Cabo Verde is no stranger to the widespread hardships of famine. Ever since its establishment, hunger in Cabo Verde has been one of many trials and tribulations the country has faced.
Cabo Verde’s ongoing history with droughts, the first recorded in 1747, is one of the main causes of its hunger problem. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were three major droughts that resulted in the deaths of at least 100,000 people. It was not always that way. When Cabo Vervde was first discovered by the Portuguese in 1456, it was lush in vegetation. It even got its name from the green landscape it had upon discovery.
Portugal’s failure to assist those in Cabo Verde during these droughts only added to the problem. While being part of the Portuguese empire starting in 1495 and remaining one of its territories up until 1975, Cabo Verde had received little help during its droughts. The droughts and lack of government assistance continued into the twentieth century, where thousands more died of starvation.
Drought still plagues Cabo Verde to this day. There was a 65 percent decrease in rainfall in 2013 and 2014, which caused the loss of crops for 30,000 people. This drought led to the lowest corn production on record for 2014. However, there has been much greater initiative currently than there was in the past to find solutions to the issue of hunger in Cabo Verde. From the years 1991 to 2015, the total percentage of hunger in Cabo Verde decreased from 16 percent to 9 percent.
In an effort to address the problems caused by the 2013-2014 drought, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supplied 7,015 households with a 17-kilogram kit containing bean, corn and cowpea seeds. The FAO also supplied 554 households with tomato, cabbage and onion seeds along with drip-irrigation kits in response to Cabo Verde’s lack of reliable water resources.
Cabo Verde has taken it into its own hands to ensure the proper nourishment of its citizens. The country was chosen to share its story in successfully feeding its young children to the 2015 Global Child Nutrition Forum. Proper nutrition is highly valued and is considered to be correlated to the strong development of a country, according to minister of education and sport Fernanda Marques.
The U.N. declared that the nation had met the Millennium Development Goal with 98.7 percent of its children enrolled in school, meaning that the majority of kids received the benefits of this program. These benefits include meals based on what the population likes to eat like the cachupa, which is a traditional dish made with vegetables, meat, fish and corn.
“My philosophy is that the purpose of foreign assistance must be to end the need of its existence – that we not only have to minister to immediate needs, but we have to help people take care of themselves,” USAID administrator Mark Green said in his speech at the World Food Program USA’s McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony.
Hunger in Cabo Verde may still persist, but Green’s words of aid being key to solve the problem holds true, as the nation is seeing improvement little by little.
– Blake Chambers