The Humanitarian Times

April 25, 2000


- DROUGHT THREATENS FAMINE IN ARID AREAS OF SOUTH PAKISTAN & NW INDIA where livestock prices have fallen & livestock have died, leading to human out-migration & malnutrition. The International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies will help with local purchase of food aid & animal fodder. Indian officials are meeting today to plan trainloads of water to 50M people in NW states of Gujarat, Rajasthan & Maharasthhtra suffering 2-year long drought.

- FOOD SHORTAGES IN S & SE ETHIOPIA POSE LOGISTIC & ACCESS CHALLENGES for aid agencies attempting to prevent famine among drought-affected nomadic herders, thousands of whom are believed heading north toward Jijiga. The EU & US have promised more food, but nearby ports in Eritrea & Somalia are closed off, & the road from Djibouti is packed.

UNICEF has called on aid agencies & donors to coordinate logistics & ensure an integrated approach integrated water, health care & food.

- ACTION CONTRE LA FAIM SAYS AID NOT REACHING THOSE IN NEED IN N.KOREA; ACF withdrew its team in protest last month after 2 years of efforts to reach the malnourished but being denied access by the govt.

- RUSSIA CALLED ON U.S. YESTERDAY NOT TO RE-IGNITE NUCLEAR ARMS RACE: the US could undermine the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty & impair START-II negotiations by developing new anti-missile systems.

- "OLDER PEOPLE IN DISASTERS & HUMANITARIAN CRISES: GUIDELINES for Best Practice" were published this month by the British non-profit, Help-Age (an intl. network, with 63 members & 200 members, established in 1983 by the nonprofit Help the Aged, & supported by the EU & UNHCR).

Help-Age believes that "old people can support themselves if given some assistance such as credit & health services." The guidelines address priorities expressed by older people: basic needs (shelter, fuel), mobility, health care access, water, family contacts, economic & legal information; & are posted on the web in 4 languages at

- SRI LANKA: TAMIL REBELS RE-TOOK STRATEGIC ELEPHANT PASS LAST WEEKEND capturing govt weapons in the process. Recent efforts by Norway to mediate a resolution to the fighting led to local controversy.

- THE WORLD BANK SEEKS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED POLICIES IN CONFLICT/CRISIS areas. The Post-Conflict Unit of the World Bank seeks comments/critiques from NGOs, UN agencies & other concerned actors for its draft operational policy & bank procedures for war-torn areas. They propose conflict impact analysis, timely "transition support strategy," implemented through special financial & non-financial instruments, & "watching briefs" to prepare in advance for World Bank entry post-conflict. The policy stipulates that in areas of conflict "it is especially important that the Bank work in close partnership with the wide range of bilateral & multilateral agencies responsible for development & humanitarian assistance." Look under "new OP/BP" at website:

- C.D.C. PRESENTS NEW GUIDELINES TO PROTECT AGAINST BIOLOGICAL WARFARE, in current Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report which encourages health workers to learn how to investigate unusual events & how to recognize & report "highly contagious that can be engineered for widespread dissemination via small-particle aerosols." The Centers for Disease Control & Prev. is setting up a specialized lab network for biological & chemical threats surveillance. The summary report, in MMRW:




- On his return from Iraq, US Congressperson Tony Hall (D-Ohio) yesterday confirmed high malnutrition rates seen, observing that the Govt. of Iraq has dragged its feet in providing aid to its people.

Hall called for a clearer separation between politically-based economic sanctions & imports needed for humanitarian reasons, specifically: chlorine (for water purification), & spare parts for refrigerators (to maintain vaccines).

- Earlier this month, the annual U.N. coordinating committee on nutrition ("ACC/SCN") brought donors & NGOs together in WashDC where groups the Refugee Nutrition Information System (RNIS) was approved to additional (natural) disasters. The variety of existing refugee nutrition working groups led to proposals to augment their coherence & information sharing. Dr. Michael Golden presented data which powerfully demonstrated the importance of breast-feeding all children in emergencies, even when the mother carries HIV/AIDS infection; in all cases, the infant's prospects for survival are increased if exclusively breastfed. Dr. Golden founded & moderates the best list-serve on humanitarian crises, focused on technical aspects of nutrition & feeding in refugee relief, known as "NGO-Nut" as NGOs use it to exchange info. To subscribe, contact:

- EVOLVING FOOD PRODUCTION, AGRO-ECOSYSTEMS, & FOOD TRADE & AID are reviewed in 3 new texts: "Out of the Shadow of Famine: Evolving Food markets & Food Policy in Bangladesh" (R Ahmed ed. 2000 IFPRI & Johns Hopkins Press) in which a dozen authors describe the major developments in Bangladesh's food policy overhaul, while giving a 50-year history of food security in arguably the world's most vulnerable country. Vaclav Smil's "Feeding the World: A Challenge for the 21st Century" (2000 Cambridge: MIT Press) casts a scientist's eye on the physical parameters that will condition future food output, needed for a growing global population. Phillips Foster & H Leathers new, 2nd edition of "The World Food Problem" (1999 Boulder: Lynne Rienner Pub) improves on what was already the best text explaining the elements of malnutrition, purchasing power, food availability, balanced with a review of anti-hunger programs & policies: from public health control of diarrhea to land reform, food aid, subsidies & national technology policy.

- Tom Marchione's "Scaling Up, Scaling Down: Overcoming Malnutrition in Developing Countries" (1999 NY: Overseas Pub. Association; ISBN: 90-5700-547-6) provides an excellent anthology of recent experience of field-based nutrition programs, including Save the Children's work with positive deviance (& diet message formulation), CARE's rapid food & livelihood assessments; & Haiti, Togo & S. Africa. When, why & how to expand, replicate, nationalize, or decentralize effective programs, as discussed in this text, merit wider attention for all programs, not only nutrition. Marchione & Bart Burkhalter will present findings from "Scaling Up, Scaling Down" this Thursday, in WashDC, at the Ronald Reagan Bldg, 12 Noon; for more info, contact:


April 25, 2000 The Humanitarian Times

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