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Ebola and global crises threaten food security – why GP’s rural livelihoods investments are crucial

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Multiple global crises, such as the Ebola epidemic in western Africa, conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, and droughts in Central America have led to an increasing demand for food aid. But the aid is unsustainable, according to the United Nations’ (UN’s) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP).

Without food aid, each region has large populations that remain vulnerable to starvation and malnutrition. However, the number of crises around the world is far outpacing the level of funding for humanitarian operations,” said Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. For example, Ebola quarantines in western African nations such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have led to “panic buying, food shortages and severe price hikes.” With an estimated 1.3 million people in the region in need of food assistance, “the WFP and FAO [are] planning to scale up life-saving operations by delivering 65,000 tons of food to the areas over the next three months.”  At the same time, more than 300,000 Ukrainian refugees and 1.5 million Iraqi refugees remain without adequate access to food and water, and the WFP and FAO also plan on addressing those needs.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Central America, the worst drought to hit the region in decades has devastated the crops and livelihoods of farmers in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. USAID reports that “extremely poor households […] will experience rapid deterioration of their food security in early 2015 […] and atypically high levels of humanitarian assistance […] will likely be required in order to avoid a food crisis.” For example, over 230,000 families in Guatemala have lost crops and livestock, which “could leave hundreds of thousands without food.” This caused the Guatemalan government to declare a state of emergency last month, and it will rely on support from WFP to distribute food to hundreds of thousands of families in the coming weeks.

These recent events remind us that Global Partnerships’ (GP’s) work doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Our investments in partner organizations that support rural livelihoods are now more important than ever. For instance, our investment in FUNDEA, a microfinance institution in Guatemala, helps ensure that farmers receive the financing and technical assistance they need to earn a living and provide for their families. Through FUNDEA, we help farmers obtain some stability and resiliency in their livelihoods amidst a world full of increasing instability. The same holds true for our investments in Credicampo in El Salvador, FDL in Nicaragua, RAOS in Honduras, and our other rural livelihoods partners. 

To learn more about our partners, please see our partner grid, which is updated every quarter.

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Blog Tags: Central America   ebola   farmers   food security   Guatemala   Latin America   United Nations   

A FUNDEA client tends his field.
A FUNDEA client tends his field. © FUNDEA.

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