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
Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in ChinaAs the second-largest economy globally and home to 4.5 million millionaires, it is not difficult to forget about the poverty-stricken groups and hunger in China. The government estimates that at least 30 million Chinese are still living under the poverty line, struggling to secure a livelihood.

Natural Disasters

China is among the most disaster-prone countries, with drought and flooding being regular occurrences. With more than 186 million exposed to the effects of these natural disasters, the country’s potential grain output reduces to about 20 million tons annually. The expansion of agricultural activities into areas prone to disasters and with poor maintenance of water conservation systems further exacerbates the vulnerability.

Hunger in China

In 2016, 8.7 percent of the population was undernourished, which is half of the number that was undernourished in 2000. While this is indeed a significant reduction and commendable achievement, there is still an abundance of hunger in China. There are still more than 100 million malnourished Chinese, the majority of those people living in rural locations.

A poor diet leads to a high rate of growth stunting in children (9.4 percent). Additionally, anemia in children occurs at a rate of 19.6 percent. These qualifiers of hunger in China pose significant burdens for 1.4 million citizens.

Furthermore, a study of 1,800 infants in a north-west province in China found that almost half were anemic and 40 percent had hampered developmental cognitive or motor functions. Fewer than 10 percent of the infants in the study experienced stunting or wasting, signifying that the problem in most cases was the lack of nutrients rather than calories. Undernutrition hinders educational achievement and productivity, which would lead to significant economic losses both nationally and globally.

The Government’s Hunger Alleviation Strategy

The rate of malnutrition has pressed the Chinese government to act. The state has provided subsidies for school lunches in efforts to provide a solution to children that experience hunger in China. These subsidies have fed about 23 million children in 680 poorest counties. It also provides nutritional supplements for hundreds of thousands of babies in the country.

The most prioritized strategy to reduce hunger in China is poverty alleviation. Among the initiatives that China has taken, massive agricultural development with land reforms contributed significantly to the successful alleviation of hunger in China. Several key policy reforms and investments have helped stimulate the productivity of farmers, such as the abolition of agricultural taxes, subsidies for farmers, or lifting the sale and purchase of grains. Over the last decade, milk production more than tripled, meat production rose by 30 percent and vegetables and fruits production increased by nearly 60 percent. The increased availability of food in addition to higher income has led to improved nutrition in the population. The prevalence of stunting in children under 5 years of age dropped significantly, from 30 percent in 1990 to about 9 percent in 2015.

With its commitment to alleviate poverty and hunger, China has remarkably improved citizen quality of life. China is now self-reliant with respect to its national food supply. Additionally, a quarter of global food production comes from China. While the government is on a path to achieving food security for the entire population and eradicating hunger in China, efforts should also aim to secure an adequate supply of vital nutrients to reduce the problem of anemia in children.

Since the focus of fighting poverty with reforms and policy more than four decades ago, China has achieved unprecedented success. The government has transformed from a struggling nation to the second-largest economy in the world. By doing so, China successfully lifted millions out of hunger and cut the global hunger rate by two thirds. It is the first developing country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger. If China maintains the current pace, it is possible the nation will become the first country to entirely eradicate poverty and hunger.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Food for Education is Feeding Kenyan Schoolchildren
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Africa has the highest rising rates of hunger in the world. In Eastern Africa, where Kenya is located, almost a third of the population is said to be undernourished. Additionally, 40 percent of the world’s stunted children live in Africa. Luckily, Food for Education is feeding Kenyan schoolchildren to help solve the problem.

Food for Education

Wawira Njiru founded Food for Education in 2012 to provide nutritious, subsidized meals to children in Kenyan primary schools. When she began, Njiru only fed 25 children from Ruiru Primary School. Now, her organization has provided over 500,000 meals to more than 10,000 children across 11 different primary schools. Food for Education has four head chefs and eight assistant chefs who prepare food. The organization delivers the food to the 11 partner schools by lunchtime. Parents pay $0.15 for the lunches using mobile money, which then credits into a virtual wallet. The wallet links to a smart wristband that students wear that they then use to pay for their meals.

Effects of Hunger on Students

Food for Education is feeding Kenyan schoolchildren and this is important because hunger affects both the physical and mental development of children. Estimates determine that 23 million children go to school without anything to eat in Kenya. Chronic undernutrition impacts one in four children, stunting their growth. Children who are hungry fall behind in classes because they have trouble learning and paying attention. The child may also fall behind in class as a result of missing classes to help their family put food on the table. In addition, they are also more likely to have behavioral problems. All of these challenges may result in the child having to repeat a grade, which contributes to the family’s financial strain. In the long run, it affects the child’s productivity and future economic potential.

There has been a positive impact since Food for Education began its work feeding Kenyan schoolchildren. The organization reports that other than the improved nutrition for the children, there has been an improvement in school attendance, school performance and the transition rates from primary to high school. The U.N. deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, at a school visit by Food for Education, noted that stunted growth costs Africa $25 billion annually. Therefore, the work that Njiru and her organization does is helping lift people out of poverty.

The Benefit to the Community

Food for Education does not only benefit the student, it also feeds the community around them. For example, the organization utilizes food sourced from local farmers. Njiru also makes an effort to only hire locals. The 35 employees who help her meet her goal are all from the Ruiru community. This is important because it enables the members of that community to earn an income and support themselves.

Food for Education efforts are helping Kenyan children receive an education without worrying about a lack of stable access to food. In fact, Njiru’s contribution has not gone unnoticed. In 2018, she was the first recipient of the Global Citizen Prize, Cisco Youth Leadership Award. Among other things, the award came with a cash prize of $250,000 which has significantly helped boost the organization. She hopes that she can one day scale up from 10,000 meals a day to providing one million meals a day.

Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Flickr