Art Beat sat down with Duane Stephenson on a recent tour stop in Towson, Md., to discuss his efforts to support the World Food Program in its fight against the current famine.
Tens of thousands of people, many of them children, have died in the Horn of Africa in recent weeks. The worst drought in that region in 50 years has caused a massive famine in two areas of southern Somalia.
A famine is officially declared when the acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 percent and more than two people per 10,000 die every day. According to the U.N.‘s Mark Bowden, malnutrition rates in Somalia are the highest in the world and in parts of the country’s southern region, more than half of all children are severely malnourished.
The World Food Program estimates that more than 11 million people require immediate food assistance in the Horn of African and they are currently reaching 1.5 million people in Somalia alone.
Before the current famine, WFP had launched a new social media initiative, We Feed Back, that aims to increase awareness about the fight against chronic hunger burdening families worldwide. To propel these efforts, WFP reached out to legendary reggae band, The Wailers and reggae vocalist Duane Stephenson to record a new anthem: A Step for Mankind.
In recent days, the crisis in Somalia has sharpened the need for fortified, supplementary food products to combat malnutrition, and Stephenson and the Wailers are spreading the word on their websites and on tour.