Hunger Crisis

  • Millions of families are at risk of starvation as famine threatens parts of South Sudan as well as Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.

7 Things You Need to Know About Yemen

Yemen is experiencing what the UN describes as the ‘world’s worst’ humanitarian crisis. How many of these seven things did you already know?

 

1. Hunger is rampant.

Two thirds of Yemen's people rely on food aid to survive, and 14 million people are on the brink of famine.

2. A ceasefire is urgent.

Maintaining and expanding the ceasefire in and around Hudaydah is vital to millions of people who are struggling to survive. Yemenis desperately need all parties to the conflict to agree to an immediate countrywide ceasefire and return to negotiations committed to achieving a lasting peace.

3. Peace must be inclusive.

The pursuit of peace needs to be an inclusive political process which includes Yemeni women, youth and civil society, to bring an end to the conflict and suffering.
 
Fatima holds her son’s photo, who was killed by an airstrike when they were trying to find safety away from conflict’s frontlines in Yemen. Photo: VFX ADEN/Oxfam

4. The crisis is entirely man-made, and is being fuelled by arms sales from the US and UK, among others.

The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to Yemen’s suffering and must stop selling weapons for use in the war.

5. Women and children are hit hardest.

The UN estimates that 3 million women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence. Children and young men have been coerced into joining armed groups, and many girls are forced into early marriage. Families are being forced to make the desperate choice to marry off their girls even as young as three years old to reduce the number of family members to feed, but also as a source of income in order to feed the rest of the family and pay off debts.
 
Oxfam has provided latrines and other humanitarian assistance in hard to reach areas, like this remote village in Al Madaribah district, Lahj governorate, Yemen. Photo: VFX ADEN/Oxfam

6. Oxfam is there.

Since July 2015, working with local and international partners, we have reached 3 million people in Yemen with humanitarian aid. And we've stepped up our work there.

7. We work alongside and through local partners in all areas of our response in Yemen.

This includes water trucking, cholera prevention, repairing water systems and delivering filters and jerry cans. Oxfam also partners with local organizations to campaign for an end to the conflict and an inclusive peace agreement that takes into account the needs and views of women, youth and civil society.
 

How you can help

  • A donation of €50/£40 can give a month's supply of clean and safe drinking and cooking water for families in need
  • A donation of €100/£90 can provide a hungry family with enough money to buy food for three months
  • A donation of €125/£100 can give sanitation to 120 people to stop the spread of life-threatening diseases.
 

5 things you need to know about climate change and hunger

 
60 million people are facing a food crisis but the public has not heard about it. This is roughly the same as the number of refugees in the world, and is also a global phenomenon. But the crisis has not made the headlines because it was a slow, creeping disaster.
 
The 2015/16 ‘super El Niño’, combined with climate change, brought severe droughts and flooding to people in the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Central America, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.  31.1m people are currently food insecure in the Horn of Africa1.
 

But, what does hunger have to do with climate change? A lot.

 
Pascaline from Pissila community, in Burkina Faso, is growing sorghum. Burkina Faso suffers an extreme, variable climate: the same area can be affected by both flooding and drought within only a few months. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam 
 
 
1. Lost livelihoods:  Recently, harvests and livelihoods have faltered as drought has taken hold across equatorial regions. Right now, 39 million people in Southern Africa2  do not have enough to eat, after drought has devastated several cycles of crops. Without climate adaptation strategies suited to each reality, farmers, fisherfolks and pastoralist communities face a difficult choice: to migrate in search of other livelihood opportunities or to stay and face hunger. 
 
2. Food trade and prices spikes: Even where food exists, extreme events can block main roads, railway tracks, harbors, and food cannot reach markets. Besides, extreme weather events such as the recent “super” El Niño, can wipe out entire harvests and trigger dramatic food price spikes. In July this year, maize prices in Malawi were 192 percent higher than the five-year average, and are expected to continue increasing towards the end of 20163. By 2030, 95% of maize and other coarse grains consumed in sub-Saharan Africa could come from the region itself, meaning that local climatic shocks are likely to have dramatic impacts on local production, prices, and ultimately on consumption.
 
Women in search of water in Hadigala district, Siti Zone, Somali Region. 8th July 2015. Photo: Poon Wai Nang/Oxfam
 
3. Water resources: Ethiopia is suffering its worst drought for 30 years and the search for water has become more desperate: women walk for two to six hours a day just to get water, and people have to dig wells deeper and deeper to access water.
 
4. Nutrition-health: Increased water scarcity due to climate change reduces the capacity to produce food and its quality, which has serious implications for food security, nutrition and health. In Ethiopia alone 9.7 million people are currently in need of emergency food aid. People have no choice other than to cut down on the quantity and variety of the food they eat, leading to malnutrition. Tragically, children are the hardest hit: in particular, climate change is intensifying the threat from the three biggest killers of children – diarrhea, malnutrition, and malaria. 
 
Habodo Gele age 35, with her baby Habiiba* (3 ½ months), and her son Saffi* age 5, at their home in Bisle, Siti zone, Ethiopia. “Until now, the drought has mainly affected animals. Today it is affecting humans. It is scary. We don’t have enough food. We get a bit of help. We are supporting ourselves.“
 
5. Climate change as a driver of inequality: The impact of global warming and extreme weather events will be higher in the developing world. Many climate impacts will be greater in the Tropics and poor countries are least able to adapt to the changes. Women are often the hardest hit, as they are the ones left to tend small farms and families, and have fewer alternative livelihoods when crops are lost. 
 

You can help 

This food crisis shows clearly what happens when we fail to invest enough in helping communities adapt to climate change and to grow and buy enough food in a warming world. Acting early in a drought costs 40% less than acting late4. Funds are urgently needed now to support the most vulnerable communities to build their resilience to the changing climate, and to protect lives now and in the future.

 
Sources
1 - FSNWG monthly update: Food and Nutrition Security Situation as of September 2016.
2 - SADC, Regional Situation update on El Nino-induced drought, issue 3, 24 October 2016. 
3 - FEWSNET, Malawi Food Security Outlook Update, August 2016.
4 - DFID, ‘The Economics of Early Response and Resilience: Summary of Findings’, January 2013.
 

These five Oxfam innovations are changing the way people fight poverty

Author: Divya Amladi
 
Diaa', a Syrian refugee living in the Za'atari Camp, is a team supervisor in the Superadobe construction project that is bringing temperature-resistant homes to the camp. Photo: Nesma Nsour/Oxfam
 
From futuristic homes that adjust to extreme temperatures to apps that allow refugees to speak up for their own needs, here are just a few of the creative solutions implemented by Oxfam and our partners on the ground to help vulnerable communities take on new obstacles
 
What comes to mind when you imagine the word innovation? Is it a shiny new gadget, a hack, or an app that helps you get whatever you need at a touch of button? Or, maybe it’s a new way of seeing things? Oxfam thinks of innovations as solutions to problems that are keeping people in poverty. Here’s a look at some of the tools, programs, and yes, even apps, we developed this year to help tackle some of the challenges faced by people we work with.
 

Rice farming goes digital

 
 
Development and Partnership in Action (DPA) is one of Oxfam's partners on the ground implementing the BlocRice project. Photo provided by: Development and Partnership in Action
 
In November 2018, Oxfam launched BlocRice, a program that aims to empower rice farmers in Cambodia to increase their negotiation power for better and fairer pay. The initiative will use digital contracts between rice farmers who are working in agricultural cooperatives, exporters in Cambodia, and buyers in the Netherlands. These contracts are tools for social and economic empowerment, Solinn Lim, Oxfam in Cambodia’s program director, explained at the launch. “Farmers thus gain collective bargaining power since agricultural cooperatives will be parties to the contracts.”
 

An app for when words fail

 
The app helps aid workers address the needs of the nearly one million Rohingya people who are living in severely crowded conditions in makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: Kelsey-Rae Taylor/Oxfam
 
Aid workers in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, encountered a challenge working with Rohingya refugees, whose language is similar but not close enough to the local dialect to ensure effective communication. With nearly one million refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, it is imperative that nongovernmental organizations clearly communicate with the refugees to allow them to speak for themselves. That’s why in June, Oxfam, Translators without Borders, and UNICEF released a glossary app with translations in the five languages spoken in the camps: Bangla, Burmese, Chittagonian, English, and Rohingya. The app is helping Oxfam and others on the ground address the needs of the Rohingya population.  
 

Growing barley grass in the desert

 
The hydroponics project is the brainchild of Oxfam engineer and Sahrawi refugee Taleb Brahim. Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam
 
In the harsh climate of the western Sahara, it is nearly impossible to grow anything naturally. There are frequent sandstorms, and temperatures can exceed a blistering 122 degrees. Sahrawi refugees from western Algeria have been living in camps there for more than 40 years, and one-quarter of them face chronic malnutrition. Food assistance helps, but it’s not a long-term solution. In 2017, Oxfam started a hydroponics program—using a technique for cultivating plants that doesn’t require soil—to feed the goats the camps’ residents depend on for milk, meat, and income. So far, the project has yielded sweet success with greenhouses producing about 132 pounds of fodder each day—enough to feed 20 goats. 
 

Managing Waste

The Oxfam in Bangladesh team celebrates the installation of a centralized waste treatment plant in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Salahuddin Ahmmed/Oxfam
 
When an influx of people in a temporary refuge creates demand for latrines, and then pit latrines start to fill up, how do you treat all the waste? That was the question facing Oxfam in Bangladesh earlier this year—which has been providing water, sanitation, and hygiene support to more than 266,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar since 2017. In November 2018, the team in Bangladesh built an industrial-scale centralized sewage management plant at Cox’s Bazar with the capacity to process the human waste of 150,000 people. The process is completely environmentally friendly, and to our knowledge, this has been the first successful attempt to carry out something of this scale in a refugee camp.
 

Homes designed to be out of this world

 
A new construction project called the SuperAdobe is taking shape in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, in which freely available materials—such as sandbags and barbed wires—are used to build simple shelters. These temporary houses are more comfortable, environmentally friendly, and more liveable than the current caravans refugees inhabit. Most importantly, the SuperAdobes are warm in the winter and cool in the summer, a necessity in a desert environment where summer temperatures reach as high as 104 degrees.

Innovative SuperAdobe Houses: Building a dignified future for Syrian refugees in Jordan

August, the cruellest month in Yemen - Oxfam

An IDP from Hodeidah in Abs district, Hajjah governorate.Credit: Oxfam In Yemen: Ahmed Al-Fadeel 
 
300 children amongst almost 1,000 civilian casualties of the carnage
Oxfam calls for war criminals to be held to account, as peace talks start in Geneva
 
August has been the bloodiest month this year for civilians in Yemen with 981 innocent people killed or injured, including over 300 children. Almost half of these casualties, including 131 children, were wounded or lost their lives in the first nine days of August alone, according to the UN’s civilian impact monitoring department.
 
These reports, gleaned from open sources, are not likely to have captured all civilian casualties and make for sickening reading: 16 fishermen killed and four missing following an airstrike, a woman killed by sniper fire, two children killed by cluster bombs; schools, homes, farms attacked and many more instances of innocent families hit.
 
The devastating numbers are due to warring parties’ reckless disregard for civilian lives and the failure of their political backers to offer any action to prevent the carnage, Oxfam said today, ahead of Yemen peace talks in Geneva.
 
According to the UN between 26 March 2015 and 9 August 2018 there were a total of 17,062 civilian casualties in Yemen. The majority of these casualties, 10,471, were as a result of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.
 
Meanwhile the Houthis and other armed groups continue their stranglehold in Taiz and other areas where street fighting and the use of landmines is leading to civilian casualties, and lack of access means people are denied humanitarian assistance. 
 
Speaking ahead of the first talks in two years to try to secure peace between the Saudi-backed forces and Houthi rebels, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said:
 
“As parents across the island of Ireland began to think about back-to-school and buying uniforms in August, the parents of hundreds of children in Yemen buried their beloved sons and daughters, recklessly killed in a conflict that is destroying the lives of millions of Yemenis. 
 
“Yemen is now a free-fire zone where people gathering for weddings, burying their loved ones or going to market are risking their lives every day. The suffering of the people of Yemen is an affront to our shared humanity and a failure of powerful countries to uphold any sense of the values they are fond of espousing.
 
“It is a shameful chapter of diplomatic double speak, underhand dealings and downright hypocrisy. All warring parties have committed, and continue to commit, violations of the rules of war. The perpetrators and those who are actively involved need to be brought to account and the Irish and UK governments  can play their part by continuing to press for international action to end the conflict.
 
“Ending the killing of civilians needs to be a priority for all parties and communities in Yemen. Today’s talks in Geneva offer them an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and end the carnage.”
 
Despite assurances that there was a ‘pause’ in the fighting around the port city of Hudaydah the beginning of August saw deadly mortar attacks on a busy market killing 41 civilians, including six children and four women, and injuring another 111 civilians. There was also a mortar attack on a hospital in the city causing many civilian casualties.
 
On 9 August, a market and a bus full of school children was bombed killing 46 people and leaving 100 casualties. Most of the dead were boys under the age of 13 years old. Later in the month at least 22 children and four women were killed by an airstrike as they fled a previous attack the day before.
 
Aid agencies are finding it difficult to help people because of the fighting and blocked roads. Damage to water and sanitation infrastructure in Hudaydah and other parts of the country is denying thousands of people access to water, and increasing the threat of a third cholera wave.
 
Oxfam has been in Yemen since 1983. Since 2015, Oxfam has reached more than 2.8 million people in nine governorates of Yemen, providing water and sanitation services – including as part of a cholera response to prevent and contain the disease. Oxfam is also trucking water as well as providing cash assistance and food vouchers.
 
ENDS
 
Spokespeople are available in the region and in Ireland.
 
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: 
 
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson-Lyons, Oxfam Ireland, on +353 (0) 83 198 1869 / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org
 
NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org
 
NOTES TO EDITORS: 
 
The figures collated by the UN’s civilian impact monitoring department come from open sources and have not been verified. They are collected on a daily basis and shared with UN agencies and NGOs. 
 
A recent joint UN Development Programme Early Recovery Assessment showed how life has deteriorated for people across the board in last three years of the conflict, people are becoming poorer, many have lost incomes and are reliant on casual labour or aid, many cannot afford to buy food, and face difficulties accessing food, water, health and education. 
 
Last week’s UN Group of Experts report shows a pattern of violations and potential war crimes committed against civilians by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and by the Houthis over the last three years, including a punishing air and naval blockade, attacks on residential areas, schools and medical facilities, and arbitrary arrests.
 

 

The world has turned its back on South Sudan

Oxfam has been working in South Sudan for over 30 years. Since 2017, we have been responding to a deepening emergency, reaching over 500,000 people across South Sudan with life-saving aid. We also implement long-term development projects to advance gender justice and support people to build resilient livelihoods to help beat poverty now and into the future. In this blog, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, Jim Clarken, reflects on his recent trip there.

South Sudan - A Country in Crisis

South Sudan is a country in crisis – a country on the brink of what could well become the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Yet tragically, for the people of this young nation, their ongoing plight has failed to make the headlines.

For more than four years, the people of South Sudan have been caught up in a brutal civil war. The violence has had a devastating impact on the country’s citizens, millions of whom are suffering from extreme hunger as a result.

More than 4 million people have fled their homes since war broke out in December 2013. And last year alone, some 700,000 people fled South Sudan to neighbouring countries – that means that in 2017, more than one person fled the country every minute.

When I visited South Sudan earlier this month, I met many people whose lives have been turned upside down by the ongoing conflict. I spoke to women grieving for their dead children, families who have had to flee their homes and farmers forced to abandon their land – ordinary people, who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves caught up in the crisis.

Oxfam Ireland CEO Jim Clarken speaks with local fisherman in Nyal, South Sudan. Credit: Ben Clancy/Oxfam Ireland

People can no longer protect themselves and their families from the destabilising impact of war. There are battles on every front. Inflation rates are so high that the price of even basic foodstuffs is beyond the reach of families. Meanwhile, farmers who have had no choice but to leave their land are missing out on harvests – leaving the country’s food stocks at dangerously low levels.

In February of last year, famine was declared in two counties – Leer and Mayendit. At that time, 100,000 people were facing famine, and one million more were on the brink. A strong humanitarian response has undoubtedly kept famine at bay but the need for aid is more urgent than ever. In fact, an estimated 1.6 million more people are now more at risk than when famine was declared in 2017. And while the United Nations World Food Programme has been carrying out food drops in South Sudan, the supplies aren’t enough for the population which finds itself in a race against time.

During my visit I travelled to the islands around Nyal in Unity State, which have seen a large influx of people fleeing the violence. There I met many people who have been displaced and are now in a dire situation. Many arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs, joining countless others with shared experiences. It had taken one group of women I spoke to seven days to reach safety. Having endured the harrowing and terrifying journey, they finally got the chance to grieve the children they had lost along the way.

With the support of Irish Aid, Oxfam Ireland is on the ground in Nyal, providing canoes to bring the sick and vulnerable from the islands to access life-saving aid and health care. We have also set up community gardens in the region, which enable people to grow their own food, or sell it to earn an income. And our protection teams are working with girls and women to ensure their safety in a new and unfamiliar environment.

Villagers of RAFONE island gather to meet Oxfam staff and discuss the progress they’ve made since receiving aid. Credit: Ben Clancy/Oxfam Ireland

Yet, despite our best efforts, the humanitarian situation remains dire – and it’s getting worse by the day. With other stories dominating the global headlines, I fear that South Sudan will be forgotten.

There is an onus on all of us to make sure the plight of this young nation is no longer ignored.

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