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644962
01/27/2015 - 12:15

At the dawn of the post-2015 development agenda, the global health community is rallying around the “ending of AIDS by 2030”, a goal that now appears within reach. With the power of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to both extend the lives of people living with HIV and prevent new infections, treatment has rightly been placed at the core of the strategy for moving forward.

But, with just 38 percent of adults in need of treatment actually on treatment, and increasing recognition of the difficulty in keeping people on treatment long-term, it is clear that critical barriers remain.  

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Simelane Sabelo (not his real name) tells the story of how WFP links with the national ART programme to deliver food to patients (also known as ‘Food by Prescription’), along with nutrition assessment, counseling and other support.

Every month, the Swaziland farmer takes home a bag of nutrient fortified corn soya blend which helps keep him healthy and acts as an incentive to stick to his treatment. The nutrition counseling Simelane received while in the programme opened his eyes to a new way of eating. “Before, I just ate. I didn’t care what it was,” he says.

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The programming guide for policy makers and practitioners, entitled “Nutrition assessment, counseling and support for adolescents and adults living with HIV,” demonstrates how many barriers can be addressed with effective food and nutrition interventions.

The guide uses nutrition assessment, counseling and support (NACS) as an organizing framework and elaborates on how each of those components can be integrated into HIV programmes. Importantly, it recommends that assessment and counseling should be part of HIV care for everyone, worldwide, irrespective of nutritional status, treatment and food insecurity.

Biologically, nutritional recovery is essential for patients starting on ART with a low body weight (body mass index <18.5), as they are 2-6 times more likely to die during the first six months of treatment than those with a normal body weight.

As a behavioral intervention, particularly in food-insecure settings, food support—whether in-kind or as cash or vouchers—may provide the critical safety net needed to prevent patients from having to choose between a bus ride to the clinic to receive treatment or a meal to fill empty stomachs.  

The guide considers a range of context-specific programme components, such as community involvement, whether household food support is needed to complement individual support, and referrals to broader social protection or safety net measures to strengthen livelihoods.

WFP hopes this guide will advance the comprehensive integration of food and nutrition in HIV and TB strategies and programmes.

A new programming guide on food and nutrition in the context of HIV and Tuberculosis published by WFP together with UNAIDS and PEPFAR/USAID describes why food and nutrition support is an essential component of prevention, treatment, care and support of people living with HIV and discusses how to integrate it into programmes. 

644953
01/27/2015 - 11:41

Magibi County, Liberia - When people began dying in Liberia as Ebola spread through the country last year, Sister Maria felt compelled to do something. 

The Brazilian-born nun called on the volunteers who usually work with her on HIV-AIDS awareness and they started to go from house to house, and one community to another, to advise people on how to protect themselves and their families from the deadly virus. 


Sister Maria moved to Liberia in 1978. Photo:WFP/Donaig Le Du

Sister Maria's List

As efforts to combat the spread of Ebola started to bear fruit and case numbers dropped,  Sister Maria was faced with a new challenge. She realized that many children had lost one or both of their parents to the disease. 

So Sister Maria made lists, just a few sheets of paper with the stark details that tell the story of an unfolding tragedy. Three villages, dozens of families, 541 kids under 17.


Dolo’s Town. Food distribution for orphans and caretakers. Photo:WFP/Donaig Le Du

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A drama affecting the most vulnerable

"This outbreak has left our people broken, physically and psychologically,” Sister Maria said. "2014 has been a year of tears". 

Most children are cared for by their remaining parent or a family member. Many were very poor before the outbreak and now are dealing with even greater demands. Many families have seen their incomes and livelihoods affected and need help.

“I once met a lady who had taken 22 children into her house,” Sister Maria recalled. “She stood before me, she did not speak but I saw the tears running down her cheeks. She just could not figure out how she was going to provide for so many children.” 

WFP food arrives: "What a relief!"

[quote|"This outbreak has left our people broken, physically and psychologically"]Sister Maria has been living in Liberia for 37 years and now calls the country home. She was thrilled when WFP provided food for the first time to “Sister Maria’s orphans” just after Christmas. It was a huge relief for the nun and the volunteers who work with her, together with the Red Cross and the Liberian authorities. 

The first WFP food distribution for “Sister Maria’s orphans” took place just after Christmas. It came as a huge relief for the nun and the volunteers who work with her, together with the Red Cross and the Liberian authorities. 


Dolo’s Town. Offloading food supplies from the trucks. Photo:WFP/Donaig Le Du

The second distribution took place on a hot day at the end of January. When the truck carrying WFP food rations for the orphans and caretakers families finally arrived in the dusty school yard where Sister Maria, the kids and their families had gathered, the Brazilian nun was moved.

Gratitude for the donors

[quote|“They don’t know us and they don’t know how much good they are doing. Today, you took my nightmare away.”]“Can you please thank the donors for me?” she said. “They don’t know us and they don’t know how much good they are doing. Today, you took my nightmare away.”

WFP is supporting the medical response to the Ebola emergency by providing food to families and communities affected by the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The organization has distributed food to more than 1.7 million people in the three most affected countries since April including 462,000 people in Liberia.

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Here's the story of Sister Maria and 541 "Ebola orphans". Thanks to her work and the food provided by WFP, these children have now found an alternative source of sustenance after their parents have passed away.

644939
01/26/2015 - 11:09

1. 41 percent of Yemenis are food insecure – a total of 10.6 million people.

2. This includes 5 million severely food insecure and 5.6 million moderately food insecure.

3. This represents a slight improvement since 2011, when 45 percent of the population was food insecure.

4. The most food insecure governorate is Sa’ada, where 40 percent of people are severely food insecure.

5. Rural households are much more food insecure than urban dwellers.

6. Female-headed households are more food insecure than male-headed families.

7. Households headed by illiterate people are more food insecure than others.

8. The national global acute malnutrition rate is 12.7 percent, compared to 13 percent in 2011

9. The national stunting rate fell from 46.6 percent in 2012 to 41.3 percent in 2014.

10. Stunting rates are at a critical level in 10 governorates, at a serious level in eight, and at a poor level in two. Only one governorate (Mareb) reports an acceptable level*

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[donation-form] *According to WHO classification, acceptable is below 20 percent, poor is between 20 percent and 29.9 percent, serious is 30 percent to 39.9 percent, and critical is 40 percent and above.

Hunger is a huge issue in Yemen. Please help WFP raise awareness by sharing the following ten hunger facts:

644846
01/20/2015 - 11:12
Responding to Emergencies

The muddy water spreads like a sheet of dirty glass over the landscape. From the air, a limit to the flood can be seen where the waters reach some low hills. Details emerge as one looks down on the watery vastness: here and there the canopy of a tree, the straw or corrugated iron roofs of some huts, a pirogue with three figures in it. Through it all snakes a road or what was once a road. No travel except by boat is possible in this vast inland lake.

A national disaster 

Floods have submerged huge swathes of Malawi, particularly in the south. They were caused by rains which started at the end of last year and accelerated in early January. In the first few weeks of the New Year, southern Malawi received 400 percent higher rainfall than average. On 13 January, the President of Malawi declared a national disaster in 15 districts. The Shire River is at a 30-year high and many roads have been cut.

 
WFP food being unloaded for people living in a school after being flooded out of their homes in Chikwawa district.  Photo by: WFP/Innocent Njara

Dozens of people have drowned, some eaten by crocodiles carried into villages by the flowing waters. As rivers burst their banks, many sought safety in trees and on the roofs of their homes. More than 120,000 people are estimated to have been displaced and now live in schools or makeshift camps with whatever belongings they have been able to salvage. 

Under the co-ordination of the Government of Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs, the World Food Programme has been gearing up to reach all those affected by the floods, particularly the displaced. WFP began its food distributions in Chikwawa within days of the flood waters rising and next started moving to help those in Nsanje, Phalombe and Mulanje districts.

Distributing food to displaced families

Displaced families have been receiving a mixture of maize, beans, vegetable oil and Super Cereal (corn soya blend which can be made into a porridge). The commodities are coming from in-country stocks destined for assistance to vulnerable people during the lean season and need to be replaced as soon as possible to maintain this vital lifeline. 


With their homes inundated, these families have been forced to seek refuge in Mikolongo school in Chikwawa district which now shelters more than 200 households. Photo:WFP/Dannie Phiri

[quote|“Crowds in Malawi are generally energetic, even laughing. This time, it was quiet. I could tell they were exhausted and week” Elton Mgalamadzi, WFP Programme Officer]

“When we arrived at Mikolongo School in Chikwawa, there were more than a thousand people camping there,” said WFP Programme Officer Elton Mgalamadzi. “I could tell they were exhausted and weak. Crowds in Malawi are generally energetic, even laughing. This time, it was quiet.” 

This food assistance was the first relief that the displaced people at Mikolongo had received since the floods hit. 

More people in need, you can help

[donation-form|2015-wfp-malawi-countrypage|2015-wfp-malawi-countrypage|631]On 19 January, WFP airlifted 77 metric tons of High-Energy Biscuits from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai, enough to meet the needs of some 77,000 people. These fortified ready-to-eat biscuits are being prioritised for the worst hit areas of Nsanje and Chikwawa districts where the most vulnerable people have been displaced from their homes and have no access to food or cooking facilities. 

With access still a challenge, all modes of transport including helicopters and shallow-draught boats are being deployed to move food to where it is most needed. It is likely that the numbers of those needing assistance will continue to rise. 

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It is estimated that floods have left scores dead and more than 100,000 people displaced from their homes in Malawi. The World Food Programme started food distributions in some of the worst-affected areas within days of the President of Malawi declaring a disaster in 15 of the country's 28 districts. 

644832
01/19/2015 - 18:17

“But here, our situation has improved. We have food every month, and the children go to school,” said Mariam. 

With 22,500 CFA of food coupons, Mariam bought sugar, flour, corn, oil, sardines, Maggi cubes, tomatoes, and onions from a store in Gore. 

These food coupons represent a radical change in the way humanitarian organizations like WFP operate in Chad.  Through their purchases at local markets, Mariam and the many Central African returnees in Chad participate indirectly in the economic development of the country.

WFP’s food coupons are ready to use, so that beneficiaries can exchange them for food at selected local merchants.  With a budget of USD 56 million, the coupons will be a priority in 2015 for WFP in Chad.  The objective is to respond better to the needs of the beneficiaries, and include local partners to contribute to the local economy.  And it is cost-effective:  studies in Chad indicate that the “real” cost of an individual food basket in local markets is half as expensive as a basket of food delivered by WFP. 

In order to prepare this large-scale intervention for 2014, WFP initiated a pilot project, which assisted 4,400 households in the Guera and Batha regions after the October harvest, in late 2013. Surveys of beneficiaries indicated that they preferred cash transfers to food distributions:  it puts people in a more active role in choosing and planning their diet.  Beneficiaries even become partners through a feedback system for the quality and variety of products offered, or to note when problems occur during transactions.   

WFP is carefully navigating the challenges presented with this type of programme:  it is complicated to navigate partnerships with traders, technical and practical skills of partners, and ensure that there is regular monitoring to avoid destabilizing the prices in Chadian markets.

However, the project has been quickly and effectively  implemented.  At the end of March 2014, WFP began the first large-scale distribution of food coupons to meet the growing needs for humanitarian intervention for people from Central African Republic.  In December 2014, WFP finalized the seventh distribution of coupons for 67,000 people in the Southern region and 188,000 vulnerable Chadians during the lean season in the Eastern region of the country.  WFP is supporting the Chadian government in leading the way for national autonomy.  Thanks to the cash voucher program, WFP is assisting in developing long-term means for resilience and food autonomy at a national level.

Mariam, 22, a returnee to Chad from Central African Republic, arrived in Gore with a Chadian convoy in February 2014.  In CAR, she managed a small business with her husband, recharging mobile telephones.  Now, however, she has no more family in Chad, as her parents moved long ago to CAR. 

644801
01/19/2015 - 10:41

1.    Most of the country’s 6.7 million hungry people live in five conflict-affected provinces in the east. 

2.    Almost half of the country's children under 5 are stunted (short for their age).

3.    23% of children under the age of five and 14% of women are underweight.

4.    Due to ongoing conflict in the DRC and the region, there are 2.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and 120,000 refugees in the country. 

5.    Between 2013 - 2014, 1.8 million IDPs returned to their areas of origin, often to find that their houses, schools and possesions had been looted or destroyed. 

6.    Three million children under five suffer from acute malnutrition.

7.    47% of children under the age of five and 38% of women suffer from anaemia.

8.    More than half a million pregnant or breastfeeding women suffer from acute malnutrition.

9.    The highest percentage of food insecure people (64%) can be found in the agricultural sector which accounts for three quarters of the country’s total workforce. 

10.    In 2014, WFP assisted nearly 1.8 million vulnerable people in the DRC. 

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Did you know the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world? Help us raise awareness by sharing these ten sobering facts:  

644785
01/15/2015 - 16:38

When violence erupted in CAR in early December 2013, many families were forced to flee from their villages and leave all their belongings behind. Mothers were separated from their children, men from their wives and many had to travel without food and shelter through the bushes for months. Upon arrival they were often very exhausted, sick and acutely malnourished

At several border entry points, the refugees received ready-to-eat food – called High Energy Biscuits – from the UN World Food Programme (WFP). This is one of the programmes the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) supports in the CAR emergency response.

Today, over 130,000 Central Africans are registered in Cameroon, namely in the Adamawa and East Region – the most poverty-stricken parts of the country. More than half of the refugees are living in local communities. The other half lives in refugee sites, which are connected to villages like Gbiti or Timangolo, a one-hour drive from the border with CAR. Almost 7,000 refugees, who first arrived in Gbiti are now living here in safe distance from the conflict.

30-year-old Hadidja Abdoulaye from Yaloke is one of them. Her family had a good life in CAR, her husband was running a small grocery shop and they had land and cattle. When the conflict erupted, her life dramatically changed. After waiting for a ceasefire for two days, she and her family had to flee immediately when they heard the Anti-balaka forces approaching. Hadidja and her family were on the road for three months before they reached Cameroon – of which they had to hide two months in the forest, barely surviving on toxic raw manioc. Her eldest daughter, Fanne, 10, was more dead than alive, Hadidja says, when they finally reached Cameroon. She suffered from severe acute malnutrition. During their escape from CAR, much of her hair fell out.

Thanks to donors like ECHO, which supported the emergency aid for CAR refugees in Cameroon with € 7.5 million in 2014, Fanne and her family receive monthly food rations from WFP with rice, salt, oil and Supercereal, a Corn-Soya Blend enriched with vitamins and minerals. To fight malnutrition among children and prevent its severe effects on their physical growth and mental development, all children additionally receive Plumpy’Sup, a peanut-based paste designed to meet the nutritional needs of moderately malnourished children. Now, thanks to WFP’s support and treatment in the site’s health centre, Fanne’s hair is growing again and all of Hadidja’s kids have recovered from malnourishment – looking at her daughter, she expresses how thankful she is to WFP and all donors for saving her child’s life.

80,000 refugees like the Abdoulaye family receive food assistance through WFP thanks to ECHO support. To avoid tensions between refugees and local host communities, the latter’s vulnerable members also have access to monthly food rations and medical care in the health centres.

Nobody knows when the conflict in CAR will end. Hadidja is not sure if they will ever be able to take the route back to Gbiti and cross the river again. All her family left CAR and they still fear violence in case they would return. Her husband meanwhile found a job as a community worker for a local NGO, which allows them to buy fruit, vegetables and even meat every once in a while. In Timangolo, they feel save – and their children don’t go hungry.

 

A dusty road in eastern Cameroon leads to Gbiti, a small village at the border with the Central African Republic (CAR). The village is home to more than 4,000 refugees of the bloody conflict in the CAR that erupted a little over a year ago. As in all of the seven refugee sites along the border, the majority of the refugees in Gbiti are children.

The countries are separated only by a small river, where women wash their family’s clothes and Cameroonian soldiers are patrolling.  It is the same spot where hundreds to thousands of Central Africans have been crossing the river every day only a couple of months ago – and still people are arriving.   

644781
01/15/2015 - 14:28

ET Cluster's job is to provide Internet and radio communications services to aid workers in emergencies. This brings us to an ETU in N’zerekore, Guinea, that used to have no internet connectivity, and now it does. 

WFP constructed this ETU managed by the NGO named ALIMA where the ET Cluster provided Internet connectivity. Here’s a 1 minute tour of what daily life is like inside the ETU:

Messages of support to forget the daily racking scenes

Working everyday in an ETU is mentally draining for even the most experienced health workers. How do you cope with the sight of so many lifeless bodies on a daily basis? We are all human and sometimes we need to distract ourselves.

Sitting with a group of health workers on their lunch break this became clear to me; they complained about the referee’s call during the latest football match or listened to their favorite Nicki Minaj song, life must go on. To help ease their minds in the simplest means possible we invited our Facebook and Twitter communities to send messages of support and motivation. We then posted these around the ETU.

 

Hospital offline

Christine, a doctor here from the USA, explained that "here we were essentially running a hospital with lots of employees, sick patients, a laboratory, and all this without Internet. Imagine running a hospital without Internet, it would be chaos."  

Guillame, Director of development and communication, had to drive 3 km every day from the ETU to town so that he could send status of patients to his colleagues in Conakry.

The ET Cluster is helping to resolve this situation across the region so that ETUs can offer the high standards of care needed to save the lives of Ebola victims.

The ETU’s admin room was filled with stacks of papers and sticky notes which lined the walls. All that could be easily organized with simple Internet tools like Dropbox, Google docs, and email accessible through connectivity provided by the ET Cluster.

Health workers in the “red zone” – where Ebola patients are cordoned off from the rest of the camps – had to yell to their colleagues in the “green zone” to ask for supplies and provide updates on patient statuses. In an environment where miscommunication can mean the difference between life and death, bringing in these vital services can reduce fatal errors.

ET Cluster, together with our members NetHope, Ericsson Response, and Emergency.lu  have provided both staff and equipment and installed the Internet network that helps health workers do their jobs and save lives.

Higher connectivity =  Reduction of the spread of Ebola

When I came back to see Christine a few days later, I asked, "At the end of the day is the connectivity helping you guys do your job?" She responded "Yes, of course, of course it is, it’s helping us reduce the spread of Ebola"

[quote|"A patient had fully recovered. There is no better feeling on Earth!"]There was an air of euphoria that day, and I asked Christine what the commotion was about: one of the patients had fully recovered. “There is no better feeling on Earth,” Christine told me.

This is what we are here to do. We're on a mission to stop Ebola and the ET Cluster will do whatever it takes to provide humanitarians, health workers, and the Ebola responders with communications services to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

The ET Cluster is a service provider but we also solve complex problems in which no two are ever the same. This requires not only ingenuity, creativity, and close collaboration from our network, but also a whole lot of heart.

Have you ever been inside an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU)? Neither has 99.999% of the world. You can bet that the Emergency Telecommunications (ET) Cluster team is part of the 0.001% that has.

644764
01/14/2015 - 17:29

With less than 250 days until the Rugby World Cup kicks off, the Webb Ellis Cup – named after the man credited with inventing the game of rugby – has toured the world for the past nine months. It called in at WFP to pay tribute to the agency’s joint ‘Tackle Hunger’ partnership with World Rugby, which raises money and awareness for the fight against hunger.

Central to this campaign is the ‘Million Meal Challenge’ – which aims to raise funds for one million meals for children who rely on WFP’s school feeding programmes worldwide.

The power of sport to create change

World Rugby recognises that sport has the ability to bring people together and motivate social change that can make a real difference.

Speaking at the Webb Ellis Cup presentation, World Rugby Head of Communications, Dominic Rumbles, said: “Sport can break down barriers, boost self-esteem, and engage men, women and children across the world.” The Webb Ellis Cup, he said, is “the ultimate symbol of the power of sport to drive change, having been presented by Nelson Mandela in 1995, shortly after the end of apartheid.”WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin meets World Rugby's Head of Communications, Dominic Rumbles.
WFP’s Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, highlighted the importance of this partnership and its impact on children’s futures: “There is a strong link between good nutrition that supports physical and intellectual development and helps to nurture sporting excellence. This is exactly what the ‘Tackle Hunger’ partnership is striving to promote.”

A worldwide reach

Nowhere has this link been more prominent than on the Webb Ellis global trophy tour. Having visited countries, such as rugby-mad Madagascar, where children also benefit from WFP School Meals, the relationship between food and sporting and learning potential couldn’t be clearer.

WFP and World Rugby have been partners for more than ten years, during which time awareness and money has been raised to fight hunger worldwide – most notably in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami whose 10th anniversary we have just marked.

Donate to the Million Meal Challenge.

 

It isn’t often you find yourself in the midst of one of the greatest sporting build ups worldwide – but that’s exactly what happened today when the Webb Ellis Cup, which will be awarded to winners of this year’s Rugby World Cup, made its way to the World Food Programme’s headquarters in Rome.

644762
01/14/2015 - 16:48

Hamat Abdullah, 48, is one of these refugees.  He has lived with his family in Goz-Amir for ten years. Though he was satisfied with the food assistance when he arrived, with the reduction of food intake in recent years, he became worried about his future.

“I realized that food assistance could be terminated while I’m not prepared to support myself!  Plus, I also have to support my relatives.  It is clear to my wife, my five children, and myself that we must get more involved and not only depend on the food assistance.”

The strategy focuses on gradually reducing people’s dependence on humanitarian assistance, and promoting peaceful coexistence between host communities and the refugees in the area. It categorizes and targets different households within refugee communities according to their socioeconomic standing and livelihoods. The aim is to better identify people’s different needs in order to provide specific, integrated and appropriate responses.

The strategy was tested among 30,000 refugees in Goz-Amir in September 2013.  Studies from Household Economics Analysis showed that in Goz Amir, nearly half the households (43 percent) are categorized as “very poor.”

Targeted food distributions, along with a new livelihood development program, is a relief to Hamat – even though he is in the “middle-income” division, and his ration increased only slightly.  The important thing to Hamat is that resources are distributed to “poor” and “very poor” people who still depend entirely on humanitarian assistance.  People in these categories also will have the opportunity to get involved in trainings with markets and gardens, which allow people to diversify their income, becoming less dependent on food assistance.

The first successful implementation of the pilot project in Goz Amir confirms the positive impact of the joint programme between CNARR, UNHCR, and WFP to beneficiaries at the World Food Programme and will have a positive impact on other refugee camps in Chad

This November, the first targeted food distribution successfully occurred in Goz-Amir, a camp for Sudanese refugees in Eastern Chad.  During 2011 and 2012, WFP and UNHCR carried out assessments on the impact of food assistance for long-term refugees in several countries, including Chad.  Based on the results of these assessments, the Chadian Government, through UNHCR, FAO, and WFP, developed a joint programme for refugees to build their self-reliance.