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Pulitzer Center Update October 14, 2013

This Week: Hunger: A Fact of Life


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Image by Sharon Schmickle. Tanzania, 2013

Roiling tensions underlie efforts to improve food security in Africa, often pulling at cross...

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Media file: lunch_line_at_engaruka_primary_school_0.jpg
Image by Sharon Schmickle. Tanzania, 2013.


Crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa rank among the lowest in the world, and nearly a third of the region's people are chronically malnourished. Earlier this year Pulitzer Center grantee Sharon Schmickle traveled to Engaruka, a rural village in northern Tanzania, to witness how the battle over genetically modified crops is playing out on the ground in places where hunger is often a daily fact of life.

"Scientists are developing drought-tolerant corn, something that could ease hunger across Tanzania and sub-Saharan Africa," Sharon writes in The Washington Post. "But the corn can't be planted here because it was genetically modified. Opponents of genetically modified crops have made a stand in Africa — and now villages like Engaruka are squarely in the middle of a global ideological war over agricultural technology."

Sharon, who recruited and worked closely with several African journalists on this project, notes that much of the genetically modified—GM—research targeted for Africa is backed by American money and know-how, while most of the opposition originates in Europe, where GM crops are highly restricted.

"While the global debate rages, many families in Engaruka remain perilously close to starvation after recent droughts destroyed crops and killed 65 percent of the livestock," Sharon writes.

The GM debate will be in the spotlight this week as a result of the World Food Prize Foundation's decision that its prestigious annual award would go to three scientists who laid the groundwork for today's GM crops more 30 years ago. The recipients will be honored at a three-day international symposium in Des Moines beginning Oct. 16. The Des Moines Register and MinnPost also featuring the reporting of Sharon and her African colleagues.


The Wall Street Journal's website is featuring a photo gallery of Pulitzer Center grantee Sean Gallagher's work on the impacts of climate change in China.

Sean has spent the better part of seven years photographing these changes and documenting their impact on local communities. The work is visually stunning. You can view some of the images here. Better yet, you can own Sean's book Meltdown: China's Environmental Crisis, the third in the Pulitzer Center's series of iPad e-books. Visit the iBookstore to download the book for free. Versions of the book are now available to read on the web, Kindle and the Creatavist app.


Dowry payments by a bride's family to the family of the future husband are illegal in India, but the custom is widely practiced and tolerated. So too, unfortunately, is dowry violence which occurs against the women when the husband attempts to extort a higher price. Varsha Ramakrishnan, a physician and the inaugural Johns Hopkins-Pulitzer Center Global Health Reporting Fellow, examines the problem in an in-depth report for the current issue of Johns Hopkins Public Health.


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Food Security

Food Security