Famine: World Bank group mobilises immediate response for Nigeria, five other countries

Bags of rice

The World Bank Group is set to mobilise immediate response for people threatened by famine in Nigeria and five other countries.

World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, who made this known in a statement posted on the organisation’s website on Wednesday, said the five other countries are Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

The Nigerian government had earlier denied that there was any prospect of famine across the country, but indicated the Boko Haram-raved north-eastern Nigeria could be affected.

Mr. Kim, who noted that the World bank’s first priority was to work with partners to make sure that families have access to food and water, disclosed that millions of lives are at risk and will die if
nothing is done quickly to put the crisis under control.

“Famine is a stain on our collective conscience. Millions of lives are at risk and more will die if we do not act quickly and decisively,” the World Bank boss noted.

He revealed that the World Bank is working towards a financial package of more than $1.6 billion to build social protection systems, strengthen community resilience, and maintain service delivery to the most vulnerable.

This, according to him, includes existing operations of over $870 million that will help communities threatened by famine.

“I am also working with our Board of Directors to secure the approval of new operations amounting to $770 million, funded substantially through IDA’s Crisis Response Window,” he added.

The World Bank boss, however, said that the international community must recognise that famine will have lasting impacts on people’s health, ability to learn and earn a living, adding that the
organisation will continue to work with communities to reclaim their livelihoods and build resilience to future shocks.

“We are coordinating closely with the UN and other partners in all areas of our response,” he said.

“We know that resolution to this acute crisis will not be possible without all humanitarian and development actors working together.

“We call on the international community to respond robustly and quickly to the UN global appeal for resources for the famine.

“To prevent crises in the future, we must invest in addressing the root causes and drivers of fragility today and help countries build institutional and societal resilience.”

In January, a report by the Famine Early Warning System Network, FEWS NET, an agency supported by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, had said that due to persistent conflict, severe drought and economic instability, Nigeria and three other countries faced a credible risk of famine in 2017.

The report had noted that the Boko Haram crisis continues to contribute to large scale population displacement, limit market activity, and restrict normal livelihoods, especially in north-east Nigeria.

The report came two months after the presidency warned Nigerians of a likelihood of famine if the excess export of Nigerian grains was not checked.

”Huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian food across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of grains by January next year,” presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu had said in November 2016.

In February, famine hit a part of South Sudan, marking the first announcement of its kind since 2011.

Yemen, northern Nigeria and Somalia are also on the brink of famine, analysts said.


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  • Toughie Man


    Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates.

    Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.

    In his book, “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement,” Steven L. Pease lists some of the explanations people have given for this record of achievement. The Jewish faith encourages a belief in progress and personal accountability. It is learning-based, not rite-based.

    Most Jews gave up or were forced to give up farming in the Middle Ages; their descendants have been living off of their wits ever since. They have often migrated, with a migrant’s ambition and drive. They have congregated around global crossroads and have benefited from the creative tension endemic in such places.
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    No single explanation can account for the record of Jewish achievement. The odd thing is that Israel has not traditionally been strongest where the Jews in the Diaspora were strongest. Instead of research and commerce, Israelis were forced to devote their energies to fighting and politics.

    Milton Friedman used to joke that Israel disproved every Jewish stereotype. People used to think Jews were good cooks, good economic managers and bad soldiers; Israel proved them wrong.

    But that has changed. Benjamin Netanyahu’s economic reforms, the arrival of a million Russian immigrants and the stagnation of the peace process have produced a historic shift. The most resourceful Israelis are going into technology and commerce, not politics. This has had a desultory effect on the nation’s public life, but an invigorating one on its economy.

    David Brooks

    Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far. It leads the world in civilian research-and-development spending per capita. It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed on the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.

    As Dan Senor and Saul Singer write in “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,” Israel now has a classic innovation cluster, a place where tech obsessives work in close proximity and feed off each other’s ideas.

    Because of the strength of the economy, Israel has weathered the global recession reasonably well. The government did not have to bail out its banks or set off an explosion in short-term spending. Instead, it used the crisis to solidify the economy’s long-term future by investing in research and development and infrastructure, raising some consumption taxes, promising to cut other taxes in the medium to long term. Analysts at Barclays write that Israel is “the strongest recovery story” in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

    Israel’s technological success is the fruition of the Zionist dream. The country was not founded so stray settlers could sit among thousands of angry Palestinians in Hebron. It was founded so Jews would have a safe place to come together and create things for the world.

    This shift in the Israeli identity has long-term implications. Netanyahu preaches the optimistic view: that Israel will become the Hong Kong of the Middle East, with economic benefits spilling over into the Arab world. And, in fact, there are strands of evidence to support that view in places like the West Bank and Jordan.

    But it’s more likely that Israel’s economic leap forward will widen the gap between it and its neighbors. All the countries in the region talk about encouraging innovation. Some oil-rich states spend billions trying to build science centers. But places like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv are created by a confluence of cultural forces, not money. The surrounding nations do not have the tradition of free intellectual exchange and technical creativity.

    For example, between 1980 and 2000, Egyptians registered 77 patents in the U.S. Saudis registered 171. Israelis registered 7,652.

    The tech boom also creates a new vulnerability. As Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic has argued, these innovators are the most mobile people on earth. To destroy Israel’s economy, Iran doesn’t actually have to lob a nuclear weapon into the country. It just has to foment enough instability so the entrepreneurs decide they had better move to Palo Alto, where many of them already have contacts and homes. American Jews used to keep a foothold in Israel in case things got bad here. Now Israelis keep a foothold in the U.S.

    During a decade of grim foreboding, Israel has become an astonishing success story, but also a highly mobile one.