The United Arab EmiratesThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is leading the fight against malnutrition. Malnutrition refers to imbalances, deficiencies or excesses in a person’s ingestion of nutrients and all-around intake of energy. It can result in several problems, ranging from undernutrition to obesity. As a result, the issues caused by malnutrition can lead to diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, various forms of cancer and strokes.

Malnutrition is an issue that affects every country in the world in one form or another. Children are especially at risk, with 45% of deaths among children younger than the age of 5 linked to malnutrition. Malnutrition affects 49 million children around the globe.

COVID-19 caused an upset in the health systems of numerous countries, which worsened the issue noticeably.  By 2022, experts expect an additional 2.6 million children to suffer from chronic malnutrition. There are several programs across many nations working to combat the issue globally. Likewise, the United Arab Emirates built one of the most notable reputations for combating hunger and malnutrition.

Efforts by the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates has previous endeavors fighting against malnutrition. For example, the Crown Prince of Dubai Mohammed Bin Rashid’s “100 Million Meals” food campaign successfully delivered more than 216 million meals to the hungry. The nation refuses to sit still on the issue.

The United Arab Emirates joined the list Reaching the Last Mile. Reaching the Last Mile is a global health fund that works to eradicate diseases affecting lower-income and more marginalized communities. Reaching the Last Mile, which was launched by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, partnered with the U.N. Foundation alongside Ecobank, OnlyOne, ONOMO Hotels and Koosmik to help fund UNITLIFE.

UNITLIFE and the UAE

UNICEF claims that the annual global cost of malnutrition is $3.5 trillion. Reducing global malnutrition by a third could reap economic benefits totaling roughly $417 billion. Director of the Secretariat at UNITLIFE, Assia Sidibe, tells CNBC Africa “Malnutrition really leads to huge economic burden.” Sidibe also goes on to cite how malnourished children will earn 22% less in their adult lives than their non-malnourished counterparts.  The healthcare costs set in motion by malnourishment have a significant financial impact as well.

UNITLIFE aims to combat chronic malnutrition by investing in nutritious food systems, female empowerment and climate-smart agriculture. UNITLIFE largely obtains funds through micro-donations, public-private partnerships and market-based transactions.  These funds accompany official development assistance and domestic resources already at the organization’s disposal.

On top of partnering with UNITLIFE, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan donated $2.5 million to the organization shortly after UNITLIFE’s creation. This was a gesture that is representative of the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to tackling the issue of malnutrition.

The United Arab Emirates demonstrated, alongside UNITLIFE’s other partners, a commitment to end chronic childhood malnutrition. This commitment serves as an example of philanthropic humanitarianism. The action taken by the United Arab Emirates and others to fund UNITLIFE may help to spell an end to chronic childhood malnutrition worldwide.

– Brendan Jacobs
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in UzbekistanOn July 1, 2021, USAID successfully delivered 131 tons of food to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, to combat malnutrition in Uzbekistan. The almost $400,000 humanitarian aid package provides a “nutritious vegetable and legume mix” to health and social care facilities as well as disadvantaged Uzbek households. The aid is yet another act showing the U.S. commitment to long-term investment in health and nutrition in Uzbekistan.

Food Security and Uzbekistan’s Agri-Food Sector

Since it gained independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has wisely prioritized self-sufficiency in its approach to food security. Although the country has produced sufficient food to cover its population in the past, “food security also encompasses affordable food and a diverse diet that includes essential nutrients.” According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), malnutrition in Uzbekistan lingers because the country lacks adequate standards of balanced and nutritious diets and affordable food options are rare.

The World Bank states that the development of Uzbekistan’s agri-food sector is critical to strengthening food security and reducing poverty in the country. Economically, the agriculture division alone contributes 28% of Uzbekistan’s GDP and is responsible for employing more workers than any other sector. About 27% of the entire workforce, or more than 3.65 million people, work in the agricultural field.

In 2019, almost 10% of the country lived below the poverty line, surviving on less than $3.2 per day. This equates to about 3.2 million people, 80% of which lived in rural regions “with livelihoods that depend largely on agriculture.” For these reasons, USAID seeks to develop and diversify the agri-food sector by introducing new technologies and techniques to local farmers. In the past, Uzbek farmers could not access contemporary data on markets, weather, technologies and farming practices. By supplying almost 100,000 hours of agricultural training “and working with 64 new consulting service providers,” USAID has played a role in a 523% “cumulative increase in farm yields,” raising the income of Uzbek farmers by 107%.

USAID’s Impact on Uzbek Food Security

In the last decade, USAID’s International Food Relief Partnership program has supplied 1,300 tons of food assistance to Uzbekistan, amounting to more than $3.5 million in aid. The recent delivery will target more than “30,000 of the most vulnerable citizens” who are most at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. The aid will cover 130 health and social centers, including mental institutions and orphanages.

USAID Uzbekistan’s mission director, Mikaela Meredith, states, “This program demonstrates the ongoing strong partnership between Uzbekistan and the United States of America to improve nutrition and ensure that the most vulnerable have adequate, safe and nutritious food to support a healthy and productive life.”

The Future of Uzbekistan’s Food Security

Uzbekistan is currently on course to meet the global nutrition targets of reducing child stunting by 40% by 2025. In terms of stunting in children younger than 5, the rate has reduced from 25% in 2002 to 10.8% in 2017. However, not enough data is available to determine how close Uzbekistan is to achieving its 2025 target for stunting. Nonetheless, the country has made progress over the years. The continued assistance from USAID and other international organizations will help develop the agricultural sector, increase food security and combat malnutrition in Uzbekistan.

Gene Kang
Photo: Flickr

Food insecurity crisis in SomaliaSomalia’s climate consists of sporadic periods of intense rainfall between long periods of drought. So far in 2021, a devastating mix of severe droughts, intense floods and locust infestations in Somalia have devastated crop production and livestock herds, leading to a hunger crisis. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the previously high rates of poverty in the country and have contributed to the food insecurity crisis in Somalia. USAID is aiming to combat the hunger crisis in Somalia by providing food assistance while also targeting assistance efforts to limit malnutrition among children and pregnant women.

Causes of the Food Insecurity Crisis in Somalia

Typically, heavy rains strike Somalia between April and June and again between October and December. During the two rainy seasons, extreme rainfall and flooding regularly displace Somalis across the country. However, in 2021, the rainy season ended in May instead of June. This early end caused intense droughts in Somalia.

Rainfall in some areas of Somalia has amounted to only half of the year-to-date average. As a result, deficit farmers in the south and northwest of Somalia have not been able to access water supplies adequate to plant Somalia’s staple crops. Moreover, pastoral households’ inadequate access to water has decreased the size and productivity of livestock herds. The subsequent meat, milk and crop shortage might surge food prices in Somalia.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network projected that the Somali yield of cereal crops in 2021 will be up to 40% less than the yearly average. The drought has already decreased the food and water intake for farmers and pastoralists across Somalia, and low crop and livestock yields in the late summer harvest will lead to lower incomes for farmers and pastoralists. This will limit the purchasing power of Somalis employed in the agriculture sector. Altogether, the drought and subsequent low-yield harvests could extend the risk of a food insecurity crisis in Somalia past the summer.

The State of the Somali Food Insecurity Crisis

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale is a system that governments, non-governmental organizations and the U.N. uses to analyze the severity of food insecurity situations. The IPC scale ranges from minimal (IPC Phase 1) to famine (IPC Phase 5). By the middle of 2021, the IPC expects 2.7 million Somalis to encounter at least the crisis level of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3). Specifically, the analysis expects 2.25 million Somalis to be at the crisis level of food insecurity while another 400,100 will be at the emergency level of food insecurity (IPC Phase 4).

COVID-19 in Somalia

While the COVAX initiative and the Somali Federal Government have started the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in Somalia, the virus continues to devastate the fragile economy. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the poverty rate (percent of the population below $1.90/day, 2011 PPP) in Somalia was at 69%. The poverty rate among Somalis in rural areas was at 72%.

Further, the worldwide COVID-19 induced lockdowns have limited employment opportunities for Somalis working in foreign countries. Consequently, Somalis working internationally are not able to send much money back to their families in Somalia, which heavily supports consumption in the country. Moreover, Somali businesses have reduced their full-time staff by an average of 31% since the pandemic first struck Somalia.

Lastly, a global reduction in demand for Somali livestock has decreased Somali livestock exports by 50% since the beginning of the pandemic, which further weakens the income of already impoverished Somali pastoralists. Thus, the global economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 threatens to intensify the food insecurity crisis in Somalia.

US Aid to Somalia

On June 24, 2021, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a pledge of $20 million in assistance to Somalia. USAID’s aid pledge to Somalia was part of a larger USAID plan to provide a total of $97 million to African countries to combat the health and socioeconomic ramifications of the pandemic. The U.S. aid plan will focus on tackling the food insecurity crisis in Somalia and will supply the country with staple crops like sorghum and yellow split peas. The funding also aims to limit the malnutrition of children and pregnant women.

The aid package builds on a U.S. commitment of $14.7 million in June 2021 to provide drinking water, fight malnutrition and support victims of gender-based violence.

While Somalia’s struggle with poverty and malnutrition is a longstanding and complicated issue, assistance from the U.S. and the rest of the global community could prevent a famine in the short term and boost the country’s economic development in the long term.

– Zachary Fesen
Photo: Flickr

SPOON, Helping Children With Feeding DifficultiesApproximately 93 million children worldwide have been diagnosed with a disability. A total of 80% of these children have problems with feeding processes. Children with disabilities often suffer from medical conditions like anemia and, along with children who do not receive nutrition through a caregiver, are among the groups that are most likely to be malnourished. However, two women from Portland, Oregon, founded the nonprofit organization SPOON to address children’s malnutrition.

Providing Nutritional Assistance for Children Worldwide

SPOON was founded in 2007 when Cindy Kaplan and Mishelle Rudzinski adopted two children from Kazakhstan who were diagnosed with severe malnutrition. They created SPOON to ensure that all children across the globe receive nourishment. SPOON aims to provide help for caregivers through nutrition programs and assessing the needs of children with feeding difficulties. As the most important part of their mission, the organization puts a special focus on nutrition support for children who do not have a family to care for them or those with a disability.

Helping Children With Feeding Difficulties

Children diagnosed with a disability are three times as likely to suffer from undernourishment than those without any disabilities. Furthermore, one of SPOON’s studies showed that approximately 91% of children in institutions and without family care do not receive the nutrition they need.

Carolyn Moore, the Policy and Advocacy Advisor for SPOON, told The Borgen Project that the two groups often overlap since “institutionalization and separation are more common for children with disabilities.” Moore further explained that the lack of training regarding children with special needs is a significant contributor to feeding difficulties and nutritional health conditions.

The population of children in need of the help SPOON has to offer is immense. Approximately 250 million children who live in developing countries are at immediate risk of stunting. Additionally, 53 million under the age of 5 received diagnoses with cognitive delays, reduced motor skills and other disabilities.

According to Moore, there are additional tens of millions of children who live “in institutions or … on the streets.” One of the main challenges in making sure that all children receive the nutrition they need is that caregivers often do not understand the importance of finding the right feeding process. This is especially important since nutrition is the main contributor to ensure a child’s health. It also affects the development of their brain and body.

Teaching People Important Feeding Skills

SPOON operates with several different methods. The first step of its work includes helping local partners and caregivers of children with disabilities. This is “to build their skills in the specific nutrition eating needs and techniques.” The initial training period covers many different aspects, including learning how to improve feeding techniques, correctly assessing the specific problems a child is facing and adapting diets and nutrition accordingly to individual needs.

Another part of SPOON’s work is the organization’s mobile app called Count Me In. The tool assesses the growth and problems of children with feeding difficulties, especially those with disabilities and in institutions. The app is then able to offer appropriate solutions to caregivers. Moore explained that Count Me In “can recommend improvements around positioning and texture” of the food. It is also a very efficient way for the organization to collect valuable data. By 2019, many orphanages in countries such as Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia have used Count Me In.

Advocacy and the Global Child Thrive Act

The third important component of SPOON’s work is advocacy. Moore explains the need for children with disabilities worldwide to have access to nutrition and support with their feeding difficulties. She emphasizes the need for nonprofit organizations to look at how to “change policies and change systems” permanently. For example, SPOON was part of the Thrive Coalition, a group of nonprofit organizations that advocated for the Global Child Thrive Act, which was passed into law in January of 2021.

The coalition continuously met with congress and the media. This resulted in more than 100 Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate co-sponsoring the bill. The Global Child Thrive Act assures that the United States government will contribute to strengthening early childhood development. This is for 250 million children under 5 in low-to-middle-income countries. According to Moore, the act was especially important to SPOON, since it specifically included support for “children with disabilities or without family care.”

Helping Children All Across the Globe

In addition to helping with the passage of the Thrive Act, SPOON has seen many successes throughout the years. After working in countries like Vietnam, China and India for two years, the rate of stunting in the children decreased from 55% to 23% and the percentage of children with anemia went down from 41% to 13%. Furthermore, SPOON’s advocacy efforts significantly contributed to a policy change in Kazakhstan that resulted in better nutrition for children without family care.

Also, data collected through Count Me In in 2020 showed a 35% improvement in the growth of kids and found that 82% of caregivers had adjusted feeding positions according to the children’s needs. Another 2020 success was the development of the SPOON chair. The chair will help children with disabilities by allowing them to sit upright during the feeding process.

Partnering With Other Organizations to Help Children

SPOON has also seen much success through collaborations with local partners. In Zambia, SPOON worked together with CMMB, a nonprofit organization that aims to help children with diseases by improving their nutrition. Together, the two organizations were in charge of the Improving Nutrition and Safe Feeding Practices project. This project specifically focused on children with disabilities and without family care.

Moore explained that SPOON and CMMB provided “specialized training in the nutrition and feeding issues” that are common for the two groups of children. The project worked with nutritionists and clinicians who had no prior experience in this specific field. Data pulled from Count Me In in Zambia from 225 surveyed children shows that between the years 2017 and 2020, the feeding positions improved in more than half of all cases for children with disabilities. There was a reduction in malnutrition for every child that was evaluated more than once through the application.

SPOON’s work has significantly contributed to improving the health and lives of many children with feeding difficulties. SPOON has displayed solutions for helping disadvantaged children and has revealed the need for further organizations to join their cause. Moore noted with the “big shift in food insecurity,” due to COVID-19, SPOON’s work is incredibly vital.

– Bianca Adelman
Photo: With permission from Carolyn Moore

Smart Farms Fiji
27-year-old Rinesh Sharma is the man behind the Smart Farms Fiji initiative, which aims to combat food scarcity and malnutrition across Fiji. The idea came from his family’s experiences that were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their diet growing up contained few vegetables and fruits because his parents could not regularly afford them.

This is a shared experience across much of Fiji. High food prices have led to high rates of food scarcity and malnutrition. Access to nutritious food supplies has only worsened since the pandemic, as people have lost their jobs and are left with little money to purchase expensive fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, COVID-19 halted or seriously limited food transportation. In response, Smart Farms Fiji aims to ensure everyone across Fiji has access to nutritious vegetables and fruits. It also wants the population to have a consistent supply of food to put on the table.

Hydroponic Farming

To begin with, Sharma conceptualized a large-scale hydroponic farming system. Hydroponic farming is a method of growing plants without soil, growing them directly in nutrient-rich water. Hydroponic farming helps plants absorb nutrients at a faster rate, which means quicker, easier and more reliable harvests. This allows more people easy and quick access to more crops and reduces food scarcity and malnutrition. Sharma was granted $20,000 in financial assistance from the government, which allowed him to invest and incorporate hydroponic systems into larger commercial farms across Fiji.

Since the pandemic, the main focus has been on a more localized and accessible supply of food and farming resources. Within the initiative, Sharma has created an at-home hydroponic kit. The kit contains 15 seedlings of lettuce, cabbage, kale, mint, basil and others. It also includes a water tank, net cups, soil nutrient solutions and a step-by-step guide. These kits have been sold and donated across Fiji and provide a local, continuous, reliable and easy source of nutritious food for many families who are struggling to put food on the table.

Reducing Hunger

Energy poverty is common on islands in the Pacific because many people live in remote areas without access to electricity. The Smart Farms Fiji initiative ensures that being remote does not hinder access to food. The at-home hydroponic kits are electricity-free to ensure all inhabitants have access to adequate and nutritious food supplies.

Furthermore, U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 2 is the main objective of Smart Farms Fiji and the reason Rinesh Sharma began the initiative. So far the initiative is having success, as it has helped Fijian families access steady and reliable supplies of healthy food that is full of the nutrition they need to continue to prosper. After only a month since the conception of the at-home hydroponic kits, the initiative deployed 15 kits and conducted 15 educational classes for households. It is well on its way to ensuring local food security.

Influence on Poverty and Education

One of the key points of concern when conceptualizing the initiative was the pesticides used in typical farming practices. Sharma saw how much traditional farming harmed coastal towns that rely on local fishing to earn their wages. The pesticide runoffs harm marine life that coastal workers needed to survive. In response, Smart Farms Fiji aims to promote pesticide-free farming that will help these coastal communities out of poverty and give them thriving business opportunities.

Sharma has also continued to expand his initiative through education. He has held classes with local communities that have at-home hydroponic kits, educating them about more sustainable subsistence farming and how to get the best out of their crops. Additionally, he has regularly attended schools and colleges where he has discussed with students everything from leadership, entrepreneurship and how students can contribute to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. He wants to inspire and mobilize the next generation to use their education to change the world by combatting poverty, food scarcity and malnutrition.

– Lizzie Alexander
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in VenezuelaA meager 3% of Venezuelan families are considered food secure in a country where more than 96% of people live in poverty. Child malnutrition in Venezuela rose to 26% from December 2019 to March 2020. Maduro’s government, a hotbed of mismanagement, corruption and cronyism, has done little to help the poverty and malnutrition in Venezuela. Hyperinflation continues to suppress economic activity, and U.S. sanctions imposed to pressure Maduro into reform or exit, have limited Venezuela’s access to imported food, medicine and other basic goods. On April 19, 2021, the World Food Programme announced that it would be implementing a program to address food insecurity and malnutrition in Venezuela.

Child Malnutrition in Venezuela

A 2021 policy brief by medical researchers called Venezuela’s public health system “practically non-existent.” Especially with U.S. sanctions, many healthcare facilities are unable to obtain the medicine or medical equipment needed to properly function. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic puts further strain on already limited health resources. As of April 2021, the Venezuelan Government has vaccinated less than 1% of the Venezuelan population.

According to a UNICEF report, 13% of children in Venezuela suffered from malnutrition between 2013 and 2018. Without access to sufficient calories, protein or generally diverse foods, many of these children will be held back developmentally, far beyond their childhood years. Venezuelan nutritionist, Raquel Mendoza, tells Thompson Reuters that “A population suffering from malnutrition implies we are going to have adults with less physical and intellectual potential.” Mendoza states further that “We’re going to see a regression in the development of the country because human resources are diminished.” These words express the urgency and importance of speedily addressing malnutrition in the country.

Before 2009, Venezuela’s infant mortality rate was steadily declining. In the first decade of the Chavez presidency, which began in 1999, infant mortality dropped by half. However, under Venezuela’s ongoing economic and sociopolitical crisis, the infant mortality rate has regressed to where it was in the 1990s. Even though many cases go unreported, statistics show that child mortality increased by 30% in 2016.

The World Food Programme Alleviates Malnutrition

Starting in July 2021, the World Food Programme (WFP) will provide school lunches for children between 1 and 6 years of age. The WFP’s goal is to reach 185,000 students by the end of 2021 and 1.5 million by the end of 2023. These meals will mainly go to preschool and special education schools, but public and private schools will receive aid too.

Despite the pressing need for foreign aid, the Maduro government has historically rebuffed aid attempts by international organizations and governments. According to the Washington Post, Maduro blocked almost $60 million worth of U.S. aid in 2019 and insisted that Venezuela was not a country of beggars.

The agreement reached between Maduro and the WFP Executive Director David Beasley on April 19, 2020, came after months of resistance by the government. The program’s operations will remain independent of the political turmoil and uncertainty of Maduro’s rule.

The Road Ahead

Although the aid cannot catapult Venezuela out of its current crisis, the WFP program will improve the lives of many families who do not know how or when they will eat next. Although rarely dissolving geopolitical tensions or toppling an unjust regime, humanitarian aid organizations can and do protect those who suffer from the impacts of corruption, mismanagement and conflicts of others.

Alexander Vanezis
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Peanuts Reduce PovertyEvery year, more than three million children under 5 years old die as a result of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), making it the largest killer of young children. In developing countries, including sub-Saharan African countries, Uganda, Malawi and Haiti, malnutrition is a severe issue that pediatricians and scientists are looking for a simple way to solve. Some of these ideas are successfully showing how peanut butter and peanuts reduce poverty and save lives.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition starts in the womb. Therefore, scientists intend to stop malnutrition and anemia in young mothers hoping to give their babies a more nutritional start to life. In Malawi, roughly 50% of all pregnant women and nearly a third of nursing mothers are anemic and in need of a higher calorie diet that can start with peanut butter.

The Power in a Peanut

Peanuts contain more plant protein per ounce than any other nut, making it a powerhouse for nutrition. Only one ounce of peanuts reduces malnutrition by providing an adequate source of niacin and magnesium. Peanut butter is also a good source of fiber and contains other essential nutrients. The nutritional value in peanut butter creates better nutritional and health outcomes, necessitating fewer hospital visits for young children.

Peanuts also contain healthy oils that are “trans-fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in saturated fats.” As a high caloric nut and an impressive source of nutrients, peanuts reduce poverty because the nut addresses malnutrition in malnourished children and young mothers, helping them to gain weight and maintain a balanced diet.

Peanut Butter With a Punch

Peanut butter alone is a good source of nutrition and calories but scientists working to eradicate malnourishment have amped up the standard peanut butter recipes to cater to undernourished bodies.

The most talked-about of these miracle nutritional products is Plumpy’Nut, a nutritional, protein-packed peanut-based paste. Plumpy’Nut comes in portioned plastic wraps that are easy to store and easy to open, making it a resilient food for unstable conditions. Unlike some other ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF), one does not need to mix Plumpy’Nut with water, cutting down the risk of spreading disease.

Nourimamba is a similar peanut-based product that includes extra protein. Packaged in jars, hospitals mostly use Nourimamba to treat severely malnourished children. These jars of sweetened paste also end up in schools as snacks for children.

Dr. Mark Manary founded Project Peanut Butter, an organization in Malawi that helps to feed malnourished children in Sierra Leone, Malawi and Ghana. The organization uses a locally sourced, protein-rich and high caloric peanut butter known as “chiponde” to treat severe malnutrition.

While peanut butter is already a nutritious food, these pastes pack a greater punch in the fight against malnutrition. These products have a long shelf life and require no preparation, making them the ideal snack for undernourished individuals.

Positive Impacts on Poverty

Getting peanut butter into hungry stomachs is the top priority, but in the process, the nut helps uplift developing nations. In addition to addressing malnutrition, these peanut butter products create jobs that can break the cyclical poverty malnourished children are born into.

The Mwayi Wathu Peanut Butter Processing Group, supported by Oxfam and the Catholic Development Commission of Malawi (CADECOM), produces peanuts and peanut butter. This cooperative addresses malnutrition with its products while creating local jobs to stimulate the economy.

Peanuts Reduce Poverty

W. K. Kellogg graciously funded Accesso’s nutritional snack program, which aimed to feed 11 schools in central Haiti. As a result of this initiative, enrollment at the schools increased by 20%. The jobs that the program created allow parents to send their children to school. These families were unable to afford educational endeavors before.

Accesso works with 7,400 local farmers and has tripled the profits of farmers through its agribusiness model. Through this model, farmers strengthened their income and the organization can provide nutritional peanut snacks to more than 4,000 children every single day.

Part of this improved agribusiness model is the spicy peanut butter, Lavi, which holds the promise of opening up new markets for these developing nations. Accesso, the organization that championed the creation of Lavi, aims to expand its business to global markets, especially the United States, where demand for peanuts is high. As the most commonly enjoyed nut by U.S. citizens, more than two-thirds of all nut consumption in the U.S. is peanuts, making it a powerhouse in helping foreign farmers increase their incomes and rise out of poverty.

The benefits of nutritious peanut butter products show how peanuts reduce poverty in developing countries, tackling several concerns at once.

Veronica Booth
Photo: Flickr

combat extreme hungerIn Kenya, hunger and food security are two of the most dire issues faced by impoverished communities. The locust swarms that plagued countries in the Horn of Africa in 2020, devoured millions of hectares of crops resulting in significant food loss. The incident also served to illuminate the precarious insecurity of the food supply in the region. This gave way for creative solutions to combat extreme hunger in Kenya and other African countries alike.

A Promising Solution

The massive inundation of locusts in regions where food is scarce also served as a concrete reminder of the relative abundance of biomass from insects in Africa. This abundance of biomass from insects presents a promising solution for Kenya — use insects to combat hunger by converting them into food products.

Eating insects has a long history in tropical and subtropical climates due to the large populations of insects. Kenya is no exception. Though locusts were long considered a valuable food source, they should not be eaten now due to the widespread usage of insecticides to curb locust outbreaks. However, other related insects like grasshoppers can be eaten. Countries like Kenya can potentially use insects to combat extreme hunger.

Nutrition

Among the millions of undernourished people in Kenya, lack of protein is the main cause and one of the most important areas to focus on to reduce malnutrition.

According to the Global Hunger Index, 24.2% of people in Kenya were undernourished in 2018. In the same year, roughly 26% of children under the age of 5 had experienced stunted growth due to malnourishment.

Insects are an extremely good source of proteins and essential amino acids. Insects like grasshoppers and locusts contain more protein per ounce than traditional forms of protein like beef, chicken or sheep.

Stable and Efficient Production

The production and harvest of insects for consumption provides a stable and efficient method of food production. It takes only three months for crickets to grow to their fully matured state.

Studies have also shown that insects are as efficient as poultry in converting feed into biomass. In addition, insects can feed on waste byproducts such as manure. Both of these facts mean that insect farmers in Kenya will not need to spend much time or money on providing feed to their insects.

Environmentally Sustainable

The cultivation of insects consumes less water and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions than the cultivation of other sources of protein like livestock. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, insect cultivation is believed to be less likely to result in zoonotic infections.

In Kenya, where insects such as termites are already commonly foraged for consumption by humans, the mass production of insects could combat extreme hunger. Insect cultivation has the potential to provide a cheaper, more efficient and stable solution.

More research and development must occur before entrepreneurs and activists in Kenya can roll out products like insect protein powders, cricket-based flour or just plain fried insects to Kenya’s hungry. Nonetheless, the value of insects presents a possible solution that can be considered to combat extreme hunger in Kenya.

Willy Carlsen
Photo: Flickr

5 Things to Know about Feed the Children and Their Work in Haiti
For the last 40 years, Feed the Children has been working toward a hunger-free world by providing resources to those who lack basic necessities. In 2020, Feed the Children has created a substantial impact worldwide and reached countless children and families in need. Most notably, Feed the Children is making a difference in Haiti.

Feed the Children’s Goals

Feed the Children works in Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania to reduce hunger and bolster education. The specific approach in each country varies slightly based on the overwhelming needs of the area. However, the dedication to alleviating food insecurity and teaching self-reliance remains a priority in every community. These impoverished areas desperately need assistance to help build better communities for their children. Feed the Children hopes that its efforts will yield the following four results:

  • Properly nourish children by age 5.
  • Provide all children with clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene resources.
  • Enable all children to receive a high-quality education.
  • Cultivate financially stable families that contribute to their communities.

Successfully Reached over 1.6 Million People

The organization displays its impressive impact in its 2019 Annual Report and shares its Strategic Plan for 2019-2023. While the organization works both in the United States and internationally, its combined impact accounts for 6.3 million people worldwide. In its 10 countries of focus, it has reached 1.6 million people and distributed over 9.4 million pounds of food and essential items; the value of these items total over $31 million. The organization gave school supplies and books to 17,821 international students. Moreover, 228,450 school children now benefit from regular, nutritious meals at school. In its Strategic Plan for 2019-2023, Feed the Children plans on implementing many new initiatives to create an even larger impact in the future. Here are some of its most prominent strategic visions:

  • Expanding its emphasis on child-focused programming to 10% of total resources.
  • Reducing chronic and acute undernutrition in impoverished communities to only 12%.
  • Increasing the percentage of food donations by 8%.
  • Gaining 36% more corporate partners to contribute toward product and service donations, financial gifts and promoting shared values.
  • Increasing overall revenue by 21%.

Intervention in Haitian Natural Disasters

Haiti is both the most impoverished and least developed country in the western hemisphere. The country’s literacy rate is only 61%, which is significantly below the 90% literacy rates among most Latin American and Caribbean countries. Its education expenditures account for only 2.4% of the GDP; these numbers make it apparent that the Haitian commitment to education is staggeringly low. The economy struggles from political instability, natural disasters, disease and mismanagement of humanitarian relief. Frequent hurricanes contribute to the high rates of damage and death seen in Haiti. In 2017, Haiti only collected 10% of its GDP for tourism. This is significantly low compared to its past percentages and the Caribbean states’ average of 15%. These startling statistics caught the attention of Feed the Children and inspired them to extend aid to this struggling nation.

Community Development Programs and Peer-to-Peer Care Groups

The Child-Focused Community Development (CFCD) programs have been making a difference in Haiti through their implementation into 12 different communities. This program teaches children and their families how to prevent malnutrition and reduce poverty through food and nutrition, health and water, education and lifestyle. This training is extremely pertinent to the members of these Haitian communities, as many children suffer from malnutrition. At least 17% of babies are born with low birth weights and 22% of children have stunted growth. Feed the Children hopes that this community development program will save many children from the harmful effects of malnutrition. Through an emphasis on low-cost sanitation initiatives that possess high impact results, families can learn how to address health issues more quickly and prevent disastrous health outcomes.

Additionally, Feed the Children has incorporated peer-to-peer Care Groups in Haitian communities. These groups meet to help educate mothers of young children about nutrition and health. With the ultimate goal of raising healthy children, the peer-to-peer Care Groups teach mothers how to utilize nutritious foods and how to prevent water-borne illnesses through safe cooking.

Positive Results

Not only has Feed the Children been able to give its 12 targeted Haitian communities more food and basic resources, but it also equipped them with the tools they need to build more self-sustaining societies. From the peer-to-peer Care Groups alone, over 1,600 women received training as caregivers who are equipped with extended knowledge on nutrition and safe health practices for their children. Feed the Children also incentivized families to keep their children in school by offering a hot meal three times per week at school. For many families, this school food serves as the only guaranteed meal a child would consume in a day. Therefore, providing these meals for school children both helps keep them from malnourishment and encourages consistent school attendance.

Feed the Children is a great example of an organization that has been making a difference in Haiti and yielding substantial results in the fight against global poverty. With various initiatives spanning 10 nations, countless numbers of vulnerable children and families are learning about how to implement healthy food, water and hygiene habits into their daily lives. Food insecurity and lack of education are huge contributors to poverty; Feed the Children recognizes this and strategically approaches malnutrition and education in a way that cultivates improvements in the lives of the poor.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in KenyaKenya is currently home to 46 million people. Over 35% of them suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition each year, with 2.6 million facing a food insecurity crisis. The state of food insecurity in this country is serious, with the country ranking 86 out of 117 countries on the 2019 Global Hunger Index. Children are especially at risk, with just under a third of those who are food insecure suffering from stunted growth.  This is one of the many common issues related to hunger and poor nutrition. The rampant hunger in Kenya is a dire situation. However, there are some efforts to fight this crisis.

The Farming Issue

Nearly 75% of Kenyans rely on agriculture for all or part of their incomes. The industry makes up about a third of the Kenyan economy, but only one-fifth of the land in Kenya is suitable for farming. A lack of reliable irrigation forces farmers to rely on rain as their primary water source. Reliance on nature makes planting and harvesting unpredictable and risky. This is combed with the population boom in Kenya over the past 25 years. This has left the food supply limited at best and extremely vulnerable to weather patterns and natural disasters.

Domestic farmers are the main food providers in Kenya. The industry needs a robust workforce to keep up with the heavy demands of an ever-increasing population. However, the younger generation is uninterested in farm work and current farmers are getting too old for the job. Conversely, lack of employment also perpetuates hunger in Kenya. Millions of Kenyans are unemployed or underpaid, and many can’t afford to buy food in the first place. Poor infrastructure and high domestic taxes levied on farmers for transporting their goods are the cause of such steep food prices. These exorbitant transportation fees leave much of the population hungry.

Despite all of this, the issue of hunger in Kenya has generally improved over the past decades. Further, many organizations continue to battle this crisis and expand food access to the millions of struggling Kenyans.

World Vision

The Christian nonprofit World Vision tackles child poverty and injustice worldwide. The organization first branched out to Kenya in 2017. Upon arrival, World Vision volunteers saw villages suffering from drought and hunger. They noticed people eating animals like hyenas and vultures while others mourning the loss of their livestock, the remains of which were everywhere.

In the first year of its project, World Vision reached 3.5 million individuals. The organization was able to provide clean water, health care, and nutritional support. World Vision knows that hunger in Kenya is far from solved and doesn’t plan on stopping its efforts. The nonprofit has hope in expanding water and nutrition access as a way to help alleviate the suffering in this country.

Action Against Hunger

The “world’s hunger specialist,” Action Against Hunger, is a nonprofit working to end hunger with our lifetime. It provides global aid to children and families to treat and prevent malnutrition. The organization has worked in Kenya since 2002.

Its work has included implementing programs on health, water, sanitation, refugees, and childcare. The nonprofit has been able to expand access to health treatments, screenings, and services for those suffering from malnutrition. It also supported thousands of herders by providing livestock vaccinations and training animal health experts.

In 2019, the organization reached over 1.9 million people with its nutrition and health programs and nearly 50,000 people with its water, sanitation, and hygiene initiatives. Additionally, it aided over 40,000 people with its food security and livelihood programs. This all added up to over two million people in 2019 alone, a huge effort for a team of only 43 employees.

Conclusion

Hunger in Kenya is a severe issue that has cost the lives and livelihoods of millions of individuals and families. Children are at severe risk of malnutrition and related diseases, while the farming industry is struggling to provide even a portion of the country’s necessary food supply. Aggressive and comprehensive government or international intervention to shore up farmers and expand their capacity to produce are absent. It is organizations like World Vision and Action Against Hunger that have to pick up the slack. Fortunately, they have been able to reach and save the lives of millions of Kenyans. The issue lives on, but the efforts of nonprofits continue to provide hope.

Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr