New opportunities in IndiaZomato is a food technology startup out of India. The startup’s stock just hit the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and is already wildly successful. The company’s success and growth open opportunities in the food delivery industry, which has the major selling point of schedule self-determination. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that an additional 75 million people in India have been plunged into poverty. Zomato provides new opportunities in India and has the potential to stir up the economy and create jobs for those living in poverty.

Zomato as a Poverty Fighting Agent

Founded in 2010, Zomato challenges poverty in India from multiple angles. The platform connects potential customers with restaurants they might be interested in, and it also allows customers to review restaurants, reserve tables and order delivery through third-party services. Third-party food delivery serves as a new job market in India and is the most crucial aspect in terms of economic growth. Companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Seamless entice potential drivers with the appeal of creating their own schedule. They also allow a variety of delivery methods, from cars to bicycles. This can be a great aid in lifting people out of poverty because of the inherently accessible and flexible job opportunities.

Effect on Job Market

Forbes cited what it deemed a “well-founded argument” when it said, “[A]s the restaurants go, so goes the economy.” This goes far beyond the direct effects of job losses on the service industry. Forbes points to interconnected impacts, including impacts on delivery services, agricultural workers and various goods producers and refiners. In addition, restaurant failures also have a technological impact. The systems that uphold everything from sales to reservations become far more irrelevant if a restaurant cannot function properly. The scope of the service industry is much wider than many realize, and its success plays an imperative role in the economic success of an area. When restaurants are succeeding, job opportunities in multiple sectors become available and help to propel economic growth.

IPO Success and Economic Implications

When shares of Zomato hit the market at the end of July 2021, the initial public offering price was 91 rupees. However, the stock opened even higher at 116 rupees per share. At this price per share, the company’s valuation comes to approximately 910 billion rupees, equivalent to roughly $12.2 billion. Stock prices rose throughout the day on all trading markets where Zomato was available. Large-scale investors have held a stake in Zomato since as early as last year with Uber selling its food delivery business in India to Zomato in exchange for a stake in the company. Additionally, Ant Financial has also backed Zomato with a hefty agreement to invest upwards of $150 million.

These powerhouse corporations are fanning the flames of the food industry, creating opportunity in this new market in India and jump-starting economic growth. The predicted and continued success of this tech startup shows promise for cross-sectional economic development and subsequent poverty reduction.

Michelle M. Schwab
Photo: Unsplash

McDonalds Combats Global PovertyFounded in 1955, McDonald’s is one of the largest fast-food companies in the world. Renowned for its burgers and fries, McDonald’s currently offers a variety of food options in 118 different countries. As a result, the company operates more than 38,000 restaurants, employs millions of people and garners billions of dollars in revenue every year. Considering the fast-food giant’s worldwide presence, it is in a unique position to help impoverished communities around the world. Recognizing this, McDonald’s combats global poverty in several ways.

5 Ways McDonald’s Combats Global Poverty

  1. McDonald’s is one of the top employers in the world. According to Forbes, McDonald’s currently employs more than 1.9 million people worldwide. The only employers that outrank McDonald’s are the U.S. Department of Defense (3.2 million employees), China’s People’s Liberation Army (2.3 million employees) and Walmart (2.1 million employees). McDonald’s gives people around the world an opportunity to earn a living, work toward advancement opportunities and escape poverty.
  2. McDonald’s prioritizes employee education and advancement. In 2018, Mcdonald’s expanded its Archways to Opportunity program, an education initiative available to “restaurant employees in 25 countries.” The program allows employees “the opportunity to graduate from college, earn a high school diploma, learn English as a second language, complete an apprenticeship and gain access to advising services.” In Australia alone, more than 48,000 certifications have been awarded as of April 30, 2021.
  3. McDonald’s joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Along with several other companies, McDonald’s supports the European Alliance for Apprenticeship’s mission to “improve access to vocational training” throughout Europe. Apprenticeships are important because they allow young people to acquire practical job experience and on-the-job skills to increase their chances of employment. Overall, in Europe, McDonald’s and other companies committed “to offer 45,000 apprenticeships by 2025.” These apprenticeships will take place in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K.
  4. McDonald’s supports Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). RMHC is a nonprofit organization that “creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.” RMHC runs 260 Chapters in 62 nations around the world. These programs assist families with ill children by providing free accommodation near the medical center so that families can afford to be present while their child receives medical care. Additionally, the nonprofit organization Meals From The Heart works closely with McDonald’s and RMHC to provide families with freshly cooked meals during their stay. Overall, RMHC aims to offer a housing option to families experiencing financial hardship due to child medical bills.
  5. McDonald’s donated food during the COVID-19 pandemic. McDonald’s partnered with organizations, including Food Donation Connection and the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), to donate food surpluses to families in need around the world. For example, McDonald’s donated eggs, bread and milk to struggling families in Ireland, England, Germany and Italy. Additionally, McDonald’s donated 250,000 pounds worth of food to Canadian food banks and NGOs. The company also gave thousands of liters of milk to migrant workers in Singapore.

A Significant Impact

Overall, McDonald’s combats global poverty by financing and supporting education, housing and food aid programs around the world. Despite economic and financial challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s support for communities abroad never weaned. McDonald’s continues to have a significant impact around the world by combating global poverty and helping those in need.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

Panera BreadThe Panera Bread Company is a café-style fast food restaurant that originated in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Recently, the company made efforts to expand its success to help nonprofit organizations stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes donating unsold baked goods to hunger relief organizations and providing meals to children in Ohio. Not only does Panera Bread make a change domestically, but the company has also begun expanding its focus to ending world hunger globally.

The Partnership

In March 2021, the World Central Kitchen (WCK) announced a partnership with Panera Bread in order to increase public understanding of the hunger crisis during the pandemic. The head chefs of the two organizations, José Andrés and Claes Petersson, produced a unique sandwich for Panera Bread to sell to further raise awareness of the partnership. Not only did Panera Bread extend its resources and kitchens to supply base support for the WCK, but the restaurant chain also donated a portion of the profits made from each sandwich sold during two weeks in March to the WCK, generating approximately $100,000 for the organization. WCK used the donations to support its programs, providing meals to the impoverished and training aspiring chefs from Haiti to become professional chefs.

How WCK Uses Donations

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, José Andrés began to rebuild more than 150 community kitchens in Guatemala and Haiti, which led to the creation of the WCK and then later, the development of chef training and farmer education programs. The WCK has partnered with more than 2,500 restaurants, including Panera Bread. The WCK has provided more than 36 million meals to the impoverished domestically; however, the WCK also uses donations to support its international programs.

For instance, the WCK has trained more than 700 cooks dedicated to feeding students in countries such as Guatemala, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Additionally, 40 students graduate from the Haitian WCK Port-au-Prince culinary arts school each year, pursuing professional careers as chefs in restaurants and hotels.

Furthermore, the WCK’s central goal for its Food Producer Network is to eliminate food insecurity and assist communities in strengthening their skills to combat future disasters that may lead to food insecurity. Operating in Puerto Rico and Guatemala, the network was created following Hurricane Maria and partners with small food businesses, such as farmers and fishermen, to advocate for sustainable food systems and the use of locally-grown foods.

Most food products originate from agricultural farming, including meat, fruit, vegetables, milk and sugar. To further strengthen farmers’ skills and reduce food insecurity, WCK launched a program in 2020 called Apiculture for Farmers. Based in Puerto Rico, the program educates farmers on how beekeeping assists in crop pollination and honey production.

Working Toward a Common Goal

Panera Bread’s donations served to assist WCK in feeding impoverished children in Guatemala, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Donations have also contributed toward training cooks, assisting aspiring chefs in graduating from the Port-au-Prince culinary school in Haiti, encouraging the consumption of locally-grown foods and educating farmers on the benefits of beekeeping.

Throughout 2020, WCK aimed to boost the restaurant industry to successfully solve community challenges, such as natural disasters and illnesses. Both Panera Bread and the World Central Kitchen operate under the same belief that delicious and fresh ingredients should be accessible to everyone, which motivates each organization to make a positive change in their community while eliminating food insecurity globally.

– Lauren Spiers
Photo: Flickr

Food Sovereignty
Food insecurity is abundant on Native American reservations, with the lack of grocery stores and affordable fresh foods leading to high rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. As of 2018, a quarter of Native Americans lacked access to nutritious foods. When COVID-19 hit, the more than two-hour round trips to get food were often fruitless, as panic-induced buying emptied store shelves. Some tribes are now taking matters into their own hands. Today, solutions to the problem are starting to emerge with a variety of tribal and intertribal efforts exploring food sovereignty.

The Structure of Reservations

Federal government mismanagement of native lands is a major underlying cause of food insecurity. Through the federal trust doctrine, the U.S. government owns and manages native lands and assets. This means that reservation residents are not usually the owners of homes. This makes it impossible to mortgage property to start a business on a reservation. Federal land ownership hinders harnessing natural resources and developing the land. On-reservation development projects must go through 49 steps, spread across four government agencies before approval. In contrast, off-reservation projects require only four steps and this difference extends wait time from a couple of months to years.

These factors, in addition to low population density and poverty, cause companies to avoid investing in reservations. Tribal leaders or entrepreneurs are able to start farms. However, the leaders often lack the complementary infrastructures needed to get their products on grocery store shelves. As such, produce and meats often leave the reservation for services such as grading, freezing and packaging. By the time the products make it back to the reservation, the produce is less fresh and marked-up due to travel.

The Disruption of Traditional Diets

The lack of infrastructure and government restrictions on hunting and gathering create food insecurity on many reservations. The Pine Ridge Reservation imports 95% of foods and everyday necessities while the Menominee Reservation, the largest reservation east of the Mississippi River, has only one grocery store.

Due to the situation, some families’ only option is to seek government assistance. In 2015, 24% of Native families participated in the SNAP program, formerly known as the Food Stamps Program. This is almost twice as much involvement as that of the general population. Furthermore, nearly a fifth of all Native children participated in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) free or reduced school lunches at the same time.

These programs, while important to feeding the hungry, do not conform with traditional diets. In 2014, the USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations only allocated roughly $1 per meal. These meals are high in processed sugars and carbohydrates and lacking in fresh produce. This leads to high rates of health problems on reservations. For example, 42% of Native Americans struggle with obesity, and 20% of Navajo adults have diabetes, the third-highest rate in the world, below only Nauru and Mauritius.

Reclaiming Traditional Diets

In 2018, the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin established the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems (DAFS). Embracing their traditional culture and diets, the Menominee move toward food sovereignty by hunting, fishing, gathering, tree tapping and farming.

DAFS Director Gary Besaw told The Borgen Project that the Menominee Tribe has a long history of agriculture. Archaeological evidence shows that the Menominee gardened through the last ice age. To do so, the Menominee used advanced techniques like raised-bed farming and biochar to improve soil quality. The tribe has reclaimed producing squash, maple syrup and corn, with hopes of growing orchards in the near future.

Nature and Intertribal Efforts

Prior to reservation life, the Menominee had access to fishing over much of the Great Lakes and their river systems. The current location of the Menominee Tribe’s reservation lacks this access. This makes it difficult to obtain enough fish without depleting the local resources.

Besaw stressed the importance of intertribal commerce and collaboration since each Tribal Nation has access to different food and lands. Besaw informed The Borgen Project that “re-establishing intertribal trade and commerce allows not only for economic growth in a sustainable green industry but also allows us to obtain healthy traditional foods.” Both products and skills move between tribes. The Menominee work with neighboring tribes and organic farms to grow food, manually dealing with weeds, pests and invasive species.

One of the Menominee Tribe’s partners, the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, worked with the Intertribal Agriculture Council to form the Mobile Farmer’s Market. This organization connects Native Americans across the United States with produce grown and harvested by Native Americans. Additionally, the Mobile Farmer’s Market hosts workshops to facilitate the spread of traditional skills.

In February 2019, a workshop occurred on the Menominee Reservation, teaching farming, seed keeping and healthy diets. According to Besaw, Menominee County has the highest rate of diabetes and heart disease in Wisconsin. The move toward food sovereignty and traditional diets has had a positive impact on the community’s health. To supplement these healthier diets, the Menominee Tribe is also conducting early-stage diagnosis and tracing family trees to see who has a genetic predisposition to diabetes.

Food Insecurity and COVID-19

According to Besaw, the COVID-19 pandemic illuminated the level of dependency that his tribe has on the federal government for food. The food boxes that the USDA provided were a lifesaver, though sometimes compromising his tribe’s goal of growing food indigenously, without GMOs and pesticides.

Across the country, many tribes have realized this as well. In Minnesota, the Dream of Wild Health intertribal nonprofit organization is working to distribute food to food-insecure Native Americans living in the Twin Cities. The organization owns a 30-acre pollinator farm outside of the Twin Cities and produces pesticide- and GMO-free produce.

Throughout the Dream of Wild Health’s history, the organization has received heirloom seeds from around North America. In 2019, it started to identify the seeds and return them to its community of origin, benefitting in-state and out-of-state tribes. According to another seed-saving organization, Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, the demand for seeds has increased around 4,900% during COVID-19, as Native Americans strive toward food sovereignty during these challenging times.

With many tribes and intertribal organizations around to help Native Americans attain food sovereignty, prospects are growing across North America. Not only are traditions returning but traditions are also making their way between and outside of tribes. As these efforts continue with success, it is time the U.S. government steps up to give tribes the support they need in a way that will not jeopardize their health further.

Riley Behlke
Photo: Flickr

Tackling Poverty in Malaysia
Poverty reduction in Malaysia was steadily progressing until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The poverty rate decreased from 7.6% in 2016 to 5.6% in 2019, according to Free Malaysia Today. However, due to COVID-19, the poverty rate rose to 8.4% in 2020. Many argue that the strikingly low poverty rate is an inaccurate reflection of the true state of poverty in Malaysia as it does not account for costs of living and overlooks vulnerable populations. According to U.N. human rights specialist, Philip Alston, “Despite near-universal healthcare and high school enrolment rates for citizens and a growing economy, large parts of the population are being left behind and many people living above the official poverty line are in fact in poverty.” Due to these circumstances, several NGOs are tackling poverty in Malaysia.

Poverty in Malaysia

Alston explains that “Undercounting has also led to underinvestment in poverty reduction and an inadequate social safety net that does not meet people’s needs.” As a consequence, people’s rights to food, shelter and education are in jeopardy. Under the current circumstances, more than 2.7 million Malaysian children come from households that cannot afford the costs of school, and according to the World Bank, 15% of Malaysians experienced moderate-to-severe food insecurity in 2018. However, NGOs are rising to the challenge, attempting to close the poverty gap and end the consequences that go along with it. MyKasih and SOLS 24/7 are leaders in tackling poverty in Malaysia by providing inclusive aid to the B40 (bottom 40% household income range) community through education and food security.

MyKasih

The MyKasih Foundation was founded by Tan Sri Dr Ngau Boon Keat and his wife, Puan Sri Jean Ngau, in 2009. The organization is committed to the long-term goal of empowering the Malaysian community by providing more than just short-term relief. Its efforts in tackling poverty in Malaysia are directed into its two main programs, the Love My Neighborhood food aid program and the Love My School education bursary initiative. MyKasih’s food aid program provides impoverished households with at least RM 80 per month for only a year. This ensures people do not become aid-reliant and are empowered to become self-sufficient while being able to meet their basic needs.

By 2019, MyKasih had provided roughly 280,000 families with RM 260 million worth of cashless aid. In 2018, its contributions were recognized. MyKasih received the 2018 U.N. Malaysia Award for the “Leaving No One Behind” category, honoring its effective distribution of aid “through public-private partnerships.”

SOLS 24/7

In 2000, teacher Raj Ridvan Singh along with his father and brother began SOLS 24/7 in Cambodia to provide informal education to impoverished populations. In 2005, Singh replicated the initiative in Timor Leste. Seeing the success of the endeavor, in 2007 he continued the initiative in Malacca, Malaysia. Singh moved the SOLS 24/7 headquarters to Kuala Lumpur five years later.

Through its diverse educational programs, the organization aims to empower the B40 community in Malaysia. Since its establishment, SOLS 24/7 has provided quality education to more than 500,000 people. The organization as provided more than 800 scholarships to the SOLS Solar Academy, equipping students with skills to thrive in the renewable energy sector. SOLS Community Centers provide training to marginalized and impoverished people, helping them improve on English skills, digital knowledge and personal development.

SOLS 24/7’s efforts are vast, showing its commitment to education and empowerment. Through these efforts, the organization helps Malaysians rise out of poverty by providing them with the skills and knowledge to secure jobs and establish businesses.

Looking Forward

Efforts by SOLS 24/7 and MyKasih in tackling poverty in Malaysia have provided aid and educational services for the socio-economic advancement of B40 families. These two NGOs continue to offer benefits that empower Malaysia’s impoverished communities, providing hope for all Malaysians in need.

– Julia Fadanelli
Photo: Flickr

Combating Food WasteThe British Government has led successful campaigns to get citizens to rethink the food they throw away. The British charity, Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), works with larger businesses and local communities to use resources efficiently and sustainably. Charities like FareShare are combating food waste by redistributing food to hungry people in the U.K. For about 25 years, the organization has been keeping communities fed by providing millions of meals to those in need.

The Facts on Food Waste

Since World War I, the U.K. has struggled with food waste. The country implemented rationing methods in both World Wars to combat excess waste in times of crisis. These methods have undergone adaptation to address modern food waste issues.

Several campaigns target the impact of domestic food waste in the U.K. There has been a great success, with household waste falling 6% in a three-year span. Still, an estimated 4.5 million tons of food goes to waste. Meal planning and using food within the home reduce domestic food waste. Small and simple actions on the individual level lead to large change across the nation.

The exact amounts of waste in the food industry are not clear, however, estimates are concerning. Food services waste roughly one million tons, “equivalent to throwing away one in six meals served.” Surplus food is responsible for much of this waste. Food producers produce food in quantities too large to match consumption. Additionally, while some of the food remains edible, it may be undesirable due to its appearance. In 2018, 20-40% of supermarket produce underwent disposal for failing to meet cosmetic standards.

Food waste comes with a price tag for individual households and the food services sector. Industries lose £2 billion due to excess food. Meanwhile households, manufacturing, retail and food services waste an estimated £19 billion worth of food annually. Solving the matter of food waste is not only of humanitarian interest but of economic value too.

The Role of WRAP

WRAP came about in 2000. It has successfully brokered agreements with several industries to reduce waste, including food retail. With the United Kingdom’s population expected to grow in coming years, there will be an increased need for food, resulting in possible excess waste. WRAP’s 2025 Food Vision tackles seven aspects of food waste:

  • Food production
  • Food packaging
  • Supply chain wastage
  • Role of consumers
  • Food waste collections
  • Waste management infrastructure
  • Energy conversion

Each focus point works in tandem. Improving efforts in one sector will benefit the others. Therefore, food waste reduction initiatives must address each aspect to ensure optimal success.

WRAP works with businesses and provides a roadmap and toolkit to guide parties interested in reducing food waste. The organization encourages businesses to set a target goal for reduction, to measure appropriately and to effectively act. The initiative aims to ensure the U.K. meets its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

WRAP began the Love Food Hate Waste campaign in 2007. The campaign raises awareness and teaches simple steps to reduce waste on an individual level. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign also offers recipes to ensure that each food item goes to use.

FareShare: Combating Food Waste

The longest-running food redistribution charity in the United Kingdom, FareShare, has been giving back to communities since 1994 by ensuring that no food goes to waste. The organization solves two problems with one solution: reduce waste and solve hunger by putting surplus food to good use. Powered by volunteers and fueled by charities, FareShare has provided millions of meals to vulnerable populations.

The process is simple: retailers supply FareShare with their surplus food and FareShare redistributes the goods to local charities. FareShare supports almost a million people every week. The U.K. economy also benefits by saving £51 million each year.

FareShare does not tackle its grand mission alone. The Borgen Project spoke with James Persad of FareShare who says, “There are still tons of food going to waste, enough for millions of meals. Our mission is not possible without our partners.” Businesses both big and small have committed to the cause. Nestlé is one of FareShare’s longest ongoing partnerships. From 2005 to 2016, they redistributed “roughly six million meals worth of food” to those in need.

Efforts have led to creative innovations. One such success is FareShare Go, a service that allows local supermarkets to donate surplus food to charities through text messages. The initiative received recognition from the World Food Innovation Awards in 2018.

Addressing Dual Issues

Food redistribution efforts are successfully combating food waste. Hunger and food waste are two dire problems society faces, but thankfully, solutions have emerged that address both. These food rescue solutions combat hunger by ensuring that no food goes to waste.

Kelli Hughes
Photo: Flickr

Silk InvestSilk Invest is a private equity firm founded in 2008 that invests in emerging markets that demonstrate the potential for long-term economic growth. The largest private equity fund managed by the firm is called The Silk Africa Food Fund. Investments made from this fund target companies involved in food processing and distribution throughout Africa.

The Silk Africa Food Fund

The fund was started in June 2012 and focuses primarily on businesses that distribute food to African consumers. Countries that attract investment the most are those which are institutionally and politically stable enough to support long-term economic growth. Silk Invest is distinct from many other foreign investment funds that support the effort to reduce hunger in Africa in that it does not target agriculture but rather the distribution of food to consumers.

The three largest investments the fund is involved with are Nigeria’s Sundry Foods Limited, Ethiopia’s Nas Foods Plc and Egypt’s El Rashidy El Asly. Of these three, Nigeria’s Sundry has seen the most significant success and expansion following its partnership with Silk Invest.

The Success of Sundry Foods Limited

The company runs the popular restaurant chain, Kilimanjaro, as well as bakery and food catering services throughout the country. When Silk Invest first gave funds to Sundry in 2012, the company had seven restaurants open and a revenue base of around $3.4 million. In 2020, just eight years later, Sundry has 40 restaurants and a revenue base of around $34 million. The entrepreneurial effort of the company’s founder, Ebele Enunwa, has been instrumental in this progress.

Sundry is a company firmly rooted in supporting its fellow local businesses. Instead of setting up in the more commercial capital of Lagos, Enunwa established headquarters in Port Harcourt where he is a local entrepreneur. Its management team consists of local hires and its supply chain uses locally sourced raw materials, including chicken and rice from rural areas.

Sundry’s Impact and Potential

Sundry Foods Limited represents an example of the enormous potential which exists for businesses in developing nations when the proper investment is made. By providing capital to Sundry, Silk Invest gave the company the tools it needed to expand its operation. By doing so, Sundry has not only offered an improved service to consumers throughout Nigeria but has also stimulated its broader community’s own economy by maintaining a steady and even increasing demand for local products.

The impact made by Sundry’s growth is palpable. Over the last 10 years, the company has created over 2,000 jobs. Silk Invest’s Africa Food Fund is hugely impactful in the effort to reduce poverty in developing nations not only because of the direct benefit the invested capital provides to individual businesses but also because of the economic growth created in broader communities as an indirect result.

The Importance of Investing in Africa

This impressive progress was all stimulated by a $2.4 million investment. The high return for Silk Invest demonstrates that funding businesses in developing countries is not only beneficial to the growth and development of those businesses but is also a practical and sound investment for the firms offering the capital.

Investing in the effort to reduce world hunger presents impactful and beneficial opportunities for all parties involved. By establishing the Africa Food Fund, Silk Invest has committed itself to this effort while simultaneously supporting developing economies.

– Haroun Siddiqui
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Kenya
Charitable organizations and the Kenyan government have long recognized child poverty as a dire issue. Due to this recognition, Kenyan child poverty rates have steadily reduced since 2008. Meanwhile, governmental policies and constitutional highlights, along with funding and research headed by establishments like UNICEF, have improved the lives of countless children within Kenyan communities. UNICEF has conducted extensive research on the main causes of child poverty in Kenya. Its hope is that this research will be a basis for a change in child poverty reduction. Here are some of the main contributors that UNICEF has identified as factors relating to child poverty rates in Kenya.

4 Major Definers of Child Poverty in Kenya

  1. Poor Sanitation: Children living in Kenya often do not have access to proper plumbing facilities. Over half of individuals under 18 still lack this basic resource.
  2. Lack of Clean Water: Children, especially those living in rural areas, have a lack of access to water that is clean enough to drink. There are also many schools throughout Kenya that do not have drinking water for their students, which creates a high health risk.
  3. Lack of Education: Around 25% of the children living in Kenya have not been able to gain a decent education as of 2014. Along with this, many children who were attending school were in a class at the wrong learning level.
  4. Insufficient Housing: Many children in Kenya live in housing that has no insulation or ventilation. Lack of ventilation, in particular, can cause harmful air pollution sourced from cooking appliances.

The Basic Education Act

The government of Kenya has fulfilled many efforts to help with the eradication of child poverty over the years. The 2010 Kenyan Constitution made a point to emphasize that children have the right to basic needs including shelter, health care and food. It further stated that children should have access to free education at the basic level. Since 2010, the Kenyan government endorsed programs along with the passing of the Basic Education Act in 2013, ensuring that educational equality will truly occur within the country. Due to this emphasis, the number of educated children rose 11% by the year 2014.

The Food and Nutrition Policy

In 2011, the Food and Nutrition Policy emerged in Kenya with the objective of creating food equity for all citizens. This policy has helped improve food access within the country by making it more abundant and making sure that Kenyan citizens received education about proper food consumption. For infants, the nutrition policy targeted the reduction of women’s workload so that they could be more available to breastfeed their children. Breast milk substitutes also experienced more marketing because of this policy. For children in school, the 2011 policy ensured that government-run educational facilities provided meals and integrated them into school days. This policy also established programs for young women in need of nutrient supplementation before pregnancy.

Kenya’s National Nutrition Action Plan

Kenya’s National Nutrition Action Plan occurred from 2012 to 2017. This plan focused on the education of governmental policymakers by emphasizing the correlation between food security and the many factors that contribute to child poverty in Kenya. It also highlighted nutrition as a fundamental and constitutional human right.

One key initiative that the National Nutrition Plan promoted was the increased awareness of the benefits of lobbying for greater nutritional funding. This plan included 11 key elements, all of which highlighted the improvement of nutritional status and education on proper nutrition for women and children in Kenya. This plan further ensured that each of its key elements received implementation and support through various agencies, with government planning and budgeting processes accounting for each agency. A result of these implemented strategies included a raise from 39% to 67% of children eating three or more food groups in a day.

Save the Children’s Efforts

Save the Children is a program that has worked toward the direct relief of child poverty in Kenya since around 1950. Along with a variety of resources providing services, this organization has worked to establish and grow women and youth programs in Kenya. These programs directly improve income within households, job prospects for children’s futures and overall nutrition in children. Save the Children has also worked to help improve livestock conditions. The prosperity of livestock has a large correlation with sustainable incomes for many households in Kenya. These households have thus been able to provide stability for their developing children.

Sustainable Development Objectives

While a lot of work has already occurred to help solve child poverty in Kenya, organizations like the UN are working to support 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to help eradicate almost all child resource injustices by 2030. Most of the UN’s funding is going towards a movement towards ending hunger/poverty while providing a decent health care system for all citizens. Through the utilization of the strengths of many countries and their leaders, the UN is hopeful that it will be able to tackle its goal of making Kenya a more holistic country in which to grow.

– Olivia Bay
Photo: Flickr

Use of Chemical Pesticides
Despite their effectiveness in killing specific pests, historic incidents and unknowns related to chemical pesticides have led to public health concerns. Fears that people could be at risk if they consume food treated with chemical pesticides do have a foundation. Pesticides have been found to partially cause neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s Disease, among other maladies. Chemical pesticides cannot choose which organisms they kill, which can lead to raised ecosystem contamination and toxicity. Not all chemical pesticides directly harm humans. However, evidence of those that do, along with evidence for unintended ecological damage, led to efforts to reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

Neem as an Alternative

One of the most concerning side-effects of the use of chemical pesticides is their effect on bee populations. Bees are vital to crop pollination and indirectly help create much of the food that humans eat. Pesticide use is a primary cause of the current decline in beehive populations. American and European beekeepers report this is at around 30% per year.  Bee population decline contributes to food scarcity and poverty. When food becomes more scarce, prices rise and more people go hungry. Current conditions necessitate implementing an alternative to chemical pesticides that is safe for humans, certain insects and plants.

New research points to naturally derived pesticides as possibly safer and less damaging to the environment. Currently, the most promising natural solution is neem oil. Neem oil is an organic, naturally-derived substance from the Neem tree. The tree grows primarily in tropical regions. These areas tend to be most affected by insect infestations and represent some of the poorest areas in the world.

Neem oil use is not a new phenomenon. Traditional Indian farming methods practiced for thousands of years, and even folk medicines incorporate neem usage. It is effective at reducing specific insect populations while having minimal noted negative effects on beneficial insects like bees and worms. A number of agricultural companies have begun using neem in their products, and its use is only expected to grow as its efficacy is increasingly verified.

Outbreak and Application in Africa

In early 2020, East Africa faced its worst locust outbreak in decades. Swarms devoured hundreds of thousands of acres, fostering hunger and fear in local communities. Millions of people became more food insecure and the use of chemical pesticides became less viable. The COVID-19 pandemic upset the global chemical supply chain, which seems to have inhibited governments from receiving the large quantities of pesticides needed to make an impact against the locust invasion.

In response, some farmers in Kenya began making their own neem oil to push back against locust invasions. Neem oil can weaken locusts’ reproductive ability and potentially kill them, which reduces the current and future populations. While it was too late to make a big impact against the swarms, individual farmers protected their crops. If enough farmers learn to make their own oil in the future, or if it is produced cheaply on a large scale, Kenya could have an effective, safe defense against locust invasions. Other countries in the region also afflicted by locust swarms stand to benefit from looking to Kenya as an example.

Potential for Future Practices

Chemical pesticide use is harmful to the environment and can create bad health outcomes for some people. Industrial use of neem oil instead of chemical pesticides could improve health conditions worldwide and protect ecosystems. On a smaller scale, it could protect the economic interests of poor farmers and people at risk of starvation. People may also be more accepting of the use of growable, natural pesticides over the use of chemical ones. Locally-made neem oil also mitigates environmental pollution. This puts more power into the hands of individual farmers. Though natural pesticide solutions require more research, they represent critical development in the future of agricultural pesticides.

Jeff Keare
Photo: Unsplash

Snack Against Hunger and PovertyPeople can often feel hopeless nowadays when addressing global poverty and hunger on a personal level. One can only donate so many times before it feels pointless. For decades there was a decrease in poverty and hunger all around the world. However, with the pandemic in full force, the numbers are once again increasing.

So what should can each individual consumer do to help those in need and bring these statistics down? They must change daily patterns, so nearly all of their “normal” actions start benefitting someone else. One way is to switch up the food consumers eat. Many brands in a variety of food categories use their profits to fight global poverty and hunger. Switching to one of these brands allows people to effectively snack against hunger and poverty. Below are just a few of the brands aiding in poverty and hunger-reduction.

1. Bobo’s

Bobo’s donates their profits from selling oat-based products to eight organizations. Two of the organizations focus on food security in the U.S. (Community Food Share and Conscious Alliance), and one nonprofit provides housing for low-income families (Habitat for Humanity). Get in a dose of nutritious oats to snack against hunger and poverty.

2. This Saves Lives

This Saves Lives has something for everyone. They have 10 different flavor options, a variety of kid’s options and five types of crispy treats. For each purchase, This Saves Lives provides a calorie-dense packet of paste filled with nutrients to a child in need. So far, over 24 million packets have been sent out!

3. Barnana

Barnana is a company that produces plantain-based chips in normal chip form, tortilla style and flavor bites. All consumers can find a chip that will satisfy whether that’s salty or sweet. The plantains used for the chips are upcycled from those that were deemed not perfect enough for mainstream market standards. By upcycling the produce, Barnana fights food waste and secures extra income for small scale farmers that depend on every sale.

4. Project 7

Project 7 is a healthy candy brand that makes gummies, lollipops and everything in between. They partner with nonprofits to help the seven areas of need: healing, saving, housing, food, drink, teaching and hope. Make chewing a life-giving activity and snack against hunger and poverty.

5. Beanfields

Beanfields is another company that creates chips both sweet and salty, similar to Barnana. The company — centered in a kitchen and not a boardroom — cooks up a variety of bean-based tortilla chips and cracklings. They get creative by producing an environment-conscious snack while also supporting people in need. Beanfields partners with Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps ex-gang members find peace and stability in their new lives. Homeboy Industries partners with many nonprofits fighting hunger and poverty that provide ex-offenders jobs and a sense of community.

Buying snacks and snacking are often mindless activities. Helping people should have that same ease and it does. Yet, it often falls on the back burner and gets forgotten. Buying from companies donating to those in need is one easy solution. People can enjoy their favorite foods in a more effective way. Why just snack when one can snack against hunger and poverty?

Anna Synakh
Photo: Flickr