Hunger at Thanksgiving

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 25, 2011
Residents Harvest Crops at UNFAO-Supported Community Farm in Somalia

On November 24, 2011, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, and Ambassador Tony Hall, former U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, published an opinion piece in the Huffington Post. The Ambassadors discussed hunger around the world and international efforts to provide assistance to those suffering from hunger and under-nutrition in the Horn of Africa. The text of their piece follows.

"As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we ponder all the things we are thankful for: the joy our family brings us, our good health, the people we love, our jobs, and the wealth of food on the tables in front of us. It is a time when we Americans take a minute to consider our many privileges and opportunities.

"In our country, when parents cannot feed their children, community and government programs will catch them. But this is not so for families facing hunger in far too many countries around the world.

"Thanksgiving is also an occasion to stop for just a minute, and think of them as well.

"As former and current U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture agencies -- the UN organizations that provide assistance to people suffering from hunger or under nutrition around the globe -- at Thanksgiving our thoughts swing to these poorer areas of the world. In particular, our thoughts turn to 13.3 million people in crisis in the Horn of Africa, where the worst drought in the last 60 years, coupled with severe instability, has caused a famine in areas of Somalia. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes and crossed into neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia in search of food, water, and medicine. Millions are suffering from extreme hunger, and tens of thousands of children have already died from starvation and disease. What we saw there during recent visits will stay with us for a long time.

"This should not have happened, not again, not in 2011.

"We knew this drought would come. Warning systems have been in place in the region for decades -- monitoring rainfall, crop patterns, livestock, and undernutrition. Working with the Governments of Kenya and Ethiopia, UN agencies, and other donors, we were able to preposition food stocks and scale-up programs in the area, to provide life-saving aid to millions of people in need and lessen the impact of the crisis.

"In Kenya and Ethiopia, our development investments have paid off, helping families cope with the effects of the drought and preventing a slide into famine.

"But in Somalia, sadly, the situation is different. The terrible drought in areas of the country has been exacerbated by the actions of al-Shabaab, the terrorist group that continues to block access for relief organizations to vulnerable areas of Somalia, forcing more than a million to flee, and tens of thousands to starve.

"A large-scale response to this emergency (and other emergencies around the world) has been underway for many months and is having a positive impact. The effort is international, it is multilateral, and it is coordinated by the United Nations.

"As U.S. Ambassadors to the 'food' agencies we have observed and supported the work of the World Food Progamme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) almost from their inception. We are committed to supporting this critical work and coordinating with UN partners and other stakeholders through Feed the Future, President Obama's global hunger and food security initiative.

"We have seen how WFP's globe-spanning logistics operations can bring nutritious, life-saving food relief anywhere in the world within hours, while laying the foundations for communities to become food producers again. We have seen how the FAO assists farmers and livestock herders, around the world obtain seeds to plant and livestock to raise, and improve their lives. We have seen how a $100 loan through IFAD's micro-credit program enabled an impoverished woman in Bangladesh to open a fish-farm, expand into poultry farming and send her children for higher education.

"We must continue to provide emergency assistance where it is needed, but at the same time, and with equal commitment, develop the long-term food security of countries that still struggle with hunger. Agricultural development is key to the future of the planet as it faces a rapidly growing population which just reached 7 billion on October 31st, with changing needs and tastes that demand a 70% increase in food production by 2050. We must take what we call a "twin-track" approach to the problem of food insecurity in the world.

"As a global community, we must all make sure that every country can produce the food it needs, that every mother has the means to feed her children, and that smallholder farmers, especially women, have the tools they need to better produce, store, and market what they grow. These values are at the core of Feed the Future; by alleviating hunger and the desperation it causes, we promote stability and security for all of us.

"As we take that last bite of pumpkin pie tonight, let us take a minute to think about the importance of pursuing the goal of feeding those hungry children whose faces haunt us, but more importantly, to give them the tools they need to feed themselves in the future."

For more information about the crisis in the Horn of Africa, please visit the USAID> FWD and the Feed the Future websites.



Anthony C.
November 26, 2011

Tony C. in Africa writes:


United States
November 26, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

After a minute of thought, that feeling of guilt for Somalia's misfortune just never got started. Do farmers in Iowa somehow deprive farmers in Somalia of rain?

It seems that this same African hunger problem has been nearly continuous for about as long as anyone cared to report it, so whatever the UN has been doing, it isn't working. Where are Somalia's wealthier neighbors when they need them? Have Somalia's neighbors abandoned all hope for Somalia?

There remains the question of why rescue Libya which was not starving instead of Somalia which was starving?

Imagine a movie like this one:

In Somalia, famine and civil war have gripped the country, resulting in over 300,000 civilian deaths and a huge United Nations peacekeeping operation. With the bulk of the peacekeepers withdrawn, the Somali militia have declared war on the remaining UN personnel.

In response, United States Army Rangers, Delta Force, and 160th SOAR are deployed to Somalia to capture Mohammed Farrah Aidid, self-proclaimed president of the country. Outside Mogadishu, Rangers and Delta Force operatives capture Osman Ali Atto, a warlord selling arms to the militia of Aidid. Shortly thereafter, a mission is planned to capture Omar Salad Elmi and Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdiid, two of Aidid's top advisers. Staff Sergeant Matthew Eversmann is placed in command of Ranger Chalk Four, his first command.

The operation is launched and Delta Force successfully captures the men, however Pfc. Todd Blackburn falls from one of the Black Hawk helicopters, severely injuring his back. Three Humvees led by Sgt. Jeff Struecker are detached from the main column to return Blackburn to the UN-held Mogadishu Airport, however en route, Sgt. Dominick Pilla is shot and killed. Shortly thereafter, Black Hawk Super-Six One, piloted by CWO Clifton "Elvis" Wolcott is shot down by an RPG and crashes deep within the city.

The ground forces begin to converge on the crash site, however the Somali militia throw up roadblocks, resulting in Lt. Col Danny McKnight's Humvee column becoming lost, and sustains heavy casualties. Meanwhile, two Ranger Chalks, including Eversmann's unit, reach Super-Six One's crash site, setting up a defensive perimeter. In the interim, Super-Six Four, piloted by CWO Michael Durant is also shot down by an RPG, crashing within the city.

With Cpt. Mike Steele's Rangers pinned down and sustaining heavy casualties, no ground forces can reach Super Six Four's crash site, nor reinforce the Rangers defending Super Six One. Two Delta snipers, Sgt. Randy Shughart and Master Sgt. Gary Gordon are inserted by helicopter to Super Six Four's crash site, where they find Durant still alive. The crash site is eventually overrun, Gordon and Shughart are killed, and Durant is captured.

Meanwhile, McKnight's column, having taken heavy casualties, gives up attempting to reach Six-One's crash site, and returns to base. In response, Gen. Garrison orders 10th Mountain Division, including Pakistani and Malaysian forces, to mobilize as a relief column. The Somali militia launch a sustained assault on Super Six One's crash site throughout the night and into the morning, until the troops are extracted.

A handful of remaining Army Rangers and Delta Force operatives run from the crash site back to the stadium, in the UN Safe Zone. The closing credits detail the results of the raid: 19 American soldiers were killed, with over 1,000 Somalis dead. Durant was released after 11 days of captivity. Delta snipers Gordon and Shughart were the first soldiers to be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. On August 2, 1996, Aidid was killed in a battle with a rival clan. General Garrison retired the following day.

United States
November 27, 2011

Samantha in the U.S.A. writes:

I agree that It is essential to continue emergency assistance to those affected by what is best described as a food security crisis in the Horn of Africa. I also agree that it is essential that the nations in these areas address simultaneously their overall food security. However, in order to truly address the root causes of these nations' problems with food security, it is absolutely imperative that the rule of law in these countries be further strengthened and developed. In many instances, ineffective government and corruption has stunted economic as well as agricultural development that could have prevented this crisis in the first place and blocked much needed aid from reaching affected citizens once the crisis did hit. This is, of course, not completely unique to the countries of the Horn of Africa, it is a recurring issue in many developing nations across the globe. Until rule of law governs these nations in a more stable, thorough, and effective fashion, crises such as this one will continue world-wide.

Nina P.
United States
November 27, 2011

Nina P. in the U.S.A. writes:

I find it enriching that on Thanksgiving Day we can take action to help people around the world who are suffering from hunger starvation. I applaud the Administration’s efforts and what they have done for the people in Kenya and Ethiopia.

If we are going to help Africa, there should be long-term goals to protect the people from hunger starvation. Our goals should not solve food security and drought issues for a couple of years. International NGOs and news articles have been reporting on the possible drought in Somalia and other countries in Africa for years. However, it appears to me that our efforts started in spring of this year.

I simply suggest that we prevent famine and drought before it occurs and provide long-term hunger security. This will allow us to use our money wisely and effectively help the people in Africa.

November 27, 2011

W.W. writes:

Best thanksgiving given ever is the one of ladygaga ...

thanks Gaga ...

United States
November 28, 2011

Joy in Washington, D.C. writes:

Solving agricultural woes is one of the most fundamental development goals we should have. I look forward to seeing the day when sustainable development initiatives render food aid rare. To be considered, though, are the increasing constraints on water as our globe's climate evolves. Water will likely be the key variable in whether or not agricultural advancements and initiatives will succeed or not. Kudos to the UN, USAID, and the FWD campaign partners for their work.


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