Located in Western Sahara, Algeria is one of the largest countries in the world. Home to around 40 million people, the French-speaking nation continues to grow in population. The Algerian economy centers around oil exports and that oil has allowed the Algerian economy to become one of the biggest in Africa. Despite this, many Algerians struggle to put food on the table and the main problem lies with the poorest people in the country. The unemployed and Sahrawi refugees struggle to maintain a healthy diet due to a lack of affordable and nutritious food. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Algeria.
10 Facts About Hunger in Algeria
- Only 17 percent of Algerian land is used for agriculture. The Sahara desert covers a large amount of Algeria. As a result, Algeria is unable to produce enough food for its people which forces it to import a lot of its food.
- Food products and vegetables make up 16.5 percent of Algerian imports. At first glance, 16.5 percent may not seem like a large amount, however, Algerian vegetables and food products make up only one percent of its exports. When a country is importing more food than it can produce, prices tend to be higher for its people.
- Almost 90 percent of Sahrawi refugees are food insecure or at risk of food insecurity. There are approximately 90,000 to 165,000 Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. The refugees are Western Saharans that the Western Saharan War in 1975 displaced. For almost 45 years, the refugees have been living in harsh desert environments with limited access to economic opportunity.
- Forty-five percent of Sahrawi women of childbearing age and 39 percent of children under five are anemic. Anemia in pregnant women can cause complications with the fetus and mother. Similarly, anemia in young children can cause serious health problems and hurt their growth.
- The World Food Program gives 125,000 food rations each month at Sahrawi refugee camps. The WFP also created nutrition centers to fight anemia and stunting in children. It also distributes thousands of school meals to refugee children to keep them in school.
- Algeria ranks 39th out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index. With a score of only 9.4, Algeria boasts a low level of hunger. Over the past few years, Algeria moved up two spots in the rankings.
- The prevalence of stunting in children under five years has reduced by half since the year 2000. At the turn of the century, almost a quarter of Algerian children under five had their growth stunted due to malnutrition. Now, only around 11 percent of children have problems with their growth due to malnutrition.
- The proportion of undernourished in Algeria is now under five percent. Twenty years ago, 10 percent of Algerians were undernourished. Currently, that number has dropped to 4.7 percent.
- Algeria’s infant mortality rate is at 20.6. Back in 1990, the mortality rate was over 40. Today, better support for infants and easier access to nutritious foods for Algerians has cut that number in half.
- Since the year 1990, Algeria’s life expectancy has grown by 10 years. Algeria’s current life expectancy is at 76 years. This is three years higher than the rest of North Africa. In 1990, Algeria had around the same life expectancy as its North African neighbors but Algeria has surpassed them.
These 10 facts about hunger in Algeria illustrate that hunger is a problem that the country may overlook. At first glance, the country may appear to be doing well, however, the most impoverished Algerians suffer greatly from food insecurity. Thankfully, the country as a whole is making progress in combating this difficult problem which means that there is hope that Algeria will one day eliminate hunger.
– Gaurav Shetty