Ways To Address World Hunger
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to profoundly impact economies worldwide, with rising food prices and high supply chain shortages exacerbating global hunger. Africa is feeling the heaviest effects. Ukraine is one of the largest producers of wheat. Russia’s introduction of a naval blockade and attacks on the country’s energy grid resulted in a reduction in wheat exports from 5 to 7 million tons per month before the war to 3.5 million tons per month between March and November 2022. More than 345 million people are feeling the impact of the global food crisis, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlights that more than 48 countries that the global food crisis affected will require more than $4.1 billion in aid in 2023. However, there are initiatives and methods to help alleviate and provide solutions to address world hunger.

United Nations Year of Millets

The initiative began in 2021, a year before Russia invaded Ukraine, which caused an unprecedented global food crisis. Before expanding on the goals and outcomes the initiative hopes to achieve, it is essential to discuss what millets are and what are the ways to address world hunger in 2023. Millets are grains that come from small seed grasses and many around the world grow them in abundance. People have been consuming millet for more than 7,000 years and they are important in terms of contributing to multi-crop agriculture and establishing farming societies.

Developing countries like India, Niger and Nigeria (more than 97%) heavily produce millet and they continue to be a stable form of the crop in these regions today, Impakter reports. This is because millet can survive droughts and other environmental challenges, making it a sustainable form of nutrition. Furthermore, the efforts required to grow the crops are minimal as they are highly adaptable in the soils they grow in, be they poor or fertile. As a source of nutrition, millets have high protein, minerals, fiber and iron and are gluten-free. Therefore, these grains are an excellent source to help countries “increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains,” according to Impakter.

Karnataka, India officially adopted the United Nations Year of Millets. Millet grows in abundance there and India spearheads the initiative. The primary objective of Year of Millets consists of generating international awareness of millets which will ultimately result in a solution to the global food crisis because millets not only have the ability to grow in adverse environments and are sources of high nutrition but they also are sources of new sustainable market opportunities. The greater generation of international awareness of millet could solve world hunger in 2023 or be a step towards solving world hunger.

Immediate International Action

Another one of the ways to address world hunger is through more significant international involvement and efforts to help generate a financial cushion to support initiatives that tackle the food crisis and ensure that there are alternatives in place to ensure food security. Organizations like WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) also require adequate global funding to operate efficiently to help address world hunger and generate awareness regarding the consequences of food insecurity. Furthermore, organizations that conduct their programs in countries experiencing extreme food insecurity require a stable source of funding from donors and international organizations through grants and concessional financing to operate programs such as cash assistance programs for people that the global food crisis affected.

A way to address world hunger in 2023 is through a calculated and organized approach which people can achieve through international awareness and engagement to ensure maximized efficiency of the efforts and effective use of the resources to help address the global food crisis.

In addition, the IMF mentions that even with international support, more significant efforts are necessary to help address the global food crisis and hopefully address world hunger. This means aiming financing at the most vulnerable sections of populations suffering from the food crisis. The funding should come through humanitarian aid, grants and long-term concessional financing, according to IMF Notes. Furthermore, the IMF views debt financing as an exemplary method for addressing the food crisis. It will ensure that people can use the funds to spend on food and other necessities.

Nutrition the Way to Save Lives

According to the WFP’s Global Operational Response Plan, “prioritizing the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 5 is key to saving lives and building resilient communities and economies.” This is because, statistically, the global food crisis is one of the most significant threats to children under 5, constituting one-fifth of children out of 60 million. In addition, children under 5 who suffer from acute and chronic malnutrition are at greater risk of death.

The WFP’s approach to addressing global food takes a targeted approach that can provide fruitful results in addressing world hunger in 2023. Therefore, the World Food Programme highlights that one of the ways to address world hunger in 2023 is the prioritization of nutrition for women and children under the age of 5 suffering from global food insecurity because access to nutritious diets is scarce.

To achieve this, Specialized Nutritious Foods (SNFs) are necessary in ensuring the proper nourishment of women and children. SNFs “help prevent and treat malnutrition and reduce mortality among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women by improving nutrient adequacy, strengthening immune systems and enabling proper weight gain.” Despite the high demand and prices for SNFs because of the war in Ukraine, the World Food Programme continues to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition at its core.

Addressing world hunger in 2023 along with rising inflation and greater demand for food appears complicated due to the disruption of global supply chains due to the war in Ukraine, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental challenges. However, greater international cooperation between nonprofit organizations like the WFP, the IMF and the United Nations, alongside their partners and the international community, will make it possible to address world hunger in 2023.

– Arijit Joshi
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in Brazil
Despite being the third largest exporter of agricultural commodities, Brazil is now suffering a food crisis caused by inflation. In 2022, inflation triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine exacerbated hunger in Brazil. The inflation rate in Brazil stood at 13.9% in the middle of 2022, according to the World Bank. According to a Brazilian press article by correspondent Anne Vigna in June 2022, 33.1 million Brazilians endure hunger and 30% of families are at risk of food shortages. Furthermore, the sanctions against Russia have affected the supply of fertilizers, which are essential to Brazilian agriculture and food production. When vital products are restricted and the exports-imports are reduced, the prices go up. Social Good Brazil and the World Food Programme (WFP) Centre of Excellence are committed to addressing food insecurity in Brazil.

“Regarding inflation [in Brazil], consumer prices remain high, with increases spread among several components and continue to be more persistent than anticipated. Over the 12-month period ended in July [2022], consumer inflation reached 10.1%,” said Central Bank of Brazil Governor Roberto Campos Neto in an interview with Global Finance on September 27, 2022.

Inflation in Brazil: Food Shortage

“Hiking prices lead to loss of purchasing power of households and food insecurity. In Brazil, the costs of food increased by 13.43[%] in the 12 months to August 2022,” the World Bank reports. In 2022, severe food insecurity in Brazil stood at 9%, but in 2022, severe food insecurity has risen to 15.5%.

According to Campos Neto, “disruptions in supply chains generated by COVID-19 and in energy and food markets caused by the war in Ukraine, may lead to higher or more persistent inflation and more aggressive monetary policy tightening in major economies.” Campos Neto explains that long periods of high inflation may put countries at risk of economic deceleration.

Brazil is responsible for 8% of fertilizer consumption worldwide and is the “world’s fourth-largest fertilizer importer,” according to Farmdocdaily. Roughly one-fifth of these imports come from Russia. As a result of sanctions applied against Russia, Brazil now suffers from a lack of fertilizers, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, which are essential for crops. According to an article by Brazilian journalist Julio Bravo in May 2022, the cost of fertilizer per ton rose rapidly from $231.05 to $524.42 in only 12 months.

Impact on the Poor

Increased prices of goods reduce the purchasing power of low-income families and raise food insecurity while increasing rates of poverty. The national report “Olhe para a fome,” created by Rede Penssan (The Brazilian Network of Research on Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security) and partners, gathered data between November 2021 and April 2022 that presents a grim situation. According to the report, in 2022, 33.1 million Brazilians face severe levels of food insecurity, which equates to 15.5% of the population. The second National Study on Food Insecurity in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Brazil showed that 58.7% of Brazilians suffer from some level of food insecurity in 2022.

During the peak of the pandemic, local supermarkets in Brazil began to sell animal bones and leftovers to people in desperate need of food. Some people had to scrummage in supermarket rubbish bins in search of discarded food. Brazilian Sandra Maria de Freitas told BBC News Brazil in 2022: “I wake up at 4 a.m. every day, take my handcart and come to wait for the rubbish truck at this same place… where I live.”

Fighting Against Hunger

The World Food Programme (WFP) Centre of Excellence came about as a partnership developed in 2011 between the Brazilian government and the WFP to address hunger in several countries, including Brazil. The Center of Excellence focuses on school feeding programs, research, working with smallholder farmers and more.

In terms of the WFP’s school feeding initiatives, in 2020, a total of “15 million schoolchildren received nutritious meals and snacks from WFP.” Providing support to 65 countries’ school feeding programs, WFP helped another 39 million children with nutritional support.

Social Good Brazil is an NGO that raises funds via a crowdfunding U.S. platform called GlobalGiving. Social Good Brazil raised $1,108 for the project called Fight Hunger in Brazil Using Food Waste. In essence, the project aimed to reduce food waste by redistributing wasted but good food to fulfill the food and nutrition needs of vulnerable citizens. The project has the potential of helping 52 million Brazilians suffering from food insecurity.

Despite the struggle against inflation, organizations are stepping up to continue the fight against food insecurity in Brazil.

– Olga Petrovska
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in Sri Lanka
Food insecurity in Sri Lanka has increased amid the country’s economic crisis, with disproportionate impacts on women and children. The World Bank says the poverty rate in Sri Lanka is 25.6% (based on the poverty line of $3.65 per person per day) in 2022, almost doubling from 13.1% in 2021. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations are taking action to meet the nutritional needs of these vulnerable groups.

Women and Children

According to WFP, as of August 2022, 30% of Sri Lankans are enduring food insecurity, equating to about 6.3 million people. As such, about 66% of households are reducing their food portions and are consuming “less nutritious food,” the WFP website says.

Among those suffering the most from food insecurity in Sri Lanka are pregnant and breastfeeding mothers as well as those with physical or intellectual disabilities and children younger than the age of 5.

The economic crisis has caused a significant increase in food prices as well as a shortage of fuel. The spike in food prices means pregnant women and new moms are struggling to secure three balanced meals a day. Proper nutrition is crucial not only for their health but for the health of their babies.

In August 2022, a doctor at a hospital in Sri Lanka told BOOM journalism that “pregnant women who have visited the hospital in the last few months are all showing signs of anemia.”

Gayani Dilrukshi, who is 23 years old and seven months pregnant, only eats two meals every day with her 4-year-old daughter because she does not have the budget to afford three meals, according to an interview with BOOM journalism. The meals that Dilrukshi can afford are not nutrient-dense and, as such, she is not in overall good health at a critical point in her pregnancy, according to doctors.

Taking Action to Address Food Insecurity in Sri Lanka

The WFP is taking action to meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka. However, the WFP requires $63 million worth of funding to adequately respond to the crisis in Sri Lanka. As of August 2022, the WFP’s response plan includes providing “3.4 million people with food assistance.”

In addition to this, WFP is looking to strengthen social safety-net programs that already exist. For instance, through the existing national school feeding program, the WFP aims to help 1 million Sri Lankan children. Through an existing state initiative that provides “fortified food to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children,” the WFP hopes to impact an additional 1 million individuals.

In November 2022, the United Nations amended its Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan to further help vulnerable citizens throughout Sri Lanka. The HNP raised $79 million in funds from different organizations and countries such as the United States and Australia. Organizations such as Brandix Apparels and the Citi Foundation also contributed funds for Sri Lanka. The United Nations has revised the HNP plan, which will last through 2022, calling for an additional $70 million.

The revised HNP plan would give food aid to 2.4 million vulnerable Sri Lankans, plus assistance, such as fertilizer supplies, to at least 1.5 million farmers in Sri Lanka. Pregnant women and schoolchildren would be included in nutrition support efforts. This plan will also supply more than 900,000 people with clean and safe drinking water. As many as 867,000 people will receive aid in the form of integral medicine and health care.

Fortunately, organizations are addressing food insecurity in Sri Lanka, especially among vulnerable groups. Through aid, Sri Lanka can recover from its current economic crisis.

– Yonina Anglin
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in South Sudan
South Sudan is considered the youngest nation in the world, officially gaining independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, after a vote for independence was passed via referendum in January of that year. Data from the World Bank shows that the poverty rate in South Sudan was 82.3% as of 2016 – the highest poverty rate in the world. The World Bank also outlined some of the other issues South Sudan faces including severe flooding, food shortages a humanitarian crisis coupled with a vulnerable government built upon a shaky peace treaty. These issues make it extremely difficult for South Sudan to address the poverty crisis.

The Difficulty of Addressing Poverty Reduction in South Sudan

The most significant of the issues South Sudan faces is the state of its government. In 2013, a violent conflict broke out leading to atrocities committed against civilians. All sides in the conflict signed a peace deal in 2015 for a unity government but the deal collapsed in 2016, leading to more conflict. In 2018, that deal became revitalized when President Salva Kiir and the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA/IO), Riek Machar, came to an agreement. Machar became vice president under the new government and the agreement was set to expire in February 2023. However, the parties who signed the peace agreement agreed to extend it to February 2025 in order to address peace reforms.

That front requires more work due to the injustices committed against South Sudan’s people by the military and rebel forces. For example, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in 2021 documented the killings of 440 civilians and the rapes of 64 women and girls in Tombuura by the SPLA/IO. None of the perpetrators were held accountable.

U.N. Special Representative for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom expressed the need for South Sudan’s government to address violence and uphold justice. In a speech to the U.N. Security Council, Haysom addressed the extension to the peace agreement and stated that it is a roadmap that should serve as a  waypoint, not an endpoint. The reforms that the South Sudanese government makes should serve as a means to generate long-lasting stability. They should not serve as a means to an end. It requires measures to prevent setbacks or gains from reservation. Haysom also reaffirmed the importance of international assistance, which will lead to poverty reduction and governmental stability in South Sudan.

Addressing Poverty

While the outlook for South Sudan may seem grim, there are solutions to poverty that various charities are implementing through foreign aid. The World Food Programme (WFP) is one example of an organization working to bring peace to feuding groups in South Sudan by addressing food insecurity. In an article about the Malual Mok and Thony communities, the WFP demonstrates its poverty reduction and peacekeeping efforts. Both the Malual Mok and Thony live in an agricultural area called Majak-Kot. The communities previously considered each other enemies, but a series of agricultural projects from the WFP helped to foster a sense of community between them. Instead of fighting over the land and competing to grow food, both communities peacefully coexist and grow food together for mutual benefit.

Moreover, nonprofit charities are also working towards poverty reduction in South Sudan. Many South Sudanese refugees founded charities dedicated to poverty reduction in South Sudan. One example is Helping Hands for South Sudan. Gabriel Akim Nyok, one of the “Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan,” a group of thousands of orphaned children who became refugees to escape from the civil war, founded this charity. After staying in the U.S. for five years, Nyok returned to Sudan in 2011 to visit the South Sudanese refugee camps. In doing so, he became determined to give the children the same opportunity for education that he received. Nyok and his charity have helped put South Sudanese refugee children through school each year. Helping Hands uses donations to put children through school and pay for their education and works directly with South Sudanese communities to improve schools and education.

– Matthew Wikfors
Photo: Flickr

Earthquake in AfghanistanU.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, announced that the U.S. would provide $55 million in aid after a fatal 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan on June 21, 2022. The disaster destroyed more than 10,000 houses and killed more than 1,000 people, making it the deadliest earthquake to hit Afghanistan in two decades. The earthquake poses a challenge for the Taliban, who have since asked the international community for aid.

Distribution of Funds

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on June 28, 2022, that it will allocate $55 million in aid for emergency relief resources such as shelter, food, water, clothing and hygiene products in Afghanistan. A portion of the aid will go toward sanitation measures to limit the spread of waterborne diseases. Funds will go directly to partner civil societies and nonprofit organizations operating in the region as the U.S. does not have official diplomatic or humanitarian ties with the ruling Taliban.

Additional Aid Efforts in Afghanistan

The devastating earthquake exacerbates the economic and humanitarian crises that have pummeled Afghanistan since the Taliban first rose to power in August of 2021. Afghani citizens already face food insecurity, with national hunger rising from 14 million in July 2021 to 23 million in March 2022.

With more than half of the population facing food insecurity, international assistance narrowly managed to avoid full-scale famine in the country in the winter of 2022. Poverty rates in the country are estimated to stand at almost 97% as of 2022 due to prolonged drought and instability caused by recent political upheaval and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 25, 2022, the United Nations initiated an emergency appeal for $110 million in aid to help the provinces most affected by the disaster. The U.N. will disseminate the funds in the next three months in order to help 360,000 Afghanistan citizens. This emergency appeal is integral to the U.N.’s Humanitarian Response for Afghanistan, which calls for a total of $4.4 billion in emergency aid.

Barriers to Aid

Unfortunately, the Taliban’s strict control over the country complicates all international humanitarian efforts. In late March 2022, the Taliban’s Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund announced to all foreign aid agencies in Afghanistan that all humanitarian projects must be done in close coordination with Kabul’s authorities. This announcement came a week after the governor of the province of Ghor, Ghulam Naser Khaze, attempted to exert total control over several local NGOs.

Governor Khaze insisted that the NGOs turn over their funds and only adopt projects chosen by the local government. Prime Minister Mullah’s directives and Governor Khaze’s actions in Ghor represent a policy framework known as the “Monitoring and Control Plan of NGOs.” Kabul’s Taliban government formulated this plan in the fall of 2021 to consolidate all NGO activities under the Taliban’s authority.

Sanctions and other measures aim to prevent the Taliban from fully implementing its NGO-control framework. As a result, international financial systems are especially diligent, making it difficult for humanitarian groups to access the funds efficiently. The Taliban continues to actively insert itself between nonprofit organizations and the aid they seek to provide via various formal and informal decrees, further frustrating the fund distribution process.

How to Help

As a result of international sanctions on the Taliban, online fundraising sites cannot be transferred to Afghanistan banks. The best way to help those affected by the earthquake is to donate directly to NGOs in the region. Below is a list of NGOs helping those struggling in Afghanistan.

  • The World Food Programme: The earthquake exacerbated the food crisis that has gripped Afghanistan for months. The World Food Programme mitigates the issue of food insecurity in Afghanistan by delivering food to those in need within just a few hours.
  • The Red Cross and Red Crescent: The Red Cross and Red Crescent have been working in Afghanistan since the U.S. evacuated the country in the summer of 2021. These programs are already organized to deliver food, other critical supplies and mental and health services to those affected by the earthquake.
  • Islamic Relief: Islamic Relief is a Muslim aid network founded in the U.K. in 1984. The organization operates various humanitarian relief programs in more than 45 countries. It already has a fund to help supply food aid, cash and emergency shelter to those facing the impacts of the earthquake.
  • International Medical Corps: The International Medical Corps stood as one of the first organizations to respond to the disaster. It immediately began coordinating with domestic emergency responders and providing trauma care to affected communities.

The international community is rushing to help those affected by the crisis. Still, everyone can help in their own small way. Be sure to remain an active and informed global citizen by vocalizing the importance of foreign aid funds to local government representatives. Through the efforts of nations, NGOs and ordinary citizens, Afghanistan can look to a brighter tomorrow.

– Mollie Lund
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Djibouti
Djibouti has not recorded any cases of COVID-19 since the end of June 2021, but the country is yet to overcome the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 compounded poverty in Djibouti due to protective measures. Long-term consequences of these measures reflect in the increased vulnerability of all citizens, increased dependence on the government for basic needs and significantly reduced income levels and opportunities. Poor households are struggling the most to recover as some have slipped into extreme poverty. Poverty levels, in general, have risen, as the increase of underfed people from 43% of the population in January 2020 to 54% as of April 2022 illustrates. Here is some information about the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Djibouti and some efforts to alleviate it.

Food Insecurity

Djibouti faces harsh climatic conditions including multiple concurrent droughts which make it difficult to conduct agricultural activities. The agricultural industry only accounts for approximately 3% to 4% of Djibouti’s GDP which is continually shrinking due to high rates of rural to urban migration. As a result, the state relies on imports for 90% of its food supply, according to a World Food Programme (WFP) report.

Food insecurity levels increased and 17% of the population lives below the extreme poverty line. The COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the impacts of pre-existing issues by limiting income activities, further increasing poverty in Djibouti. Reduced trade also increased food prices and reduced food supply.

Income and Unemployment

The informal sector economic backbone of Djibouti and accounted for 47% of employment before the pandemic. Trade and transportation accounted for approximately 20.2% and 25.6% of economic activity alone. However, during the pandemic, 89% of the population did not travel unless necessary and 77% reduced market visits, according to the World Bank report from September 2020.

The national lockdown affected services, construction, general trade and transportation too. Consequently, unemployment increased by 20% shortly after the beginning of the pandemic. As the poor survive as daily workers, they were the largest share of the increase.

Since the end of the lockdown, economic activity is gradually returning to normal. The number of people receiving partial wages has increased but the number of people receiving full wages has also decreased. Additionally, the poor are recovering slower than other income levels and are still more likely to receive no wages for their labor. According to the World Bank report from December 2020, 44% of households primarily depend on government assistance, with wages being a secondary source of income as a result of COVID-19.

Women

According to the World Bank report from September 2020, “Around 37% and 34% of male breadwinners are employees and employers respectively, compared with 26% and 27% among the female breadwinners.” Female unemployment rose from 36.4% in 2019 to 39.4% in 2021. Djibouti did not have gender-sensitive COVID-19 response measures. Men were more likely to receive full payment for their work as compared to women, however, men were also more like to receive no payment, according to the World Bank report from September 2020.

The Crisis Response Support Programme

The African Development Bank (AfDB) provided UA 30 million ($41 million, as of July 2020) for a COVID-19 response program in Somalia and Djibouti between 2020 and 2021. In Djibouti, the program was to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy, strengthen the existing health care system and build resilience that would outlast the pandemic. As a result, the program set up five centers at strategic locations including the capital’s airport, at state borders and at the two main refugee camps to manage the spread of COVID-19.

The funds also partially contributed to the creation of the Djibouti Social Fund which was responsible for the food security of vulnerable groups and protected economic activities that the pandemic affected. AfDB also provided 65,000 food kits for vulnerable households and set up the Djibouti Partial Credit Guarantee Fund to provide banking services to companies suffering cash flow problems due to the pandemic.

The Horn of Africa Initiative

The Horn of Africa Initiative gathers Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan as well as international partners, the AfDB, the World Bank and the European Union (EU). Its purpose is to promote peace, stability and sustainable development through regional economic integration. In 2022, the European Union (EU) will contribute €430 million from an initial €162 million to the Horn of Africa Initiative, so as to increase resilience and food security in the region. This is in light of the impact of COVID-19, changing weather patterns and the Russia-Ukraine war that has caused inflation of food and fuel prices.

As more people have become vulnerable to poverty in Djibouti after the pandemic, it is clear that the country needs much support to fully overcome the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Djibouti. The efforts of the African Development Bank and the European Union could not be more timely. Due to their cooperation with the government, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Djibouti has been manageable and more importantly, reversible.

– Kena Irungu
Photo: Flickr

USAID's $331 Million Initiative
On June 9, 2022, during the Ninth Summit of the Americas, Samantha Power, administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that USAID will allocate $331 million to help bolster “medium-to-long-term food security and resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean.” USAID’s $331 million initiative to address food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean also includes direct emergency food assistance to vulnerable populations in the region. In addition to emergency food assistance, USAID will allocate more than $198 million in related assistance including sanitation and hygiene intervention. Subject to congressional approval, USAID will also spend more than $132 million on resources for smallholder farmers.

Powers explained, “The food crisis in the Americas will not be solved solely through emergency food assistance — far from it. It requires a long-term solution, one that sees Latin and Central American communities as partners rather than recipients.”

How Food Insecurity Impacted Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean

Food insecurity has negatively affected the livelihood of families and individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean. For instance, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) reported that more than 3.9 million Guatemalans “experienced high levels of food insecurity” between March and May 2022. Furthermore, the IPC also predicts that the number could increase to 4.6 million from June to September 2022. In addition, a 2022 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and United Nations World Food Programme survey found that 40% of the English-speaking Caribbean population suffers from food insecurity. That is a sharp increase from 2020. USAID’s $331 million initiative aims to reverse this trend.

On-the-Ground USAID Operations to Help Smallholder Farmers

USAID’s $331 million initiative also includes on-the-ground operations to tackle the issue head-on. A model for this type of support was the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program in Guatemala, which helped smallholder farmers access new and commercially-viable agricultural technology. From 2015 to 2018, the Feed the Future program helped more than 1,400 Guatemalan producers improve access to quality potato seeds. This illustrates the type of assistance USAID will be conducting in its effort to help Latin American and Caribbean countries tackle food insecurity with its $331 million initiative.

On-the-Ground USAID Operations to Help Households

USAID also has programs to support households in Latin America and the Caribbean struggling with food insecurity. For instance, USAID supported the 2015 – 2018 Más Riego program in Guatemala which aimed to improve smallholder family nutrition and income through training youth, smallholder businesses and families. Specifically, this project helped Guatemalan households and youth by training them on how to use low-pressure drip irrigation. This is the type of program USAID will support with the new $331 million initiative.

Looking Ahead

The influx of USAID funding for operations in Latin America and the Caribbean highlights an increasing prioritization of international development in U.S. foreign policy. As the Biden administration commented during the summit, the new USAID initiative “will result in big deliverables on issues for Latin America and the Caribbean such as migration, democracy, economic recovery and climate change.”

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

Food insecurity in Australia
Australian adults are the wealthiest in the world, yet food insecurity remains a prevalent issue in the country. One-quarter of adults experience food insecurity in Australia, while one in six people experience disruptions in their eating patterns and reduced food intake. According to Food Bank Australia, ” “These individuals and families are often forced to eat smaller meals and to make the food last longer or skip meals entirely.” Large bills or unexpected costs of living are among the top reasons why people cannot afford food. As a consequence of inadequate nutrition, many Australian adults are unable to achieve an active and healthy lifestyle. To combat the growing problem of food insecurity in Australia, interest groups like the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Regrarians use lobbying to push for change.

Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance

Meeting different party demands is up to the farmers and civil society organizations like the AFSA. With 700 members, the AFSA represents workers, communities and smallholders to protect their right to nourish and culturally appropriate food grown in their homesteads. Distributing food to the poor requires socially-just management before anyone can receive aid.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) uses scientific infrastructure to fight to end food insecurity. Starting as an advisory board in 1916, its focuses range from changing weather to human welfare. CSIR assists the nation with converting food waste and researching sustainable foods.

One focus is chronic diseases which cost Australian society and government $58 billion in 2008. To reduce their occurrence, CSIR scientists create whole grains with human health benefits. Breakfast cereals, rice mixes, food wraps and bread incorporate the new whole grain. The projected outcome would save the country $17 million a year.

Regrarians

Regrarians, which is a term referring to a neologism of ‘regenerative agrarian’, work to make soil regeneration a precedent for farmers. A study from Ecdysis Foundation found that farms with regenerative practices were 78% more profitable than conventional plots. The Regrarians supply information for farmers to regenerate, restore and rekindle landscapes. The organization aims to notify consumers about the regenerative economy through education programs, media and goods.

Adults who cannot eat regularly rely on the food systems in Australia. Multidisciplinary science and industry export leaders surface when alms count against monetary sales. More than 15,000 people receive information from the Regrarians to create regenerative landscapes, involved societies and industry cures. Getting the country to improve food security requires intelligent leaders in CSIR and experienced farmers in the AFSA.

– Bryant Morisseau
Photo: Flickr

plant health to reduce poverty
On May 12, 2022, the first International Day of Plant Health, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called on the international community to invest more in plant health to reduce poverty and food insecurity. This includes more usage of pesticides to eliminate diseases that harm 40% of food crops according to FAO. The loss of food crops contributes to food insecurity in countries that have economies that rely on agriculture. Furthermore, the loss of food crops will also impact the income of people who live in rural areas since they mostly rely on agricultural trade to stay above the poverty line.

The Idea of Tackling Plant Health

The idea of tackling plant health internationally may be a new concept for those who live in developed countries, but it is a daily struggle for those who live in developing countries. In fact, the International Day of Plant Health emerged after a U.N. General Assembly resolution advocated for it, which Zambia sponsored. It passed unanimously on March 29, 2022.

On May 12, 2022, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said that investing in plant health is to “transform agri-food systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable,” U.N. News reported. This highlights a hidden key factor that drives poverty and food insecurity in the developing world, especially in rural countries.

Countries Affected

Some countries, specifically ones that have agriculture-centric economies, rely on plant health to reduce poverty and food insecurity. For example, On May 21, 2015, FAO reported that 75% of citizens in Moldova depend on agriculture to make a living and to eat food. However, throughout early 2015, Moldova experienced a pest outbreak that impacted food production in the country, which “caused significant economic hardship” for Moldovans.

Similarly, in 2017, an armyworm outbreak wiped out 200,000 tonnes of maize in Zambia that affected agriculture in southern Africa. Zambians rely on agricultural trade for income as agriculture employs 50% of them.

Local Efforts

The grave threat that the armyworm outbreak posed prompted a swift response by countries whose economies are at risk because of the outbreak. On January 11, 2017, Zambia responded to the pest that eliminated around 200,000 tonnes of its maize by using its military to eradicate it. On the other hand, on January 17, 2017, Zimbabwe investigated the damage that the armyworms caused, which included wiping out 20% of the country’s maize, after spraying pesticides on the crops.

International Efforts

International organizations and agencies were instrumental in helping these countries eliminate the pests so they can protect plant health to reduce poverty and food insecurity. For example, On May 21, 2015, Moldova’s Ministry of Agriculture cooperated with the FAO on a two-year project that introduced an “Integrated Pest Management” program, according to FAO. This program entailed training farmers and implementing “measures to discourage the development of pest populations.”

Moreover, on April 5, 2022, the FAO convened the 16th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, which is the governing body of the International Plant Protection Convention that more than 180 countries signed. The goal of that session was to “set new plant health standards” and “preserve food security.”

History has shown that pests have been effective at destroying crops that are key to food security and poverty in the developing world. However, history is also showing that new and sophisticated methods to protect agriculture and food security are being developed every day. International institutions such as the FAO have been adept at helping developing countries such as Moldova stop the spread of pests. The unity of the international community in pursuing plant health shows that although the pest problem is dire, solving it is way easier. This makes global poverty reduction and preservation of food security even easier goals nowadays.

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

Sahel’s Rising Food Insecurity
The Sahel is a semi-arid region in Africa that comprises countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental disasters and the high cost of food as a result of the Ukraine-Russia war have contributed to the Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty. On May 20, 2022, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that, over the following three months, 18 million people living in the Sahel region will be “on the edge of severe hunger.” This warning prompted a strong international response from wealthier countries to provide financial and food aid to the Sahel region.

African heads of state convened a regional summit on May 27, 2022, “to address growing humanitarian needs on the continent.” The heads identified violent extremism, military coups and environmental challenges as the main contributors to the Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty. Non-African countries, such as the United States, are also addressing the Sahel crisis by providing food aid through government-run development programs in the Sahel. The U.N. and its agencies are also tackling rising poverty in the Sahel through financial assistance and food delivery.

Specific Issues for People Living in the Sahel Region

The Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty have led to devastating human costs such as “high levels of acute malnutrition” and “large gaps” in food consumption within households. Furthermore, because the cost of living has increased dramatically, families in the Sahel are now selling their own household items, such as farm tools, in order to afford food and other essential items. As a result of the rising food costs, environmental disasters and violence, the number of Africans pushed into food poverty in the Sahel is increasing. For example, in the Sahel, 1.8 million children suffer malnourishment. Without intervention, this could increase to 2.4 million by the close of 2022.

Regional Solutions to Addressing Sahel’s Food Insecurity and Poverty

The African Union (AU) has declared 2022 the AU’s Year of Nutrition and held the “Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference” on May 27, 2022. The main goal of the summit is to address malnutrition in the African region, which “causes significant long-term consequences for physical, mental, cognitive and physiological development.” UNICEF has been urging African governments to tackle a wide range of issues, such as “inadequate maternal nutrition” and “high incidence of childhood illnesses.”

How Wealthier Countries are Tackling Sahel’s Poverty Crisis

On May 18, 2022, the United States announced that it will allocate $215 million to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to tackle food insecurity globally. This includes tackling the Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty, with food assistance going to countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Nigeria. USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will “program the full balance” of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, a grain and food reserve within USAID, “as part of an effort to provide $670 million in food assistance” to the Sahel countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan.

Assistance from International Organizations and UN Agencies

The U.N. is approaching Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty as an international emergency situation. On May 20, 2022, OCHA delivered $30 million in emergency funds to four countries in the Sahel to address malnutrition and hunger. OCHA gave Burkina Faso $6 million and Chad, Mali and Niger received $8 million each. Prior to this recent contribution, OCHA had delivered $4 million to Mauritania and $15 million to Nigeria earlier in 2022.

The swift international response to Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty illustrates the potential of the international community to eliminate global poverty. Despite the massive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war on providing humanitarian assistance, the U.N. has managed to allocate enough funds to combat starvation in the Sahel. The United States has increased its funding for global food security operations in the Sahel and made the situation one of its top foreign policy priorities. All of this proves that the international community continues to act on food insecurity and poverty, even in the most vulnerable places in the world. This makes global poverty reduction a reachable goal, creating hope for disadvantaged countries.

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr