Starvation Tactics in YemenSince 2014, the conflict in Yemen has raged without an end in sight. In a November 2021 article, the World Bank estimates that Yemen’s poverty rate rose from approximately half of the population pre-conflict to as much as 78% because of the conflict. Although a Saudi-led coalition offensive largely defines the conflict, human rights abuses are apparent on both sides and by all parties. Starvation tactics in Yemen stand as one of the most malicious violations, bringing a wave of shock to the international community.

Background of the Conflict

The conflict in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis, a Shia Muslim minority in Yemen, captured the major city in Yemen’s northern province and began moving southward. The rebellion was strategically timed as the Houthis have fought several rebellions against Yemen’s government over the years but chose to attack this time because of a new sitting president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Unfortunately for Hadi, the country initially supported the rebels, who overran and seized the capital city of Sanaa in 2014.

The Houthis are Shia Muslims and have a close affiliation with Iran, the Middle East’s Shia bastion. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia largely adheres to Sunni Islam and views Shia power as a threat. Therefore, the Houthi rebellion in Yemen alarmed Saudi Arabia, prompting “Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states” to launch an air campaign in 2015 to end the rebellion and reinstate Hadi’s government. The United States, United Kingdom and France provided “logistical and intelligence support” for the air campaign.

Human Rights Consequences

The conflict in Yemen has come at a steep cost to human life. As of December 2021, Yemen notes nearly a quarter of a million deaths and 4 million displacements. Furthermore, about 24 million Yemeni people require humanitarian aid. Due to these dire statistics, many world organizations deem the situation in Yemen the “worst humanitarian crisis” in the world.

One of the most concerning developments to arise out of the conflict in Yemen is the use of starvation tactics. Human rights groups documenting starvation tactics in Yemen show that both sides use such tactics “as a weapon of war.” The Mwatana Organization for Human Rights and Global Rights Compliance, both human rights organizations, have records of Saudi airstrikes destroying water facilities and fishing vessels as well as farms.

In a report, the groups indicate that the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of air and seaports has slowed the flow of food into Yemen. Their reports also detail Houthi rebels denying civilians aid, which includes food. Specifically, the report says that “restrictions were so severe that they forced the World Food Program (WFP) to suspend its operations in 2019 and again in 2020.” The report also states that the rebels’ use of landmines prevents farmers from using their land productively.

The humanitarian cost of the starvation tactics in Yemen is astounding. In September 2021, in a plea for urgent funding from the international community, the United Nations warned that 16 million people in Yemen may face starvation. According to Henrietta Fore, the head of UNICEF, more than 11 million children in Yemen need humanitarian aid to survive and close to 400,000 children enduring “severe acute malnutrition are at imminent risk of death.”

Humanitarian Aid

Donors cut funding to the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2020, citing aid obstruction as their concerns. As a consequence, in April 2020, the WFP had to halve “food aid to every other month in parts of Yemen” under the control of the Houthis. However, donors took heed to U.N. warnings about the famine, and in June 2021, the WFP resumed monthly distributions to millions around Yemen. Since then, the WFP has taken extensive efforts to combat the effects of starvation tactics in Yemen.

The WFP says that despite barriers to access, it manages to provide humanitarian aid “to the vast majority of vulnerable people in the country.” The WFP is providing daily snacks to more than 1.5 million Yemeni students and nutritional support to more than 3 million “pregnant and nursing women” as well as children younger than 5. The WFP also provides food aid through food rations or cash assistance to purchase food.

Despite significant suffering in Yemen, there is no shortage of organizations eager to provide aid. With enough advocacy and aid, there lies a possibility to end starvation tactics in Yemen and bring an end to the conflict overall.

– Richard J. Vieira
Photo: Flickr

Hunger Rates in Madagascar
As the “fourth-largest island” globally, Madagascar holds a distinctive ecosystem. However, the country struggles with skyrocketing poverty rates and widespread hunger. Political instability and frequent natural disasters contribute to these circumstances. According to USAID, more than “a third of households lack adequate food at any given time of the year.” The World Food Programme’s (WFP) assessment on Madagascar indicates that about 1.3 million citizens face food insecurity in the nation. Considering these statistics, WFP calls on the international community to support the nation, stressing the importance of aid in times of crisis. Understanding the challenges that Madagascar and its people face, many international organizations are taking the lead to reduce hunger rates in Madagascar.

The Realities of Food Insecurity on the Ground

According to ABC News in November 2021, WFP warns that due to a four-year-long drought, “more than 1.1 million people” in the southern region of Madagascar require emergency food aid. Currently, about 700,000 are receiving food assistance. However, more aid is necessary to cover the needs of all people and reduce hunger rates in Madagascar.

According to Alice Rahmoun, WFP’s communications officer in Madagascar, due to the droughts and other extreme weather conditions, “harvests fail constantly, so people don’t have anything to harvest and anything to renew their food stocks.” Amnesty International indicates that more than 90% of people in the southern region of Madagascar endure poverty. As such, organizations are working tirelessly to prevent a famine crisis in Madagascar. However, there is an increasing need for more resources to reduce hunger rates in Madagascar.

In addition to droughts affecting crop production, sandstorms and pest infestations exacerbate the situation, making it difficult for farmers to farm or plant any food. With many people looking to cactus leaves and tubers as food sources and others digging for drinking water from the dry Mandrare River, the country is facing a crisis that justifies WFP’s concern of a potential famine.

Liafara, a Malagasy mother of five, told ABC News that children in the village cannot go to school because their hunger impedes their ability to focus. She explains further that her family has sold their possessions to acquire money for food, going as far as selling the front door to the house in a desperate attempt to provide food.

Hope on the Horizon

Despite facing extreme hunger in Madagascar, Loharano, a community leader in the village Tsimanananda, refuses to give up. The 43-year-old woman told BBC News that, with the lessons of a previous drought beginning in 2013 and the assistance of a local organization called the Agro-ecological Centre of the South (CTAS), she no longer fears hunger. CTAS teaches villagers about “drought-resistant crops and techniques to revitalize the soil” in order to improve food security.

Loharano, who now boasts a plot of land with diverse thriving crops, now imparts this information to other villagers, conducting small informal classes. Loharano has shared her produce with hungry neighbors and is thankful that her village is not facing the food crisis that many others face. CTAS has brought this work to 14 other villages in Southern Madagascar, benefiting as many as 10,000 households. However, the organization’s influence is finite and Loharano’s success highlights the need for more organizations like CTAS to step up and help their local communities.

Calls for International Support

Issa Sanogo, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Madagascar, stresses that “the world cannot look away” as “people in Madagascar need our support now and into the future.” Currently, the U.N. and its partner agencies seek about $231 million to fund humanitarian aid initiatives in Madagascar until May 2022. The U.N. has garnered about $120 million worth of funding so far. With the support of the international community, the U.N. can reach its target funding goal and prevent famine in Madagascar. Sanogo is calling “on the international community to show solidarity with the communities” in Southern Madagascar “and to put forward the funding that is needed to both prevent a humanitarian catastrophe today and enable people to become more resilient tomorrow.”

– Tri Truong
Photo: Unsplash

The Maasai
When the COVID-19 pandemic decimated Kenya’s tourism industry and forced the closures of livestock markets, food insecurity became a reality for many of the Maasai people. Here is information about how the Maasai of Kenya are facing hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Heart of Kenya’s Tourist Industry

Traditionally, the Maasai people’s pastoral life meant there was no need for the modernities of money. Cattle stood as a source of both food and currency, with Maasai livelihoods depending exclusively on the tribe’s “cattle economy.” However, as prolonged droughts ravage grazing lands and privatization and wildlife conservation lead to the displacement of the Maasai, the tribe has had to supplement its semi-nomadic lifestyle with income from tourists: selling souvenirs, conducting safaris and guiding tours of Maasai villages.

Visitors travel to Kenya from all over the world to witness Africa’s wild animals, and when it comes to spectacles, the Maasai of Kenya have an advantage. The majority of tourists flock to the Maasai Mara National Park to witness a yearly phenomenon known as the Great Migration — the largest animal migration on earth. Although much of the migration takes place from the Serengeti in Tanzania, the most sought-after scene for nature enthusiasts occurs when the animals cross the crocodile-populated Mara River into Kenya.

Severe Weather and COVID-19 Create a Food Crisis

Prior to 2020, tourism accounted for 10% of Kenya’s economy, employing more than 2 million citizens, many of whom “lost their jobs due to the pandemic.” In March 2020, after Kenya’s first report of COVID-19, President Kenyatta canceled “all international flights scheduled to enter the country,” allowing access only to Kenyans or foreigners with permanent residency. Although the government’s efforts proved crucial in preventing the spread of the virus at the time, the result was an 80% plunge in Kenya’s tourism during 2020, causing an economic loss of more than $1 billion.

Exacerbating circumstances further, flash flooding in April 2020 and severe hailstorms in September 2020 followed the collapse of tourism. The deadly storm patterns led to severe crop destruction, damaging homes throughout southern and eastern Kenya, including Narok county, home to the Maasai Mara National Park.

Despite standing as a hub for Kenya’s tourism, Narok county has an absolute poverty rate of 33.7%, with 12% of the population enduring food insecurity and 32.9% of children experiencing stunting. During the pandemic, when government mandates included the closures of livestock markets and the Maasai lost all income from tourists, hunger became a reality for many of the Maasai who also could not afford to purchase hygiene products such as soaps and hand sanitizers.

Nashulai Maasai Conservancy Supports the Maasai

The Nashulai Maasai Conservancy protects 5,000 acres of critical habitat and is the only conservancy that the Massai people entirely govern and run. During the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of Nashulai organized a crowdfunding plan and sought the help of Avaaz, an international advocacy campaign that promotes community-organized humanitarian movements.

The campaign mobilized 100,000 people who helped to pay ranger salaries and secure sanitation, medical supplies and food for communities living within the conservancy. Recognizing a need to reduce the Maasai’s reliance on tourism, Nashulai also began training people in farming, beekeeping and making hygiene products such as soaps and sanitary pads to sell at local markets.

The Maa Trust

The Maa Trust is a nonprofit organization that partners with nature conservancies in the Maasai Mara region to “increase the benefits of wildlife conservation to Maasai families.” The organization promotes sustainable businesses for Maasai women, such as jewelry-making and honey production. The organization also supports conservation education, builds schools and invests in clean drinking water, solar energy and alternatives to using firewood as fuel.

In April 2020, The Maa Trust partnered with the Mara Elephant Project to distribute food donations from the Sidekick Foundation to 637 Maasai families “in the Talek and Pardamat regions of the Maasai Mara.” The Sidekick Foundation is an international force that works both on the ground and politically to combat poaching, collaborating with organizations such as The Maa Trust and the Mara Elephant Project to protect elephants and aid local humanitarian efforts.

The Rotary Club of Nome Assists

In November 2021, the Rotary Club of Nome, Alaska, worked with local contacts in Narok, Kenya, to provide a month of food security to 450 residents in the Maasai village of Nkorkorri. The project to assist Nkorkorri village stands as part of the Rotary Club of Nome’s 75-year commitment to humanitarianism. The Rotary Club of Nome is part of a worldwide network of more than 1.4 million Rotarians who work together to reduce poverty, fight diseases, support local economies and protect the environment.  In an interview with The Borgen Project, club member Marcy O’Neil says that Nome Rotarians hope to turn this emergency donation into a long-term program.

Although tourism has helped the Maasai survive in a challenging economic landscape, the industry’s fall during the COVID-19-pandemic put a spotlight on the tribe’s increasing vulnerability. As a result, organizations are answering the call for help. Whether the support comes from near or far, ongoing efforts to assist the Maasai are crucial to ensure the tribe’s ability to survive while maintaining traditional values.

– Jenny Rice
Photo: Flickr

Rescued Food Market
According to the United Nations, almost half of all fruits and vegetables produced worldwide go to waste. The world’s total wasted food “is enough to feed about three billion people.” In the city of Vancouver in Canada, food waste is a rising issue along with food insecurity. The Rescued Food Market aims to tackle hunger and food waste at the same time.

Food Waste in Canada

In Canada, about $30 billion worth of food goes to waste annually. As a consequence of this food waste, Canada is responsible for a significant carbon footprint of “56.6 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions.” Yet, in Canada alone, roughly $49.5 billion worth of “food waste can be avoided by taking specific measures.” According to the Food Stash Foundation, every one in six children in British Columbia goes hungry. With less food wastage, “consumers and society at large will be able to save money, support efficiency in the food and agriculture sector, improve food security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Rescued Food Market

A local Vancouver market seeks to aid in the fight against hunger by reducing food waste. Launched in October 2021, the Rescued Food Market is open every Friday to people from every income background. The market is the product of a larger organization that David Schein started in 2016 called the Food Stash Foundation. Rescued Food Market’s webpage describes the market as “a zero-waste grocery store that is stocked with nutritious surplus food from farms, grocers and wholesalers.”

Before the Rescued Food Market’s opening on October 1, 2021, the Food Stash Foundation collected surplus food and delivered it to charities and households in need. The Rescued Food Market itself operates through a “pay what you feel” policy and only asks shoppers to bring reusable bags to collect the food. By using the terms “pay what you feel” instead of “pay what you can,” the market aims “to eliminate any shame associated with not being able to afford the rising cost of food.”

The Success of the Market

Carla Pellegrini, the current executive for Food Stash Foundation, told Good News Network (GNN) that the Rescued Food Market aims to assist the Food Stash Foundation in distributing roughly 70,000 pounds of surplus food that the organization collects monthly. About “85% of that 70,000 pounds of food doesn’t even make it back to our warehouse, it goes right back out the same day with our drivers to other organizations,” Pellegrini tells GNN. However, at the end of a week, the organization still sometimes has surplus food that needs distributing. The Rescued Food Market assists in this regard.

In June 2021 alone, the Food Stash Foundation rescued more than 74,000 pounds of perishable foods, which, in turn, prevented almost 64,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere. The overwhelming success of this food redistribution initiative not only helps protect the environment but also instills a sense of mindfulness on a local, community-based level through the Rescued Food Market.

Worldwide Communal Markets

Besides relying on the Food Stash Foundation’s surplus of food received from farms and grocers alike, the Rescued Food Market also encourages families in Vancouver to donate food that will otherwise go to waste. Indeed, community markets and fridges, as indicated by Katherine Oung in her article “Community fridges are lifelines for the neighborhoods they serve,” are especially crucial in areas “where traditional forms of food assistance are difficult to access.” Low-income families without cars, for example, would have an easier means of acquiring food at a community market than at a more remote food bank location. Community fridges are located throughout the world.

The Rescued Food Market brings to the forefront an innovative way to combat two issues at once. Reducing food waste is a significant step in fighting a more extensive, prevalent world injustice.

– Maia Nuñez
Photo: Flickr

Moving Toward Veganism
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger, aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” for all people by 2030. However, the world is not on track to achieve this goal. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), in 2019, 821 million global citizens, equivalent to “more than one in nine” people, suffered from hunger. In a world that already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, 3 billion more than the current global population, many wonder how this is possible. The answer has to do with existing diets and food waste. In particular, moving toward veganism has the potential to end world hunger.

Plant Agriculture as a More Sustainable Alternative

Currently, close to 50% of the world’s land goes toward food production and farmers use 83% of this land exclusively for animal agriculture, which is responsible for 44% of all harvested crop losses. Animals farmed for meat and dairy “consume five times as much food as all human beings” and have incredibly low conversion efficiencies. It takes about 13-20 pounds of grain to produce a single extra pound of beef. About 36% of the total crop calories that farmers produce globally act as food for farmed animals and humans eventually consume just “12% of those calories” in the final meat product. Animal agriculture also drains the world’s fresh water supply. Producing 1 kilogram of bovine meat requires 15,415 liters of water compared with 322 liters of water per kilogram of vegetables.

As the world population grows to a projected 9.7 billion by 2050, animal agriculture will become increasingly unsustainable. If agriculture does not change, feeding the world’s population will require “a 119% increase in edible crops grown by 2050.” Growing more crops will also increase the need for arable land, leading to more deforestation. Meat consumption already contributes “more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined.” Increased greenhouse gas emissions coupled with increased deforestation could exacerbate changing weather.

Animal Agriculture Aggravates Extreme Weather Conditions

According to Sentient Media, changing weather is a “threat multiplier.” It exacerbates pressures like natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, which cause hunger by decreasing crop yields and increasing food loss. Changing weather may also affect the types of crops that can grow in certain regions. This is especially problematic in regions that depend on specific weather conditions to grow their staple crops, such as Africa, where most crops require a certain amount of rainfall. Without the right conditions, subsistence farmers and their families will suffer and people unable to pay the increased prices for scarce crops will fall into food insecurity.

Moving Toward Veganism

Many organizations are working to alleviate world hunger and scientists are developing GMOs to fight malnourishment. However, some entities are only addressing surface-level problems. In order to address the causes of world hunger, the United Nations (U.N.) is calling for a global effort involving deep, systematic transformations in agriculture and food systems worldwide.

One transformation that may help end world hunger is shifting consumer demands toward a vegan diet. By consuming crop calories directly from the plant source, people can avoid the loss of two-thirds of potential calories. According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, if U.S. farmers used all the land currently devoted to animal agriculture to grow plant crops instead, they could double the number of people sustained, feeding an additional 390 million people.

While a vegan diet is the most sustainable, vegetarian and plant-based diets also contribute to ending world hunger. These diets all use fewer resources and contribute less to the harmful effects of changing climate than meat-heavy diets do. Eating meat just once a week instead of four times a week “would reduce commodity prices as less grain would go to feed animals, making food cheaper for the urban poor,” said Michael Obersteiner of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Plant-Based Diets Worldwide

While switching to a plant-based diet may cause concerns of possible undernutrition, animal intermediaries are not necessary for humans to experience full nourishment. On the other hand, it is possible to eat a meat-inclusive diet and still suffer from malnutrition.

Ending world hunger is everyone’s fight. Even food-secure areas may suffer from political unrest due to wars in food-insecure areas or may become destinations for those seeking refuge from hunger. With a global plant-based diet, more food than ever before would be available to humans. Additionally, “it is possible that an atmosphere of abundance could facilitate cooperative attitudes toward funneling more food to combat hunger.” As a bonus, moving toward veganism would be much healthier since studies link animal products to increased rates of lifestyle diseases like obesity.

Preventing Food Waste

In addition to moving toward a vegan diet, the push to end world hunger will require addressing food loss in developing countries. More than 40% of food loss in developing nations occurs post-harvest due to poor refrigeration. In sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia, per capita food loss equates to 120-170 kilograms per year. India loses about 40% of its food production due to a lack of cold storage. Jomo Sundaram, assistant director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), believes improved food transportation methods and technologies are already strengthening the fight to eliminate hunger.

In the fight against global hunger, moving toward veganism holds significant potential to increase food security in a sustainable manner.

Serah-Marie Maharaj
Photo: Flickr

Pope Francis
Hunger is a “scandal” whose crime “violates basic human rights,” according to Pope Francis. In a recent United Nations (U.N.) meeting in Rome, the Pope argued that the world holds enough food for all yet sees prevalent hunger. The Pope’s message aligned with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s assertion that a third of greenhouse gas emissions is due to global food systems. Further, Guterres warned that an 80% loss of biodiversity serves as another drastic consequence of those food systems.

The Message

The Pope spoke during the July Pre-Summit of the U.N. Food Systems Summit that focused on scientific, evidence-based solutions to food systems transformation. Pope Francis noted that COVID-19 has underlined the “systemic injustices that undermine our unity as a human family.” Further, he pointed out the paradoxical nature of the technologies designed to increase food capacity as it “exploits nature to the point of sterilization.” He said that the poorest people suffer the most because we inflict damage “…through irresponsible use and abuse of the goods God has placed in it.”

In a similar July message that the Vatican published, the Pope spoke of the preventable nature of forced displacements, terrorism and wars. He contended that these are all precursors to hunger. In the message, Pope Francis also elaborated on the lack of solidarity plaguing humans that stunts resolutions to end malnutrition. He spoke of a desire not to promote “mere progress” or “development goals in theory.” He wrote, “All of us realize that the intention to provide everyone with his or her daily bread is not enough.”

The UN’s Call to Action

An early July U.N. report credited COVID-19 to the additional 161 million people facing hunger compared to 2019. It discussed that healthy diets are now out of reach of a staggering 3 billion people. This is due to the high cost of food, income inequality and poverty. The fact that the Agricultural Commodity Price Index rose by 30% from January 2020 supports this argument. Also, Guterres noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one in three people lacked adequate food sources.

Also recently, the U.N. agency International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) appealed to decision-makers to rectify the “failures in food systems.” IFAD suggested that food production should factor in protecting the environment, supporting biodiversity and fairly compensating laborers.

Finally, according to the chief economist of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), alleviating hunger for 100 million people would require $14 billion a year until 2030. Moreover, to triple that amount would see a goal of zero hunger across the globe by 2030.

Moving Forward

The calls to action by Pope Francis and the United Nations are loud and clear. Together, they should positively impact the fight against hunger by transforming the current global food systems.

Pope Francis specifically urged “bold local and international policies.” He said, “Therefore, it is everyone’s duty to root out this injustice through concrete actions and good practices.”

– Mohamed Makalou
Photo: Flickr

ethiopias-biggest-threat-hunger
Researchers have directly linked quality nutrition to a reduction in the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and in some areas, malnutrition. In less developed countries like Ethiopia, this reality is even starker. The threat of hunger in Ethiopia is extremely prevalent, requiring significant attention.

According to USAID data in Ethiopia, more than half of infant deaths are a direct result of malnutrition. Children who survive past the age of 2 years old experience irreversible threats to their physical growth and delays in their cognitive development. This lack of proper nutrition places children at a disadvantage within schools, leading them into the same cycle of poverty wherein the food systems in Ethiopia continue to perpetuate their malnutrition. As of 2021, more than 70% of Tigray’s population is still hungry with 400,000 individuals facing hunger on a fatal level.

The high rates of malnutrition in Ethiopia are a result of several factors, with food insecurity and less access to nutritious services being among the most prominent determining factors. Increased incidence rates of infectious diseases and inadequate maternal and child feeding practices follow closely behind. A combination of household wealth and income, education levels and a family’s ability to plan long-term drive all of these factors. Despite the threat of hunger in Ethiopia, some organizations are providing help.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

Within the past decade, several programs and organizations dedicated to fighting world hunger have worked within countries in Eastern Africa to not only provide food to its civilians but to support local farmers. The World Food Programme (WFP) is among one of the most active of these organizations in Ethiopia. The WFP has worked in many areas, donating resources, helping smallholder farmers develop better climate resistance and implementing school feeding programs. Most recently, the World Food Program has called for action from governments and their constituents while articulating how they will respond to the crisis.

The World Food Programme’s three main objectives now and in the coming months are to:

  • Provide emergency food assistance to the Northwestern and Southern regions of Tigray to reach over 2 million individuals in need of emergency food assistance.
  • Increase its emergency nutrition response to reach as many as 70 districts.
  • Continue to advocate for increased funding of $203 million to bolster its response program.

These goals aim to increase the quality of life for families in Ethiopia, and, since late September 2021, the World Food Programme has succeeded in doing just this. According to recent news and press releases, the WFP has helped communities in Ethiopia in one leading way.

Progress in Ethiopian Food Systems

The World Food Programme’s largest success in Ethiopia has been creating a system for farmers to access and manage their own finances. Having the ability to save money and apply for loans supports sustainable farming while empowering working women and providing a sense of self-sufficiency for many adults. The WFP has worked closely with villages in Ethiopia by helping small farmers pair up with the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), allowing communities to buy materials for personal businesses and ensure financial protection from the future. In 2002, the World Bank approved a loan of $85 million to Ethiopia’s food security program, all of which have contributed to these efforts of helping small farmers learn to support themselves. The WFP also aids Ethiopia in dealing with urgent issues by directly providing communities with emergency food. Since July 2021, the WFP has provided over 135,000 individuals with emergency meals.

USAID has also worked to promote agriculture and secure food systems in Ethiopia over the last decade. The implementation of its Feed the Future initiative has focused on supporting sustainable agriculture-led growth, bolstering resilience and improving nutrition. USAID has estimated a 19% decrease in poverty because of its efforts in the areas where it has worked from 2013 to 2018. In 2019, USAID’s Feed the Future initiative recognized its achievements of reaching 5 million children under the age of 5 years old with nutritional aid as well as tending to 131,000 hectares of improved land. This is due to improved technologies and practices provided by nonprofit organizations. Moving forward, USAID is seeking to continue working on strengthening resilience programs for farmers who rely solely on agriculture.

Collective Vision is the Future’s Hope

While the world continues to face many challenges, hunger may be one of the most pressing humanitarian concerns at the moment. Additionally, while it is important to sufficiently nourish everyone, it is even more important to ensure that each person has the knowledge and resources they need to continue healthfully providing for themselves moving forward. Organizations like the World Food Programme have already taken a strong initiative to achieve this goal in the countries that need it most, like Ethiopia. Other hands-on organizations like USAID have also spread their assistance to reach more countries, including attempting to strengthen the food systems in Ethiopia.

While the threat of hunger in Ethiopia may seem like a challenge that is far too expansive for any individual to tackle alone, organizations have shown how collective thought and collaboration can make a world of difference in reaching those most in need. With the continued support of governments and more specifically, involved constituents, countries can set aside their differences and work together towards achieving this common goal.

Chloé D’Hers
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in Niger
Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Approximately 75% of Niger’s land is the Sahara Desert, with 81% of the population relying on agriculture for food. According to World Bank data, 42.9% of the 24 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty. Hunger in Niger is a significant issue, with the Global Hunger Index ranking Niger as the 17th hungriest country in the world. Here is some information about food insecurity in Niger and what some are doing to reduce it.

Overpopulation

Currently, more than 25 million people live in Niger and almost 50% of the population is under the age of 15. Niger is one of the fastest-growing populations with a growth rate of close to 4% annually, but its ability to produce food for the growing population has not been successful. The United Nations World Food Program has estimated that food insecurity in 2019 affected more than 1.4 million Nigeriens. Many must face the adverse effects of hunger due to the continuously growing population and scarcity of food. The growing population exhausts hunger program initiatives and creates a challenge to feed communities. The high population also contributes tension to the already strained natural food resources.

Agriculture

Agriculture serves as one of the top food sources for people across the world. As for Niger, depending on agriculture poses a big problem. The land already suffers from degradation, deforestation and desertification, with low fertility and heavy pests, making it hard to produce food.

The land deals with fluctuations in precipitation and environmental changes, which make the production of crops limited. Droughts and floods are also likely and increase the risk of dying crops. Although that is the case, much of farmland still depends on rain to feed crops because of the lack of infrastructure to retain water and irrigation.

Malnutrition

One of the direct results of food insecurity is malnutrition. Malnutrition develops when the body does not receive proper nutrients. This could be a result of poor diets, lack of food or even inconsistent food intake. Proper nutrients are necessary in order to maintain a healthy immune system, growth and development. Since Niger lacks the proper food resources, malnutrition continues to endanger the lives of children.

Child Marriage

Another direct effect of food insecurity is an increase in child marriage. Hunger forces some families to resort to desperate measures such as child marriage. Payments such as dowries have been helpful during hunger-stricken moments. Child marriage is a common practice among Niger natives. Around the age of 16 young girls usually have to choose between school or marriage. Approximately 75% of young girls marry before the age of 18.

Data from a 2018 study for the International Center for Research on Women shows that women who marry at an early age have high levels of food insecurity. Additionally, those women end up forfeiting their education. Consequently, once married early, their educational growth becomes stunted. The act of child marriage has increasingly contributed to the low literacy rate among Niger women, resulting in an indirect effect of food insecurity in Niger. An analysis has also linked child marriage with early childbearing. Early childbearing may lead to more children, and as a result, reduce the amount of money in the household.

USAID

USAID is offering programs that bring more job opportunities, food security and stability to the people of Niger. Along with those programs, USAID is working to provide additional support such as access to credit, economic opportunities, better natural resources, soil management and more farming production.

In 2019, USAID funded a project that provided improvement, sustainability and nutrition to families in need. Along with those provisions, the organization also focused on developing agricultural entrepreneurship for youth in the Zinder area of Niger. USAID taught youth about compost production, pest management, marketing gardening and fruit tree nurseries.

The KfW Development Bank

The KfW Development Bank helps finance projects around the world to fight poverty. KFW has fought poverty and protected the environment for over 50 years.

KfW launched a project on Mar. 8, 2021 to expand small-scale irrigation infrastructure. This project is serving as phase two of two. Phase two should run until 2025 and provide farmers with successful harvests and sustainability. Water availability and food production should increase substantially.

Despite the prevalence of food insecurity in Niger, organizations like USAID and the KfW Development Bank are making a difference. Through continued efforts, hunger should reduce improving the lives of Niger’s citizens.

– Destiny Jackson
Photo: Flickr

ProVeg International
The definition of food insecurity 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