Over at The Guardian, Oxfam’s Max Lawson makes this assertion:
…. we have been banging our head against a brick wall from the beginning of the year, warning that an emergency was on its way. We have been talking for months about the complex combination of conflict, entrenched poverty, political marginalisation and the worst drought in 60 years – but commentators haven’t been interested, and governments don’t engage until the TV crews are on the ground and a disaster has been declared.
Really? I’ve had a (cursory) look, and can’t really find bold predictions from any NGOs about the coming crisis prior to this Reuters report, which itself was based on Famine Early Warning System report two weeks earlier. It seems to me that Oxfam threw most of its clout behind the GROW campaign this spring. This in itself isn’t a criticism – Oxfam believes that GROW is part of the solution to preventing future crisises – but would they have really chosen to spend several million dollars on a new campaign if they thought a famine was right around the corner?
So readers, this one is up to you: can any of you find an NGO which used the f-word (famine) prior to the release of the FEWS report? Not a general “we’re going to see more famine in the future” but something akin to “We’re going to see famine or something close to famine this year.”
I’m happy to be proven wrong on this one, but I think everyone was equally caught with their pants down.
Update: that was quick, Oxfam is vindicated (although still no f-word).