HOTLINE - week of January 24, 2011

CWS advocates for greater U.S. Government funding for global food security programs; Thousands of refugees flee conflict in Cote d'Ivoire for Liberia; Food crisis looms in Sri Lanka following devastating floods.

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Man planting seedlings
Haiti--CWS is helping people in 13 cooperatives in the Northwest and Artibonite regions of Haiti to grow the food they need, while assisting families who fled Port-au-Prince following the January 2010 earthquake.  Says Herode Guillomettre, president of CWS partner SKDE, “Seeds of hope have been planted and people are beginning to work through their trauma.”
Photo: Chris Herlinger/CWS

Food Security

As global food prices begin to rise again, Church World Service asks President Barack Obama to restore funding for a program to address hunger and food security in developing nations by improving the productivity of small farmers.

In a January 18 letter to President Obama, CWS joined with other agencies to express concern that the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program Trust Fund is at risk as budget negotiators look for ways to trim government spending.

The GAFSP trust fund is a key component of the administration's global hunger fighting initiative, called "Feed the Future."

The letter, signed by 28 organizations, urges President Obama to "make an interagency transfer of at least $100 million to the GAFSP for the period from October 2010 - March 2011," both to fund the program and to encourage other international donors to deliver on their pledges.

The Obama administration initially pledged $475 million, with other donor nations also committed to contribute.  The U.S so far has delivered just $67 million of its pledge and the newly negotiated FY11 budget includes no further funding, much to the chagrin of CWS and other anti-hunger advocates.

CWS Executive Director and CEO John L. McCullough praised U.S. recognition of the importance of coupling nutrition with food security in the Feed the Future initiative.

"The U.S. has never failed to address the issue of global hunger or to provide the kind of support farmers in developing nations need to improve their crops to the point that they are abundant, diverse and nutritious,” says McCullough.

"It would be detrimental to the success of the Feed the Future initiative if the U.S., by pulling back on its commitment to fund GAFSP, sent other potential donor nations the message that the program is not important."

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A political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire following November’s presidential election has driven tens of thousands of refugees into Liberia.  The influx creates pressure on host communities that have little ability to absorb them. Humanitarian workers say there is limited food, shelter, water and sanitation for the new arrivals.

In response, CWS supports efforts by long-time Liberia-based partner, Concerned Christian Community, which provides emergency relief for refugees in the border towns of Nimba County, where the bulk of refugees are being registered.

In what is seen as an initial, six-month program, CCC is providing food and non-food emergency assistance for some 2,000 to 3,000 families.  It is also providing emergency medical services for refugees and limited water and sanitation through construction of hand pumps and latrines.  More than 500 women and girls will also  take part in trauma counseling and HIV/AIDS awareness services.

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Sri Lanka

Torrential rains and flooding in late December and early January have prompted a food crisis in Sri Lanka. It is reported that as many as 350,000 persons have had to flee to displacement camps.  Sri Lanka's Eastern Province is the worst-affected part of the country, where damage to farms could leave some 1 million people without adequate food.

Nearly a quarter of the nation's rice crop has been destroyed, according to government officials. At least 1 million persons have been affected in some way by the floods.

The floods come as Sri Lanka is still trying to recover from the 2004 tsunami and a decades-long civil conflict.

CWS supports efforts of Christian Aid in Sri Lanka. The British organization is working to address the immediate needs of 5,901 families in communities in the affected districts of Trincomalee and Batticoloa by providing food and relief supplies.  Christian Aid hopes to assist an additional 1,000 families in this initial response.

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