Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hunger Fight Takes Modern Twist in Sudan Satellites and Savvy Use of Media Now Help Aid Agencies Respond Faster to Those in Need. First Food Drops Began in May

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hunger Fight Takes Modern Twist in Sudan Satellites and Savvy Use of Media Now Help Aid Agencies Respond Faster to Those in Need. First Food Drops Began in May

Article excerpt

Ngor Thiep, a thin man of Sudan's Dinka tribe, stands in Ajiep market, surrounded by people gazing at his lone bull. In April, Arab militiamen attacked his village, killed his stepbrother, and stole all but one of his 40 cattle. Now faced with hunger, he is left with no choice but to sell the bull.

"This is not normal," notes Mawiir Nyok of Sudan's Relief and Rehabilitation Committee. When the Dinkas resort to slaughtering their cattle, he explains, "you know it's pure hunger."

Drought and civil war have combined to bring famine to Africa's largest country. An estimated 350,000 people in the great savannah of Bahr el Ghazal - all of them Dinkas - are near starvation. Little rain for two years and a 15-year war - the longest in Africa - have kept a multitude in near-constant flight. Ten years ago, famine also swept across southern Sudan, killing hundreds of thousands. A decade later, aid agencies were able to move faster. A decade ago, access to the starving was not easy. The Islamic government in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, is fighting with separatist rebels in the Christian and animist south. With famine possibly being used as a weapon, aid agencies were denied entry to stricken areas for a year. This time, the minute government clearance was given in May for five aid planes to cover the whole of Bahr el Ghazal, the relief operation was up and running. This was largely thanks to Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), a colossal humanitarian project that was set up as a response to the 1988 famine and has since become a permanent feature of the Sudanese panorama. Unlike 10 years ago, when aid workers began in a vacuum, the mechanism put in place by OLS ensured the delivery of food on fairly short notice. While aid is on its way, the emergency is far from over. The rains that should have come in April are late, and fighting has left farmers unable to plant crops. But the crisis has highlighted significant changes in aid organizations, from their ability to forecast disaster to their skillful use of the media for fund- raising. Once under way, the emergency operation followed a familiar pattern: The World Food Program, one of the two coordinating agencies of OLS, launched an appeal for $68.5 million. The press was flown in. Pictures of malnourished children made the rounds of newspapers and magazines. Within weeks, the WFP collected $17 million. In Ajiep, a town in Bahr el Ghazal, as many as 10,000 hungry Dinkas walked for days to be present at a food drop. A low-flying Hercules chartered by the WFP dropped 50 tons of grain and beans, and the distribution began. Thousands of women knelt in the thin white dust hoping to qualify as recipients. By late afternoon, clusters of women tried to break past the security barrier and make a run for the food. They were whipped back by officers from the Sudanese Relief and Rehabilitation Association in charge of food distribution. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.