Food Insecurity in NigeriaFood insecurity in Nigeria continues to have a widespread and serious impact on Nigerians, which has significantly worsened due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the global supply chain and causing food prices to rise. In 2021, 58% of all households in Nigeria were struggling with severe food insecurity and a significant portion of said households were food secure prior to the pandemic.

Nigeria ranked 103rd out of 121 countries on the Global Hunger Index in 2022, and while overall trends from 2000 to 2022 show a notable decline in food insecurity over time, there’s still much work to do. This article will focus on four Nigeria-based startups addressing food insecurity in Nigeria through different approaches.

4 Local Startups Addressing Food Insecurity in Nigeria

  1. ColdHubs: While Nigeria’s electricity access rate steadily increased over time, nearly half of the population still does not have ready access to power. In 2020, only 55.4% of Nigerians had access to electricity. Without the power to operate cold storage and fridges, food spoilage becomes a serious threat to food security. ColdHubs is a startup addressing food insecurity by supplying solar-powered cold storage units to areas without sufficient, reliable access to power, especially rural farms. Its solar-powered cold storages are capable of extending shelf life up to three weeks, which significantly reduces the post-harvest deterioration of fresh produce. There are currently a total of 54 ColdHubs units active across Nigeria, and over 5,250 farmers and produce suppliers are using the cold storage units. ColdHubs also received recognition for its impact by winning the 2021 AYuTe Africa Challenge, an annual competition held in several African nations that offers cash grants to innovative agricultural technology startups.
  2. VeggieVictory: VeggieVictory is Nigeria’s first plant-based food technology startup addressing food insecurity by introducing a sustainable meat alternative to Nigerians with their flagship plant-based meat product called Vchunks. Located in Lagos, Vchunks is produced completely locally and expands the options of meat products for Nigerians. Hakeem Jimo, the founder of VeggieVictory, says that “An alternative or more variety for meat… helps efforts that tackle food security, environmental and socio-economic challenges”. Alternative diet industries are beneficial to food security because plant-based calories are generally much more efficient to produce compared to animal protein.
  3. Alutyo Integrated Farms: Alutyo provides consulting services and technical support with growing and processing crops, as well as practicing animal husbandry. The company’s main focus is providing knowledge and equipment for local, small producers. Alutyo also uses social media platforms to share agricultural knowledge such as nutritional requirements for animal feeds and aquaculture farm designs. Startups like Alutyo are important because agriculture in Nigeria is still lacking in mechanization. For instance, Nigeria’s tractor density is at 0.27 hp/hectare, far below the recommended tractor density of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is at 1.5. Modernizing Nigeria’s agricultural sector is a big step towards improving productivity and bolstering food security.
  4. Isidore: Founded in 2021, Isidore is a startup addressing food insecurity by improving the supply chain and logistics of Nigeria. Isidore developed an easy-to-use mobile app platform for agricultural producers and buyers called Jinja. On Jinja, farmers and other producers can easily sell their products and request trucks to transport their produce, while buyers can find verified products in locations convenient for them.

Looking Ahead

In Nigeria, food insecurity remains a pressing issue with a significant amount of the population in need of assistance. However, these startups addressing food insecurity present excellent examples of innovative solutions for Nigeria.

– Junoh Seo
Photo: Flickr

Food Security in West PapuaLand clearing for palm oil production has finally reached the pristine forests of West Papua. These forests provide a critical source of food and nutrition to local communities in the form of bush food and clearing them would threaten food security in West Papua. In response to the impending deforestation, local governments have pledged to conserve 70% of the region’s native forests.

Deforestation in Indonesia

Indonesia has historically had “the highest deforestation rates in the world.” The deforestation is largely due to land clearing to expand palm oil and other mono-crop plantations, an industry that national government policy encouraged. Despite the majority of Indonesia suffering major forest cover loss over the last two decades, the impacts of the oil palm industry have only recently reached the doorstep of Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and Papua Barat, known together as West Papua.

West Papua, which makes up the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea, is covered in swathes of pristine and highly diverse tropical rainforests. The region has remained relatively untouched during Indonesia’s period of deforestation, with primary forests still covering 83% of West Papua’s land area. However, with available land in Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan becoming increasingly scarce, cleaning of the sections of the West Papuan forests has begun.

Changing Diets in West Papua

This land clearing is set to have an especially severe impact on West Papuan communities given the high level of poverty in the area and their reliance on the forest as a source of food. West Papua is the poorest region in Indonesia, with 28% of people living in poverty in the province of Papua and 23% in Papua Barat, as of 2018.

Forests have traditionally been an important source of food for the indigenous communities of West Papua. Traditionally, indigenous communities would forage and hunt in the forest for foods such as sago, wild bush meats and fresh legumes. These bush foods help form a diverse and micronutrient-rich diet that is high in vitamins. Bush foods like this have been shown to be a huge factor in maintaining healthy diets in countries all over the world and are a critical factor in current food security in West Papua.

Unfortunately, recent land clearing and plantation expansion in West Papua has already resulted in a shift in the diets of some local indigenous populations. Without easily accessible forests, local communities living in cleared areas have turned to more easily accessible food sources, namely store-bought goods. As a result, diets in these communities have transitioned away from traditional forest foods and towards ultra-processed foods like rice, instant noodles, tofu and biscuits. This dietary transition is now fuelling an increase in the already high rates of poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity in the region.

The Manokwari Declaration

In the fight to prevent further deforestation of West Papua’s unique and important forests, local governments have committed to large-scale conservation targets. Unfortunately, new plans to carve up the two existing provinces into five may undermine the validity of the recent Manokwari Declaration, putting the people and forests of West Papua back into jeopardy. The rationale from the government for this redrawing of boundaries is to speed up development and increase economic equality. However, some claim that previous instances of remapping have in fact served the elite rather than the poor.

In the current context of changing provinces, the local governments may need support to maintain the validity of the Declaration. However, despite the threats to its existence, the Manokwari Declaration still represents the first step in preserving West Papua’s forests, and thus protecting health, nutrition and food security in West Papua.

– Amy McAlpine
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Investment in UgandaAround 70% of people working in Uganda are in the agriculture sector. And from 2021 to 2022, agropastoral earnings accounted for 24.1% of Uganda’s GDP. High employment within the agriculture industry is a result of Uganda having a favorable climate for crop production and livestock maintenance. The country has fertile soils and reliable rainy seasons that enable agropastoral households to make a living throughout the year.

Despite the high agricultural activities in Uganda, the country uses only 35% of its arable land for cultivation. Under conditions of maximum utility, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that Uganda’s agricultural sector could feed 200 million people.

The following are five ways that agricultural investment in Uganda is bringing about economic growth and poverty reduction.

  1. Uganda Agricultural Insurance Scheme: The Uganda Agricultural Insurance Scheme started in July 2016 and aimed to support agropastoral households by subsidizing insurance and making financial protection more widely accessible. The scheme also sought to reduce the financial losses that farmers incurred due to natural disasters. Between June 2021 and June 2022, the number of farmers receiving insurance increased from around 260,000 to more than 375,000. Accessibility to insurance has created trust within the agricultural sector and allowed many Ugandan farmers to feel confident about the safety of their money.
  2. NAADS and Church of Uganda Partnership: In June 2020, Uganda’s National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAADS) and the Church of Uganda partnered to promote food security and the modernization of commercial agriculture. Between June 2020 and August 2021, NAADS provided the Church of Uganda with seven tractors. Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the minister of agriculture, animal Industry and fisheries, stated that “agricultural mechanization is at the center of government’s program to promote food security and fight poverty.” NAADS, in March 2022, donated UGX 2 billion ($541,467) to the Church of Uganda to fund the implementation of farmer demonstrations and learning hubs for selected businesses and provide training to groups on farming practices. By supporting this initiative, NAADS aided the church’s efforts to assist 500 farmers and farming groups across five dioceses in Uganda.
  3. dfcu Bank’s Business Accelerator Programme: In February 2023, Uganda’s dfcu Bank and the Rabo Foundation’s Agribusiness Development Centre partnered with GOPA Worldwide Consultants for the implementation of two cohorts of the Business Accelerator Programme (BAP). The two-year BAP project, funded by the German Development Agency GIZ, aims to improve the competitiveness of Uganda’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This initiative aims to support approximately 1,000 SMEs and create 3,000 jobs. It also aims to improve the employment conditions for 22,000 people. The BAP initiative demonstrates dfcu Bank’s commitment to improving the ”bankability and self-sufficiency” of the agricultural sector. Many agropastoral household incomes will increase as a result of dfcu Bank’s agricultural investment, potentially leading to national poverty reduction.
  4. Inua Impact Fund: In March 2023, the European Union allocated $2 million to Inua Impact Fund, an initiative focused on agricultural investment in Uganda. This initiative funds up to 30 investments in Ugandan agricultural enterprises and aims to support around 3,000 smallholders. Kim Kamarebe, managing director at Inua Capital, says that the fund will “catalyze and accelerate high-potential Ugandan enterprises that are providing solutions for Uganda’s most pressing needs.” The Inua Impact Fund is the first equity fund Uganda has received that focuses on investing in high-potential entrepreneurs and agropastoral SMEs needing an investment of less than $500,000. In addition, Inua Capital hopes to reduce gender inequality by increasing access to capital for Ugandan women.
  5. Parish Development Model: Since July 2021, Uganda’s Ministry of Local Government has been overseeing the implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM). The PDM had an initial investment budget of almost $400 million for 10,400 parishes. The model dictates that parishes build infrastructure and systems that support the production and selling of Uganda’s agricultural products.

Looking Ahead

Agricultural investment in Uganda has become a key point of focus for the EU and U.N. and these five initiatives evidence a specific interest in maximizing Uganda’s agropastoral capabilities. Improving Uganda’s capacity to aid agropastoral households and SMEs could serve as an impactful poverty reduction measure that also stimulates economic growth and alleviates food insecurity.

Jennifer Preece
Photo: Flickr

Being Poor in CubaDuring Fidel Castro’s leadership, which lasted from 1959 through 2008, citizens experienced the reality of being poor in Cuba. Despite improved health care and education in the country, as shown by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) recognition of near-universal nationwide literacy, the Cuban economy and people still suffered under Castro’s rule. Meanwhile, the U.S. imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1962, following Castro’s ascension to power and this presented further hardships for Cuban exporters.

The embargo served to prevent the spread of communist ideology by isolating Cuba and restricting communication with the outside world. In an April 1960 memo, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Lester D. Mallory wrote, “Every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” The embargo is still active in 2023, with many pressuring President Biden to put an end to the repressive blockade in order to improve the quality of life for those living the reality of being poor in Cuba.

3 Facts About Being Poor in Cuba

  1. Food Scarcity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba faced a food crisis, particularly due to a combination of diminished food imports and tightened U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, with an inflation rate of 42% in 2023, Cubans are struggling to put food on their tables. The current food shortage and scarcity issues mean that Cubans have few affordable food options. Even the most basic food items like eggs, milk, bread and toilet paper are becoming increasingly hard to find in local supermarkets.
  2. Employment Problems. For a country with a struggling economy, Cuba has a notably low unemployment rate compared to countries with a similar economic standing. Cuba has no minimum national wage, and in 2022, a report by the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) revealed that more than 72% of Cubans are living below the poverty line. In the same report, 30% of Cubans surveyed claimed to have full-time work, leaving the remaining 70% in precarious and unstable working conditions and heavily reliant on a small proportion of the population for financial support. With such a high number of Cubans working full-time and living in poverty, there is significant pressure on the employed to find additional ways to make ends meet.
  3. Health and Education. Even with the harsh reality of poverty in Cuba, Cubans enjoy free access to health and education. Because primary-level education is compulsory for all Cuban children, the country has a near-nationwide literacy rate. Moreover, preventative care stands as the priority of the Cuban health care system. Cuba also comes in first place in the world’s leaderboard for the number of doctors per 1,000 people at 8.4 in 2018, giving the country an exceptional reputation for an abundance of medical personnel.

CARE’s Work in Cuba

As a British charity operating internationally, CARE works to solve global poverty and eradicate all problems of inequality with a particular focus on women and girls. In 1959, CARE began working in Cuba to provide food security for those with little to no means. In 2019, CARE began making efforts to enable Cuban farmers to develop climate resiliency in the face of changing weather patterns as a means of strengthening food security. CARE also ran programs to improve quality of life, ensure access to clean water and implement sustainable agricultural methods in vulnerable communities. In terms of upholding the right to food, nutrition and water, CARE has run nine programs in Cuba. In 2022, programs of this nature benefited more than 5,500 people.

Looking Ahead

Due to its complicated history and ongoing political difficulties, a large fraction of the Cuban population lives below the poverty line. Also, the U.S. embargo currently makes it challenging for U.S.-based charities to provide aid to Cuba. This leaves the responsibility of providing aid to Cuba to countries and organizations outside the U.S. Despite these struggles, Cuba’s health and education services help to raise the quality of life in the nation.

– Genevieve Lewis
Photo: Flickr

Tackle Global Food Insecurity  
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has hindered Ukrainian agricultural production and jeopardized the food supply to the most vulnerable parts of the world. This threatens the food security of millions of people and hinders efforts to tackle global food insecurity.

The Breadbasket of Europe

Ukraine and Russia are the world’s largest suppliers of sunflower products, barley, maize and wheat. Due to its ample agricultural land and vast production of grains, Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket of Europe.”

According to the United Nations, about 821 million people suffered from hunger in 2021. The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on food prices and the supply of important food supplies has exacerbated hunger, especially among import-dependent developing countries in the Middle East and Africa. For instance, about half of the wheat imports in Tunisia and Lebanon come from Ukraine. Food prices are increasing, and according to the projections of the World Trade Organization, the world should expect further increases if the conflict does not resolve soon.

AGRI-Ukraine: Supporting Ukrainian Farmers

In 2022, the price of wheat increased by about 60%, largely due to the impacts of the Russian invasion, a consequence that significantly affects net food-importing countries. During these times of crisis, support for Ukrainian farmers will help to tackle global food insecurity.

In January 2023, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and German multinational biotechnology company Bayer agreed to donate “high-quality vegetable seeds to Ukrainian farmers” to “bolster Ukraine’s export and agricultural sector needs,” the USAID website explains.

Bayer has partnered with USAID’s Agriculture Resilience Initiative for Ukraine (AGRI-Ukraine). This initiative builds on the previously established partnership between AGRI-Ukraine and Bayer, launched in October 2022, to specifically aid Ukrainian farmers and tackle global food insecurity.

Bayer will provide Ukrainian farmers with carrot seeds and USAID will distribute the donation to destitute farmers, with a foremost focus on households in “newly-liberated areas.” The first batch will cover as many as 25,000 homes and smallholder farmers, and over the growing cycle, USAID and Bayer will assess the need for more seeds.

This is a notable example of what can be achieved when the U.S. government and the private sector join forces. These kinds of partnerships have a tremendous positive impact on countries in need of aid.

Bayer for Ukraine

Bayer has supported Ukraine’s agriculture sector for more than 25 years. As part of its participation in AGRI-Ukraine, Bayer is additionally committing more than $35 million to increase the capacity of its Ukraine-based seed processing facility. Furthermore, the German multinational company has contributed “more than 40,000 bags of corn seed” and additional monetary support to secure a “mechanical mine clearing machine” for 1,750 small-scale farmers, enabling them to conduct their farming activities safely with the support of the U.S. Department of State-funded demining activities.

AGRI-Ukraine supports Ukrainian farmers’ access to necessary agricultural commodities, such as fertilizers, seeds and pesticides. Such efforts substantially increase the capacity of Ukrainian businesses to process agricultural goods and export them successfully on the international market.

Restriction in world trade has a snowball effect that impacts the entire global system. An export restriction in one country might provoke export restrictions in other countries, which will cause shortages in goods that states cannot supply themselves. Likewise, the war in Ukraine disrupts food markets, mainly through increasing prices for grains and oilseeds, which has dire ramifications for developing countries in the Middle East and Africa. Bayer’s contribution to AGRI-Ukraine illustrates the benefits of government and private sector collaborations and how joint efforts can help to resolve even the most complex issues.

– Nino Basaria
Photo: Flickr

Food Safety in Ethiopia
SafeDish is an Ethiopian company behind an award-winning, innovative product that inventor Helen Weldemichael created. Targeted toward making it easier for a local Ethiopian banana-esque plant to undergo processing for consumption, the product helps improve food safety in Ethiopia as a way of combating food insecurity and malnutrition. While doing so, Weldemichael is also empowering female entrepreneurship in Ethiopia.

Foodborne Illnesses in Ethiopia

Foodborne illnesses are of very big concern in countries like Ethiopia. As one of the poorest countries in the world, Ethiopia’s citizens are susceptible to foodborne illnesses. With an economy dependent on agriculture, foodborne illnesses are of particular concern in Ethiopia. 

According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, foodborne illnesses have a greater impact in lower-income countries like Ethiopia. These types of illnesses in Ethiopia have a strong resistance to antibiotics, making it hard for people to receive treatment for them. This alone makes food safety in Ethiopia a top priority.

Also worsening the problem of food safety in Ethiopia is how food choice for some is dependent on whether or not they perceive their food sources as clean. A study of adolescent food choices in Ethiopia by CGIAR found that unaffordable, unavailable and unsanitary food choices may lead to more children eating packaged food, which is not good for their health.

The Potential of Enset

Enset is one Ethiopian plant that people use in the production of traditional foods. Dubbed the “false banana,” Enset is a solution to food insecurity in Ethiopia and the world. Merely 15 enset plants can feed one person for a year, according to Kew Gardens.

Despite this potential, harvesting enset is particularly challenging, especially in some regions of Ethiopia. USAID reports that women tasked with harvesting the plant often do so with their bare hands and feet, which is a risk factor for foodborne illnesses. Enset must also undergo fermentation to make it edible, a process that usually takes nearly a year.

Weldemichael’s Solution

Weldemichael created an enset fermentation pot and machine via her company SafeDish as a way of making the enset harvesting process easier. The product speeds up the fermentation process to allow the enset to become edible sooner. It also promotes a more hygienic fermentation process since her fermentation method uses peat, as opposed to the ground, where people often leave the enset plant to ferment.

She submitted her invention to USAID’s “Feed the Future EatSafe Innovation Challenge” with the intention of sharing her invention with people beyond her country. Her invention was successful, winning the $10,000 grand prize.

With her prize money, Weldemichael plans on expanding SafeDish and her enset product. USAID says she plans to “scale her business by seeking investors, selling other food products across Africa, and trademarking her innovation in Ethiopia and other African countries.”

Weldemichael also mentioned education as a priority, stating that people can change their communities if they receive an education. As a female inventor herself, Weldemichael emphasizes women’s empowerment in her work. Of the total of four SafeDish employees, two are women. Products like Weldemichael’s invention and companies like SafeDish continue to prove why local businesses can find some solutions to issues relating to poverty.

Mohammad Samhouri
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Precision Farming
Precision farming or the use of advanced technologies to improve agricultural efficiency and output is a growing industry with the potential to completely transform the farming sector worldwide. Through the use of intelligent algorithms, advanced mechanisms and fledgling inventions, precision farming has the possibility of saving time, money and resources for generations to come. In fact, for nearly 78% of impoverished citizens worldwide who rely primarily on agricultural means to sustain their lives, combined governmental investment in precision farming could mark the turning point into an exponential rise in income, quality of life and sustainability for the rest of their lives.

What is Precision Farming?

Precision farming, a subsector of the agricultural industry, is an advanced technique of utilizing novel technologies and mechanics to maximize crop output while minimizing the levels of traditional inputs needed to grow crops. The use of automated irrigation systems, drone-based planting and intelligent path-generation tools are all examples of ways to implement this approach on a large scale. In places where even the smallest savings make a huge difference, methods like these would benefit farmers by saving precious commodities like fuel, fertilizer, herbicide and water. Indeed, a 2021 study found that precision farming across the United States resulted in a 25% increase in wheat yields compared to the 1980 levels. It resulted in millions of dollars saved from a nearly 10% drop in herbicide and pesticide usage nationwide.


In countries like Vietnam, the practice of precision farming has already begun to yield remarkable results. For years, paddy farming has been the cornerstone of rural employment in the country. Yet, it has remained an arduous and costly process that places a heavy demand on precious water resources. However, with the introduction of the Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) irrigation method, many of those hurdles were overcome. Through this technique, water requirements for farming reduced by up to 28%, while methane emissions decreased by almost 50%. Furthermore, in order to help finance and maintain these efforts, the Korea World Bank Partnership Facility funded a plan to make the irrigation process easier to access and understand for the average citizen. As a result of these initiatives, Vietnamese farmers have reduced water usage in their paddy farming operations. This has led to increased prosperity and strengthened their overall economic positions.


Brazil stands as yet another testament to the immense potential of precision farming. Since the technology’s debut in 1980, Brazil has experienced unprecedented agronomic growth with a 206% increase in national grain yield and a 394% increase in production. With the introduction of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), advanced pesticide deployment and targeting were employed throughout the country, which proved to be much more effective than the traditional methods. Soil research and analysis also proved instrumental. Through these methods, farmers could more accurately and efficiently find the optimal sites for their crops and maximize output. As a result of these tremendous efforts, Brazil managed to lower its poverty headcount ratio by almost 94%, from 30.6% in 1983 to just 1.9% of the population in 2020.

Next Steps in Revolutionizing Agriculture

Although some nations have taken many commendable steps to incorporate precision farming into their industries, much work remains. Greater funding of government programs and increased public awareness of the benefits of precision farming are two crucial factors that can help drive progress in this area. Continued investment in precision farming and collaboration to overcome existing challenges can help create more sustainable and prosperous farming practices for all.

– Sanjith Sambath
Photo: Flickr

Programs in Yemen
The continued civil war in Yemen, ongoing since 2014, has led to a severe humanitarian crisis. The UNFPA says the conflict has displaced 4.2 million Yemenis as of 2022 and 20 million citizens are suffering from malnutrition and hunger, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). By February 2022, about 80% of the population lived in poverty. Extreme climate events have only worsened this while increasing people’s susceptibility to disease outbreaks. Since 1959, apart from a 70-year hiatus ending in 2003, USAID programs in Yemen have helped to better the quality of life in the country.

USAID Programs in Yemen

  1. Health Services. USAID’s Yemen Systems Health and Resilience Project (SHARP) aims to improve maternal and child health care in Yemen. SHARP has provided training to “210 community midwives and 413 reproductive health volunteers to improve access to services for women of reproductive age and children under five,” the USAID website states. SHARP also provided skills training to “97 health facility service providers on evidence-based reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition services to ensure the provision of quality services for mothers, pregnant and lactating women and children.” When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, USAID worked with the U.S. government to donate 319,200 COVID-19 vaccines to Yemen, provide oxygen to COVID-19 isolation units, strengthen the country’s cold storage and transport systems for vaccines, trained health workers on infection control methods and carried out awareness-raising activities, among other efforts.
  2. Sanitation and Water Management. About 50% of Yemenis report major water quality issues, making the water situation in Yemen one of the globe’s most severe water crises. In response, in 2021, USAID programs in Yemen provided more than 1.5 million disadvantaged people with access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene education. USAID has also brought water access and sanitation to 377,606 students at schools. USAID aligns its water and sanitation projects with the U.S. government goals laid out in the U.S. Global Water Strategy, which defines the framework and steps for the U.S. to advance global water and sanitation.
  3. Food Security. Recently, during a pledging event on June 8, 2022, the U.S. government announced an allocation of $585 million in humanitarian aid for Yemen, which includes more than $561 million from USAID for “emergency food assistance as well as prevention and treatment of severe malnutrition and humanitarian protection for vulnerable populations,” the U.S. Department of State website says. USAID in partnership with the Department of Agriculture will utilize $282 million from the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust to aid Yemen, along with five other countries, in addressing food insecurity and wheat price hikes. In November 2022, the agency partnered with Yemen’s Ministry of Public Health and Population on a $4.8 million malnutrition prevention and recovery program to promote nutrition and open resources to families.
  4. Economy and Trade. USAID’s Economic Recovery and Livelihoods Program supports the Yemeni government in economic reform and stabilization of its trade regime by “facilitating the flow of commercial and humanitarian goods and services through Yemen’s borders and ports.” The program has also brought support to smaller enterprises within the country, such as fishing and farming, linking these smaller businesses to the international market. In 2021, USAID helped 1,200 Yemenis attain stable jobs in specific sectors, provided agricultural support to 4,000 workers and “facilitated 400 trade agreements worth $5.04 million between Yemeni producers and local and international buyers for agriculture products.” USAID also helped Yemen’s Ministry of Finance launch “a pilot e-payment system in February 2022 to pay public sector salaries and eliminate financial waste and abuse,” USAID’s website highlights.

Looking Ahead

In a world where many still require emergency humanitarian assistance, foreign aid is critical. Even though there is room for the U.S. government to do more, so far, the U.S. stands as a champion in bringing support to Yemen amid its crisis.

– Audrey Gaines
Photo: Flickr

Hunger Crisis in MyanmarOngoing crises throughout the world such as inflation and social unrest have left many of the poorest populations in even more vulnerable situations. Myanmar is an example of one country that is grappling with numerous crises resulting in a dramatic rise in hunger levels. Here are five things to know about the hunger crisis in Myanmar.

5 Things to Know About the Hunger Crisis in Myanmar

  1. Political Takeover: In February 2021, the former ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was overthrown by the military in a coup de tat. The civil unrest initially started with peaceful protests but gradually escalated to riots and, subsequently, a retaliatory response by the military. The situation progressed to the point where the military was destroying whole towns at any sign of dissidence. This unstable political state displaced over 1 million people and forced millions more into poverty.
  2. Food Shortages: The need for humanitarian aid in Myanmar has grown at an exponential rate since the military coup. As of 2022, more than 25% of people in the country are food insecure. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 13.2 million Burmese do not know where their next meal will come from and the food that they do get is insufficient in meeting their nutritional needs.
  3. Impact of the Pandemic: Myanmar is still reeling from the economic impact of COVID-19. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the nation lost between 6.4 and 9.0 trillion Kyat ($3.04 billion and $4.29 billion) due to a lack of production in 2020. To compound the effect, the World Bank projected the economy contracted by 18% in 2021. These economic pitfalls have played significantly into the ongoing hunger crisis in Myanmar.
  4. Children: The hunger crisis plaguing the nation especially affects children. The U.N. reports almost 8 million children are out of school across Myanmar and 250,000 are internally displaced. In addition, roughly 33,000 could die in 2022 due to preventable causes such as lack of immunizations and malnutrition. Furthermore, children also end up as political ploys with hundreds currently being held as political prisoners. In addition, over 1,400 children faced arrest without justifiable cause since the 2021 coup.
  5. International Aid: The international community has acknowledged that the crisis in Myanmar is far from over. In March 2022, the United States pledged $152 million to help alleviate the suffering of countless Burmese. Myanmar will allocate this funding to the provision of basic needs and help the displaced individuals find their way back home.

Food crises continue to run rampant across the world. The road ahead is not smooth or easily traversable by any means, but countries and organizations remain committed to providing aid to those in dire circumstances. As long as there is awareness, there is hope.

– Alex Peterson
Photo: Flickr

Climate-Driven Poverty in Central America 
Hurricane Bonnie is the latest of many natural disasters to hit the coasts of Central America. Along with it came heavy rains and flooding that led to widespread damage and deaths in Nicaragua and El Salvador in July 2022. However, this is not an unfamiliar situation. In 2020, Hurricanes Eta and Iota led to $2 billion worth of damage in Honduras while leaving millions of people in Guatemala and Nicaragua facing food insecurity and internal displacement. In 2021, Hurricane Grace caused landslides and fatalities in Mexico alongside millions of dollars in damage. More concerning is the fact that this pattern has only become more frequent. In the past 20 years, climate-related disasters cost Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries a combined “equivalent of 1.7% of a year’s GDP.” By 2030, extreme weather patterns could thrust as many as 5.8 million people into conditions of extreme impoverishment in the LAC region. As such, climate-driven poverty in Central America is a significant concern.

Millions of people in Central America already live in what is known as the “Dry Corridor,” an area that faces alternating bouts of drought and extreme weather events such as hurricanes. These circumstances leave the largely rural population susceptible to climate-driven poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

Agricultural Impact and Food Security

According to the World Bank, in 2019, the agricultural sector accounted for 14% of total employment in the LAC region. However, around 70% of adults enduring extreme poverty in the LAC region work in the agricultural industry, a vulnerable population that faces disproportionate impacts from extreme weather events.

Job reliance on agriculture also varies by country. For instance, close to 40% of Honduras’ population engages in employment in agriculture, says the Global Agriculture & Food Security Program. Severe weather conditions have had a significant effect on agriculture in terms of employment and food output.

Hurricanes Iota and Eta ruined crops from Central America’s second growing season, affecting both small and large-scale farm operations. In the north of Honduras, the hurricanes caused a large spike in unemployment from the losses sustained in the area’s banana plantations. Coffee production, which makes up a large part of Central American exports and sustains low-income households, also saw damage to crops and irrigation systems from the heavy rains.

Beyond employment, agricultural impacts from these weather events also affect food production. The 2020 hurricanes caused an increase in food prices due to crop damage and raised costs of transportation.

The World Meteorological Organization estimates that as many as 7.7 million individuals in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua faced “high levels of food insecurity in 2021” because of the hurricanes and the exacerbating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Infrastructural Damage

July 2022’s Hurricane Bonnie left thousands of people in Nicaragua without power and water while roads in El Salvador flooded or collapsed.

Two years ago, Hurricane Eta and Iota destroyed government buildings, hospitals and thousands of homes in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. In total, ReliefWeb reports that Eta and Iota caused damages equating to $1.86 billion in Honduras, $742 million in Nicaragua and $775 million in Guatemala. Rural areas faced the harshest impacts as floods, heavy rains and landslides hit homes, streets and community centers. The hurricanes also caused water contamination after damaging the sewage systems, threatening the clean water supply.

Migration and Displacement

Both in 2020 and 2022, many families suffered major losses after the destruction of their homes by the hurricanes,  pushing them into extreme poverty. Hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020 displaced 1.5 million people in Central America, as the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimated.

Alongside food insecurity, poverty and violence, extreme weather events are a major factor in migration in Central America, driving thousands to the United States every year. According to the Brookings Institution, migration from countries like Guatemala to the United States connects to rural impoverishment and “agricultural stress linked to climate change.” Internally, migration from rural areas to urban centers across Central America is also becoming more common due to employment instability in agriculture.

Globally, the 2022 World Migration Report states that extreme weather events and disasters lead to the displacement of more individuals than conflict and violence, and the number will only grow without prompt intervention.

Policy Implications

The World Food Programme and U.N. Environment Programme-backed initiatives are encouraging climate resilience policies to eliminate climate-driven poverty in Central America. For example, the WFP introduced climate risk management practices, including insurance initiatives meant to protect people living in regions susceptible to extreme weather events. The WFP also introduced “forecast-based finance” techniques in countries such as the Dominican Republic, which will provide aid to 10,000 people in the event of the country anticipating a climate disaster such as floods. As of 2021, the WFP estimates that its “climate risk management solutions” assisted around 441,000 people in the LAC region.

CityAdapt, an organization working with the U.N. Environment Programme and funded by the Global Environment Facility, implements “nature-based solutions” in cities and peri-urban regions in Mexico and El Salvador. It uses natural ecosystems to fight the effects of extreme weather changes, promoting “green and blue infrastructure such as urban parks, green roofs and facades, tree planting, river conservation,” and more, according to its website. CityAdapt also launched an online course in 2020 for 40 cities within 14 Latin American countries to educate people on nature-based solutions to address extreme weather conditions.

While the end goal is to prevent the occurrence of extreme weather events, these innovative and resilient approaches have the power to reduce the impact of climate-driven poverty in Central America and other vulnerable regions.

Ramona Mukherji
Photo: Flickr