• Child malnutrition ‘rises by 160% in parts of Nigeria’

    Cases of severe malnutrition among children aged under five years in north-eastern Nigeria are fast increasing, an non-governmental organisation has warned.

    FHI 360 said that a staggeringly high number of malnourished children – 15,781 – were admitted to its facilities between February and September for treatment, an increase of nearly 160% from last year.

    “The situation in north-east Nigeria is grave, and increased support is needed to address the critical health and nutritional needs of communities, especially women and children,” the organisation added.

    The UN children’s organisation (Unicef) has previously said that Nigeria has the second-highest rate of child stunting globally, which is caused by widespread malnutrition, particularly in the northern part of the country.

    Unicef estimates that two million children in Nigeria suffer from malnutrition, but only 20% of these receive treatment.

    Its data also shows that malnutrition contributes to 45% of the deaths of children aged under five years in Nigeria.

  • Ukraine war could worsen crises in Yemen and Afghanistan

    “Don’t make us take food from children that are hungry to give to children that are starving,” pleads the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

    Soaring food and fuel costs, together with budget cuts in some traditional donor countries, have forced the WFP to halve the amount of food it is giving to millions of people in Yemen, Chad and Niger.

    In December 2021, the UN made a record appeal for $41bn (£31bn) to help 273 million people this year.

    As aid workers stress, these are not people who will be made a bit more comfortable by help from the UN. They are people, particularly children, who will probably die without it.

    But that appeal was made before Russia invaded Ukraine. Both countries used to sell grain to the WFP.

    Back then, Ukraine was a supplier, not a country in need of humanitarian assistance, as the WFP’s Geneva director Annalisa Conte points out.

    Food shortages

    In the first month of the war, the WFP reached a million people inside Ukraine. But its supply of Ukrainian grain, destined to feed some of the hungriest on the planet, has dried up.

    Meanwhile, many African countries, while not dependent on UN aid, import grain from Ukraine.

    Somalia gets more than 60% of its grain from Ukraine and Russia, while Eritrea gets nearly 97% of its wheat from Ukraine.

    They now have to bid against Europeans and North Americans on the international market in search of food.

    Jan Egeland, former head of UN emergency relief and now with the Norwegian Refugee Council, describes this as a “catastrophe” for the poorest parts of the world. “They will starve,” he says.

    Selective aid?

    This March, in the hope of reminding donors of the continued needs in Yemen and Afghanistan, the UN launched emergency “flash” appeals.

    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that Afghans were “selling their children, and their body parts, in order to feed their families”. But the flash appeal for Afghanistan achieved about half of what the UN asked for.

    A similar appeal for Yemen, which the UN says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, got less than a third.

    Although aid workers don’t like to say it publicly, there is an uneasy feeling that traditional donor countries in Europe, who in recent weeks have raised record sums for Ukraine and offered tens of thousands of places in their homes for Ukrainian refugees, are being somewhat selective about who they help.

    There is no question that vulnerable civilians in Ukraine “deserve all our compassion, and the outpouring of generosity that we have seen”, says Robert Mardini, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    But, he adds, there is a long list of unresolved conflicts elsewhere that continue to unfold day in, day out.

    The crises in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria among others have only got worse since the Ukraine war. Jan Egeland admits aid agencies feel “overstretched, underfunded, overwhelmed like never before”.

    Compassion for all

    The generosity towards Ukrainians who have fled their homes has been welcomed by the UN Refugee Agency. But aid workers also know that until quite recently, many European countries, among them Hungary and Poland, were pushing Syrian refugees back across their borders.

    The refugee agency’s Shabia Mantoo thinks the Ukraine war could be an opportunity for the world to come to a better understanding of what it is to be a refugee, or to be a neighbouring country, like Lebanon, Uganda or Turkey, hosting hundreds of thousands of people.

    She hopes the countries now throwing their doors open to Ukrainian refugees will “extend that solidarity, that compassion to all others in a similar situation”.

    Tough year ahead

    But even if this crisis does cause a surge in global solidarity, aid agencies know this will be a very difficult year.

    The fact that Russia, a permanent, veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, is the aggressor in this latest war will probably make the delivery of aid more complicated.

    The UN needs co-operation between Russia and the West, for example, for cross-border deliveries to Syria. But this relationship is now “in the deep freeze”, as Jan Egeland puts it.

    Meanwhile, food and fuel prices are set to rise still further, while wealthy countries are looking to balance their books after spending tens of billions on their Covid recovery programmes.

    It’s a perfect storm, aid workers say, which shows once again that humanitarian aid is never a solution and usually only an inadequate sticking plaster on the gaping wound of war.

    Peace is the precondition to everything else, says Annalisa Conte.

  • History of great famine in the Kazakh steppe

    The Kazakh feature film “The Crying Steppe” has been included in the long list as Kazakhstan’s entry for the Best International Feature Film in foreign language at the 93rd Academy Awards scheduled for April 25 this year.

    The film is based on real events that happened in Kazakhstan in 1920-30, when about 1.5 million – 3 million people of the local nation died of famine, a result of forced collectivization for Kazakhs who were nomadic livestock farmers as part of their culture.

    In Kazakhstan, it was dramatically aggravated by the decision to enforce in parallel a violent campaign of sedentarisation of nomadic cattle-breeders, which was the majority of Kazakh people before the 1930s. The Soviets confiscated cattle from the Kazakhs. By forcefully taking cattle from nomads, they doomed the Kazakh nation to extinction.

    The story centers around a berkutchi (eagle hunter) Turar and his wife Nuriya who try to save their family and other village residents from hunger.

    “The crackdown on free-thinking and the annihilation of ethnic culture and human values led to spiritual starvation and the killing of the soul,” Marina Kunarova, the director of the film, said, as quoted by goldenglobes.com.

    “The film raises the question of ‘why?’ Why did our forefathers have had to pay such a terrible price? And why, up until now, have we been afraid to admit what really happened and, instead, conceal our tragic history from the rest of the world?” she said.

    Kunarova is the first female director from Kazakhstan nominated for the prestigious award. The film was presented in November 2020 in Los-Angeles, the film also participated in the Golden Globe competition for Best Foreign Language Film Award.

    “(It is) the history of our people, our ancestors who died innocently. It all took us five years and two years of preparations. We are now on the long list. Now, the shortlist of Oskar will be announced at the end of February,” said film producer Yernar Malikov, as quoted by Tengrinews.kz

    The tragedy caused by the Great Famine in the Kazakh steppe has affected every modern Kazakh family, as well as myself. For example, my maternal grandmother Gaini told me that she lost her husband and small children during a time of famine.

    “I cried a lot and missed my dead children. It was scary to be alone in those years,” my grandmother told me.

    Left as a widow, she married my grandfather Bilyal, who at the same time stayed with two young sons, the youngest was two years old. My grandfather’s first wife died of hunger along with the newborn. Thus, my grandmother Gaini raised two sons from my grandfather’s first marriage. Then my mother was born. I – the author of these lines, belong to the second generation of Kazakhs, born from those who were able to survive the Great Famine in the Kazakh steppe.

    For Kazakhstan, the historical topic has become especially relevant today in connection with the statements of some Russian politicians about the alleged lack of statehood among the Kazakhs. In addition, this year this Central Asian republic is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence following the collapse of the Soviet empire.

    At the beginning of this year, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in his  article “Independence is the most precious thing”, where he outlined his program, said that today historical scenarios are in demand in the world film industry and that “Netflix, HBO and other large film companies are heading to Asia,” and Kazakhstan has a history of many important events that can form the basis of such films, for example, the history of the Golden Horde, one of the most powerful empires in the world.

    Tokayev noted that in the future, Kazakh film critics should pay special attention to the history of the country. He stressed, “we need to keep strong roots, not to break away from our national identity, culture and traditions” and that the younger generation should know the value of the country’s independence”.

  • Affamata una persona ogni 9 sul pianeta, occorre rafforzare la catena alimentare

    Nel 2017 le persone denutrite nel mondo hanno toccato quota 821 milioni, in aumento di 6 milioni rispetto all’anno precedente, secondo il rapporto ‘Lo stato di sicurezza alimentare e nutrizione’ di Fao, Oms, Unicef, Ifad e Programma Alimentare. Una persona ogni 9 al mondo con cibo insufficiente è lo stesso livello che si registrava nel 2008, viene sottolineato, ma le cause di tale fenomeno (che comporta ritardi nella crescita per 151 milioni di bimbi tra i 2 e i 5 anni e anemia in un terzo delle donne in età fertile) non vanno rintracciate immediatamente nella crisi economica globale che allora investì l’intero pianeta. Il rapporto le individua piuttosto nei mutamenti climatici e nelle ripercussioni sulla produzione agricola e sui prezzi delle derrate alimentari. A fronte di simile diagnosi, il rapporto individua come rimedio il rafforzamento della capacità della catena alimentare di affrontare situazioni climatiche fortemente avverse.

  • Il World Food Programme Italia patrocinerà la quarta edizione di Seeds&Chips

    Ancora novità importanti per la quarta edizione di Seeds&Chips – The Global Food Innovation  Summit (Milano, MiCo – Palazzo Congressi, 7-10 maggio 2018). Dopo i protagonisti già annunciati è la volta dei progetti che racconteranno di cibo e solidarietà. Il World Food Programme (WFP) Italia infatti patrocinerà l’evento milanese e durante il Summit sarà promossa ShareTheMeal, la prima app contro la fame nel mondo: con soli 40 centesimi al giorno si potrà sfamare un bambino. S&C per l’occasione supporterà le iniziative del World Food Programme nel Nord-Est della Nigeria devolvendo parte del ricavato della vendita dei biglietti alle operazioni di emergenza alimentare che sta affliggendo il paese africano. Negli Stati di Borno, Yobe e Adamawa si parla ormai di vero e proprio allarme umanitario e di esodo provocati dalla violenza senza fine di Boko Haram che in pochi anni ha ridotto la popolazione in condizioni di estrema povertà sottoponendola ad ogni sorta di vessazione e privazione. Secondo il WFP 2,6 milioni di persone soffrono la fame e 450.000 bambini sono gravemente malnutriti, 1,62 milioni di persone vivono in campi ospitati da comunità nel Paese stesso e decine di migliaia stanno cercando rifugio nei paesi confinanti, come Camerun, Ciad e Niger. “Anche quest’anno abbiamo aderito con grande entusiasmo alle iniziative del WFP e siamo felici di poter contribuire ad aiutare le popolazioni della Nigeria” – commenta Marco Gualtieri, fondatore e presidente di Seeds&Chips. “Il Summit unisce da sempre cibo, sostenibilità e innovazione attraverso la compartecipazione di startup, aziende, opinion leader e media mondiali, per affrontare il grande tema del food e delle nuove soluzioni che lo sviluppo tecnologico può offrire, non solo per i Paesi economicamente più evoluti, ma soprattutto per le popolazioni che vivono una condizione di povertà e scarsità di risorse”. Una bella sfida che si affianca a quella di SharetheMeal che ha come obiettivo provvedere cibo salva-vita per 100 giorni ai bambini malnutriti nel Nord della Nigeria. Lanciata due anni fa, la prima app contro la fame nel mondo è stata scaricata da più di un milione di persone che hanno condiviso 21 milioni di pasti con bambini affamati, per sostenere il WFP nelle emergenze alimentari più critiche.

Pulsante per tornare all'inizio