Food Insecurity

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Hunger crisis: ‘Now I can take care of my own family’

In the Lubombo region of Eswatini, near the town of Big Bend, 39-year-old Bongani Masuku looks over at his field of maize. He just harvested a section last week. “But there is still work to do,” Bongani says and starts working the land. Lubombo is one of the hottest areas in Eswatini. As Bongani weeds his field, the temperature has already risen to over 34 degrees. “I remove the weeds so that my maize will grow properly,” he says. “If I let the weeds take over, the seedlings would grow to be very thin and not offer good harvest.” Earlier in the season, Bongani attended an agricultural training, after which he received a cash grant of around 70 euros. He invested the money in maize seeds that are more resilient to drought, as climate change has made rains more irregular and increased drought. Around 70 per cent of Eswatini’s population are directly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. This is why the changing weather conditions are extremely concerning. “The recent heatwaves have really made farming more difficult. The maize should not receive too much sunlight when it is blooming. Rain is important at that stage. The last time the maize was in bloom there was no rain at all, so my harvest was smaller than I expected.” The maize field has a great significance to Bongani. “This allows me to feed my family, but also to sell some of the crops and get money,” he adds. “This money helps me put my children to school. I have five children with my darling wife. Now I can buy them schoolbooks and other school supplies, like pens. If I make enough money, I can also buy them shoes to wear to school.” Prolonged food insecurity Like elsewhere in Southern Africa, people in Eswatini are suffering from a severe and prolonged food security crisis that began in 2015. The drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon, further strengthened by climate change and the irregular rains and floods ever since, have damaged harvests year after year. Bongani is one of the 25,500 people included in the three-year project funded by the European Union to improve food security by means of cash assistance. In addition to the Finnish Red Cross, the project includes the Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society and Belgian Red Cross Flanders. For recipients of the cash grants such as Winile Masuku, the cash assistance has meant the ability to buy food such as rice, maize flour and cooking oil at a time when regular food sources are far less plentiful and more expensive. “Before receiving cash assistance, we were dependent on our neighbours,” Winile explains as she sits in front of her home – its walls made of intricately woven branches and stonework. “Now I can take care of my own family.” Gardening for change While not everyone is a farmer, many people in Eswatini grow a portion of their daily sustenance in local community gardens. This is one reason this climate-resilience project also aims to revive the tradition of community gardens. Part of that effort includes trainings from the Ministry of Agriculture on how to most effectively tend community gardens in the face of more extreme climate conditions. After each training, participants get a cash grant of around 35 euros to buy plant seeds, for example. The participants are encouraged to use crop varieties that require less water. “The garden offers stability to my family, as I employ myself with this and take care of my family,” says Sibongile, one of the participants. “The harvest from the garden allows me to feed my family, and I can also sell some crops to get money for my children’s education.” Health in the countryside It’s also important to ensure that people stay healthy as drought and heat can create conditions that exacerbate the spread of diseases and symptoms such as dehydration. For this reason, the EU-funded project also supports the community in epidemic and pandemic preparedness. The Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society runs three clinics in the country, and the project supports their capacity to respond to different epidemics, such as diarrhoeal diseases, tuberculosis and HIV. “Each morning we offer health advice, meaning that we tell patients what epidemics are currently ongoing,” explains Phumlile Gina, a nurse at the clinic in Hosea Inkhundla in the Shiselweni region. “Right now we are informing them of vaccinations, especially against the coronavirus and tuberculosis. We also highlight proper hygiene: we explain how important it is to wash your hands and also remind people to wash their water containers every now and then.” “Some of our patients here in the countryside are very poor,” she adds. “They can come to the clinic for some completely other reason, for a flu for example. But we may then notice that the growth of the patient’s child is clearly stunted and there is reason to suspect malnourishment.” “We are able to take care of such situations as well and monitor the condition of the patients. It feels great when a patient comes back to the clinic after six months and says that their child is doing great and playing like other children.” The Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC network and the European Union, provides strategic, flexible, long-term and predictable funding, so that National Societies can act before an emergency occurs. It is being implemented worldwide including 13 countries in Africa.

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| Press release

Africa's hunger crisis intensifies: IFRC warns against crisis fatigue

Geneva/Nairobi, 07 December 2023: In response to the growing hunger crisis across sub-Saharan Africa, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is amplifying its call to action amidst growing concerns of crisis fatigue. To this end, the IFRC has revised its funding appeal to 318 million Swiss Francs, now aiming to reach 18 countries. More than a year has passed since the initial launch of the Africa hunger crisis appeal, yet the needs continue to outpace support received. Originally set at 215 million Swiss Francs for 16 countries, only 59 million Swiss Francs has been raised. This humanitarian crisis, intensified by recurring droughts, El Niño-induced floods, conflicts and economic downturns, demands an immediate response to prevent widespread suffering, loss of lives and livelihoods. Around 157 million people in 35 countries across sub-Saharan Africa face acute food insecurity. Despite early warnings from African Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, more funding and resources are needed. The Horn of Africa has been particularly hard-hit, enduring its longest dry spell on record with five consecutive dry seasons. In contrast, regions like eastern Kenya, parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania experienced heavier than usual rains during the October-December season, leading to flooding that further aggravated the situation for those already facing acute food insecurity. This mix of extreme weather conditions, along with ongoing conflicts, has led to varied harvest outcomes across the continent. Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are witnessing heart-wrenching conditions where many, including women and children, survive on less than one meal a day. Mohamed Omer Mukhier, Regional Director for Africa, emphasized the continued urgency: “In the past year, the dire need for resources in tackling the current hunger crisis has been evident with millions of people deprived of water, food and health services. While this crisis has intensified, it has been largely overshadowed by more visible crises over the past year. Considering its magnitude across the continent, we urgently call for expanded support to pursue our collective lifesaving and life-sustaining mobilization.” These countries are currently at the heart of the hunger crisis: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. African Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have been instrumental in providing life-saving assistance to millions affected by this crisis. So far, they have reached 1.53 million people. Most of the aid provided has been water and sanitation services, reaching over 1.2 million people. Additionally, over 725,000 people received cash assistance and over 450,000 received health and nutrition support. This underscores the IFRC's commitment to transitioning from immediate relief to sustainable, long-term resilience strategies in the region. The revised appeal will focus on improving agricultural practices, fostering peace and stability and creating economic opportunities. More information: For more details, visit the Africa Hunger Crisis appeal page. For audio-visual material, visit the IFRC newsroom. To request an interview, contact: [email protected] In Nairobi: Anne Macharia: +254 720 787 764 In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06

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El Nino expected to make Malawi’s lean season even leaner

By Anne Wanjiru IFRC Senior Communications Officer Almost every family in Malawi is a farming family, a source of great strength for the country’s economy. This was seen a few decades ago when the country was regularly exporting agricultural produce to neighboring nations. However, this means most families have also been extremely vulnerable to climatic stresses and shocks. "Year after year, it’s been getting harder to get good yields from farming and get a good earning,” says Martha Makaniko, a farmer from Chiwalo village in Mulanje. “We no longer rely on regular weather patterns. I used to get eight bags of maize from my field. Now I would be lucky to get two. I have prepared my land awaiting the rains but have no money to buy seeds or fertilizer." When tropical cyclone Freddy hit Malawi in March 2023, Martha watched as her entire crop was washed away. Like thousands of other farming families, she not only lost her crops. “My house collapsed,” says Martha, who is also ill and in need of money for medical assistance. “I stayed in the shelter for several months. I spent my entire lifesavings building a new house. This set me back. We eat nothing, but porridge made from raw mangoes.” Boiled fruit and poisoned yams People don’t normally boil fruit for food in Malawi, so Martha’s mango porridge is an indication that a lot of families are running out of choices. According to the Malawi government’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee Report, more than 4.4 million peopleare facing hunger. The economic downturn, as well as the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have all exacerbated the hunger situation in Malawi. In the last 18 months,Malawi’s currency – the Malawian Kwacha – has been devalued twice. This has caused inflation on everything, including critical supplies such as seeds and fertilizer. Some farmers find it too expensive to manage their own farms, and decide to do piecework in other people’s fields, a common coping alternative among farming families that is also proving to be very competitive. Those that cannot find any piece work at all will scavenge for wild yams or raw mangoes to boil and feed their families. A variety of wild yams is poisonous, however, and the difference can be hard to tell. Fani Mayesu recently lost her husband and 19-year-old son after consuming poisonous wild yams. “We didn’t know they were poisonous,” she says, with a look of disbelief. “My husband brought them, I prepared them, and we all ate. Immediately we begun getting sick and vomiting. My other 5 children and I recovered but not my husband and one son.” El Nino’s first waves According to forecasts, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. International and national Meteorological agencies say the upcoming 2023/24 rainy season (also known as the lean season when food supplies diminish) in Malawi is expected to be influenced by El Niño. In the past, El Niño conditions have been linked to a delayed start of the rainfall season, below-normal precipitation, and dry spells. The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) in its lean-season response plan will seek to prioritise highly affected districts. This is aimed at strengthening community capacity to cope with the food insecurity while sustaining other resilience building activities. “We hope to not only address the immediate acute food security needs but to also respond to climate predictions through interventions such as distributing early maturing seed varieties,’ says Prisca Chisala, director of programmes and development at MRCS. “We also plan to support winter cropping and encourage crop diversification to adopt drought resistant crops to address the gaps in production.” Red Cross response Through the support of IFRC and partner National Societies, MRCS needs over CHF 3 million to help close to 100,000 people by: • providing food assistance in forms of cash-based transfer, wet feeding in schools and in-kind support • strengthening community resilience through promotion of livelihood and risk reduction, • protection of all vulnerable groups from violence, sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect and ensure that human rights are respected. “It’s critical that we support the farming family’s resilience to attain a harvest after this rainy season, otherwise we will see significant rise in hunger levels,” says John Roche, head of IFRC's cluster delegation for Malawi. Zambia and Zimbabwe. “Time is of essence here to avert a worsening situation from the El-Nino predictions. Only a rapid, effective, and well-resourced response is urgently needed to mitigate the crisis from long-term impacts.”

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Yemen: When conflict comes with disaster or disease, cash assistance can save lives.

In the village of Khanfar, in Yemen’s Abyan governorate, 62-year-old Khamisa lives with her daughter and her daughter’s children. The two women can barely manage the family's daily needs, so what will happen now that illness joins their daily struggle to survive. “Conflict increased our suffering as women as we did not have any breadwinners, and conflict left us on a new journey of survival, where we had to face our pain and suffering alone,” Khamisa said. Yemen has long been one of the poorest countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and is now in the midst of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The country is now facing the world's largest food security emergency, with 20 million people – 66 per cent of the country's population - in need of humanitarian aid. Embroiled in conflict since early 2015, fighting has devastated its economy, leading to severe food insecurity and the destruction of critical infrastructure. Natural disasters have aggravated the crisis; the latest came in the form of tropical cyclone Tej, which made landfall over the southern coast of Al Mahrah Governorate recently, leaving more than 27,000 people internally displaced. And the ongoing conflict does not mean other chronic ailments take a break. In Khamisa’s case, it came in the form of cancer. “Before I became ill, we used to devote our time to the daily struggle of providing the basic necessities of life,” she says. “Following that, other challenges surfaced. Permanent fear and anxiety defined my life and my daughter’s, especially because of the difficulty of obtaining money for necessary medical examinations to find out the cause of my illness.” When even food is not the biggest priority Khamisa’s case shows us that the daily struggle to find food and drink may not be a priority for some people, as their main priority is getting medicine to stay alive. There are a few places where people can seek help as almost all basic services available in the country have collapsed. Khamisa and others like her see the cash assistance (offered by Yemen Red Crescent Society in partnership with the IFRC, ICRC and the British Red Cross) as a real lifeline. It gives Khamisa some hope and also helps her get to the hospital quickly, which unfortunately she must do on a regular basis. Her focus now is on ensuring her own survival to stand by her only daughter. “Our struggle stories never end,” she adds. “Our struggle is not only related to the continuous efforts to provide food and water but also related to dealing with sudden diseases in the absence of the necessary health care and sufficient support.” The power of choice 39-year-old Ahmed also lives in Khanfar with his sister, and his six children. He was working as a day laborer to provide for his family’s food needs and cover other medical and education requirements. But after Ahmed suffered from a heart disease, conditions began to gradually deteriorate. After becoming jobless, he spent all his savings trying to make sure his family had enough to eat, but what he saved from this work was not enough to cover his family’s needs. Ahmed told us that there were days when he went to bed hungry to save a little food for their children. Since the first cash distribution, Ahmed said that he was able to treat his illness and recover his health, and after the second cash distribution, he was able to open a grocery store which is now a permanent source of income. “I think it is better for aid to be given in cash rather than supplies,” Ahmed said. “The cash I received helped me to recover my health, and at the same time, it saved my source of income.”

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Mauritania: Cash for families affected by food insecurity offers ’choice and dignity’

By Moustapha Diallo, IFRC It’s a hot September morning and the courtyard of the village school, usually quiet during the school holidays, is teeming with people. Zeinab Bechir, a 54-year-old mother of six, and dozens of other men and women, take shelter under a tent to protect themselves from the scorching sun. They wait impatiently to be called by Mauritanian Red Crescent teams who are organising a cash distribution operation to help families affected by chronic food insecurity. For Zeinab and most of the villagers, life is a constant struggle. Since the failure of the harvests – due to poor rainfall then flooding – feeding one’s family has become a daily battle. As a widow with many children in her care, the ordeal for Zeinab is even more difficult. “Life is so hard,” says Zeinab. “There was nothing to prepare today.” Amid this lean season, the most challenging period of the year when food stocks are low and prices high, the assistance she has received from the Mauritanian Red Crescent has been a lifeline. The cash aid has enabled her to buy basic foodstuffs and ensures that her family does not go to bed hungry. “With this money, I’ll be able to buy food for at least a month,” she says. “This help from the Red Crescent has come at the right time.” Dignity and choice A thousand households in Barkeol district have received cash to help them cope with the tribulations of the lean season. “Rather than providing food rations, we chose to give cash to households,” explains Mohamed Abdallahi, food security and livelihoods m,anager at the Mauritanian Red Crescent. “This allows them to buy food that better meets their needs with dignity and choice." Although the cash distribution operation – supported by the IFRC – has brought a ray of hope amidst the gloom in Barkeol, many gaps remain. Of the 2,700 households targeted for cash in Barkeol, Guerrou and Moudjeria by the MRC and IFRC, only around 1,000 have so far received assistance. More than half a million people in Mauritania, or 11 per cent of the population, are facing food insecurity during the lean season. The IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for two million Swiss francs to help the Mauritanian Red Crescent assist 81,900 people. The funds raised should be used to provide cash and nutritional support to the most vulnerable people, while putting in place long-term solutions to build community resilience. "The lack of funding is limiting our ability to reach thousands of families in need,” says Alex Claudon de Vernisy, head of the IFRC Cluster Delegation in Dakar: Senegal. “For example, our appeal is currently 20 per cent funded, thanks to a contribution from the Norwegian government. But in the face of persistent food insecurity, we must remain mobilized and increase the partnership for this emergency appeal.”

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| Speech

IFRC Secretary General Keynote speech at the 10th Pan African Conference in Nairobi

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends, I’m so pleased to be here in vibrant Nairobi. You have always extended such warmth and enthusiasm every time I visit Africa. Thank you for your unmatched hospitality. I am grateful to Kenya Red Cross for hosting Pan African conference of the IFRC. IFRC Vice President Elder Bolaji Akpan Anani, Chair of the PAC. Governor Korir of the Kenya Red Cross. Governing Board members, Commission and Committee chairs of the IFRC, of the Standing Commission, Africa governance group, Vice President of ICRC (continuing our proud history to invite ICRC to IFRC statutory meetings because we can be successful when we work together as a Movement), National Society and youth leaders, staff and volunteers and the entire IFRC secretariat team. I want to particularly recognize the Africa team led by our Regional Director Mohammed Mukhier for working tirelessly to support the organization of the conference. I pay tribute to all of you for your immense contributions to the IFRC network, today and always. Your dedication to the communities we serve is unparalleled, especially through the recent growing complex crises across Africa. Let me join in solidarity with Morocco and Libya as they work hard to recover from two terrible disasters. As we gather here today, I am struck by the rich tapestry of Africa’s history, cultures, and the extraordinary resilience and spirit of its people. Yet, this comes with its own set of opportunities and challenges. A continent of immense beauty and diversity, Africa presents us with a complex humanitarian landscape. Africa is a place of paradoxes, where soaring aspirations uncomfortably co-exist with profound inequalities. Humanitarian needs are growing each day, stretching the bounds of lives, livelihoods, and human dignity. Poverty, inequality, and political instability compound these humanitarian needs. Economic challenges including high unemployment rates, limited industrialization, and a heavy reliance on primary commodities for export make many African nations vulnerable to fluctuations in global markets. We continue to witness alarming hunger levels across the continent, with 167 million facing acute food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa, a 14% increase from 2022. The impact of El Niño in 2023/2024, forecasts a 90% probability of flooding in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, alongside reduced rainfall in Southern Africa. We know this will further exacerbate food insecurity in the coming years, as African food systems are very vulnerable to climate extremes and shifts in weather patterns. Disease and epidemics are on the rise as a result. Last year, 96 disease outbreaks were officially reported in 36 countries, with cholera, measles, and yellow fever being the most common. As climate disasters worsen, 7.5 million people were displaced in Africa, the highest annual figure ever reported for the region. And with the cascading effects of political instability in a number of countries, the number of people on the move have begun to climb as well, with 9 million people torn from their homes in 2022. We cannot forget that behind these distressing statistics are actual people –women, men, and children with increasing needs and less resilience to cope. These are the challenges that exist in a continent which is full of young and dynamic population full of unparalleled vibrancy and dynamism. It also has many beautiful tourist destinations. This is a continent full of natural resources - minerals, oil and gas, timber, agricultural land, fisheries, renewable energy, gemstones, water resources, forestry products. Almost everything you can think of. It makes me wonder how come a continent so full of resources is also facing so many challenges. How can we contribute to addressing these humanitarian gaps? Please allow me to share just three fundamental approaches that could help us to make a meaningful contribution to the people and communities in Africa. First is Solidarity – Working together in partnerships: We are bound together in our journey in search of a brighter future. The expanding humanitarian needs push us to the brink, but our unwavering solidarity pulls us back and drives us forward. Solidarity and commitment to our Strategy 2030 and Agenda for Renewal allows us to respond to multiple crises and disasters, build community resilience and strengthen localization in this region. Just last month, I visited Gambia and Egypt to better understand the migration situation. My conversations with volunteers, National Society and government leaders were eye opening. When it comes to migration, Africa is a continent on the move. This comes with positive benefits too—In Gambia migrants contribute to 20% of the country’s GDP. To the rest of the world, the migration of Africans is often framed around their movement beyond Africa’s borders. Yet the story of the millions of refugees and internally displaced people being hosted within Africa, which is more than 85%, is not acknowledged. Through the IFRC’s Global Route-based Migration programme and humanitarian service points we witness how Africans are overwhelmingly supporting fellow Africans on the move. Africans standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow Africans, is a testament to our capacity to overcome adversity. As we address urgent crises before us, it's our combined strength that forms our bedrock of hope. Internal solidarity sometimes can be challenging. Let us not doubt ourselves in our commitment to solidarity. Let us foster trust and belief among ourselves. Second is Solutions to scale- think big, act big: Across Africa much progress has been made and the vast opportunities lie ahead. 34 countries, representing approximately 72% of Africa’s population, have demonstrated significant progress in governance over the last two decades, especially in the areas of rule of law, the protection of rights, and growth of civil society. Africa’s great untapped potential is more visible than ever, with economic growth and investment in public services contributing to the improvement of millions of lives and transformation of societies. The theme of this 10th Pan African Conference is renewing investment in Africa. I suggest that we make this investment people centric. You may want to consider calling it "renewing people-centric investment in Africa". I encourage every one of us to consider how investments in National Societies, and especially in their young volunteers, can harness Africa’s agility and innovation that empowers people to address the needs when they come and continue to work to reduce humanitarian needs by building long term resilience in the communities. For this, our Agenda for Renewal guides the IFRC to work for and with National Societies in everything we do. We have invested in scaling up digitalization, risk management, new funding models for greater agility, accountability, and impact to reach the communities. We foster learning and strengthen National Society capacities, so that we become leaders in the humanitarian field, not just in response but in resilience building, data, influence, collaboration, and innovation. In 2020-2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, African National Societies came together with the IFRC secretariat to reach 450 million people with humanitarian services. The REACH initiative between Africa CDC, the African Union and the IFRC comes with an ambition to scale up the community health workforce by two million and strengthening National Society capacity across the continent to address health needs. These are solutions that are tailored to African communities, that reflect African needs and that can be measured by the outcomes we achieve for the people. Let’s not play small. Let’s think big, let’s act big. Because that’s what it is needed now. Third is Leadership – listen, learn and lead. Our humanitarian action must make a positive difference in people’s lives. In this era of fast paced change and shifting political divides, our leadership has never been more crucial. Leadership to partner with others along equal and mutually reinforcing terms, Leadership to position our National Societies as unparalleled community partner, with unmatched local intelligence and reach, Leadership to engage in internal transformation, Leadership to embody our Fundamental Principles, Leadership to invest in young people--Africa’s most abundant and greatest resource--harness their skills, give them opportunities to lead us to a more just and equitable future. Leadership to build trust, internally and externally, to be bold at communicating good news as well as challenges, to bring about collective energy and hope. Leadership that doesn’t accept business as usual. Leadership that strives for excellence in everything we do. There will be ups and downs, but we will persist. This is what leadership is all about. In our pursuit of a brighter future for Africa, let us hold ourselves to lead with accountability, not just to the challenges of today but also to the aspirations of tomorrow. Let every action we take, every initiative we launch, and every partnership we forge be a testament to our unwavering commitment to the people. I wish you a very productive Pan-African Conference. And please allow me to conclude by sharing a quote from Nelson Mandela – «one of the things I learned when I was negotiating that until I changed myself, I couldn’t change others». Let this conference give us the inspiration to be the real agent of change for the people of Africa. Thank you.

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| Podcast

Mahabub Maalim: Planting hope amid a hunger crisis in Africa

A regional leader in the fight against food insecurity in Africa, Mahabub Maalim knows first-hand the impact that hunger has on people and communities. Growing up in eastern Kenya, he’s seen how cycles of drought, crop loss and hunger have become more frequent and more severe. He’s dedicated his life to helping communities develop local solutions and he now serves as special advisor to IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Africa (now impacting 23 countries).

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New IFRC podcast introduces the 'People in the Red Vest’

When disaster strikes, the sight of someone wearing a red vest is a sign that help has arrived. It’s a powerful symbol of hope and comfort amid the chaos following an emergency, worn by members of the IFRC and its 191 member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. And now it’s also a symbol of our brand new podcast. Launching on 12 September across all major streaming services, People in the Red Vest is a twice-monthly podcast that features inspiring stories of people from across the IFRC network. They’ll speak about their personal experiences of responding to the world's biggest humanitarian crises and what inspires them to keep going. The first episode features IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain, who talks about his recent missions to several countries in Africa impacted by an acute hunger crisis, and to Slovenia, hit by severe flooding. He also speaks of his upcoming trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly and shares what inspired his own personal humanitarian journey. “One thing that always stuck into my head was something Albert Einstein said, ‘You live a real life by making a difference in someone else's,’” said Chapagain, who was 14 when he became a volunteer for the Nepal Red Cross. Keenly interested in science from a young age, Chapagain is an engineer by training. But it was his first job, helping refugees in Nepal, that steered him down the humanitarian path. “Just listening to the refugees’ stories, their dreams and plans for their families... in many ways, that cemented my belief that if you want to live a satisfied life, you should do something for others,” he adds. Upcoming guests include: A regional leader in the fight against food insecurity in Africa, Ambassador Mahabub Maalim, who also serves as advisor to IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Africa (now impacting 23 countries). He shares his thoughts on how to break cycles of food insecurity in the face of the climate crisis, as well as his own personal experiences growing up with hunger in eastern Kenya. Nena Stoiljkovic, a leader in the world of humanitarian and development finance who serves as IFRC’s Under Secretary General for Global Relations, Diplomacy and Digitalization. She talks about her life-long passion for using innovative financing and partnerships to help people and communities bounce back from hardship, as well as her experiences as a woman leader in the still male-dominated world of finance and development. Future episodes will also include people working at the heart of IFRC emergency and recovery operations around the world, as well as volunteers and leaders from its member National Societies. They will share their own compelling and inspiring stories and their thoughts on new trends in technology and humanitarian response, how to make our operations more inclusive and equitable, and what makes them to keep going despite the mounting challenges. In each episode, the guests will also tell us what the Red Vest symbolizes to them. If you’re curious, subscribe and join us wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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Africa hunger crisis: Mothers unite to tackle malnutrition in Mauritania

In a small village in Barkeol, Mauritania, the sun has reached its midday peak, forcing villagers to seek shelter from its harsh rays in the shade. Sat under a tent made of colourful printed fabric, a group of twenty women are chatting and smiling as they enjoy a lively discussion and debate. Rakia Salem, a volunteer from the Mauritanian Red Crescent, has just completed a training session with them on how to recognise signs of malnutrition in their children using a special bracelet. Rakia joined the Mauritanian Red Crescent in 2020 as a facilitator for this local ‘mothers' club’, which was set up that same year. "My role is to train mothers to screen children for malnutrition using the MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) bracelet, which is a simple, easy-to-use tool that can help prevent a deterioration in their state of health," explains Rakia. To demonstrate this to the group, she welcomes brave little Mohamed, a 3-year-old boy who was diagnosed with malnutrition a few weeks ago and who is now on the road to recovery thanks to early treatment. Mother knows best In Mauritania, many children are at risk of malnutrition due to recurrent food and nutrition insecurity, which is also affecting many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In response, the Mauritanian Red Crescent has been exploring different ways of diagnosing children more quickly and simply—with mothers’ clubs proving to be particularly successful. “Being around their children every day, mothers are best placed to detect the first signs of malnutrition. That’s why we put them at the centre of our screening strategies,” explains Mohamed Abdallahi, Food Security and Livelihoods Manager at the Mauritanian Red Crescent. There are now ten mothers' clubs in Barkeol, all providing women with a friendly forum to discuss maternal and child health, hygiene, sanitation, and good food and nutrition practices. Crucially, the women who attend the mothers’ clubs have learnt how to detect signs of malnutrition early before it gets too advanced. Early detection considerably reduces cases becoming severe and prevents the need for hospitalization, which in turn relieves pressure on the limited available health services in the region. “The earlier malnutrition is detected, the shorter and more effective the treatment. There are also fewer medical complications and a lower the risk of mortality," adds Mohamed. Supporting women’s livelihoods The mothers' clubs are also a great forum for building food resilience within communities in other ways. As most families don’t have the resources to meet minimum daily food needs for their children, the Mauritanian Red Crescent is also training mothers’ club members in how to set up their own money-making activities. Thanks to a small grant from the Mauritanian Red Crescent, the mothers' club in Barkeol has opened up a general store through which they sell food at a lower cost to villagers. Other local women have received interest-free loans through the club, enabling them to set up small businesses selling couscous, processing cereals, making clothes, or producing soup. Some have chosen to invest their money in market gardening to boost their yields. “We used to have a lot of difficulties, but thanks to the support of the Mauritanian Red Crescent, we are now able to improve our families' food security and diversify our children's diets,” explains Khadidiatou Mohamed Abdallahi, President of the mothers' club. -- To support people affected by food insecurity across Sub-Saharan Africa, the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal in October 2022 to help Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 15 countries provide urgent and long-term assistance. To date, the IFRC network has reached: 600,000 people with cash and voucher assistance 425,000 people with health and nutrition support, including child supplementary feeding 232,000 people with livelihoods support – such as training in income-generating activities and livestock management 1.2 million people with water, sanitation and hygiene assistance In Mauritania, the appeal is supporting mothers’ clubs, like the one in Barkeol, and cash assistance to thousands of households. To donate to our appeal and help us reach even more people, please click here.

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South Sudan food insecurity: “Holding on to hope the rains will not fail”

Kapoeta, South Sudan has seen a drastic change in recent times. As residents walk by in the hustle and bustle of this small, rural town, you can see it in their faces: fatigue, most likely from hunger. This is the second failed rainy season for a community that depends on cultivating crops. As I drive by local farmers’ fields, nearly all the crops I see are dry and struggling. Andrea Loteng, 64, shows me around his farm. He’s the chairman of the local farmers’ association in Kapoeta South county and shares how erratic this year’s weather patterns have been. “The rains this year came a little early in March. I planted maize and sorghum but the rains disappeared in May. I lost over 5 acres of crops. Now that it’s raining in July, I planted again, this time holding on to hope the rains will not fail,” he explains. Anyuon Malwan, Area chief of Atarabara, Kapoeta South also describes the situation as dire: “This is the second round of maize I am planting this year that is now failing. At least last year I harvested once.” Some farmers have reached breaking point and abandoned farming altogether, turning to mining for gold instead. Travelling long distances, they camp at mines for weeks on end to try their luck at collecting a few grams of gold in the local streams. If they do get lucky, a gram can fetch around 50 US dollars. But this livelihood, too, is risky and highly dependent on the rainy season. Soaring food prices Failed harvests in much of the Horn of Africa, coupled with the international armed conflict in Ukraine and regional conflict, have led the price of grain and cereal in Kapoeta to increase drastically. “In 2021, we used to buy a kilo of maize flour at 300 South Sudanese Pounds (34 US cents), today the same packet goes for 1,300 (1.5 US dollars),” says Anyuon. Unable to cope with the inflation, many residents in the area have resorted to more affordable cereals, such as sorghum. Those who cannot afford grain at all are forced to scavenge for wild leaves in nearby forests. Children’s lives at risk This poor diet is having devastating consequences for children in the Kapoeta region. Yaya Christine Lawrence is a nurse at a stabilization centre for malnutrition in Kapoeta Civil Hospital. She attends to 3-year-old Lolimo, who was admitted on 22 July with severe oedema (swelling in the ankles, feet and legs) from poor nutrition. “When Lolimo came he was in a really bad state. We have been giving him treatment to clear the fluids before we can now start building up his weight. His case is one of the many hundreds we see in a month.” Lolimo’s mother, Joska, is a single parent and doing her best to raise him, but times are hard. “All I can afford to give him occasionally is sorghum and wild leaves. I have no source of livelihood to offer him a better diet,” she says. Supporting the most vulnerable Women-headed households are bearing the brunt of food insecurity in this part of South Sudan. The Kapoeta region is hardest hit with, with more than 274,000 people classed as severely food insecure. The South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC) recently conducted a needs assessment in the area, giving priority to women-headed households and people with disabilities, with a view to distributing cash to help them boost their livelihoods and put food on the table. Supported by the IFRC and the Japanese government, the SSRC is also actively training community members in Kapoeta in disaster preparedness, including early warning for drought and floods, in groups called Community Disaster Response Team (CDRT). To mitigate the negative effects of climate change, SSRC volunteers are also planting fruit trees, and distributing seedlings, in Juba and other branches across the country as part of its ‘green fund’ initiative. Mango and guava trees are more resistant to drought and only take a few years to start bearing fruit, so will provide a more reliable source of nutrients to local communities. “The needs related to food insecurity in Kapoeta region and South Sudan are great. If we can strengthen localized response capacity and the community structures, we can address the enormous and unprecedented level of humanitarian needs because of the frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards,” says John Lobor, Secretary General of South Sudan Red Cross. “Beyond responding to immediate food needs, we hope to build resilience, so families don’t have to grapple with climatic shocks year in, year out,” he adds. -- Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. And to support people like Andrea, Anyuon and Joska, please donate to our Emergency Appeal today.

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Comfort after the storm

Born in a tiny fishing village on theisland of Abaco in the Bahamas, Lovely Reckley was raised on a cuisine straight from the sea. “Growing up in Fox Town, we were actually right on the water,” she recalls. “The waves put you to sleep and they wake you up in the morning.” “We basically grew-up on seafood,” she recalls. “We would eat other stuff, but the seafood we really loved. My mom was a great cook. I watched and saw everything she did and I really learned a lot from her.” So it’s no wonder that many years later,Lovely runs a small restaurant in Marsh Harbourknown for its affordable, delicious traditional Bahamian comfort foods: seafood, chicken dishes and burgers, always served up with a new, personal and innovative twist. Aptly namedLovely’s Delight,the restaurant also became a critical community hub in the months after Hurricane Dorianslammed into her home island of Abaco last year, and many islanders lost literally everything. Homes. Belongings. Many also lost loved ones. A scary time It was a scary time, says Lovely, who was evacuated from Abaco along with her husband just a day before the storm hit due to her husband’s medical condition. “I had to leave the island, leave my children and my grandchildren and my great-grandson behind,” she says. “It was scary becausethere was no communication until a few days after the hurricaneto know if everybody was ok.” “It was like about a week after the hurricane that we found out that I’d lost my home and everything in the home, our vehicles and everything.” Lovely almost lost her husband, who had a stroke the eve of the storm. And she almost lost the restaurant, a beloved local fixture that was also known as the home base for Lovely’s long-time commitment to providing meals to local children in need. “We had a lot of damage to the restaurant,” she recalls. The Hurricane Burger Ultimately, the restaurant pulled Lovely and her husband through — becoming their new home after a renovation made possible by the American Red Cross and the CORE added a new living space to the small structure. And because Lovely’s Delight was one of the first businesses to reopen, it provided a place for people to gather after the storm, easing their minds and their hunger pains. “We could get up and running and help people with food, which was on the island but because so many homes were destroyed, and people were living in tents, they couldn’t cook for themselves.” So once again, Lovely’s Delights became a base for making meals for people in need of some comfort during hard times. “Because of the help that we got from CORE and the Red Cross we got our building back in shape so that we can truly save our community,” Lovely says. “I was able to cook meals, make bread … That was a big help.” Meanwhile, Lovely’s Delight is a real family affair with kids and grandkids prepping and serving dishes such as “The Hurricane Burger” (in honor of the many storms people here have weathered), spicy chicken wings with names like “Da Burner”, and burrito-style wraps made with lobster, fish, chicken and shrimp. Now it’s the grandkids who are picking up culinary tips from their very own local celebrity chef grandma. “When I first got the restaurant, all of the children were involved,” she says. “Now it’s myself and my two grand-daughters and we have a few other workers that also come help. They’re always there to help out.” Lovely’s fried fish with peas ‘n’ rice

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Angola food crisis: ‘Because of hunger I am here’

With her baby wrapped snugly around her back, Usenia Semaneli braves the Kunene River on foot, supported by nothing but a walking stick. “Crocodiles live in those waters,” she says, “but you stop fearing anything. When you are hungry, you just choose to cross.” “When I was young, we used to get good rain,” says Usenia, who takes a break from her journey to share her story. Exactly how many people have made the trek from Angola to Namibia in the last few years is unclear. People have crossed the border for years to visit relatives, buy or sell goods. But in 2020 and 2021 it’s estimated thatat least 3,000 people from Angola were living in various encampments and host communities around border towns in northern Namibia. They came from various parts of Angola and from different tribes, but they tell a similar story. No rain. Failed crops. Livestock gone. A long perilous journey to Namibia. The troubles began in 2020, as dryness persisted through what would normally be the rainy season, which typically runs from November to April.Many of those most affected are children, lactating mothers, and the elderly. “We ate just a little bit every day, but all the children started to get weak,” says Usenia. “When you spend so many days without food it’s like you are confused. You lose control of your mind and everything is just turning around in front of your eyes.” Deolinda We used to walk during the day and at sunset we went to sleep,” saysDeolinda, who made a ten-day trek to Namibia with her granddaughter Venonyaand some other children. “Food was a big challenge throughout the journey. We didn’t have any food but we had to keep on walking. It was tough for me because I was traveling alone with the children. The journey was difficult, but I received help from people who carried my children… Not knowing whether the baby would survive or even make it, I was hoping for the best but also preparing myself for the worst”, she says. “When we arrived, Venonya was severely malnourished, so we took her to Outapi Hospital,” says Deolinda. “At first, when I arrived at the hospital I was scared because I feared that the baby would die. It was difficult to even find a vein to put a drip in the child, so I was scared. After a while, my baby got better and I started to feel calmer. We returned to the camp only a week ago with Venonya recovered, she stayed in the hospital for a week and a half.” Mwandjukatji “It took us almost ten days traveling, walking,” says Mwandjukatji, who found her way to a camp for migrants close to the town of Omusati, near Namibia’s northwestern border with Angola. “On the way,some of my daughters lost their children. Sometimes when we woke up we tried giving the children some water but they wouldn’t open their mouths, they died on the way. We had to leave them behind.” They knew the journey would be perilous, but staying in the end was not an option. “For a time, we debated what to do, and for a long while, we refused to leave our land,” she says. “But the hunger was growing unbearable. Because of that hunger, we decided to go to Namibia. We thought maybe we will survive there.” Mwandjukatji found temporary respite in a shelter she made using sticks, cardboard and plastic. There, she got by on food provided by local agencies and relief groups such as theNamibian Red Cross. “We heard that there was a camp where they were giving food to people like us who came from Angola,” says Mwandjukatji. “We receive some food and that is an enormous relief for us, because if we weren’t here most of our children would die.” “This shelter is not as strong, not the same, as our home. For our homes, we used to use strong sticks and sand mixed with cow dung, plus we had a fire inside the house. This is not the same. We can’t have a fire inside, and when it rains, the water seeps in. But here we have food at least.” Konguari The migrants saythe kindness of strangers has been critical to their survival, be it local leaders who let them stay on their land, government authorities, the Namibian Red Cross, or local residents who offered various kinds of support. The man in a blue shirt above, named Konguari, ran a garden hose from houseto give out water every evening. “In Opuwo, it is not uncommon to see people, usually men, coming from Angola looking for work. When I saw many women and children arriving, I knew something wasn’t right. I noticed that, although they were hungry, they were growing desperate for water. Very often they went in the field walking for hours to get wood that they sold in the market. With the money they got from the firewood they immediately bought water. When I saw this, I said to myself, ‘no, this isn’t right. Could it be possible for me to assist these people?’” A steady source of support The Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS)has also been a steady source of support, providing food, water, health and hygiene support. A significant proportion of the people they helped have been children: of the4,027 people assistedin the Etunda and Opuwo areas of Kunene region last year, more than half were between 1 and 16 year old. More than 400 were lactating or pregnant women. The NRCS is one of numerous Red Cross of Red Crescent National Societies working on the frontlines of climate-related displacement,according to a 2021 climate displacement report by the IFRC. Their work includes responding to crises and building resilience to future shocks by preparing for and reducing climate risks. Around the world, floods, storms, wildfires, landslides, extreme temperatures and drought have caused the displacement of 30.7 million people, according to the report. “Our government tries its best to help the immigrants from Angola, and different organisations also try to help,” says Rijamekee, a Namibian Red Cross volunteer who lives in Northern Namibia and provides displaced people and vulnerable local residents with food, water, and health and hygiene support. “Anyone, who is out there should try their best to help these people. And not only the Angolans but anyone who is in need”, he says. Mekondo Climate change does not affect everyone equally. Children, the elderly, people with physical disabilities and other vulnerable and marginalized people are hit the hardestbecause climate change compounds the challenges they already face. “For the most part I crawled until I reached Namibia,” says Mekondo, who made his way from Angola to Namibia on his hands and knees. “I wore double pants until they peeled and tore at the knees. For my hands I used a pair of sandals so that I could crawl on the pavement.” “Although I feel well here because I have food, I feel bad for my mother who is still in Angola. I left her under the care of another person, but they were also hungry and were looking for food. I don’t know what to do because I don’t have money and I can’t crawl back all the way through that difficult journey, so I don’t feel well thinking about my mother living there without any food.” Returning home? Recent rainfalls have allowed many of the migrants to return to Angola, while others remain in host communities in northern Namibia. But the risk is far from over. The recentrainfalls come late in what is normally the rainy season, and they weren’t nearly enough to sustain a season of crops. But people remain hopeful as many of these 21stcentury climate migrants have missed their homes and always wanted to return as soon as possible. “I miss home,” says Mwandjukatji. “But the problem is that if we went home we would always be worried about what we were going to eat that day. When the hunger started there we sold our hoes and all the tools that we used to cultivate in order to get food. So now we don’t have those things and if we return we don’t have tools to cultivate. How are we going to get those tools to start again?” -- This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this,click here.

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Mauritania: Thousands of food-insecure families need urgent assistance as Sahel battles food crisis

It's hot and dryin N'Beika, a commune in Moudjeria, central Mauritania, with temperatures already rising above 40°C by late morning. It’s hard to believe that nine months ago, 90% of the commune was submerged by heavy rainfall and flooding. Mohamed Lemine Ould Mohamed Moctar, a 65-year-old farmer and father of seven, looks out over his piece of land, his face distant, hoping for a good rainy season, this time. "I didn't harvest anything last year. My whole sorghum field was ravaged by the floods. At least the year before, I was able to harvest a few small bags, despite the lack of rain", says Mohamed. Here in Moudjeria, asin Guerrou and Barkeol, the two other departments most affected by food insecurity in Mauritania this year, most families depend on traditional farming and livestock rearing to get by—a situation that makes them highly dependent on rainfall. For years, a lack of water had been the main obstacle to flourishing agriculture in this community nestled on a plateau some 100 metres above sea level. But last year's rains were much heavier than expected, causing flooding that wiped out people’s crops. This flooding has put severe strain on people’s livelihoods and is plunging many families in Mauritania into food insecurity. According to theMarch 2023 Mauritania Harmonized Framework, close to 500,000 people are expected to be acutely food insecure in the current lean season between June and August 2023. “Every day is battle for us to survive. Cereal, meat, and basic food stuff to feed my family are almost unaffordable since I lost my only hope for income in this past flood,” adds Mohamed. Sadly, communities in Mauritania are not the only ones facing this problem. The Sahel Region in Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the worst food insecurity crises in decades, affecting millions of people. “It’s alarming to witness the deterioration in food security in the Sahel. Pre-existing conditions such as drought and floods, climatic shocks, regional and international conflicts and rising food and fuel prices are spiking hunger and malnutrition rates. Each time, it is the most vulnerable who suffer the consequences of a complex context, exacerbated by growing inequalities,” says Alexandre Claudon de Vernisy, head of the IFRC Cluster delegation for Cape Verde, Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal. In response to this emergency, the IFRC launched an appeal for 215 million Swiss francs in October 2022 to support 7.6 million of the most food insecure people across 14 priority countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mauritania is the latest country to join the regional appeal in May 2023, bringing the total number of countries to 15. The Mauritanian Red Crescent (MRC) needs 2 million Swiss francs from this appeal to help more than 80,000 people like Mohamed affected by food insecurity in the communes of Barkeol, Guerrou and Moudjeria. In the short term, this funding will be used to provide more than 2,700 families with cash assistance to help them get back on their feet. It will also enable MRC volunteers to provide community health services and malnutrition screenings to more than 2,500 families to meet their immediate health needs. In the longer-term, the funding aims to boost the resilience of communities in Mauritania so they are better prepared for future climate shocks. The MRC will: Set up three ‘Farmer Field Schools’ to teach climate-smart farming techniques—such assoil moisture conservation, use of appropriate seeds, and crop association—to hundreds of farmers, so they can have more successful and reliable yields. Help 30 villages to set up village food security stocks by buying cereals after the harvest period so that the price is cheaper during the next lean season. Support mother’s clubs in the region that help mothers to recognize and fight signs of malnutrition in their children. "It’s a long and difficult lean season ahead of us. Without the Red Crescent’s help, there would be very littlehope for us," says Mohamed. -- For more information about this crisis and to donate to the IFRC’s emergency appeal,please visit our Africa: Hunger crisis page.

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Somalia: Tackling malnutrition amid the drought

Across the Horn of Africa, people are entering their sixth rainy season without rain. For the last two and a half years the water that fills community water points, nourishes livestock, and grows vegetables, has not flowed. Surface water is gone and the sometimes green environment is dry and dusty. The ongoing drought, paired with conflict and rising food prices, has led to food insecurity, displacement, and the death of livestock. This, in turn, affects people's livelihoods and health, and leads to malnutrition. Across the country, Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) teams run static and mobile health clinics that serve rural and remote communities in hard to reach areas. These clinics provide basic health care and routine immunizations, as well as screening for malnutrition and providing nutritional support. The staff refer severe cases of malnutrition to larger medical centres and hospitals. In recent months, Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) teams have reported seeingincreasing numbers of children with malnutrition who need nutritional support. Here are some of the families they've been helping. Basra Ahmed Cabdale, brought her children to a Somali Red Crescent Society clinic near Borama to be screened for malnutrition. Her daughter, 3-year-old Nimco Adbikadir Hassan, was found to be moderately malnourished. Cabdale said that before the drought, her family would eat tomatoes and onions with sorghum and maize. They would also have milk and meat from their animals. However, without water, crops aren’t growing, livestock is dying and they need to sell off their animals to buy food and necessities at the local market. “Our biggest worry is the loss of our animals and the lack of food,” she said. “It takes two hours [to walk to the water point] and we have to form a long queue to get it.” Halima Mohmoud Abah visited the Somali Red Crescent Society clinic in a village near Berbera with four of her children. She was worried about the weight of her baby and her daughter Mardiye Abdullahi Ali, 4. While Mardiye had her height, weight, and arm circumference measured, Halima talked about some of her concerns. “There is a drought, water for livestock has been limited and there's not enough for crops,” she said. When Mardiye’s results come in, she is borderline malnourished. “I am worried for the health of the children,” she said. “If it continues, it will result in bad things... death, of animals and humans.” In the Somali Red Crescent Society clinic in Burao, the staff make sure all children who are acutely or moderately malnourished receive a high-calorie nutritional supplement – Plumpy'Sup or Plumpy'Nut. Children like Maslah Yasin Usman get their first supplement in the clinic, and their mothers are given enough to take home. His mother, Farhiya Abdi Ahmed, is one of many mothers who bring their children into this clinic in for screening. -- Somalia is one of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa currently contending with one of the worst food crises in decades. The IFRC is supporting National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the region, including the Somali Red Crescent Society, to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people. Find out more about our Africa Hunger Crisis Appeal.

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| Press release

Ukraine: IFRC warns of psychological wounds adding cruel layer of pain one year on

Geneva / Budapest / Kyiv 23 February 2023 -The psychological wounds of the international armed conflict in Ukraine are adding another cruel layer of pain to people already struggling to cope with shelter, hunger, and livelihoods needs, warns the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). As the effects of the last year continue to impact families, the IFRC network is running the biggest humanitarian response in its history. With a CHF 1.6 billion appeal spanning 58 countries, the IFRC network has reached more than two million people with medical care, mental health support and shelter; and so far has distributed more than CHF 87 million in cash assistance to bring choice and dignity to families who have lost everything. A total of 42 IFRC member National Societies are engaged in activities supporting people from Ukraine, domestically. IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain, said: “This grueling year has devastated the lives of millions of people and that brings with it psychological harm as significant as physical injury. We are preparing to expand our mental health interventions alongside cash, shelter, medical care and urgent assistance to help people manage the harsh winter with power cuts and water shortages.” Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are working everywhere—from bomb shelters in Bakhmut to refugees’ new homes across borders—and have provided more than a million people with psychosocial support since February 2022. As time marches on, more must be done to address mental health. “Trauma knows no borders: those in Ukraine and those who have fled are equally in need of comfort, stability, and a sense of normalcy,” remarked Mr. Chapagain. The Ukrainian Red Cross has provided psychosocial support to hundreds of thousands of people since the start of the conflict’s escalation. An additional 34 IFRC member National Societies are delivering specialist help to hundreds of thousands who have sought safety in other countries. Ukrainian Red Cross Director General, Maksym Dotsenko, said: “They have lost loved ones, homes, jobs, everything—this is devastating enough. People’s lives are in limbo and this anguish is eating them up inside, compounding the mental health crisis even further. “Helping families find coping mechanisms, treatment and support is crucial for us. We are training people on how to respond to mental health emergencies and this training is happening in bomb shelters and basements.” In neighbouring countries, IFRC member National Societies are receiving a growing number of pleas for mental health help via their community feedback systems. “We are a long way away from recovery for people from Ukraine, but ensuring support for mental health, alongside cash support, protection and other basic services is a way we can contribute to that eventual recovery,” said Mr. Chapagain. Over the past year, the IFRC network has mobilized more than 124,000 volunteers to respond to urgent needs of people affected by this international armed conflict. For more information, please contact: [email protected] In Kyiv: Nichola Jones, +44 7715 459956 In Budapest: Corrie Butler, +36 70 430 6506 In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803 A/V materials available to media on the IFRC Newsroom. Note to editors: In a regional initiative to meet the massive need for mental health support, National Red Cross Societies in Ukraine and 24 countries across the EU/EEA have joined forces to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to more than 590,000 people over the course of three years. Target audiences include displaced people in Ukraine and impacted EU countries, caregivers, children, older persons, people with disabilities, host communities, as well as Red Cross volunteers and staff. Funded by the European Union and with technical assistance from the IFRC and the IFRC Psychosocial Centre, the EU4Health project connects vulnerable people with mental health professionals and volunteers from the 25 National Societies.

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IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"

It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness these days – climate crises, people on the verge of starvation in parts of Africa, multiple wars, protracted conflicts, people having to leave their homes out of desperation, shameful cases of exclusion in many parts of the world, rising mental health crises, people not having basic access to water and sanitation. This list can go on and on. While these crises are affecting everyone, the marginalized, excluded, and last mile communities are bearing the brunt of these crises disproportionately. Some 43 years ago, I signed up to be a young volunteer of the Nepal Red Cross. I joined not knowing how my life would unfold and where this would lead. I didn’t fully understand then, but I do now – the mission and mandate of our IFRC network, and the fundamental principles that guide our work with a very simple vision--to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Three years ago, we didn’t know the scale of impact of a global pandemic, international armed conflict in the middle of Europe and all other global crises we have been responding to. In this context, let me share some of my reflections on the current state of play. Reflection on the IFRC’s mandate and relevance As the world grapples with “polycrisis”, our mandate becomes as relevant as ever, if not more. The IFRC is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in times of disaster, crises, and other emergencies. By providing immediate assistance and long-term sustainable development programmes, the IFRC network puts people at the centre of vital, life-saving assistance. We work to strengthen the resilience of communities in vulnerable settings, ensuring they are better prepared for and better able to cope with our changing world. In a time of great global disparities in terms of access to services, we bridge the gap. The role of truly local organizations like our member National Societies is critical to reach the most disadvantaged sections of societies. Localization is fundamental as crises grow; but resources do not keep pace with them. Business as usual is not going to work. True empowerment of community organizations and decolonization of aid will be critical in 2023 and beyond. Reflection on our fundamental principles, particularly the principle of neutrality The threat to our principles, particularly the principle of neutrality, lies in the fact that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on a much-heightened political dimension. This has placed great pressure on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. We must maintain a neutral stance and perform impartial aid operations, to ensure our principle of neutrality is observed. While we remain sensitive to the challenges emerging out of the conflict and we will be doing everything in our capacity to deliver on our mandate, it is essential that our fundamental principles remain the bedrock of our actions. Failing to do so will irreparably damage the notion of neutral, independent humanitarian action. Amid rapid changes in the global humanitarian landscape, one thing remains constant – that’s our fundamental principles. Our values and principles transcend all the divisions that exist in the world. Reflection on current trends We closely monitor the global trends that impact our work. Climate and Environmental crises have been at the forefront. Social issues like the erosion of trust, migration and displacement, inequality, global health and food crises are directly linked to our mandate. Economic issues like the cost-of-living crisis and energy crises will impact our work. Technological issues, like the opportunity created by digitalization as well as the risks arising from the digital divide and those linked to humanitarian data security, will have to be considered. We must also be mindful of the global political landscape and current lack of global political leadership able to deal with multiple crises. The international armed conflict in Ukraine will significantly impact the geopolitical landscape and will exacerbate the humanitarian situation across the globe. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there is no humanitarian solution to most of these crises. There must be a political solution and we must support and advocate for the same. Reflection on our ambitions Our ambitions are simple as we deal with these trends. We will continue to be bold in our support to our membership both on humanitarian action and in building resilience. We will work harder to build a trustful relationship with our membership and governance structure. We will invest more in National Society transformations leveraging the power of youth and volunteers. Advancing gender and inclusion will require consistent push. We must do more to be a learning organization that continuously evolves. Within the family, we will continue to build mutually respectful movement cooperation. We will expand our humanitarian diplomacy efforts and further strengthen our highly professional partnership with all partners. Further building on the new operating model and new resourcing architecture, we will develop more inclusive IFRC wide approaches. We will accelerate our digitalization journey. We will continue to strengthen agility and accountability. Respectful workplace, issues of fraud and corruption, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, racism, and discrimination will be dealt with proactively and decisively. The world is full of daunting challenges. But it is also full of people and organizations committed to confront them and work together to bring about positive change. We are one of those organizations. We will lead from the front, working with our membership and their volunteers. We will be bold in our actions, but calm and composed in our approaches. There will of course be challenges along the way, but we will always move forward with integrity. We will have to be at our best when the challenges are the greatest. And we will have to always bring hope amid hopelessness.

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| Press release

Somalia: Likelihood of famine will increase by an estimated 25 per cent if displaced people don’t get the help they need

Nairobi/Geneva, 19 December 2022 - Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of food security and greener pastures for livestock. Without special attention to displaced people, the likelihood of famine will increase by about 25 percent, according to estimations by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The ongoing hunger crisis in Somalia does not yet meet the threshold for a famine categorization, according to the latest report by theIntegrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)—the international organization responsible for monitoring global hunger—but the situation is likely worsen in the coming months. IPC forecasts famine between April and June 2023 in parts of Somalia. Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC’s regional director for Africa explained: “Displacement is one of the four major factors, or ‘threat multipliers for famine’, in Somalia. The other three factors include worsening drought, increasing food prices and fighting. Addressing the unique needs of displaced people efficiently will reduce the probability of famine significantly.” Over one million people have been forced to leave their homes as the hunger crisis rages—and this number is expected to rise. The increasing number of displaced people in already overcrowded temporary settlements will limit access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition and health services. Further, although some displaced people live with their friends and relatives, this arrangement puts additional strain on host families, who share their limited food reserves with guests. Providing displaced people with tailormade humanitarian assistance is one of the most efficient ways of protecting host families from slipping into hunger themselves, while at the same time ensuring people on the move meet their nutritional needs. Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are continually on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. One of the methods used by Somali Red Crescent teams, supported by the IFRC, is to reach nomadic communities with mobile clinicsto provide basic health services in remote regions of the country. Some of the urgent actions needed to reduce the likelihood of famine include the strengthening of health and nutrition services, cash assistance and shelter. Mukhier added: “We reiterate our call to prioritize the growing hunger crisis in Somalia, the country’s worst drought in 40 years. As an organisation, our focus is on displaced people, because of our unique ability to reach them with assistance.” The Somali Red Crescent Society has a countrywide network of branches and a large number of volunteers in all parts of the country. It also has a wide network of health facilities. Red Crescent teams’ focus is on delivering cash to families to meet their food, health and other urgent needs. Cash gives people the freedom to choose what they need most to help their families stay healthy and is more convenient for nomadic communities who would otherwise need to carry in-kind aid with them as they move. According to IPC, the April-June 2023 rainy season is likely to be below normal and there is a 62 per cent probability that cumulative rainfall will be within the lowest tercile. This will represent the sixth season of below-average rainfall. Food prices will also remain high, and insecurity will limit access to markets and will impede humanitarian assistance. Displaced people will be among the most affected. For more information, please contact: In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected] In Dakar: Moustapha DIALLO, +221 77 450 10 04 [email protected] In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803 [email protected]

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| Article

Kenya hunger crisis: Voices from the drought

Kenya is one of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa currently experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades. Severe drought, due to the failure of four consecutive rainy seasons, means millions of people in the country are facing hunger and thirst. But drought isn't the only problem. High inflation, climate-related disasters, conflicts and displacement are just a handful of the other local and global factors at play that are putting people's lives across the country at serious risk. And as a result of the hunger crisis, we're also seeing higher rates of child marriage, increased school drop outs and escalating conflicts as people try to cope and access precious resources. The Kenya Red Cross Society, supported by the IFRC, has been helping affected communities to protect their lives and livelihoods through this crisis. Their local volunteers are distributing food, rehabilitating water sources, providing cash transfers and supporting people's nutrition—reaching more than 100,000 households so far. In this article, hear from some of the people we've supported as they talk about how this historical drought is affecting their and their families' lives. Scolastica Esekon, Aukot Village, Ngaremara, Isiolo “I have been blessed with eight children. Now that it is dry and the cattle have left to find pasture elsewhere, we may be without food all afternoon and evening. Livestock has died and at the same time prices have risen. I might get 200 or 500 shillings a day for manual work, but that’s enough for one meal, and we are hungry again in the evening. Life is hard for women. The young people have gone with the animals to look for grass. It may take several days, and then you hear that cattle raiders have killed the men. And some even commit suicide. The water has helped a lot, and we can thank God that he has brought us helpers who have dug wells. When I come back from work in the night, I can get water from nearby. Before, I had to walk several hours away, and I could still come home without water, because the elephants could drive us away. Now that’s not a problem.” Ebenyo Muya, Aukot Village, Ngaremara, Isiolo “The drought has come over us all. We receive aid, but it does not come often and does not last long. We are really grateful for the water project that the Kenya Red Cross has given us. We would also need piping for irrigation, so that we could start farming. Our biggest problem is the drought. The trees are dry and the animals are gone. Without the Red Cross water, we would really be in trouble. The children are weak, and we have nothing to give them. Some people have livestock left, but they cannot sell them, because the animals are too thin. My cattle of 48 cows was stolen a couple of years ago. The drought has made conflicts worse. I believe that agriculture could be a good option for us. If the children can go to school, they will be able to change the future.” Farhiya Abdi Ali, Abakaile location, Garissa “In the past, life was normal and business was good. We got milk and meat from the animals. Now there is no milk. and the animals are too thin for slaughter. My shop has not been doing well, because people have no money to buy goods. I have been told by the wholesale markets that I cannot get anything. But when the Red Cross came and gave people cash assistance, I got money from people and I could buy things in the store again. I got a grant myself and used some to buy things for the shop and used some money to pay my children’s school fees, they are in high school. Life is better now and people are relieved.” Abdi Buke Tinisa, Sericho Location, Isiolo “The Red Cross has dug a well for us, and the cows are allowed to drink, even though there is no pasture here. The drought has been really bad. The animals used to eat and return home early in the evening because they had had enough. Now the animals are looking for food and stay up all night looking for grass. Some stay here near the water and are killed by wild animals at night. This drought has brought with it a lot of fear. I used to have 50 cows, but only 12 are still alive. I don’t think they will survive until the next rains either, they are in poor condition. The children have usually gone to school, but now the problem is school fees. We don’t always have enough money to buy food for the children, how could we have money for school fees?” -- Click here to learn more about the hunger crisis in Africa and to donate to our Emergency Appeal.

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| Speech

IFRC President addresses High-Level conference on food security and nutrition at the African Union

Excellencies, Honorable Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and friends, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a great honor and pleasure for me to be here today, and together with all of you to open this important event on the food security crises that we are facing in Africa. This conference is a unique platform that we, co-conveners, provide to leverage support from the political, humanitarian, and development actors, as well as the international financial institutions. We are particularly honored by the close cooperation of more than a decade with the African Union Commission. Through you, Your Excellency Commissioner Sacko, I commend the leadership of the African Union and pledge our continued commitment as Federation to strengthen our partnership. Yet, while we address the complexity of food security and nutrition, we must equally not forget hearing from those at the frontline of risk and in most marginalized and hard-to-reach communities. I represent the International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies—the world’s largest humanitarian network composed of 192 National Societies constituting 14 million volunteers worldwide—prepared, committed, and ready to respond to disasters and crises at local, national, and regional scale. Our network brings voices from the frontlines of disasters and solutions communities offer. We, the IFRC, champion localization and national ownership in practice on the ground as a necessity across the world. Empowering local actors, such as our Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers, makes us able to save lives and reach more vulnerable people. Our volunteers are part of the local communities, they know the needs and how to better address them. Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are constantly on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. For example, our Red Crescent teams in Somalia work closely with nomadic communities and therefore there isnever a question about where to deliver aid. These volunteers come from the communities they serve, and they know how to do it better than anyone else. As a global network we are deeply concerned by the unfolding food insecurity crisis in Africa, where 800 million people are at threat across the continent and 146 million are in acute need of food. Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023, and we must all be worried, but most importantly mobilise ourselves to prevent any catastrophes. There is no more time to waste! Words and political commitment must be translated in urgent actions. We are also mindful that this crisis is not an African Crisis but a global crisis, triggered by three global factors: climate change, the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide impact on commodities and prices of the international armed conflict in Ukraine. African National Societies, with the support of the IFRC, have not waited for this situation to deteriorate to act. In 2021, 4.8 million people were supported with cash and food assistance. As the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement we are also aware that we need to scale up our response. The IFRC has launched a regional emergency appeal for 200 million CHF that covers 23 affected countries and is focused on reaching 7.6 million people in 14 priority countries. To break the vicious circle of this food crisis, the IFRC will not only invest in crisis response but will work together with the African Union Commission, and other key partners, on advocating for scaling-up efforts to meet the humanitarian imperative across the continent and address the urgent necessity to also invest in addressing the longer-term needs. We will act in line with AU Agenda 2063, the AU member states response plans, across the continent and the strategic plans of Regional Economic Communities on food security. For us, this a global crisis. We are mobilizing all our 192 members to support actions led by the African National Societies. Here today, we have 15 African National Society leaders, plus representation from Red Cross Red Crescents partners from other continents. We are fully engaged, as one team, to ensure that both emergency response and longer-term solutions to the food crisis are in full alignment with government plans and priorities. As auxiliary to public authorities, our African National Societies are engaged in mobilizing trained volunteers and capabilities and leverage their unique access to and acceptance by affected or at-risk communities. They also contribute to policy frameworks, such as the global zero hunger commitments (SDG1 and SDG2) and the implementation of Paris Agreement ensuring community-centred response for lasting impact. This crisis can not be handled by one agency or organisation alone, not in the short term nor in the long run. Strong partnerships, including with communities themselves, are the foundation for succeeding in our common goal of achieving Zero Hunger - a big ambition for all of us to deliver against the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Agenda 2063. Collectively, we are also ready to support African-owned and -led longer term solutions to food insecurity challenges. It is in that spirit that we launched our IFRC Pan-African Zero Hunger Initiative, a partnership platform, to address root-causes and to strengthen community resilience through longer term programming. The aim of this initiative is to reach 25% of the most vulnerable people in Africa by 2030 through local, national, regional, and international partnerships. Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Hunger is a very undignified crisis. Hunger is not just a food crisis. It leads to health crisis. And livestock crisis. It means breaking up neighborhoods and disrupting local communities. It means population movement. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made — by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups — to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans. Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and investment in community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis. We, the IFRC, stand ready to do our part with governments and partners. We believe that this high-level event can be a key moment to strengthen our cooperation and save more lives. As we all know, responding late will mean immense suffering for millions and millions of people. And to us this is unacceptable! Thank you.

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| Press release

Water-borne diseases and food insecurity threaten Pakistan as Red Cross ramps up efforts

Islamabad / Kuala Lumpur, 7 October 2022 – As widespread flash floods in Pakistan continue to trigger waves of displacement, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Pakistan Red Crescent are scaling up their humanitarian assistance. In a revised emergency appeal, the IFRC is asking for CHF 55 million to assist three times more people than initially targeted. The increased ask was prompted by the worsening situation, where a surge of flood-borne diseases and food inaccessibility is on the rise. In the areas where floods are receding, health and hygiene concerns, such as cholera, dengue and malaria, pose severe threats to people’s wellbeing. Pakistan has experienced an unusual amount of rainfall, three times higher than the last three decades, which affected 33 million people, killing 1,700 others and displacing nearly 8 million from their homes. Hundreds of staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly since the onset of this disaster to assist those in need. A new study from the World Weather Attribution—a group of international scientists including those from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre—found climate change likely intensified the rainfall that left huge swathes of Pakistan underwater and turned lives upside down. More than two months into the floods, the IFRC and Pakistan Red Crescent have reached around 270,000 people in the most affected areas—delivering critical life-saving assistance including tents, food, clean water and medical support. The revised appeal will strengthen the ongoing response, with a focus on food, water, medical care, and shelter assistance—all delivered by volunteers who are from the very communities they serve. The Chairman of Pakistan Red Crescent, Sardar Shahid Ahmed Laghari, who has been visiting affected areas with emergency response teams over the past weeks says: “The needs remain massive and keep on growing, and they are different for men, women, boys and girls. Our staff and volunteers are listening to and working with these different groups to raise awareness and deliver our interventions. It’s critical that families’ needs are met or these tragic floods will impact them in the long-term—just as people are suffering from the ongoing inflation and economic crisis." Through the strength of its staff and volunteers, the Pakistan Red Crescent has managed to access hard-to-reach communities in dire need of assistance. The IFRC, and its partners such as German Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross and Turkish Red Crescent, have been collaborating with the government and humanitarian groups to cater to the most vulnerable people, with a special focus on displaced families, women, and children. Peter Ophoff, IFRC’s Head of Delegation in Pakistan, remarks: “This revised appeal will enable us to help the most vulnerable get back on their feet, especially those who live in the hard-to-reach areas. Before the lingering effects of this disaster turns into a catastrophe, the IFRC is acting now to scale up preventative public health interventions, including improving access to sanitation and increasing hygiene awareness around the emerging health crisis. Parallel interventions will also be made on shelter, livelihoods and cash assistance.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, +60 19 271 3641 [email protected] In Islamabad: Sher Zaman, +92 51 9250404-6, [email protected] In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202-603-6803, [email protected] AV materials for use by the media are available here:

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| Emergency

Africa: Hunger crisis

Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades—immense in both its severity and geographic scope.Roughly 146 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is driven by a range of local and global factors, including insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability and negative macroeconomic impacts. Through this regional Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Africa to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people.

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| Press release

Crisis fatigue not an option as global hunger crisis deepens, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement warns

Geneva, 13 September 2022 (ICRC/IFRC) – The warning lights are flashing on high: armed conflict, climate-related emergencies, economic hardship and political obstacles are leading to a growing wave of hunger in countries around the world. The misery for millions will deepen without immediate urgent action. Systems-level improvements must be made to escape a cycle of recurrent crises, including investments in climate-smart food production in conflict-affected areas, and reliable mechanisms to support hard-to-reach communities hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly. The international armed conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted global food supply systems as well as future harvests in many countries due to the impact it’s having on the availability of fertilizer. The importance of more shipments by the Black Sea grain initiative reaching vulnerable populations in East Africa cannot be overstated. Too few grain shipments are getting to where they are needed. As hunger emergencies hit the headlines, the risk of crisis fatigue is high. Yet what’s uniquely frightening about this moment is the breadth and depth of the needs. More than 140 million people face acute food insecurity due to conflict and instability, even as climate change and economic precarity indicate that hunger needs will rise in the coming months. Political will and resources are needed now. Without them, many lives will be lost, and the suffering will endure for years. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. Concerted action and long-term approaches are the only way to break the cycle. While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made — by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups — to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans. Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis. Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said: “Two dozen countries across Africa are grappling with the worst food crisis in decades. Some 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are in the clutches of starvation due to such compounding crises as drought, flooding, COVID-19’s economic effects, conflict – even desert locusts. Behind the staggeringly high numbers are real people – men, women and children battling death-level hunger every day. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023. However, with swift action, many lives can be saved. We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people in dire need of aid, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.” The IFRC and its membership—which consists of Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in nearly every corner of the globe—are delivering aid in hard-to-reach communities. Assistance includes getting cash into the hands of families to meet food, health and other urgent needs. In Nigeria, Red Cross volunteers focus on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose nutrition is paramount for healthy births and childhoods. In Madagascar, volunteers restore land and water sources through anti-erosion activities, the construction of water points, and a focus on irrigation in addition to traditional ways to fight hunger, like nutrition monitoring. Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, said: “Conflict is a huge driver of hunger. We see violence preventing farmers from planting and harvesting. We see sanctions and blockades preventing food delivery to the most vulnerable. My wish is that we build resiliency into the fabric of humanitarian response, so that communities suffer less when violence and climate change upend lives. A cycle of band-aid solutions will not be enough in coming years.” The ICRC this year has helped nearly 1 million people in south and central Somalia buy a month’s worth of food by distributing cash to more than 150,000 households. A similar programme in Nigeria helped 675,000 people, while more than a quarter million people received climate smart agriculture inputs to restore crop production. The ICRC works to strengthen resilience through seeds, tools and livestock care so that residents can better absorb recurrent shocks. And its medical professionals are running stabilization centres in places like Somalia, where kids are getting specialized nutrition care. Communities around the world are suffering deep hardship. A short snapshot of some of the regions in need includes: In Sub-Saharan Africa: One in three children under the age of five is stunted by chronic undernutrition, while two out of five women of childbearing age are anaemic because of poor diets. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day. In Afghanistan: The combination of three decades of armed conflict and an economic crash resulting in few job opportunities and a massive banking crisis are having a devastating effect on Afghan families’ ability to buy food. More than half the country – 24 million – need assistance. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement welcomes any measure aimed at easing the effect of economic sanctions. But given the depth of the humanitarian crisis, long-term solutions are also needed, including the resumption of projects and investments by states and development agencies in key infrastructure. In Pakistan: The recent flooding has led to an estimated $12 billion in losses. Food security in the country was alarming before this latest catastrophe, with 43 percent of the population food insecure. Now the number of acutely hungry people is expected to rise substantially. Some 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops are under water. An estimated 65 percent of the country’s food basket – crops like rice and wheat– have been destroyed, with over 733,000 livestock reportedly killed. The floods will also negatively affect food delivery into neighboring Afghanistan. In Somalia: We have seen a five-fold increase in the number of malnourished children needing care. Last month the Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa admitted 466 children, up from 82 in August 2021. Children admitted here die without the specialized nutritional care they receive. In Syria: Food insecurity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2019. Today, two-thirds of Syria’s population –12.4 million out of 18 million – can’t meet their daily food needs. The compounding effects of more than a decade of conflict, including the consequences of sanctions, have crippled people’s buying power. Food prices have risen five-fold in the last two years. In Yemen: Most Yemenis survive on one meal a day. Last year 53 percent of Yemen’s population were food insecure. This year it’s 63 percent – or some 19 million people. Aid actors have been forced to cut food assistance due to a lack of funds. Some 5 million people will now receive less than 50 percent of their daily nutritional requirement because of it. Notes to editors For more information, please contact: IFRC:Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67 IFRC: Jenelle Eli, [email protected], +41 79 935 97 40 ICRC:Crystal Wells, [email protected], +41 79 642 80 56 ICRC: Jason Straziuso, [email protected], +41 79 949 35 12 Audio-visuals available: Horn of Africa photos and b-roll Pakistan floods photos and b-roll Somalia cash programme photos and b-roll Kenya sees climate shocks b-roll

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Nigeria hunger crisis: Creative ways to improve nutrition

Many countries in Africa are facing the worst food crisis in decades. The consequences are greatest for women and children, with many mothers currently fighting to protect their kids from malnutrition. In Nigeria, one of the IFRC’s 12 priority countries in our hunger crisis response, the Nigerian Red Cross and IFRC are using creative ways to help parents keep their children healthy and fed. Let's take a look at three of them. Mothers’ Clubs Mothers’ clubs are safe spaces for women to come together and support one another through the successes and struggles of motherhood. The idea started in Ghana in the 1970s and has since spread all around the world. These days there’s a growing emphasis on involving men and supporting their equally vital role in raising children. Nigerian Red Cross volunteers have set up 140 of these Mothers' Clubs in 7 north-western states of Nigeria, allowing parents to meet and receive information on nutrition, breastfeeding, and proper infant care. They’re a way of providing health education to parents on how to best look after their newborns, how to breastfeed properly, and how to improve hygiene and care—all in a friendly and supportive environment. When her child became affected by oedema, a serious manifestation of the symptoms of malnutrition, Amina, a member of one of the Mothers’ Clubs, turned to the Nigerian Red Cross for help: "My child had been sick for some time, and I didn't know it was serious, or even that he was malnourished, until they [Red Cross volunteers] came to my house to screen him. Today, thanks to the awareness-raising activities and my membership of the clubs, I can take better care of my children and advise the women in my community on good practices”. Cash and voucher assistance Many households in Nasarawa State are facing severe food shortages due to the drought that is ravaging the region. Sadiya, a mother of one who is struggling to feed herself and her son, says, "I cannot eat or prepare food for my son on a regular basis because the land hardly produces anything." Similarly, another woman in Niger State highlights how the rising cost of living, especially rising food prices, prevents her from providing a good dinner for her family: "My child has not been breastfed properly because there are not enough nutritious meals available in the market for me. And even when they are available, they are unaffordable." To address this, the IFRC is currently providing vouchers to breastfeeding mothers through its Cash Transfer programme. "I was one of the mothers supported by the Red Cross Society. I received 10,000 naira, which enabled me to buy food for my family." she adds. The cash transfer programme is designed to support low-income families to cope with the pressures of inflation so that they can provide for the multiple needs of the household and therefore the children. Giving cash to the people we support is an effective, efficient and transparent way of providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. It ensures that people have the freedom, dignity and independence to decide on their own recovery. Home visits to fill gaps in health services Several health centres are understaffed, and some have been closed due to increasing insecurity, making it difficult for malnourished children to access even basic health care. The women and members of the mothers' clubs conduct home visits and screen malnourished children by measuring the circumference of their arms. Any child suffering from malnutrition is then registered on a referral card, designed by the Nigerian Red Cross, and referred to a health centre for further treatment. These home visits are minimizing the burden on stretched health services and making sure that children are being regularly screened and supported when they need it. ___________ In response to the food crisis in the north-east and north-west of Nigeria, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal for over CHF 4,000,000 to help people cope. Click here to donate today to support this life-saving work.

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| Press release

Horn of Africa hunger crisis: Addressing needs of nomadic communities is crucial to saving lives

Nairobi/Geneva, 7 September 2022—Nearly a million people have been forced to leave their homes in search of food and water in parts of Somalia and Kenya, as a catastrophic hunger crisis continues to unfold. More than 22 million people are approaching or experiencing a complete lack of food in the Horn of Africa. The situation is projected to get worse in early 2023. Nomadic communities are particularly hard hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices. While food and funds will address part of the problem, without a reliable mechanism of reaching nomadic families with consistent and holistic humanitarian assistance, the world’s response to the hunger crisis will remain both inefficient and insufficient, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today. Mohamed Babiker, IFRC’s head of Kenya and Somalia delegation said: “Millions of lives are at risk. But as the humanitarian community accelerates its response, we should ensure that mistakes of the past decades are not repeated. It is crucial that aid is not just available—but that it also reaches the right people in an efficient manner. Most of the affected families are from pastoralist communities, who are often nomadic, and can only be reached by those who are close enough to them to keep up with their movements to provide uninterrupted assistance. A local response is vital.” In Kenya, most of the areas experiencing food insecurity are in the Arid and Semi-arid lands (ASAL) areas, where communities practice pastoralism and therefore depend mainly on meat and milk for nutrition and income. The lack of rain has forced families out of their homes, in search of water and pasture. In Somalia, women and girls have been disproportionally affected by the crisis as they tend to travel long distances in search of water and firewood. They have also been separated from their families and remain behind with the livestock while the men and boys migrate in search of pasture and water. Babiker added: “The response is facing two major challenges. The biggest one is the lack of sufficient resources to purchase emergency relief items. However, even if you have the money, you need to be able to reach these nomadic communities, in an efficient and consistent manner. This is crucial. We call upon partners and donors to invest in institutions that have reliable access to families on the move.” Bringing humanitarian assistance to families who are constantly on the move is one of the greatest challenges aid workers face. In response, Red Crescent teams in Somalia work closely with nomadic communities, so there is never a question about where to deliver aid. These volunteers come from the very communities they serve. With recent reports that more than 700 children have died in nutrition centres across Somalia, it is even more crucial that aid organizations reach affected people in their communities before their situation becomes critical as some do not reach health centres, or arrive when it is too late. In addition to food, people affected by drought also need health services. During field visits to Puntland and other parts of the country, IFRC and Somali Red Crescent teams care for displaced people who are exhausted and sick. Red Crescent teams in Somalia, supported by the IFRC, reach nomadic communities with mobile clinics to provide basic health services in remote regions of the country. “Our strength lies in our volunteer network which comes from the communities we serve. They understand the cultural context and local languages and have in-depth knowledge and understanding of affected communities,” said Babiker. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams will also focus on delivering cash to families to meet their food, health and other urgent needs. Cash gives people the freedom to choose what they need most to help their families stay healthy and is more convenient for nomadic communities who would otherwise need to carry in-kind aid with them as they move. To date, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Kenya and Somalia have reached, collectively, at least 645,000 people affected by the drought with health services, cash assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services. Note to editors: New high-quality photos and videos from drought affected parts of Somalia and Kenya are available at this link: https://www.ifrcnewsroom.org/ For more information, please contact: In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]

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| Article

Confronting the environmental causes of Africa’s food crisis

This blog was originally posted on the WWF website here. Africa is facing its worst food crisis in 40 years. Nearly 114 million people across sub-Saharan Africa – a figure approaching half the entire population of the United States – face severe food insecurity. In Eastern Africa, 50 million people are at risk. Across the Sahel, the number of people needing emergency food assistance has quadrupled to 30 million in the past seven years. The causes of this current crisis are manifold. Conflict and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have played their part. But more significantly, the continent has been wracked by prolonged drought, flooding and swarms of desert locusts – natural hazards, exacerbated by man-made climate change and the degradation of nature. It is the most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of the current hunger crisis. Men and women are losing their livelihoods as crops fail, animals starve or die of thirst, and soil is washed away. Children go hungry, and their education is abandoned. Women eat less, and drought means dietary requirements, especially for young girls, pregnant and lactating women, and menstrual hygiene are relegated. There is an urgent need for life-saving humanitarian assistance in all countries in Africa. Organizations such as Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are stepping up their actions, with the IFRC, governments and partners, to provide this urgent support. But they recognize, as does WWF, the need to also build resilience to shocks and to address the root causes of food insecurity. A changing climate Many underlying causes can be found in the twin environmental crises of climate and nature loss, which are compounded with the crises caused by factors including poverty and conflict. The rising levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – primarily from the rich and middle-income countries of the global North – are driving temperature rises that are disrupting weather and climate patterns and degrading natural ecosystems. Climate change is making extreme weather events worse, more frequent and more trans-boundary. It is changing patterns of precipitation, undermining water and food security. It is impacting human health, as well as putting additional stress on nature and biodiversity, exacerbating pressures from land-use change, over-exploitation, pollution and invasive species. Presently, around 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems. Not only are food choices in rich, urban areas leading to a health crisis of obesity and non-communicable disease, but the over-consumption of unsustainably produced foods, and inefficient and wasteful behaviours across all value chains, are directly contributing to food insecurity in Africa. This underscores the urgent imperative for rich countries to reduce emissions as quickly as possible. Even if all other sectors linearly decarbonise by 2050, business as usual food systems will account for nearly the whole carbon budget of a 2 degree future. While around 89 countries have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of this century (which would still not deliver the emissions cuts needed to limit warming to 1.5°C), few have yet developed the suite of policies and regulations that will put them on a net-zero trajectory. Many vulnerable communities in Africa need to be supported in the face of climate shocks by strengthening their capacity to respond, reducing their risk exposure and building their resilience. There is much that can and should be done to directly help vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Africa today and in the decades to come. Urgent investment must be made to help vulnerable communities adapt to the current impacts of climate change, and to become more resilient to climate shocks yet to come. Critically, this involves building a shared understanding, securing financing and enacting favourable policies so that governments, NGOs and the private sector in Africa can recognise the threats posed by the impacts of climate change and implement the urgent solutions needed to help local people adapt. The link between climate and nature Significant solutions also exist that use nature to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to help communities to adapt and become more climate resilient. The world’s land, oceans and freshwater systems already absorb and store half of the emissions humankind produces each year: protecting, restoring and enhancing ecosystems will be critical to addressing climate change. Food systems can also be a major part of the solution to the nature and climate crises. Investment in nature-based solutions – such as adopting agroecological food production practices, forest conservation, protecting wetlands or enhancing coastal ecosystems – can help store emissions, protect communities from extreme weather events, and provide food, jobs and habitats. Such solutions, if high quality, well-designed and properly funded, can help build climate resilience. But as well as individual projects, climate impacts and vulnerabilities, and the protection of nature, must be integrated into public- and private-sector decision-making at every level across the continent. The extent of the challenge posed by climate and nature loss means that they need to be considered across all levels of decision-making and by economic actors large and small. The current food crisis faced by millions across Africa demands urgent humanitarian aid. But, without a much more comprehensive and long-term, locally-led, people-centred response to climate change and biodiversity loss, humanitarian resources will be stretched beyond breaking point. --- The IFRC is partnering withWWF, the world's largest environmental conservation organization, to work with nature and protect people from the climate crisis. Click here to learn more about our partnership.

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