Chuo Online

  • Top
  • Opinion
  • Research
  • Education
  • People
  • RSS

Top>People>U.N. Employee Active in Hunger-Stricken and War-Torn Somalia


Mio Nozoe

Ms. Mio Nozoe [Profile]

U.N. Employee Active in Hunger-Stricken and War-Torn Somalia

Ms. Mio Nozoe

Ms. Mio Nozoe's official title is WFP (the United Nations World Food Programme) Southwestern Somalia Office Director. However, there is a surprising gap between this dignified-sounding title and the impression given by the true person of Ms. Nozoe. Could the person behind the title really be this young and friendly woman? Ms. Nozoe is a member of the second graduating class of the Chuo University Faculty of Policy Studies, which was established in 1993. She is also a person who serves on the world's frontline.

Recently, Ms. Nozoe appeared on BS Fuji Live's Prime News (August 17th, 2009), a 2 hour television program that consists of serious debates. During discussion of a theme entitled The Current State of the World Food Crisis-Japan's Role in Helping the Starving, she spoke about the current situation in Somalia.

"The difficult thing about aid is the large grey zone that exists within local people when distributing food. After people who are in complete need, there are many people to whom we would like to distribute food, even in small amounts. In order to fairly distribute limited resources, it is necessary to decide upon standards. However, it is difficult to decide upon the line for which people can receive food and which people cannot, and then to gain understanding regarding that decision. For example, consider a case in which nutritional status is checked by measuring the diameter of a person's arm. A person with an arm diameter of less than 12.5 centimeters is judged as suffering from poor nutrition and can receive food for a family of six. However, how can we reply when we are faced with violent protest from a person who has an arm diameter of 12.6 centimeters and cannot receive food for their family? Even if we replied that an allowance would be made for a difference of 0.1 centimeters, then what about cases of 12.7 or 12.8 centimeters? There would be no end to the protests that we would receive."

When people learn of the arm diameter of 12.5 centimeters rule, they unconsciously rub their own arms. Through the reality of this reporting, the tragedy and severe conditions of aid are conveyed to listeners in a single word.

After graduating from Chuo University in 1998, Ms. Nozoe received her Master's Degree from a graduate school in England in 2001. She became a U.N. employee in 2003 and was deployed to Sri Lanka. In December of the following year, she experienced the Sumatra Earthquake and Tsunami which killed 180 thousand people. Following the disaster, she participated in aid activities for affected areas.

Ms. Nozoe gave the following statement during an interview for a Chuo University magazine: "Work that involves cooperating with people to create something for the good of other people. Work that involves having hope and creating the "next age", even within a vortex of natural threats and the weakness, strength, beauty and ugliness of human beings. The two years that I spent in Sri Lanka gave me the quiet and unwavering confidence to follow this path." (Hakumon Chuo; Summer 2006 Issue)

From 2006, Ms. Nozoe spent more than 2 years working in the operation and management of a food aid program in Southern Sudan. She assumed the position of Office Director for the Buale region of Somalia in July 2008. Dangerous living conditions and poverty stand back-to-back in the southern region of Somalia, which has no functioning government. Ms. Nozoe has moved from a post-civil war community to one which is in the midst of civil war. Her responsibility has doubled as a result.

Ms. Nozoe also made the following statement on the previously discussed television program: "The spirit of kome hyappyo (100 bags of rice) is still valuable even today. It is necessary to perform investment, aid and education for the future. It is also essential to provide technological support so that local citizens can become independent and fix their country by themselves. However, when considering the real issues, it is impossible to focus entirely on the future when more than a billion people are going hungry. My current work is to provide today's food from another kome hyappyo. We must simultaneously provide a steady supply of real food to needy individuals while also having a future-oriented mindset."

A battle with reality that cannot be won through fine words, and a passion to support the mission for which she fights. Ms. Nozoe is a professional who exudes these qualities.

Mio Nozoe
Born in Tokyo. Graduated from the Faculty of Policy Studies at Chuo University in 1998. During a mission of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP; Headquarters: Rome), worked together with staff from other institutions and groups while serving as a U.N. official in the WFP, which conducts food assistance programs. After graduating from university, held part-time employment at a law office while working for an emergency aid NGO, and received her Master's Degree from a graduate school in England in 2001. Became a U.N. employee in 2003. Participated in activities in Sri Lanka and the Kapoeta region of Southern Sudan (from March 2006). Assumed the position of Office Director for the Buale region of Somalia in June 2008. Her area of responsibility was expanded in October 2009, and she currently serves as Office Director for the southwestern region of Somalia.