World Food Day: local partnership and humanitarian action

World Food Day 2021 was celebrated on October 16th and the theme chosen for this year is: ‘Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.

Initially established to commemorate the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the purpose of this international day is to increase global awareness and action for those people suffering from hunger around the globe. Hunger is affecting almost 10% of people globally and at its root lie the impacts of conflicts, systems of structural inequality, natural hazards, and climate change. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exasperated food insecurity: reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains have increased food insecurity worldwide.
While global actors including United Nations agencies, international NGOs, and international and local aid groups, have committed to help reduce hunger and starvation globally through policy changes and humanitarian assistance, 690 million people around the world are still undernourished.

As the frequency and complexity of emergencies around the world is increasing, the need to deploy targeted humanitarian aid and create lasting partnerships with local agencies to deliver aid more effectively and build capacity, is manifest. This is why, to celebrate World Food Day 2021, MOAS wants to emphasise the important role of local partners who operate in their own countries to distribute humanitarian aid, as they help the community to reduce and eliminate malnutrition through long-term planning and implementation.

The importance of humanitarian local partnership
The global humanitarian system is overstretched as the funding gap continues to widen and international donors struggle to keep pace with the growing numbers of emergencies arising around the world.

In the last decade there has been an effort to “localise” humanitarian aid with the aim to build resilience in local communities and promote local voices as ‘experts’ of their environment and community, rather than an out-dated top-down model of aid which perpetuates hierarchies of knowledge. Working in partnership is not an easy job: it is a process that requires time and commitment as the parties involved must work together and align their priorities. In addition, partnering requires a high degree of trust as not only expertise and resources are pooled, but also responsibility and accountability are shared.

Working in partnership in emergency situations is challenging, but when organisations create partnerships with local agencies, change occurs at a faster pace. One of the many reasons for this is that local aid agencies and workers are on-site, they have local knowledge and skills, and, in case of emergencies or conflict zones, they can often access areas that international aid groups and organisations cannot reach.
Local aid agencies include local NGOs, civil society groups and community leaders, local governments, as well as people who are themselves affected by crises, including refugees, host communities, and everyday volunteers. They are on-the-ground responders to crisis and disasters.

MOAS and its partners: cooperation in Yemen and Somalia.
Yemen and Somalia are two countries where humanitarian aid is needed now more than ever: persistent conflict and frequent climatic shocks have been a catalyst for food insecurity and higher levels of malnutrition, poverty, and mass displacement throughout the countries.
To address these challenges, MOAS has been working with local aid agencies in Yemen and Somalia establishing partnerships to ship humanitarian aid; in these countries, we collaborate with different partners throughout different stages of the process, starting from the procurement of supplies, through to the distribution of aid in-country.

MOAS’ supply partner for therapeutic food is Edesia, an American non-profit organisation which started in 2009: they manufacture specialised ready-to-use foods to treat and prevent malnutrition. Working with them, since 2019, we have delivered 225 tons of therapeutic food and more are being shipped and will be delivered in the upcoming months.

For the delivery of nutritional aid and supportive pharmaceuticals in Yemen, we partner with ADRA Yemen. As the ADRA’s Director of USG Programs and Partnerships in the country stated regarding the partnership with MOAS:

“I’ll say this with complete honesty and no exaggeration, the support from MOAS throughout the past years has been paramount to the programming we do, especially for addressing malnutrition needs. Most of our programming is lifesaving focused, and in most of the large number of health facilities ADRA covers through our programming, sustained access to malnutrition materials and nutrition supplements is a big challenge. The food items provided by MOAS have had a much-improved outcome. Food materials are normally provided without addressing the core gaps in the family, as children are usually ignored or overlooked as a result of this larger scale crisis. And again it’s because of the support of MOAS, ADRA was able to ensure a sustained source of therapy food. The supply chain in Yemen is very weak and challenged by the security situation so having this access and support from MOAS for our interventions is a great driver of much more impactful programming.”

In Somalia, our in-country partners to distribute nutritional aid supplements are International Medical Corps Somalia. As our partner stated:

“International Medical Corps is grateful to Edesia and MOAS for the support that makes it possible for our teams to provide nutrition and healthcare services in Somalia, and we look forward to your continued support of our mission.”


Final considerations
MOAS will continue to work and collaborate with our partners to provide life-saving nutritional supplies and aid to the most vulnerable communities in need of humanitarian assistance. To save lives and avert a further worsening of the situation, MOAS needs your support to keep on with the nutrition deliveries for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

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