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It was recently found that the government of Swaziland (Southern Africa) diverted food supplies provided by Japan to local people suffering from famine. About 12,000 tonnes of corn were sold for three million dollars that were deposited in an account at the Central Bank of Swaziland. In March 2010 the United Nations Security Council published a report proving the diversion of food aid by armed groups, corrupt local partners, but also by UN workers and Islamist militia in Somalia, a country that has suffered from a serious food crisis for many years.
To prevent pillage, international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), pays suppliers when the goods arrive, and manage the transport and distribution process themselves. Several organizations are responsible for bringing their support to victims of famine or food crisis. The largest of them, the World Food Programme, works closely with NGOs.
Beyond food aid, it is also urgent to consider ways to strengthen the food sovereignty of people affected by hunger. David Orr, WFP East, Central and Southern Africa spokesman, says the Programme has launched a new action strategy to deliver food aid, when the situation allows it, via cash or vouchers. Beneficiaries can be more independent and take control of their own food spending in local markets.
So, giving the people who suffer from hunger the chance to control their own livelihood is a key challenge in the coming years, especially to successfully avoid not only situations of famine, but also poverty. This is one of the objectives of the Red Cross. Sheikh Mohamed Ali, ICRC’s economic security programmes coordinator in Somalia said that as soon as they identify a situation of food insecurity, they plan or supervise the effects of distribution, but they also plan the support with the families and beneficiaries, they provide food tools and irrigation points in rural areas to protect agriculture lands and infrastructure.
The G8 summit on malnutrition was held in London on Saturday, 8th June. US President, Barack Obama, decided to set up a new alliance for food security and nutrition in Africa, an initiative that concerns several humanitarian NGOs and international solidarity groups. The initiative is expected to bring together diverse structures such as the G8, the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the governments of six African countries (Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania) and especially about a hundred corporations (including Monsanto, Cargill and Danone). This could be an alliance with strong economic interests, where the will to act on food security in crisis-stricken countries may be avoided.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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