What is Hunger?
Every day, people around the world experience those familiar sensations of emptiness and rumbling pangs in their stomach, signaling that it is time to eat. At this point, most people would get something to eat and go on with their day. Sadly, many people in the world, especially those in developing countries, do not receive this luxury. They experience chronic hunger, which is undernourishment from not ingesting enough energy to lead a normal, active life. It is difficult to empathize with what hunger feels like, to live with a body longing for nourishment, weakened by a lack of energy and unable to fulfill its basic need for food.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, an estimated one in nine people, 821 million, live with chronic hunger. It also states that the number of people living with the condition has been on the rise since 2014, with a staggering 98 percent living in developing countries.

The Consequences of Hunger

Hunger brings along with it many problems other than an aching stomach. Prolonged lack of adequate nourishment results in malnutrition, which causes the stunting of growth and development in children and wasting syndrome. Wasting syndrome is a side effect of malnutrition, in which the victim’s fat and muscle tissues break down to provide the body with nourishment. The condition results in an emaciated body and in some cases, death. In fact, malnutrition links to around 45 percent of deaths among children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  Fortunately, some have made progress. Since 2012, the number of stunted children in the world has decreased by nine percent from 165.2 million to 150.8 million, a significant improvement.

Hunger and Poverty

Poverty is the underlying determinant in who suffers from chronic hunger. Impoverished people are unable to consistently provide substantial amounts of food for themselves or their families, as they simply cannot afford to. This inability to provide nourishment creates a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty.

Undernourished people lack the energy required to perform basic tasks and therefore are less productive. Those who were malnourished as children develop stunted physical and intellectual abilities, which results in a reduction in the level of education achieved and the individual’s income, according to UNICEF.

What Can People Do?

People can break this vicious cycle and help people suffering from chronic hunger. Organizations such as The Hunger Project, the FAO and the Gates Foundation all have initiatives aimed at helping those in need get on their feet.

The Hunger Project works to empower those suffering from hunger with the tools they need to become self-reliant.  In Mbale, Uganda, the organization partnered with the local community to build a food bank where farmers are able to safely store grain, which has greatly increased their food security.

The FAO focuses on aiding governments and other organizations in implementing initiatives that aim to decrease hunger and malnourishment. A great example of this is Africa Sustainable Livestock 2050, in which the FOA helps countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia develop livestock infrastructure that will support the countries as their populations increase over the coming years.

Bill and Melinda Gates formed the Gates Foundation in 2000 with the main focus of providing internet to those who do not have access to it. Since then, the scope of the foundation’s mission has expanded to help the impoverished through global health and development initiatives. One of the foundation’s major initiatives is Seed Systems and Variety Improvement, which aims to improve seed breeding systems in Africa and India in an effort to make agriculture in those countries more sustainable.

With projects that aim to give impoverished people access to clean water, infrastructure, sustainable farming, disaster relief and education, these organizations have made significant strides.

Individuals can help eradicate chronic hunger by donating to charitable organizations or by contacting their government representatives, encouraging them to support bills and initiatives that aim to combat global hunger. Everyone can play a role and spread the word. There is a long road ahead, but with the tools available, chronic hunger can become a thing of the past.

– Shane Thoma
Photo: Flickr

How Goats Fight PovertyGoats are the animals of choice for many humanitarian groups across the world looking to provide life-saving, sustainable aid. From East Asia to Haiti, these animals have saved the lives of countless families suffering from poverty and starvation. Goats are particularly sought after in countries where agriculture is prominent. Nearly 85 percent of the world’s farmers are smallholder farmers, meaning that they limited resources. Smallholder farmers typically earn income through the cultivation of one or two crops planted on a tiny plot of land. Many humanitarian groups are highlighting how goats fight poverty through various campaigns.

How Goats Fight Poverty

Goats are the animal of choice for humanitarian groups for a plethora of reasons. From their behavior to their eating patterns, goats are easy to raise and supply marketable produce. For small farmers, goats are much less expensive to raise than cows or buffalo. Their diet mainly consists of grasses and shrubs, allowing them to survive even through inclement conditions such as droughts and crop failure.

Furthermore, goats reach sexual maturity at an early age and reproduce rather quickly. A female goat can give birth up to two times a year. In many impoverished areas, baby goats benefit the entire community as opposed to just one family – instead of being kept on the same farm as its mother, a baby goat is often gifted to an impoverished neighbor.

Goats and Children

Many children living in impoverished conditions do not have adequate access to a nutritious diet. Goats can provide the milk, cheese and protein needed to balance a child’s nutritional needs thus reducing dependency on protein from plant-based sources. This is particularly beneficial for children living in countries like Haiti where crops are often destroyed by natural disasters.

Rearing goats helps families living in poverty to support their children’s educational needs in more than one way. Goats offer a means to break the cycle of generational poverty, providing households with a source of income to send their children to school. Furthermore, with healthful meal options from goats, children will have full stomachs during the day allowing them to focus on their studies.

Recent Programs Involving Goats

One organization, in particular, has recently participated in the effort to alleviate poverty with goats. SIDA, short for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, launched a program in western Mali following a 2014 drought. To help, SIDA provided families suffering from food shortage with two assets: goats and seeds. With these two resources, the organization was able to successfully stabilize Malinese livestock herds to combat the lack of flourishing greens.

SIDA was not only able to alleviate poverty with goats in western Mali, but the organization took things a step further by sharing best practices such as care techniques to ensure sustainability. To date, SIDA’s record in western Mali proves to be exemplary. About 2,610 households in the country received goats to combat food insecurity and provide hope for future generations.

The Future for Goat Farmers

Countless personal stories from smallholder farmers have shown the lifechanging effects a goat can have on a community. These creatures seem to be the perfect solution for rural penury, however, there is one problem that stands in the way: goats are not immune to diseases. Organizations like the African Union Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources have been readily responding to this issue, but it demands much more attention as goats have become an integral part of farming life for poor families around the world.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Kiribati
Kiribati is a small island country located between Hawaii and Australia. Thirty-three islands make up Kiribati, but people only inhabit 20 today. After receiving its independence in 1979, Kiribati began to focus on becoming a self-sufficient nation. However, with Kiribati’s growing population, heavy dependence on imports and reliance on income from overseas, the issue of hunger continues to grow. Here are the top nine facts about hunger in Kiribati.

Top 9 Facts About Hunger in Kiribati

  1. After an economic crisis in 2006 and according to Kiribati’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, nearly 22 percent of Kiribati’s population was living in poverty. Though most of Kiribati’s people may not be going hungry, the lack of sufficient nutrition can affect a child’s development and growth, and the children could face a variety of health issues in the future. Of the 22 percent, 5 percent were living in extreme poverty. Simultaneously, the report considered 44 percent of Kiribati’s population vulnerable.
  2. Children are not the only ones at risk of hunger, as adults also face this issue. Without sufficient nutrition, adults risk underperforming while carrying out laborious tasks. With many fisheries throughout Kiribati and a lack of variety in food, hunger threatens to disrupt Kiribati’s top export market.
  3. According to Dr. Aurelie Delisle, an environmental social scientist, the villages “are restricted to fish, rice and taro.” However, on some islands, the diet is changing. In place of the traditional fish, leafy greens and root diet, islanders are turning to imported packaged foods. According to William Verity, these areas now face “some of the world’s worst rates of obesity and diabetes.”
  4. In 2012, the U.N. defined Kiribati as a Least Developed Country (LDC). Though Kiribati has met two of the three thresholds of criteria to graduate from LDC, the U.N. does not expect Kiribati to officially graduate until December 2021. One of the goals the Committee for Development Policy (CPD) has for LDC is to ensure food security.
  5. Nearly 50 percent of Kiribati’s population live on the outer islands of the Gilbert Group. According to the World Bank, the rising prices of importing food greatly affect Kiribati’s Outer Islands. Many families “spend 50 percent of their budget on food” since the country imports most of its food. In 2011 to 2012, the World Bank and Kiribati’s government signed The Food Crisis Response Grant. The $2 million grant helped the residents improve the affordability and availability of food throughout the islands.
  6. In October 2017, Kiribati entered the third phase of the Kiribati Adaptation Program implemented by the World Bank. Kiribati put $0.87 million towards improving the resilience of the Islanders to protect against the impact of climate change on freshwater and buildings. One of the program’s primary goals was to provide islanders with safe drinking water.
  7. Families that lack access to imported goods rely heavily on agriculture. The most common crops are copra, coconuts, taro, breadfruit, banana, papaya and mango. Nearly 55 percent of Kiribati’s population depend on copra. Due to the change in climate, the heavy rainfall makes it difficult for copra and coconuts to grow.
  8. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is focusing its efforts on livestock and agriculture projects to enhance Kiribati’s food security. Due to rising sea levels, Kiribati has limited agriculture. Erosion and flooding threaten farmers livelihoods by destroying crops, roads and even villages. Despite this, the yields of coconuts and bananas are slowly improving with the agricultural techniques provided by the Timber and Forestry Training College of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology. Nearly 600 farmers have received training in seed and nut selection, and nursery establishment and management.
  9. In September of 2014 to 2019, The Outer Island Food and Water Project (OIFWP) emerged. Focusing on the four outer islands of Abebama, Beru, North Tabiteuea and Nonouti, the OIFWP helps increase food availability through gardening and livestock, reduce the Islander’s dependence on imported foods, increase income for poor families and reduce sickness due to unclean water. Around 25 percent of Kiribati participated in the project. The project installed a total of 278 water systems throughout the islands. In 2018, the project had completed 60 percent of its goal by implementing new diets.

The fear of flooding is always on the Kiribati people’s minds. In an early phase of the Kiribati Adaption Project, participants installed systems that collect rainwater. According to the government water technician on the island of North Tarawa, there are around 50 water pumps. Ruteta, an islander who feared that children were becoming ill from the water, is “grateful because life is much simpler having rainwater.” This project ensures that Islanders have 24-hour access to fresh water.

These top nine facts about hunger in Kiribati demonstrate that hunger greatly impacts the Kiribati people’s wellbeing. Though Kiribati is a small developing country, hunger still remains. Through humanitarian efforts and grants, such as The Food Crisis Response Grant, Kiribati’s battle with hunger is one step closer to victory.

– Emily Beaver
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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Flickr

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

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Venezuela

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

The Fight Continues

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

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

– Nikhil Sharma

Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Uganda
Under the U.S. Government Global Food Security Strategy, the U.S. selected Uganda as one of 12 Feed the Future target countries. Feed the Future is a U.S. global hunger and food security initiative that is primarily carried out by USAID. One main component of USAID’s Uganda strategy is nutrition since Uganda is among the top 20 countries with a high prevalence of malnutrition.

Effects of Malnutrition in Uganda

Malnutrition causes about 45 percent of child deaths in Uganda. Malnutrition severely affects children because it can lead to:

  • Stunting
  • Inability to gain/maintain weight
  • Frailty – especially regarding bone density, physical strength and endurance
  • A compromised immune system/greater risk of infection
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Anemia

Stunting is used as a primary indicator of malnutrition. As of 2018, 2.2 million (29 percent) of Ugandan children under the age of five are stunted, meaning they are too short for their age. About 850,000 (11 percent) of Ugandan children under the age of five are underweight and a further 300,000 (4 percent) are too thin for their height.

The severity of a child’s stunting directly relates to their degree of cognitive impairments. Adults who were malnourished as children often have lower educational attainment and earn decreased wages. These adults have a reduced likelihood of escaping poverty.

Malnutrition can also cause anemia, a condition marked by a low red blood cell count or low amounts of hemoglobin. More than 4 million (53 percent) of Uganda’s children under the age of five are anemic, but malnutrition in Uganda does not just affect children. USAID reports that 32 percent of women and 16 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 49 are anemic.

How USAID Fights Malnutrition in Uganda

One way USAID fights malnutrition is by training health care workers to better identify and manage malnutrition. In 2017, USAID helped more than 1,000 health care workers receive nutrition-related training, allowing them to reach more than 1.7 million Ugandan children.

USAID also works closely with Uganda’s government to implement programs for nutrition interventions on both national and local levels. These programs, plus more highly trained health care workers, have already had a massive impact on malnutrition in Uganda. With the help of USAID, the percentage of children under the age of five with stunted growth has been almost cut in half since 2001 when it was nearly 50 percent.

Some examples of the nutrition intervention programs include:

  • Routine nutrition monitoring
  • Nutrition rehabilitation
  • Counseling and education for caregivers on nutrition

Diversifying Diets

Dietary diversification interventions primarily change household food consumption patterns. In countries or regions where malnutrition is common, households often eat starch-based diets due to limited access to meats, dairy, fruits or vegetables. USAID’s Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project suggests increasing the consumption of animal-source foods as a possible dietary diversification intervention.

The nutrition education programs USAID and Uganda’s government have implemented work directly with caregivers, teaching them about the importance of certain types of food:

  • Foods that protect their children (vitamin- and mineral-rich foods)
  • Foods that build their children’s bodies (protein-rich foods)
  • Foods that give their children energy (foods with carbohydrates)

Dietary diversification’s objective is to increase the variety and quantity of nutrient-rich foods in a household’s diet.

Diversifying diets is generally achieved through social and behavioral changes. Besides the three types of food, nutrition education programs also provide cooking classes and teach caregivers about the importance of meal frequency, hygiene and even gardening. Changing behaviors such as meal frequency and hygiene greatly contribute to children’s overall health. Teaching caregivers about gardening improves their access to diverse foods.

USAID seeks to ensure that families have all of the knowledge and skills they need to maintain healthy diets and reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in Uganda.

– Kathryn Quelle
Photo: Flickr

healthcare in Malawi
According to the U.K. Business Insider, Malawi was ranked one of the poorest countries in the world in 2017. Malawi is located between Zambia and Tanzania in Africa and approximately 74 percent of its population lives in poverty. This level of poverty has a great impact on the healthcare in Malawi. There are less than 300 registered doctors and 7,000 nurses in the entire country.

The number one cause of death in Malawi is HIV/AIDS, while neonatal disorders rank number four and nutritional deficiencies rank number eight. The healthcare in Malawi suffers greatly from the lack of provided funding which causes a lack of supplies. Also, there is a considerable lack of training for healthcare professionals, a factor that results in an infant mortality rate of approximately 90 deaths for every 1,000 births.

The healthcare in Malawi, or lack thereof, has a major impact on nutritional status. It is estimated that 50 percent of malnutrition is directly related to HIV infection. Only 19 percent of children between the ages of six months and 23 months of age receive a proper diet in Malawi. This lack of nutrition causes extreme anemia, vitamin A deficiencies and other micronutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies cause stunting of the child’s growth which has negative impacts on their overall development. Only one out of every three children receive proper healthcare in Malawi to treat malnutrition.

Fortunately, there are programs that are trying to improve the overall healthcare in Malawi. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been working with the healthcare system in Malawi since 2011. The CDC has provided scholarships for nurse-midwives and other professionals for training. The U.S. government has also partnered with the Malawi Ministry of Health (MOH) to incorporate training programs for healthcare professionals, improve surveillance systems, improve laboratories and implement prevention programs.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has acknowledged that half of Malawi’s children are stunted from malnutrition and that 23 percent of child deaths are associated with malnutrition. The WFP was organized to raise awareness all over the world for these children of Malawi. Also, in 2011, the Republic of Malawi launched SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) which raises money for MOH to send to the local facilities. SUN is largely funded by the USAID and Irish Aid. The USAID has also funded the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III (FANTA III). This program provides nutrition assessment, counseling, support and HIV treatment programs.

The healthcare in Malawi is still struggling a great deal to provide proper care and improve the nutritional status of children. In 2003, Ripple Africa was created as a charity that focuses on improving healthcare in Malawi. Ripple Africa focuses on funding dispensaries and local clinics and hospitals. This charity relies on overseas volunteer doctors and nurses to provide much assistance. With these programs assisting the healthcare in Malawi, the system will hopefully continue to improve and save lives.

– Kristen Hibbett

Photo: Flickr

Starving Syrians“Starvation is a different level of abhorrence because it is a slow, gruesome death”. -Dr. Leah Carmichael

The Syrian Civil War seems more and more hopeless as Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and his regime gain more power over insurgents and civilians by intentionally starving them and using biological and chemical warfare. With Russian support, Assad has been able to avoid punishment for his war crimes and consequently gain more power.

The Syrian refugee crisis is probably the most notorious aspect of this ongoing war. As per UNHCR, there are 13.1 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Syria. More than five million Syrians have fled the country; however, there are still more than six million that have left their homes and are homeless within their country.

Further, the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reports that there are 6.5 million starving Syrians.

Despite Syria’s seemingly grim future, non-governmental agencies like Mercy Corps have stepped up to help in addition to governmental programs. Mercy Corps helps feed hundreds of thousands of people each month by donating flour to local bakeries and ensuring that people in need are able to get bread from the bakeries.

Nonetheless, Mercy Corps has faced some setbacks, as the Assad regime does not want it to assist starving Syrians. Dr. Leah Carmichael stated that “one of the main roles of the government is to ensure a food supply”.

Dr. Carmichael is a respected professor at the University of Georgia and a food insecurity expert. She has been researching the puzzle of Assad’s starvation war tool to determine why governments starve their people to gain power and later want their people’s support. She is also interested in the role of Mercy Corps in replenishing food for the Syrian people. The Borgen Project had the privilege of interviewing her on March 2, 2018, to gain more insight into the current situation and Mercy Corps.

“Food is really one of those things where if you’re hungry and you weren’t before, it catalyzes that kind of protest [referencing the Arab Spring, the start of the Syrian Civil War],” Carmichael stated in the interview. “Understanding that food is a major provision of welfare for a government and then understanding that the tactic of taking food away and making people hungry is either unintentionally or intentionally a way which governments lose their authority to rule”.

As for Mercy Corps shaping the outcome of the Syrian civil war, Carmichael says it is unintentional yet powerful in helping starving Syrians because “as much as you are keeping civilians alive, you are shaping the future legacy of this war as not just being one where the international community turned a blind eye as mass genocide occurred…as in this case, Mercy Corps is shaping the human side of it.”

However, Carmichael mentioned that Mercy Corps’ role is still a “drop in the bucket” in comparison to what a government could do. She said that everyday people can help this situation by determining “what active role if any should the U.S. play abroad”.

She also mentioned that a growing norm is starting to emerge in the international community called the responsibility to protect, “the idea is that pure sovereignty matters for states, but in the cases where you see sovereignty being used to promote genocide, the international community has a responsibility to step in to protect those people against their government”.

Thus, public pressure to take action could lead the U.S. to possibly intervene. However, public support is withering in terms of U.S. global intervention. As Carmichael stated in a 2017 TEDx Talk, “the abject horror of war is our indifference to it”. Doing good and helping people in need is very much “something that we as Americans like on paper.”

Suzy Hansen from the Washington Post shares a similar view in that Americans under President Trump are beginning to dislike more intervention as an “America First” ideal grows. Further, Americans are learning more about the “darker” parts of American history that have resulted from U.S. intervention, such as U.S.-backed coups. This suggests that many Americans are re-thinking the global role of the U.S., as intervention has the potential to cause more harm than good and can negatively impact relations and foreign policy.

To help starving Syrians, it seems that the international system needs to intervene, as Russian-led peace talks may only prolong suffering. However, “what to do” will prove to be a difficult and methodological decision to make.

– Mary McCarthy

Photo: Flickr

How Many People are StarvingMost people have an idea of what global starvation is. Nonprofit marketing campaigns aim to tug at the heartstrings of the developed world. And, as a whole, they have done their job. People know about the existence of world hunger. But what about the details? How many people are starving?

This is where knowledge of global hunger ends for many. Despite seeing it in advertisements, global hunger seems like a distant idea to most. Few people know that undernourishment impacts 795 million people globally. Even though this number has decreased by 167 million over the last ten years, that number is still large.

For certain areas, the problem is worse than others. One out of every five people in the developing world struggles with undernourishment. Looking forward, there is reason to believe that the situation will not become easier to solve. To meet forecasted demand, food production in developing countries must double by 2050.

The need for action is clear. Several countries have undertaken efforts to diminish how many people are starving globally. Yet, given the size of the problem, the solution has proved to be complex.

The U.N.’s 1996 World Food Summit met to develop methods to cut world hunger in half by 2015. The summit included almost 200 countries committed to helping global food security.

Unfortunately, the meeting was not able to cut hunger in half by 2015. The majority of the failure was due to a lack of concrete plans for implementation. Despite falling short of its goal to cut hunger, the summit engaged world leaders on food issues. It offered a forum to brainstorm solutions to global questions about food disparity.

Turning questions about how many people are starving into action to help is key. Indeed, there is a fair amount of momentum pushing forward the solution to food disparity. Total calories per person have risen since the 1960s. Yet, despite rising calories per person, certain issues with food security remain.

What is the solution? To increase global food access, many believe the answer lies in technology. A few of these methods include:

  • A “seawater greenhouse” that is able to use nearby saltwater to grow crops in the desert
  • Precision agriculture that utilizes GPS for fertilization and watering
  • Robot farmworkers to maximize efficiency and profit

Yet, despite being marvels of technology, these solutions are costly. An easier way to lessen food inequality is through the proper education of farmers. In developing nations, teaching avoidance of slash-and-burn agriculture can make a noticeable difference. This farming practice is common in areas where growing is difficult or education is lacking.

Farmers in certain regions cut down and burn the land before planting a crop. In doing this, the ash acts as a fertilizer, producing crops without investment. But despite producing short-term yields for regions, the practice is destructive over time. Lack of biodiversity, increased carbon emissions and massive deforestation can result from slash-and-burn. To combat this, programs to educate farmers on sustainable farming practices are essential.

Solutions to this destructive method exist. The Inga Alley Cropping method of farming is one such example. In this method, farmers plant Inga trees to balance the soil’s nutritional content. The result is a sustainable way to grow in places where slash-and-burn is the norm.

Education is a key part of solving food disparities. And with the numbers showing a decline in undernourishment, there is hope on the horizon. Education programs continue to lessen food insecurity in the developing world. Working with technology, there is great potential for increasing global food access.

These factors, combined with continued government efforts, could be the answer. Working together, a world with dinner on every table might be obtainable. Asking questions is the first step.

– Robert Schacht

Photo: Flickr