Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Somalia, pirates and global food relief

The first U.S. ship to be seized by pirates in the Horn of Africa, which happened to be bearing food aid, serves as a stark reminder of the long-simmering crises in the region. "If you blink, things change in Somalia, that's how rapidly events are happening there," says Peter Little, professor of anthropology and director of Emory's new Development Studies Program.

Little, an expert on the Horn of Africa and Somalia, will be one of the speakers at an April 15 seminar entitled "Beyond Relief: Food Security in Protracted Crises." The seminar, set for 2:30 to 5 p.m. in room 575 of the law school, is titled after a recently published book. Featured speakers include economists Luca Alinovi and Luca Russo, co-editors of "Beyond Relief" and leading experts in food aid at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome.

“Beyond Relief” presents case studies from three of the most protracted crises in the world: in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sudan and Somalia.

“These are places where instability has become the norm, which raises challenging questions about how to deal with them,” says Little. “We want undergraduates at Emory to learn something about how problems of global poverty and violence are inter-connected with what goes on in the United States.”

Little is an expert on the horn of Africa, and contributed chapters on Somalia to “Beyond Relief.”

Short-term humanitarian aid often does little to alleviate the human suffering and political turmoil in regions of protracted crises, Little says. “We’re starting a dialogue,” he adds. “The solution is to think about these areas in much longer-term ways and start helping them build public and political institutions, or they are just going to continue to be in crisis.”

Other speakers planned for the seminar include Patience Kabamba, visiting lecturer at Emory; John Stremlau, vice president for peace programs at The Carter Center; and Daniel Maxwell, co-author of “Food Aid after Fifty Years: Recasting its Role.”

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