Friday , March 1 2024
Hungry people do not make for a smooth political process in Yemen, or any country.

U.S. Wants Change in Yemen, But Where Is the food?

The New York Times is reporting that the United States now wants Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. It is hoped these negotiations will lead to a peaceful resolution of the standoff between protesters and pro-Saleh forces.

The Times piece, written by Laura Kasinof and David Sanger, states: “Among Yemenis, there is a feeling that there is a race against the clock to resolve the political impasse before the country implodes.” For even if Saleh were to leave today, poverty, water shortages, Al Qaeda, internal conflict, hunger and malnutrition would not go with him.

One thing is certain. The U.S. and its partners need a new, more comprehensive approach to helping Yemen. One area of Yemen policy that has been long neglected regards food security. Many Yemenis struggle to get these basics.

The Times article mentions the recent escalation of food prices. Even before this spike, many Yemenis were spending as much as 30 percent of their monthly income just to buy bread.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has a plan to distribute emergency rations to about 1.8 million Yemenis to bring some relief. Now is the perfect time to unleash this initiative, when you have a country’s future hanging in the balance. Stability in any form right now is priceless.

However, there is such low funding for WFP that this emergency program is in doubt. WFP relies on voluntary funding from governments and the public. Another WFP program feeding 115,000 school children as well as families has had only one distribution since June 2009.

The international community would not have much trouble funding a food for peace initiative in Yemen. You have the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and others waiting to carry this out.

These food programs not only provide safety nets, but bolster education and work projects to build infrastructure. There are both short-term and long-term benefits from food aid programs.

Hungry people do not make for a smooth political process in any country. Policy makers everywhere had better not forget this in Yemen.

About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.

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