Hunger in FijiFiji is an upper-middle-income country located in the Pacific Islands. In Fiji, the agricultural sector has been steadily declining over the last several decades, resulting in hunger concerns. Here is everything you need to know about hunger in Fiji.

Background of Hunger in Fiji

Traditionally, countries struggling with hunger are thought to be plagued with food insecurity and starvation. This is not the case in Fiji, where food availability is adequate — especially in comparison with other Pacific Islands. Fijians even have above-average access to energy-dense foods. Rather than food security, concerns surrounding hunger in Fiji stem from the double burden of over-nutrition and under-nutrition, caused by obesity and deficiencies in micronutrients. Trade policies, poverty and climate change are further causes of hunger in Fiji.

Main Causes of Hunger in Fiji

  1. Trade Policy: Fiji’s poor nutrition largely stems from increased dependence on cheap imported food, resulting in a decreased intake of traditional Fijian food. This decline in demand has resulted in traditional food being grown for export, thus increasing domestic prices. Consequently, families above the poverty line spend 18% of their income on food, and families below the poverty line spend 29% of their income on food.
  2. Poverty: Although extreme poverty is uncommon in Fiji, according to the World Bank, 35.2% of Fijians live in poverty. Furthermore, the per capita purchasing power parity in Fiji is significantly below the global average. Thus, not only do Fijians generally struggle with poverty, but food is also disproportionately expensive.
  3. Climate Change: Fiji is extremely vulnerable to climate change, experiencing frequent storms, cyclones, floods and droughts — all of which can be detrimental to the agricultural sector. Additionally, 25,700 people in Fiji are annually pushed into poverty as a result of climate change, further exacerbating the problem of poverty leading to hunger.

Traditional Fijian Diet

Traditionally, Fijians consumed a diet of fish, seafood, root crops, fruit, wild plants and legumes. In recent years, this traditional diet has been abandoned. In 2014, 50% of the population ate rice daily, 43% ate roti daily and 15% ate instant noodles daily. These unhealthy choices became popular while fruit and vegetable consumption declined, with only 15% of adults getting the recommended five servings daily.

Health Consequences

The major health consequences that arise from hunger in Fiji stem from obesity. One-third of adult Fijians are obese, and the rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as type-2 diabetes is correspondingly high. Obesity increases the risk of NCDs, thus increasing the risk of mortality. Consequently:

In comparison to its Pacific Island neighbors, Fiji possesses great food security. However, Fiji’s problems with poverty, trade policy and climate change perpetuate hunger. For Fijians to be able to afford and consume healthy foods once again, Fiji will need to invest in climate action, limit trade tariffs and promote native crops.

Lily Jones
Photo: Flickr

Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire, otherwise known as the Ivory Coast, is a country nestled in the western panhandle of the African continent. Though the country has been war-torn since 2010, Côte d’Ivoire is becoming a vital part of the world economy. Poverty in Côte d’Ivoire affects more than 46% of the population; however, the country is working to provide more jobs, funding and resources for its citizens. Here are five innovations in poverty eradication in Côte d’Ivoire.

Working with World Organizations

The government of Côte d’Ivoire is working with world organizations to help Ivorian citizens. With aid from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Côte d’Ivoire is supporting economic growth and the eradication of poverty through Results-Based Management (RBM) and the implementation of Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS).

Within the PRS document established in 2009, government officials outlined multiple poverty eradication goals. Among these goals are greater accessibility to food and healthcare as well as increased job opportunities for men and women.

Another notable organization working alongside the government to eradicate poverty in Côte d’Ivoire is the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF). This organization seeks to help vulnerable populations, such as women and children, achieve financial stability through training, counseling and education. Specifically, SDGF provides education for women who have dropped out of school or who are looking to generate their own income.

New Strategies for Ending Hunger

Among the innovations in poverty eradication in Côte d’Ivoire is adopting new strategies for ending hunger. In 2016, the Côte d’Ivoire government, with help from the World Food Programme (WFP), created a National Development Plan (NDP) to facilitate the country’s transition to becoming a middle-income economy by 2020. With help from WFP, the Ivorian government aims to increase access to food banks and work more closely with other organizations to end malnutrition.

Previously, in 2009, the Ivorian government worked with the IMF and World Bank to establish strategies for ending hunger throughout the country. To achieve this goal, Côte d’Ivoire vowed to modernize storage techniques of fresh produce, make food more widely accessible, increase the production of rice and update health standards for food supply.

Other Avenues for Helping Citizens

In Côte d’Ivoire, the mining sector is undervalued. While the mining industry previously focused on gold, there is an increased interest in nickel, iron and manganese. By expanding geographical data of the land, the mining industry could see vast profit and job increases.

Further, enhancing transportation — public and private — could help citizens escape poverty in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as better integrate the country into the international economy. Allocating more funds to road infrastructure, road maintenance and other modes of transport can facilitate domestic trading. Additionally, it could help individual citizens have better access to basic services and economic opportunities.

Becoming an Active Partner in the Global Market

The 2018-2022 Country Strategy Paper (CSP) suggests that to maintain favorable economic growth, Côte d’Ivoire should attract global investments, employ economic reforms and create more agriculture-industrial chains of supply. With support from the CSP and the World Bank, Côte d’Ivoire will receive loans to reach their economic development goals.

Côte d’Ivoire is further strengthening their economy through investments in the mining and electricity sectors, and by simplifying the start-up process and tax-paying procedure for small businesses.

Mending Gender Disparities Associated with Poverty

While gender inequalities still exist in Côte d’Ivoire, the government is working to make employment and educational opportunities more equal. More than 50% of women in Côte d’Ivoire are uneducated, and 73.7% of women are illiterate. In comparison, only 36% of men receive no education, and 46.7% of men are illiterate. To combat these disparities, funding is set aside for activities that specifically empower women. Further, more women are chosen to participate in important projects, thanks to the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA).

With more concentrated funding in education and the job market, impoverished women can establish themselves in society and regain economic stability. According to the World Bank, it is in the country’s best interest financially to incorporate more women in the job market.

Conclusion

These innovations in poverty eradication in Côte d’Ivoire show the government’s focus on addressing this issue. It is imperative that the country continue to receive funding to incorporate itself into the international economy. By sticking to these strategies and working with world organizations, the government will hopefully be able to eradicate poverty in Côte d’Ivoire.

Danielle Kuzel
Photo: Flickr

hunger in lithuaniaLithuania is a fairly young country, having established independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. Its successes and issues are new to the independent country but have existed for generations for local people. According to the World Bank, Lithuania’s hunger rate is about 2.5%, between that of Hungary and New Zealand. Though this may seem like a low number, 2.5% of Lithuania’s population is about 70,000 people: a large group of malnourished people.

The prevalence of severe food insecurity in Lithuania is less than 1%, affecting about 14,000 people. Lithuanian citizens receive a minimum salary of €607 monthly, or around $675, which is lower than most countries in the European Union. Lithuania is a largely developed country, meaning that a good portion of its economy relies on the service industry.

Income Inequality

Lithuania’s vulnerability to poverty ranks high in the European Union, close to Romania and Latvia. About 23% of Lithuanians are at risk of poverty, by the standard that their disposable (after-tax) income is 60% lower than the national average. Some have noted that as Lithuania is a fairly prosperous country, those with incomes 60% below the national average are not necessarily living in abject poverty. However, it does indicate income inequality in Lithuania, which has increased greatly in recent years. In fact, Lithuania has one of the largest wealth gaps in the European Union — in 2016, the income of Lithuania’s wealthiest 20% was seven times that of Lithuania’s poorest 20%, an indicator of a large and widening wealth gap.

Lithuanian Economy and Employment

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Lithuania faces unique challenges that could contribute to hunger in Lithuania. Lithuania produces large amounts of agricultural exports, but as a result of quarantine measures, surrounding countries have limited the amount of food they are importing. Exports to other countries in the European Union have nearly stopped altogether, and this could cause severe financial difficulties and a shortage of agricultural products. This is particularly important because one in four working Lithuanians are employed in the agricultural sector.

Another factor in food insecurity in Lithuania is the employment rate. Prior to COVID-19, in 2019, the employment rate was 73.2%. However, at present, that number has decreased to 73%. The unemployment rate has climbed to 12.1% as of April 2020, from 8% in October 2019. The increase in unemployment as a result of COVID-19 could likely result in an increase in food insecurity.

Food Waste and Food Banks

In Lithuania, food waste is a significant problem that, if rectified, could provide a solution to hunger in Lithuania. The average Lithuanian household wastes an estimated 19% of food. Food waste is also prevalent at the wholesale level. To combat this problem, food banks in Lithuania and other European Union countries work hard to prevent food from being wasted on the wholesale level and to distribute food to the hungry. The European Federation of Food Banks encapsulates 253 food banks in 21 countries aiming to fight hunger. Iki, a popular retail chain in Lithuania, distributes eight to 10 tons of nearly expired food products to charity each day. The practice of donating nearly expired food rather than wasting it could be encouraged through tax cuts for companies that choose to donate.

Though Lithuania is a fairly prosperous country, hunger in Lithuania still affects thousands of people every day. In the time of the COVID-19 crisis, this number will likely increase. Hunger in Lithuania could be reduced by eliminating preventable waste in grocery stores and by increasing the number of people with access to employment, so progress may ensue after policy changes.

Elise Ghitman
Photo: Flickr

hunger in latvia
Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania border Latvia, a country on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. The country has been officially independent since 1991 due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As a country, Latvia is about half the size of Greece and has had a population of about 2.2 million people since 2019. However, underneath the country’s beautiful scenery and culture, there is plenty of poverty and hunger in Latvia.

The Current State in Numbers

Of all the countries in the European Union, Latvia is the fourth poorest country. Due to this status, roughly 25% of the population in Latvia lives below the poverty line. With an average household size of 2.4 individuals, Latvian families may struggle, as the median household income is $7,732. Although the cost of living in Latvia is 28.54% lower than in the United States, the cost of living, transportation and other necessities do not always leave enough room for families to purchase food. The ones who suffer the most from food insecurity include young children and senior adults.

Although hunger has remained an ongoing problem in Latvia for years as a result of World War I, the country has made waves to fight it. According to the Global Health Index, a tool that rates countries one to 100 based on statistics like child mortality and malnourishment, Latvia is the fifth most improved country. From 2000 to 2015, there was a 59% decrease in hunger, with an average shift from 8.3 in 2000 to 3.4 in 2015.

Food Insecurity and Hunger

To decrease food insecurity within Latvia, several initiatives have emerged to help the country. A European Union program called Food Distribution for the Most Deprived Persons of the Community has been active since 2006 and receives funding from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund. This organization works with the Latvian Red Cross to distribute food packages for individuals in need. According to a Transmango National Report on Food and Nutrition Security in 2015, there were 448 distribution centers throughout Latvia.

Besides this E.U.-sponsored program, NGOs and other charitable organizations, such as Paēdušai Latvija, have worked to combat hunger in Latvia. Paēdušai Latvija is a charity based in Riga, Latvia, that emerged in 2009. As of 2015, Paēdušai Latvija has a network of 56 charity organizations throughout Latvia. Besides the work its network is doing, Paēdušai Latvija receives more than 1,200 requests for emergency food supplies every month. However, it can only satisfy about 500 of those requests each month.

The Future of Hunger in Latvia

The programs in existence have proved successful as the rates of hunger in Latvia have plateaued. Since 2016, the rate of hunger in Latvia has remained stagnant at 2.5%. According to the 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI), Latvia is one of 17 countries with a GHI score of less than five. Due to more and more individuals within the country and outside of it continuing to donate and mobilize individuals, the rate of hunger in Lativa seems as though it will shrink in the coming years.

Caitlin Calfo
Photo: Pixabay


Hunger and starvation are a harsh reality for the Albanian people. The country, for many years, has had a significant portion of the population who are unable to feed themselves and their families. According to the Global Hunger Index, Albania is ranked 28th out of 117 countries struggling with hunger. The Global Hunger Index also gives Albania an overall score of seven. While a score of seven is not incredibly low, according to the Global Hunger Index, it could still be improved. In order to address the impacts of hunger in the country, multiple Albanian organizations are providing support to help their people. Here are three organizations working to positively impact hunger in Albania.

3 Organizations Making a Difference

  1. Nehemiah Gateway is working to reduce hunger in Albania. Nehemiah Gateway originally started in Albania but has expanded to help people in other countries as well. The organization provides not only food parcels, but also medical supplies and social care to people in need in Albania. It is currently running a fundraiser guided toward providing the necessary supplies to starving people in Albania. As of July 29, 2020, the organization has received more than $7,800 in donations out of a $9,000 goal. Nehemia Gateway is still accepting fundraiser donations.
  2. The Children’s Human Rights Center of Albania is another organization pursuing an end to hunger in Albania, especially with respect to youth in the country. Along with addressing hunger, the organization also represents the rights of children in other ways. The organization seeks to make sure the youth of Albania is educated, protected and participates politically within the country. In April of this year, The Children’s Human Rights Center of Albania made news when it made a plea to the European Commission, asking for relief efforts to help 100,000 children who are at risk of starvation. While the request for help has not yet been answered, the human rights center is still committed to fighting for the well being of Albania’s youth.
  3. Food Bank Albania is another organization that has been making extremely focused efforts to help those at risk of hunger. The food bank is based in Albania and its primary concern is making sure the people of the country are fed no matter the circumstances. Food Bank Albania gave an update on its activities during the recent earthquakes as well as during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The organization said that, since November of 2019, it has been able to provide people in need in Albania with about 223,000 kg of food. This is equivalent to about 500,000 meals. The organization is also confident that it can provide about 30 to 40 tons of fresh produce to people in need throughout the summer.

Hunger in Albania continues to be a major concern. The country is ranked 28th out of 117 countries struggling with hunger. As a result, a large portion of the population is still in need of help and further support. However, these three Albanian organizations have been resourceful in fighting to make sure that their people remain fed and provided for.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South AfricaSouth Africa is the southernmost country on the continent of Africa. The country has 11 official languages and more than 56 million people with ethnic and religious diversity. The country has struggled with several issues such as food insecurity, poverty and a poor healthcare system. Here are five facts to know about hunger in South Africa.

5 Facts About Hunger in South Africa

  1. More than 6 million people in South Africa experienced hunger in 2017. In the northern region of the country called Limpopo, 93% of households had stable access to food in 2017. On the other hand, only 66.5% of households in Northern Cape had adequate access to food. The number of people who experience hunger has decreased in the last decade because of efforts made by the government. However, this data still shows the severe situation of food insecurity in South Africa.
  2. Of these 6 million people, approximately 2.5 million were children. In 2017, the majority of young children who lived in an urban area experienced hunger. Moreover, Black children are more vulnerable to hunger and poverty compared to other racial groups. Along with hunger, these kids experience severe poverty and are unable to access education and healthcare.
  3. Food insecurity has a direct association with men’s violence against their partners. A study conducted in South Africa shows that men experiencing food insecurity are more likely to be violent toward their intimate partners. Hunger and financial hardship affect people’s mental health and behaviors and, subsequently, the quality of their relationships.
  4. Recurring drought affected about 37.44 % of rural regions in South Africa. Repeating drought and flooding have damaged the ability to produce food in South Africa. These climate conditions make it difficult for poor households to produce their own food to feed themselves when they do not have enough income to buy food.
  5. The effect of COVID-19 on hunger in South Africa: The country had more than 300,000 people test positive for COVID-19 by July 18, 2020. The national lockdown and decreasing income negatively affect people’s ability to purchase food. Besides, people have little to no access to food because of the lack of an effective system for food distribution during the lockdown. Despite the government’s support for unemployed and children, more people than before are in need of support to access food.

Actions Taken by Multiple Nonprofit Organizations

Several nonprofits are taking action to address the challenges of hunger in South Africa. Food Forward SA collects surplus food from farmers and distributes them to the people in need in six regions of South Africa. Since rural areas and children are more vulnerable to food insecurity, the organization carries out the programs to provide food. Moreover, the organization has launched a Youth Internship Program. In this program, young South Africans can gain practical experience and learn about logistics and food safety.

In addition, the EACH 1 FEED 1 project by the Nelson Mandela Foundation distributes grocery items purchased by donors and financial donations to communities in need. Also, the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign tackles the systematic issues of food insecurity in the country and provides a place for other food distributing organizations to increase effectiveness and communicate with each other.

 

Although multiple nonprofit organizations and the government are working to deal with hunger in South Africa, the country still has a severe situation that requires urgent help.

– Sayaka Ojima
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is a country in the Central Asian region with a population of more than 5.5 million and a coastline along the Caspian Sea between Kazakhstan to the north and Iran to the south. Prior to gaining independence in 1991, Turkmenistan was a Soviet republic.

The country is well-endowed with energy reserves including natural gas and oil, and its economy is highly dependent on energy production and exports. In addition, Turkmenistan is rich in cotton, another highly exported commodity. Although 48.2% of the country’s labor force works in agriculture, this sector represents only about 8% of its GDP. Turkmenistan, moreover, continues to grapple with substantial barriers to economic and political progress, subjecting many of its citizens to poverty and other sources of hardship. Here is what you should know about poverty in Turkmenistan.

4 Facts about Poverty in Turkmenistan

  1.  Turkmenistan has made significant progress when it comes to poverty reduction. In 1999, an estimated 58% of the population in Turkmenistan was living in poverty compared to 0.2% in 2012. GDP per capita witnessed a similar kind of improvement over the same period. In 1999, GDP per capita in Turkmenistan was only $1,800. That figure increased to $8,900 in 2012, and in 2017, it reached $18,200, earning the country a rank of 97th highest GDP per capita in the world.
  2. Turkmenistan is reported to possess the world’s fourth-largest reserves of natural gas. Its heavy reliance on energy exports, however, exposes its economy to sizeable vulnerabilities, including fluctuations in the energy prices. High energy prices in the last decade enabled sensible progress in the form of utility subsidies on the part of the Turkman government since 2014. However, the country’s GDP growth rate has declined to 10.3%, as a result of low energy prices, in 2014 from 14.7% in 2011. In 2015, its GDP growth rate further declined to 6.5%. These setbacks have resulted in cutbacks on government subsidies and infrastructure spending.
  3.  The country’s first political leader, Niyazov, died in 2006 and was succeeded by Berdimuhamedow, who continues to be president today. Under the reign of Niyazov, political dissent was widely suppressed and freedom of movement and travel tightly limited. In 2004 and 2005, moreover, Turkmenistan’s development was significantly hindered when the government cut one year off of secondary school requirements, replaced 15,000 healthcare professionals with military conscripts, and closed all regional hospitals. Political repression and limited civil freedoms continued under Berdimuhamedow. With a transparency index of 154 among 176 countries, corruption on all levels of government has also been a major obstacle to development in Turkmenistan, limiting its potential for foreign investment opportunities.
  4.  Turkmenistan’s economy is heavily regulated by the state. This point is illustrated by the fact that an estimated 90% of agricultural production is controlled by the state. People also report long waiting queues throughout grocery stores that the state owns or controls. Since food items like bread and eggs are subsidized and given that Turkmen farmers are barred from growing unauthorized products, the country’s economy is far from efficient or self-sufficient. This fact is further exacerbated by government control over the foreign exchange rate, thus restricting the private sector’s ability to import the foodstuffs needed to sustain the population.

While official estimates for poverty in Turkmenistan are low, at 0.2%, there are several drawbacks that the country faces in regard to both its economy and its social and political standing. These range from the need to diversify its economic model from its heavy reliance on energy export revenues to the promotion of a more free business and investment climate. In the meantime, international cooperation and coordination ought to strive to ensure that the recent food shortages in Turkmenistan do not escalate into a full-fledged hunger crisis.

Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

hunger in NigeriaYahabba Adam, 30, smiled in the Maiduguri city center in Nigeria. Her four children would eat that day. She searched the market, and the $47 (NGN 17,000) provided by the World Food Programme’s (WFP) cash assistance program filled her wallet and heart with hope. Adam is one of 5.1 million Nigerians who are food insecure and in need of assistance. Conflict in the Northeast has heightened food insecurity and hunger in Nigeria, with another 7.7 million people now in need of humanitarian assistance.

The Boko Haram Insurgency and Crisis in the Northeast

In northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram insurgency attacks and other conflicts have displaced two million people. With assistance from Benin, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, the Nigerian military has expelled the group from several northeastern provinces. Boko Haram still holds control over villages and other small territories. It continues to launch deadly attacks, often against women and children.

These attacks have contributed to a decline in agricultural production through the destruction of productive equipment and the displacement of farmers. In 2017, two senior politicians in Nigeria’s Borno state, which is the epicenter of the insurgency, sent a message to Boko Haram. Kashim Shettima and Olusegun Obasanjo donated 36 metric tons of maize, cowpea and rice seed and hundreds of new tractors to farmers. The officials saw an opportunity for the region to move forward in agriculture despite the conflict.

The northeast region of the country has a history of chronic food insecurity. Unfortunately, it is now in what the Famine Early Warning System Network describes as the crisis or emergency stages of acute food insecurity. Almost three million people in the region are food insecure, according to the WFP.

In November 2019, Cadre Harmonisé, a regional group that aims to diminish hunger in Nigeria, released a monthly report. It estimated that 2.6 million people in the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states were severely food insecure. Without continued humanitarian support, the report projected the number would rise to 3.6 million by mid-2020.

COVID-19 Impact

There have been 35,454 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria and 772 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The pandemic is affecting every aspect of Nigeria’s economy.

“Countries like Nigeria are large food importers but are now being doubly hit – by COVID-19 and by plunging oil prices, the country’s main source of revenue, decimating the government’s budget and making food and other imports even more expensive,” said Julie Howard, a senior adviser on global food security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). 

COVID-19 is threatening the already fragile state of hunger in Nigeria. Citizens across the country are going against pandemic regulations to sell small items or beg for food on the streets. In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, the federal government and humanitarian organizations distribute free food to people whose food supply has been cut off by pandemic safety measures. However, many risk stampedes to get the food and some leave empty-handed. 

“We were scrambling for food when my sister with a young baby on her back was pushed away, and she had to give up,” said Folashade Samuel, a resident of the Lagos slums. “The situation is very, very tough. It is very dangerous to scramble for food because you can fall and get trampled on.”

Additionally, lockdowns and border closures within the nation pose a danger to the agricultural sector, which forms the base of the Nigerian economy. For most Nigerians, agriculture serves as the primary source of livelihood, with the sector employing 36.5% of the entire labor force. More than 30 million naira (about $77,500) had been lost as of May 2020 in the yam markets alone because of the pandemic lockdowns.

In order to combat the pandemic’s adverse effects on agriculture, the Nigerian government created a task force. This task force is creating ID cards to allow agricultural workers to move freely. The agriculture ministry and central bank are working to provide support through locally produced fertilizers and financial expansion for farmers.

What is Being Done?

This June, the Nigerian government launched a seed support initiative in partnership with a group of agricultural research institutes and programs. The initiative worked to deliver improved seeds to farmers in 13 states in order to lessen the harmful impact of the pandemic on hunger in Nigeria.

In Adam’s home city, Maiduguri, the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) received presidential clearance to continue emergency operations, which include delivering food. The WFP manages the UNHAS. While its operations are limited, this humanitarian aid provides support similar to the $47 Adam carried that day in the market.

Along with managing UNHAS, the WFP distributed food and cash assistance to 1.2 million Nigerians in 2017 and 2018. During the pandemic, the WFP has continued its outreach and efforts to curb hunger in Nigeria, assisting 632,500 people with food and nutritional needs. Because schools often provide a much-needed source of food for children, the WFP is also supporting the government in adjusting the national home-grown school feeding programme to reach nine million children while schools are closed.

Many people in Nigeria face hunger and are in need of help. The Boko Haram Insurgency and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the problem of food insecurity in the country. As a result, the government and outside organizations are stepping in to help those in need and work to decrease hunger in Nigeria. 

– Olivia du Bois
Photo: Flickr

hybrid solar dryerFruit preservation is essential in Jamaica and Haiti due to relatively brief bearing seasons that produce popular fruits like mangos and breadfruit. Additional factors such as extreme poverty and natural disasters significantly increase Caribbean food insecurity. According to the World Food Programme, 30% of the Caribbean population lives in poverty. Michael McLaughlin, the co-founder of Trees That Feed, designed a hybrid solar dryer to combat food insecurity and preserve approximately 100 pounds of fruit in nearly four to eight hours. Trees That Feed is a nonprofit organization based in Winnetka, IL that planted close to 25,000 fruit trees across Jamaica, Haiti, Ghana, Kenya, Puerto Rico, Uganda and Barbados in 2019.

Hybrid Solar Dryer Design

Trees That Feed distributed 12 hybrid solar dryers in Jamaica and Haiti. Each dryer comprises six modules to ease assembly and material transportation. The modules include three solar collectors, a lower and an upper cabinet and a roof. The three solar collectors capture heat and feed warm air into an upper cabinet that holds five shelves of sliced or shredded fruit. The roof of the hybrid solar dryer contains a solar exhaust fan to pull moisture from the air and protect against harsh weather conditions, dust and insect contamination. Excess space is provided in the lower cabinet to include an optional fueled heater that functions in the absence of sunlight.

Passive Solar Thermal Technology

Solar thermal technology captures heat energy from the sun and uses it to produce electricity or provide heat. Likewise, the hybrid solar dryer uses passive solar thermal technology to rely on design features when capturing heat. The dryer operates without photovoltaic panels or fuel to provide an efficient, hygienic and inexpensive method of food preservation. However, the hybrid design includes space for an optional kerosene or propane heater to incorporate alternative forms of heat energy. While fuel increases the cost of operation, it prevents crop spoilage that can occur on a day with minimal sunlight.

Fruit Dehydration Benefits

Fruit moisture content must be reduced below 20% to ensure a secure shelf life.  The design of the Trees That Feed dryer decreases fruit moisture content by 60% and increases fruit shelf life for over a year. Temperatures between 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit dehydrate fruit at a rapid rate that removes moisture content and inhibits the growth of mold or bacteria.

The benefits of fruit dehydration in developing countries include:

  • Access to fruit consumption during non-bearing seasons
  • Reduced dependence on imported fruit and grain
  • Increased variety of food production
  • Access to sustainable production methods
  • Increased shelf life that retains nutritional value

Breadfruit is a highly perishable fruit grown in Jamaica and Haiti. Tropical regions across the world cultivate over 120 varieties of the high-yielding breadfruit crop. The hybrid solar dryer extends the initial three-day shelf life of breadfruit to approximately one year.

Dehydration preserves the nutritional benefits of breadfruit such as riboflavin, protein, potassium and vitamin C. Also, dehydrated breadfruit is ground and used to produce high-value products such as flour, pastries and pasta that sell across local and national markets.

Moving Forward

McLaughlin reported the success of a hybrid solar dryer located at the Sydney Pagon STEM Academy, a Jamaican agricultural school in the parish of St. Elizabeth. Once Sydney Pagon extended dryer access to members of the community, St. Elizabeth locals noticed the efficiency of the hybrid solar dryer and requested an additional model. Trees That Feed recently provided the parish of St. Elizabeth with a second dryer to increase access to food preservation in the community.

Trees That Feed has designed a dryer that provides opportunities for economic activity in impoverished nations like Jamaica and Haiti. Efficient and successful food preservation allows Caribbean farmers to make small profits by selling excess dehydrated fruit. In turn, farmers can increase their economic independence and stimulate their local economy by selling surplus dehydrated fruit across community markets.

McLaughlin told The Borgen Project that “empowering people to become independent” is a crucial step in alleviating poverty and increasing economic opportunity. While Jamaica and Haiti are the only nations with current access to the hybrid solar dryer, Trees That Feed plans to implement its design in Kenya and Uganda to extend this unique method of food preservation to additional countries in need.

– Madeline Zuzevich
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Philippines
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the estimated poverty rate was 16.6% in 2018 and 17.6 million people faced extreme poverty. Hunger is one of the critical problems stemming from poverty in the Philippines, with 64% of the population suffering from chronic food insecurity.

According to the World Food Programme, factors such as climate issues and political challenges have contributed to the food insecurity that Filipinos continuously face. The Mindanao region has endured four decades of armed conflict that resulted in more than 40% of families displaced between 2000 and 2010, thus deteriorating food security. Natural disasters like typhoons are a typical experience in the Philippines, at a rate of about 20 per year. In fact, the country ranks third out of 171 countries in the 2015 World Risk Index and fourth out of 188 countries in the 2016 Global Climate Risk Index.

In response, many organizations have shown interest in improving the conditions in the Philippines through various programs and projects. Here are five organizations that have stepped up to address hunger in the Philippines.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is an organization that has worked in the Philippines since 2000. Since then, it has aided a total of 302,014 Filipinos in poverty to improve various aspects of their daily lives.

In particular, the organization has reached 2,000 people with nutrition and health, 221,820 people with water and sanitation and 73,207 people with food security and livelihood programs. Action Against Hunger also focuses on community-led initiatives within the areas affected by armed conflicts and natural disasters.

World Food Programme

World Food Programme (WFP) tackles hunger in the Philippines with an emphasis on rebuilding communities. For example, its food and cash assistance programs provide aid in exchange for participation in vocational skill training and asset creation activities.

One major program of the WFP is Fill the Nutrient Gap, which aims to address malnutrition among children which can cause health issues like stunted growth. In the Philippines, 33% of children aged 5 or younger, which amounts to 4 million children, are less likely to reach their full mental and physical potential due to stunted growth. To address these issues, Fill the Nutrient Gap has helped identify and prioritize certain policies and program packages. Its goal is to improve nutrient intake for target groups through increased availability of nutritious food. The program resulted in various recommendations on health, social welfare and food processing policies for the country.

The organization also provides school meals to more than 60,000 children in the areas of Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur in the Philippines. In addition, WFP deals with early childhood nutrition. WFP encourages certain products like micronutrient powder for children aged 6 months to 23 months and fortified food for those under 3 years old.

Feed the Children

Feed the Children has battled hunger in the Philippines since 1984. Its programs have positively influenced more than 283,000 people in 38 communities. Through the use of Child-Focused Community Development (CFCD), the organization helps children overcome both short-term and long-term hunger issues.

The CFCD approach works with vulnerable and at-risk children as well as their caregivers and communities. Through this program, Feed the Children has provided caregivers with necessary training and resource provisions required to feed families, build clean communities and increase access to education.  As a result, it was able to achieve the goal of cultivating appropriate conditions required for thriving, specifically in terms of food and nutrition security.

FEED aids Filipinos in many areas, such as improving childhood nutrition and development or training on water and sanitation. It also utilizes the idea of child-managed savings groups to teach financial management to children and allow them to develop savings for food and family use.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines

Rise Against Hunger Philippines is an international organization focused on the distribution of food and relief aid. Its primary goal is to provide packaged meals and facilitate shipments of donated products like medical supplies, water and food. Numerous volunteers contribute by packaging meals that contain an array of micronutrients vital for human growth and sustainability. So far, the organization was able to supply 20.75 million meals to the Philippines, saving 1.4 million lives.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines also provides relief aid for natural disasters and political conflicts through vast networks that work to address various needs. Additionally, it has created safety net programs that provide nutrition and vocational skill training for the poor to transition out of poverty.

Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry (FH) has been active in the Philippines since 1978. Beginning with helping refugees, the organization has expanded its efforts to other developmental programs which include the issue of hunger. It has reached 23 different communities and sponsored 6,565 children in the Philippines.

With a significant portion of the Filipino population under the poverty line, FH has focused on long-term developmental programs. These are to create opportunities for improved nutrition and poverty reduction. To create foundations for self-sufficiency, FH employs a four-phase community development plan in Filipino communities.

Phase One begins with discovering the risks and needs of the people, especially in regards to the children. Phase Two is where local government and community leaders come together with FH. From there, they develop action plans that would create livelihood programs and training for future leaders. Subsequently, Phase Three promotes these development projects, handles solutions for health and reduces disaster-related risks. The main goal in this phase is to reduce food insecurity in the event of natural disasters or political conflicts. Finally, Phase Four evaluates how people’s needs were properly addressed and how the community gained a sense of independence in food provision.

These five organizations are just a glimpse of the work that some are doing to help reduce hunger in the Philippines. They have implemented a wide variety of plans to help reduce poverty and provide nutritional meals to the poor. Furthermore, there have been additional efforts in helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, even with the progress, more aid would help combat the ever-imminent issue of hunger in the Philippines.

Kiana Powers
Photo: USAID