Southern Africa: Save the Children calls on the Administration and Congress to take three steps toward preventing food shortages
"Three investments are critical to averting the threat of famine," explained Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children, which is working in the hardest hit countries - Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe - to meet the basic needs of children and families affected by the food shortage and prepare for the upcoming planting season. The first priority of Save the Children's food distribution programs has been to target families that need help the most, such as those who have lost breadwinners to AIDS, internally displaced people, and the poorest of the poor.
According to Save the Children, ensuring resources for the following three areas will help prevent humanitarian disasters caused by food shortages:
Continued provision of food assistance. As the food crisis in southern Africa intensifies, it is important Congress approves $1.2 billion for food assistance in the FY03 appropriations bill. This is essential to ensure that the immediate needs of children and families in southern Africa are met without compromising resources for other current and emerging crises around the globe.
Investments in agricultural production, such as seeds and farming tools. Farm families have been unable to afford fertilizers. As a result of the severe food shortage, the entire harvest has been consumed, with no reserve for seeds. To break the current cycle, it is important to get agricultural productivity back on track by increasing the ability of farmers to access seeds, fertilizer, and tools.
Continuing HIV/AIDS prevention programs, with a specific focus on the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. Southern Africa is a tragic example of how HIV/AIDS can exacerbate food shortages. The pandemic already has claimed the lives of many farmers in the region and left millions of AIDS orphans. Increased funding and other resources are needed from the U.S. government to expand and develop new HIV/AIDS-related services that improve prevention, enable families to care for relatives living with the disease, and to ensure the nutritional, educational, and financial needs of orphans are met.
"The U.S. government has led by example," said Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children, referring to the government's response to the food crisis in southern Africa. "But the journey is far from over. We must continue to forge ahead."
Colleen Barton, Save the Children: 203.221.4187