A recent opinion article by Samuel Loewenberg in The New York Times (November 26, 2011) correctly observes that the current hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, which has afflicted some 13 million people, was predicted for months.
“The drought has been mounting for a year, but it wasn’t until the crisis peaked over the summer that the news media and most international donors took notice,” he writes. “It’s a familiar cycle: first come the news media pictures of emaciated infants, followed by conferences on how to do better next time, visits from top-level government officials and large financial commitments from international organizations and even donors like China and the Ikea Foundation.”
“This is good news; the assistance is badly needed. Yet the mismatch in timing raises a question that bedevils aid agencies. Unlike earthquakes or hurricanes, droughts and food price increases take time to develop, and the resulting hunger crises are forecast well in advance. From water harvesting to livestock support to cash assistance, there are a plethora of steps that could have significantly ameliorated the current crisis. Why weren’t they taken?”
The answer? The politics of poverty and the logistics of food aid.
Meanwhile, BOMA is focused on developing a long-term program for fighting poverty and helping residents adapt to climate change in the rural arid lands of Africa. Our REAP micro-enterprise program helps women start a small business and earn a sustainable income, so they can feed their families, pay for school fees and medical care, and accumulate savings that can help them survive drought. That’s what we call a high-impact investment.
To read the article, click here.
Also: Check out this thought-provoking take on international food aid and donations, titled “Haiti Doesn’t Need Your Old T-Shirt,” from the November 29 edition of Foreign Policy. To read the article, click here.