Wouldn’t it be great to end hunger worldwide once and for all? For a long time, this seemed like an impossible dream. Then, in the latter half of the 20th century, the Green revolution in agriculture began, aid organizations began to look at what really worked, and infant mortality began dropping. Today, a little over half the people who were dying of hunger or hunger-related causes 40 years ago, are lost each day. And that’s with a significant increase in world population!
So what about Somalia? This is about as broken a country as you can find. But, on February 3, the U.N. announced that the famine was “over” (though acknowledging that huge amounts of work still needed to be done). The rains had returned, and people began returning to their homes to plant crops and put their lives back together as best they could.
What seems to have been overlooked in the whole crisis by the media is that, despite the large numbers of deaths and the initial slow response of the international community, the reaction, when it happened, was actually quite quick and effective. Refugee camp space with neighboring countries, Kenya and Ethiopia, was secured; aid organizations even reached out to Al-Shabab and succeeded in getting into previously off-limits territory; the capital, Mogadishu, was re-taken by African Union troops, and the Somali government, previously in exile, moved back in.
Just a couple of decades ago, Ethiopia was enveloped by famine and it took years to get under control. Whatever the international community’s failings this time around, the fact that this famine was relatively under control in less than a year, speaks volumes about changes in the approach of the aid community. Lessons were learned and lives were saved in Somalia, which gives me much new hope that we really can end global hunger and poverty.
Thanks for stopping by,
P.S. For a great piece on current trends which are heading towards ending hunger, see this excellent summary by The Hunger Project’s John Coonrod!