hunger in EnglandWith the ongoing cost of living crisis, the rippling effects of both Brexit and the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, hunger in England has become a national concern. The cost of living increase has led to steep energy bills, and food prices grew at a rate of 13.1% inflation in August 2022 leading many households and families to make the grueling decision between staying warm or having a meal that day.

About Hunger in England

In May 2022, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) predicted that by 2023, the number of U.K. households facing food and energy bills higher than their disposable income would rise to 1.5 million, with households in London and Scotland bearing the heaviest impact. Later in the year, almost 30% of adults reported struggling to afford balanced meals, an increase from 9% pre-pandemic.

With the costs of living rising, so is the use of food banks, a resource already stretched thin during the pandemic. In August 2022, the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) surveyed 550 food banks across the U.K. and found that in the short space of four months, the demand for food banks had increased by 90%, whilst almost three-quarters of food banks reported a drop in the number of donations received. This has led to various food banks having to reduce the size of food packages available per person, with more claiming they may have to resort to doing so in the near future.

Child Food Poverty

Nonetheless, those who suffer the most from food poverty in England and the U.K., are the most vulnerable. Children, ethnic minorities and individuals with disabilities are on the front lines of the crisis.

Loughborough University conducted a study revealing that one in four children live in poverty in the U.K. Meanwhile, at approximately 46%, children from black and minority ethnic groups are the most likely to live in poverty, as opposed to 26% of their peers from white British families.

#EndChildFoodPoverty Campaign

During the pandemic in England, and after the closure of schools, many children who had previously relied on the free school meals scheme as a means to feed themselves went hungry. This prompted England footballer Marcus Rashford to lead the #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign in October 2020. Rashford’s petition garnered more than 1 million signatures, and the government announced an eventual funding package for families on the free school meals scheme that aimed to alleviate child food poverty throughout the remainder of the pandemic, and during the school holidays.

Nonetheless, since Rashford’s campaign, the number of school children eligible for free school meals has increased from 20.8% of state-funded pupils in January 2021, to 22.5%.

Government Initiatives: Present and Future

Hunger in England and across the rest of the U.K. is rife, and despite the steps the U.K. government is taking towards reducing food poverty, such as extending free school meals, many may argue these movements are merely ‘tokenistic.’ Tokenistic or not, it is clear more is necessary to help those who cannot afford to eat to live.

– Genevieve Lewis
Photo: Flickr

Ways To Address World Hunger
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to profoundly impact economies worldwide, with rising food prices and high supply chain shortages exacerbating global hunger. Africa is feeling the heaviest effects. Ukraine is one of the largest producers of wheat. Russia’s introduction of a naval blockade and attacks on the country’s energy grid resulted in a reduction in wheat exports from 5 to 7 million tons per month before the war to 3.5 million tons per month between March and November 2022. More than 345 million people are feeling the impact of the global food crisis, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlights that more than 48 countries that the global food crisis affected will require more than $4.1 billion in aid in 2023. However, there are initiatives and methods to help alleviate and provide solutions to address world hunger.

United Nations Year of Millets

The initiative began in 2021, a year before Russia invaded Ukraine, which caused an unprecedented global food crisis. Before expanding on the goals and outcomes the initiative hopes to achieve, it is essential to discuss what millets are and what are the ways to address world hunger in 2023. Millets are grains that come from small seed grasses and many around the world grow them in abundance. People have been consuming millet for more than 7,000 years and they are important in terms of contributing to multi-crop agriculture and establishing farming societies.

Developing countries like India, Niger and Nigeria (more than 97%) heavily produce millet and they continue to be a stable form of the crop in these regions today, Impakter reports. This is because millet can survive droughts and other environmental challenges, making it a sustainable form of nutrition. Furthermore, the efforts required to grow the crops are minimal as they are highly adaptable in the soils they grow in, be they poor or fertile. As a source of nutrition, millets have high protein, minerals, fiber and iron and are gluten-free. Therefore, these grains are an excellent source to help countries “increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains,” according to Impakter.

Karnataka, India officially adopted the United Nations Year of Millets. Millet grows in abundance there and India spearheads the initiative. The primary objective of Year of Millets consists of generating international awareness of millets which will ultimately result in a solution to the global food crisis because millets not only have the ability to grow in adverse environments and are sources of high nutrition but they also are sources of new sustainable market opportunities. The greater generation of international awareness of millet could solve world hunger in 2023 or be a step towards solving world hunger.

Immediate International Action

Another one of the ways to address world hunger is through more significant international involvement and efforts to help generate a financial cushion to support initiatives that tackle the food crisis and ensure that there are alternatives in place to ensure food security. Organizations like WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) also require adequate global funding to operate efficiently to help address world hunger and generate awareness regarding the consequences of food insecurity. Furthermore, organizations that conduct their programs in countries experiencing extreme food insecurity require a stable source of funding from donors and international organizations through grants and concessional financing to operate programs such as cash assistance programs for people that the global food crisis affected.

A way to address world hunger in 2023 is through a calculated and organized approach which people can achieve through international awareness and engagement to ensure maximized efficiency of the efforts and effective use of the resources to help address the global food crisis.

In addition, the IMF mentions that even with international support, more significant efforts are necessary to help address the global food crisis and hopefully address world hunger. This means aiming financing at the most vulnerable sections of populations suffering from the food crisis. The funding should come through humanitarian aid, grants and long-term concessional financing, according to IMF Notes. Furthermore, the IMF views debt financing as an exemplary method for addressing the food crisis. It will ensure that people can use the funds to spend on food and other necessities.

Nutrition the Way to Save Lives

According to the WFP’s Global Operational Response Plan, “prioritizing the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 5 is key to saving lives and building resilient communities and economies.” This is because, statistically, the global food crisis is one of the most significant threats to children under 5, constituting one-fifth of children out of 60 million. In addition, children under 5 who suffer from acute and chronic malnutrition are at greater risk of death.

The WFP’s approach to addressing global food takes a targeted approach that can provide fruitful results in addressing world hunger in 2023. Therefore, the World Food Programme highlights that one of the ways to address world hunger in 2023 is the prioritization of nutrition for women and children under the age of 5 suffering from global food insecurity because access to nutritious diets is scarce.

To achieve this, Specialized Nutritious Foods (SNFs) are necessary in ensuring the proper nourishment of women and children. SNFs “help prevent and treat malnutrition and reduce mortality among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women by improving nutrient adequacy, strengthening immune systems and enabling proper weight gain.” Despite the high demand and prices for SNFs because of the war in Ukraine, the World Food Programme continues to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition at its core.

Addressing world hunger in 2023 along with rising inflation and greater demand for food appears complicated due to the disruption of global supply chains due to the war in Ukraine, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental challenges. However, greater international cooperation between nonprofit organizations like the WFP, the IMF and the United Nations, alongside their partners and the international community, will make it possible to address world hunger in 2023.

– Arijit Joshi
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Peru
Hunger in Peru is an often fluctuating issue. With the drastic effects of inflation, challenges in accessing food and the COVID-19 pandemic, Peruvian poverty has created an unstable lifestyle for much of the country’s population. Here is everything to know about hunger in Peru including information about the country’s alarming food shortage and inflation.

Food Crisis and COVID-19

Peru is in a food crisis. More than 16 million Peruvian citizens – half of the country’s population – are struggling with food insecurity. The problem primarily lies within the country’s prices of food; since the poverty rate includes more than 25% of the citizens of Peru, many citizens cannot access nourishing meals.

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened many of Peru’s poverty-related problems. The poverty rate in Peru rose almost 6% post-pandemic because of the quick-rising inflation. The price of commonly used ingredients – such as “wheat, rice and cooking oil[,]” – now cost more than two times their original prices.

Soup Kitchens, Inflation and Minimum Wage

The number of soup kitchens in Peru has multiplied by six since 2020. The municipal government of Lima reported the registration of more than 2,500 soup kitchens in 2022, The New Humanitarian reports. In 2020, this number was only 377. Despite the fact that kitchens provide free or discounted meals for Peruvian citizens, the rising inflation has caused many to stop serving certain meats due to insufficient funds. Some soup kitchens have to serve chicken noodle soup that lacks chicken.

Peru raised its minimum wage by 10% in order to combat inflation. On May 1, 2022, Peru’s minimum wage increased from 930 PEN to 1,025 PEN. Despite its good intentions, Pacific Business School’s academic director Jorge Carrillo Acosta claims that this raise may unintentionally push informal labor, which would allow companies to continue paying their workers at the 930 PEN rate.

Organizations Combating Hunger in Peru

There are many communities working in Peru in order to help citizens reach a livable wage and a greater level of food security. These organizations are making a significant impact in reducing poverty and hunger in Peru.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is working to continue to push the trend of decreasing poverty in Peru. In 2017, WFP created Cocina con Causa (“Cooking with a Cause”), a TV show showcasing healthy ways to cook and eat. The series has amassed millions of viewers through its TV episodes, radio show and social media accounts. Most recently, WFP has backed a project in the Sechura desert to install a drip irrigation system in order for families in the area to grow a greater amount of healthy vegetables.

Action Against Hunger (AAH) is another organization improving the health system and food security for Peruvian citizens and Venezuelan migrants, while also providing more monetary opportunities for the women in the country. The organization has provided food, hygiene products and supplies in order to relieve some of the hunger in Peru.

The Future of Peru’s Population in Poverty 

WFP has reported that Peru’s levels of poverty and food insecurity have decreased within the past 10 years. The implementation of programs to fight hunger, alongside economic gains and increased funds towards a more secure framework for combating the price of living, gives many – Peruvian citizens or not – a good feeling about the future of Peru and reducing its levels of poverty.

– Aspen Oblewski
Photo: Flickr

Hunger Crisis in HaitiDue to its location and small landmass, Haiti is susceptible to severe natural disasters. Because of this, among other factors, Haiti has long relied on importing food to feed its citizens. For example, Haiti imports 80% of its rice, a staple ingredient in many of Haiti’s traditional dishes, according to the International Trade Administration. This heavy reliance on outside sources of food means Haiti faces a high risk of food insecurity. Political instability, devaluation of the Haitian currency and rising inflation rates have contributed to a hunger crisis in Haiti.

Factors Contributing to the Hunger Crisis in Haiti

On August 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the southern peninsula of Haiti. The earthquake damaged homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. As many Haitians lost their means of earning an income, food insecurity became more pronounced. The United Nations said about 650,000 Haitians needed humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The supply chain disruptions as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war has caused soaring inflation rates in Haiti and across the world. As of July 2022, Haiti had already seen a 26% inflation rate.

The prevalence of gang activity in Haiti, as a consequence of the political instability in the country, also plays a role in the hunger crisis in Haiti. At the moment, gangs control the entrances to the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. The rapidly increasing inflation rate coupled with gangs cutting off the southern peninsula from the capital has led to a steep increase in hunger for the vast majority of impoverished Haitians living in that area of the country.

“The complete blockage of the road leading to the impoverished southern peninsula for a year has cut off at least 3.5 million people from the capital — restricting access to markets, basic services and essential humanitarian assistance,” the World Food Programme (WFP) reported in July 2022. Due to these impacts, some families in this area report only eating once a day.

The southern peninsula also experienced the worst effects of the 2021 earthquake, meaning that this newer food crisis hit while the area was still trying to recover from the last major natural disaster in Haiti.

The Most Vulnerable Groups

About 20% of Haiti’s population is projected to experience crisis levels of acute food insecurity from July 2022 to January 2023, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. Though the crisis affects all Haitians, rural Haitians face harsher impacts. The New Humanitarian reports in a September 2022 article that a single “plate of food already costs the average Haitian 35% of their daily income.” But, the average rural Haitian currently needs to spend 25% more of their daily income on food than the national average.

Children face the worst repercussions of the hunger crisis in Haiti as inadequate supplies of nutritious food affect their growth and development. Malnutrition has far-reaching impacts that affect individuals even in adulthood.

Efforts to Help Reduce Hunger in Haiti

Despite gang violence posing barriers to the delivery of food and other critical resources to those in need, the WFP and other organizations, such as USAID, are working around these barriers. As of August 2022, the WFP, for example, has been utilizing a United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) helicopter, and the WFP’s own ship, the Linda D, in order to bypass the dangerous occupied roads and deliver essentials to those in need.

Additionally, USAID has provided more than $170 million over the last two years to aid Haiti. In terms of the hunger crisis in Haiti specifically, USAID “provided more than $88.6 million to five public international
organizations and 10 non-governmental organizations in FY 2022.” This funding will go toward “cash and in-kind emergency food assistance, as well as nutrition services and agricultural support, to vulnerable households countrywide,” according to a USAID document.

To adequately address food insecurity in Haiti, aid organizations must look toward helping Haiti achieve self-sufficiency and sustainability. With less dependence on food imports and greater focus on agricultural production, Haiti can reduce its hunger woes.

– Chris Dickinson
Photo: Flickr

Instability in Burkina Faso
After the Burkina Faso September military coup, United States President Joe Biden cut Burkina Faso from The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The political instability in Burkina Faso that prompted the AGOA removal designates Burkina Faso as a blacklisted, non-democratic nation. The recent political instability in Burkina Faso led to the loss of U.S. trade, economic aid and military support.

AGOA is U.S. legislation approved in May 2000, to support sub-Saharan African economies and improve economic relations between those countries and the U.S. The AGOA provides sub-Saharan African nations with U.S. duty-free access to more than 1,800 products. That allowance is beyond the more than 5,000 duty-free products under the Generalized System of Preferences program.

Background of Political Instability

Political instability and limitations in both trade and humanitarian aid are not new issues in Burkina Faso. In fact, the September coup was the second one in 2021. Army captain Ibrahim Traore seized power from military leader President Paul-Henri  Damiba in September, citing “his inability to deal with an armed uprising in the country that has worsened in the past nine months.” However, Burkina Faso was already experiencing effects from the first coup, in which Damiba orchestrated an uprising against President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January. At that time, the U.S. paused a $450 million aid effort.

The political instability in Burkina Faso could exacerbate already desperate conditions. During seven years of radicalized military terror with connections to ISIL and al-Qaeda, the hunger crisis intensified. In fact, the United Nations has even reported that “the humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso has become so dire that some women and children have eaten only leaves and salt for weeks.” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martha Griffiths claimed that “Growing insecurity and blockades in many areas have left communities cut off from the rest of the country and facing growing hunger. Aid workers are struggling to reach these people who need assistance.”

Economic and Military Impact of Political Instability in Burkina Faso

The removal of Burkina Faso from the AGOA is particularly relevant for those concerned with U.S. legislative foreign aid decisions because legally if the U.S. State Department determines a democratically-elected government experienced an unconstitutional removal, the U.S. must suspend all non-humanitarian aid. Importantly, the U.S. is Burkina Faso’s largest international donor.

Burkina Faso also lost access to the markets of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) markets. ECOWAS is the trade union of West African states and it strongly condemned the coup and pushed for elections as quickly as possible.  It claimed that Burkina Faso was close to restoring constitutional order so the coup was incredibly “inopportune.” Journalist Sam Mednick  claimed, “If Traore is not going to be able to show tangible progress quickly, people say he’s going to be ousted just like his predecessor.”

Militarily, the U.S. also provides surveillance, intelligence, air support to the French who intervened against militants in the Sahel. The U.S. also provides intermittent training to Burkina Faso’s security forces. Elizabeth Shackelford, a senior foreign policy fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggested that because military support has not proved productive, the U.S. and its partners should put funding and effort into supporting democracy-fostering institutions.

Positives

Luckily, the European Union (EU) is still earmarking funds for aid in Burkina Faso. Specifically, the EU has set aside 52.4 million euros to address food insecurity, malnutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, education and disaster preparedness. International non-governmental organizations will also still be able to provide aid. For example, Save the Children focus on Burkina Faso education, public health and protection. Specifically, for public health, Save the Children advocates for “universal access to health care and an increase in the health budget.” In regard to nutrition, it supports food assistance programs. For malnutrition, it provides screening and long-term care for affected children and families.

Outlook for the Future

Political instability in Burkina Faso is jeopardizing specialized aid to fight jihadism. Burkina Faso’s recent unconstitutional coups resulted in the cessation of all non-humanitarian aid in compliance with U.S. law.  Fortunately, the EU and international non-governmental organizations continue their support for Burkina Faso’s citizens plagued by political instability and its effects. Hunger, education and public health are often the primary focuses of many of these organizations, and if these programs remain operational, perhaps Burkina Faso can persevere until the political instability subsides.

– Braden Hampton
Photo: Flickr

Terror Reign in Somalia
Al-Shabaab is an insurgent and militant group based mainly in Somalia. It has close relations with Al-Qaeda. For more than a decade now, al-Shabaab and the Somali government have been fighting in the Somali Civil War. Al-Shabaab’s terror reign in Somalia needs to end by combatting the economic instability and poverty that allow it to continue.

Al-Shabaab’s Origin

Al-Shabaab emerged in 2006 as a splinter group of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that had taken control of Mogadishu and de facto control of Somalia from the Somalia government. In response, the Somali government backed an Ethiopian invasion that defeated the ICU. The Somali people’s resentment of the Ethiopian invasion and the ICU defeat led to an opening for al-Shabaab and its terror reign in Somalia.

By 2008, al-Shabaab took control of southern Somalia and gained dominance by seizing multiple territories throughout the country. In 2012, al-Shabaab officially aligned itself with Al-Qaeda and became Al-Qaeda’s representative in East Africa.

Poverty Leads to Recruitment and Abduction

A lack of economic stability drives terrorism in Somalia. Al-Shabaab capitalizes on the fact that poverty, unfortunately, aids the recruitment of militant groups. Since about 67% of Somali youth are unemployed, many young men join militant and insurgent groups like al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab provides a monthly salary that exceeds the average Somali per capita annual income of  $400. Teenagers that are 14 years old and younger are al-Shabaab recruits. In fact, 70% of al-Shabaab’s recruits are under the age of 24 and the median age for recruits is 17.

In addition to this, children between the ages of nine to 15 have been forcibly recruited into al-Shabaab. Since 2017, al-Shabaab has abducted children, predominantly from pastoral and rural areas, to be frontline fighters. Al-Shabaab also forced Islamic teachers and elders in Somalia to recruit children from school and arm them with military-grade weapons.

Famine and Drought Displacement Led to Al-Shabaab’s Recruitment

The Somali government’s lack of response to famine and drought has also allowed al-Shabaab to exploit poverty in Somalia. In May 2022, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported that the 2.97 million Somalis displaced due to drought, violence and food shortages led to extreme overcrowding in refugee camps. Refugee camps are often used as hunting and recruiting grounds for terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab since they are remote and far away from authorities like police officers.

Support from the United States and the International Rescue Committee (IRC)

After President Trump withdrew all military support from Somalia, in May 2022, President Biden redeployed special forces into the country to help assist the Somali government in its war against al-Shabaab. He also approved a Pentagon request to target specific al-Shabaab leaders as part of the counterterrorism strategy.

In addition to the renewed United States support in the fight against Al-Shabaab’s reign of terror, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is one organization that is currently helping Somalis get back on their feet economically from the effects of war, drought and food shortages. Since 1981, Somalia’s been receiving aid from the IRC which supports 280,000 Somalis annually.

Since drought is a huge issue, the IRC launched the Building Resilient Communities in Somalia to help educate families about disaster preparedness and financial resilience. These IRC programs mainly target female-led households so that females can learn how to build financial resilience during catastrophes, especially droughts. More than 1,400 Somali families received emergency cash for basic needs from the IRC. The organization has also provided business start-up grants and entrepreneurship training.

Looking Ahead

If Somalia cannot resolve its economic instability, al-Shabaab probably cannot be successfully defeated. Severe poverty is one of the primary reasons why so many young men join al-Shabaab. Joining an insurgent group should never have to be in any child’s future. Children in Somalia deserve better. They deserve a stronger and safer future where al-Shabaab no longer exists and economic instability is no longer a problem for their nation. The support from the U.S. and the IRC should help put Somalia in a better position to combat both poverty and al-Shabaab’s terror reign.

– Yonina Anglin
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in LaosAlthough the poverty rate in Laos more than halved between 1993 and 2018, nearly one in five households still experience poverty today. Not surprisingly, food insecurity in Laos continues to be a concern. Laos ranked 82nd out of 121 countries on the Global Hunger Index in 2022. The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that about 33% of Laotian children younger than 5 experience stunting and the RFA (Radio Free Asia) states that, in the Xienghone district, more than 20% of Laotian children younger than 5 suffer from malnourishment.

The Human Capital Index report by the World Bank indicates that “Lao children born today only reach 45% of productivity they could have if afforded full health and education.” This shows that these deprivations are not only detrimental to the individual but to the progression of the country as a whole.

Reasons Behind Food Insecurity in Laos

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hunger in Laos rose. Prior to the pandemic, Laos depended on food aid from Vietnam to meet citizens’ food needs. However, when countries closed their borders, this was no longer possible. Additionally, the food programs already in place in Laos are failing as these initiatives are not able to “[keep]pace with the changing circumstances,” including changing weather patterns, natural disasters and “land mismanagement” according to the RFA.

Laos’ geographic location also makes the nation more vulnerable to droughts and floods. These extreme weather events severely impact food security in Laos by destroying existing crops, thus affecting the livelihoods of farmers. Furthermore, as a landlocked and predominantly rural country, it is more difficult to transport and access food.

Additionally, issues regarding access to clean water and sanitation contribute to poor nutritional outcomes in Laos. A lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities can lead to diseases that impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. ReliefWeb reports that “malnutrition can be widespread even in regions with plentiful supplies of affordable food because this food is not well absorbed by the body.”

Efforts to Reduce Food Insecurity in Laos

The WFP has been “working in partnership with the Government of Lao PDR on promoting access to nutritious food for school-age children for two decades,” according to the WFP website. To improve nutrition and reduce hunger among children, the WFP leads school feeding programs. During times of crisis and emergency when the government cannot adequately provide for citizens’ needs, the WFP “provides nutritious food and cash assistance.”

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is helping to address hunger and malnutrition in Laos through various programs and interventions. As part of the positive Deviance/Hearth initiative, a community nutrition rehabilitation program, in 2021, ADRA Lao’s health and nutrition officer, known as Chef Touktick, taught children and women how to cook healthy and nutritious food.

By implementing long-term strategies, the government of Laos can ensure sustainable solutions to food insecurity in Laos while improving the quality of life of citizens.

– Priya Maiti
Photo: Flickr

hunger in NepalNepal is landlocked, making it difficult to transport food and resources. For these reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country hard. The pandemic forced people into multiple lockdowns, set transportation restrictions and ultimately sunk citizens back into poverty. It also heightened food insecurity and malnutrition.

However, almost 90% of Nepal’s population became fully vaccinated in July 2022, partially thanks to the World Bank Group COVID-19 response programs that are helping more than 100 countries improve the health and well-being of their citizens.

Still, more support is needed to address hunger in many countries including Nepal. According to a World Food Programme country brief from July 2022, 25% of Nepal’s 28.5 million population lived on less than fifty cents a day and 36% of children under the age of 5 were malnourished.

USAID Package to Help Nepal

The country’s food crisis has also been exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war and a widespread fertilizer shortage. The war is driving up inflation, especially for commodities such as gas, agricultural goods, metal and minerals.

On August 22, USAID announced a $15 million aid package to address the hunger crisis in Nepal. This assistance helps ensure people in Nepal have enough nutritious food to sustain themselves. USAID will be working with the government of Nepal to make sure that the country’s specific needs and goals are met, despite rising prices and food shortages. Ensuring access to nutritious food is the main goal of this funding and it will be accomplished in two main ways.

Support to Local Farms

Approximately 68% of workers in Nepal work in agriculture. Even so, food supply often runs short because farmers have little access to newer methods of farming that often produce higher yields. This funding is set aside to help Nepal produce more food, which will not only boost food security but also increase incomes.

Nutrient-Enhanced Food for Kids under 5 and pregnant women

Approximately 36% of Nepali children under 5 are chronically malnourished, which means that their development becomes significantly impaired, or “stunted”. Additionally, about 20% of Nepali women are anemic and one in 10 experience stunted growth. The cycle of malnutrition continues when pregnant women are unable to provide enough nutrients to sustain their children. For the following reasons, USAID will be prioritizing extra quality nutrition for women and children.

Outlook

This funding will be incredibly impactful for women, children, people with low literacy levels, rural households, disabled people and minorities who already have limited access to services. Overall, the Global Hunger Index suggests that hunger in Nepal could be addressed by eliminating child marriage, empowering women and marginalized groups and improving health care and education.

Ava Ronning
Photo: Wikimedia

Hunger Crisis in MyanmarOngoing crises throughout the world such as inflation and social unrest have left many of the poorest populations in even more vulnerable situations. Myanmar is an example of one country that is grappling with numerous crises resulting in a dramatic rise in hunger levels. Here are five things to know about the hunger crisis in Myanmar.

5 Things to Know About the Hunger Crisis in Myanmar

  1. Political Takeover: In February 2021, the former ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was overthrown by the military in a coup de tat. The civil unrest initially started with peaceful protests but gradually escalated to riots and, subsequently, a retaliatory response by the military. The situation progressed to the point where the military was destroying whole towns at any sign of dissidence. This unstable political state displaced over 1 million people and forced millions more into poverty.
  2. Food Shortages: The need for humanitarian aid in Myanmar has grown at an exponential rate since the military coup. As of 2022, more than 25% of people in the country are food insecure. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 13.2 million Burmese do not know where their next meal will come from and the food that they do get is insufficient in meeting their nutritional needs.
  3. Impact of the Pandemic: Myanmar is still reeling from the economic impact of COVID-19. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the nation lost between 6.4 and 9.0 trillion Kyat ($3.04 billion and $4.29 billion) due to a lack of production in 2020. To compound the effect, the World Bank projected the economy contracted by 18% in 2021. These economic pitfalls have played significantly into the ongoing hunger crisis in Myanmar.
  4. Children: The hunger crisis plaguing the nation especially affects children. The U.N. reports almost 8 million children are out of school across Myanmar and 250,000 are internally displaced. In addition, roughly 33,000 could die in 2022 due to preventable causes such as lack of immunizations and malnutrition. Furthermore, children also end up as political ploys with hundreds currently being held as political prisoners. In addition, over 1,400 children faced arrest without justifiable cause since the 2021 coup.
  5. International Aid: The international community has acknowledged that the crisis in Myanmar is far from over. In March 2022, the United States pledged $152 million to help alleviate the suffering of countless Burmese. Myanmar will allocate this funding to the provision of basic needs and help the displaced individuals find their way back home.

Food crises continue to run rampant across the world. The road ahead is not smooth or easily traversable by any means, but countries and organizations remain committed to providing aid to those in dire circumstances. As long as there is awareness, there is hope.

– Alex Peterson
Photo: Flickr

bangladesh-a-leader-in-fighting-hunger
Bangladesh, a country long associated with malnutrition and chronic hunger, has made incredibly noteworthy strides in its fight against hunger. Furthermore, it serves as an inspiration to other countries that struggle with the same problems. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, with a population of more than 165 million people and a projected population of more than 200 million people by 2050. This poses clear challenges, as it places economic, social and environmental strains on the country and drastically affects its ability to provide for its citizens.

How Bangladesh is Transforming into a Food Secure Country

In the last 40 years, Bangladesh has transformed from a country with chronic food shortages and poverty into a food basket that even serves the international community; food production has quadrupled in the last 40 years, and Bangladesh now exports food to other nations. Overall, hunger in Bangladesh has lessened.

This upward trend began in 1971 when Bangladesh gained its independence. This freed the country from economic strangulation and consequently high levels of poverty and extreme hunger. Initially, it struggled with extreme, devastating floods, which destroyed fertile farmland and resources. Bangladesh also did not initially receive adequate aid for food production. However, Bangladesh is now a model for other countries seeking to mitigate issues of hunger, as it has made notable strides in reducing malnutrition. A recent U.N. report even highlighted Bangladesh as a “bright spot” in the global movement to end global hunger before 2030. Since 2000, Bangladesh has lowered its hunger level by more than half and reduced the number of underweight children by 25%. In addition, it has decreased the infant mortality rate by 50%, an achievement that it shares with only five other countries.

To succeed in these ways, Bangladesh had to prioritize its development by promoting economic and food security. In the late 90s, improvements in rice varieties allowed for a revolution in rice production. This also combined with developments in aquaculture — 150,000 shallow ponds are now sustainable fish farms, for example. This also promotes women’s rights and development, as more than 60% of the nation’s fish farmers are women.

The Work of USAID

Many organizations have assisted Bangladesh in its efforts. USAID has been an incredibly active partner to Bangladesh in this effort, as it trained 67,000 women in aquaculture techniques. It works with the Bangladeshi government on various development activities that help improve availability and access to domestically produced, nutritious foods. Additionally, USAID assistance provides funding for research, monitoring, and training within Bangladeshi government agencies.

U.S. State Department funding helped establish the Food for Education program, which provided food vouchers and cash for poor families in exchange for their promises to send their children to school and help educate the next generation. This initiative, which started in Bangladesh, proved so successful that it was implemented in other countries; according to the U.N., the initiative was crucial in reducing global malnutrition. Bangladesh has also implemented microfinance programs to combat hunger and poverty, especially for women. Small loans enable small businesses to start and produce income that helps families around the country.

Feed the Future

Another essential initiative is Feed the Future, which the U.S. government funds. Bangladesh receives the third highest amount of any country. This initiative helps improve productivity and agricultural diversity in specific areas of southern Bangladesh; this enhances private sector competition by promoting economic growth, corporate practices and supply chain developments that assist poor farmers and struggling businesses. Additionally, the government consistently demonstrates its commitment to mitigating the issue of food insecurity, as its enthusiasm to work with these initiatives has proven.

All of these efforts are imperative because they help diversify sources of income for Bangladeshi farmers. The focus on aquaculture also broadens the variety of plants, fish and livestock. In addition, it encourages the adoption of post-harvest practices and promotes off-farm income. Bangladesh’s progress also shows the importance of coordinating with private and public sectors to identify market opportunities and strategies. Through improved collaboration, these efforts supported more than 225,000 farmers, who applied improved technologies in agronomic practices, such as irrigation, pest and disease management and livestock management.

Bangladesh is now completely food secure in rice production and produces sufficient amounts to feed its population of 165 million. This is a very noteworthy accomplishment, especially given the struggles with changing weather. According to household surveys that USAID and Feed the Future conducted, there has been a 16% decrease in poverty levels in areas that receive USAID and Feed the Future assistance. It is difficult to precisely pinpoint how much of this reduction in the poverty level is due to USAID programming, but this initial data is certainly encouraging.

Moving Forward and Ensuring Long-Term Prosperity

Going forward, these initiatives can improve by encouraging more nutritional diversity. Since most of the typical Bangladeshi diet is rice, young children may be prone to stunting or chronic malnutrition. About four-fifths of children do not receive a sufficient diet for their age range; on a national scale, 36% of children below 5 years of age experience stunting. Meanwhile, less than one-fifth of Feed the Future’s budget, for example, goes toward eliminating malnutrition. With more balanced programs, initiatives that Feed the Future and USAID run can better target this problem. Meanwhile, the country will continue to be an example of how implementing better agricultural practices and working with various initiatives can assist in mitigating poverty and hunger in Bangladesh.

 – Shiloh Harrill
Photo: Flickr