Information and stories on food.

How Rising Fuel Prices in Zimbabwe
A 150 percent rise in fuel prices in Zimbabwe has had dramatic consequences on the lives of the country’s citizens. The rise in Zimbabwe’s cost of living initially started because of confusion behind its currency, but it has leaked into every aspect of living. For example, after the price increase, the price of bread almost doubled within a week. Organizations like USAID and the World Food Program are trying to help alleviete the true cost of the rise in fuel prices in Zimbabwe.

The Currency Crisis and Fuel Prices

After rampant inflation, Zimbabwe got rid of its own currency and adopted others, such as sterling or the South African Rand. Now, however, there is not enough hard currency to back up $10 million in digital funds. This shortage of imports is affecting local stores and supermarkets by making it more difficult to stock their shelves. Thus, the supermarkets that do have stock have been raising their prices. Fuel has also become a big problem.

Zimbabwe now has the highest priced petrol in the world at more than $3 a liter. The second highest prices are in China at around $2 a liter. The government has stated that the significant rise in fuel prices was put in place to prevent fuel shortages and counteract illegal fuel trading. The country mostly imports its fuel, but without hard currency, imported products are difficult to obtain. In addition to this, the government has been accusing people of hoarding fuel and selling it on the black market, which is said to be much cheaper than buying it up front because of the country’s currency crisis.

Food Insecurity

Without fuel, many farmers cannot operate the basic machines that they need to cultivate and harvest crops. Many rural households rely on agriculture as a main source of food, and the prediction of bad harvests by USAID only makes the situation seem worse. In addition, the current drought has left farms without rainfall to water crops, and without fuel, farms cannot power their irrigation systems to counteract poor rainfall.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that “2.4 million people in rural Zimbabwe will be food insecure by March 2019.” This is in part due to the droughts and in part due to the overwhelming increase in fuel prices.  With crop failure and the cost of imports being so high, the government is finding it difficult to import basic necessities such as food and medication.

Plans for Aid

Some citizens believe that effective aid should not come from the local government due to previous allegations that the dominant party prioritizes aid to its own supporters. Organizations like USAID and WFP are partnering to provide emergency food assistance to 665,000 hungry people in Zimbabwe. USAID also supports developmental programs in Zimbabwe such as Amalima.

The Amalima program has families come together to learn productive tasks such as raising livestock and cultivating farmland. The program aims to use these learning tasks to be able to improve child nutrition and help the people in rural communities to better prepare for a food crisis.

The country is certainly in a crisis stage when it comes to food security. Due in part to both the rise of fuel prices in Zimbabwe, the economic crisis and poor harvests due to drought. As aid ramps up to keep up with the needs of the region, many can be saved from starvation and malnutrition. Emergency aid and ongoing developmental programs are doing their part to make sure the people of Zimbabwe lead healthy and fruitful lives.

Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Pixabay

El SalvadorComing in at 114 out of all countries, El Salvador has a relatively high life expectancy rate for countries within the region. El Salvador is a smaller country situated in Central America known for both its beaches and mountainous regions. With a population of 6,187, 271 people, 32 percent of Salvadorians live below the poverty line. Below are the top 10 facts about life expectancy in El Salvador.

The Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in El Salvador

  1. As of 2018, the life expectancy for people living in El Salvador is 75 years. On average, women in El Salvador live longer than men with a life expectancy of 78.6 years. Men have an average life expectancy of 71.8 years. This is on par with the life expectancies of the different countries in Central America
  2. Gang violence has been a prevalent issue in El Salvador and is contributing to a lower life expectancy. In 2015, there were 103 homicides per 100,000 El Salvadorians. That same year, high rates of deadly attacks on women reached 1,062. Homicides, drug trafficking and the use of firearms are all directly related to conflict amongst El Salvador’s gangs.
  3. Since 1960, there has been an increased focus on the healthcare system in El Salvador, which has increased life expectancy by 23 years. As of 2014, El Salvador has spent about 6.9 percent of its gross domestic product and 17 percent of its overall public expenditure on healthcare. The Ministry of Health is the main regulator and care provider of the health system in El Salvador. The Salvadorian Social Security Institute (ISSS) provides the second highest number of care facilities in El Salvador, organizing its services into four regions.
  4. El Salvador has recognized the importance of having trained physicians in order to increase the life expectancy for its citizens. There are 11 institutions of higher education in El Salvador that are working to train health personnel in order to provide a higher quality of care to El Salvadorians and to increase the doctor-patient ratio. From 2010 to 2015, the number of physicians per 1,000 people went from 1.6 to 1.95.
  5. The World Food Programme (WFP) is working in El Salvador to increase food security, which would improve life expectancy. Its strategic outcomes include ensuring nutrition-sensitive social protection for vulnerable households, increasing sustainable production for smallholder farm, determining and increasing resilience to climate change for vulnerable communities, increasing food access for people affected by disasters to food security and strengthening the national and subnational control over nutritional resources. This plan will be enacted by 2021.
  6. As of 2017, 25,000 people in El Salvador were living with HIV/AIDS, which is 0.6 percent of the overall population in the country. Organizations like UNAIDS are working to increase education on HIV/AIDS and to provide more materials for prevention. El Salvador was one of three countries to receive a grant for $26.9 million from the Global Fund to improve access to HIV-related services and to deliver treatments. Currently, 3,000 people are receiving services from prevention clinics set up in El Salvador.
  7. There is a high risk of having a major infectious disease in El Salvador, including a high risk for food or waterborne diseases. Healthcare reform brought attention to a need for vaccinations. In 1990, immunization rates were at 76 percent, but as of 2016, that number had increased to 93 percent. The improvement in immunization rates has had a positive impact on increasing life expectancy in El Salvador.
  8. Sanitation facilities are a contributor to widespread diseases in El Salvador. Rural areas tend to have less access to improved sanitation. Sanitation services in El Salvador have been made accessible to 71 percent of the population, leaving 13 percent of urban populations and 16 percent of rural populations underserved. The National Organisation of Water and Sewer Works (ANDA) is working to ensure coordination between all ministries and government agencies to provide focus on sanitation efforts in El Salvador.
  9. El Salvador is vulnerable to many natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and flooding. From 2005 to 2013, natural disasters have displaced around 20,913 people and taken the lives of 56 people. Factors that increase life expectancy and quality of life such as access to water, sanitation and education are negatively impacted by displacement. Habitat for Humanity is working in El Salvador to rebuild and increase the resilience of homes in El Salvador. Since 1992, Habitat for Humanity has been able to help around 167,000 Salvadorians by providing housing security.
  10. Currently, the World Bank has committed $290 million in El Salvador. These funds contribute to the improvement of five different projects that protect and enhance vulnerable groups. The World Bank has allocated $50 million towards the Disaster Risk Management Program specifically for natural disasters. This funding has been able to reduce natural disaster displacement, decrease homicide rates, improve the health care system and the overall quality of life in El Salvador.

High vulnerability to natural disasters, a lack of clean water and sanitation sources, gang violence and disparities within the healthcare system have contributed to lower life expectancy rates in El Salvador. However, these 10 facts about life expectancy rates in El Salvador show that attention is now being given to places where intervention can improve living conditions for El Salvadorians. Due to these efforts, the life expectancy rate in El Salvador has been growing at an average annual rate of 0.33 percent.

Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

children in venezuela
In a nation experiencing an economic crisis, the children of Venezuela are suffering. Poverty is on the rise, including an increase in the malnutrition of children due to limited access to resources. Families fleeing to Peru have traveled quite far. Along the way, many have faced discrimination due to their migrant status. UNICEF and Plan International have developed a strategy for aiding children who are experiencing rapid changes in their home lives. They are helping children in Venezuela find a “Happiness Plan.”

Conditions in Venezuela

At one time, Venezuela was part of a wealthier portion of Latin America. However, with new officials and underdevelopment, poverty is now abundant. A large number of resources were focused toward developing the oil industry while other developments were delayed. With the newfound prosperity that oil brought, the economic gap grew further and further apart. The consequences of such destitution can be easily seen in the adults and children of Venezuela. Food, medicine, water and other resources are greatly lacking. This leaves people desperately searching for food.

The desperation associated with poverty was significantly increased in March due to a five-day blackout. Resources like food and water were even more scarce than usual. Some resorted to collecting water from sewage pipes. Multitudes of people were left without food. People rushed to stores to find food but discovered that the stores were already stripped. Some stores were even trashed and burnt in the chaos that ensued with riots. The riots were also the cause of several deaths from untreated medical conditions to gunshot wounds. Hospitals operated under less than ideal conditions, with limited access to electricity and supplies, such as soap.

The Effects of This Crisis On Children

In a press release, UNICEF stated, “ While precise figures are unavailable because of very limited official health or nutrition data, there are clear signs that the crisis is limiting children’s access to quality health services, medicines and food.” Statistics about conditions in Venezuela can be hard to come by, and the ones that are available are often disheartening. Malnutrition is becoming a larger issue for the children of Venezuela. While the government has attempted some measures of addressing the problem, such as monthly packages of food for sale, more still needs to be done to provide for the Venezuelan people.

As a result of the continued crisis in Venezuela, many have fled the country. As of 2018, two million people had already left Venezuela; without a doubt, numerous others have left since. For those who are awaiting refugee status or to be reunited with lost family members, UNICEF has created a safe place to help children with this difficult time.

The Happiness Plan

The “Happiness Plan” is a safe space for children that has been set up in a tent in the country of Peru. Filled with games, coloring pages and books, this tent provides an outlet for children to be children while awaiting their official entry into Peru. In addition to the fun activities, the “Happiness Plan” offers psychosocial support from professionals for children struggling with these difficult transitions they are facing.

Some of the children passing through the tent have been separated from their families. They are awaiting the chance to rejoin their families in Peru. Others are with some members of their nuclear family but had to leave the rest of their family and friends behind them in Venezuela. One survey taken by UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration stated that 73 percent of Venezuelan families in Tumbes, Peru, had to leave behind one or more of their children.

In such a dismal time for Venezuela, it is reassuring to know that organizations such as UNICEF and Plan International are implementing programs to help these children who have experienced such abrupt change. They will undoubtedly need physical and psychological support to heal from the trauma they have experienced in their home country.

Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Flickr

five NGOs are petitioning the government to end the war in Yemen
The war in Yemen between Houthi rebels and the Saudi led coalition has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite the dire situation, there is reason to hope. On November 26, five NGOs petitioned the U.S. Government to call an end to the war. Two days later, the U.S. Government announced it would add an additional $24 million to USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. On December 13, the Senate voted to end the United States support of the Saudi coalition. These are the five NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen.

Since 2015, there have been more than 16,000 civilians casualties, 22.2 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of aid and eight million are at risk of famine. The war has led to a host of other problems as well, including a cholera outbreak and a lack of access to clean water. Many organizations are trying to stop the conflict in Yemen. These are 5 nonprofit organizations working hard to protect the people of Yemen.

These are the 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC): The International Rescue Committee, headed by David Miliband, a former U.K. Secretary of Foreign Affairs, is focused on humanitarian relief operations in war-affected areas. Right now it operates in more than 40 countries, and its refugee resettlement program operates in 28 U.S. cities. The IRC has been providing aid to Yemen since 2012, working to protect women and children as well as provide access to healthcare and education.
  2. Oxfam: Oxfam is a global organization working in more than 90 countries to end poverty. Led by Abby Maxman, the former Deputy Secretary General of CARE International, Oxfam believes in identifying and changing the root causes of poverty rather than just sending material aid. Through fighting and eliminating injustice, Oxfam feels that poverty can finally be eliminated. The organization has been working in Yemen since 2015 to prevent diseases by providing sanitation, hygiene assistance and clean water to those affected by the war.
  3. CARE: CARE is active in 93 countries around the globe working to combat social injustice and poverty. The organization is headed by Michelle Nunn, who previously ran the organization Points of Light and had been a candidate for the U.S. Senate. CARE current goal is to reach 200 million of the world’s most vulnerable people by 2020. CARE has been working in Yemen since 1992 and is currently providing food, water and sanitation to one million Yemenis people each month.
  4. Save the Children: Save the Children is an organization that works in the U.S. and around the world to provide for underprivileged children. It is headed by Carolyn Miles, who has been with the organization since 1998. Save the Children is active in 120 countries worldwide promoting nutrition, health and education programs. Save the Children is doing just that in Yemen by treating almost 100,000 Yemenis children for malnutrition through mobile health clinics.
  5. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): The Norwegian Refugee Council started its relief efforts after World War II and continues its mission to this day. The organization is active in 32 countries across the world to provide clean water, education, camp management, legal aid, food assistance and shelter to refugees. The Norwegian Refugee Council is headed by Jan Egeland, who has been with the organization since 2013 and was appointed in 2015 by the U.N. as special envoy to Syria. In 2017, the NRC has provided food for more than 300,000 Yemenis and shelter to more than 50,000.

These 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen are all fighting for a better world for the world’s poor. Through their work, they were able to spur the government into action. Since the petition, millions of dollars have been added to the aid package for Yemen, and the U.S. has voted to end its military involvement in the conflict.

Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Flickr

5 Facts about Food Assistance in Burundi
Burundi is a small, landlocked country located in East Africa, bordered by Rwanda and the Republic of the Congo. Though Burundi is rich in agriculture, with coffee as its main export, more than 65 percent of citizens live in poverty. About 1.4 million people or 13 percent of the Burundi population require emergency food assistance, including 56 percent of children who suffer from stunting. Food assistance in Burundi is crucial to the survival of these people as without outside food assistance, Burundi would only manage to produce enough food to last every citizen 55 days. In this article, the top five facts to know about food assistance in Burundi are presented.

Top 5 Facts about Food Assistance in Burundi

  1. As one option for providing food assistance in Burundi, an organization will directly provide emergency food, whether that be through providing meals to children at school or giving families livestock for milk, meat, or eggs. The World Food Programme (WFP) is a United Nations organization that works with the Burundi government and other U.N. agencies to provide immediate emergency food assistance in Burundi. In 2017, WFP fed over 464,000 children through their homegrown school meals program and provided 31 percent of all school meals in the country. This act of food assistance has decreased school dropout rates by 10 percent from 2014 to 2017 because children now know that they will be fed at school, no matter what their situation at home.
  2. The United States, along with the U.N., also provides emergency food assistance in Burundi. In 2017, The United States gave almost $50 million in emergency humanitarian assistance that includes both medical assistance and food assistance. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) works through WFP to provide food for refugees and specialized nutritious food for malnourished children and pregnant women. In 2018 alone, FFP contributed $30.1 million, which amounts to 11,360 metric tons of food to Burundi.
  3. As a second option for providing food assistance in Burundi, organizations will conduct research to figure out how best to optimize food assistance programs. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from USAID, conducted a study called Tubaramure from 2009 to 2014 to see the impact of food assistance on pregnant mothers and children younger than 2 years. They found that food assistance has the greatest effect on a child from the time of their conception to their second birthday, and can reduce the risk of stunting throughout their childhood. This information greatly assists food assistance programs and can help them concentrate their efforts on children under the age of 2.
  4. As a third option for providing food assistance in Burundi, organizations will help the citizens of Burundi provide food for themselves. This includes training farmers, thinking of innovative ways to farm and control erosion, a big problem in Burundi because of the many hills, or providing the means for a family to start their own farm. For example, after doing extensive research, Wageningen University is implementing a project called Supporting Agricultural Productivity in Burundi (PAPAB). This project will work with 80,000 farmers to improve their access to fertilizer, their knowledge of current farming methods and their overall motivation to farm.
  5. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) also participated in this method to provide food assistance in Burundi. They worked with Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) to integrate livestock manure, used as fertilizer, into regular farming practices, reinforce erosion control through forest planting and train farmers in specialized areas, such as mushroom cultivation. This way, farmers can provide additional income for their families. Through FAO and FFS’s work, 200 families in urban areas now have micro-gardens and the community has planted more than 49,000 fruit tree saplings. In the future, FAO plans to provide families with goats for breeding and continue teaching them about micro-gardens to supplement their nutrition intake.

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than 50 percent of the Burundi population is chronically food insecure. However, organizations who provide food assistance in Burundi, such as USAID, WFP and FAO are giving life-saving support to the people who need it most.

– Natalie Dell

Photo: Flickr

agriculture in Senegal
The story of sustainable agriculture in Senegal is one of success that should be used as a guide for other countries. Between 1960 and the early 1980s, Senegal used monocropping, a dangerous practice where only one crop is grown year after year, leaching more and more nutrients from the ground. This eventually left the soil void of essential nutrients. When the area was hit by drought in the early 1980s, the land was unable to cope, and the country suffered from food shortages. However, over the last 20 years, Senegal has been using sustainable agriculture to bring back fertility to the soil.

In 1989, the United States government began working with Rodale International to come up with a plan to restore the soil. The plan was to use crop rotation. Every three years, one of four different plants would be sown in the soil. Each plant would only take certain nutrients from the ground and replace others. One of these plants was peanuts, the plant that caused the problem in the first place, and the second was millet. Both are now the main agricultural exports of Senegal. The other two crops in rotation are cowpeas and cassava.

The International Production and Pest Management Program

The United States and international companies are not the only organizations helping improve sustainable agriculture in Senegal. Senegal has been part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) IPPM program since 2001. The IPPM (Integrated Production and Pest Management Program) is dedicated to responsible pest control practices. The program touches on many points to control pests; however, its most important lesson is the responsible use of pesticides.

Pesticides remain a continuous problem in Senegal and most of the world due to their overuse. Pesticides stay in the water table, contaminating drinking water. They also hurt the soil since the chemicals build up over time and stay on the crops. When consumed pesticides are harmful to humans and animals. This is not to say that they are not sometimes necessary, but the IPPM suggests a less-is-more approach.

Syngenta

Private foundations are also doing their part. Syngenta, a Swiss-based based agricultural firm, has a foundation called the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. The foundation works with public and private sector partners in order to finance innovations in sustainable agriculture. They also work with the World Bank, USAID and both the Swiss and Australian governments.

Since 2014, Syngenta has been promoting sustainable agriculture in Senegal’s rice production. In 2015, the organization began helping farmers gain access to better-mechanized equipment to facilitate rice cultivation in the Senegal River Valley. The overall approach of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture is to work with the entire system. The work with NGO’s and governments to help small farmers become more productive has helped to increase the economic benefit of sustainable farming practices. It also helps the farmers better feed themselves and their families.

Improving the Economy Through Sustainable Agriculture

The soil is becoming productive again, and farmers are gaining access to better techniques and equipment. However, the fight is not over. Senegal suffers from an unemployment rate of 47 percent. In 2017, the agricultural industry employed 77 percent of the population in Senegal, an estimated 6.9 million people. However, the agriculture industry only makes up only about 17 percent of the of the country’s GDP. The next step to better economic stability will be to tackle these issues. Hopefully, like its soil, the Senegalese economy will now rejuvenate and grow for all.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Venezuela
Life expectancy rates in Venezuela may have looked very different a decade ago under Hugo Chavez, but now the country caught the attention of the world with the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, which has resulted in civil unrest. The country is facing extreme hyperinflation and a reduced supply of power, healthcare and food, which has ensured the exodus of more than three million citizens in recent years. Although the country has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, its economy seems to have collapsed within months. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Venezuela.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Venezuela

  1. In terms of life expectancy at birth, Venezuela was ranked 92 in the world in 2017, with a total life expectancy at birth of about 76 years. The expectancy of males is 70 while that of females is 79.
  2. Coronary heart disease has been cited as the chief cause of death, resulting in roughly 16 percent of all deaths, followed by Cardiovascular disease, which had almost the same death toll as violence. The cardiovascular problems have been attributed to the increasing trend of a sedentary lifestyle that more people are leading now due to urbanization of the area.
  3. The country reached its lowest infant mortality rate of 14.3 percent in 2010. Unfortunately, there has been an increase since that year with the rate shooting up to 25.7 percent in 2017 from 22.2 percent in the previous year. The researchers from The Lancet Global Health could not determine one cause of the trend, but it indicated a number of factors that may be responsible such as the collapse of healthcare and macroeconomic policies.
  4. Maternal mortality rates have increased 65 percent to 756 deaths in 2016 from 6.3 percent in the earlier year. I Love Venezuela is an NGO that has been trying to reduce these rates by providing more than 4,200 families with medical supplies.
  5. The data provided by Venezuela to the World Health Organization showed that cases of Zika virus increased from 71 to 59,348 in 2016. This increase was likely one of the causes of the significant rise in both infant and maternal mortality rates.
  6. Encovi, the Encuesta de Condiciones de Vida, a survey on living conditions done by a group of universities, found that the citizens lost an average of 24 pounds of body weight in 2017 due to extreme hunger. Around 61.2 percent of the population was living in extreme poverty. The study also reported that poverty rates had increased from the previous year from 82 percent to 87 percent. Furthermore, 61.9 percent of the adult population reported going to bed hungry because they couldn’t afford to buy food. A U.S. based NGO, Mercy Corps, has expanded their operations on the Colombo-Venezuelan borders to appease such disparities as many Venezuelans are crossing the border into Colombia to escape the skyrocketing food prices.
  7. There has been a staggering increase in the number of children dying from malnutrition and dehydration that have been reported in recent years. South American Initiative is trying to mitigate the situation and has been successful in providing 1,500 meals per week and clean drinking water to the orphans and malnourished adults in the hospitals to tackle the enlarging of malnourished patients.
  8. As per the 2017 survey done by the Congress of Venezuela, nine out of 10 main hospitals of the country were found to be short of diagnostic facilities, including x-ray machines and laboratories, with 64 percent of hospitals being unable to supply food to their patients. Healing Venezuela is an NGO fighting the expanding lack of medical services and doctors in the country. They have provided seven tons of urgent medical supplies to hospitals and NGOs in need.
  9. Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation has been able to assist 130 hospitals and institutions with more than 480,000 individuals served and more than 39,500 patients treated with its various programs targeting food, health, formula and school supplies.
  10. The country’s National Assembly estimated that prices rose 4,608 percent in 12 months in the span of 2017 to the end of January. Reports from the International Monetary Fund estimate that the inflation in Venezuela will rise to 10 million percent in 2019, an alarming projected increase from 1.37 million in 2018.

The Fight Continues

The former Health Minister, Antonieta Caporale, was fired shortly after he had released the health statistics in 2017, which were the only data provided by the government. The Venezuelan National Assembly had announced a humanitarian crisis in the country, further pleading for international humanitarian aid, which was quashed by the President.

Though these 10 facts about life expectancy in Venezuela may seem bleak, there is hope for the country with NGOs playing a major role in helping improve the current state. Several organizations are working towards improving the condition of Venezuela, including the Trump administration who have shown support and held secret meetings with the opposing military forces to formulate plans to overthrow President Maduro.

– Nikhil Sharma

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Poverty in Palestine
Palestine, a country consisting of Gaza and the West Bank, faces ongoing conflict with Israel, political instability and resource insecurity. While the historical and political scenario of Palestine is complex and cannot be simply explained, in the text below top 10 facts about poverty in Palestine are presented in order to provide a clearer picture of the situation in the country.

  1. Poverty is widespread and severe in Palestine. Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics finds that 29.2 percent of Palestinian individuals lived in poverty in 2017. In addition, 16.8 percent of Palestinians live below the poverty line. Individuals that live below the poverty line are unable to acquire the necessities of food, clothing and shelter.
  2. Poverty is particularly acute in the Gaza and Palestine’s refugee camps. While the 13.9 percent poverty rate in West Bank is alarming, over half of the individuals in Gaza and 45.4 percent of individuals in refugee camps live in poverty. Additionally, 33.8 percent of Gazans and 29.3 percent of those in Palestinian refugee camps live below the deep poverty line. Over 1.5 million individuals, displaced due to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, 1967 Six-Day War and Israeli occupation, live in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
  3. Poverty in Palestine is on the rise. Palestine’s poverty level increased by 13.2 percent from 2011 to 2017. In the next two years, the World Bank predicts a decline in real per capita income and an increase in unemployment, given that the current scenario of Israeli restrictions and internal divide between West Bank and Gaza persists.
  4. Unemployment is alarmingly high. Unemployment in Palestine reached 27 percent in 2017, with unemployment in West Bank at 18 percent and Gaza at 44 percent. In fact, Gaza had the third highest unemployment rate in the world in 2017. The actual rate of unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza is higher than reported as these rates do not account for those who have dropped out of the labor market. Israeli settlements and import restrictions led to increased unemployment by damaging the Palestinian economy through increased production costs and decreased land and resources available for production.
  5. Foreign aid has played a large role in reducing poverty in Palestine. According to the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics, public aid has reduced the poverty percentage by 11.5 percent, with deep poverty reduced by 20 percent. International aid, with the U.S. and U.K. as leading donors, is critical for the Palestinian economy. The West Bank’s economy is seen as fully dependent on aid and 80 percent of Gazans relying on humanitarian aid for survival.
  6. Just under a quarter of all Palestinians are food insecure. Many Palestinians lack the resources to put substantial meals on the table. Food insecurity poses a threat with 32.7 percent of Palestinians or 1.5 million people that are food insecure. In Gaza, this figure jumps to 68.5 percent.
  7. Water quality is low, particularly in Gaza. Water experts have agreed that 97 percent of the water in Gaza is polluted. Dangerous diseases such as diarrhea that now affects 80 percent of children under the age of 3 have become more widespread as a result.
  8. Some Israeli policies hinder Palestine’s economic growth. A 12-year blockade of the Gaza strip, a separation wall in the West Bank and time-consuming checkpoints are all Israeli policies that harm Palestine’s economy. Israeli land restrictions in the West Bank lower Palestine’s GDP by $3.4 billion a year, or 35 percent of Palestine’s economy, by restricting Palestinian access to agricultural and resource-rich land.
  9. Gaza is currently facing an electricity crisis. The two million Palestinian residents of Gaza receive electricity for no more than eight hours each day. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for the past decade, Gaza has suffered from a chronic electricity deficit or a situation where demand for electricity far exceeds the supply. The shortage of electricity has decreased the availability of water, sanitation and health services, along with undermining Gaza’s fragile economy, particularly the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
  10. Many organizations are working persistently to alleviate poverty in Palestine. One of those organizations is the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that gives support to the most vulnerable communities through sustainable economic empowerment approaches that decrease dependency on aid. An example of a UNDP project is the Deprived Families Economic Empowerment Programme, a project that aims to graduate impoverished families from being recipients of humanitarian assistance to being economically self-sufficient by providing services specific to their needs. The financial services provided through this program generated 23,000 paid and sustainable jobs and 9,560 family-owned enterprises. The Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) movement also intends to improve the lives of Palestinians through applying economic and political pressure on Israel to end their occupation of Palestine.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Palestine are just snippets of the complex picture of political, historical and economic factors that influence the Palestinian standard of living. There is no magic bullet solution to poverty in any country, but a combination of international support and political collaboration has the potential to greatly improve the lives of many Palestinians.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Pixabay

Countries Fighting Hunger
Countries around the world suffer from hunger and are seeking help to fight the problem. Utilizing education and government can help tremendously to solve this problem, as well as people of those communities coming together can. In this article, five countries that are fighting against hunger are presented.

Five Countries Fighting Hunger

  1. In Burkina Faso, at least 29 percent of children under the age of 5 are suffering from malnutrition. Mothers cannot provide proper nutrition while the baby is in their womb, not even when the baby is born and growing up. This has caused stunting. Children who experience stunted growth are more prone to disease and poor brain function in schools and future careers. Natural disasters such as drought cause shortages in food, and for a country dependent on rainfall agriculture, this is a serious issue. Adding to the issue is Ansarul Islam, a militant group who has been destroying crops and cities. Due to this problem, aid agencies are having difficulty reaching and helping impoverished families. Organizations like Action Against Hunger are fighting to provide meals and educate mothers on proper nutrition and care of their children.
  2. Even after four years after the devastating war in South Sudan that occurred between the government and opposing forces the country is at the brink of famine. At least 6.3 million people are struggling to find enough food to eat and 1.3 million people are facing severe food insecurity. Violence has escalated the hunger crisis since it was declared in March 2017. Due to the relentless fighting, agriculture has plummetted, water is scarce and what is left is contaminated. When a lack of clean water and hygiene are mixed with hunger, it can cause diseases like cholera and diarrhea. In this vicious cycle, malnutrition has made its appearance. Malnutrition weakens the immune system, making people more susceptible to diseases. Emergency aid is keeping half of the population fed, but that still leaves half still struggling. Others are desperate to flee the country as the war continues to damage the land and the people.
  3. The Caribbean countries are also examples of countries fighting hunger, as hunger is widespread in the area. The number of food insecure people in the area in 2017 was at 42.5 million. The economy is slowing down, which affect wages, stocks and taxes. Families are having a hard time providing nutritious food for their children because they can not afford it. Eleven percent of children experience stunting and their future is being eroded by poor nutrition. At least one in four adults are obese. The plan for the region is to completely eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2025 by strengthening the government’s food security plan. The plan consists of improving rural conditions, reducing poverty, adapting agriculture to climate change and ending food waste. The governments are educating families about agriculture and climate change and promoting sustainable production. Strengthening family farms will increase the food available to the community.
  4. People in Yemen believe they will either die from bombing or hunger. Since 2014, the conflict between the government and the people has brought the country into a humanitarian crisis. The war has destroyed crops and public services like schools and hospitals. Remaining services like food, water and medical supplies are blocked off, forcing about 2.3 million people from their homes. Most of the citizens’ goods are imported because the country’s farms are destroyed. The soldiers are trying to stop imports from coming in, so that means even less food and supplies are being provided. An estimated 10,000 people have had been victims of the war. Even before this conflict, the people of Yemen have suffered from poverty and hunger. To make peace between both sides is the first step in healing a country that is falling apart.
  5. The last country on this list is the Central African Republic, marked as one of the hungriest countries in the world. With a small population of five million people, there should be plenty of food. With beautiful, varied land to grow crops, farmers from all around start getting ready for the planting season to have a bountiful harvest. But the country is in the center of the African continent, in a fragile area amidst conflict. At one point the conflict was so bad it made half the population flee from their home to seek shelter in neighboring countries. Farms were abandoned and so were many businesses, leaving people that remained with little food sources. For a country that is 75 percent agriculture dependent, this left many families malnourished. The country was in a state of panic. It became a land where doing what you could to survive was the only option. The Concern is a worldwide organization dedicated to helping this country with other food aid programmes. These programs will address and educate on issues involving food security, hygiene, nutrition, water, and most importantly, disaster risk reduction. They are out seeking the root of hunger, and in this case, it is conflict, and they plan to tackle the crisis.

Many countries are fighting hunger today. Whether it is climate based, malnutrition, lack of government, lack of education, or even conflict. Organizations like Concern, World Food Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the United Nations Children’s Fund are set on breaking the cycle. They have helped every one of these countries fighting hunger, and are helping to many more.

– Kayla Cammarota

Photo: Flickr

effects of el nino
The 2015-2016 El Nino climate pattern was one of the most extreme occurrences in years, affecting almost 60 million people, more than half of whom live in Africa. The effects of El Nino created extreme weather changes, ranging from severe drought to severe flooding. These changes posed drastic problems for the population. Drought caused food insecurity and poverty due to crop failure, and flooding created problems with sanitation and increased the spread of water-borne and communicable diseases. Furthermore, flooding threatened infrastructure and housing. The damage also restricted access to healthcare facilities, preventing victims from receiving the help they need.

The Effects of El Nino on Africa

In Southern Africa, El Nino-related droughts had led to massive crop failure. South Africa had a 25 percent drop in maize and a 23 percent drop in grain production. Maize prices were the highest they had ever been following the drop. The drought aggravated the existing food insecurity, with 14 million people already hungry and as crop failure continued, the number of people at risk of hunger increased.

Most El Nino effects are related to soil dryness or reduced rainfall, but in 2016, this occurrence resulted in a massive drought. In Cambodia, 2.5 million people were left without access to clean water. People had to travel long distances in search of clean and drinkable water after the wells and ponds had dried up. In South Africa, parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, these effects of El Nino are still posing problems. In past years, most food production decreases have corresponded to El Nino, regardless of its magnitude.

The Effects of El Nino on South-East Asia

South-East Asia faced droughts and below-average rainfall as well. Thailand had faced its most severe drought in 20 years during the 2015-2016 El Nino. Water levels in dams throughout the country fell below 10 percent, leading to Thailand pumping water from nearby rivers. The Mae Jok Luang Reservoir, for example, typically served 11 sectors and can now, as a result of El Nino, can only serve one.

The droughts hit farmers hard, causing mass crop failure. Rice production and exports especially had gone down in Thailand. Consequently, many farmers found themselves in debt and unable to pay back loans. To deal with financial stress, many Filipino farmers started sending their children into town to work instead of going to school. Indigenous farmers turned to odd jobs as well, giving up on trying to farm in the drought.

The Effects of El Nino on Latin America

Effects of El Nino on Latin America often vary, and in 2016, there were droughts in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Central America as well as floods in Argentina and parts of Peru and Chile. Areas like Brazil had an increase in wildfires and tropical storms as a result of El Nino. Similar to South-East Asia, farming and fishing industries faced decreased production and exports during El Nino.

This was not the first time that El Nino has harmed the health and population of South American fisheries. The 1972 El Nino played a major role in the collapse of the Peruvian fishery, the largest fishery in the world at the time. With less fish, the population of seabirds also decreased, which damaged the seabird-dependent fertilizer industry. The impact on agricultural production led to higher food prices and lower food availability.

As a result of El Nino, 2.3 million people in Central America needed food assistance in 2015-16. The weather conditions also posed a great threat to civilians. Peru declared a state of emergency in 14 provinces where the lives of two million people had been at risk of mudslides and flooding. In October 2015, 500 people in Guatemala City died because of widespread mudslides.

Aid for Countries Affected by El Nino

Fortunately, there are organizations working to combat the effects of El Nino. Care, a nongovernmental organization, for example, has distributed food and emergency supplies to drought-ridden countries. In Cambodia, Care distributed water tanks and filters to the most affected areas. They had continued aid well into 2017.

While the work of organizations like Care is valuable, long-term plans to combat general climate change is necessary for countries to prepare for future climate change events. The results and effects of global warming and weather changes can be felt throughout the whole world, and the countries that suffer the most are usually less developed ones that do not have the right tools to combat this issue. People need to start taking climate issues seriously before it becomes too late to recover from these effects.

– Massarath Fatima

Photo: Flickr