Mid thoughts from #Nairobi Training on #Malnutrition Preparedness & Response in E&S #Africa

20170503_175335We’re half way into the 5 day training organised by International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent in Nairobi. About 12 highly stressed National Societies are here including Turkish Red Crescent and PNS. Unfortunately participants from Cameroon didn’t make it for some reason and so did those from Yemen. We’re undergoing a weeklong training to understand and lay some concrete actions on responding to the looming malnutrition crisis in our region. According to the IPC classification, Uganda is in the stressed zone while other countries like South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya are in already in crisis and emergency phases.

FEWSNET provides Famine Early Warning infos about almost every country. Wait, within our respective countries, we have meteorological institutions, Offices of Prime Minister Food Security Working Groups including specialised units like the NECOC in Uganda:-therefore forecasts on weather and climate are always available. Mum  would say “Eibaare eririkurebeka tiritera fuka” loosely translated as “What’s visible to you can’t kill you” but it seems, we don’t have eyes to see. We seem to somehow always find ways of blaming climate change (which we created in the first case), angry sun and spirits for all our woes on malnutrition and livelihoods crisis. Is information power any more?

In protracted cases like in South Sudan, Karamoja and Teso regions in Uganda, there -we have always known the highest risk of hunger but it’s the same story every year. We know the rains wont be as scheduled, we know the sun will be tough but what exactly are we doing? Local farmers continue to make big crop losses, price fluctuations are usual business. It seems we have settled on always knowing ‘some’ kind of relief will come along. We need to be urgent on growing drought resistant food varieties and embracing irrigation. Irrigation is ofcourse an expensive undertaking which requires heavy investment and commitment from especially the government:-At household level, simple irrigation could significantly improve food security:-but still we do nothing.

We have discussed about sphere standards for mortality (CDR) of both adults and children:-something that worries me alot. Why do we have to wait for 1 person out of 10,000 to die as a result of lack of what to eat to declare an emergency? Do we mean to say that some folks are supposed to die? I don’t see the humanity in this. While, other people are dying of hunger, other folks in hotels are throwing away food:-and we still call this food insecurity! Isn’t this dumb?

In a drought, there can be an increased risk of Cholera! At first I dint understand this but explanation of increased micro organisms in the available scarce water settled the nerves. As community and health managers, we must look at how WASH plays a big part in food security and integrate the two. Most often, I read in the newspapers how “Rains are coming, Cholera risk high” but we seem not to know that droughts come along with enviable tonnes of Cholera. With ONE WASH approach, we need to strike a combination of Human and Animal Water Supply. Most often, we’re focussed so much at “Saving Human Lives” at the expense of “Livelihoods”. When digging boreholes, we must know that cows and goats of communities will need a drink!

Hunger and Famine are slow on set emergencies. You’d expect that we would have prepared for response as soon as yesterday so that we don’t loose any lives:-easier said than done. Most donors , governments and international community doesn’t find this sexy! We are more interested in responding to rapid emergencies like floods, earthquakes, ebola etc. What is one supposed to get folks fund slow onset emergencies? Road Safety is a rapid emergency, but there is no consistent commitment to funding 😦

What does being accountable to communities mean? Despite all the sexy definitions here and there, I think the best one is “….what communities define as accountability”, then donor and individual accountability should be follow suit.

I  look forward to the next 2 days of the training and more, what happens when we get back to our respective countries. 🙂

H-O-P-E for #Humanity ❤


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