Lately I have been reading a lot of news articles/blog posts about the food crisis in Africa.  Today I thought instead of sharing my opinions/views, I would share some these articles with you instead.  Famine was declared in July in the Horn of Africa—where 13 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti are currently experiencing the worst drought in 60 years and are severely lacking access to food.  While the famine has recently been “downgraded” to a severe food crisis, there is much work yet to be done.  Humanitarian assistance was and is currently being used to meet the immediate needs of the people, but we must begin to look for long-term, sustainable ways to prevent future food crises.

The ONE organization is always a great source of information and inspiration:

  • “Crisis in the Horn of Africa” (lots of information about the food crisis, relief efforts, first-hand information from people working on the ground, etc.; links to other articles and blogs, quick facts about the Horn of Africa, and news and analysis)
  • “The Crisis in the Horn of Africa” 28 November 2011 (Policy Brief examining short-term and long-term needs in the region and how to prevent future crises; UN appeal for aid to the Horn of Africa)
  • “Fight the Famine, Feed the Future” (ONE’s campaign to ensure that the Congressional budget does not cut foreign assistance programs that help people break the cycle of poverty and hunger)
  • “Breaking the Cycle of Crisis and Poverty by Helping Farmers Feed the Future” (Fact sheet about the “Feed the Future” agricultural development aid program and what it would do in the Horn of Africa to break the cycle of crisis and poverty currently facing residents)
  • ONE Blog (lots of information from people working with humanitarian organizations in the Horn to get people food and water; lots of other information about ONE-related campaigns and issues)

An organization that I am not familiar with (besides the information they send out), but that seems legit is Mercy Corps.  Based in Oregon, Mercy Corps has recently posted several interesting articles about the work they are doing to relieve the suffering in the Horn of Africa.

  • “Hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa” (Information for donors about the work Mercy Corps is doing in the midst of the crisis and links to articles and videos Mercy Corps staff have posted about the situation in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya)
  • “The Growing Food Crisis in Niger” (Niger is located in sub-Saharan Africa, not the Horn, but there are many reports beginning to circulate that the food crisis is spreading—and Niger is the next to be hit, unless a solution and action is taken immediately.  This article, by Thierno Diallo, Mercy Corps’ Country Director in Niger, is about the increasing risk of food crisis and what we can do.)

These articles haven’t been a very light-hearted topic, but having worked in a refugee camp following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, I think it is important to see the rays of optimism and hope that emerge from such dire situations.  So, thanks to the Huffington Post, there are some glimmers of light that we can take as we work towards a long-term goal of prevention, instead relying on emergency response measures.

  • “Niger: Food Crisis or Ground Floor Opportunity to Save Mothers and Babies” was written by Jeanne Faulkner (CARE International) about the situation in Niger being “a master class on the anatomy of a food crisis, but also an opportunity to intervene before it’s too late, like in the Horn of Africa.”  One way that CARE has intervened was to start a cash-for-work program in partnership with the World Food Programme, to help families buy food and do jobs that improve their village’s long-term infrastructure.
  • “A Recipe for Fighting Child Malnutrition” by Cat Cora (Chefs For Humanity) describes the many different actions being taken that she learned about on a recent trip to Ethiopia, including a USAID-funded urban garden program, where women are being given plots of land to grow and harvest healthy vegetables to supplement their traditional staple, injera.  Women are realizing how much healthier their children are with the improved nutrition and the women are able to sell any surplus crops to earn some additional money for their families.