UNV's response to the food crisis

News
10 July 2017
Worldwide
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Sila Mohammed Kon, Wulu Gedim Community Chief, participating in a facilitators’ selection meeting to assist the community in leading their own development and achieve food security. (UNV, 2016)

THE STARK REALITY: FOOD CRISIS IN SOMALIA, SOUTH SUDAN, YEMEN AND NIGERIA

The reality of the escalating famine lingers among some of the world’s most vulnerable groups of people in Eastern Africa, and beyond. Having already endured the effects of civil war, poverty, and terrorism, the intensifying need for humanitarian assistance continues to increase throughout Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and northern Nigeria.

In partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Volunteers is answering to its commitment to reduce the burden of famine and famine-related problems through the deployment of highly-skilled UN Volunteers.

Famines are the result of a number of causes including drought, poverty, conflict and the lack of resources to sustain agriculture. For humanitarian organizations, one of the main challenges is to reach rural communities or migrants that find themselves travelling in search of stability elsewhere. As such, famines become even more pressing for the most vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, elderly, children and refugees/internally displaced persons.

OUR RESPONSE IN THE FIELD

UNV is committed to ensure that people everywhere have regular access to healthy food and a nutritious diet, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 2 to "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture" for all.

To that end, UN Volunteers are supporting the UN-system wide efforts to fight the crisis. UN Volunteer Aleksandra Risteska serves with OCHA in Somalia on crisis communications. She aims to make the public aware of the UN’s efforts and to provide information on where, when and how communities can get help if affected by the drought. OCHA in Somalia has expanded its public information campaign on drought response and Aleksandra and others are finding new ways of informing people in remote areas.

UN Volunteer Solomon Bekele is also contributing to the fight against famine, this time with UNESCO in South Sudan. He serves in a project that targets communities in an area which suffers from recurring conflict sparked by food insecurity, youth unemployment and cattle-raiding. Access to education is yet another obstacle these communities must face, and these elements combine each other with the threat of famine in the region to make food security an urgent concern.

In North-eastern Nigeria, all UN agencies are being called upon to intensify their efforts and continue to provide much needed support to the communities affected by conflict and food insecurity. As Geoff Prewitt, Chief of our Development Programming Section, noted during his recent mission to the country, "as a collective we may avoid looking back and saying to ourselves: we could have done more, we should have done more."

In times of crisis, the valuable role of volunteers should never be underestimated. UNV is ready to deploy in Nigeria much needed personnel to complement the existing resources of UN agencies within the country, and our partnerships with more than 30 UN agencies allow us to mobilise UN Volunteers quickly and efficiently across a wide range of fields, including health, sanitation, agriculture, logistics, child protection, supply management and many more.

WORKING WITH PARTNERS FOR AN EFFICIENT RESPONSE

UN Volunteers are willing and able to work in UN projects and missions in all development and peace situations, including some of the most difficult contexts and remote locations. They often work in local communities to leverage synergies to ensure that the resultant expert solutions are informed by local knowledge.

Additionally, they constitute a flexible, cost-effective resource in ensuring scale, impact and sustainability in humanitarian interventions, including in crisis and post-crisis situations. In a historical example, UNV partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) to ensure food distribution to Ebola-affected communities in 2014.

UN Volunteers may serve in several technical areas such as agriculture, fishery, forestry or natural resources, as well as logistics, transport and food distribution, and a number of UN Volunteers currently deployed with FAO are working in fields ranging from soil restoration to nutrition and youth engagement, among other areas. Moreover, on June 16, 2017 we have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with FAO to make opportunities to join the fight against hunger and rural poverty more accessible to young people as well as to experts who wish to contribute their time and skills.

Another modality that can provide strategic support to UN entities is Online Volunteering, a rapidly growing service of UNV. UNV facilitated the mobilization of 1,355 Online Volunteers in the recent years who engaged in projects supporting SDG 2, including editing and translating communications materials for WFP in Darfur or researching procedures to set up farming companies for NGOs in Zambia.


This feature has been updated as of July 10, 2017.