Swaziland HungerSwaziland is a small, landlocked Southern African country that borders South Africa and Mozambique. The country is only 120 miles long and 81 miles wide and has a population of less than 1.5 million, making it one of the smallest countries in Africa in these regards. The Swazi population faces some major health issues, the most severe among them being HIV and tuberculosis. The biggest concern for the country is, however, the widespread hunger. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about hunger in Swaziland.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Swaziland

  1. Swaziland has a score of 22.5 out of 50 on the Global Hunger Index (GHI), indicating that the level of hunger in the country is serious. The country ranks 76th out of 119 qualifying countries. This indicator is calculated using factors such as child undernutrition, inadequate food supply and child mortality. Although hunger is still a huge problem in Swaziland, the GHI score is trending generally downwards, from 28.9 in 2000 to 22.5 currently.
  2. Around 25.5 percent of Swazi children under the age of 5 show signs of growth stunting or being irreversibly short for their age. In real numbers, this is around 43,000 children. This number is trending downwards and has dropped for 11.1 percent from 36.6 percent in 2000. Stunting is an indicator of child undernutrition due to the particular vulnerability of children to dietary deficiencies.
  3. Child undernutrition has significant economic ramifications for Swaziland. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), approximately $92 million or 3.1 percent of the country’s GDP was lost in 2009 as a direct result of child undernutrition. These costs come from clinical episodes, grade repetition and school dropouts (more common in stunted children) and loss of working hours due to undernutrition.
  4. Forty percent of adults in Swaziland are considered to have stunted growth due to undernutrition as children. This presents a significant challenge for these individuals as most job opportunities require manual labor. The WFP estimates losses of $14.8 million in 2009 due to the impaired physical capacity of this demographic.
  5. According to national surveys, the country has reduced the population living under the poverty line from 69 to 63 percent. However, there has been no improvement in the last decade regarding the high levels of income inequality. It is estimated that around 40.6 percent of Swazi people live under $1.25 per day.
  6. Life expectancy in Swaziland is trending upwards. Between 2000 and 2002, life expectancy at birth stood at 46.5 years but rose to 48.7 years from 2009 to 2016. This is still far below the World Health Organization’s estimated global average of 72 years in 2016.
  7. The country has slashed the rate of new HIV infections by 44 percent through a number of initiatives including greater access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). A 2017 Washington D.C.-funded survey found that 73.1 percent of the infected population has fully suppressed the virus and the HIV incidence had dropped to 1.4 percent. Proper nutrition also has an impact on the ability of those infected to maintain a healthy weight and absorb HIV medication.
  8. Swaziland consistently fails to produce enough maize, its staple crop, to fulfill its population’s needs. Around 140,000 metric tonnes (MT) of the crop would be needed to satisfy the population’s requirement, but only 84,344 MT was produced in 2016/2017 and 33,460 MT in 2015/2016.
  9. Drought is a huge factor when it comes to agricultural production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the majority of Swazi people live in rural areas, and over 70 percent or more than a million people rely on subsistence farming.
  10. Swaziland’s under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000) is on the decline. In 2016, this metric stood at 70.4 compared to 120 a decade prior.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Swaziland presented in this article highlight the issues that the country still faces in its development and the progress that has been made to combat food insecurity, especially in children.

– Chelsey Crowne
Photo: Flickr

starving to deathWhale hunting in Japan is immaterial to feeding the population. As a result, many wonder why the nation continues to practice the antiquated ritual, while a bulk of its citizens are starving and fighting an uphill battle against the national welfare program. Japan’s current poverty rate is 15.3 percent, and more than 19 million citizens are living below the poverty line.

Welfare and Whale Hunting in Japan

The Japanese government has defended whaling practices by claiming that the practice is a part of the ancient Japanese culture. From the 1940s to the mid-1960s, whales were the biggest source of meat for the Japanese people. This was due to food shortages throughout the country. The government found an inexpensive solution in canning whale meat and serving in the government-funded national school lunch programs. At the highest point of the hunt, 24,000 whales were killed in just one year.

However, the economic climate has shifted. Japan has one of the wealthiest economies in the world and can easily afford to import meat from the United States or Australia. Currently, with Japan leaving the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the financial burden of whaling will again fall on taxpayers. Expenditure of citizens’ tax money on whaling is justified by classifying whaling as research. The International Court of Justice has disproved Japan’s research claims, yet, funding that could be allocated to other benefits, like welfare, continues to be allocated to the practice.

According to a poll in 2015, the average consumption by the Japanese people of whale meat was just one ounce per person. Whale meat in Japanese cuisine has only been popular post World War II, and it would be categorized as nostalgia food by older generations. Nevertheless, Japan continues to fund whaling with $50 million annually. Regarding the Japanese welfare system, the central government acknowledges 75 percent of the costs, and Japan is planning on cutting back even further to their system.

When it comes to welfare,  Japanese citizens do not have the right to be taken care of by the government. Welfare in Japan is most commonly utilized by either the elderly, single mothers or handicapped citizens. Currently, there are five million unemployed Japanese citizens. Since 2008, the Japanese government has tried to make acquiring government assistance more manageable. However, most applicants are obliged to ask their family for help before applying, and impoverished people who are physically capable of working are still ineligible.  Professor Hiroshi Sugimura from Hoesei University in Tokyo said: “Local governments tend to believe that using taxpayer money to help people in need is doing a disservice to the citizens, only those who pay taxes are citizens.” The government currently gives 3.4 trillion Yen to welfare a year, but this only amounts to 10 percent of all tax revenues.

With the strict guidelines of the welfare program, people in need often slip through the cracks. Just in the past ten years alone, 700 Japanese citizens have starved to death, most of them elderly people. While the poverty rate in Japan does not reach the global levels (nearly 3.4 billion people, or half of the world’s population, struggle to meet basic needs),  Japan is currently in the lowest category of children in need, with the OECD estimating there are 3.5 million Japanese children who are living in relative poverty.

What Is Being Done?

An organization called Second Harvest provides the only nationwide food bank in Japan. Since 2002, Second Harvest has been food security for the needy. It delivers to children’s homes, women’s shelters and handicapped facilities. Second Harvest also works tirelessly with companies to acquires left-over food that is still edible and recycles it into free meals.

The Japanese government supports the Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is to bring hunger to zero by the year 2030. Japan is putting forth procedures that will help build a sustainable society and help with social improvements. By incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals, Japan is hoping to prioritize ancillary benefits, far removed from previous oversight, promoting human rights for every citizen.

The heated issue of whale hunting in Japan and the hunger of its citizens has been recognized by the Japanese government. Acknowledging the fact that many citizens are starving to death, and few are interested in eating whale meat, is an impetus for the government to remedy the issue. Solutions are being established and proposed on a regular basis, and with time. these two issues will be combatted and Japan’s healing as a nation will happen quickly.

– Jennifer O’Brien
Photo: Google

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in TunisiaTunisia, a small North African country, is often seen as a success story of the Arab uprisings after making strides towards consolidating its democracy. However, the economic woes that triggered the 2011 revolts have yet to be addressed and some citizens are unable to access sufficient nutrients as a result. These top 10 facts about hunger in Tunisia outline the issues that the country faces today in regards to food insecurity.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tunisia

  1. There are a handful of factors that negatively impact Tunisia’s most vulnerable citizens’ access to a nutritional, balanced diet. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), those include a stagnant economy, high unemployment rates, regional disparities and dependence on cereal imports. Approximately 28 percent of the country’s rural-dwelling citizens are poor, coming out to around one million people.
  2. Due to the arid, dry nature of Tunisia’s location, water scarcity is a major roadblock when it comes to the country’s agricultural production. The International Development Research Centre reports that the country must import most of its basic foods and all of its livestock feed and focus its own agricultural efforts on high-value crops for export. Financial, technical and climate conditions are all major factors that impede an increase in domestic food production. Because of these conditions, Tunisia is heavily dependent on foreign trade for food.
  3. Food waste is a serious problem. Bread is the most wasted product with around 16 percent going uneaten. The Tunisian National Institute for Consumption states that food waste represents around 5 percent of food expenditures per year, coming out to the equivalent of about $197 million. The average family loses $7 on food waste per month.
  4. Tunisians most vulnerable to facing hunger are those living in rural areas, in the Central West and North West regions, as well as women and children. Poverty rates exceed 32 percent in the country’s Central West and North West regions. In addition, low-income rural households headed by women are especially at risk of hunger. Although physical access to food is virtually guaranteed nation-wide, economic barriers, such as price inflation and unemployment, pose a serious threat in achieving it.
  5. Hunger in Tunisia has led to some of its citizens facing a plethora of nutritional ailments. The most prominent of those include deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and obesity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that anemia, or iron deficiency, was estimated at 31.2 percent for women of reproductive age (15-49) in 2016. Rates of this disorder in this demographic have been steadily increasing since 2010. According to the FAO, approximately 27.3 percent of the country’s adult population (over 18) was considered obese in 2016. This number is over 10 percent higher than in 2000.
  6. With a score of 7.9 out of 50, Tunisia has a low level of hunger according to the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), and this number continues to trend downwards. In other words, fewer and fewer Tunisians go hungry each year. This an improvement from moderate levels of hunger recorded in 2000 when Tunisia had a score of 10.7. In 2018, the country was ranked 28th out of 119 qualifying countries. The GHI score is calculated based on four indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. As the score has improved over the last two decades, this indicates that these factors have been decreasing in frequency and that hunger in Tunisia is improving.
  7. Prevalence of stunting in children under the age of 5 has decreased by 5.7 percent since the year 2000 according. Currently, 10.9 percent of children of this category is considered to have stunted growth, meaning that their growth is below normal due to prolonged malnutrition. While the percentage of children affected has fallen since 2000, it is slowly on the incline, rising from 9 percent in 2005 to 10.9 percent last year.
  8. The mortality rate for children under the age of 5 is decreasing. Death is the most serious consequence of hunger, and children are the most vulnerable group. However, the percentage of children losing their lives before their fifth birthdays has more than halved since 2000, dropping from 3.4 percent to just 1.4 percent in 2018.
  9. Government-run National School Meals Programs to combat hunger in Tunisia reach approximately 260,000 children per month. Tunisia’s investment in school meals that reaches 125,000 girls and 135,000 boys in around 2,500 schools is fully funded by the government and totaled the equivalent of $13.2 million in the 2014/15 school year. The Tunisian government has also allocated the equivalent of $1.7 million for the construction and equipment of a pilot central kitchen and a first School Food Bank hub.
  10. Over the past two decades, Tunisian agriculture has made significant progress. The most notable improvements are achieving self-sufficiency in products such as milk, meat, fruit and vegetables, limiting import dependence and strengthening the country’s presence in foreign markets as a result of the good quality-price ratio of its products.

Overall, as demonstrated by these top 10 facts about hunger in Tunisia, the situation in the country is improving. Fewer people are, according to the data, going without food every year, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. The efforts today appear to be more concentrated on the nutritional density of food available than its access. While no situation is perfect, Tunisia has made and is still making strides towards minimizing food insecurity within its borders.

– Chelsey Crowne
Photo: Flickr

PA 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in YemenHistorically, Yemen has been one of the poorest of the Arab countries. Since the civil war that broke out in 2015, the U.N. has found some alarming statistics on the state of the nation. In 2018, the number of Yemeni living in poverty is at a high of 79 percent, a 30 percent increase since 2017. The country is also experiencing other hardships as a result of the war. This includes concerns such as food insecurity, sanitation, healthcare access, nutritional needs, education, lack of access to clean water, a wavering economy and the displacement of people. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Yemen, both the causes and solutions to demonstrate the progress everyone has made.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Yemen

  1. Food insecurity is a problem that is currently impacting 60 percent of Yemen’s population. Save the Children estimated that, since the beginning of the war in 2015, as many as 85,000 children may have died of hunger. Governments, like the U.K for example, have taken action in response. The U.K. has allocated enough funds to provide £170 million in aid for the 2018-2019 year, meeting the food needs of 2.5 million Yemenis.
  2. Malnourishment is having a severe impact on 3 million pregnant or nursing women as well as on children. Thankfully the World Food Programme (WFP) has also been working to combat this. In 2018, WFP used direct food distributions or vouchers to provide 12 million people monthly rations of edible seeds and legumes, vegetable oil, sugar, salt and wheat flour. The organization has also been providing nutritional support to approximately 1.5 million women and children as well. However, humanitarian efforts are also struggling to reach Yemen. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Yemen airspace. Yemen is an import-heavy country, requiring 10 to 15 thousand metric tons of food, this blockade is pushing Yemen even further to the brink of famine.
  3. The lack of basic healthcare is also having a negative impact on the long-term health of the Yemeni. The war effort has practically demolished the country’s healthcare system. In addition, fewer than 50 percent of healthcare facilities are functioning, leaving approximately 16 million people without access to basic healthcare. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that in 2017, a cholera outbreak infected nearly a million people. Despite being a completely treatable disease, thousands of people died from it.
  4. Contaminated water supplies have also contributed to the spread of waterborne diseases. The collapse of the wastewater management systems, mostly in Houthi-controlled territory, led to the previously mentioned cholera outbreak. In addition to cholera, contagious diseases like diphtheria are spreading to the immunocompromised population as well. Thankfully, both the ICRC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been sending fuel for electric generators to power hospitals, blood banks and labs as well as petrol for ambulances and clean water to try to mitigate the problem.
  5. Rising fuel prices are aggravating other existing issues, like food security, and contributing to the shortening life expectancy. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, in 2017 Yemen ranked at 176 in terms of life expectancy with the average age of 65.9. In comparison, the U.S. ranks at 43 with an average age of 80. In 2016, the U.N. shared that the global average life expectancy was also much higher at 72 years. In the last three years, food costs have increased by 46 percent, partially due to the cost of fuel prices increasing higher than 500 percent of what they were before the conflict. The more expensive fuel is, the higher the food transportation costs are, which leads to more expensive food and the higher likelihood that people are going to go hungry.
  6. The declining economy is also limiting the purchasing power of the Yemeni, making it difficult for them to buy basic necessities. The World Bank notes that household incomes have been continuously declining, partially due to the fact that, traditionally, agriculture has been a source of income for poor households, but it’s now being restricted by several factors. In efforts to combat this problem, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided $2 billion to the Central Bank system of Yemen (CBY) as well as an oil grant of $1 billion. This action should help to revitalize the private channels and imported financing facilities previously provided by the CBY for food.
  7. Displacement of the Yemeni has also had a considerable impact on their life expectancy. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 2 million people who have escaped the country don’t have access to basic needs like food, water, shelter and healthcare. In response, the UNHCR has also been taking measures to mitigate these problems. The UNHCR provides basic necessities like blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets, buckets and emergency shelters. The organization has also provided healthcare services like psycho-social support and worked to prevent the spread of cholera. While refugees travel to these campus for safety, they are still susceptible to danger. Just last month, eight civilians were killed and 30 were injured from after a camp for displaced people in Yemen’s northwestern Hajjah province was bombed.
  8. International Rescue Committee (IRC) is another NGO working to alleviate the burdens of the Yemeni. Since 2012, the IRC has worked to promote cholera awareness, run medical treatment centers, screen and treat children for malnutrition and train volunteers to work in local communities. The IRC has provided primary reproductive care to more than 800,000 people, counseling mothers and caregivers on safe feeding and breastfeeding methods.
  9. Organizations like Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation (YRRF) have also initiated considerable positive changes. Some of their highlights of the 2018 year include sending 1,300 water filters to people in need, distributing a month’s worth of food rations to 110,000 people and providing school bags and supplies to kids. These supplies were given primarily to families in Aslim, Hajjah, an area close to Saudi Arabia where many are unable to access to aid agencies.
  10. In addition to international organizations, passionate individuals are taking action to help the Yemeni. Ahman Algohbary is using his passion for photography, social media skills and ability to speak English to draw attention to the conditions people are going through in Yemen. His images online have led to people sending donations that are being used to sponsor families so they can reach clinics where they can receive nutrition treatment.

The problems that the Yemeni face are essentially all related, making them difficult to resolve. The conflict, for instance, has led to a decrease in funds and focus on vital public services, leading to the failure of sanitation and healthcare. However, international organizations like the UNHCR and ICRC are all stepping up to provide aid to thousands of families. Even individuals on a grassroots level are doing what they can to improve the situation. The 10 facts about the life expectancy in Yemen demonstrate the severity of the issue but also the ability for people all across the world to come together in efforts to help others.

Iris Gao
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in TanzaniaTanzania is an East African country that has a current population of more than 60 million. Although this country is known in part for its large agricultural sectors, it has continually faced food shortages and hunger crisis over the course of its existence. Hunger continually proves to be an ongoing battle and although there has been significant progress, poor nutrition remains a crucial development challenge for the country. In the text below, a list of the top 10 facts about hunger in Tanzania is presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tanzania

  1. One of the reasons hunger is extremely hard to overcome is because of the continuous droughts Tanzania faces, which results in insufficient harvests. Almost half of the year is marked by a dry season given there is hardly any rainfall from June to October. Even after the dry season is over, the following six months are the most scarce in many Tanzanian households because the next harvest usually does not occur until March. This creates almost a year-long struggle of food shortages and lingering hunger.
  2. Food insecurity affects the population in rural areas significantly more than the population in the city. Surveys show that, although 64 percent of people living in cities suffer food shortages, the percentage rises to about 84 percent in people from rural areas. The simple reason for this statistic is that in rural areas the majority of the population relies on subsistence agriculture for their food.
  3. There is a generational transfer of undernutrition. Around 10 percent of women are undernourished and, in turn, they give birth to low-weight babies. These infants become malnourished both in their childhood and later in life. These children can grow up uneducated or not being able to work very hard. This cycle of poverty has made it extremely difficult for poor households to escape poverty and malnutrition.
  4. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are the most crucial time to prevent lifelong malnutrition. These days consists of a period from the pregnancy up until the second birthday of a child. This can either result in the establishment of healthy growth and adequate nutrition or poor nutrition which will affect the entirety of their life.
  5. Forty-two percent of all children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting in the country. This equivalates to about 3.3 million children. Stunting is mostly caused by a lack of adequate nutrition from food, therefore the millions of children are not only stunted but also experiencing acute or severe malnourishment as well.
  6. Stunting rates in children under the age of 5 have declined by 8.1 percent from 2010 to 2015. This progress has been possible due to improved coordination of nutrition activities and increased nutrition-based budgets. This includes the participation of both the government and development partners, including the United States.
  7. In 2012, Tanzania joined the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, establishing a separate budget solely for improving nutrition and hunger by means of agriculture. The New Alliance has several goals, including reducing poverty and hunger, achieving sustained agriculture-led growth in Africa and relieving 50 million people of poverty in Africa by 2022. Tanzania has specifically committed to policy actions in business, inputs, land, nutrition, trade and markets.
  8. In 2014/2015, more than half of the nutrition-related funding came from foreign resources. Funding from development partners accounted for 55.8 percent while the remaining 44.2 percent came from both local and central government. The Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center working to decrease malnutrition also received 92 percent of their funding by outside donors.
  9. Tanzania ranks sixth among 45 African government’s political commitment to combat hunger and undernutrition. The Hunger and Nutrition Index for Africa ranks 45 governments on their commitment and Tanzania scores in the “green zone” representing high commitment. The HNI develops the index by ranking the performance of the countries based on 22 different indicators of political commitment.
  10. There are several USAID programs that are active in Tanzania and that focus on nutrition. One of the most significant is Feed The Future. This initiative is making agriculture a driver of economic growth by focusing on five key investment areas: agriculture, nutrition, policy, infrastructure and institutional capacity. Besides Feed the Future, there are several other USAID programs working to decrease the numbers of people in poverty and facing malnutrition in Tanzania.

The top 10 facts about hunger in Tanzania presented above are difficult to read and to understand. Even harder is to comprehend the reality that more than 60 million people in this country are facing. However, there is hope in the sense of the continuous progress and actions that are being made to help fight the currently ongoing hunger crisis in the country.

– Savannah Huls

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in New ZealandOne of the most tragic effects of poverty is large populations of people going hungry. Many poor people cannot afford to feed themselves or their children. While New Zealand might not be on the list of countries in dire need of poverty assistance, families there are suffering. The top 10 facts about hunger in New Zealand highlight this.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in New Zealand

  1. A study in 2017 discovered that 23 percent of the elderly population in New Zealand were malnourished.  Many elderly citizens find it difficult to access the supermarket and purchase groceries. This leads to the inability to cook meals and they end up being hospitalized due to malnourishment. However, once elderly citizens are moved to hospitalization or residential care, they have better access to food and nourishment.
  2. In 2016, the need for help from the Salvation Army had gone up by 9 percent. The organization handed out over 54,000 emergency parcels to citizens of New Zealand in the span of a year. There were 319 new individuals who required help each week. The head of ministries of the New Zealand sector stated that requests for aid came not only from those who were in extreme poverty but also from those living off minimum wage.
  3. In Auckland City alone, the request for food parcels went up almost 50 percent between the middle of 2015 and the end of 2016. The City Mission, a volunteer-based program in Auckland City, exceeded its budget by $100,000, leaving a huge hole in the city’s budget. According to the City Mission, with rising housing costs, bill costs and changes in other benefits, people were more inclined to cut back on their food spending to cover the price of every bill.
  4. According to The New Zealand Herald, The Red Cross used to have a program that fed children breakfast every day in low-income communities. However, due to lack of support from funders, the program had to end. This created a dramatic rise in hunger among children. In 2011, it was determined that this rise in hunger was due to a 7 percent rise in the cost of food. So, the 2.6 percent rise in income did not help most families
  5. Two programs, Kickstart and KidsCan, replaced the Red Cross breakfast program and went on to feed almost 40,000 children in schools across the country. This number was almost a fifth of the child population in schools which was around 229,400. At the time, there were 20,000 children on a waiting list to join the program since the government did not have enough funding to feed more than 40,000. To fix this, the community members pledged $15 a month to the program.
  6. Another one of the facts about hunger in New Zealand is that growing food on their own is not a simple solution for many who go hungry.  In order to grow a sufficient garden, you need quite a bit of resource. According to the Spinoff, a New Zealand paper, low-income citizens find it difficult to get access to the needed resources. Also, since they have to work hard to earn, they do not have enough time to invest to grow a garden.
  7. Housing in New Zealand is not as permanent as American housing. On average, families move every 15 months. To build a sustainable garden that will provide food for a family, people need to live in the same place for longer than 15 months. Also, growing a few plants in small pots is not enough for a family.
  8. Some claim that one of the reasons for hunger in New Zealand possibly comes from the “media bombardment” of eating healthy or dieting. Cutting back on food and exercising works for people who have plenty of nourishment, but when citizens who are already malnourished see this, it makes them feel as though the small amount of food they can manage is not good enough.
  9. On the other hand, there are reports on how fast food is killing the impoverished population in New Zealand. Fast food is cheap and easy to access but does not provide enough nutrients. It is also creating the opposite problem of hunger: an obesity crisis.  If elementary schools conducted nutritional education programs, it would help battle obesity problems as well as problems of malnourishment.
  10. On a brighter note, The Hunger Project, an NGO based all over the world, has a special division in New Zealand. They are aiming to cut back the hunger significantly by 2030 to meet the poverty reduction goals set by the United Nations. In New Zealand, the organization has been working since 1983. It has helped lead a strike against hunger with various communities across the country.

The crisis is not as bleak as the facts about hunger in New Zealand may make it seem. The government is aware that things need to be changed and that the focus needs to be on children who go hungry. Various bills geared towards government-funded food programs have gone through the system. Also, the Salvation Army and other nonprofit organizations are working together to bring relief. New Zealand, thus, hopes to see a reduction in hunger by 2030.

Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

VenezuelaWhat began as an economic recession in Venezuela has quickly escalated into a humanitarian crisis where one must fight to survive. Venezuela is steadily becoming the most violent country in the world. At least 28,479 deaths of a violent nature occurred in 2016, and the nation currently holds a homicide rate of 91.8 for every 100,000 people. The hunger crisis and the fact that 82 percent of its population is living in poverty could be linked with the growing rate of crime and violence in Venezuela.

Conditions Leading Up to the Violence

In 2014, Venezuela was struck by an economic recession caused by the decline in oil prices – Venezuela’s primary export. Its biggest shortfall came with the collapse of Venezuela’s currency when the price of imported goods swelled and the country was forced to limit the number of goods brought in. Staples like toilet paper or rice were often impossible to find, and when one did locate them, such essential products were often too expensive to buy. A shortage in even basic medicines and medical supplies began causing serious concerns.

The Borgen Project was fortunate enough to interview Venezuelan national and Ph.D. student, Maria Alemán. She described the scene, “Picture a supermarket or a grocery store when there is a snow storm in one of the southern states. You go in and everything is empty. There is nothing. That’s how it is there 24/7.” This lack of imported goods has created panic and a hunger crisis in Venezuela. With the widespread panic, Venezuela was faced with having to put strict regulations on many goods available for purchase. “If you get to the store and they are regulating an item, let’s say you want to buy two gallons of milk because you have a big family. Well no, if they are only allowing you to buy a gallon, then that is all you get,” Maria explains.

Lack of Jobs and Resources is Creating Chaos

The collapse of Venezuela’s economy affected the job market. Many businesses’ closed or took their business out of the country, leaving families to struggle with the cost of rising food prices with no source of income or not nearly enough income. “People are starving because the price of food is too expensive, even with a monthly salary,” Maria defends. As conditions grew dire and many were met with the challenge of feeding themselves and their families, crime in Venezuela rose at an epidemic rate. The Venezuelan Observatory on Violence (VOV) reported a 14 percent increase in violent crimes from 2012 to 2013. In 2015, 17,778 people were murdered in Venezuela; however, the VOV revealed that those numbers were as high as 27,875.

Maria recalls a shift in the nature of the crimes as desperation fueled robberies with the threat of violence. “Thieves started to go find knives and guns because there was no other way people were going to go and give them their stuff. People got so upset that they had no choice but to start killing people to actually feel threatened. It’s even worse now because people are having to kill to survive.” With no other resources available, the population turned to violence, either in an effort to attain resources or to protect oneself from others trying to take resources.

If things couldn’t seem any worse, the increase in crime and violence running rampant in the streets of Venezuela was a catalyst for the formation of several crime organizations who have taken to exploiting the hunger of young people to get them to participate in criminal activities, which is only adding to the rising crime rate.

Efforts to Decrease Crime and Violence in Venezuela

While Venezuela has implemented a subsidized food program that benefits 87 percent of Venezuelans, it hasn’t done much to slow the hunger-induced crime sprees. Maria says, “people receive boxes from the government with some food products like rice, flour, etc., but not everyone gets the same products in their boxes. The contents of a single box aren’t enough for a family of four.” Clearly, the government needs to find other solutions than providing a small amount of food per family.

Other attempts to alleviate the situation were raising the minimum wage to 34 times the previous amount and minting a new currency (the “sovereign bolivar”) to replace the “strong bolivar.” Unfortunately, new currency or no, businesses cannot afford to pay the new minimum wage set by the government and are laying off employees or, in the worst case scenario, closing down. There have been attempts by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to act as a mediator between the people and the government amidst the protesting, but no demands have been met. Although the situation is bleak, the hopes for successful negotiation may be the only way to end the crisis in Venezuela.

Although crime and violence in Venezuela have been commonplace in the past, current living conditions in Venezuela have escalated the crime to new heights, creating a harsh reality many are facing in order to survive. Without the basic means of survival such as a livable wage, job security and even access to basic resources, Venezuela will continue to see a steadily climbing crime and murder rate.

– Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Songs About HungerHunger is an issue that affects more than 800 million people worldwide. It can lead to malnutrition, which in turn can lead to a number of health issues and chronic diseases.

In addition to the hard work of advocacy groups and other nonprofits, recording artists like Beyonce and Jay-Z hold and perform at benefit concerts to bring awareness to global issues like poverty and hunger, and raise money for relief efforts. Not only do artists hold benefit concerts for these issues, but they also sing about them.

Top 5 Songs About Hunger

“Is This The World We Created?” by Queen

Just look at all those hungry mouths we have to feed
Take a look at all the suffering we breed
So many lonely faces scattered all around
Searching for what they need

This song kicks off the list of the Top 5 Songs About Hunger because it directly talks about the hunger and suffering going on in the world, and singer Freddy Mercury begs the question, “is this the world we created?” suggesting that these issues are manmade and preventable. One of the ways that the band Queen helped bring relief to world hunger was through Live Aid. This benefit concert was organized by Irish rock singer, Bob Geldof. Many different artists and bands came together to put on this concert and were able to raise over $125 million for famine relief in Africa.

“Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins

She calls out to the man on the street
He can see she’s been crying
She’s got blisters on the soles of her feet
She can’t walk but she’s trying

Oh think twice, it’s another day for
You and me in paradise

This song brings attention to homelessness and singer Phil Collins tells the listener to be grateful for what they have because they are in paradise compared to the woman on the street. The global organization, Action Against Hunger, utilizes the donations of those who can provide (arguably, those that live in ‘paradise’) to help those in need. Their focus is hunger relief. So far, this organization has had a lifesaving impact on over 45 countries and helped over 20 million people.

“Them Belly Full” by Bob Marley

Them belly full, but we hungry
A hungry mob is a angry mob
A rain will fall, but the dirt it tough
A pot a cook but the food nah nuff

The third song to make it onto the Top 5 Songs About Hunger, “Them Belly Full” by Bob Marley calls attention to the fact that in some countries, the government is corrupt and neglects their people, leaving them poor and hungry. When he says, “them belly full” he is referring to the government and the “we” in “but we hungry” are the people of Jamaica.

Other governments have taken to weaponizing aid. Take for instance the Syrian regime, which withholds humanitarian access to basic necessities like food in order to “weaken opposition groups and to prevent the creation of an alternative political order.” Still, many organizations continue to work hard to reach those in need. One such organization is Relief International, which provides aid to the refugees that cross the border into Turkey.

“In The Ghetto” by Elvis Presley

Well the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose
Plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto

The lyrics throughout this song tell the story of a boy growing up in the ghetto and emphasize how hard life is for those living in poorer areas. Singer Elvis Presley also calls out the fact that people often turn a blind eye to those impacted by poverty. Presley used his fame as a platform to help normalize polio vaccinations in the 1950s. Today, the disease has been eradicated in all but two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, two impoverished countries, who are working hard to completely wipe out this disease.

“Beans For Breakfast” by Johnny Cash

Caught a cold with the window open
Crow droppings o my window sill
Probably got histoplasmosis
… Beans for breakfast once again
Hard to eat them from the can
Plastic forks are a dime a dozen
I’m a hungry nasty lonesome man

Histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that affects the lungs and causes skin lesions, most commonly impacts those with HIV/AIDS or others with compromised immune systems. In Africa, it is most prevalent in the central and western parts. Treatment options include anti-fungal medications such as Amphotericin B or Oral Itraconazole.  The organization LIFE aims to improve fungal infection case outcomes through advocacy and educating public health and medical professionals so that may be able to spot these diseases and effectively treat the patients.

 

World hunger is an issue that can never get enough advocacy. Through the combined efforts of many people, ranging from politicians to everyday people, including the artists who made it on to the Top 5 Songs About Hunger, it is an issue that is steadily gaining more awareness. In the year 2000, about 900 million people were chronically malnourished, but as of 2018, that number is down to 821 million people. The fight against hunger has proved to be one that takes time and resilience, but with many organizations, including the ones listed here whose mission is to downsize global hunger, it is a fight that can be won.

– CJ Sternfels
Photo: Flickr

There are no concrete numbers or official statistics that show how many people are homeless and what is the real situation with homelessness in Bulgaria. However, there is a trend that can be observed – the numbers are increasing. As of 2013, as many as 1,370 people have been registered in temporary accommodation facilities. The real number is likely much higher since this only accounts for people with government-issued IDs who have signed up in those facilities.

Urban Nomads

There are many reasons and circumstances that lead to people losing their home. The most vulnerable groups of people that end up without shelter are refugees, the Roma minority, elderly people who have become a burden to their families or young adults who have previously been in foster home facilities.

Most of the participants of a survey that Urban Nomads, a project that is aiming at improving living conditions for the homeless in Bulgaria, conducted stated that what they really hope for is a job and a place to stay, contrary to stereotypes some still believe in. The organization believes in the value that homeless people can give to society and are dedicated to helping them by constructing tiny portable houses from recycled materials. People do not just choose to live on the streets and those who are in that situation have been through a lot to end up like that.

Government Addressing Homelessness in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in the European Union. According to Eurostat statistics from 2015, 40 percent of the country’s citizens live at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In 2013, there were 13 centers for temporary accommodation in the country that served 442 people, as well as six shelters and 13 centers for homeless children.

The policies designed to tackle the problem operate mainly on the municipal level but there are problems that prevent their success. The major issue with the social services available is the lack of adequate funding and good financial management. To add to this, the coordination and project management also need improvement. As a result, the needs of people exceed what is provided by the country, affecting homelessness in Bulgaria.

Initiatives that Help Homeless People in Bulgaria

Winter, the most difficult time for people who live on the streets, is here,  and there are several initiatives that aim to alleviate homelessness in Bulgaria in these times. Caritas is a nonprofit organization that works with homeless people in Bulgaria. Their goal is to help those who are most vulnerable: refugees, migrants, the elderly and the homeless are helped to lead a fair and dignified life. Along with social centers in major cities they provide mobile services- domestic care for elderly and support for people on the streets. Caritas has helped over 4,000 people in Sofia and provides food, hygiene kits, medicine and assistance.

There are also other initiatives. In Sofia, a restaurant will donate food to those who are in need during the winter. Volunteers from the Bulgarian Red Cross opened a winter dining room in the town of Ruse. They expect to provide warm meals, a bath and clothes to around 40 people in need every day. In Pernik, two rooms from the hospital will be given to homeless people during the cold months, according to the mayor. Dobrich opened the doors to its house of temporary accommodation. The house for homeless people will be open 24 hours a day and has the capacity to house eight people.

These organizations and initiatives, along with government activities, help people who do not have access to the basics of living a dignified life and improve the situation of homelessness in Bulgaria. And truly, everything to make these people suffer less helps, but the issue of homelessness should be tackled on a more structural level by reintegrating these people into society and helping them find a sustainable way of providing for themselves.

– Aleksandra Sirakova
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Eritrea
Eritrea is located at the Horn of Africa in the Sahel Desert that is dominated by arid and semi-arid climatic conditions. The country is, therefore, vulnerable to adverse effects of climate variability, recurring droughts and environmental degradation. The World Bank estimates that 69 percent of Eritrea’s population lives below the poverty line. The economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80 percent of the population depending on farming and pastoralism.

Eritrea has no free press and political repression of the opposition is rampant. After a severe drought in the Horn of Africa in 2015, president of the country, Isaias Afwerki, polemicized that the country had magically evaded the drought, denying a food crisis. A 2016 U.N. report documents that the president rejected U.N. food aid during the 2015 drought.

The proceeding 10 facts about hunger in Eritrea provide a snapshot of the political climate in the country that ousted humanitarian aid agencies over the last decade, while hunger persisted. The facts also highlight advances in sustainable agriculture and projects that have increased food security.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Eritrea

  1. Since gaining independence in 1993, Eritrea has had tense relations with humanitarian agencies. In July 2005, the country asked the USAID to terminate its operations and leave the country. It continued expelling other international organizations from working within the country in 2006.
  2. Beginning in 2000, Mercy Corps carried out more than $40 million worth of assistance that alleviated hunger until they closed their operations at the request of the Government of Eritrea in June 2006.
  3. According to the BBC report in 2011, emaciated Eritreans were crossing the heavily militarised border at the rate of almost 900 people a month, despite official denial of food crisis by President Afwerki.
  4. In 2013, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 60 percent of the Eritrean population was reported to be undernourished in the period between 2011 and 2013.
  5. Eritrea currently meets only a third of its estimated food and the other two-third needs are being met by international food aid programs.
  6. Data from the Nutrition Sentinel Site Surveillance system indicate an increase in malnutrition rates since 2015 in four out of six regions of the country, and projections estimate that 23,000 children under the age of 5 will need treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2018.
  7. In May 2018, the Government of Eritrea donated 40,000 tons of food to South Sudan. The country has already pledged 50,000 tons of food aid for the people of South Sudan in 2017.
  8. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aimed to increase collaboration with Eritrea to promote sustainability and food security. There has been a success with projects that aim to increase sustainable agriculture in Eritrea, specifically in the small village of Keih-Kor. With the help of the UNDP, the village was able to regain the use of 45 hectares of farmland.
  9. In the Central Region, UNDP helped build three micro-dams in the Gala-Hefhi sub-region. Over 1,200 villagers benefitted from the dam constructed in Lamza Village, with improved food security and stronger productivity.
  10. In 2018, UNICEF treated 15,000 children under the age of 5 that had severe acute malnutrition and 40,000 children under the age of 5 with minor acute malnutrition, provided 477,000 children aged 6 to 59 months with vitamin A supplementation and 70,000 children aged 6 to 59 months. Pregnant and lactating women also benefited from supplementary feeding.

Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Five years later, the war between the two countries broke out and lasted from May 1998 to June 2000. The conflict saw hundreds of millions of dollars diverted from development aid to arms procurement.

In July 2018, Eritrea signed a historic peace agreement with Ethiopia. Four months following these good measures of social reunification in the Horn of Africa, the United Nations Security Council unanimously lifted international sanctions against Eritrea that have been imposed continuously since 2009. The measures were based on concerns that the Eritrean government was funding and arming the Somali extremist group, Al-Shabaab.

The 10 facts about hunger in Eritrea provide hope that hunger may turn around in the Horn of Africa due to Eritrea’s reconciliation with its neighbors, as the reconciliation could also mean a more open attitude towards humanitarian agencies. There is evidence that suggests that Eritrea could also be a friend in alleviating hunger in the future, across other nations in the Horn of Africa.

Sasha Kramer
Photo: Flickr