food_aid_gaza
The World Food Program announced that over the next year, nearly a million people in the Gaza Strip will require food aid. The U.N. agency is requesting $95 million from donors to assist those in need.

Due to the projected increase in those who will need international aid, more countries will have to donate to effectively assist those who are food insecure.

According to the executive director of the agency, Ertharin Cousin, the rise in those who are hungry and requiring aid has risen 7 percent since last year and this has largely been exacerbated by Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis and high unemployment rates.

The conflict has destabilized the entire region, and competing interests for resources from states and corporate interests have left those most vulnerable without basic security and trapped in poverty.

Another reason for the most recent increase in families needing aid was the recent closure by the Egyptian government of smuggling tunnels. The tunnels that ran under the border to impoverished Palestinian enclaves provided access to jobs and construction projects, including a clandestine route for militant groups and weapons trafficking.

Currently, about 813,000 Palestinian refugees are receiving food aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The organization expects a 10-20 percent rise in demand in 2014 as the conflict continues to destabilize the region, displaces more people, and keeps the cycle of poverty continuing.

Food security is a major issue for those living in the Gaza Strip. A majority of households are food insecure. In 2012, some 71 percent of impoverished households in Gaza are either food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. Without assistance these food insecurity levels are surely to continue to rise.

Compounding the lack of food is unemployment. Maher al-Tabbaa’, an economist from the West Bank,  recently told Reuters he expected the coastal territory’s unemployment rate for 2013 to rise to nearly 38 percent.

With less job security comes more hungry families needing more aid from the global community. Without funding from donor countries the food crisis will only continue and will also serve to further the conflict and the ongoing violence that has already cost too much.

Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: Forward, Sydney Morning Herald

2
The latest conflict driven food crisis has emerged and come to international attention by aid agencies. The thousands who have been displaced in the most recent outburst of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being aided by the World Food Programme (WFP) and were recently visited by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Powers.

In Bangui and elsewhere in the country, fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and created a humanitarian crisis in which food is a top priority and a main concern for security. It is believed that hundreds of people have been killed in the country since the outbreak of conflict at the beginning of the month and insecurity makes it harder to deliver food to communities that need it. There are still reports of killing in the countryside and the turmoil as created a difficult situation to successfully deliver food aid in

Nearly 127,000 displaced people are in Bangui alone, and these numbers are only  expected to increase. The WFP is giving families rations of maize meal or rice, split peas, vegetable oil and salt. More food is being brought in, but stocks are quickly depleting. Many have gone for days without eating before receiving assistance from WFP-run sites. Activities are frequently disrupted by waves of violence

Seasonal harvesting in some parts of the country has been severely disrupted by the conflict. Aid agencies are scaling up to reach more than a million people in the CAR in 2014. Muslim and Christian fighters continue to carry out atrocities on both sides creating more need and making more families vulnerable.

With the visit of Powers, the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to visit the country, comes $15 million in humanitarian aid from the U.S. Her main focus on the trip was to try to lessen the violence in the country. Christian and Muslims have a history or inter-relations, but the country has been in chaos since the coup in March.

Powers is urging religious leaders to help promote peace and reconciliation and that the government must hold all militias to account

Without a break in violence, aid cannot successfully be delivered and only more will need assistance and food.

Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: NPR, World Food Programme
Photo: Vintage 3D

katy_perry_concert
There are many ways that people try to make a difference in the fight against hunger in our country. One in every six Americans struggles to provide their families with nutritious food, and the ideas that people are coming up with to get the message out to the masses are becoming increasingly thoughtful and innovative. Now, the satellite radio audience will have the opportunity to take part in Hungerthon 2013, a joint initiative by SiriusXM and WhyHunger.

WhyHunger and the popular satellite radio service provider have teamed up to offer satellite radio listeners the opportunity to take part in the annual initiative to educate and build the movement to end hunger and poverty in the United States. Throughout the holiday season, satellite radio listeners will have a chance to bid on items being auctioned off on the SiriusXM website.

Some of the items auctioned off in support of this year’s Hungerthon include a Katy Perry autographed “California Dreams” Tour Jacket, a piano bench signed by Gavin DeGraw, an Al Merrick surfboard signed by Jimmy Buffett, and a Fender acoustic guitar signed by multiple artists including Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and Jack Johnson.

In collaboration with Hungerthon 2013, WhyHunger has also released an interactive music app called John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes. The app provides users a look into John Lennon’s sailing journey to Bermuda that inspired the album “Double Fantasy.” Users can also hear unreleased demos and learn about different collaborations from the album. Net Proceeds from app purchases benefit WhyHunger and Hungerthon 2013.

Hungerthon has been raising funds and challenging the idea that anyone should go hungry through its national radio campaign for 28 years. Through the power of music and sensational involvement from prominent figures in the music industry, Hungerthon’s important message has been communicated to millions.

Daren Gottlieb

Sources: Hungerthon, WhyHunger, SiriusXM
Photo: Saucy Sprinkles

overpopulation public health
There is much debate whether overpopulation poses public health risks. Some believe it is the cause of hunger and poverty throughout the world while others feel that it has never been a problem.  It is important to shed light on this fear of overpopulation as its consequences are said to be evident in all developing countries.

Several reports about Africa’s growing population has been connected to the starvation of millions of people. Every year 32.5 percent of children in developing countries suffer from malnutrition. Sustainable population advocates have pointed to the approximate 200 million hunger-related deaths in the past twenty years. Deterioration in global biodiversity has also been linked to overpopulation. Substantial data of species loss has been presented by countries such as China, Brazil and Mexico. Human settlements that are gradually increasing according to the rate of population is said to ruin the benefits of nature and destroy habitats. The consequences of overpopulation is also suggested in access to education, primarily in Africa. In African classrooms, children are unable to learn due to overcrowding.  Access to water, medical care and housing are all diminished when there are more people that require aid. Data from the United Nations further suggests that by 2050, 10 percent to 15 percent of land that is farmed today will not be available. This could potentially lead to a food crisis as the current population increases at a faster rate.

Those supporting a sustainable population see hope in public policies being employed in countries such as Bangladesh, Iran and Thailand. Results from securing social services to women and families indicate a large decrease in undernourished people in Asia, from 23.7 percent to 13.9 percent. This downward trend from simply giving access to birth control and adopting policies that give aid to small families suggests that overpopulation is an issue that can be solved.  Policies that provide family planning to those in remote, rural areas in Asia has led to stability in undernourishment over time. By merely shifting the focus on public policy these countries quickly witnessed better health standards, quality of education and housing availability, all of which offer hope to the remaining developing nations.

– Maybelline Martez

Sources: Scientific American, Huffington Post, World Hunger