Child Poverty in Mexico
Right now, over a quarter of Mexican children live in poverty. Many of these children lack the basic necessities for success, such as education, food and housing. As a result, the cycle of poverty continues. Mexico possesses a two-sided economy in which one side thrives with a growing GDP, while the other is overwhelmingly impoverished. This socioeconomic disparity results in devastating consequences for Mexico’s most vulnerable demographic- its children. Here are three important ways to help alleviate child poverty in Mexico.

3 Ways to Help Alleviate Child Poverty in Mexico

  1. Improve Education Quality: The dedication to education in Mexico is staggeringly low. As of right now, only 0.8% of Mexico’s GDP is dedicated to early childhood social investments. This percentage is lower than every other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country other than Turkey. With nearly 5,000 Mexican children dropping out of school every day, the need for education reform is growing increasingly stronger. Only 62% of Mexican children reach high school and a mere 38% of Mexican adults between 25 and 64 have completed an upper secondary education. This is a startling statistic in comparison to the OECD average of 74% of adults between 25 and 64 having completed secondary education. Education directly links to poverty reduction; organizations such as Enseña Por México recognize the serious disadvantages that children in Mexico face as a result of their lack of effective schooling. Enseña Por México, a counterpart of the U.S. organization Teach for America, aims to expand educational opportunities in Mexico. Its methodology includes one-on-one teaching from education professionals in the hopes of bolstering academic, professional and social development. While the organization has been running for the past six years, it has served over 60,000 students.
  2. Ensure Food Security: While rates of malnutrition in Mexico have dropped within recent years, the prime issue of food insecurity still prevails. Nationally, 13% of children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition. This percentage primarily comes from rural southern Mexico, where food insecurity is a prevalent issue. Food insecurity results from problems with availability, accessibility and consumption. The number of malnourished children in Mexico is not a result of the country’s lack of national food production; rather, it is a product of Mexico’s poor families lacking basic access to food. However, some are making efforts to help these underprivileged children and their families. Organizations such as the Southern Baja Food Security Alliance (SBFSA) are working to provide healthy food programs in rural areas of Mexico. The organization works in collaboration with community stakeholders to help institute education programs that teach citizens how to grow and harvest healthy foods. These programs reach into the particularly rural areas of Southern Mexico that suffer from food insecurity the most severely. These communities desperately need sustainable solutions to alleviate hunger in their communities and ensure proper nutrition for their children.
  3. Remove Children from Dangerous Situations: Homelessness is a frequent consequence of child poverty in Mexico. “Street children” is a term that people often use to describe this group between the ages of 6 and 18 years old. Mexico City has 1,900,000  underprivileged and street children; nearly 240,000 of these are children who have experienced abandonment. Housing instability results in a heightened number of at-risk youths. Stunted development physically, psychologically and behaviorally all inextricably link to homelessness. These inhibited developments lead to children falling victim to issues like substance abuse, depression and mental health problems. The reasons why many children are homeless in Mexico are that they have learning disabilities, come from situations of domestic violence or have familial estrangements. Tragically, it is not uncommon to see homeless children as young as 5 years old attempting to sell trinkets on the streets of larger cities such as Mexico City or Puebla. Certain organizations have been working to take these homeless children out of their dangerous living situations. Mexico Child Link Trust, for example, works toward helping abandoned children with learning disabilities in Mexico. The organization provides housing for abandoned and orphaned children with learning disabilities, many of whom are prior street children. With over 20 years of success, the Mexico Child Link Trust has helped numerous children gain sustainable housing. Meanwhile, Street Soccer Mexico A.C. uses soccer as a tool to help homeless and disadvantaged children transform their perspectives and attitudes. The organization receives aid from national and civic institutions to organize soccer training and tournaments for its members. Since its opening 6 years ago, Street Soccer Mexico A.C. has expanded its program to reach every state of Mexico.

Child poverty in Mexico is flourishing as a substantial portion of the Mexican population lives below the poverty line. A lack of education, food insecurity and homelessness plague many of their lives. While organizations work toward aiding these vulnerable individuals, an abundance of work still needs to occur to help the impoverished children of Mexico.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Pixabay

hunger in switzerlandSwitzerland is a well-off country with a high standard of living and a low poverty rate. While poverty does exist within the country, food security is not much of a concern due to strong welfare programs. This is because hunger in Switzerland is an issue that the government takes seriously and works hard to improve.

Life in Switzerland

Switzerland has a high overall standard of living, but this comes with a high cost of living that can alienate impoverished people. Both Zurich and Geneva are some of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live. Even against other developed countries with similar standards of living, Switzerland is expensive. The average total household expenditure in Switzerland is about 60% higher than the average of the European Union.

The price of living in Switzerland is steep. Swiss health insurance is mandatory by law, monthly rent is relatively high, and transportation and grocery costs are significant expenses. Switzerland also boasts some of the highest salaries in the world, which offsets the costs of living. However, of the 7.9% of Swiss residents living below the poverty line— about 660,000 people—still struggle to afford what they need. However, poverty in Switzerland is relatively low. Government welfare programs help impoverished people get back on their feet.

Welfare Programs in Switzerland

Hunger in Switzerland is rare due to the fact that Swiss welfare payments cover necessities such as food, clothing, housing, health insurance, and other personal needs. Upwards of 270,000 Swiss residents receive some sort of welfare, distributed at the cantonal level to residents living below the country’s poverty line. This amounted to about $2.85 billion spent on welfare throughout the entire country in 2018.

There are several guidelines about who qualifies for receiving welfare and how welfare benefits can be spent. They include housing within a certain price range, cars covered for health reasons or jobs inaccessible by public transport, and welfare not covering expenses for pets. Welfare recipients are not eligible to become Swiss citizens while receiving welfare or for three years after (although the wait is longer in some cantons).

The social assistance programs work to ensure Swiss residents are receiving the help they need to survive and get back on their feet. 8% of welfare recipients need help for six or more years, 20% require assistance for only one or two years, and about 50% receive welfare for less than a year. Aggressive and good quality welfare programs ensure that hunger in Switzerland is a very rare and easily fixable issue.

Global Food Security and Hunger Worldwide

While hunger in Switzerland itself is not much of an issue, Switzerland works hard to assist global food security.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global partnership for agricultural research.  CGIAR is one of Switzerland’s 15 priority organizations for global development. It supports research in 80 countries on food quality and sustainable natural resource management. The goal of their research is to stabilize agricultural production and food supply for a rising global population. The Swiss Federal Council renewed its contributions to the CGIAR in 2019, pledging to contribute CHF 33.1 million or $35.9 million in the 2020-21 period.

Switzerland is dedicated to supporting other countries in facing food insecurity, as shown by the town of Basel which put together the event “Basel Gegen Hunger” in June of 2018. This was the second annual event for the campaign. The event raised funds and brought awareness to the hunger crisis in South Sudan. In six weeks, the residents of Basel raised more than CHF 53,000—close to $60,000—for people affected by the famine.

Hunger in Switzerland is low due to its comprehensive welfare programs. However, the Swiss are dedicated to fighting global hunger. Switzerland addresses hunger domestically and globally through agricultural research, giving money, and spreading awareness.

Kathy Wei

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Tuvalu
Tuvalu is a country made up of nine islands in the West Pacific Ocean. Because Tuvalu is a former British colony, many of its citizens speak English, even though the native language is Tuvaluan and the native people are Polynesian. One-third of the population lives in Funafuti, the main island that is also the most urban. The rest of the population lives a more traditional lifestyle with extended families. Hunger in Tuvalu has been a problem, a direct result of people lacking sufficient money or land to provide for their needs. Here are 5 facts about food and hunger in Tuvalu.

5 Facts About Food and Hunger in Tuvalu

  1. History: For most of Tuvalu’s history, a majority of the population was subsistence farmers, living off of what they grew. Hunger in Tuvalu was a part of life, but there was little famine. Usually, a family could grow enough food to support themselves, and they supplemented their diets with fish caught in the ocean.
  2. Importing Food: As Tuvalu’s connection to the rest of the world has increased, it has begun to import more and more food. Now, 80% of food is imported, mostly from the nearby countries of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Fiji. Importing food is changing hunger in Tuvalu.
  3. Farming and Fishing: Hunger has decreased due to imported food, but Tuvaluans still face challenges with food security. Before Tuvalu began importing most of its food, local farms and fishing provided food security, but now most fish caught is exported. Even so, many rely on their land or fishing to earn money, as a majority of Tuvaluans make their livings as farmers or fishermen. Climate change is also a major threat to food security because changing ecosystems can hurt people’s food supply. As coral in the ocean dies, fish — a crucial food supply — die as well. Additionally, seawater is slowly becoming acidic, making it an increasingly inhabitable environment for sea life. Both factors reduce the number of fish people can export, which is how many Tuvaluans earn their salaries.
  4. Population Growth: A high population growth rate also poses a challenge to food security, threatening to increase hunger in Tuvalu. The yearly population growth rate is 0.87%, and while it is only ranked No. 152 in the world, the land cannot support the current rate of population growth. This increases the possibility of hunger, as many, especially on the smaller islands, completely rely on farming or fishing for their salaries.
  5. Other Health Concerns: Despite circumstances threatening food security, hunger in Tuvalu is not the country’s primary food-related problem. Imported foods, highly composed of fat and sugar to reduce spoilage, have increased obesity on the islands. The country ranks fifth in obesity, with an obesity rate of 51.6%. Now, even though processed food has virtually ended the issue of hunger in Tuvalu, it has created another health concern: obesity.

By importing food, Tuvalu has solved many of its issues surrounding hunger. Even though the country still faces challenges surrounding food security and obesity, the issue of hunger in Tuvalu has become much less prevalent since the country increased connections with the rest of the world.

Seona Maskara
Photo: Flickr

Global Food SecurityThe global population has been growing exponentially in the last few decades as compared to earlier times in human history, given that 42% of the population is under the age of 25. With a rapidly growing population, global food security is threatened and it is expected that without major agricultural enhancement, there will not be enough food for future generations. By 2050, crop production must grow by 60-100% from 2005 levels in order to avoid this fate.

Youth hold the future of the global food system in their hands. There are many young people working to combat the global food security crisis in a way that puts sights on the future, not the present. Through scientific innovations, advocacy and more, these young men and women not only give hope for a world with less hunger but also vehemently encourage others to join them. Some examples of their work follow. 

Kiranjit Kaur: Kisan Mazdoor Khudkushi Peedit Parivar Committee

Kiranjit Kaur of India, a 23-year-old political science postgraduate student from Punjab state, is a pioneer in the fight against farmer suicide. Losing her own father to suicide spurred her to focus on community engagement to address the statistics of over 16,000 farmer suicides in India each year. With 39% of the employed population working in agriculture, success is important for the health and well-being of farming families.

Punjab was an agricultural haven during the Green Revolution, but since the 1990s, with increased land productivity and the cost of agriculture, loans have become a norm and financial stress has increased. Kaur motivates the women in her community to participate in a social campaign that focuses on mental health, mutual support and activism. As for now, she spends most of her time working with the group but plans to do a Ph.D. on farmer suicide in the future.

Craig Piggott: Halter

A New Zealand native, Craig Piggott dedicates his talents to agricultural innovations in herding and tracking cows. His invention involves a GPS-enabled and solar-powered collar for cows, Halter, which enables farmers to herd the animals remotely; using sounds and vibrations to both direct the cows and alert the farmers of any issues. Piggott developed the app through three years of testing, and a few dairy farmers in Waikato are eager to implement the technology within their own herds. With more testing and exposure, he hopes to extend the program nationally to aid New Zealand’s agricultural field.

This innovative app will save time and resources by decreasing the farmer’s workload and using grazing grass more efficiently, thanks to the virtual fences. Piggott’s company was founded in 2016 when he was 22-years-old and has grown to a current team of more than 40 scientists, engineers and other professionals.

Sophie Healy-Thow: Scaling Up Nutrition

Sophie Healy-Thow, a 20-year-old Irish college student, is a prominent European name in the rural development advocacy and global food security spaces. She and her team’s natural bacteria project won the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in 2013, and she was also named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential Teens. Healy-Thow also speaks out about calling leaders to action, and hopes for a time when young people are listened to and engaged instead of just getting a pat on the head.

Today she speaks at the U.N. conventions and TED talks and is part of a team developing a Kenyan project called Agrikua, which focuses on encouraging women’s involvement in agriculture, providing education and other support. After university, she plans to work for a charitable organization that helps women, inspired by her current involvement in ActionAid U.K.

Jefferson Kang’acha: The Eden Horticultural Club

Food security is not a new issue in 19-year-old Jefferson Kang’acha’s life in Kenya, and he works to grow tomatoes in order to protect the staple ingredient of many Kenyan households. Due to declining yields, the price of tomatoes has spiked to high prices that most Kenyan families cannot afford. In response, Kang’acha developed the hydroponic production of tomatoes, which grows the plants with no soil and in a controlled climate.

By founding the Eden Horticultural Club, he is able to provide tomatoes to his community, including schools and hospitals in the area. In the first few months alone, he was able to distribute 2.5 tons of tomatoes to more than 100 households. He hopes to one day use this process to assist global food security throughout Africa and beyond.

The Future of Global Food Security

The future of the agriculture industry is hard to predict, but the U.N. encourages youth participation and innovation to solve the problem. Goal 2 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” Vast problems require bold solutions, and these four young people are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovators doing their part to protect global food security.

Savannah Gardner
Photo: Pixabay

Twiga Foods
COVID-19 has caused many issues for poor families around the world. However, Kenyan food distributor Twiga Foods is helping families during COVID-19.

What is Twiga Foods?

Twiga Foods emerged in 2014 as a mobile-based food distribution company. What it does is source produce from local farmers and manufacturers. Suppliers can post their produce online so vendors can order it at an affordable price. Today, Twiga employs about 4,000 suppliers and about 35,000 vendors.

Fast Company has listed Twiga Foods as one of the most innovative companies. Twiga Foods was also listed as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers.” The company has “reinvented Africa’s approach to retail, making it less time-consuming and more efficient.” The company “presents a convenient and reliable alternative to the current expensive farm and factory-to-market processes.”

The mission for Twiga Foods is simple: “to feed and supply Africa’s growing urban population with traceable, quality and affordable products whose quality, health and safety standards are at one with global conventions and best practice.”

What Twiga is Doing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The spread of COVID-19 created a lot of concern for Twiga Foods. Some of its clients include hotels and restaurants which have run minimally during the pandemic. However, Twiga was listed as an essential business, and the company was able to keep operating and employ thousands of people.

In June 2020, Twiga partnered up with Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and Jumia to support families during the pandemic. The program these companies created offers a “convenient way for customers who wish to donate during the pandemic period.” Twiga Foods is providing discounted prices of fresh produce up to 50% as an incentive for people to donate to the cause.

How Companies like Twiga Foods Can Help the Market

The success of Twiga Foods matches Kenya’s growing economy and reduction of poverty. Kenya’s GDP went from $61.45 billion in 2014 to $95.5 billion in 2019. However, Kenya’s GDP in 2020 has gone down to about $80 billion.

Not only has the GDP risen over the past few years, but poverty rates in Kenya have gone down. From 2005 to 2006, 46.8% of Kenyans lived below the poverty line. From 2015 to 2016, the amount of Kenyans living under the poverty line dropped to 36.1%. This drop in the poverty rate was due to the increasing importance of non-agricultural income to supplement agricultural income for rural households.

Between 2013 and 2017, about 25% of the nation’s GDP came from agriculture. However, farmers across Kenya find it hard to make a living due to the insufficiency of the African agricultural market. Having companies like Twiga Foods support these farmers can help improve food safety, environmental and social practices.

When Twiga Foods connects rural farmers to informal retail vendors in the cities, it can enhance the agricultural market for both the suppliers and the consumers. Farmers can have guaranteed access to a fairly-priced, transparent and mobile marketplace. Vendors can get high-quality and fresh produce to sell to consumers at a lower price. Having food sold at a lower price is a way that Twiga foods is helping families afford the food they need to survive.

Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr

world hunger aid app
Chronic hunger is still an issue that plagues many countries and communities around the world. Many solutions proposed to solve world hunger have been ongoing for decades, yet the problem persists. In the technology-focused 21st century, these attempts at solutions have become increasingly digital. One such digital solution is a world hunger aid application from the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

The World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is the U.N.’s top organization in charge of managing and solving world hunger crises. It is focused on emergency food aid as well as helping communities maintain high nutrition standards. The WFP’s efforts are responsible for the allocation and distribution of billions of rations, worldwide to food-insecure communities each year.

Most of these food aid efforts happen on the ground, in the affected areas. However, a new initiative from the WFP can involve far more people in the crusade against world hunger. The solution is the world hunger aid application, “ShareTheMeal.”

ShareTheMeal: How Does it Work?

Launched in 2015, ShareTheMeal is a one-of-a-kind world hunger aid application. Its sole purpose is to allow users worldwide, to donate meals to adults and children around the world via their smartphones or tablets. To participate, users simply tap a button to send an $0.80 donation to the WFP, which covers the cost of one meal.

ShareTheMeal also allows users to assist with its mission in several other ways. Within the user interface, the hunger aid application splits donation tiers into higher amounts, such as “Feed a Child for a Week” or “Feed a Child for a Year,” which correspond to a donation value, to fund that goal. The application also has a feature called “The Table,” where a monthly donation matches the user with the family they are supporting. This allows users to receive updates on how their donations helped a specific family.

In addition to its general donation tiers, ShareTheMeal has real-time, cause-specific donation sections. These include assisting with the famine crisis in Yemen and supporting Syrian refugees in Iraq. The application’s “Teams” option also allows users to form teams with friends, coworkers or family members to meet a donation goal.

ShareTheMeal’s Impact

To date, ShareTheMeal has donated more than 78 million meals to people in need via its 2+ million users on iOS alone. It has received thousands of five-star reviews for its efforts and was named the Google Play Store’s Best Social Impact app. ShareTheMeal has also been featured by several major global news outlets, from CNN, Forbes and Al Jazeera to Spiegel Online.

The application has directly contributed to the WFP’s efforts to continue providing aid to communities affected by global hunger. ShareTheMeal combines peoples’ desire to support a cause with the technology that permeates their everyday lives — in a masterfully simple idea that offers tangible results. In doing so, the application brings the world of charity to a new generation of contributors via its smartphone presence.

Outlook — Positive

As hunger persists around the globe, ShareTheMeal continues to grow and evolve today. The world hunger aid application announced that during the next five years, it aims to donate 800 million meals to the world’s poor. ShareTheMeal’s goal is massive, but with its millions of users, exceptional usability and the emotional connections it creates between users and those they assist (with their donations) — this clever piece of technology seems to be on track to succeed in its quest to end global starvation.

– Domenic Scalora
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in New Zealand
New Zealand, an island country located in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean, is home to a population of about 4.8 million people and comprises of nearly 600 islands. In 2019, New Zealand received the rank of one of the world’s richest countries, ranking fifth after Switzerland, Hong Kong, the United States and Australia. Despite its status as a rich country, New Zealand still has hidden issues with poverty, food insecurity and hunger.

Hunger and Poverty in New Zealand

Nearly one in five children in New Zealand are living in “relative poverty,” according to a report done by Stats NZ in June 2019. This number rises to one in four in the case of the Māori population (New Zealand’s indigenous people). Though it is a relatively wealthy country, many New Zealanders live with food insecurity. Defined as a lack of access to healthy and nutritious food, food insecurity has negative effects on families, children, health and even mental health.

New Zealand’s Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) estimated that the weekly cost to feed a person ranges from 29 to 74 NZD (depending on age and sex). For a family of four, that means food costs can average over $400 NZD a month on top of other costs like utilities, rent, clothing and education. According to CPAG, about 7% of New Zealanders experienced severe food insecurity in 2008/2009, and 3% — one-third of New Zealanders — experienced moderate food insecurity. The implications of this, even when dealing with moderate food insecurity, were large. CPAG reported on families struggling to feed their children, often opting for unhealthy food because it was cheapest, going through garbage to salvage food or forgoing food altogether to make sure their children did not go hungry.

COVID-19’s Impact

Food insecurity, fortunately, has reduced to about 10% of New Zealanders in 2019. But with the outbreak of COVID-19, the Auckland City Mission estimated that that number had rocketed to 20%. Between citizens losing jobs, panic-buying at grocery stores and other factors, the pandemic is threatening more widespread food insecurity in New Zealand. Emergency food assistance services have seen large spikes in demand. Additionally, many essential workers may be working full-time but are still not making enough to put food on the table.

Though it expects the winter months (June through August) to be harder on families, especially with the pandemic, Auckland City Mission was able to provide emergency food to over 23,000 families and individuals who were “in desperate need” over the last financial year. Additionally, when New Zealand released its 2020 budget in May 2020, Auckland City Mission released a statement noting that its social services support package meant the mission could help even more families who are facing food insecurity this winter.

The Future of Food Security

Food insecurity in New Zealand remains an important problem. In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, these problems are becoming harder to ignore. Recently, CPAG released a paper about its ideas to solve food insecurity for New Zealand’s youth, including food programs in schools. It showed that with awareness and advocacy, people can begin to find solutions to these problems. In fact, the 2020 budget plans to expand an existing school lunch program to ensure that by the end of 2021, 200,000 students will receive a healthy lunch every day at school, up from the 8,000 currently receiving aid from the program. This sort of increase is a promising step to reducing the amount of food insecurity for New Zealand’s children.

Additionally, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Auckland City Mission has gone from supporting 450 families to over 1,200 and expect that number to stay high throughout the winter. Thanks to the 2020 New Zealand budget, Auckland City Mission will be able to continue helping those in need.

It is an unprecedented time for food insecurity in New Zealand, especially on top of existing challenges lower-income families have been facing. However, with help from the government and organizations like Auckland City Mission, the country is beginning to put more focus on providing food to those who need it most.

Sophie Grieser
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty eradication in ItalyMany programs are working toward innovations in poverty eradication in Italy. These programs include an income program instated by the government, a fuel poverty program partnership between two companies and charities that provide assistance to the needy. Here are four facts about innovations in poverty eradication in Italy:

4 Facts About Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Italy

  1. Italy’s welfare program: In 2019, Italy introduced a €7 billion income welfare program to help reduce poverty. As of 2018, 5.1 million people in Italy lived in poverty. This program targets those people, as well as Italian citizens, EU citizens and legal residents living in Italy for 10 years or more. Households whose annual income is equal to or below €9,360 are eligible. Those eligible receive €780 a month, which can help pay for essentials such as grocery, rent and utilities. In the program, individuals who are able-bodied are also required to sign up for job placement and training programs. Employers who hire individuals taking part in the program receive financial incentives.
  2. Reducing fuel poverty: Fuel poverty is present in Italy, but so are programs to help tackle it. Fuel poverty is defined by the European Energy Poverty Observatory as “the inability to keep the home adequately warm at an affordable cost.” This affects more than 3.9 million Italians per year. A U.K.-based company called PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partnered with an international organization, Ashoka, to reduce low-income families living in fuel poverty in Italy. The project relies on social innovators and entrepreneurs to find novel methods of tackling fuel poverty and reducing it in Italy.
  3. Food stamps: Italian programs for food assistance are giving out free meals and food stamps. Particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, many Italians are facing unemployment, and about one million are in need of food assistance. Programs such as the Ronda della Solidarieta charity, which offers free dinners twice a week in Rome to those in need, and the Nona Roma association, which drops off boxes filled with food necessities to low-income Roman families, are helping reduce the amount of people who go hungry. In 2020, the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, delegated €400 million for food stamps.
  4. Charities: Charities for the homeless and low-income are attempting to provide resources such as food and health items to those in need. The COVID-19 crisis can be especially difficult for homeless Italians, as closed restaurants and bars provide less access for them to wash their hands. Similarly, it can be difficult to obtain food while social distancing, and homeless people are sometimes stopped by the police for not abiding by quarantine laws. The Community for St. Egidio is a charity that keeps their soup kitchen open, and they distribute 2,500 meals per week. They are also seeking donations for face masks, hand sanitizers and food. 

There is still a long way to go in eradicating poverty in Italy, and COVID-19 may worsen the plight of low-income families in Italy. However, it is still important to note these programs as they help families in need and create innovations in poverty eradication in Italy.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash

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

Background of Hunger in Fiji

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

Main Causes of Hunger in Fiji

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

Traditional Fijian Diet

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

Health Consequences

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

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

Lily Jones
Photo: Flickr

transportation in impoverished areas
Transportation plays a major role in the development of a region. A lack of transportation impacts a large population of the global poor, from those in rural regions looking for urban jobs to students who need to commute to school. There is great potential for transportation in impoverished areas to stimulate growth and increase opportunities for underserved communities. Here are five facts about transportation in impoverished areas.

5 Facts About Transportation in Impoverished Areas

  1. Access to Transportation: Though a seemingly simple topic, transportation is quite complex for many people across the globe. There are many potential obstacles to accessing transportation. For example, public transport remains unaffordable to many poor people. Relatively high fares make public transportation unattainable for the bottom 20% of the income pyramid.
  2. Increased Job Opportunities: In developing regions, a large portion of economically disadvantaged people live in rural areas. Transport conditions are frequently difficult and draining for these rural poor. A study found that transportation services in rural sub-Saharan Africa actually helped reduce poverty and encourage growth. Improved transportation generally increases access to opportunity for the poor, potentially leading to increased income and ownership of assets. Eventually, these improvements support sustained economic growth for individuals, spurring generational change.
  3. Access to Education: Many students in impoverished areas find that commuting to and from school takes a toll on their physical and mental capacity to learn. In many cases, students drop out of primary school because they have to walk long distances to reach school. In fact, in the absence of paved roads, only 21% of rural girls and 58% of rural boys attend school. On the other hand, if a paved road exists, school enrollment rates increase to 48% for girls and 76% for boys.
  4. Food Security: Access to food and the risk of hunger remain major threats to the global poor. Although rural economies in developing countries are predominantly agrarian, approximately 45% of land area in low-income countries is located more than five hours away from the main market. Without proper infrastructure, farmers cannot sell their produce to a larger market. For instance, poor road links were shown to raise transport costs of bananas in Kenya by 14%. Better transportation systems improve the efficiency of food distribution by connecting regions, while also lowering vehicle damage.
  5. Gender Disparities: There is an obvious gap between the number of men and women in poverty. Despite increasing their participating in the labor force, women end up with lower salaries, often working in the informal sector. Unequal access to transportation perpetuates this trend. In Pakistan, where 75% of women engaged in non-agriculture jobs in the informal economy, a lack of access to public services adversely impacted women’s economic security. Due to fear of violent street crime and abuse, a disproportionate share of women’s commutes in cities are walking trips.

Transportation is a necessary investment to fight global poverty and lift living conditions for those abroad. Governments must work hard to improve access to transportation in impoverished areas. However, foreign aid stands to elevate local governments’ abilities to meet citizens’ basic needs.

Elizabeth Qiao
Photo: Flickr