Information and stories about food security news.

GreenFingers Mobile Aids in Food Insecurity
Agriculture is at the center of many African families. With over 70 percent of African families depending on agriculture as their main source of income, 90 percent of them live on less than $1 to $2 a day. GreenFingers Mobile aids the food insecure to attempt to change that. This app provides small and emerging South African farmers access to the growing market to help reduce poverty and make Africa food secure.

How GreenFingers Mobile Works

Initially piloted in 2013, GreenFingers Mobile did not fully establish until 2015. Prior to 2018, the mobile app served three countries and assisted more than 5,000 smallholder farmers. Today, it serves more than 8,700 farmers across three countries. The goal of the app is to provide small farmers with access to the agriculture market. GreenFingers Mobile aids the food insecure by replacing the inefficient pen and paper system and supplying farmers with real-time data. Instead, it provides farmers with a variety of services that range from improving the yield of their harvest to a virtual profile to build their credibility within the market.

In addition to informing farmers of the wellbeing of their fields, GreenFingers Mobile also aids the food insecure by registering over 12,500 farmers in training courses. These training courses provide farmers with knowledge of the agricultural market and ways to improve the yield of their cash crops. According to the World Bank, in 2016, nearly one out of nine people living in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and East Asia suffered from chronic hunger. That same year, 27.4 percent of Africa’s population suffered food insecurity. With food insecurity on the rise, the app presents many small African farmers with the ability to fight back. Through GreenFingers’ efforts to ensure food security in growing communities, it simultaneously reduces poverty. With the threat of hunger erased, communities and countries will become self-sustaining.

GreenFingers Mobile’s Funding and Investors

In 2018, GreenFingers Mobile was a finalist in Google’s Impact Challenge and received $125,000 in funding. That same year, Kiva, an international nonprofit organization with the mission to expand financial services to developing countries, approved a $15,000 loan for the company. Many expect the app to grow the sub-Saharan agricultural market to five times its current size in 2030, going from $200 billion to $1 trillion. Within the next two years, GreenFingers Mobile hopes to have more than 30,000 farmers utilizing the app. In May 2019, GreenFingers Mobile launched the GFM Tree Tracking module, which will provide the farmers with over a million trees.

Among many of the app’s investors is the Hivos Food & Lifestyle Fund, which Hivos provides. Hivos is an organization that focuses on “social change, digital activism and rural innovations in the sectors of sustainable food systems, renewable energy and governance,” as the GreenFingers Mobile website says. Natalie Miller, GreenFingers Mobile CEO, says the fund provided several cycles of seeds and helped lower the entry barrier, which assisted the app in cutting prices by two-thirds.

With nearly 60,000 commercial transactions completed, GreenFingers Mobile continues to grow. It is paving the way for technological innovation in Africa. Though it will take time for Africa to see an effect on its food security, GreenFingers Mobile is on its way to improving the lives of those in poverty.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

Food security for refugeesAround the world, a record number of people have become forcibly displaced due to violence, natural disasters or a variety of other reasons. According to the U.N. Human Rights Council, 70.8 million people are forcibly displaced, and 25.9 million of those are considered refugees. At the same time, millions of people lacked food security around the world. The Peace Corps defines food security as “when families are able to afford and obtain enough nutritious food.” In 2018, more than 700 million people faced severe food insecurity.

Food security and refugee issues are deeply intertwined, as refugees are particularly vulnerable to becoming food-insecure. Worldwide, millions of refugees face food insecurity. Thankfully, many organizations are using their resources to create innovative solutions to provide healthy food to refugees who are not able to afford or access it. Here are three organizations that are improving food security for refugees:

African Women Rising

The Palabek refugee camp in northern Uganda hosts more than 38,000 refugees who have fled the brutal civil war in South Sudan. Humanitarian organizations have been struggling to find a long-term solution to food insecurity in the camp. While the Ugandan government allocates plots of land for refugees to farm on, these plots of land are usually too small for traditional farming techniques to work. However, the NGO African Women Rising (AWR) thinks it has found an innovative solution to malnutrition among refugees. In 2017, AWR introduced the camp to 30 by 30-meter plots of land known as “permagardens”.

AWR’s permagardens are specially cultivated in a way that allows them to maximize the number of crops, trees and plants that can be grown in them. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year to teach someone permagarden farming techniques. The total cost of developing, training and supporting a permagarden is just $85. The gardens primarily grow various fruits and vegetables, which provide vital micronutrients and vitamins that are not present in their monthly World Food Programme portions. Many other organizations are already starting to replicate the microgarden approach in refugee settings, including the U.N., the Danish Refugee Council and USAID.

Sunrise-USA

Sunrise-USA was founded in 2011 by a group of Syrian-American professionals and claims to be one of the world’s leading humanitarian aid organizations focused on victims of war inside Syria and in refugee camps in neighboring countries. In addition, to providing food security for refugees, Sunrise-USA provides refugees with healthcare, orphan sponsoring services, education, water and sanitation. The organization also helps Syrian refugees, who are mostly Muslim, observe Islamic religious traditions such as Ramadan, Udhiya and Zakat.

Within Syria, Sunrise-USA works to deliver badly needed food baskets to besieged cities. These baskets typically contain chicken, eggs, dates, oils, margarine, tuna cans, sugar and powdered milk, and only cost $45 to produce. While the city of Aleppo was under siege, the organization delivered over 5,000 food baskets, as well as two containers of jackets, sweaters and mattresses. Sunrise-USA’s “Feed Them” campaign has delivered food aid to 30,000 families in need and has provided milk and baby formula to 20,000 vulnerable families with children.

Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger)

Action Contre La Faim (ACF) is a French organization that works in more than 45 countries to treat and prevent malnutrition. For more than 40 years, it has provided various forms of food aid where it is needed most. Its 7,500-member staff currently assists 21 million people worldwide. The organization has responded to various humanitarian crises that have generated large numbers of refugees, including the civil wars that have taken place in South Sudan and Syria, as well as the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

In Bangladesh, ACF works to increase food security for refugees who have escaped into the country from Myanmar. Every day, the organization provides 83,000 hot meals and 551,497 liters of water to Rohingya refugees. The organization has also conducted malnutrition screenings for 100,000 Rohingya children and has diagnosed over 11,000 malnourished children. These malnourished children were then referred to ACF’s emergency nutrition programs for treatment through mobile clinics.

As the global refugee crisis continues to intensify, more and more organizations will need to come together to provide both short-term and long-term solutions to food security for refugees. These organizations have shown they are more than willing to rise to this task and have each made a measurable impact on the wellbeing of refugees around the world.

– Andrew Bryant
Photo: Flickr

Effects of Desertification
Desertification poses many threats. In the fields of sustainable development and climate change, it is a serious problem mentioned in one of the 17 global goals for sustainable development. It is also a pertinent issue in the fields of herders in pastoral Africa and China with too many animals who overgraze the vegetation. Among the many preconceived notions and potential threats that it poses, there are several effects of desertification.

According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification is defined as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.” Defining and fixing desertification is a balancing act between human activity versus climatic activity. Environmental and social processes continue to stress the existing arable land still available. The resulting effect of desertification poses a threat to the condition of the land, the productivity of the agriculture and the health of the people, which all point to the larger issue of poverty in those areas.

Desertification’s Effect on Agriculture

Climatic change and human impact are the largest factors in desertification. Within the subcategory of climate change, one of the biggest causes includes climatic variation. Although desertification may intensify with a general climatic trend towards aridity, desertification itself can initiate change in local areas. As such, desertification has serious agricultural effects. When productive land becomes arid and useless, the absence of crop production on a local level has potential global effects. For example, in Jeffara, Tunisia, “desertification threatens around 52% of the land area suitable for agriculture, forestry and pasture farming.” Desertification in Jeffara has resulted in unusable forms of land with degrading soil, as well as salinization and water and wind erosion. These have all led to a loss of land productivity.

It would be natural to wonder what Tunisia has done to combat these contemporary issues. However, these issues are anything but contemporary. Tunisia has been on the search for solutions to desertification since ancient times since it contributes greatly to the country’s impoverished state. The first step to fighting these persistent issues is monitoring. With the use of monitoring initiatives, from field studies to high-resolution satellite images, The Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) developed an environmental monitoring program to set up dashboards and agendas for countries combating desertification through the lens of national policy and sustainable management of resources. With monitoring initiatives like these, people can track the effects of desertification and governments can respond with suitable measures that can not only aid in reducing negative agricultural effects but also subsequently alleviate the poverty in the area.

Desertification’s Effect on the Environment

Beyond the agricultural aspect, desertification has a significant impact on the environment. There is a strong interrelation between desertification and climate change. Desertification not only compromises food production and future food security, but it also releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. The decomposition of organic matter and biomass in desertified areas in the last 7,800 years has resulted in carbon dioxide emissions that compare to the total emissions from fossil fuel combustion so far.

The Mediterranean Basin has felt these environmental effects of desertification since Platonic times. Plato described forests transforming into rocky lands, resembling “the bones of a sick body.” Unfortunately, this imagery still exists today. Because desertification results in carbon dioxide emissions without replenishing biomass and drastically changes the water content in degraded soil, one of the primary solutions is to restore moisture in drylands with silvopasture and agroforestry. These processes aim to rehabilitate desertified areas by rebuilding carbon sinks, while also providing employment to local farmers. These methods are a win-win solution since they address both the reversal of environmental degradation and the economic concerns of farmers.

Initiatives such as Project Wadi Attir in Northern Negev, Israel are adopting such approaches. The project aims to sequester 10-20 million tons of carbon dioxide into recovering biomass while providing work to thousands. These solutions are promising because they address the environmental effects of desertification while also providing jobs, both which aim to help the state of poverty in the area.

Desertification’s Effect on Health

The effects of desertification on agriculture and the environment points to a larger issue; the health of the people. According to the World Health Organization, land degradation has a significant effect on the health of the land as well as the people that live in it. Desertification forces food production to halt, water sources to dry up and inhabitants to move. Additionally, there are higher chances of malnutrition from this lack of access to food and water, respiratory diseases from the dust produced by wind erosion and the spread of disease due to migratory populations. The case of respiratory disease is not as regional as it may seem. For example, dust storms affect not only neighboring countries, but the entire globe. A recent study by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population showed that there is a strong correlation between dust storms in China and mortality in Korea, specifically with the onset of cardiovascular disease in males under 65 years old.

One of the best measures for preventing these adverse effects, as suggested by the aforementioned study, is early warning systems. According to the UNCCD, it is the synergy of “meteorological networks, air quality monitoring stations, and use of satellite data” that can best prevent these health risks. Another approach that shares similar goals with alleviating environmental effects is source mitigation. Sustainable land management and restoration techniques can both help the degraded land itself and prevent the source from spreading these adverse health effects.

Desertification is a complex topic. The question of what the effects of desertification are is a difficult one to answer because it involves complicated interactions between natural and human activity. Desertification manifests in negative agricultural, environmental and health effects, which are all indicators of poverty. The hope is that the solutions to these individual effects can address the larger issue of poverty in those arid regions.

– Andrew Yang
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in Central AmericaThe ability to consistently access nourishment is vital for all people. In regions affected by poverty, like Central America, many families lack this ability. These 10 facts will provide a glimpse at food insecurity in Central America, how it affects the lives of the people who live there and what has been done to address it.

10 Facts About Food Insecurity in Central America

  1. More than 10 percent of Guatemalan children are underweight. About 46.5 percent of Guatemalan children suffer from stunted growth caused by malnutrition. Indigenous children are more likely to suffer from stunted growth; 58 percent of Guatemalan indigenous children under 5 suffer from this condition. Indigenous children are also more likely to suffer from anemia and vitamin deficiencies.
  2. Food insecurity fuels migration to the U.S. Severe droughts, crops destroyed by fungus and persistent poverty all play a role in preventing families from thriving in their home country. USAID and U.N. reports find that poverty and food insecurity in Central America motivates migration more than other factors.
  3. From 2015 to 2018, food insecurity in Central America increased annually. Indigenous populations and women were the groups most impacted by chronic hunger. Poor and rural communities were also likely to suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
  4. USAID’s response to food insecurity is focused on agriculture. USAID funds studies that create solutions to agricultural problems. USAID works with many groups, including governments, universities and American farmers, to bring agricultural solutions to regions affected by food insecurity. USAID also implements initiatives like Feed the Future that directly address food insecurity. Guatemala and Honduras are two of the 12 countries that receive specially targeted assistance through Feed the Future.
  5. Between 2013 and 2017, USAID’s initiative Feed the Future provided assistance to 215,000 Guatemalan children. During this period, Guatemalan agricultural production created $47.8 million worth of profits for the Guatemalan economy. Feed the Future worked to improve agriculture in Guatemala by providing resilient seedlings, higher-quality pesticides and training to prevent the spread of disease among crops. Guatemalan agriculture also became more diverse thanks to the introduction of new crops. In cooperation with USDA, Feed the Future helped Guatemalan farmers learn new methods of planting crops and tracking their growth electronically.
  6. In 2014, USAID implemented new programs in Honduras to fulfill the goals of the U.S. Global Food Security Strategy. In cooperation with the Honduran government, USAID works to decrease rates of stunted growth by 20 percent by 2020. USAID is also working to move 10,000 families out of extreme poverty by 2020. To combat food insecurity in Honduras, USAID is promoting crop diversity, improving infrastructure connecting rural areas to urban areas and improving child nutrition.
  7. The Dry Corridor is experiencing drought. The region referred to as the Central American “Dry Corridor” consists of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. During the summer of 2018, the Dry Corridor was hit by low levels of rainfall and above-average temperatures. The unusually severe drought of 2018 came after a previous two years of drought that lasted from 2014 to 2016, which required food relief for millions of people.
  8. Food insecurity in Central America has been worsened by severe droughts. For the past year, there has been a severe drought in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. 290,322 families in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were affected by the 2018 drought. $37 million worth of corn was destroyed in El Salvador alone due to lack of rain.
  9. The Central American drought was caused by the effects of the 2015-16 El Niño Event and by the results of global climate change. After the drought, about 3.6 million people required food-related aid. 50-90 percent of the region’s agricultural production was destroyed.
  10. After the 2014-15 droughts and the following spike in food insecurity, the Central American Dry Corridor received an influx of humanitarian aid. Efforts were made to conserve soil, more closely track data about nutrition and hunger and better prepare for future droughts. In the midst of the 2018 drought, data collection was prioritized in order to maintain stable food prices, combat food insecurity within particularly vulnerable populations and relocate rural families away from the regions most severely affected by the drought.

Central America, a region already affected by poverty, reached the brink of crisis after nearly 5 years of severe droughts. By 2018, food insecurity in Central America had spread throughout the countries of the Dry Corridor. But regional governments, with the assistance of relief agencies, implemented agriculture-based solutions to ensure that future droughts would not have the same disastrous consequences. These innovative solutions pave the way for a more secure future in Central America.

– Emelie Fippin
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Hunger in AngolaLocated in Southern Africa at the border of the South Atlantic Ocean, Angola is a country that, despite its extensive oil and diamond reserves, struggles with severe poverty and hunger. Angola’s violent 27-year civil war came to an end in 2002, and since then the government has been hard at work with multiple NGOs and citizen-led efforts to improve the nation’s economy and access the land’s remarkable agricultural potential. In doing so, the human development of Angola has been continuing at a consistent and assured pace. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Angola.

10 Facts About Hunger in Angola

  1. With a score of 29.5 on the 2018 Global Hunger Index, Angola ranks 95 out of 119 countries, placing it in the serious level of risk category. This means the state of Angola has an inadequate food supply and a high rate of child mortality and undernutrition. While this rating may appear bleak, hunger in Angola has decreased dramatically since the year 2000, when the country received a hunger score of 65.6.
  2. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has shifted in focus from emergency assistance towards long-term agricultural development and policy creation. This includes the Poverty Reduction Strategy, a policy framework dedicated to consolidating peace through the improvement of living conditions for vulnerable people. This shift is evidence of the country’s improvement in addressing the hunger of its inhabitants. Now that the organization may focus on engendering an environment with policy creation and education, Angola can have a future of economic health and food security.
  3. Along with the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the FAO is currently working to provide technical support, food security, agricultural productivity and farming education. The organization is also applying a Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan to minimize the effects of climatic shock and climate change on the state’s many rural communities by increasing the government capacity to implement disaster risk reduction and management, facilitate the coordination of stakeholders to implement reduction and management and educate farmers and workers on the use of technologies and practices on reduction and management.
  4. The symptoms of hunger in Angola have been on a downward trend in the recent decade, with the rates of child mortality, child wasting, child stunting and undernourishment all decreasing steadily. For child stunting, the percentage of children under five with stunted growth has decreased from 55 percent in 1995 to 30 percent in 2017. The many agricultural and political efforts in Angola to create profitable farms for rural communities and progressive policy creation emphasizing poverty reduction and food security have caused this decline.
  5. While the availability and use of basic sanitation services have been increasing at a constant rate, the percentage of the population with access to safe drinking water has remained stagnant at around 49 percent. Access to clean water is one of the most important conditions for achieving hunger relief due to its necessity in healthy nutrition and impact on health, disease prevention and cleanliness.
  6. In partnership with AGRINATURA, a group of European research organizations and universities that have been in operation for 30 years, the FAO has been creating multiple objectives to aid the issue of hunger. These include seeds cooperatives to commercialize seeds from 200 smallholder farmers; rice development, which aims to prepare and commercialize rice production; and rural entrepreneurship, which intends to provide business opportunities to agricultural entrepreneurs in Angola.
  7. The World Food Programme has been working with Angola to aid the hunger of more than 70,000 refugees, many of whom are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It provides full-ration food assistance and specialized nutritious foods for young children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It also offers air transportation to and from remote areas of the country.
  8. AGRINATURA has also been working with Angolan farmers to tap the potential of agricultural coffee production. Angola was once a prominent coffee producer until the Angolan civil war. Since then, coffee production decreased dramatically. Increased production of the cash crop will aid the country’s economy and, as a result, help reduce the poverty and hunger of the Angolan people.
  9. Though Angola has remarkable potential for agricultural development, the country’s agricultural GDP is only 10 percent of the national GDP. The government of Angola is currently prioritizing its agricultural sector with financial investments so that it can make use of the untapped potential and help Angolan citizens and refugees.
  10. Ending the 10 facts about hunger in Angola is The Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, an organization seeking the creation of longterm food, agricultural and natural resources policies. It is currently working in Angola with the United Nations, Angola’s government and private sector to promote poverty-reductionist agricultural policy, increase food security and promote sustainable agricultural development.

While Angola currently ranks in the bottom quarter of countries on the Global Hunger Index, these 10 facts about hunger in Angola and the country’s downward trend in poverty and hunger is incredibly assuring. With the continued work by the government, NGO’s and citizen-led efforts to create poverty-reductionist policy, move agricultural development forward and increase food security, hunger in Angola should continue to decline, and the nation should continue its path into becoming prosperous and secure.

– Jordan AbuAljazer
Photo: Flickr

 

Food InsecurityAccording to the U.N., malnutrition has been on the rise in recent years. The latest data states that 821 million people are undernourished. This translates to one in nine people suffering from hunger. These statistics are staggering; fortunately, this problem is currently being addressed by numerous organizations that are combating food insecurity across the globe.

What is Food Insecurity?

The U.N. defines food insecurity as “uncertain access to food at the household or individual level.” In 2017, in the U.S. alone, 40 million people faced food insecurity. This number drastically increases when describing those who are food insecure worldwide. Food insecurity can lead to severe malnourishment. Due to the fact that the price of fresh, healthy food is typically higher than that of processed foods, food insecurity can also lead to obesity. This is how poverty can increase food insecurity

Food insecurity can be the result of multiple factors. Natural disasters and droughts are examples of conditions that contribute to food insecurity. For example, in 2016, 40 million people experienced food insecurity after El Niño. Though these statistics are discouraging, different organizations are addressing this problem. These five organizations combating food insecurity are making a difference in the lives of millions.

Five Organizations Combating Food Insecurity

  1. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID): USAID provides support for 142 countries across the globe. The largest areas of aid provided include emergency relief ($3.9 billion) and the reduction of HIV/AIDS ($3.5 billion). However, the areas of assistance often extend past these categories to include health, agriculture, education and more.
  2. World Food Programme (WFP): The WFP provides aid to 83 countries annually. They also help approximately 86.7 million people each year. This organization centers its efforts on areas of conflict and disasters. It is estimated that WFP provides 15 billion rations each year. One donation of $50 through WFP provides three months of food for a child in need.
  3. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): FAO works in 130 nations around the world. It has adopted the slogan #ZeroHunger in unison with numerous organizations globally, which reflects its purpose of ending hunger through the use of agricultural programs. This agency of the U.N. also focuses on sustainability. Additionally, it provides support for countries to protect against the detrimental effects of natural disasters.
  4. The World Bank: Created in 1947, the World Bank has provided funding for 12,000 projects globally to go towards disaster relief and support development. The World Bank’s mission includes reducing extreme poverty by providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries. It has five subsections aimed at accomplishing specific goals. These subsections convene together to promote the common mission. One of the five institutions is the International Finance Corporation, which provides financial services to the countries where the World Bank works.
  5. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): IFAD is an organization combating food insecurity in rural regions. Another branch of the U.N. established in 1974, IFAD was created to address the food insecurity resulting from poverty. Its focuses include building up agricultural programs and creating a lasting impact on people in rural areas.

These organizations are a few examples of the various organizations combating food insecurity globally. Their efforts provide valuable assistance to reduce the number of people who face food insecurity and hunger around the world. Food insecurity can have detrimental effects on those who experience it. However, it is reassuring to know that there are organizations working to reduce the severity and extent of hunger.

-Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Flickr

What is Food Insecurity?What is Food Insecurity? Food insecurity occurs when a person is consistently unable to get enough food on a day-to-day basis. This epidemic plagues millions across the globe, resulting in malnutrition, chronic hunger and low quality of health. When a person lives with hunger or fear of going hungry, they are considered to be food insecure. It is important to understand why food insecurity happens and what can be done to alleviate it.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity can be broken down into three aspects. The first is food availability, which means having physical access to a food supply on a consistent basis. The second is food access, which means that a person has the resources, such as money, available to obtain and sufficient amount of food. The third is food utilization, which addresses how a person consumes food and whether or not they use the food available to maintain a nutritious diet. It is important to note that proper sanitation and hygiene practices also contribute to food utilization.

On average, more than 9 million people a year die from global food insecurity. Unfortunately, poverty and food insecurity have long gone hand-in-hand because people living in poverty are less likely to have sufficient resources to buy food or produce their own. Families without the resources to escape extreme poverty are likely unable to escape chronic hunger as well. There are several factors contributing to the large number of people who are food insecure.

  1. The steady growth in human population contributes greatly to the increase in food insecurity. With more people on Earth comes more mouths to feed. The rate in which food is grown simply isn’t able to keep up with the projected population growth.
  2. Another contributing cause of food insecurity is the global water crisis. “Widespread over-pumping and irrigation” are leading to a depletion of water sources needed to produce agriculture and produce. Water reserves in many countries have dropped drastically, directly impacting food supplies in these countries and others.
  3. Recent climate extremes and natural disasters also affect food supplies, ruining communities and the agriculture within them. Climate change has impacted crops, forests and water supplies, ultimately spiking prices in areas that are already affected.

The Impact of Food Insecurity

Food insecurity impacts individuals, families and communities far and wide. Although the number of people living with hunger has dropped since the 20th century, there are still more than 800 million people in the world without food security. In developing countries, nearly one in six children is malnourished and poor nutrition accounts for almost half of deaths in children under five. While Asia has the highest population of food insecure people, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence with 25 percent of the population living in hunger.

Food insecurity can lead to many health problems if a person is not getting the nutrients they need. Malnutrition is an issue that can affect all aspects of one’s health. While food insecurity directly impacts all these people, it indirectly impacts the whole population. The problem of food insecurity is a product of behaviors that people do every day, and it has the ability to affect people who may not even know it.

Combatting Food Insecurity

Despite a large number of impending causes, there are still actions that can be taken in daily life to contribute to combating food insecurity. Urging the government to make nutrition programs that emphasize nutrition as a priority is one way to help in the fight. Even if someone is not exposed to food insecurity in their personal life, they can still put pressure on the government to make policies that could help people in developing countries fight this epidemic.

There are also a number of programs and nonprofit organizations that rely on donations and aid in order to make a big difference. The World Food Programme and World Health Organization are two examples of charities that devote time and resources to combating malnutrition and hunger. Donating food to a local food bank or volunteering at one are more hands-on ways to make a difference. Of course, an emphasis on foreign aid and public policy are two of the most impactful ways to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time.

While the numbers may seem staggering, there has been a 17 percent decrease in global food insecurity since the 1990s, but with awareness and effort, that number could be improved. There is reason to believe that, given the right tools and commitment, global food insecurity could become a more manageable problem in years to come.

Charlotte M. Kriftcher

Photo: Pixabay

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

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