Biggest Global Issues
Hundreds of millions of people around the world experience insufficient living conditions due to environmental factors, displacement, disease, poverty or some combination of the four. Here is a list of the biggest global issues that plague humankind.

The Biggest Global Issues Facing Mankind

1. Food and Malnutrition

  • Food and nutrition are essential for just about every life form on the planet, especially humankind. Although countries such as China, India, Brazil and the United States produce vast amounts of food for the world, about one in nine people will not eat enough food today. Malnourishment leads to the inability of about 795 million people to lead active and healthy lives around the globe.

  • Malnutrition leads to poor health and can stunt development in education and employment. According to The Food Aid Foundation, 66 million school-aged children will go to school hungry today. Consistent hunger in schools is linked to a lack of concentration.

  • World hunger has decreased by about 219 million people within the past two decades. It is through the innovative and ambitious work of organizations like the World Food Programme, in partnership with governments and communities, that the world can fill empty stomachs and provide communities with the resources to fill their own stomachs without aid, overtime.

  • The World Food Programme provides the Home Grown School Feeding Programme to counter the effects of consistent hunger in schools. One model of the  Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Kenya provides school meals to over 600 million schoolchildren. The organization purchases the meals from local farmers which helps boost Kenya’s agriculture-dependent economy. Constant meals in school serve as an incentive for poor families to send their children to school every day and enhance the quality of children’s education by reducing hunger.

2. Access to Clean Water

  • Water covers about 70 percent of planet Earth. Inadequate water supply, water supply access and lack of sanitation kill millions of people annually. Used for drinking and hygiene practices, lack of water sanitation is a leading cause of child mortality around the world.

  • Two days of the year educate the world about one of the biggest global issues facing humankind: the global water crisis. World Water Day and World Toilet Day are reminders that 700 million people around the globe could be facing displacement due to decreased access to fresh water by 2030. Severe droughts are a major reason for displacement. When there is no more water for drinking or for crops and livestock, people must leave their homes in search of a place where there is an adequate supply of water.

  • Within the past two decades, the percentage of countries without basic sanitation services decreased by 17 percent. Forty countries are on track to receive universal basic sanitation services by the year 2030. In the meantime, 88 countries are progressing too slowly in their sanitation advancements and 24 countries are decreasing in their advances toward universal sanitation coverage.

  • The Water Project is committed to providing safe water to Africa. It builds wells and dams to provide access to safe water. The project also delivers improved technology for more sanitary toilets that keep flies away. The Water Project provides and monitors 157 water projects in Sierra Leone including wells, dams and sanitary toilets. The Water Project builds these projects in schools and communities in the Port Loko region of Sierra Leone, serving some 7,000 Sierra Leoneans. The Water Project’s save water initiative impacts over 40,000 people on the continent of Africa.

3. Refugee Crisis

  • The refugee crisis is one of the biggest global issues facing humankind today. Refugees are seeking asylum from persecution, conflict and violence. A grand total of 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their home countries. Some 54 percent of those displaced are children.

  • Developing countries host a third of the world’s refugees. Many refugees reside in the neighboring countries of those they left behind. Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan and Lebanon lead the world in hosting refugees.

  • Asylum seekers from Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan continuously flee ongoing persecution, conflict and violence in their home countries. More recently, four million Venezuelans have fled their home country, 460 thousand of whom are seeking asylum in Spain, Central America and North America.

  • Venezuelans are fleeing dire political unrest and hyperinflation. Shortages in food, water, electricity and medicine also afflict the country. The Red Cross now provides at least $60 million worth of aid to Venezuela, reaching at least 650,000 Venezuelans. The World Vision Organization delivers aid to Venezuelan refugees in Venezuela’s neighboring countries. For example, in Colombia, World Vision provides economic empowerment, education, food and health essentials to some 40,000 refugees.

4. AIDS Epidemic

  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a longstanding global issue. With at least 36.9 million AIDS or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) infections around the world, the disease is one of the biggest global issues facing humankind. Since 2004, AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by over half. In 2004, almost two million people worldwide died of AIDS-related illnesses, compared to 940,000 in 2017.

  • Organizations like the International AIDS Society, UNAIDS, Kaiser Family Foundation and PEPFAR are dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. These organizations help to ensure that infected people have access to treatment and the opportunity to live healthy lives. Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are 14 times more likely to contract HIV than boys. The DREAM initiative by PEPFAR and partners prioritizes the safety of AGYW against new HIV infections. PEPFAR is reaching at least 144,000 AGYW in Kenya, one country where HIV infections are most prevalent.

  • Although there is currently no cure, UNAIDS has a Sustainable Development Goal of bringing the number of new HIV infections down to zero by the year 2030. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducts research and analyzes data regarding U.S. AIDS policy and funding, both domestic and globally. It serves as a source of information about AIDS and other global health issues for U.S. policymakers and the media.

5. Eradicating Poverty

  • Poverty is the lack of income necessary to access basic everyday needs and/or living below a specific country’s standard of living. Living in poverty can result in malnutrition,  poor health, fewer opportunities for education and increased illness. With an estimated 783 million people living in poverty, eradicating poverty is one of the biggest global issues facing humankind.

  • Malnutrition, contaminated water, the refugee crisis and the AIDS epidemic all contain some aspects of poverty. Organizations like the United Nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focus on sustainable development strategies to alleviate global poverty. The number of people living in poverty has decreased by half, thanks to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals have lifted at least one billion people out of extreme poverty within the last two decades.

  • The Gates Foundation is proving that poverty can be ameliorated through Agricultural Transformation. Increasing a country’s food production can counter malnutrition and boost the country’s economy by increasing farmer’s crop productivity. Poverty in Ethiopia has decreased by at least 45 percent since the Gates Foundation first started investing in agricultural development there in 2006. Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, is witnessing an overall increase in its economy.

With the help of innovative organizations partnered with governments, the world is implementing practical techniques to help eliminate hunger, water scarcity, AIDS/HIV and poverty from the list of the biggest global issues facing humankind. Eliminating these problems will improve the living conditions of millions of people around the world, including refugees and internally displaced people.

– Rebekah Askew
Photo: Flickr

Satellites and Food Security
Nearly 800 million people in the world do not have enough food to eat. It is no secret that more efficient farming and agricultural practices can help yield more crops to feed more people as well as bring in more income to poor farmers. In conjunction with traditional ground-based data collection of farmland, satellite imaging and sensing can help farmers monitor their crops and land condition in real time. Satellite-based technology can map cropland area and crop type, estimate area planted, estimate product yield and even detect early signs of droughts and floods. With this kind of technology, farmers may be better equipped to make informed choices about their land to protect their products. With more informed farmers, better use of resources and ultimately more crops, satellites may be an important part of ensuring global food security.

A New Wave of Tech

Precision farming is the use of technologies to inform farmers about their products. This method is not new, however, the systems in place are changing. Traditional, ground-based tests, such as soil sampling, have long been used to test the arity, salinity, and other conditions of land. These tests help instruct farmers about the optimal mix of fertilizer, pesticide and water that should be used to yield the most crops. While these tests are useful, they are expensive, time-consuming and can only provide data for a small area of land.

Satellites may provide a comprehensive solution. Equipped with imaging and sensing technology, satellites may analyze entire fields at more regular intervals for a more timely and lower-cost option. With land-use mapping and monitoring technologies, satellites cater to a variety of farmers’ needs. Farmers are using satellite technology to:

  • Analyze soil fertility.
  • Map irrigated land.
  • Monitor crop growth.
  • Produce crop yield forecasts.
  • Track crop development.
  • Measure soil moisture content.
  • Test soil chemical composition.

Depending on the program and type of imaging, the costs of satellite data may differ. The Sentinel-2, a land-monitoring system of two satellites that the European Space Agency (ESA) controls, provides vegetation imagery and moisture maps to farmers for $0.20 per acre per two months of service.

Satellites: Prediction, Protection and Prevention

In places like sub-Saharan Africa where agriculture accounts for 64 percent of all employment, satellite-based technology is vital to the survival of farmers. Ninety-five percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s farmable land lacks irrigation systems, thus making the farmland more susceptible to drastic land conditions like droughts and floods. With satellite technology and remote sensing, farmers can shift their focus from reacting to disasters after they occur to planning response before the disasters cause damage. Because low soil moisture content is an indicator of drought, satellites can measure the soil’s moisture content using microwave radiation and send an early warning to farmers in the affected area.

With these early response mechanisms, insured farmers can apply early to their insurers and receive money. Programs like the Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Program provides cash-transfers to poor households using this satellite-based technology.

People have used satellite drought imaging combined with data on local market supply and demand to bring the right amount of food aid to countries in need. Molly Brown, a researcher for NASA, uses satellite images of cropland in Niger, where farmers not only grow food for markets but also eat the crops, to estimate rising market costs. During droughts, these farmers cannot grow enough food to feed themselves and sell locally, thus demand and market prices increase. Since many rural families in Niger live on only around $400 a year, drastic price increases may mean that they cannot get enough to eat.

The goal of Brown’s research is to predict rising market prices before they occur based on satellite images of farmland. It is also to bring in enough food aid when people need it and to stop food aid when it is not necessary. Brown hopes satellites will be an important step toward ensuring food security.

Already at Work

Many organizations, large and small, have already begun harnessing the power of satellite technology and its use in agriculture. NASA has rolled out several satellite-driven initiatives to help combat food security. The Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) Network, established in 2000, uses NASA’s Landsat satellite imaging and remote sensing to gather data, forecast weather trends and hazards and create maps for vegetation, rainfall and water use. In order to make satellite imaging and data more accessible to the communities that could best utilize them, NASA established a web-based visualization and monitoring system, for Africa and Central America, called SERVIR, in collaboration with USAID.

Working with more than 200 institutions and training around 1,800 regional support staffers, SERVIR provides previously inaccessible satellite data, imaging and forecasts to local governments and researchers. With this information, SERVIR hopes that developing nations will be able to respond better to natural disasters, improve their food security and manage water and other natural resources.

Even private companies like Planet Labs, are investing in satellite-based technology. Planet uses many smaller, relatively inexpensive satellites for its imaging force. The company has around 140 currently deployed, enough to capture an image of the entire Earth every day. It sells imaging and monitoring data to over 200 customers, many of whom are agricultural companies.

In 2015, at the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit, Planet Labs introduced its Open Regions initiative. By making $60 million worth of its satellite imagery for certain regions available to the global public and directly accessible online, Planet Lab’s imagery brings data vital to the health of crops directly to farmers. With the U.N. deadline to end global hunger and ensure global food security by 2030, it is important for governments and organizations to look for new, sustainable opportunities to increase productivity. By looking beyond conventional, ground-based agricultural solutions and turning to the skies, farmers may find that satellites may be an important part of ensuring global food security.

– Maya Watanabe
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Life Expectancy in Namibia
Namibia has continued to make large strides in many aspects of life, including life expectancy. Having suffered a history of colonization and oppression, Namibia struggled for years with political, social and cultural issues. However, as the country has begun to strengthen and mingle on a global level, it has and is continuing to make exceptional progress. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Namibia will bring attention to the country’s progress and highlight the necessary changes.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Namibia

  1. Life Expectancy in Namibia is Improving: The CIA World Fact Book rates the average life expectancy for Namibians at 64.4 years, ranking the country 189th worldwide. This is a giant increase from the previous life expectancy rate of 53.5 years in 2005.
  2. Infant Mortality in Namibia is Improving: Coinciding with the steadily increasing life expectancy is the steadily decreasing infant mortality rate. According to the World Bank with data going back to 1967, the infant mortality rate has halved, going from a staggering 62.6 deaths per 1,000 births down to 31.8 deaths per 1,000 births. This is in line with countries that share a similar history to Namibia, like South Africa, which has an infant mortality rate of 28.8 deaths per 1,000 births. Both of these countries still trail behind other nations within the continent, like Egypt, which has an infant mortality rate of 18.8 deaths per 1,000 births.
  3. The Namibian Economy is Improving: There is a strong correlation between Namibia’s continually improving social and medical situation and its continued economic prosperity. According to the World Bank, the country’s GDP has more than quadrupled from the 1980s to today jumping from $2.4 billion in 1980 to an impressive $14.5 billion in 2018. Namibia continues to improve economically and was the top emerging market economy in Africa in 2013. It is also important to note that there have been continued efforts to distribute the wealth that the country is coming into. In 1990, after Namibia had gained its independence, it had the highest levels of income inequality in Africa. After policy changes, however, income inequality has significantly decreased.
  4. Social Justice Has Helped Namibia Prosper: Similar to South Africa, Namibia has a long and unfortunate history of apartheid. Apartheid prevented black Namibians from having any political rights and restricted social and economic freedom. It was not until the 1990s that Namibia gained its independence. Namibia’s large population’s roadblocks resulted in the before mentioned wealth inequality. However, once everyone received an equal footing and the Namibian Government looked at the entire population rather than a small few, the poverty rate decreased from 53 percent to 23 percent.
  5. Health Care in Namibia is Not Consistent: As Namibia has continued to improve, so has its health care. There are currently both public and private health care options with 85 percent of the population having the former. There is, however, a severe discrepancy in the service provided between private and public health care. Public hospitals are understaffed and offer limited services. The government has expressed its awareness of these issues and commitment to solving them. Its commitment is outlined in the National Health Policy Framework 2010–2020 and it is implementing efforts to grow the government budget line for health.
  6. Namibians Suffer From Preventable Diseases: Similar to many African countries, the impoverished sectors of Namibia are suffering from preventable diseases, but that is not to say that there have not been major improvements. The country has eliminated neonatal tetanus and the African Regional Certification Commission recognizes it as polio-free. This is due to the Government’s intense focus on fixing these issues. The Namibian Government has even decreased the number of malaria cases by 97 percent in just a decade.
  7. HIV is on the Decline in Namibia: One of many countries suffering from an HIV epidemic, Namibia is thankfully showing improvement. A report published by the Namibia Statistics Agency showed that the new infection rate had decreased from 14 per 1,000 adults to four per 1,000 adults. The same report stated that “as with the fight against extreme poverty, it is possible that a continuation in this effort can lead to zero new infections in the country by 2030.”
  8. Climate Has an Impact on Namibia: According to the World Health Organization, climate change and environmental safety are two major issues facing Namibia. Droughts, floods and disease outbreaks highlight the need for better planning and coordination as well as the importance of attending to environmental health as a preventative method when considering social, economic and cultural progress. Groups all over Namibia dedicate themselves to different issues within the larger context. Two of those groups are Namibia Nature Foundation, which is committed to conservation, and the Africa Drought Conference, which is part of the Government’s efforts to address the drought issue.
  9. Namibia is Rapidly Urbanizing: Urbanization has long been a sign of prosperity, but mass urbanization presents challenges. In Namibia, there are constantly high unemployment rates stemming in part from rapid urbanization. A staggering 34 percent of the total labor force, which mostly affects youth and women, do not have employment. This has been contributing to a growing number of poor who lack access to food and other social services.
  10. Namibia Has a Food Problem: Although Namibia is an upper-middle-income country, it still faces many problems including poverty and malnutrition. Namibia only produces about 40 percent of food consumed and is very reliant on imports. The limiting of access to food leads to price fluctuations harming up to 28 percent of Namibian families. The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) is just one of the many groups trying to improve the quality and access to nutrition. It also has an increased focus on sustainability.

Some have labeled Namibia one of the most promising countries in Africa because of its increasing social, cultural and economic status. One, however, cannot ignore that there is still a lot of room for progress, especially when looking at the less privileged groups in the country. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Namibia highlight all the good that has taken place and should pose some insight into the future.

– Samira Darwich
Photo: Flickr

 

Hunger and Nutrition in Austria
After decades of making strides in the fight against hunger and food insecurity, hunger is on the rise. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that the number of undernourished people has risen. Around 821 million people were undernourished around the world in 2017, up from 804 million in 2016.

This article will address the top 10 most interesting facts about hunger and nutrition in Austria. Austria, like many other European nations, is lucky to have the socioeconomic ability to provide basic needs to most of their citizens, but Austria is not without flaws. These flaws will be addressed, as well as the progress Austria has made in its fight against hunger and malnutrition.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger and Nutrition in Austria

  1. Agricultural Land
    Austria has a very low amount of agricultural land. This land, defined by the OECD as “land area that is either arable, under permanent crops, or under permanent pastures” is necessary for a country to grow its own food. Because Austria does not have a large amount of agricultural land, the nation relies on imports. Best Food Importers names Austria as one of the most important food importers, with a constant need for imports of fruits and vegetables.
  2. Buying Local Food
    Not only does Austria have a comparably small amount of agricultural land, but it also faces more problems in the fight for food security for its local populations. Due to land-grabbing, local populations find it more difficult to buy locally, hence Austria’s aforementioned need to import food. However, Austria’s government is taking steps to fix parts of the problem. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) has shown support for sustainable and fair land-use policies by supporting land rights for local populations and inclusion of disadvantaged populations in decision-making.
  3. Dietary Choices
    Austrians consume more saturated fatty acids and salt than the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommends. Austrians consumed 12.7 percent of their total calorie intake from saturated fatty acids; the FAO recommends 10 percent. The FAO recommends 5 grams of salt intake a day. Austrian men, by average, consumed 9 grams of salt a day, and Austrian women consumed 8 grams per day.
  4. Obesity Rates
    In 2008 estimates, approximately 60 percent of Austrian men were found to be overweight, compared to the 48.5 percent of Austrian women being overweight. However, in terms of obesity, men and women seem to be nearly equal with 21 percent of Austrian men being considered obese, and 20.9 percent of Austrian women being obese. By 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that obesity numbers should rise to 25% for both men and women, and is predicted to steadily rise after that as well. This is a very important nutritional fact that needs to be corrected by the Austrian government.
  5. Stacking Up Against Other Nations
    Even though those numbers seem exceptionally high, when comparing these numbers to other Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCED) member countries, Austria ranks very well. Austria self-reported that in 2014, 46.7 percent of its population over 16 years of age were overweight or obese. How does this compare to the other OECD countries? The United Kingdom’s overweight and obese population stands at 61.4 percent of its population over the age of 16, while the U.S. self-reported numbers of 65.1 percent of its 16+ population as obese or overweight, but it’s been measured to actually be 70 percent. Italy and Norway were the only European countries that measured better than Austria.
  6. Good Nourishment Rates
    Austria’s undernourishment percentages are low compared to the world average. In both 2000 and 2016, Austria’s prevalence of undernourishment was measured at 3 percent of its population. Currently, 10.6 percent of the world’s population is undernourished. This is once again, a place where nutritionally speaking, Austria is doing very well compared to other nations, but progress can continue to be made.
  7. 7. Food Security
    According to the Global Food Security Index, Austria ranks 14th in the index of the most food-secure countries in the world. Though in 2014 it was ranked as second, 14th still shows that Austria is still very food secure in comparison to most of the world. Affordability of food is Austria’s highest score, ranking 8th in affordability.
  8. Food Quality
    According to Oxfam, Austria ranks 4th overall on their list of 125 countries and their performance in the realm of supplying enough well quality food for its people. Austria was only ranked lower than France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Providing enough to eat, as well as providing high-quality food boosted Austria into the 4th place ranking.
  9. Water Quality
    Water in Austria is perfect. Austria provides 100 percent safe drinking water to 100 percent of its people. The water quality in Austria is superb as Austria has very strict environmental protection laws. Clean water is necessary for a healthy diet for many reasons, one of them being that the quality of food that can be provided to a population is dependent on the quality of water that went into the process of growing that food.
  10. ADA Efforts
    The ADA is doing its part in aiding countries that struggle with doing the same for their own populations. The ADA aids in water sanitation projects in countries such as Albania and Uganda. Not only are Austrian’s governmental agencies aiding in the fight for universal clean water, but NGOs such as CAREAustria are aiding in the fight as well. For example, CAREAustria has helped bring sanitation technology to parts of Ethiopia that have been damaged by violence and turmoil.

Hunger and Nutrition in Conclusion

As represented by the facts above, Austria does have some flaws within its fight against poor nutrition and hunger. High import rates and less sustainability is a problem, as is consuming too many unhealthy nutrients. All of these problems can be fixed by including both rural and urban populations in decision-making processes, as well as educating the populations on what a healthy diet looks like. And with the progress Austria has already made in providing high-quality food and water, as well as very affordable food prices, there does not seem to be a reason the progress Austria has made in the fight against hunger and poor nutrition won’t continue.

Kurt Thiele
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Hunger in AlbaniaAlbania is a country nestled in the southeast of Europe. Its coast is located on the Adriatic and Ionian seas, while it shares land borders with Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. The Democratic Albanian Republic came to power after the dissolution of the former Albanian Socialist Republic in 1991. The Albanian government has made it a central goal to eliminate hunger. Here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Albania.

10 Facts About Hunger in Albania

  1. According to the 2017 census, Albania’s population is comprised of 2.8 million people, 15 percent of whom are living below the poverty line, having about $1 euro a day for personal expenses. Some families spend up to 80 percent of their budget on food.
  2. Albania is experiencing a refugee crisis which also contributes to its hunger problems. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Hunger, there are some 407,600 refugees from neighboring Kosovo, who are located mostly around Albania’s northern border. However, Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization,  is distributing food such as warm milk, broth, sugar and salt to the refugees. One team in the Albanian city of Kukes ensured the distribution of drinking water to some 4,000 refugees. While Action Against Hunger will continue to aid the refugees for as long as it takes, its goal is to establish food security and self-sufficiency as soon as possible.
  3. The 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI) ranked Albania 53rd out of 119 qualifying countries. With a score of 12.2, this puts the country at a hunger level that is moderate. However, it is still one of the lowest-ranked European nations. The GHI categorized Albania as a country with a transitioning economy that is highly vulnerable to a financial crisis and increased hunger rates. The GHI attributes this to high global food prices as well as pay cuts for unskilled workers.
  4. Child stunting rates have dropped dramatically in Albania, from almost 40 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2018. Additionally, GHI considers less than six percent of the Albanian population undernourished. This is likely the result of government programs, as well as the actions of non-governmental organizations and other humanitarian aid.
  5. As of 2016, about 54 percent of the adult population in Albania were overweight with an additional 21.7 percent of adults classified as obese. An interesting phenomenon surrounding obesity in Albania is that it is disproportionately high in the elderly and middle-aged, with rates jumping to 32.7 percent in people ages 46-55, and 21.9 percent in people ages 56-65. One can partially explain this by the fact that in some cultures, people consider obesity a sign of wealth and beauty.
  6. Gender inequality also contributes to hunger in Albania. Though Albanian women traditionally take on the well-being of their family, they have far fewer resources or opportunities than men with which to do this. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stated that “Gender equality is the key to eliminating poverty and hunger.” The FAO’s policy on gender equality has been used as a resource in the creation of the Country Programming Framework, a signed plan between the FAO and Albanian government to further hunger and poverty reduction and end gender inequality.
  7. Twenty-four percent of Albania’s geography consists of arable land for farming. But because of small farms and limited mechanization, the agricultural sector of Albania remains largely underdeveloped. Agriculture contributes to 20 percent of the Albanian GDP and employs about 58 percent of the population. However, these numbers are likely to increase due to government involvement.
  8. A central goal of the Albanian government is the continued financial support and development of both independent farmers as well as private investment in the private agriculture sector. To this end, the Albanian government has allocated an average of $10 million annually to the agriculture sector over the past six years. In addition, the Albanian Ministry of Agriculture has set up a fund of $5 million euros to aid farmers in the country. Already, there have been 7,700 farmers who have passed the first phase of the application process.
  9. The government of Albania is not the only entity investing in the agricultural sector, though. The FAO announced it will establish an office in the capital city of Tirana. The Albanian Minister, Edmond Panariti, declared that the FAO would have the full support of the Albanian government and praised the organization for its assistance in the country. The FAO’s strategic objectives include, “the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, the transformation of agriculture into a more productive and sustainable sector and the reduction of rural poverty.” The FAO hopes to achieve this by assisting the Albanian government in the technical aspect of the agriculture and agro-culture sectors.
  10. Albania’s biggest trade partner, the EU (with around 66.7 percent of Albanian agricultural exported to EU markets and 57.8 percent of Albanian imports coming from the EU) aided the countries agricultural sector with The Stabilization and Association Agreement. This agreement eliminated many tariffs on Albanian imports and put protections on trade between Albania and the EU. Thanks to agreements like these, Albania represents a significant market for the EU and neighboring countries. As a result, the nation has experienced tremendous economic growth and a steady rise in GDP since the year 2000.

Since the ousting of the communist party in 1992, Albania has had an uphill battle against poverty and hunger. However, the years since then have seen the country make great strides in technological advancement and economic growth, both of which help it stay competitive in the European market and combat its hunger problem. There is still much for Albania to do, yet all indications from the Albanian government, EU and the global community, as well as these 10 facts about hunger in Albania, point to continued progress for this European nation.

– Henry Burkert
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South AfricaFood insecurity plagues approximately 14 million South Africans. Poverty and unemployment are the two leading contributors of hunger in South Africa, caused in part by the 2008 global economic crisis, which limited job creation opportunities and the purchasing power of South African households. The nation’s economy has also been stagnant, at a growth rate of 3.3 percent since 2011 and shows little signs of improvement. In 2006, 28.4 percent of the country’s population was living in extreme poverty. In 2015, the rate had only decreased to 25.2 percent.

Causes of Hunger

Other factors of poverty include the legacy of apartheid. Apartheid barred black individuals from a proper education system and thus skilled and higher paying occupations. South Africans also seem to display a sense of disinterest in entrepreneurship, given the lack of investment within the business space. High food and fuel prices, high-energy tariffs and increasing interest rates further exacerbate hunger within the nation, as households are struggling to meet basic needs.

Solutions for Hunger

In hopes to mitigate hunger in South Africa, several initiatives have been taken. For instance, Dr. Louise Van Rhyn founded Partners for Possibilities in 2010. Partners for Possibilities is a leadership development program focused on using grassroots and cross-sector collaboration efforts to help teachers and business leaders. The program pairs a business leader as a co-partner to a school principal. By forcing them to adapt and learn to lead a complex and unfamiliar environment, business leaders gradually develop leadership capabilities in the process. The principals learn to work with other individuals, as well as a partner to help them better manage under-resourced schools.

This approach not only improvement schools, spurs individuals to be involved in a business, but it also empowers individuals to succeed in their careers, strengthening South Africa’s education system, economy strengthening households from hunger and food insecurity.

Major international nonprofits such as the World Health Organization have invested in millions of dollars on food aid programs. Often times, even though there is food in markets, it is not necessarily available. Thus, these programs compensate for the lack of access. CARE is another major organization that has been trying to limit hunger in South Africa. Their programs focus on the nutrition specific needs of fetal and child development, as well as home-based practices, making them easy to follow for households of various conditions. One of their most notable developments is the creation of the integrated model: Collective Impact for Nutrition. This particular model was established after 10 years of programming where “key nutrition-sensitive interventions support a core nutrition-specific behavior-based approach, ensuring not only the promotion of improved nutrition practices but also helping to provide the necessary foundation for adopting them.”

Ultimately, hunger in South Africa is a complicated issue, as there are many factors at play. From high rates of unemployment, lack of accessibility to food markets and economic instability due to a lack of education, its difficult to resolve hunger. Recent statistics have shown there has been some improvement in the nation’s economy, though small. For these reasons, it is vital the organizations on the ground continue their efforts to limit hunger within South Africa.

– Iris Gao
Photo: Flickr