By Andrea Allis
Editor in Chief
A panel discussion on East Africa’s food crisis was held Thursday, Nov. 17, at Saint Mary’s University, featuring Fred de Sam Lazaro, director of the Under-Told Stories Project and a correspondent for PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Other panelists included Dr. David Lynch, SMU social science department chair, and Sharon Schmickle, foreign affairs and science correspondent for MinnPost.com. The discussion was moderated by Jon Sawyer, executive director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
The focus of the event was the horn of Africa, which is experiencing what Lynch called “a perfect storm of events.” Economics, politics, conflict, climate uncertainty and social indifference have all led to the current food crisis in the region, but the issue is one that Lynch said affects other parts of the world as well.
“People focus on the tragedy and social injustice of it, but it’s a matter of self-interest, too,” said Lynch, adding that “the problems of failed states spill over” into other countries.
“Not worrying about it here [in the United States] is like saying, ‘There’s a hole in your side of the boat, but that’s your problem,’” said Lynch. “Issues ignored elsewhere come back to haunt us.”
The Under-Told Stories Project, which Lynch said has been housed at SMU for about a year, encourages coverage of some of the world’s most remote locations, including many undeveloped countries.
The discussion was sponsored by SMU, the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership, the Under-Told Stories Project and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.