ProVeg International
The definition of food security is “the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources” according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. All across the world, food insecurity remains an issue despite being essential for human survival. This violation of basic human rights has justifiably led to many movements, ideas and actions to cultivate better, more accessible food systems for everyone regardless of economic status. Ultimately, increasing food justice means reducing poverty, a mission that lies at the core of ProVeg International, a global “food awareness” organization.

Food Injustice in Africa

Food injustice permeates the continent of Africa as many African countries battle poverty. According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, more than “100 million Africans were facing crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity in 2020.” The Center highlights a rise of more than 60% in comparison to 2020, with an expectation that food insecurity rates will continue in this direction through 2021 and beyond. The rise in food insecurity rates is alarming and represents a worsening issue in the fight against hunger.

This food insecurity is coupled with Africa’s higher poverty rates. Hunger Notes reports that “according to the World Bank, in 2013, 42.3% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lived on $1.90 or less per day.” This, it also notes, is a major factor in higher levels of food insecurity in African countries. The connection between poverty and hunger in the continent of Africa reveals why there are many efforts to aid and combat both rates of poverty and rising rates of food insecurity. Both anti-poverty initiatives and anti-food insecurity initiatives intersect to fight this pressing issue.

A ProVeg Approach

ProVeg International is a global organization fighting food injustice with increased food awareness and plant-based initiatives. Its branch in South Africa acts as a platform for these initiatives in the African continent. According to its website, ProVeg holds events and participates in political outreach and corporate engagement. All these efforts aim to raise awareness of the importance of accessible, healthy plant-based food. In addition to these activities, ProVeg holds challenges such as Veganuary, which is “a global campaign that encourages people to try plant-based [foods] for the month of January.” This approach of easing people in is important, as is encouraging those who have the means and accessibility to go plant-based to do so.

Using a plant-based approach increases access to affordable and healthy food for those who need it. Additionally, ProVeg encourages those who already have access to fresh grown foods to fully incorporate them into their diets. ProVeg highlights how “achieving food security for everyone means doing more to ensure that everyone has reliable access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food in order to maintain an active and healthy life.” ProVeg International incorporates this message by highlighting how “an inequitable global food distribution system” disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable and impoverished people.

In this way, ProVeg makes it is easy to see the intersections of food insecurity and poverty, showing the importance of ProVeg’s plant-based initiative for achieving food justice. As rates of food insecurity rise across Africa, ProVeg’s plant-based initiative contributes to food justice and seeks to make healthy foods accessible. The role that ProVeg plays presents an important approach in the fight against food injustice.

– Sebastian Fell
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in AngolaThe catalyzation of food insecurity is causing around 6 million people to fall into hunger in Angola, according to UNICEF. The number of people going hungry in Angola, however, continues to rise due to the most severe drought since 1981 in conjunction with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of droughts, especially in Southern Angola, caused the death of 1 million cattle. This created surges of poor malnutrition and severe illnesses. Despite this, hope exists for those suffering from hunger in Angola.

Drought

The severe drought in Angola has continued spreading for almost three years now, traumatically affecting hunger in Angola. Crop production has decreased by nearly 40%, forcing more families into poverty. The drought has, within only three months in Cunene, Angola, tripled levels of food insecurity. The growing scarcity of food and heightening hunger of Angolans is pushing them to seek refuge in proximate countries such as Namibia.

Pedro Henrique Kassesso, a 112-year-old man, can attest that this three-year-long drought has been the worst he has ever experienced in Angola. The drought has affected almost 500,000 children. Not only has food insecurity heightened, but school dropout rates have risen due to increasing socioeconomic troubles. Hunger in Angola has forced children to put aside their education to support their families in collecting food and water.

Longing for Land

Former Angolan communal farmers are longing to get land back from commercial cattle farmers. According to Amnesty International, the Angolan government gives the land to commercial cattle farmers. Commercial cattle farmers have taken 67% of the land in Gambos, Angola. The battle for land has exasperated the hunger levels of communal Angolan citizens who have been reliant on their land and livestock for survival. The combination of loss of land and drought equates to millions of Angolan citizens ending up in poverty.

Despite the drought and rising food insecurity in Angola, people from neighboring countries are seeking refuge in this nation. As of 2017, 36,000 people have undergone displacement from the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and found refuge in Angola. Because of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing to Angola, the nation’s population is rapidly growing. Angola’s population is growing by 1 million people every year, according to the World Population Review. As a host country to asylum seekers, battles for land, ongoing drought and rapid population growth, more people are succumbing to poverty and hunger in Angola.

Hope on the Horizon

Despite the surging levels of food insecurity in Angola, hope is rising on the horizon. In fact, the government of Japan donated $1 million toward United Nations agencies that serve to uplift Angolan citizens who have succumbed to poverty especially due to the drought and the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy of Angola. The donation from Japan, along with the funds raised to end hunger in Angola by the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Programme (WFP) projects to at last tackle the issue of malnutrition and hunger in Angola.

– Nora Zaim-Sassi
Photo: Flickr

IFAD Plans to Alleviate HungerWith the new COVID-19 variants spreading in places such as Latin America and the Caribbean, poverty and hunger rates continue to increase. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has expressed its support for people suffering from these issues. It created a program with the main focus of providing money to businesses that depend on food systems. IFAD is also helping out by working with school programs. Here is more information about IFAD’s plans to alleviate hunger.

IFAD Helps Those Living in Poverty

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on more challenges to many people, but that has not stopped IFAD from helping those in need. Since 2020, millions of people have received assistance and several projects have emerged. With the challenges of the pandemic, IFAD has been working to support citizens who lack access to essential resources such as food. The Rural Poor Stimulus Factory emerged to help farmers who were not able to work effectively. IFAD has also provided some digital services to countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh. It also contributed to grass-root activities, along with encouraging more citizens to get involved in other activities.

IFAD Creates New Financial Program

One way issues such as poverty and hunger can undergo resolution is by prioritizing workers who make major contributions to food systems. IFAD recently launched a financial program aimed to help businesses responsible for working with food systems. The purpose of the Private Sector Financing Programme, also known as PSFP, is to give financial assistance to small-scale farmers who struggle to provide food due to a variety of barriers. Some of the benefits they will receive include loans and other financial assistance. The benefits from PSFP will also help workers reach their potential through job opportunities, which will open the door to more solutions for hunger and poverty.

IFAD Expresses Support for Farmers

While Latin America and the Caribbean continue to see the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, IFAD is working to help citizens who have suffered from pandemic-related challenges. IFAD has been supporting programs in Mexico that teach citizens about components such as economic development. It has invested a lot of money to help farmers in Mexico learn more skills and pursue their passions. In Guatemala, IFAD was able to help maintain the availability of school feeding programs during the lockdown. Farmers in Guatemala also had the opportunity to sell crops to citizens. The Rural Adelante Project, which received funding from IFAD, worked to guarantee citizens access to nutritious foods in El Salvador. IFAD also created a virtual marketplace to help farmers who lacked access to essential resources.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development has helped people living in poverty through a variety of ways, which includes expanding access to food and other resources. IFAD’s new financial program, the Rural Poor Stimulus Factory, aims to help workers suffering from pandemic-related challenges. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on Latin America and the Caribbean, IFAD made different contributions to serve those living in underprivileged communities.

– Chloe Moody
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Hunger In BrazilBrazil, among other countries, has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering one of the highest death tolls in the world at 556,834 people as of August 2021. However, its infection rates are decreasing. The country had 247,830 confirmed cases as of the week of July 26 and more than 133,000,000 vaccine doses administered as of August: a marked improvement from earlier on in the pandemic. Nonetheless, one still-worsening effect of the pandemic in Brazil is hunger.

Hunger in Brazil

Hunger existed in Brazil long before COVID-19 reached the South American nation, where inequality has fueled high rates of poverty and food insecurity. In 2011, despite a relatively high GDP of $10,900 per capita, roughly 16 million Brazilians lived in extreme poverty, and many lacked the income to support an adequate diet.

However, the U.N. World Food Programme’s 2020 Hunger Map, which displays data from 2017-2019, showed positive progress in Brazil. Less than 2.5% of the total population was undernourished, a rate among the lowest in the world.

COVID-19 Worsens Hunger in Brazil

While the U.N. statistics demonstrate positive trends, COVID-19 has exacerbated food insecurity by widening preexisting inequalities in Brazil’s population. For example, the pandemic caused prices of basic food products to increase. Cooking oils, rice and other diet essentials became so expensive that they were essentially impossible to purchase for many families in Brazil. The New York Times pointed out that as of April 2021, a kilogram of rice sold for twice as much as before the pandemic, and cooking oil tripled in price in the same period.

High unemployment rates caused by the pandemic combined with high food prices further increased the rates of hunger. In an interview with Reuters, unemployed worker Rosana de Paula describes the situation among the unemployed. Because of a lack of credit and little to no savings, the sudden disappearance of income from pandemic-related unemployment is devastating, leaving “no way to pay for food,” according to de Paula.

Now, more than a year into the pandemic and with hunger continually worsening in Brazil, the country is back in the “yellow zone” on the U.N.’s Hunger Map. In an interview with The New Humanitarian, the Director of the Center of Excellence Against Hunger said increasing hunger has raised the alarm in Brazil. More than 19 million people, or 9% of the population, are currently food insecure.

Ways the World is Helping Brazil

Despite the hardships the pandemic has created for many Brazilian families, NGOs and other grassroots campaigns have stepped in to alleviate the hunger crisis. Food campaigns across the country have offered support and resources, distributing meals to millions of Brazilian families. Anyone worldwide can donate to these anti-hunger campaigns to help curb the high demand for food and other necessities that the pandemic has exacerbated.

Rebecca Fontana
Photo: Flickr

Panera BreadThe Panera Bread Company is a café-style fast food restaurant that originated in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Recently, the company made efforts to expand its success to help nonprofit organizations stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes donating unsold baked goods to hunger relief organizations and providing meals to children in Ohio. Not only does Panera Bread make a change domestically, but the company has also begun expanding its focus to ending world hunger globally.

The Partnership

In March 2021, the World Central Kitchen (WCK) announced a partnership with Panera Bread in order to increase public understanding of the hunger crisis during the pandemic. The head chefs of the two organizations, José Andrés and Claes Petersson, produced a unique sandwich for Panera Bread to sell to further raise awareness of the partnership. Not only did Panera Bread extend its resources and kitchens to supply base support for the WCK, but the restaurant chain also donated a portion of the profits made from each sandwich sold during two weeks in March to the WCK, generating approximately $100,000 for the organization. WCK used the donations to support its programs, providing meals to the impoverished and training aspiring chefs from Haiti to become professional chefs.

How WCK Uses Donations

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, José Andrés began to rebuild more than 150 community kitchens in Guatemala and Haiti, which led to the creation of the WCK and then later, the development of chef training and farmer education programs. The WCK has partnered with more than 2,500 restaurants, including Panera Bread. The WCK has provided more than 36 million meals to the impoverished domestically; however, the WCK also uses donations to support its international programs.

For instance, the WCK has trained more than 700 cooks dedicated to feeding students in countries such as Guatemala, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Additionally, 40 students graduate from the Haitian WCK Port-au-Prince culinary arts school each year, pursuing professional careers as chefs in restaurants and hotels.

Furthermore, the WCK’s central goal for its Food Producer Network is to eliminate food insecurity and assist communities in strengthening their skills to combat future disasters that may lead to food insecurity. Operating in Puerto Rico and Guatemala, the network was created following Hurricane Maria and partners with small food businesses, such as farmers and fishermen, to advocate for sustainable food systems and the use of locally-grown foods.

Most food products originate from agricultural farming, including meat, fruit, vegetables, milk and sugar. To further strengthen farmers’ skills and reduce food insecurity, WCK launched a program in 2020 called Apiculture for Farmers. Based in Puerto Rico, the program educates farmers on how beekeeping assists in crop pollination and honey production.

Working Toward a Common Goal

Panera Bread’s donations served to assist WCK in feeding impoverished children in Guatemala, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Donations have also contributed toward training cooks, assisting aspiring chefs in graduating from the Port-au-Prince culinary school in Haiti, encouraging the consumption of locally-grown foods and educating farmers on the benefits of beekeeping.

Throughout 2020, WCK aimed to boost the restaurant industry to successfully solve community challenges, such as natural disasters and illnesses. Both Panera Bread and the World Central Kitchen operate under the same belief that delicious and fresh ingredients should be accessible to everyone, which motivates each organization to make a positive change in their community while eliminating food insecurity globally.

– Lauren Spiers
Photo: Flickr

Haiti's most important SDGsThe 2020 Human Development Index ranked Haiti 170th out of 189 countries. Between the devastating earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the current COVID-19 pandemic, Haiti struggles to make lasting improvements. To combat its history of extreme poverty, Haiti adopted the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. This article will break down everything you need to know about poverty in Haiti through the lens of some of Haiti’s most important SDGs.

SDG 1: No Poverty

Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere.

  • The Issue: As much as 60% of the population (equating to more than six million people) lives below the poverty line in Haiti. Even more concerning, nearly 2.5 million of Haitians live below the extreme poverty line of $1.23 per day.
  • The Progress: Haiti has taken small steps toward poverty reduction. The number of citizens living in extreme poverty in Haiti decreased by 7% between 2000 and 2012. However, natural disasters and other crises continue to undermine this progress.

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Haiti suffers from one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world.

  • The Issue: At least 44% of Haitians (more than four million people) need immediate food assistance, 1.2 million suffer from extreme hunger and 22% of children live with chronic malnutrition, making this one of Haiti’s most important SDGs.
  • The Progress: The World Food Programme (WFP) works to “build sustainable systems to address the root causes of food insecurity and promote resiliency.” In the last academic year, the WFP’s school feeding program provided daily hot meals for about 300,000 children at 1,000 different public schools. In 2016, Haiti signed its first national school feeding policy, requiring schools to make nutritious foods available for their students.

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

The life expectancy in Haiti is staggering low and far behind the rest of the world at only 63 years old.

  • The Issue: For every 100,000 live births, nearly 500 mothers die during childbirth. For every 1,000 live births, 62.8 children are expected to die before reaching the age of 5. In 2016, about 150,000 Haitians were living with HIV.
  • The Progress: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opened an office in Haiti in 2002. The CDC’s impact in Haiti increased HIV testing to 98% for all pregnant women who visited health facilities. Haiti now boasts one of the highest tuberculosis treatment success rates in Latin America and the Caribbean at 82%. Additionally, the Haiti Animal Surveillance Program decreased the likelihood of dying from rabies by 60%.

SDG 4: Quality Education

The average Haitian 25 years or older has completed less than five years of school.

  • The Issue: Illiteracy plagues nearly 40% of the adult population. Approximately 75% of teachers do not have any training or credentials. Most Haitian children spend less than four years in school and 35% of them never learn to read.
  • The Progress: Between 1993 and 2011, the net enrollment rate rose from 47% to 88%. The United States Agency for International Development has spearheaded several academic initiatives to combat poverty in Haiti with the goal of providing internationally-approved reading curricula to 28,000 children and 900 teachers.

SDG 5: Gender Equality

Women face inequality every day in social, political and economic spheres.

  • The Issue: Gender-based violence (GBV) rates are extremely high in Haiti. At least one in three women between the ages of 15 and 49 has experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Rape only recently became a punishable offense in 2005, however, spousal rape is still not recognized as a crime.
  • The Progress: USAID seeks to increase female empowerment through economic opportunities. Some 53% of the 27,000 jobs created through USAID programs benefited women. Women also receive about 43% of Homeownership and Mortgage Expansion Program housing loans. In 2019, USAID announced its Building Enduring Systems To End Trafficking in Persons project, which intends to create a GBV-free Haitian society.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Poor water and sanitation are the root causes of neglected tropical disease outbreaks.

  • The Issue: Only 65% of Haiti’s population can access clean water. Furthermore, only 35% of the population has access to basic sanitation.
  • The Progress: Sanitation improvements have eliminated cholera in Haiti, with no new cases since February 2019. By 2022, USAID plans to provide basic sanitation to 75,000 Haitians and clean water access to 250,000 people.

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

Poverty in Haiti is not evenly distributed. Haiti suffers some of the greatest wealth disparities in Latin America.

  • The Issue: Between 2000 and 2012, extreme poverty in Haiti decreased from 31% to 24% in cities and urban areas, however, there was no change in rural areas. More than 64% of the total wealth is held by the wealthiest 20% of the population, while the most impoverished 20% struggle to hold 1%.
  • The Progress: Major challenges still remain for Haiti. However, the wealth gap is slowly closing. Haiti’s Gini coefficient (a standard measure of economic inequality) decreased by almost 20 points between 2015 and 2017.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Haiti ranks fourth among the countries most affected by extreme weather events.

  • The Issue: In the last 20 years, Haiti lost 17.5% of its GDP annually due to natural disasters, making sustainable cities and communities one of Haiti’s most important SDGs.
  • The Progress: The recurring natural disasters in Haiti further exacerbate the economic and political struggles and disparities. To create a more resilient nation, Haiti adopted the National Risk and Disaster Management Plan 2019-2030. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of several projects.

Looking Ahead

Haiti has undoubtedly experienced more success in some areas than others. The nation must overcome major challenges to meet Haiti’s most important SDGs by 2030. Although the country still has a long way to go, Haiti is making significant progress for a nation plagued by natural disasters, uncertainty and instability.

– Ella LeRoy
Photo: Flickr

Rice ATMs in VietnamIn the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, entrepreneur Hoang Tuan Anh created a network of rice ATMs in Vietnam to help alleviate poverty and address food insecurity due to reduced household incomes. Vietnamese celebrity Dai Nghia drew inspiration from the initiative’s widespread success. On May 14, 2021, Nghia donated 15 tons of rice to distribute through four new rice ATMs in Cambodia. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, rice ATMs have proven successful in feeding those struggling with food insecurity in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Rice ATMs in Vietnam

The rice ATMs in Vietnam, coined by Tuan Anh, dispense 3.3 pounds of rice at a time to people in need. During Vietnam’s initial COVID-19 lockdown, about five million people became unemployed, pushing millions into poverty. The informal working sector took a hard hit as informal employment lacks the security and benefits that formal jobs promise.

The rice ATMs in Vietnam operate 24/7 to ensure food is always accessible to those in need. The ATMs were initially created as a temporary form of assistance during the pandemic, but Tuan Anh pledged to keep them going even after the pandemic in order to reduce hunger for impoverished people. In June 2020, Tuan Anh helped install seven rice ATMs in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with the intention of installing rice ATMs in 30 total locations in Vietnam. The entrepreneur aims to open 100 ATMs in the foreseeable future.

Rice ATMs in Cambodia

COVID-19 has harshly impacted Cambodia. Between June 2020 and January 2021, the World Bank identified at least 150,000 “newly poor” households, equating to about 500,000 people. The virus significantly impacted Cambodian industries such as “tourism, manufacturing, exports and construction,” which accounts for 40% of all employment in the country.

Rice ATMs in Cambodia arrive at a crucial time as the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Phnom Penh Red Cross Society is in charge of distributing the donated rice to the four rice ATMs in Cambodia. The rice ATMs in Cambodia were developed and sponsored by the original creator, Tuan Anh.

Largely due to these slowdowns, the economic growth rate in Cambodia decreased by 3.1% in 2020, making it “the sharpest decline in Cambodia’s recent history.” The pandemic has disproportionately affected already impoverished people in Cambodia, causing the poverty rate to double. As the poverty rate is forecasted to reach approximately 17.6%, the rice ATMs serve as a solution to overcoming the increased poverty presented in Cambodia.

The Future of Rice ATMs

Vietnam and Cambodia have strong diplomatic relations. Tuan Anh’s rice ATMs and Nghia’s rice donation in Cambodia have only bolstered the already positive relationship between the countries. In May 2021, The Central Vietnam – Cambodia Friendship Association and Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) donated more than $200,000 to Cambodia for COVID-19 relief efforts.

For the cities hit hard by the pandemic, the ATMs have served as a vital resource. The creation of rice ATMs in Cambodia will aid many people struggling with pandemic-induced food insecurity. Overall, the project is an example of the power of creativity and technological innovation in the fight against global poverty.

– Nina Lehr
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South Africa
Food insecurity, as Health Affairs defines it, is “a condition in which households lack access to adequate food because of limited money or other resources.” Hunger, put more simply, is a feeling of “weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.” Of the approximately 6.5 million people in South Africa, a staggering 11% suffer from hunger. Here is everything you need to know about hunger in South Africa.

Root Causes

Major causes of hunger and food insecurity in South Africa relate to several factors including conflict and instability, the changing climate, poverty and an increasing population. These sources are significant in understanding everything you need to know about hunger in South Africa.

According to World Hunger, the prominence of violence leads to limited employment opportunities, a downfall in imported and exported goods and the destruction of fertile land that would be otherwise used for crop growth. Food war, as another example, has the definition of “the deliberate use of hunger as a weapon or hunger suffered as a consequence of armed conflict.” This prevents citizens from having access to the food they need to thrive when they live in an unstable or conflict-ridden area.

Lack of Good Food

Impoverished areas prevent their inhabitants from living a nourished, healthy lifestyle when they are unable to access sufficient food. The cyclical nature of such poverty impacts generations to come. Children are often born undernourished, therefore inhibiting potential productivity at school and work.

Poverty generally impacts rural South African areas more than urban areas, and this is due to arid lands making it difficult to grow usable crops and a lack of goods that the South African government imported. The need to find a way to deliver food to those in remote, rural areas remains prevalent.

The climate crisis has had and continues to have a significant impact on hunger. Deforestation destroys fertile land, floods destroy homes and towns. Widespread drought kills crops and leaves families starving and forced to drink unclean water. Diseases run rampant across the country. For example, global warming has caused a significant increase in malaria cases, as well as other major diseases such as cholera and the avian flu.

From 2019 to 2020, the population of South Africa changed from roughly 58 million people to 59 million people. This large increase in population size, in turn, decreases the income per capita and can cause families to struggle to feed their children. With more children being born per family, the income needed to support these children increases as well. However, the salary of the breadwinners in the family remains the same. This can cause families to become impoverished.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Hunger in South Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated hunger in South Africa. According to Ipsos, most South Africans have seen an overwhelmingly negative effect on their income during the pandemic. Large numbers of them are suffering from long-term hunger and many have lost their jobs.

Hunger ratios in South Africa are on an upward trajectory after the start of COVID-19. Over 23% of South African households experienced hunger last summer, and 70% of households were reliant on government grants. Additionally, unemployment rates are at a record high of 32.8%, up 2% since the start of the pandemic.

Solutions and Next Steps

COVID-19 remains a threat throughout the world and impacts impoverished areas in particular. NGOs fear that a drop in essential funding and support may inhibit their ability to help those most in need. NGO Pulse provides a comprehensive list of organizations focusing on the impact of COVID-19. This is on South African families for businesses or individuals to support in order for them to continue to work. Several of these NGOs are stepping up during the pandemic to address the increase of widespread hunger in South Africa.

Founded in 1945, the ACFS Community Education and Feeding Scheme has centers scattered across South Africa which feed children who are undernourished. These centers also offer programs such as computer skills to family members and provide support for the economically unstable. Its mission is to ensure South African children receive food and proper care through the help of fellow South Africans.

By July 2020, ACFS had provided food to 24,000 households in South Africa. This is an increase of roughly 10,000 since the start of the pandemic. The pandemic proved to be a unique challenge. However, ACFS launched three new teenage girl programs and opened a second toy library.

Feed South Africa

Feed SA aims to feed both the stomachs and the minds of impoverished South Africans, and the NGO has put together an action plan specifically for those who experienced the most impact from COVID-19 in South Africa. This plan calls upon the national and international community for donations. This funds programs such as Back a Pupil, which became launched during the height of the pandemic. This program distributes educational packs full of school supplies such as worksheets and writing utensils. The organization provides not only monthly food deliveries but also other goods families may need, such as First Aid kits.

Progress is happening. Both national and international NGOs fight to end and educate the public on hunger in South Africa. Food insecurity remains prevalent in many areas and demands continued attention.

Grace Manning
Photo: Flickr

MapActionHunger in Africa is an ever-present concern. The issue was heightened in 2020 when climate change and unusual rainfall patterns caused locust swarms to infest East Africa. The area had not experienced such an extreme locust plague in many years. Kenya’s last major infestation was about 70 years prior. On the other hand, Somalia and Ethiopia last experienced a severe locust plague roughly 25 years ago. In 2018, two major cyclones increased the locust population in Saudi Arabia by 8,000-fold, and subsequently, strong winds moved the swarms into the Horn of Africa. In December 2020, a rare cyclone in Somalia created locust groups of more than 15 million per square mile, devouring the crops of 19 million herders and farmers in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. MapAction is bringing in geospatial technology to help better respond to such crises.

Climate Change in Africa

In January 2021, the Famine Early Warning System reported that areas in the Horn of Africa were facing food crises due to the locust swarms. A swarm the size of Manhattan can eat the same quantity of food as the whole population of New York and California in just one day. From March 2021 through May 2021, a lack of rainfall in parts of Ethiopia meant that farmers could not prepare their fields for crops or have adequate grass for pasture. The countries most vulnerable to food insecurity are Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen. Indeed, the persistent lack of rainfall has brought dry conditions to many parts of East Africa.

The disastrous combination of flooding and drought, along with locust infestation, is harshly impacting communities in the region, even more so due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With COVID-19 lockdowns, communication between relief organizations is difficult. Since April 2020, an organization called MapAction has been working in the eastern and southern parts of Africa, “applying geospatial expertise to humanitarian situations” to improve results. The organization looks to improve communication between Oxfam and its local partners.

Geospatial Analysis

MapAction believes that expert geospatial analysis can help spread resources to populations affected by famine, drought and other emergencies. MapAction works to ensure that emergency aid responders and disaster management agencies have access to crucial data. This data will allow responders to make decisions that will improve food security and relieve hunger in Africa. The team creates map templates and trains locals to update maps. This helps inform Oxfam’s partners about threats to food security, such as when locust swarms move into new areas. MapAction also maps where work has been done to prevent efforts from being wasted through duplication.

MapAction’s Impact

Rupert Douglas-Bate originally conceived the idea for MapAction. Bate formulated the concept while “working as an emergency water engineer in Bosnia in 1994.” Bate realized “that there was a gap in mapped analysis to support the effective planning and delivery of humanitarian aid.” MapAction first started off supporting Oxfam and partners in Kenya and Somalia but intends to assist in Zimbabwe and Zambia too. In the near future, MapAction would like to extend its scope to Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Botswana.

Since its inception, MapAction has supported thousands of emergency aid groups in more than 60 humanitarian crises around the world. Furthermore, the organization has helped millions of people who were in danger of starving. The organization has won four Stevie International Business Awards for Company of the Year and an Association for Geographic Information Award for Excellence due to its Ebola assistance in West Africa.

MapAction continues to develop new technologies to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian aid. In the process, it is subsequently reducing the threat of widespread hunger in Africa, preventing millions from falling deeper into poverty.

– Sarah Betuel
Photo: Flickr

Apps Fighting World Hunger: Fighting World Hunger with a PhoneHunger is a problem for more than 600 million people around the world. The number of people that are food-insecure, meaning that they lack “consistent access to enough food to have an active and healthy life,” has risen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeding America projects that the 2018 food insecurity rate will increase by nearly 5% among the general population due to the pandemic. One can see similar trends worldwide. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that approximately 111 million more people will experience acute food insecurity in 2021 than in 2020. In response to data like this, a number of companies have developed apps fighting world hunger or have included new forums within pre-existing apps to help reduce hunger’s impact internationally.

Rakuten Viber

Rakuten Viber, a communication app, announced it would initiate a campaign to raise funds to combat world hunger. The campaign includes a “Fighting World Hunger” community group, which resembles a large chatroom that members can add themselves to. The group aims to promote the improvement of members’ consumption habits by focusing on ways to consciously shop, cook and eat to reduce food waste, as well as posting data regularly about world hunger for members to read.

In addition to creating its community, Viber also launched a downloadable food-themed sticker package, of which proceeds will be donated to the cause. This is an addition to committing to donate $10,000 to charities fighting world hunger like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), World Wide Fund (for Nature) (WWF), UNICEF, U-report and U.N. Migration once the community group reaches one million users.

ShareTheMeal

ShareTheMeal, an app developed by the U.N.’s World Food Programme, allows users to donate to help feed children worldwide. With a quick tap, the program accepts a $0.80 donation — the amount the organization has deemed necessary to pay for a meal abroad for most children. Since launching, ShareTheMeal has shared more than 100 million meals with those in need.

Chowberry

Chowberry, a Nigerian-based app, is also fighting global hunger. Chowberry is focused on ending food waste in Africa by connecting families in need to local supermarkets with nearly expired — but still safe for consumption — foods. Stores use the Chowberry app to scan the barcodes of food products. Once uploaded, the app informs retailers when the products have reached the “best before” date and automatically offers those products at a reduced price through the app and the accompanying retail website. The closer the products are to the latest possible selling date, the lower the price is. For more economically unstable families, the app helps provide more affordable and consistent food options without causing retailers to lose profit.

OLIO

Another app fighting world hunger is OLIO, an app that encourages community sharing. OLIO members upload photos and descriptions to the app of food or other household items they no longer want or cannot use. Other members can then browse for items through the app, directly message the person who posted about the items and arrange pickup for the items they would like to claim. The app currently hosts more than three million users and has shared more than 21 million portions of food across 51 countries. The app’s navigation is only available for English and Spanish speakers, but people can use local languages in messaging and posting. OLIO hopes to add more languages soon to become more user-friendly.

Apps Fighting World Hunger

Hunger is a significant issue affecting countries across the world. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, global hunger rates have grown along with the number of families suffering from acute food insecurity. While several international programs offer hunger relief on a larger scale, millions of people can also help lessen the impact of COVID-19 and other global crises by downloading apps fighting world hunger.

– Grace Parker
Photo: Flickr