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

Rice ATMs in Vietnam

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

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

Rice ATMs in Cambodia

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

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

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

The Future of Rice ATMs

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

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

– Nina Lehr
Photo: Flickr

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

Root Causes

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

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

Lack of Good Food

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

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

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

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

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Hunger in South Africa

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

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

Solutions and Next Steps

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

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

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

Feed South Africa

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

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

Grace Manning
Photo: Flickr

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

Climate Change in Africa

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

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

Geospatial Analysis

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

MapAction’s Impact

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

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

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

– Sarah Betuel
Photo: Flickr

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

Rakuten Viber

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

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

ShareTheMeal

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

Chowberry

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

OLIO

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

Apps Fighting World Hunger

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

– Grace Parker
Photo: Flickr

Smart Farms Fiji
27-year-old Rinesh Sharma is the man behind the Smart Farms Fiji initiative, which aims to combat food scarcity and malnutrition across Fiji. The idea came from his family’s experiences that were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their diet growing up contained few vegetables and fruits because his parents could not regularly afford them.

This is a shared experience across much of Fiji. High food prices have led to high rates of food scarcity and malnutrition. Access to nutritious food supplies has only worsened since the pandemic, as people have lost their jobs and are left with little money to purchase expensive fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, COVID-19 halted or seriously limited food transportation. In response, Smart Farms Fiji aims to ensure everyone across Fiji has access to nutritious vegetables and fruits. It also wants the population to have a consistent supply of food to put on the table.

Hydroponic Farming

To begin with, Sharma conceptualized a large-scale hydroponic farming system. Hydroponic farming is a method of growing plants without soil, growing them directly in nutrient-rich water. Hydroponic farming helps plants absorb nutrients at a faster rate, which means quicker, easier and more reliable harvests. This allows more people easy and quick access to more crops and reduces food scarcity and malnutrition. Sharma was granted $20,000 in financial assistance from the government, which allowed him to invest and incorporate hydroponic systems into larger commercial farms across Fiji.

Since the pandemic, the main focus has been on a more localized and accessible supply of food and farming resources. Within the initiative, Sharma has created an at-home hydroponic kit. The kit contains 15 seedlings of lettuce, cabbage, kale, mint, basil and others. It also includes a water tank, net cups, soil nutrient solutions and a step-by-step guide. These kits have been sold and donated across Fiji and provide a local, continuous, reliable and easy source of nutritious food for many families who are struggling to put food on the table.

Reducing Hunger

Energy poverty is common on islands in the Pacific because many people live in remote areas without access to electricity. The Smart Farms Fiji initiative ensures that being remote does not hinder access to food. The at-home hydroponic kits are electricity-free to ensure all inhabitants have access to adequate and nutritious food supplies.

Furthermore, U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 2 is the main objective of Smart Farms Fiji and the reason Rinesh Sharma began the initiative. So far the initiative is having success, as it has helped Fijian families access steady and reliable supplies of healthy food that is full of the nutrition they need to continue to prosper. After only a month since the conception of the at-home hydroponic kits, the initiative deployed 15 kits and conducted 15 educational classes for households. It is well on its way to ensuring local food security.

Influence on Poverty and Education

One of the key points of concern when conceptualizing the initiative was the pesticides used in typical farming practices. Sharma saw how much traditional farming harmed coastal towns that rely on local fishing to earn their wages. The pesticide runoffs harm marine life that coastal workers needed to survive. In response, Smart Farms Fiji aims to promote pesticide-free farming that will help these coastal communities out of poverty and give them thriving business opportunities.

Sharma has also continued to expand his initiative through education. He has held classes with local communities that have at-home hydroponic kits, educating them about more sustainable subsistence farming and how to get the best out of their crops. Additionally, he has regularly attended schools and colleges where he has discussed with students everything from leadership, entrepreneurship and how students can contribute to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. He wants to inspire and mobilize the next generation to use their education to change the world by combatting poverty, food scarcity and malnutrition.

– Lizzie Alexander
Photo: Flickr

Acute Hunger in the DRCAbout one in three people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) suffers from acute hunger, warns both the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). A WFP representative within the DRC states that the extent of food insecurity in the country is “staggering.” Armed conflict in the east, COVID-19 and economic decline are all contributing factors to the prevalence of acute hunger in the DRC.

March 2021 IPC Snapshot

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification has released a snapshot of the state of acute food insecurity in the DRC as of March 2021. The snapshot estimates that about 27.3 million people living in the DRC are suffering from crisis levels (IPC Phase 3 or higher) of acute food insecurity. The IPC scale ranges from acceptable (IPC Phase 1) to catastrophe or famine (IPC Phase 5). Between August and December 2021, the snapshot projects that roughly 26.2 million will be in high acute food insecurity (IPC Phases 3 and 4). Furthermore, more than 5.6 million of these people will experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of acute food insecurity.

Organizations Provide Assistance

There are approximately 5.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) living within the DRC as a result of an ongoing armed conflict. The conflict in the eastern DRC consists of roughly 120 different armed groups, each displacing people and preventing access to workable fields. The DRC has 80 million hectares of farmable land, of which, only 10% is currently being used. The farmable land in the DRC has the potential to feed more than two billion people.

Organizations like the WFP and the FAO are both working in the DRC to help the vulnerable populations suffering from food insecurity. The WFP is working in the seven most populated provinces affected by the ongoing conflict. Furthermore, the WFP has been working with other organizations like the FAO to provide an emergency response by aiding farmers in improving their self-sufficiency, yield and resilience to shock. The WFP also addressed malnutrition by providing specialized food to children under the age of 5 and pregnant and nursing mothers.

Other programs include providing meals to students to encourage school attendance, empowering women and rebuilding local infrastructure to decrease vulnerability to disease and conflict. The FAO has been working to restore agriculture-based livelihoods and diversify local agriculture by training farmers, providing livestock and teaching sustainable farming techniques.

The Future of the DRC

Armed conflict and erratic rainfall coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have deteriorated the already difficult situation in the DRC. The number of people suffering from crisis level or higher acute food insecurity has risen from 21.8 million between July and December 2020 to 27.3 million people in the first half of 2021. The global humanitarian response to the ongoing crisis of acute hunger in the DRC has focused on strengthening agriculture in the country and combating malnutrition. The FAO is requesting $65 million in its 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan to continue supporting the Congolese people during their time of crisis. Continued humanitarian support is crucial to stabilizing the situation and ending acute hunger in the DRC.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

hunger crisis in the United KingdomThe United Kingdom has the fifth-largest economy in the world. However, the country continues to struggle with national hunger. Since the implementation of budget cuts and tax increases to combat the financial crisis of 2010, struggling families trying to feed their children have suffered. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the food shortage in the U.K. has gotten exponentially worse. Food insecurity stands at 47% among people without jobs. People who fall in the lowest income quartile also report high levels of food insecurity at 34%. Women are also more vulnerable to food insecurity and some ethnic groups are more affected than others. The efforts of food banks attempt to address the growing hunger crisis in the United Kingdom.

COVID-19 and the Hunger Crisis

COVID-19 has exposed the true extent of the hunger crisis in the United Kingdom. Many people have experienced wage cuts and unemployment since the onset of the pandemic. In addition, many rushed out to supermarkets to stock up on food, which only caused more damage. Families who were impoverished before COVID-19 struggled the hardest to compete with panic buyers. Lower-income families can only afford store brand products and discounted goods, but stockpilers left only the more expensive products on the shelves. School closures have also made feeding families more difficult. Many families relied on schools and childcare services to provide daily meals for their children. Despite this, the government refused to extend free meal packages for students into the holiday season.

Food Banks

Food banks have helped curb some of the hunger issues in the U.K. The largest food bank network in the U.K., the Trussell Trust, continues to make a huge impact. The Trussell Trust food banks make up two-thirds of all the food banks in the U.K. Between April 2018 and March 2019, the network delivered more than 1.6 million food parcels to families in need. This amounts to a need increase of 26 times more since 2010. Due to COVID-19, however, the Trussell Trust reported handing out 2.5 million food packages from January 2021 until the end of March 2021. These numbers reflect the dire hunger crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated hunger in the United Kingdom, but the efforts of food banks have promptly addressed the issue.

The Road Ahead

Although food banks have helped reduce the food shortage in the United Kingdom, food banks are not a permanent solution. Many have criticized the U.K. for not doing enough to address hunger. Some even think that the British Government itself has exacerbated hunger in the country. Considering that the U.K. is not a low-income country, it has the means to do more. The Department for Education and Minister for Children and Families has funded programs to address hunger in schools and the hunger children experience in the holidays when they are out of school.

Human Rights Watch has made suggestions about how the government should proceed. Most importantly, it has emphasized that the U.K. needs to first acknowledge the right to food as a fundamental human right and compensate people for violations of this right. The government also needs to monitor and survey food insecurity in the country to get an accurate reflection of the true extent of hunger in the U.K. Human Rights Watch also suggests that the U.K. devise a national anti-hunger strategy and reassess the impacts of its previous welfare cuts. Welfare benefits for low-income households should be lifted to ensure food security for impoverished households.

With commitment and dedication to addressing hunger in the United Kingdom, the government can turn the situation around and ensure the well-being of people in the country.

Samantha Fazio
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in Chad
Citizens of Chad suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition. This is due to a number of reasons such as geographical location. Humanitarian crises and poverty have impacted approximately 6.3 million Chadians. However, three notable organizations are working to fight food insecurity in Chad including Action Against Hunger, CARE and the World Food Program U.S.A. (WFP). These groups are working to ensure a direct solution, by providing food to Chad’s citizens. Moreover, these programs are attempting to implement long-term solutions, such as creating more fiscal opportunities and supplying clean water.

Food Insecurity in Chad

The country’s geographical location does not provide a reliable agricultural system. Chad is a landlocked country without any bodies of water. The country’s location also entails a hot, dry climate and the country experiences periods of drought. This has led to a lack of water for drinking and producing food. Moreover, conflict with bordering countries has applied further pressure to Chad’s limited resources. This has led to political instability, social unrest and a great influx of refugees. The country has accepted around 465,000 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic. Lack of food supply has resulted in over 317,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition in 2019. An estimated 790,000 inhabitants in Chad live with food insecurity.

Action Against Hunger

In 2019, Action Against Hunger helped 579,092 Chadians combat food insecurity. The organization reached those in need with programs focusing on nutrition and health, sanitation and hygiene and food security and livelihood. Action Against Hunger has worked to create solutions for the long term. For example, it initiated health and nutrition courses in Kanem, Bar El Gazal and Logone Oriental. Moreover, to promote behavioral change, the organization implemented husbands’ schools and care groups.

Action Against Hunger has also provided emergency, short-term and long-term solutions directly related to food. This includes supplying food, teaching new agricultural techniques (solar-powered irrigation systems and farmers’ field schools) and providing job opportunities to young people and women.

CARE

Although CARE does not directly focus on food relief, it offers a number of programs to improve the well-being of Chadians into the future. This includes initiatives such as natural resource management, farming classes and education on water and sanitation.

World Food Program USA (WFP)

WFP has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Food for Peace to provide nourishment to underserved Chadians. The organizations collect food from producers in the United States and local markets. They also distribute food vouchers, cash transfers and specialized nutrition products to struggling Chadians.

WFP has three other initiatives that it focuses on titled Emergency Operation, the School Meals Program and Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation.

  • Emergency Operation: This program focuses on those seeking refuge in southern Chad. WFP provides them with nourishment, food vouchers and e-cards, and gives nutrition support for mothers and children.
  • School Meals Program: This initiative seeks to increase school attendance, specifically amongst girls. The school meals program reaches approximately 265,000 elementary school children. All students in attendance receive a hot meal and girls can take a monthly ration of oil home to their families. This in turn encourages parents to send their daughters to school, and thus increases the rate of educated females.
  • Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation: This program can assist up to 2.2 million Chadians and refugees in need. Health centers and clinics provide supplementary feeding to local and conflicted populations.

Despite food insecurity in Chad, the country is benefitting from significant aid from prominent organizations. Through these organization’s continued support, Chad should be able to improve nutrition for its entire population in time.

– Ella Kaplun
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a country in West Africa that is home to more than 20.9 million people. The Burkinabe people have dealt with ongoing instability, displacement and food insecurity as the result of the dissolution of a government regime in 2014. With 40% of the country’s population living in poverty, there is a clear need for humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian organizations like the World Food Programme have been working to help combat food insecurity and malnutrition in Burkina Faso.

Current Situation in Burkina Faso

The World Food Programme (WFP) released its 2020 Annual Country Report for Burkina Faso, which contains various statistics and the humanitarian goals for the country until 2023. Burkina Faso has experienced an 80% increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) since 2019, with more than one million IDPs. The WFP estimates that 15% of the country’s population, or 3.3 million people, face food insecurity.

Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization, states that more than 1.5 million children under 5 are affected by the nutrition crisis in Burkina Faso. COVID-19 has worsened the situation in Burkina Faso as it becomes more difficult to get humanitarian aid to those in need. Other factors contributing to the current food insecurity crisis in Burkina Faso include the armed conflict, droughts and poverty.

Humanitarian Response

The WFP states that the number of people it reached in 2020 doubled compared to 2019, with the WFP reaching more than two million people. The WFP has worked in Burkina Faso to provide people with cash transfers and emergency school feeding initiatives. It also provided more than 305,000 children as well as pregnant and lactating women with treatment for acute malnutrition. The organization’s ability to help the Burkinabe people weakened as COVID-19, access and security restraints as well as regional instability made it more difficult for assistance to reach vulnerable populations.

Save the Children has been working in Burkina Faso since 1982, reaching more than 85,000 children in 2020. The nonprofit is focusing its efforts on providing children with a healthy start to their lives, providing children with opportunities to learn and protecting them from any potential harm. The organization has been working with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health to strengthen healthcare systems in the country. The organization has programs that provide food assistance, clean water, sanitation and hygiene products to children, pregnant women and mothers.

Save the Children works with schools and teachers to create literacy centers to improve the quality of education for children. An alternative education program called Youth in Action focuses on providing an education to IDPs and children without access to school. The education program focuses on literacy, basic finance knowledge and developing life skills. The organization is also working to protect children from dangerous jobs, educating people on ways to protect their children and promoting parenting methods that support children. Other efforts also promote local organizations that are actively working to provide children with more opportunities and end child marriage in Burkina Faso.

Looking Forward

With 40% of the population living in poverty, increasing insecurity from conflict and more than a million IDPs, Burkina Faso is facing a growing humanitarian crisis that requires continued humanitarian attention to combat. COVID-19 has caused the conditions in Burkina Faso to deteriorate as humanitarian assistance becomes more difficult to deliver. The WFP and Save the Children intend to increase efforts to combat malnutrition in Burkina Faso by providing nutritious food, building resilience and empowering the Burkinabe people.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Organizations Tackling COVID-19 in Africa
Since its start, COVID-19 has impacted countries worldwide. Citizens have lost jobs, and countries have taken an economic nosedive. Regions already suffering from poverty prior to the pandemic feel the ramifications of COVID-19 most severely. One particular region is Africa. Several organizations are dedicating efforts to providing aid in Africa amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger has been providing aid to Africa for more than 40 years to fight hunger and malnutrition. Additionally, the organization works to improve nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, mental healthcare and support and emergency response. In 2019 alone, the organization reached 17 million people in need. In the previous year, Action Against Hunger joined the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) as one of the 14 charities committed to providing aid during major humanitarian disasters.

Meril Cullinan, senior communications officer at Action Against Hunger, describes the motivation behind the continued aid in Africa throughout the pandemic: “According to the United Nations, the number of people globally suffering from acute food shortages could nearly double in the next year due to COVID-19 and its economic impacts; in East Africa, food insecurity could double in just the next three months.” In addition to Africa, Action Against Hunger has provided support to the only hospital for those in quarantine in Somalia and has treated 31,000 people suffering from malnutrition across 60 healthcare facilities in Yemen.

Amref Health Africa

Amref Health Africa originated in 1957 under the name “Flying Doctors of East Africa.” At the time, the nonprofit used airplanes to deliver healthcare to communities in need. Over time, Amref Health Africa expanded into what it is today—an aid and advocacy organization with a devotion to providing West, East and southern African citizens, particularly women and girls, with quality health services and training for healthcare workers. Services include maternal healthcare, newborn and child healthcare, and information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In 2019, the nonprofit reached five million people in need across 40 countries in Africa. Amref has assisted in stopping deadly outbreaks within Africa, such as Ebola and cholera; “The whole Amref Health Africa family is working towards [sic] the ambitious goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.” The focus of Amref Health Africa’s response to COVID-19 has been training healthcare workers, providing access to clean water and proper sanitation, strengthening testing and laboratories and mitigating the secondary impacts of the pandemic.

Successes so far include building water and sanitation infrastructure in six African countries, training 3,000 healthcare workers through the mobile phone application LEAP, expanding COVID-19 testing throughout Africa and advocating for access to crucial services during the lockdown. Camilla Knox-Peebles, chief executive of Amref Health Africa, describes the response to providing aid during COVID-19: “As well as launching new initiatives to support communities affected by COVID-19, we have adapted our existing programmes to ensure they can continue.”

Motivation

Motivation began in 1989 after two students, David Constantine and Simon Gue, entered a competition to design a wheelchair for people with disabilities in developing countries. After their prototype won, they went on to build an actual wheelchair, and the rest is history. Motivation has been building wheelchairs fit for various terrains and conditions in developing countries, particularly East Africa, ever since. The organization also provides training to technicians and clinicians on how to select the proper equipment for particular needs and geographic areas. The 2019-2020 impact report has revealed that the organization serviced 6,918 people, trained 312 families and facilitators, supported 68 wheelchair and outreach services and gave 8,816 people an assistive technology product.

Motivation’s aid in Africa has had to adapt to the COVID-19 climate and its safety precautions. Virtual support has replaced face-to-face programs. The organization has also found ways to deliver food, medical supplies and hygiene products to those in need. Anna Reeve, communications manager at Motivation, says that “We are finding ways to offer training and support remotely as much as we can. And we’re are working to ensure that disabled people’s needs are not forgotten in this crisis. Our teams are in touch with beneficiaries and partners by phone and text messages to share advice.”

Looking Ahead

The entire world has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many parts of the world are in lockdowns, many people are without food, supplies, medical services and other crucial resources. Thankfully, organizations exist that have a dedication to using modern technological advances to continue supporting developing regions. COVID-19 aid in Africa is essential in order to keep up the progress that has taken decades to achieve. Organizations like Action Against Hunger, Amref Health Africa and Motivation are demonstrating the ways the world’s citizens can continue to help each other in times of need.

– Sage Ahrens-Nichols
Photo: Flickr