Marketplace for Nutritious Foods in Kenya and Mozambique
Over 925 million people are currently undernourished worldwide, and 3.5 million children under the age of five die from malnourishment every year. The problem is especially prevalent in Eastern Africa, where 23 million children will grow up stunted and likely permanently impaired. Most diets in these areas consist of simple grains and very few fruits and vegetables which contain key nutrients that are needed for proper mental and physical growth.

In the past, poverty alleviation efforts have been focused on increasing the quantity of food produced by farmers, rather than quality. But recently, more attention has been paid to what kinds of foods are reaching those in poverty, and how the crops can help them not just survive, but actually improve their quality of life. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has created a unique plan for making nutritious foods a possibility for farmers to grow, and for consumers to buy.

The Marketplace for Nutritious Foods, which was started up with a $2.1 million grant from USAID, is up and running in both Kenya and Mozambique, with plans to go to Tanzania as well. The Marketplace works by searching for businesses that can provide affordable nutritious foods upon receipt of help from the organization in the form of funding for seeds, technical assistance, business support and networking opportunities. After receiving numerous applications, GAIN selectively chooses organizations that fit the program and gives them everything they need to get nutritious foods to the consumers. The final product, which is anything from dairy products to sweet potatoes, is fully nutritious and reaches the local markets at an affordable price for the public to consume.

As a result, the public is not only given more access to nutritious foods, but the farmers also gain an opportunity for income. The Marketplace provides the incentive farmers need to produce the healthy foods necessary for the population to thrive.

– Emma McKay

Sources: USAID

Where Kids Are Lacking NutritionGlobal hunger has been a major world issue for all ages, affecting billions of people each day. Most of the focus is making sure that children and adults have enough food to prevent malnutrition and death. However, research developed by several agencies, governments, and scientists now shows that giving any kind of food may not be enough—the type of nutrients is just as important.

A deficiency in micronutrients, also called hidden hunger, accounts for approximately 7% of the disease burden and affects two billion people around the world. The lack of proper vitamins and minerals leaves a severe negative impact because it permanently affects people’s mental and physical capacity. Oftentimes people have food and are not affected by starvation, but they still do not get enough nutrients from the food they are eating.

The Hidden Hunger Index is a valuable tool because it shows where people, specifically young children who are still developing at a rapid pace, are lacking the nutrients needed to develop their bodies and minds properly as well as to develop a strong immune system to fight infectious and fatal diseases as they grow up.

According to the Hidden Hunger Index, 18 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of micronutrient deficiencies are in Africa, and Niger is number one with 47% of its children stunted, 42% anemic, and 67% with Vitamin A deficiency. However, because of the Hidden Hunger Index, experts not only know which areas are suffering the most, but also what they are suffering from, which is a big step in the right direction.

– Katie Brockman

Sources: SOS Children’s Villages, Scoop Independent News
Photo: Flickr

Think of one child. This child could be your brother, sister, son, or daughter. This person is someone you love and care for dearly. Now imagine watching this child go through the stages of acute malnutrition. As lack of food and nutrients wear on their body, their metabolism begins to slow. Their body slowly eats away at their muscle tissue and their kidneys begin to fail. The suffering of this loved one is something you can’t stop, as there is no food to give them. Their body is just shutting down.

This may sound like a foreign scenario to those able to provide daily meals to their loved ones, but 55 million children in the world today suffer from these serious consequences of malnutrition. These children are susceptible to disease, mental and physical impairments, and possibly death.

For 30 years, Action Against Hunger/ACF International has fought to help these children. An international non-profit organization, ACF has 4,600 health professionals in over 40 countries working to provide nourishment, clean drinking water, and sustainable living conditions to those suffering from malnutrition.

ACF International works to provide both an immediate and long-term impact. Children suffering from malnutrition need assistance now; however, ACF strives to not only get these children healthy but to keep them healthy for good. Accordingly, ACF accepts donations and sends supplies to affected areas, while working to create a long-term presence in international communities through programs and leadership.

The support for this cause remains strong. Sponsor partners, such as Weight Watchers, Pentair, and North American Power, offer unique and relevant ways in which they contribute to eradicating malnutrition. For example, Weight Watchers and Pentair have dedicated over two million dollars each to the cause, while North American Power donates a dollar for every electric bill paid.

With help from these partners and others, Action Against Hunger/ACF International continues to change the world. In 2012, 157,000 children were saved from deadly hunger. Additionally, 550,000 farmers were equipped with the tools necessary to provide their communities with food and economic growth. Progress is being made, but too many children remain hungry.

For more information on how you can become involved with Action Against Hunger and ACF International, visit Put yourself in their shoes. Make a difference.

– William Norris

Sources: Action against Hunger, World Food Programme
Photo: African Starving Children

Gambia Grant
BANJUL, The Gambia – UNICEF has recently committed $300,000 to the nation of The Gambia to fight child malnutrition. The Gambia, a nation half the size of New Jersey and located on the west coast of Africa, has acquired an additional $15 million for the issue of food security out of $1.7 billion UNICEF has dedicated to the Sahel region of the continent.

The Gambia is especially in need of this child malnutrition grant since nearly 50% of its population of 1.7 million consists of children under the age of 18. UNICEF’s work is particularly important to this nation because of its large youth population.

Overall, 34% of Gambians live under the poverty line. Fortunately, however, most Gambians are fully immunized and have access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities. UNICEF is working to ensure that all Gambian children are fully immunized, well-nourished, have access to clean water and sanitation, and receive an education. Ultimately, The Gambia’s future will be greatly impacted by UNICEF’s work, as it not only improves children’s lives now, but it also provides the nation with the tools it needs to have a healthy and productive population in subsequent years.

Jordan Kline

Sources: UNICEF, The Daily Observer

Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
A country two thirds the size of Europe, and rich in mineral and agricultural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo  is also the site of the “deadliest conflict since World War II,” which has killed more than 5.4 million people. The country is recovering from this civil war, but its infrastructure has been nearly destroyed. As a result, poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is widespread and severe, and it requires urgent attention.


Breakdown of Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo


Effects of the War
Today, the effects of the conflict in the DRC are extremely apparent. Life expectancy is 49 years compared to the global average of 70 years, and 168 children born out of every 1,000 die before reaching the age of five. In 2011, more than a quarter of the population was sickened by malaria. More than 2.3 million citizens remain displaced from their homes within the country, and thousands more have fled to neighboring countries for refuge from the ongoing violence.

Present Challenges
Though these statistics have improved slightly since the peak of the civil war in the mid-1990s, 71 percent of the DRC’s population continues to live below the poverty line. Experts say that the country’s scale is a primary factor causing many to die from “easily preventable conditions” such as malnutrition, malaria, and pneumonia. Humanitarian and aid organizations struggle to serve the DRC’s large population as “renewed rebel activities” in eastern provinces continue to displace large segments of the population.

Addressing Poverty
The World Bank reopened in the DRC in 2001 after operations were suspended for almost ten years because of political instability and corruption in the country. The Bank has committed $3.1 billion to the DRC, aiming to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, decrease corruption in public and private sectors, and rehabilitate the country’s health and education systems.

The United Nations has also been instrumental in the DRC’s recovery. The Security Council established MONUSCO in 1999, supplying peacekeeping troops to the region. In addition to the UN’s peacekeeping efforts, USAID provides emergency assistance to the displaced and has established long-term programs to address food security, democracy, education, the environment, and global health in the DRC.

Since late 2010, USAID has given a comprehensive malaria prevention package in 70 health zones in the DRC, greatly reducing the incidence of malaria in the country. USAID also provides health services to pregnant women with HIV/AIDs, preventing them from passing the virus on to their children. The DRC happens to be one of the five countries in the world that accounts for half of all child deaths, but USAID recently provided health services to more than 12 million people who previously lacked access to healthcare.

The situation in the DRC remains one of the most urgent humanitarian crises in the world, but efforts to relieve the widespread poverty are proving successful. In order to maintain this trajectory, though, continued funding for USAID will be critical.

Katie Bandera

Sources: BBC, Global Issues, USAID, WHO
Photo: BBC

michael-kors-interview-page_bazzar_global_poverty_borgen_opt (2)
The health concerns of undernutrition are evident. But a study conducted by the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) and the UN World Food Program (WFP), the African Union Commission, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has highlighted the economic consequences of the condition. The study incorporated data from 2009 provided by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAD), the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education in Egypt to delve into the less obvious penalties of child undernutrition.

The results of the study were published in a report titled “The Cost of Hunger in Africa: the Social and Economic Impact of Child Undernutrition in Egypt”. The report concluded that Egypt has lost an estimated 20.3 billion pounds in 2009, or $3.7 billion, as a result of child undernutrition.

Stunting, a condition of slowed or stopped growth in height, and chronic malnutrition were found to be the primary drivers behind Egypt’s undernutrition-based economic losses. Stunting occurs when children are not supplied the necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals from conception through age five. The condition affects 40 percent of Egypt’s population. Stunted individuals are prone to poor adult health, impaired academic performance, and premature death.

The costs are incurred as a result of mounting healthcare expenses and burdens placed on the education and labor systems. In rural Egypt, where the majority of people work manual labor, it is estimated that the decreased productivity caused by the lowered physical ability of adults who had been stunted as children resulted in a $10.7 billion loss in 2009. Healthcare costs equaled $1.2 billion in economic productivity lost.

31% of Egypt’s population is under the age of 15, which places the necessity for adequate child nutrition at a top priority; to thrive tomorrow, Egypt needs to address these threats today by achieving food security. Without discovering ways to prevent child undernutrition, the costs Egypt incurs could increase 32% by 2025. The IDSC plans to disclose the study’s findings and recommendations to decision-makers in an effort to reverse this downward trend.

Egypt is not the first country to conduct the Cost of Hunger in Africa study. Uganda has already carried out their own study, and the 10 more countries following suit will be Botswana, CameroonBurkina Faso, Malawi, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Swaziland.

Dana Johnson

Sources: Bloomberg, WFP
Photo: Blogsome

According to the UN, famine occurs when there is “a severe lack of food access for a large population” that causes more than 30 percent of the population to suffer from malnutrition and two people per 10,000 people to die each day. Though many organizations attempt to solve famine crises with emergency resources alone, these resources address the immediate causes of famine instead of the underlying factors that prolong and exacerbate it. Listed below are five ways to end famine that go beyond emergency relief to offer long-term solutions.

1. Promote democracy.

Harvard economist Amartya Sen remarked that “No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy.” While no country is immune to natural catastrophes that hinder agriculture, countries with stable democracies can better combat the conditions that lead to famine. People can promote democratization by stressing the importance of foreign aid and development assistance to legislators. Democracy may not fill stomachs, but it does help to manage the resources needed to do so.

2. Send funds instead of food.

Amartya Sen also pointed out that a “shortage of purchasing power” rather than a shortage of food itself causes famines. Though emergency food and water supplies can sustain populations during severe famines, such resources do not prevent future famines. By sending funds instead of food, donor countries can avoid procedural delays and ensure that starving people can afford the food they need to survive.

3. Connect farmers to markets.

Organizations such as the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) provide smallholder farmers with the opportunity to sell their crops to reliable buyers, providing them with steady capital. The WFP also teaches farmers sustainable practices that increase the value of their crops and boost national food security over time. Connecting farmers to markets directly reduces poverty and gives farmers the income necessary to purchase their own food.

4. Empower women.

While women produce roughly half of the world’s food supply, they are often the first to go hungry in a household. Educating women lowers rates of unplanned pregnancy significantly, decreasing the average number of children a woman must feed and reducing poverty.

5. Spread awareness.

The aforementioned strategies can solve the structural problems that lead to famine, but resources are needed to implement these strategies. Ordinary people can help to end famine simply by spreading awareness and contacting their friends, families, and legislators. Such awareness can put pressure on legislators to implement programs that combat famine.

Katie Bandera

Sources: Forbes, World Food Program, End Famine
Photo: BWG

The UK campaign, Enough Food for Everyone If, knows how to use statistics in a way that emphasizes their message.

The statistic they are currently using is that hunger kills every 10 seconds. This is derived from the fact that three million children died from hunger in 2011. Those three million deaths spread evenly across the year equals ten seconds a death.

Some assert that this statistic is a manipulation of the data, as the real issues surrounding those three million deaths are slightly complicated. It is not as simple as people simply starving to death.

A large portion of the deaths involved in the three million per year statistic are caused by infectious diseases or other things that poor nutrition can be related to. When children aren’t given the proper nutrition in the earliest parts of their lives, their bodies are much more susceptible to infectious diseases that a normal healthy child would simply be able to fight off.

The problem isn’t only involving malnutrition in children, but also malnutrition in mothers. In many societies, women aren’t given the best food in the household, therefore they can end up being malnourished during pregnancy and breast feeding, leading to malnutrition in their children.

Malnutrition is especially prevalent in communities that rely heavily on cereals and starches for their diets. These areas tend to neglect the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diets, and sometimes it is the case that milk or meats are avoided in these areas for cultural reasons.

Despite the complexities revolving around the statistic perpetuated by the IF campaign, the campaigners rely on the ‘hunger kills every 10 seconds’ statistic to give people a concrete way to think about the magnitude of global hunger. When people hear that three million died of hunger in 2011 they tend to block it out, as it is hard to conceptualize such a large number. The Enough Food for Everyone If campaign puts this statistic in an easy to understand way that makes people identify with individuals in poverty.

Enough Food for Everyone If uses its resources to raise awareness about world hunger in order to impact governmental decisions in favor of providing more aid to developing countries. The campaign also has put out helpful ways that people can contribute to ending hunger through their consumer choices, such as buying local, in season vegetables. The campaign is exemplifying how putting data in a certain manner and context can make all the difference in the impact is has.

Martin Drake

Source: BBC News, Enough Food for Everyone If
Photo: BBC News Images

World hunger is affecting a large number of people through malnourishment and general under-nutrition. Malnutrition is something that means a person lacks the elements, in a nutritional sense, that is necessary to be fully healthy. Often, this is either a lack of calories and protein or vitamin and mineral deficiency. In the world today, nearly one in eight people in the world have “chronic undernourishment,” which means they are perpetually in a state of hunger, which often means their children will face that same undernourishment, which creates a vicious cycle much like poverty.

852 million out of the 870 million that are hungry every day are in developing countries, such as in sub-Saharan Africa. Although malnourishment has decreased by 30 percent in Asia, as well as a decrease of 16 million in Latin America, there is still more work to be done to ensure that everyone can have access to the nutrition that they need. The people that are most at risk for hunger are children. Those children that are undernourished can be ill for 160 days or more each year, and it causes five million deaths every year. Diseases like malaria and measles are exemplified in children that are undernourished, and 57% of malaria cases have at least been partially caused by undernourishment.

The saving grace to these harsh facts about world hunger is that the world does, indeed, produce enough food to successfully feed everyone. The only issue is that the food does not actually travel to the developing countries, which means there is food in the world that the undernourished cannot access. Every person in the world could have 2,720 calories per day which is enough for proper nutrition. The issue, then, is the lack of funds to buy food, or the lack of land in order to grow food. Some of the main causes of world hunger are poverty, harmful economic systems, conflict, and climate change. Interestingly, poverty causes hunger, but hunger also leads to poverty, which is a vicious cycle; people stuck in this cycle need help in order to leave the cycle, which requires aid from other countries, in most cases.

So what are the solutions to world hunger? They are more simplistic than one might originally think. One of the main problems is the waste of edible, but “ugly,” vegetables. The food production systems of the world will throw away “unwanted” fruits and vegetables, which is incredibly wasteful. There is a campaign against food waste, partially led by Tristram Stuart, who wrote the book “Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal.” A simple solution is to stop this waste; rather than throw out “ugly” food, give them to those that are undernourished, or charities that can then pass them along to the undernourished. Another solution is to use the leftovers. Food is thrown out every day; perfectly edible food.

Individuals can even help reduce food waste by only buying what they need and saving the leftovers to eat another day. However, this needs to be done on a wider scale, such as in grocery stores or even food production systems as a whole. Finally, preservation is an important issue in regards to world hunger. Consumers and retailers can reduce food waste by stopping impulse-buying, eating food at home, saving leftovers, and reducing trips to restaurants. Of course, never going out is not the solution. Rather, merely being more careful with food is the simplest solution of all, and can be done on all levels, from individuals to large corporations.

– Corina Balsamo

Sources: Africa Review, World Hunger, Rural Spin
Photo: Morgue File

Pledge to End Malnutrition During G8 Summit

By the time the G8 Summit took place on 17th-18th June, several nations were already taking action to combat child malnutrition. On June 8th, at nutrition for growth summit co-hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, the vice-president of Brazil, Michel Temer, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, commitments of up to $4.15 billion were pledged by developed nations. These pledges will double the funding currently given to global nutrition.

Additionally, a global ‘nutrition for growth’ compact was signed by representatives of 24 governments and 28 businesses, as well as various scientific organizations. The focus of this compact is to provide benefits to at least 500 million women and children through effective nutrition interventions, reduce the incidences of stunted growth due to malnutrition, and save at least 1.7 million lives by the treatment of severe malnutrition.

The benefits of this could be far-reaching. Reports point to malnutrition as the underlying cause in the death of 3.1 million children annually, as well as adversely affecting the growth and development of another 165 million. As a result of this, it is estimated that Africa and Asia lose 11% of GDP every year due to issues surrounding malnutrition.

Commitments, though, are equally important from the developing countries in terms of spending on nutrition and prioritizing internal poverty and hunger. And in some instances, these pledges were forthcoming. The president of Malawi, Joyce Banda, pledged Malawi would treble spending on nutrition (from 1% to 3.3%) by 2020. Similarly, Burkina Faso committed to reducing chronic malnutrition from affecting 32.9% of the population to 25% by 2020.

It will take this tandem effort to ensure that the pledges made are actually brought to fruition. Both the developed and the developing nations must work together to ensure that the aims of the summit are achieved and that no more innocent lives are wasted.

– David Wilson

Source: The Guardian