Hunger in Zimbabwe and Somalia

The BBC reports the Famine Early Warning System
says hunger is looming in Zimbabwe. While it hasn’t been reported yet, I would
expect to hear a similar report about Somalia.

Hunger looms in Zimbabwe. The Famine Early Warning System, a network of the United States Agency for International Development, reports the winter wheat harvest has been below normal due to weather and lack of fuel. FEWS estimates 1.4 million people are “food insecure.” The lack of grain coupled with a shortage of fuel to transport available supplies and runaway inflation has left the poor in the country vulnerable to hunger.

The BBC reports a shortfall of 850,000 tons of grain. The government plans to import approximately 60% of the shortfall but lacks foreign currency to purchase the food supplies. A 1200% inflation rate makes Zimbabwean currency virtually valueless outside the country.

When the General Commission on Communications of The United Methodist Church met in Zimbabwe the first week of January, Commissioners helped unload fifty pound bags of grain at several schools in rural areas. They also prepared porridge for lunch for two days the first week of the new school year.

I haven’t heard reports of hunger yet from Somalia but floods in the south and military action have displaced the population, creating conditions for hunger. I have read that food distribution has been sporadic due to the Ethiopian drive to chase the Islamic Courts militia into the bush in the south. U.S. airstrikes have also caused people to flee towns along the coast. This disruption of normal life hampers farmers from planting and working their fields and will undoubtedly result in food shortages. This will add to population movement as people search for food in refugee camps along the Kenya-Somalia border. It is an escalating process of destabilization.

Both situations will take diplomatic intervention by the UN to get food distributed, and in Somalia it will require pacification and stability.

My hope is that these situations will not be neglected or crowded from global attention by the war in Iraq. When I hear about hunger today I see faces and remember the names of real people, not just statistics. But whether we know them or not, we cannot allow the world to forget these folks, and many more who are not in the news just now.

There is no reason for hunger to exist in this world of abundance.

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