in Somalia.
Drought, violence and political instability have invited in the grim reaper on a scale we have not seen in 20 years… more than 30,000 children have died in just three months. The pictures from Dadaab look like a nightmare from centuries past. Yet, this is the 21st century and these pictures are real and, on the whole, unseen. The food crisis in the Horn of Africa is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe, but it is getting less attention than the latest Hollywood break-ups and make-ups.
ONE’s new film The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity isn’t a typical emotional emergency appeal. It’s about focusing the media spotlight on the tragedy unfolding. It’s about building political support in the US and around the world for interventions that will stop the suffering today and break the cycle of famine in the future. Most of all, it’s about taking action — because famine is man-made.
Of course it’s complex, and solutions are difficult — especially in Somalia where there has not been a formal government for 20 years. But that is not an excuse for the world to look the other way. Most of us (thankfully) have no experience of starvation, but we do know what it’s like to lose someone you love. Each of those 30,000 children was someone’s daughter or son, someone’s sister or brother. If you look at reports from the Horn, there are stories of mothers having to decide which child to feed and which to let die; women leaving their children’s bodies on the side of the road as they walk for weeks in search of food and water for those still fighting for life.
History shows there are ways to prevent drought from becoming famine, even though it’s complicated. So check out the film and sign ONE’s petition to world leaders calling on them to live up to promises already made to invest in things proven to work… early warning systems… irrigation… drought resistant seeds… and of course, peace and security. At ONE.org there’s more explanation and information. And while ONE doesn’t solicit funding, if you want to give money, you can find links to other organizations providing emergency assistance in the Horn who need all the support they can get.
This article first appeared on the The Huffington Post
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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