Top of the Morning: Sahel Food Crisis Finally Gets Some Media Attention; Value of OECD Aid Drops; Food Prices Rise

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 



Sahel Food Crisis Finally Gets Some Mainstream Media Attention

For the past several months, humanitarian agencies have been warning of a looming food crisis in the Sahel. They have predicted that it would begin to hit in earnest in the spring, and in Chad some regions have already come under severe stress. UNICEF launched a social media campaign around the crisis, which caught the attention of CNN. “UNICEF’s campaign, called #SahelNOW, asks users on Facebook, Twitter and other social media to post messages to spread word of the problem and raise funds for affected children. The fund hopes to raise $120 million to treat and feed the region’s children. At this point, UNICEF says it has about $30 million on hand. In Chad alone, more than 6 million people have been affected by the crisis, with 3.5 million of them younger than 18. An estimated 127,300 children under age 5 are already suffering from severe acute malnutrition, UNICEF says. (CNN

Value of OECD Aid Drops

The OECD is the largest collection of donor countries on the planet. Inflation in those countries over the past year means that their aid is worth a not-inconsiderable sum less than it was worth in 2010. Read on: “Aid from the world’s richest countries was worth 3% less last year compared with 2010, as inflation ate away at what their currencies could buy. Disregarding years of exceptional debt relief, this was the first drop since 1997, taking inflation into account, according to figures from the OECD club of rich countries. In 2011, aid from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD came to $133.5bn, or 0.31% of their combined gross national income (GNI). In absolute numbers this was more than the 2010 figure of $128.5bn – the year net official development assistance (ODA) reached its peak. However, adjusted for inflation and weaker currencies, last year’s figure actually represents a 2.7% drop. This does not necessarily mean governments have cut their aid budgets, but that the money is worth less because of inflation.”  (Guardian

Something Global

Food prices rose in March for a third successive month, driven by gains in grains and vegetable oils, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Thursday, putting food inflation back in the international economic agenda. (Reuters