Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Nutrition

In the wake of drought in West Africa’s Sahel region, a bleak narrative of an estimated 18.7 million people on the brink of potential catastrophic food crisis has captured media attention. There has been a constant drumbeat of calls from many agencies for more humanitarian funding. Agricultural production in the Sahel fell due to late and irregular rains and prolonged dry spells in 2011. Drought also caused a significant fodder deficit in the pastoral areas of the Sahel. The Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) meeting of 12–13 April confirmed that Sahel cereal production in 2011 was 26% lower than in…
The special feature of this issue of Humanitarian Exchange focuses on the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of Africa, where aid agencies estimate that more than 18 million people are affected by food insecurity. It is available to download in English and French. In the lead article Peter Gubbels argues that the main cause of this crisis is not drought or a food shortage but a ‘resilience deficit’ which has left vulnerable people unprotected against shocks like rain failure and exceptionally high food prices. Northern Mali has been hit doubly hard by a poor harvest in 2011, followed by…
Action contre la Faim (ACF) has been implementing cash-based interventions since the late 1990s. ACF’s main focus is the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition, and it has used cash-based responses to pursue this objective, including using vouchers to increase access to fresh foods (vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, milk and fish). Fresh food vouchers (FFV) have provided households with complete food baskets, or have been used to supplement staple foods with fresh micronutrient-rich foods. FFV programmes also support local markets and traders. Fresh food vouchers can be used in slow-onset as well as acute crises to provide short- or longer-term…
The Middle East is an atypical context for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The increasing complexity of humanitarian action, particularly the blurring of the lines between humanitarian and military actors and the increasing use of humanitarian language to justify wars, have made it even more difficult for MSF to negotiate independent operational space. This is especially so in some countries in the Middle East. Moreover, we are unaccustomed to working in middle-income countries where addressing non-communicable diseases is the priority. Although MSF is used to responding to acute crises, the Middle East suffers mostly from the chronic consequences of conflict. In…
The scale and scope of the humanitarian crisis in South Central Somalia challenges the humanitarian system’s capacity to deliver assistance. More than two decades of conflict, combined with cyclical, slow- and fast-onset disasters, have displaced millions of Somalis. In the absence of a central government, the few basic services available are mostly provided by humanitarian aid organisations (mainly through local staff and partners) and food crises are recurrent. Many of the lessons from this crisis can also be applied to other complex emergencies where the humanitarian response capacity has been overstretched, and where security and access constraints make it difficult…
Droughts in arid areas are caused by failed rains and exacerbated by the strategies affected people use to counter the depletion of resources and weakened coping mechanisms. A VSF consortium programme is focusing on the approaches and practices communities use to support dialogue and negotiation as a prerequisite for creating disaster-resilient communities. Such practices include reciprocal resource agreements, which are a common feature in pastoralist customary traditions. Reciprocal resource agreements govern the use of shared resources: resources that are under the custody of one community, but are also open to a neighbouring community in times of drought. These agreements are…
The Horn of Africa is synonymous with drought and famine, and the region returned to the media spotlight in 2011 as a result of a region-wide La Niña drought. There was, however, much less mention of the fact that Ethiopia has recorded double-digit economic growth rates in recent years and is the third fastest-growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country has also made important efforts to address chronic food insecurity through the launch in 2005 of the Food Security Programme, the largest social protection programme in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa. This article highlights positive developments in the management…
The Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia was set up in 2005 by the government as part of a strategy to address chronic food insecurity. The PSNP provides cash or food to people who have predictable food needs in a way that  enables them to improve their own livelihoods – and therefore become more resilient to the effects of shocks in the future. However, there are times when a shock results in transitory food insecurity, the scale of which is beyond the mainstream PSNP to address. This requires additional temporary support. In this event extra funding comes from the…
Why is the response to drought almost always too little too late? Evaluations find the same failures and make the same recommendations again and again, and the response to the Horn crisis is no exception. The draft Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) evaluation classified it as ‘a qualified success’, and highlights the general failure of preventive action from late 2010. Much the same was said in evaluations from the Sahel in 2005 and 2010, and in Kenya in 2005/6 and 2008/9. Whilst humanitarian response is improving in many areas, drought is not one of them. Paradoxically, we are better at responding…
The special feature of this issue of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited with HPG Research Fellow Simon Levine, focuses on the crisis in the Horn of Africa.
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