Top of the Morning: Warnings of a Food Crisis in the Sahel, Iraq War Officially Over, New Data on Global Health Funding

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Get Ready for a Food Crisis in the Sahel

With the Horn of Africa still in the depths of a food crisis, aid organizations are urging the international community to pay attention to a deepening crisis to the west, in the Sahel region. “It is harvest season in the semi-arid strip separating Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa known as the Sahel, but low rainfall and a lack of food reserves threaten food insecurity for tens of millions throughout the region. The majority of those most at risk are in Mali, Mauritania and Niger, which are already experiencing food insufficiency and drastic increases in the prices of cereals grown in the region…’We have witnessed, already in certain areas, movements of young male populations towards cities or across borders,’ Yanga stated. ‘We have also been informed about families pulling their children out of schools, which is a sign of the gravity of the situation which, for them, is already in a crisis situation.’” (VOA

US War in Iraq Ends With a Whimper

This NYT sub-headline says it best: ‘Unpopular war comes to an uncertain end.’ In Baghdad today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta presided over a final ceremony marking the official end of the American war in Iraq. “The muted ceremony stood in contrast to the start of the war in 2003 when an America both frightened and emboldened by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sent columns of tanks north from Kuwait to overthrow Saddam Hussein. As of last Friday, the war in Iraq had claimed 4,487 American lives, with another 32,226 Americans wounded in action, according to Pentagon statistics. The tenor of the 45-minute farewell ceremony, officially called ‘Casing the Colors,’ was likely to sound an uncertain trumpet for a war that was launched to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction it did not have. It now ends without the sizable, enduring American military presence for which many officers had hoped.” (NYT

The Data is In: Funding for Global Health and Development is Slooowing

We’ve been told for a long time to expect cuts in global health and development assistance. Now, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation offers some new facts and figures detailing exactly how much global aid flows are slowing. “Even as aid continued to grow, reaching $27.73 billion in 2011, significant cutbacks in the United States slowed the growth rate in development assistance to 4% between 2010 and 2011 – the slowest rate in a decade…The global financial crisis has led to a slowdown in growth of funding to improve health in many developing countries..The latest installment of IHME’s financing series, Financing Global Health 2011: Continued Growth as MDG Deadline Approaches…details the trends in development assistance for health between 1990 and 2009 from aid agencies and governments in 23 developed countries, multilateral institutions such as the World Health Organization, and hundreds of nonprofit groups and charities with preliminary estimates for 2010 and 2011. It also captures spending by countries from 1995 to 2009. ‘Even though we continue to see growth in global health funding through 2011, it is troubling to see so many funders pulling back,’ said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME Director and one of the report’s authors.” (IMHE