Wednesday, February 22, 2012

UNICEF in Urgent Need of $64 Million for Sahel's Children

Food is sacred. No one, especially children, should die from hunger or be diseased by malnutrition.

Food is the basis of all sustainability efforts. Without food, people cannot stand to voice change; the world stands to fall.

According to Voice of American, the United Nations Children's Fund yesterday warned an estimated one million young children in eight countries in the Sahel is at risk and suffers from “severe acute malnutrition . . . are at risk of death or permanent disability.”

UNICEF urgently needs $67 million to provide food for these vulnerable children.

The United Nations warned drought and food shortages are threatening the lives and well-being of up to 23 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa.

“Malnutrition contributes to around 35 percent of under-five child deaths around the world. The risk, obviously, is that with this crisis its impact will become much more severe and many more children risk dying or getting sick. That is just malnutrition, compounded with disease, is very potentially lethal for children,”
Spokeswoman for the U.N. Children’s Fund, Marixie Mercado

According to UNICEF, there still is time to help. Although UNICEF needs $120 million for a long term sustainable action plan for the region, (and approximately$1.28 billion to respond to meet the world's needs), it has received $9 million for its humanitarian operations in the Sahel this year. It is in urgent need of an additional $67 million to purchase ready-to-use now to help the children in most desperate conditions.

“We need to place orders for RUTF about six months in advance so that they can continue producing the quantities that we need in order to save lives. If we do not have the [$64MM] funding immediately available, we cannot start placing orders so that production can continue at the speed and rate that pre-positioning requires,” said Mercado.
World Hunger Facts:

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which measures 'undernutrition’, there are 925 million people world-wide, 13.6% of the world’s population, who are undernourished in 2010.

Nearly all of the undernourished are in developing countries. The number of hungry people has increased dramatically since 1995-97. The FAO noted the increase were due to three factors:

1) neglect of agriculture relevant to very poor people by governments and international agencies;
2) the current worldwide economic crisis, and
3) the significant increase of food prices in the last several years which has been devastating to those with only a few dollars a day to spend.

According to Bread for the World, "14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 48 million Americans—including 16.2 million children—live in food insecurity. More than one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger."

The scary thing: according to Food First, "abundance, not scarcity, best describes the world's food supply."
Enough wheat, rice and other grains are produced to provide every human being with 3,500 calories a day. That doesn't even count many other commonly eaten foods - vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish.
Enough food is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day worldwide: two and half pounds of grain, beans and nuts, about a pound of fruits and vegetables, and nearly another pound of meat, milk and eggs-enough to make most people fat!
The problem is that many people are too poor to buy readily available food.
Even most "hungry countries" have enough food for all their people right now. Many are net exporters of food and other agricultural products.

As of 2010, according to the U.S. Census--Annual Social and Economic Supplements from the Current Population Survey, one in seven living in the U.S. lives below the poverty line; more than one in five children in the United States lives below the poverty line. One in four African Americans lives below the federal poverty line, compared to about one in eight Americans overall; more than one in four Latino households—26.9 percent—struggles to put food on the table, compared to 14.6 percent of all households. The Urban Institute, in a 2007 report--Transition In and Out of Poverty (PDF), showed that more than half of all Americans will live in poverty at some point before they reach 65.

Food is our common ground, a universal experience. - James Beard

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