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The new ways to fight famine that could save millions of lives

Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan are facing severe famines, affecting millions of people among them children. Today, aid for these countries means more than just delivering sacks of grain to vulnerable remote areas.

Superfood is a new way to fight famine

 “There is a huge number of crises in the world, and to have four countries on the brink of famine at the same time is unprecedented,” says Denise Brown, director of emergencies at the World Food Programme (WFP), in The Guardian. The WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger.

People struck by the famine still receive basic food stocks, such as sorghum, pulses and vegetable oil. But at the same time, new material is being delivered, consisting of two main kinds of specialized nutrition products.

One is super cereal, a fortified blend of maize and soya flour. This food is developed for young children and other vulnerable groups such as pregnant and nursing women. The other range of products is the peanut-based pastes designed to prevent malnutrition and treat starving children by giving them essential nutrients. Two examples of these pastes are Plumpy’Sup and Plumpy’Nut, dubbed the 21st century’s true superfoods.

Even though Plumpy’Sup is usually given to children under the age of two, WFP’s distributions have been expanded to include all children under five in north-eastern Nigeria due to the severity of the situation there, Brown says.

In Yemen, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been trucking in 35,000 “livelihood assistance kits” tailored to the needs of various groups. Fishing communities get aid kits containing an ice-box, boat engine, and a fish finder, while farmers get kits with irrigation pipes and bags of cucumber seeds. Beekeeping and dairy kits are also delivered. However, the success of fighting famine will come down to sufficient funding. The response in all four countries is severely hampered by the lack of funding. Measured against this year’s global humanitarian appeals, the percentage of funds given by donors so far amount to 0.9 percent for South Sudan, 1.7 percent for Somalia, 1.8 percent for Nigeria and 2 percent for Yemen.

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