the effects of the Olympic gamesThe ancient Olympic Games took place centuries ago on a relatively small scale. Today, the games bring together the world’s best athletes to compete on behalf of their respective countries. To a serious athlete, there is no greater goal and accomplishment than to come home with an Olympic medal. Countries each take turns hosting the Olympic Games and often spend billions of dollars preparing for and running the event. For athletes and viewers, the Olympic Games creates a time of elite competition; however, the event often has different effects on the host nation’s impoverished.

Effects on a Host City’s Impoverished

The effects of the Olympic Games on the impoverished do not receive high recognition while the grandeur of the event remains highly publicized. While the Olympic Games can provide a sense of awe for those with a stable income and fulfilled basic needs, this is not always the case for people living in poverty. Impoverished people worldwide face eviction and a large diaspora every four years as host cities evict them to use the land for Olympic stadiums and parking lots.

The Washington Post writes that in 1988 “720,000 people were forcibly moved [in Seoul].” The impoverished people of Seoul were not alone in this experience as 1.5 million impoverished Chinese citizens were forcibly relocated before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In addition, the impoverished of London, Rio and many other host countries have been relocated to make way for Olympic stadiums as well. In Rio, the effects of the Olympic Games translated into whole towns and communities giving way to media centers and Olympic pools.

Effects on a Host Country’s Economy

The Olympic Games forcibly removes the impoverished from their homes but also requires public taxpayer money for new or revamped venues. On average, budgets for the setup and running of the Olympics cost well into the billions. Activists and those in poverty sometimes express frustration over this fact. Though estimates range widely, some research estimates that it costs less than $10 a year to end “world hunger and undernutrition.” The 2021 Tokyo Olympics is said to have cost $15.4 billion. Many Japanese citizens expressed outrage as the country is still trying to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A U.S. News and World Report article estimates that these funds could have built 1,200 Japanese elementary schools.

The 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games faced an unusually high amount of controversy as the COVID-19 pandemic significantly lowered any potential revenue. The effects of the Olympic games also limit a city in a different sense. The New York Times highlighted this: “[T]he city has been reduced to a mere vessel for a megaevent that has demanded much but provided little in return.”

Pandemic Impacts

Furthermore, the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games has caused backlash as the event risked the health of Japanese citizens. The number of COVID-19 cases seen in Japan has already skyrocketed after the Olympics. The spread of COVID-19 also disproportionately affects the impoverished who lose potential benefits from money spent on the games instead of social welfare programs. Furthermore, the impoverished worldwide have already suffered greatly from the pandemic as they face greater hardships upon contracting the COVID-19 virus. This is due to the fact that severely impoverished people often lack sufficient health insurance and the financial resources required to pay for treatment.

Benefits of Hosting the Olympics

While the Olympic Games puts burdens on host countries, the event also has positive impacts. The Olympics leads to the following:

  1. An increase in jobs supporting the event.
  2. A rise in tourism and hospitality services (during non-pandemic years).
  3. An increase in trade, which can yield an increase in foreign investment.
  4. Improvement to infrastructure.
  5. Improvement to transportation systems.

During non-pandemic years, host cities often see an influx of foreign dollars as tourism and increased travel send more money into the local economy. Furthermore, the effects of the Olympic Games can be positive for host communities through job creation as the event requires massive support staff to prepare for and run the games. The Beijing Olympic Games allowed for the creation of nearly two million jobs to facilitate the event. While this influx in job creation benefits the Olympic Games host cities, it is often temporary and only lasts for the duration of the Olympics. Furthermore, this creation of jobs does not necessarily benefit the nation’s impoverished as many jobs require certain skills like a background in construction, IT or security.

While the event does have some positive impacts on host cities, the negative impacts disproportionately affect the impoverished. The sporting event is a time of celebration and patriotism for those fortunate enough to have the resources to enjoy it, but this is not the case for all. Moving forward, greater recognition of this fact is crucial. With this and real long-term change, the Olympics could bring both international athleticism and significant poverty reduction to a host city.

Lily Vassalo
Photo: Unsplash

efforts to mitigate food insecurityAccording to the Council on Foreign Relations, about 135 million people experienced severe food insecurity before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has worsened this crisis with less access to quality food and prices skyrocketing. COVID-19 has already destroyed decades-worth of work made toward reducing global hunger. There are already predictions that millions of children will suffer more from malnutrition, obesity and stunting. Global hunger is an impediment to international development, increasing tensions within developing countries.

How Food Insecurity Worsened During COVID-19

The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) states that millions of citizens across 43 developing countries face an “emergency phase of food insecurity in 2021.” The majority of those experiencing food insecurity in those countries are either refugees or anyone forced to migrate.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that 272 million people are food insecure one year into the pandemic. Many believe that higher food insecurity rates worldwide occurred due to the shortages from panic buying and stockpiling. However, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) determined that agricultural production reached its highest level. In 2020, the world produced 2.7 billion tons of the most commonly grown crops. The reality is that disruptions within the supply chain are the root cause of this worsening issue.

Actions of the World Bank

As part of its efforts to mitigate food insecurity during COVID-19, the World Bank increased funding for more effective agricultural systems in Guatemala to reduce disruptions in the supply chain. Its assistance also aimed to help alleviate the food insecurity caused by economic challenges and droughts. The World Bank helped Liberia by incorporating a Contingency Emergency Response Component that allows the government to respond to the needs of those at a higher risk of food insecurity. The component also helps increase crop production and helps normalize the supply chain there.

How to Overcome Economic Challenges

The pandemic also worsened the economic situation in developing countries. People received fewer remittances preventing them from accessing essential goods. Latin America has been most impacted by reduced remittances. However, food prices in other regions facing conflict became higher than many people’s daily salaries, making the situation difficult to overcome.

Haiti is a country with the highest food insecurity rates and faced severe impacts from the reduced remittances. The pandemic and reduced remittances hurt farmers the most. The World Bank assisted by providing programs with enough funding for farmers to produce enough crops for a two-year time frame. The programs will also help farmers incorporate safety precautions into their practices during the pandemic.

Other Efforts to Mitigate Food Insecurity

The World Bank’s other efforts to mitigate food insecurity included issuing a transfer of funds to families with food insecure infants and toddlers in Tajikistan to alleviate malnutrition. It sent food for 437,000 citizens in Chad facing food insecurity. The organization also provided additional funding that went toward addressing the concerns that the pandemic caused in Rwanda.

Accomplishments Occurring with the World Bank’s Help

The World Bank also provided more certified seeds to local communities in Afghanistan and helped farmers produce more yields than before. The U.S. sent $87.8 million to help provide more equipment for dairy and poultry farmers in Bangladesh. The World Bank’s programs in India resulted in further women’s empowerment with the establishment of women’s self-help groups that work with hygiene, food administration and storage. As of 2021, there are 62 million women that participate in these groups.

The World Bank also reports that farmers in developing countries face food insecurity and works to alleviate their distress. The organization helped Cambodia incorporate new agricultural practices that led to farmers receiving higher incomes with increased productivity. The World Bank also taught farmers in the Kyrgyz Republic the proper practices to grow more crops while conserving water. Eventually, more than 5,000 farmers gained an income that allowed them to buy essential goods.

The World Bank’s efforts to mitigate food insecurity in developing countries are effective so far. These international programs brought more farmers out of poverty and further combat global hunger. Many of these countries made commendable progress with this support, which is a significant step toward future development.

– Cristina Velaz
Photo: Flickr

Can Vegetarianism Help Feed the Hungry?
Vegetarianism is more than just a fad diet. Plant-based foods typically have high levels of nutrients and are cheaper and more accessible than other foods. Pivoting agricultural preferences to focus on plant-based foods has many provable benefits. But can vegetarianism help feed the hungry? The answer is yes.

Meat is Inefficient

A very high demand exists for meat currently. In the Amazon, approximately 60% of deforested land is pasture. Animals that farmers raise for consumption on this land eat various types of cereals, which provide very little nutritional return for humans. Meat is also calorically insufficient. As of 2013, 36% of the calories from crops worldwide go toward feeding animals, but only 12% of those calories contribute to the human diet as meat and other animal products. Therefore, land and resources going towards an inefficient nutrition source.

The demand for meat means there is less farmland for plant-based crops—crops that can feed more people at a lower cost. The way vegetarianism can feed the hungry is by freeing up resources for plant-based crops. Switching to plant-based foods could recover 70% of calories that frequently go toward animal protein.

Going Vegetarian is Globally Sustainable

It is no secret that animal diets also have severe environmental consequences. Greenhouse gases from livestock farming contribute to environmental damage that disproportionately affects impoverished areas. Moreover, it eats up money that could go toward improving living conditions for those living in poverty. In this way, a vegetarian diet can help the world’s hungry; it frees up resources that countries can instead allocate to distributing plant-based foods. Research at Oxford University has shown that widespread adoption of vegetarian diets can save trillions of dollars globally each year. After assessing different scenarios, researchers concluded that widespread veganism could avoid more than eight million deaths by the year 2050, and a vegetarian diet could save 7.3 million lives.

Not Ready? Go Flexitarian

One does not have to give up all animal products in order to reap the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. The fact is that current agricultural methods induce environmental challenges that disrupt both the natural and man-made food chain. Simply reducing the number of animal products consumed can help. Going “flexitarian,” or plant-based except for special occasions, makes a difference too. Whether it is one vegan day a week or one meat-based meal a day, a flexitarian plan exists for everyone. In addition, the planning ahead this would require helps minimize food waste.

The health benefits of adopting a flexitarian diet include better cognitive function, lower body composition, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease and longer life expectancy. Plants comprise vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, minerals and polyphenols that work to protect the brain and body from various factors that accelerate aging, disease and mood disorders.

Giving up meats and dairy products may seem daunting. However, not only are animal products ineffective in feeding the world but such products consume more calories than they provide. In essence, it is true that vegetarianism can feed the hungry. Adopting vegetarian diets would not only help the world’s hungry but also make individuals healthier and the environment stronger.

– Maddey Bussmann
Photo: Flickr

2020 Global Hunger Index resultsCalculating world hunger statistics is no easy task. The United Nations estimated that in 2018, more than 820 million people suffered from food shortages all around the globe. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is an organization that studies world hunger trends in developing nations and publishes yearly reports on the statistics. The organization uses child mortality rates, youth undernutrition numbers and food supply totals provided by agencies such as the United Nations, World Health Organization and UNICEF, to produce a hunger index for each nation. Depending on a nation’s index, they are placed on a scale of hunger severity of low, moderate, serious, alarming and extremely alarming. The 2020 Global Hunger Index results have been released and show promising developments for Sub-Saharan Africa.

2020 Global Hunger Index Results

In the 2020 Global Hunger Index, 11 nations are rated as alarming, 40 are serious, 26 are moderate and 48 are low. This means that there are no countries considered extremely alarming when it pertains to hunger. While there is still much work left to be done to feed the world, the 2020 GHI results are hopeful. Both the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were previously rated as extremely alarming but have experienced drastic improvement over the last year. Action Against Hunger works tirelessly in both the CAR and DRC and deserves recognition for the status improvements.

Hunger in the Central African Republic (CAR)

Fighting hunger in the Central African Republic became a priority of Action Against Hunger in 2006. Currently, more than 450 team members are present in the CAR helping to secure food and water for the most vulnerable communities. In just 2019 alone, Action Against Hunger provided these vital resources for 342,516 CAR citizens. The work has allowed the CAR to move out of the hunger category of extremely alarming. A majority of people living in the CAR are almost entirely dependent on humanitarian aid for survival. If the 2020 Global Health Index category change is to remain a permanent one, Action Against Hunger is part of the reason why.

Hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is another African nation to see improvement in its 2020 Global Hunger Index status. Similar to the CAR, Action Against Hunger has become an integral part of ensuring food accessibility for the DRC’s impoverished communities. The global nonprofit has worked in the DRC for almost 25 years and now deploys 472 team members to carry out help. Food, medical supplies and water sanitization are necessary for the Congolese to survive. Within the past year of 2020, 1.2 million people in the DRC received help from Action Against Hunger. That means that over 10% of the DRC’s population depends on Action Against Hunger to live. The GHI improvement for the DRC stands as a testament to the work being done by Action Against Hunger for over two decades.

Zero Hunger

The 2020 Global Hunger Index results are only a snapshot of where the world is in the fight against hunger. There are still hundreds of millions of people suffering from food insecurity. However, the GHI results show hope that food shortages may someday be a thing of the past. With Action Against Hunger and other similar organizations helping to fight hunger, strides have been made in the area of global hunger.

– Zachary Hardenstine
Photo: Flickr

Kitchen Fighting Global PovertyIn 2015, the U.N. put out a list of Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) to reach by 2030. The focus of these SDGs is to build a better, more sustainable world, inclusive of all countries. While the first SDG is specifically geared towards ending poverty as a whole, the rest of the goals have direct and indirect ways of addressing poverty as well. There are quite a few popular brands in the kitchen fighting global poverty and many are using the SDGs as a guideline for launching campaigns toward ending facets of poverty.

Brands in the Kitchen Fighting Global Poverty

1. Kellogg’s: In an effort toward achieving the second SDG, zero hunger, Kellogg’s launched its Kellogg’s® Better Days campaign. Since 2015, it has donated 2.4 billion servings of food to people around the world suffering from hunger. Among those receiving Kellogg’s food donations have been 3.2 million children. The goal is to feed 375 million people in need by the end of 2030. Kellogg’s also supports Breakfast Clubs in 21 different countries.

2. General Mills: Another cereal brand in the fight against poverty is General Mills. In 2008, CEO, Ken Powell, founded the nonprofit, Partners in Food Solutions. Various other companies have since joined the organization and work together to help African food processors succeed. The goal is to improve food security, nutrition and economic development in Africa. Over 100,000 volunteer hours have been put towards advising these food processors and planning technical or business projects in Africa. Additionally, volunteers from world-class corporations have developed 651 customized projects for their African clients.

3. Nestlé: The company Nestlé has identified a few of the SDGs to target in its sustainability strategy. The third SDG promotes good health and well-being. To support this SDG, Nestlé launched its global initiative, Nestlé for Healthier Kids, with which it hopes to help 50 million kids around the world live healthier lives through nutritional education by 2030. So far, the campaign has reached 27.2 million children. Nestlé also recognizes the need for addressing extreme poverty among workers around the world. As a stride towards SDG 8, decent work and economic growth, Nestlé launched the Nestlé Needs YOUth campaign. The initiative’s goal is to help 10 million young people access economic opportunities by providing them with skills, education and help in making agriculture a more thriving field. Yet another SDG Nestlé aims to help with is SDG 6, clean water and sanitation. Its global initiative, Caring for Water, involves “reducing withdrawals, reusing water and working with others to protect water at a catchment or community level.” Ultimately, the initiative seeks to increase access to safe water and sanitation around the world.

4. Kraft Heinz: With ending world hunger as a pillar of its foundation, Kraft Heinz is yet another brand in the kitchen fighting global poverty. In 2013, it partnered with the nonprofit Rise Against Hunger, which aids in global hunger relief. Kraft Heinz employees have since packaged 15.2 million meals in 30 to 40 countries. Furthermore, the company launched its Micronutrient Campaign in 2001. This campaign resulted in the creation of a micronutrient packet with essential vitamins and minerals, which promotes healthy growth and development in those suffering from hunger. On the 2019 World Food Day, Kraft Heinz employees from around the world included the micronutrient packet in over one million meal packages for families in need worldwide.

– Sage Ahrens-Nichols
Photo: Flickr

Farm to ForkRecently, the European Union Green Deal created a new food security strategy called the “Farm to Fork Strategy.” The European Union Green deal aims to make Europe the most climate-neutral continent and the Farm to Fork strategy is at the heart of this goal. Farm to Fork is a directive designed to “ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food.” The EU particularly noted that global food systems cannot be resilient during times of crisis such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, unless food systems are sustainable. The EU further noted that food systems need to be redesigned in order to reduce negative impacts on the environment.

The Farm to Fork Strategy

On June 2, 2020, The EU dedicated €10 billion towards developing the start of the program by donating towards “the research and innovation of food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and the environment” along with developing new technology to find a nature-based solution for naturally grown food, that is also sustainable year-round and throughout multiple years, by growing annuals in the farms of European countries. This trial run, done exclusively in Europe, hopes to be a pioneer in agriculture, destined to help millions globally once the project receives more traction.

The Farm to Fork Strategy stands in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and not only plans to provide more sustainable food sources but will also provide aid to issues such as global warming, pollution, deforestation and overfishing. The overall goal is to “ensure food security and create a safe food environment” globally.

The Main Goals of Farm to Fork:

  • Ensuring sustainable food production;
  • Ensuring food security;
  • Stimulating sustainable food processing, wholesale, retail, hospitality and food services practices;
  • Promoting sustainable food consumption and facilitating the shift to healthy, sustainable diets;
  • Reducing food loss and waste;
  • Combating food fraud along the food supply chain.

This detailed plan, if executed properly, is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global food shortages. Targets that are essential to meet in order to reach the environmental and food safety goals of Farm to Fork are:

  • a reduction by 50% in the use of chemical and hazardous pesticides by 2030;
  • a reduction of nutrient losses by at least 50% while ensuring that there is no deterioration in soil fertility;
  • a reduction in the use of fertilizers by at least 20% by 2030;
  • a reduction of overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and aquaculture of 50% by 2030;
  • reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.

The Potential Impact of Farm to Fork

With the use of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the entire world could be more self-sustaining. The initiative could help millions around the world who struggle with food scarcity, making sustainable agriculture one of the most important fields in society. Farm to Fork helps not only food scarcity but the environment as a whole as well. Farm to Fork aims to do more than just curb global hunger, ultimately, aiming to make the planet a better place as a whole.

Alexis LeBaron
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Canada
With nearly 9.5% of the population falling below the poverty line, food insecurity in Canada appears to directly correlate with financial issues. Hunger in Canada has negatively impacted the physical, mental and emotional well-being of citizens. Such a scenario has meant negative implications for the country’s health care system as well. While Canada may not be a country with severe financial difficulties, a situation unlike many impoverished countries, some Canadians suffer from severe food insecurity. These five data points highlight the prevalence of hunger in Canadian society.

5 Facts About Hunger in Canada

  1. One out of every six children under the age of 18 suffers from food insecurity. This is most prevalent in Northern Canada. This area suffers from a lack of employment opportunities and elevated produce prices. In addition, those who live in Northern Canada have switched from hunting to relying on store-bought goods, which tends to cost more than in the rest of Canada. In fact, Northern Ontario communities, such as Moose Factory and Attawapiskat, on average spend twice the amount of money on food as Southern Ontario communities.
  2. Nearly half of food-insecure households consist of those living alone. Single-person households are difficult to maintain as many citizens struggle to sustain their employment. In 2019, the unemployment rate increased to 5.67% and continues to increase. This trend has persisted throughout 2020, with unemployment rates reaching 13.7% due largely to the effects of COVID-19.
  3. Low household income individuals frequently suffer from food insecurity. In food-insecure households, over 60% of salaries and wages are necessary for necessities. The minimum wage in Canada is $14.25 CAD per hour, which is not much more than an average meal price of roughly $13.
  4. Households that comprise of senior citizens are less likely to suffer from food insecurity. Canada’s Pension Plan (CPP) is designed to replace a person’s income when they retire. These pensions have severely affected how seniors face Canadian poverty. Because of such consistent and large sums of money, the rates of food insecurity are lower in these households.
  5. Food intake severely contributes to wellbeing. Mood and anxiety disorders are higher in food-insecure households. Studies show that the prevalence of depressive thoughts is nearly 23% greater in food-insecure households. Food insecurity forces individuals to make stressful life-altering decisions, which in turn can cause increases in depression and anxiety. Scientific studies further show that lack of food can render the brain unable to access the proper amount of nutrients, ultimately leading to lower amounts of dopamine and serotonin. These are chemicals that are associated with happiness.

While hunger in Canada is a severe issue, many political campaigns tackle food insecurity. The Eat Think Vote campaign encourages the government to establish a basic income to ensure that all Canadians are able to afford healthy meals. This campaign recommends multiple strategies, such as increasing the National Child Benefit, developing a national housing strategy, etc. In doing so, specific provinces (such as Quebec) have greatly decreased their prevalence of food insecurity.  These actions have enabled the government to combat financial obstacles that greatly impact hunger in Canada.

– Aditi Prasad
Photo: Flickr

Stem Cells Fight Hunger Meat is everywhere in modern-day life, found at food trucks, the local grocer and luxurious restaurants alike. As ubiquitous as conventional meat seems, lab-based stem cell techniques continue to show promise in developing alternative sources of protein for the world’s carnivores. Along with plant-based substitutes, these cell-based alternatives are an innovation that seeks to reduce the known consequences of mass meat consumption. Perhaps one day, society may see stem cells fight hunger on a global scale.

Traditionally Sourced Meat

Meat, in all potential forms, is essential because of the proteins and nutrients it contains. This is particularly true for lower-income families. Due to its availability in many regions, meat serves a vital role in composing people’s diets. In fact, a 2018 article observes that “Both the global average per capita consumption of meat and the total amount of meat consumed are rising, driven by increasing average individual incomes and by population growth.” Thus, meat is a valuable resource due to the nourishment and food security that it can provide. Yet, the livestock requirements for an exponentially growing human population are significant.

The Rising Consumption of Resources

As of the last decade, 92% of all the freshwater that humanity consumes goes toward agriculture. About 33% of that is used for animal products. Not only do cattle, poultry and other livestock need water to drink, but their plant-based food sources need large amounts of water to grow. At the same time, the land devoted to supporting livestock raised for consumption takes up nearly 80% of all available agricultural land. Barring any major change, animal farming will likely continue to be extremely resource-intensive. This poses problems in a world that constantly demands more.

Memphis Meats

One company that recognizes the global need for sustainable meat is pursuing a new avenue of development: using stem cells to fight hunger. Memphis Meats, a startup founded in 2015, has received capital from investors like Bill Gates and Richard Branson. The company focuses on growing stem cells as meat alternatives. Pre-selected animal stem cells, when grown in Memphis Meats’ cultivators, can turn into real meat. While the company is still refining and enhancing its process, it shows promise.

Furthermore, the company has raised $161 million after its most recent call for investment. These funds will go toward further development and a new production facility. According to the Memphis Meats website, “At scale, our process will create less waste while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Memphis Meats therefore reaffirms that despite the potential problems of the animal agriculture current system, practical, sustainable business solutions do exist. Their work provides the possibility that stem cells could fight hunger in the near future.

A Look into the Crystal Ball

As concerns over livestock and agriculture stack up alongside concern over feeding a population of billions, these priorities may conflict. Easy answers are rarely easy to find. However, cell-based meat could provide an entirely new, sustainable source of food. At the same time, it could allow for a large-scale change in the management of the Earth’s land and water. Growing investments in this startup industry can also be a powerful force for change on a large scale.

Moreover, meat made from growing stem cells carries with it the potential to allow for important reallocations of currently available protein sources. This could one day substantially increase the international food supply while keeping it environmentally and socially conscious. It may sound farfetched that stem cells could fight hunger, but the necessity of a solution and initiatives like Memphis Meats suggest that this idea is not so far-off.

Alan Mathew
Photo: Unsplash

world hunger aid app
Chronic hunger is still an issue that plagues many countries and communities around the world. Many solutions proposed to solve world hunger have been ongoing for decades, yet the problem persists. In the technology-focused 21st century, these attempts at solutions have become increasingly digital. One such digital solution is a world hunger aid application from the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

The World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is the U.N.’s top organization in charge of managing and solving world hunger crises. It is focused on emergency food aid as well as helping communities maintain high nutrition standards. The WFP’s efforts are responsible for the allocation and distribution of billions of rations, worldwide to food-insecure communities each year.

Most of these food aid efforts happen on the ground, in the affected areas. However, a new initiative from the WFP can involve far more people in the crusade against world hunger. The solution is the world hunger aid application, “ShareTheMeal.”

ShareTheMeal: How Does it Work?

Launched in 2015, ShareTheMeal is a one-of-a-kind world hunger aid application. Its sole purpose is to allow users worldwide, to donate meals to adults and children around the world via their smartphones or tablets. To participate, users simply tap a button to send an $0.80 donation to the WFP, which covers the cost of one meal.

ShareTheMeal also allows users to assist with its mission in several other ways. Within the user interface, the hunger aid application splits donation tiers into higher amounts, such as “Feed a Child for a Week” or “Feed a Child for a Year,” which correspond to a donation value, to fund that goal. The application also has a feature called “The Table,” where a monthly donation matches the user with the family they are supporting. This allows users to receive updates on how their donations helped a specific family.

In addition to its general donation tiers, ShareTheMeal has real-time, cause-specific donation sections. These include assisting with the famine crisis in Yemen and supporting Syrian refugees in Iraq. The application’s “Teams” option also allows users to form teams with friends, coworkers or family members to meet a donation goal.

ShareTheMeal’s Impact

To date, ShareTheMeal has donated more than 78 million meals to people in need via its 2+ million users on iOS alone. It has received thousands of five-star reviews for its efforts and was named the Google Play Store’s Best Social Impact app. ShareTheMeal has also been featured by several major global news outlets, from CNN, Forbes and Al Jazeera to Spiegel Online.

The application has directly contributed to the WFP’s efforts to continue providing aid to communities affected by global hunger. ShareTheMeal combines peoples’ desire to support a cause with the technology that permeates their everyday lives — in a masterfully simple idea that offers tangible results. In doing so, the application brings the world of charity to a new generation of contributors via its smartphone presence.

Outlook — Positive

As hunger persists around the globe, ShareTheMeal continues to grow and evolve today. The world hunger aid application announced that during the next five years, it aims to donate 800 million meals to the world’s poor. ShareTheMeal’s goal is massive, but with its millions of users, exceptional usability and the emotional connections it creates between users and those they assist (with their donations) — this clever piece of technology seems to be on track to succeed in its quest to end global starvation.

– Domenic Scalora
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in AzerbaijanHunger in Azerbaijan has been widespread for the last three decades. The country is located to the south of Russia, to the west of the Caspian Sea and to the east of Armenia. Saida Verdiyeva, a mother of two, lives in Toganali, a village in northwest Azerbaijan. Verdiyeva fears that social-distancing measures, which her government established in response to COVID-19, will make it impossible for her to feed herself and her two children.

In October 1991, two months before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan declared its independence from the soviet block. The subsequent years of economic turmoil in her country led to widespread poverty and hunger in Azerbaijan.

Degeneration of Azerbaijan’s Economy Between 1991-1994

By 1995, Azerbaijan had endured a critical socio-economic crisis. According to the IMF, Azerbaijan’s Gross Domestic Product, industrial production, agricultural production, real average monthly wages, household consumption- virtually every meaningful factor of the country’s economy- plummeted between 1991 and 1994. It wasn’t until the end of 1994 that the government took some control over the economic crisis. In 1995, state-led programs were successful in addressing issues of economic degeneration and adverse living standards.

Azerbaijan’s Economy and Global Hunger Index

In 1995, after four years of economic crisis, Azerbaijan had a Global Hunger Index score of 28.30. Consistent with the relatively steady economic improvement between 1995 and 2000, Azerbaijan’s GHI score reached a value of 14.60 in 1996. It remained close to this benchmark in 1997. However, between 1997 and 2000, Azerbaijan’s GHI score increased from 14.89 to 27.50.

For about two years, the numbers show a direct relationship between Azerbaijan’s GHI score and its economy. However, the macroeconomic solutions implemented by the government at the time were deficient in addressing the specific needs of certain regions and populations. In all likelihood, Verdiyeva was among those Azerbaijani whose local problems were not fixed.

Hunger and Poverty in Toganali

Hunger in Azerbaijan, as elsewhere, is linked to poverty, and poverty is often a result of unemployment. Before COVID-19, Verdiyeva worked as a dishwasher for large events. Due to social-distancing measures, there have not been many large events in or around Toganali. As a result, Verdiyeva has struggled to find work.

Many countries around the world are scrambling to prevent hunger crises caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. However, nations that had already implemented relevant social policies and established the necessary bureaucratic infrastructure to handle hunger crises will now have a more nuanced ability to cope.

The Agenda for Sustainable Development in Azerbaijan

In 2015, all United Nations Member States agreed to pursue domestic policies in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The priorities of the SDGs are to end global poverty and ensure environmental protection. In addition, the SDGs aim to create conditions whereby all people can enjoy peace and prosperity. These objectives are to be fulfilled by 2030.

Among 166 other countries, Azerbaijan ranked 54th in its commitment to the SDGs. Much of Azerbaijan’s success in this regard is owed to the diligence in creating bureaucratic mechanisms to track vulnerable populations and organize data on age, gender and location of such groups.

The SDGs’ principle of “leaving no one behind” involves a preliminary method of accumulating a body of information about vulnerable demographic groups. The implication is that being seen is a prerequisite for being helped.

Verdiyeva and her two children are among those Azerbaijani who will benefit from their country’s commitment to the SDGs and its principle of “leaving no one behind.” In 2013, only 24% of preschool-aged children were enrolled in preschool education in Azerbaijan. By 2017, 75% of preschool-aged children were enrolled in a school where they have access to daily meals.

Likewise, the hourly earnings of female employees and unemployment rates improved from 2010 to 2017. Comprehensive domestic policies, like the SDGs, are institutional methods of ending hunger in Azerbaijan. COVID-19 is an obstacle to reaching this end goal. However, the Azerbaijani government made valiant efforts, especially from 2015 to 2020, to ensure healthier living conditions for its vulnerable populations through the next decade.

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr