Child Hunger in IdlibThe Syrian conflict continues to rage through this pandemic. The locus of fighting has shifted to the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo. Since 2019, the Syrian government — with support from Russia — has engaged in various bombing campaigns in the region and sent ground forces as well. Idlib is clearly feeling the effects of this violence. The need for aid in the province grows alongside the increasing size of the humanitarian crisis. One particularly important but overlooked aspect of the devastation in Idlib is the rising cost of food. Child hunger in Idlib is a result of the rise in levels of food among the youth due to price increases.

The Issue

Child hunger in Idlib — for infants in particular — has become an area of concern as COVID-19 has become more prevalent throughout the country. One big factor is that food has generally become much less accessible. According to The New Humanitarian, “‘An infant needs one container of formula per week, but the price has risen to $12,’ up from $9 three months ago … For many parents, that sum is out of reach.” This increase in price manifests itself often in the form of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). The disease primarily affects children under the age of 5, is highly dangerous and often turns life-threatening. Effects of SAM include a process known as “stunting,” which limits the physical growth in very young children. Stunting and other effects of SAM lead to other problems later in life for these children.

Another frequent issue is malnutrition in pregnant and breastfeeding women. It not only affects them personally but impacts the growth of their infants as well. The New Humanitarian also reports a rise in SAM hospital cases over the summer of 2020. The ratio jumped to 97 out of 1,692 people screened from the January status of 29 out of 2,199. This is likely a lower estimate given the number of people who cannot get screened or don’t have access to testing. Time is of the essence after receiving a SAM diagnosis. Once a child with this condition reaches 2 years of age, they will likely deal with the consequences of SAM for the rest of their life.

Fighting Worsens the Problem

Child hunger in Idlib — and in Syria more widely — is deeply concerning. The issue is compounded by the broader poverty levels and violence that plague the entire country. As a result of the fighting, the majority of  Syrians are internally displaced from their homes.

There is no clear end in sight to the fighting between rebel forces and the Syrian state military. Refugee camps are essentially at capacity and can’t withstand an influx of people if the civil war persists. Additionally, COVID-19 continues to ravage the country, which will likely increase the number of Syrian refugees and displaced persons.

In addition to the housing issue, food scarcity is prevalent in the country. Food options are usually unavailable or unaffordable. As such, many Syrians rely on foreign assistance and aid from NGOs as resources for food.

Aid

There are, however, numerous aid organizations and NGOs working to provide food security and address the growing refugee crisis. They are especially targeting the northwest, where Idlib is located. The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) is an organization working to expand health care access to those who need it. SAMS also provides meals to both children and adults at risk of food insecurity. Yet another part of their work focuses specifically on care for those with Severe Acute Malnutrition.

SAMS fights against child hunger in Idlib and throughout the rest of the country. They report that in 2019, the last year for which data is available, SAMS performed more than 2.5 million medical services for the Syrian population, at no or greatly reduced cost. Since 2011, they have provided more than $207 million worth of aid and medical resources as well.

SAMS and other similar organizations are vital to the survival of millions of Syrians. However, there is still more to be done. The international community must redouble their efforts to provide resources to those displaced and malnourished. Everyone must work to end the violence that has been a constant in the country for so long.

Leo Posel
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in ParaguayParaguay is one of the smallest countries in South America but is still home to more than seven million residents. Many Paraguayans residing in the landlocked region struggle to survive, with nearly 17% of the population living in poverty. The poverty rate is even higher among rural and indigenous communities. As a result, hunger in Paraguay continues to be a significant problem.

The Causes of Hunger: Exports and Inequality

A prominent yet paradoxical cause of hunger in Paraguay is its growing export rates. As the UN reports, “Only 6% of agricultural land is available for domestic food production, whilst 94% is used for export crops.” While the country produces considerable agricultural resources each year, exporters ship most of this produce and livestock overseas and leave very little in the country. This lack of domestic production means that many Paraguayans cannot afford expensive imports. As a result, many must contend with food insecurity and hunger in Paraguay.

To make matters worse, the divide between the wealthy and the working class in Paraguay is drastic. Roughly 3% of the population owns more than 85% of its land and resources. This unequal distribution of land and resources leaves small landowners impoverished and unable to compete, with many turning to urban areas in search of marginal work.

Agricultural Industry

The Paraguayan agricultural industry’s oligarchical nature makes it challenging to reallocate Paraguay’s land and natural resources. The 3% of landowners hold tremendous financial and political influence in the country, making it difficult for the Paraguayan government to reallocate resources or reappropriate land toward domestic production. The extremely wealthy are also only interested in producing a handful of different crops that do well in the global market.

However, this makes Paraguay’s economy and exporting gains very dependent on a temperamental world market. The market’s fluctuations can be particularly tricky and potentially harmful for the underserved and impoverished in the country, who are already struggling to survive. Without much opportunity for social mobility, those threatened by hunger in Paraguay must routinely find cheap alternatives to sustenance. High-quality, nutritious food remains an unaffordable commodity for many Paraguayans.

Hunger and Malnutrition

Poverty leads to food insecurity and malnutrition, two issues symptomatic of hunger in Paraguay. As nutritionist Nadia Quintana notes, “About 15% of Paraguayan children suffer from malnutrition. And that is if you do not count the children from indigenous groups. According to a United Nations estimate, if we include indigenous tribes, more than 45% of Paraguay children are at risk of hunger or malnutrition. But the problem is not lack of food. The problem here is poverty and lack of work and education. And housing is very precarious.”

While instances of undernutrition and starvation are trending downward, malnutrition and obesity rates are rising in Paraguay as poverty forces impoverished citizens to subsist on cheaper, less nutritious foods. These low-nutrient, high-calorie options may be cheap, but they have had an outsized impact on an average Paraguayan’s diet. Residents are in an impossible situation, forced to choose between going hungry or eating foods correlated with increased vulnerability to chronic diseases.

Global Pandemic and Rising Unemployment Rates

The COVID-19 global pandemic has further complicated hunger in Paraguay. While the small Latin American country was one of the first to begin quarantining measures to counteract the March 2020 outbreaks, the nationwide lockdown has crippled many of the country’s workers. Although the country has the fewest coronavirus cases in the region, many of its workers have lost their primary sources of income. The loss of employment means that nearly 60% of the population is without access to any benefits or financial support during the ongoing pandemic.

According to the Guardian, though the government has secured $1.6 billion in pandemic crisis loans, a tiny percentage of Paraguayans have received the promised $76 and food packs. As a result, the dependence on cheap, non-nutritious foods and correlated instances of malnutrition and obesity continue to rise. Rising unemployment rates and lack of federal support will inevitably exacerbate the ever-present issues poverty of hunger in Paraguay.

Indigenous Communities and Hunger in Paraguay

Among the most affected by poverty, pandemic and hunger in Paraguay are indigenous peoples with minimal economic and social resources to combat their current circumstances. Under the lockdown, many are unable to secure food and must rely on communal meals and donations to survive. The Paraguayan government has offered aid but has struggled to deliver it as it has to the rest of its people. Amnesty International has partnered with local initiatives to lobby for sufficient assistance to these indigenous communities waiting and hungry for action.

Moving forward, the Paraguayan government faces an uphill battle in providing its citizens with adequate resources to sustain healthy diets. The government finds itself in a difficult place as it struggles to assist and feed its people amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, especially as its workers are out of jobs. With so much of its economy tied to a small minority of extremely wealthy agricultural exports, Paraguay must find a way to help those who are not part of the top 3%, especially those living in indigenous, underserved and impoverished areas. Though extreme poverty trends downward, malnutrition and obesity will continue to characterize hunger in Paraguay.

Andrew Giang
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Peru
Peru is considered an upper middle-income country and is located in South America. It has a population of around 31 million people. Furthermore, Peru is ranked number 82 on the Human Development Index, meaning that it falls under the “high human development” category. Based on these positive remarks about Peru, most would assume that this country does not face any negative issues. However, when considering one of the most detrimental global issues, what does this information reveal about hunger in Peru?

5 Facts About Hunger in Peru

  1. Peru has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 8.8. The GHI measures countries on four indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. A score of 8.8 means that Peru has a relatively low level of hunger. In fact, all four indicators have decreased from 2000-2019. This is because the proportion of undernourished in the population fell from 21.8% in 2000 to 9.7% in 2019.
  2. The GHI for Peru depicts a steady decrease in food insecurity and hunger for the nation. One of the main explanations for this reduction is Peru’s economic growth, especially in the mining and export sectors. As a result, Peru has seen more social and economic investment that have driven down high levels of hunger and poverty. The World Food Programme was originally providing direct aid and food supply to Peru since 1968. It has currently shifted its involvement to investment in local resources and communities in order to maintain Peru’s economic stability.
  3. However, despite Peru’s economic growth over the years, the country still retains a high level of income inequality and food insecurity. These high levels mostly occurs in rural areas throughout the country. For example, remote, rural areas that rely heavily on agricultural work are incredibly vulnerable to malnutrition and high mortality rates. The Food Security Portal divulges that 38% of people living in these remote areas do receive a proper caloric intake; 18% consists of children who experience chronic undernutrition. Certain parts of Peru may see a decrease in food insecurity. However, this way of life is not the reality for the entire country.
  4. Similarly, many of the rural regions are also plagued by extreme poverty, heightening the hunger problem even more. Specifically, 73% of this rural population does not have access to a clean water source. Additionally, 53% of the population works in the agricultural sector, limiting its ability to build up credit and obtain comprehensive job training. As a result, these citizens have a much harder time receiving consistent, well-paying jobs outside of agriculture. This can affect hunger in Peru for many reasons. These conditions create obstacles for families who need adequate income to buy food while prioritizing shelter, clothing, medical bills, education and more.
  5. When hit with COVID-19, Peru needed to ensure that its citizens were not only quarantining but were quarantining with a healthy lifestyle. Thus, the World Food Programme worked with local communities to improve communal kitchens and grocery stores as food kits for families in need are produced and distributed. Additionally, many chefs and other distinguished members of society created a large social media campaign. Doing this teaches people how to cook healthy meals while being in quarantine.

While hunger in Peru has been steadily declining over the years, the pervasive inequalities between rural and urban areas cannot be ignored. Food insecurity for rural areas largely stems from these intense income inequalities. If these gaps are not remedied, then hunger in Peru may become a bigger issue than before.

Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in the Gambia
The Gambia is a country located in Western Africa near the country of Senegal. Over the past 5 years, The Gambia has been dealing with an increase in food insecurity. This increase is largely due to the 2018 drought which caused a decrease in food production. In 2019, The Gambia only produced 50% of the food supply needed, leaving many to go hungry. As food insecurity continues to rise, from 5% to 8% in recent years, many organizations are stepping in to help decrease hunger in The Gambia.  

The Fight Against Hunger in The Gambia

The World Food Programme (WFP) is an organization that has been committed to helping individuals in The Gambia since 1970. WFP has created a campaign designed to bringing food to households and schools in The Gambia. It is estimated that 10,000 households have been affected by hunger. The main focus is to send money and food to certain areas in The Gambia, specifically households that may need more support during the food crisis. More vulnerable populations include women, persons with disabilities and people suffering from diseases such as HIV. Through the WFP’s school program, the organization has helped 115,000 children throughout primary and pre-schools.

UNICEF, WFP, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) worked with The Gambia’s government in 2017 to launch the ‘Post-Crisis Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia.’ The program aims to help decrease hunger in The Gambia. Not only will it help to fund and bring food to the country, but it also aims to help farmers produce sustainable agriculture.

Malnutrition in The Gambia

Malnutrition largely affects individuals in rural areas of The Gambia. Underfunding, lack of resources, such as foods high in vitamins, and limited knowledge of nutrition are all factors in the problem of malnutrition. Though malnutrition in children has decreased from 23% in 2010 to 19% in 2018, there is still more work to be done. In 2016 UNICEF worked closely with The Gambia’s government to help address malnutrition. UNICEF is urging the officials to have better funding within the healthcare system in regard to nutrition.

Small Victories

The ‘Post-Crisis Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia’ was also able to donate nearly 3,000 metric tons of nutritious foods, in the hopes of bringing down malnutrition rates. The European Commission has also funded additional programs that not only help supply nutritional food resources, but also educational promotions about nutrition as it relates to infant and child feeding. These programs help to bring resources to rural areas of The Gambia while also informing youth about how to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition.

Over the past few years, The Gambia has been facing increased food insecurity. Providing resources to the public on malnutrition and hunger is more important than ever, as 48% of Gambians are still living in poverty. Programs such as the ones organized by UNICEF and WFP are working to decrease hunger in the coming years. 

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

 

Hunger in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has experienced notable progress in several developmental areas. The country has achieved improvements to primary education, a reduction in childbirth rate and decreasing poverty levels. However, food insecurity remains a consistent problem. Hunger in Sri Lanka is a major obstacle to the nation’s socio-economic development. According to the
2019 Global Hunger Index, Sri Lanka scores 17.1, ranking 66 among 117 qualifying countries.

The Numbers

According to a UN report, more than 800 million people worldwide were estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017. Over 90 million children under five are underweight. Sri Lanka ranked poorly on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) and global food security index, two major indicators of food security in any country. Food and Agriculture Organization report from 2014 to 2016 found an average calorie deficit in Sri Lanka of 192 kcal per capita per day. In South Asia, only Afghanistan (36.6%) and Pakistan (30.5%) had higher rates of food inadequacy.

A study by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) revealed that more than 13% of minors in Sri Lanka were malnourished between the period of 2006-2010. The survey found that 23% of children between six and 59 months of age were stunted, 18% wasted and 29% underweight.

AHRC also found that remote and underdeveloped areas suffer more from hunger than larger cities. Although Sri Lanka has moderate percentages of food accessibility (54.5%), availability (52.8%), quality and safety (49.5 %), it is still struggling to achieve the United Nation’s goal for zero hunger by 2030.

Causes of Persistent Hunger

A food-insecure family lacks access to an optimum quantity of affordable and nutritious food. The immediate and obvious impact of food insecurity can be observed in physical health. Children struggle to concentrate in school and adults find it hard to perform well in their job. The household hunger scale (HHS) measures food insecurity in Sri Lanka on the basis of three factors: lacking access to food, sleeping hungry because of not having enough to eat and household members spending the whole day and night without eating anything.

There are several drivers behind hunger in Sri Lanka. Stagnant growth in crops in recent years has created a shortage of essential food. As the population continues to grow, this problem worsens. Furthermore, 35% of crops end up being wasted, never reaching hungry people. Rising food prices are also a concern in Sri Lanka. Changes in import duties and non-tariff barriers have caused increases in food prices as well.

Unemployment is also a major factor behind food insecurity and hunger in Sri Lanka. Many families have one or more members unemployed. One report shows that around 30% of the households depend on casual wage labor for their livelihood and food security. Around 90% percent of households in the city of Jaffna and 75% in the Vavuniya District were unemployed around 2012.

Initiatives to Address Hunger

Agriculture is one of the key ways to combat hunger and malnutrition. Different policies are intended to help fulfill Sri Lanka’s food requirement, including the National Climate Change Policy and the National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change Impact. A climate-smart agriculture system is working on increasing climate-resilient crops, rainwater harvesting, crop diversification and use of technology.

Under the National Nutrition Policy, every Sri Lankan citizen has the right to access adequate and appropriate food — irrespective of geographical location or socio-economic status. In addition to these efforts, global agencies like the World Food Program are working to combat hunger in Sri Lanka. UNICEF is also working to improve child and maternal nutrition.

Additional Ways to Combat Hunger

Socially vulnerable groups — like the elderly or female-headed families — are more prone to food insecurity. Sri Lanka’s government and other organizations should supply food vouchers to these vulnerable groups.

Because livestock production in Sri Lanka offers vast opportunity, the government should also encourage training and veterinary services to promote livestock production. In addition to this, privatizing the fish industry could help generate employment.

 

Moving forward, the government and other humanitarian organizations need to make reducing hunger in Sri Lanka a priority. Policies like the ones listed above are crucial for reaching the U.N.’s goal of zero hunger.

– Anuja Kumari
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in GuyanaGuyana is a country located on the northeast corner of South America. Due to economic growth and increased agricultural productivity, hunger in Guyana has dropped by almost 50%. Though food availability is not a problem, making food accessible to the rural and remote populations remains a challenge. Here are five facts about hunger in Guyana.

5 Facts About Hunger in Guyana

  1. Between 50,000 and 60,000 Guyanese suffer from undernourishment. Though about 21% of the Guyanese population suffered from malnourishment in previous decades, that number was reduced to less than 10% in 2015. The Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder said that by 2050 Guyana’s agricultural sector would need to produce 50% more food than in 2012 to counter this. Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture is working to increase investments to help improve Guyana’s agricultural capacity.
  2. Guyana met an internationally established target in the fight against hunger. Guyana halved the number of malnourished people between 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, being one of 38 countries to do so. In 2008, around 6% of children under the age of 5 suffered from mild to moderate malnutrition. This was down from 11.8% in 1997. In June 2013, Guyana was honored at an award ceremony in Rome held by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for reducing the number of people facing hunger in the country.
  3. Raising agricultural productivity helps counter hunger. Over 70% of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This means that if agricultural productivity increases, access to food may improve. Campaigns such as the Grow More Food Campaign, the Basic Nutrition Programme and the National School Feeding Programme assist in increasing access to food in Guyana.
  4. Climate change exacerbates hunger in Guyana. Higher temperatures cause a decline in crop yields, which threatens food security and contributes to malnutrition. Since much of Guyana’s population depends on increased agricultural productivity, this is a serious risk for the Guyanese. Guyana’s Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2002 projected an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations. They are projected to double between 2020 and 2040 and triple between 2080 and 2100. Temperature is also projected to increase by 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1995 levels during the first half of the 21st century.
  5. The U.N. is attempting to counter the harm posed to hunger due to changing weather patterns. The FAO has assisted the Guyanese government in developing a plan for risk management in the agricultural sector. Similarly, the Guyanese government plans to create opportunities for carbon mitigation through carbon sequestration and biofuel production. This will aim to lessen the effects of climate change and expand agricultural production.

Though Guyana is not devoid of malnutrition, hunger has been and can be reduced. Ensuring that the Guyanese population has ample access to food, as well as increasing agricultural productivity, can help lessen the number of people who suffer from malnutrition. The U.N. is working to assist Guyana and their support can be a good first step to help lessen hunger in Guyana.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Myanmar
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a nation with a diverse population of approximately 53 million people of at least 135 different ethnic groups. While it is the second-largest country in Southeast Asia, Myanmar remains one of the least developed nations in the world.

Progress in the fight against hunger in Myanmar

The country of Myanmar has made significant progress in the fight against hunger in the past few decades. The rate of under-five overweight children fell from 2.6% in 2009 to 1.5% in 2016. Myanmar’s low birth-weight prevalence also decreased slightly from 13.9% in 2000 to 12.3% in 2015.

The proportion of undernourished people in the population also declined remarkably. In 2019, around 1 in 10 Burmese were undernourished, which shows significant progress compared to 2000 where almost half of the population was undernourished.

Myanmar is also performing well among developing countries in reducing wasting in children. Wasting in children means having a low weight for height ratio, which is a strong predictor of under-five child mortality. Compared to the average developing country rate at 8.9%, Myanmar’s national under-five wasting prevalence stood at 6.6%.

Despite these achievements, more than a third of Myanmar’s population who live in poverty spend a significant amount of their limited income on food, and they are still struggling with malnutrition.

Malnutrition burden

Malnutrition among the under-five population is a serious factor when it comes to the state of hunger in Myanmar, as it hinders the children’s growth and development. This issue also exposes these children to various illnesses.

Approximately 29.4% of the children under five were stunted in 2016. While this percentage is indeed an improvement from the national prevalence of 35.1% in 2009, it is still significantly high when compared to an average of 25% in other developing countries. In some states or regions, the prevalence could be upwards of 41%, indicating that 4 in 10 children will not be able to reach their full potential in life.

Malnutrition also disproportionately affects children from the poorest households. While the rate of stunting in children from the wealthiest group is 16%, the rate is more than doubled for the poorest group of children, with 38% of them stunted.

Malnutrition due to poor diets not only negatively affects the children, but is also a great burden to the adult population in Myanmar. A staggering 46.3% of women of reproductive age have anemia, while 7.9% of adult women and 6.9% of adult men are diabetic. Meanwhile, 4% of men and 7.3% of women are obese, leaving them at risk of different cardiovascular diseases and other serious health consequences.

Rohingya crisis

The Rohingya people are among those who are the most at risk of poverty and hunger in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddist nation. The Rohingya population, a large majority of whom are Muslims, has long been experiencing discrimination, restrictions from basic services and denial of citizenship by local authorities despite condemnation from the international community.

In 2017, after attacks from the Rohingya insurgents killed several members of Myanmar security forces, the Myanmar military ferociously retaliated by massacring and destroying villages in the western Rakhine state. This forced nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. After the army crackdown, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that more than 80,000 children under 5 years old living in parts of western Myanmar were wasting and may need treatment for malnutrition.

Withholding food supply or forced starvation are other strategies being used against the Rohingya Muslims to drive them away from their homes. The Rohingya refugees interviewed by Amnesty International reported that soldiers blocked them from accessing rice paddies and other food resources, stole their harvests, and gave their food and livestock to non-Rohingya neighbors. Sometimes they would have to go for several days without food.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have been displaced due to violence in previous years must live in makeshift shelters with appalling living conditions and under direct threat of dangers caused by monsoon rains. Surveys show that 38% of children living in these camps are stunted, and at least 12% are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Assistance from the international community

High exposure to natural disasters, armed conflicts or inter-communal clashes are just some of the numerous challenges that Myanmar faces. These factors combined leave a large proportion of Myanmar’s population suffering from poverty and hunger. It is estimated that nearly 1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since 1994, Action Against Hunger has worked to fight hunger in Myanmar by improving nutrition, food security, water quality, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities where ethnic minorities reside. In 2018, the organization’s nutrition and health programs reached 26,751 people. Another 19,461 people benefited from the water, sanitation, and hygiene programs, while 23,790 people were helped by the food security and livelihood programs. In just 2018 alone, Action Against Hunger has reached 76,312 in vulnerable communities across Myanmar.

The organization also works to respond to the urgent needs of the displaced Rohingya people who fled from violence in Myanmar. In just one year, Action Against Hunger has helped more than 700,000 displaced people with food security and livelihoods, mental support and care practices, water quality and access, and hygiene and sanitation.

 

Despite the challenges, Myanmar has achieved the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger and reached the status of a lower-middle-income country in the past decades. Many organizations are working hard alongside the government to alleviate poverty and hunger in Myanmar. However, with the conflicts between Myanmar’s authorities and the Rohingya Muslims remains ongoing inside the nation, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Six Facts about Hunger in TanzaniaHunger is a worldwide issue that claims the lives of 25,000 people every single day. Lack of access to food, inflation of food cost and food security are just a few things that continue to make hunger a global issue. In Tanzania, there are 14 million citizens considered poor, and 26.4% living in poverty. In 2014, there were approximately 5 million people who were food insecure and that number is expected to almost triple by 2024. With this many people living in poverty, going hungry is sometimes the only option. To better understand this crisis, here are six facts about hunger in Tanzania:

6 Facts About Hunger in Tanzania

  1. The lack of access to food is the biggest issue of hunger in Tanzania. In 2015, it was reported that more than 40% of citizens experience a shortage of food. These shortages happen for several reasons including drought, insufficient farming tools and poor soil. In Tanzania, 80% of their population lives in more rural areas. These areas are impacted the most because they rely so much on rain to fuel agriculture.
  2. Tanzania has what it calls a hunger season. This consists of the months from June to October where rainfall is essentially non-existent. Dr. Borda is a woman who lived in Tanzania for nearly 30 years. She says, “When the rains are late or excessive, the harvest fails . . . People here can really suffer from hunger at any time of the year — but especially in July, August and September.” During this dry spell, families often run out of food entirely. One-third of children under the age of five die because of malnutrition, a common result of this hunger season.
  3. In November of 2019, the price of food in Tanzania had inflated 6.7% from just 2% in 2018. Dr. Phillip Mpango, a Minister of Finance and Planning, says the increase is in connection with “transport challenges, marketing infrastructure, warehousing and the supply chain of food products in certain areas.” He also states that neighboring countries who are experiencing food shortages too have become the main destination for Tanzanian exports. Therefore, the cost of food becomes inflated.
  4. Stunting, caused by extreme hunger, is an outcome many children battle. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is defined as “the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.” In Tanzania, stunting affects 34% of children today. Luckily, Tanzania has begun taking steps to address child hunger. These have included collecting data from inside the home, making nutritional information widely available and educating health officials on how to better teach patients and their families.
  5. Along with stunting, malnourishment is another danger for children. Children who are malnourished not only face the physical consequences but also mental consequences. Studies show that malnourishment can weaken a child’s capacity to learn, increase instances of anxiety, lowers their IQ’s and increases troubles socializing for children.
  6. Food security is heavily correlated with sufficient food nutrition and consumption in Tanzania. Unfortunately, food security is low. According to the United Nations World Food Program, a mere 15% of families living in rural areas are food insecure, and another 15% are at great risk of becoming food insecure. Some reasons for the high food insecurity rate can be linked to poor economic growth, lack of education and minimal health care.

Resolutions

Despite these challenges faced by Tanzania, measures have been put in place to help mitigate some of these problems. One such solution is Plumpy’Nut which was invented by a French doctor for the treatment of malnourishment in babies and young children. This product is a peanut butter paste which includes other ingredients such as dried milk, oil, sugar as well as minerals and vitamins necessary for growth. Plumpy’Nut is easily accessible to families living in poverty as it does not require water or heat to cook it.

One organization that is doing its part to reduce hunger in Tanzania is Action Against Hunger. This NGO is a part of a 2016-2021 plan, called National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP) that aims to reduce malnourishment. They have partnered with the local governments and have been able to train healthcare workers and providers. They also providing the technical support necessary to screen and treat children suffering from malnourishment.

Although Tanzania is not out of the woods yet, they are finally receiving much needed aid at fighting hunger and saving lives.

– Stacey Krzych
Photo: Flickr

hunger in IndiaIndia has a constantly growing population of more than 1.3 billion. While its economy is booming, its unequal wealth distribution has created an issue for a large portion of the population. Over the past few decades, hunger in India has remained a prevalent issue for the population.

Undernourishment in India

Almost 195 million people (15% of the population) in India are undernourished. Undernourishment means that people are not able to supply their bodies with enough energy through their diet. In the 1990s, 190 million people in India were undernourished. That number remains the same today. Lack of proper diet leads to stunted growth for children; in India, 37.9% of children under the age of five experience stunted growth due to undernourishment.

Malnutrition in India

Malnutrition is one of the bigger implications of the overarching problems India has to deal with: a wide range of hunger, extreme cases of poverty, overpopulation and continually increasing population, a poor health system, and inaccurate national statistics due to the aforementioned overpopulation.

According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, India will not reach the minimum nutritional goals by 2025 set by the World Health Organization. With 46.6 million children stunted in growth, India “bears 23.8% of the global burden of malnutrition.” These goals include “reducing child overweight, wasting and stunting, diabetes among women and men, anemia in women of reproductive age and obesity among women and men, and increasing exclusive breastfeeding.”

Action Against Hunger

As a result of all these issues, there are organizations that are trying to help India in its pursuit to provide food to all. Action Against Hunger raises money through donations and uses these funds to provide sustainable food for impoverished areas of the world. For 40 years, they have been operating worldwide and have helped 21 million people in just the past year.

Action Against Hunger facilitates field testing and train small-scale farmers in sustainable practices. Additionally, the organization provides clean water to communities and helps populations in times of natural disasters or other conflicts.

Action Against Hunger launched its program in India in 2010. With a team of 144 workers, they helped over 75,000 people in just the last year. Much of their work has caught the attention of state governments. For example, they have partnered with the Indian state of Chhattisgarh to “offer technical support in the fight against malnutrition,” and plan to do so with other states as well. In Rajasthan, the organization executed the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition program. As a result, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand recognized the organization for its advocacy efforts.

Moving Forward

While India may not reach the WHO goals in five years, progress continues to spread across the country. Each year, India is reducing the number of people who are malnourished. Organizations such as Action Against Hunger partnering up with local and state governments are the first step in helping pave the way for a hunger-free India.

– Shreya Chari 

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Costa RicaCosta Rica, officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica, is a Central American country located just south of Nicaragua. Over the past decade, many Central American countries, including Costa Rica, have had struggles with malnourishment. Hunger in Costa Rica was a national issue between 2011-2013. According to a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly 8.2 percent of the population of Costa Rica was “chronically malnourished.”

Poverty in Costa Rica

Costa Rica does not have a problem producing food. When there are foods it cannot produce they are imported. Costa Rica’s food problem is that citizens cannot afford the food they need. Estimates placed the unemployment rate at 18 percent, a bad mix with the fact that Costa Rica already has a high cost of living due to its location.

However, by 2017, there had been massive improvements and reductions in hunger in Costa Rica. The International Food Policy Research Institute found that by 2016, Costa Rica has already reduced its proportion of undernourished citizens to just 3.8 percent.

As mentioned before, the economy was the biggest factor that contributed to hunger in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has focused on building its economy over the past five years. In fact, Costa Rica has grown its economy by 3.5 percent annually at that time.

Increasing Business

One of the ways its economy has grown is to make the business environment more attractive. Costa Rica has reduced its licensing requirements, which will take away some of the hurdles for new business owners. Costa Rica has also focused on growing its trade market. Exports and imports together make up about 72 percent of GDP. The majority of these exports are bananas, coffee and sugar.

Although increasing the economy has helped reduce hunger, a new type of malnourishment is becoming a problem: obesity. Almost a quarter of the adult population is obese, and more than 60.4 percent of people are deemed overweight. Even the adolescent population is suffering from obesity: 8.1 percent of children under five are overweight.

Many Costa Ricans do not view obesity as a problem because being bigger is seen as “normal”. There is a term used called “gordita.” A gordita is a type of Mexican pastry, and the word is used as a slang term used affectionately for someone who is overweight. Costa Rica, as well as the rest of Central America, has a growing problem with obesity. Just like its struggles with hunger, the country will find a solution to this rising problem.

Scott Kesselring
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