The World Food Programme (WFP) does not plan “to reduce aid to Somalia following allegations that international food shipments there are being diverted,” the Associated Press reports. WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume “told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that the WFP investigation so far has no evidence of a large-scale fraud scheme,” the news agency writes (8/16). Noting it has “strong controls â€¦ in place” in Somalia, “WFP said it was ‘confident the vast majority of humanitarian food is reaching starving people in Mogadishu,’ adding that AP reports of ‘thousands’ of bags of stolen food would equal less than 1 percent of one month’s distribution for Somalia,” the Associated Press writes in another article (8/15).
A shrinking Department of Defense (DOD) budget and a shift in the focus of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to “more traditional military threats” to national security, such as “preventing terrorist safe havens on the continent,” could affect the department’s HIV prevention programs, Stars and Stripes reports. While officials say there currently is no intent to cut HIV prevention programming, “those initiatives will come under more scrutiny as AFRICOM operates in a tougher budget environment, according to command officials,” the news service writes.
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, U.S. representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, writes about her recent visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. “There is something remarkable about seeing how U.S. contributions â€“ both from our government and the private sector â€“ can be transformed into something as concrete and life-saving as a simple meal for a little girl. Washington has committed around $580 million to the relief effort. Hopefully that will save a lot more children here in Dadaab and around the Horn. The international community has provided around $1.4 billion, but it’s not enough â€“ I know that and we continue to push for more support from other donors. But it is a start and it is making a real and lasting difference,” she writes (8/12).
The news from the Horn of Africa is “mixed,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” reports, adding, “More food is getting through and security has improved for now, but tens of thousands of children have already died and many more are at risk.” According to NPR, “Aid groups were pleased last week when al-Shabab, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, pulled out of the capital, Mogadishu. That made a dangerous country a little bit less so for aid workers” (Keleman, 8/10).
A drought and “security crisis as a result of political conflicts, civil war and anarchy” in Somalia are to blame for the famine recently declared by the U.N., but “[t]he international community is also to blame for responding too slowly and neglecting its responsibilities in this preventable disaster,” a Lancet editorial says. “The USA, Europe, and other wealthy donors waited until pictures of starving children and desperate women made the evening news to hand over funds. China, Africa’s second largest trading partner after the USA, merely said it would pay ‘close attention’ to the disaster, and only pledged a modest $14 million of food aid on August 5, after U.S. House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, urged the country to do more,” the editorial states.
Clinton Announces Additional $17M For Horn Of Africa, Urges Long-Term Investment In Agriculture, Food Aid
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in a speech at the International Food Policy Research Institute on Thursday that the U.S. has pledged an additional $17 million in emergency food aid to the Horn of Africa, with $12 million going to humanitarian operations in Somalia, Voice of America writes (Baragona, 8/11). “Clinton said â€¦ the new money – which comes on top of $105 million in U.S. assistance announced on Monday – would bring total U.S. humanitarian aid to the drought-hit region to more than $580 million this year,” Reuters reports (8/11).
“Spearheaded by USAID, President Obama’s food security initiative â€“ Feed the Future â€“ is helping countries develop their own agricultural sectors so they can feed themselves,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes in a post on the agency’s “IMPACTblog.” He describes several projects underway in Kenya and Ethiopia aimed at improving…
“The prices of grain and milk in the drought-hit Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have risen to record highs, exacerbating hardship for the estimated 12.4 million people in the region who are facing severe food shortages and famine in some parts of Somalia,” according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s August food price monitor, the U.N. News Centre reports (8/10).
The August 8 visit of a U.S. delegation to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa “was important in terms of shedding light on the important efforts that are under way and the importance of continued support from the international community,” Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric Schwartz said on Tuesday during a briefing on the trip, IIP Digital reports (Babb, 8/9).
The Council on Foreign Relations features an interview with Laurie Garrett, a CFR senior fellow for Global Health, in which she discusses the effects of the declining dollar, the struggling global economy and the rise in food prices on food aid pledges for the drought and famine in East Africa.Â “We…