Malnutrition in Cameroon
Despite relative peace and political stability in Cameroon, it remains a country plagued by food shortages and malnutrition.

The Problem

Cameroon is home to 23.7 million people, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Poverty is concentrated in four regions —  the Far North, the North, Adamaoua and the East. These same regions are those most severely impacted by food insecurity. In fact, OCHA (the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) reported a 189 percent increase in food insecurity between 2013 and 2016 and stated that 2.6 million people in Cameroon were food insecure in 2017.

In April 2018, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that that number has risen to 3.9 million, 2.5 million of whom are living in one of the four aforementioned regions. In other words, 36.7 percent of the population in these four regions is food insecure.

Cameroon’s harsh climate makes growing crops extremely challenging. In the North, between 25 and 30 percent of the land is completely barren and unsuitable for cultivation. Furthermore, the dry season is long, during which severe water shortages are widespread and, when rain does come, ruinous floods become common.

Refugees and IDPs in Cameroon

The relative peace and stability of Cameroon make it attractive to refugees fleeing danger and violence in neighboring countries. Namely, refugees emanate from Chad (to the North/Northeast of Cameroon), Nigeria (to the North/Northwest) and the Central African Republic or C.A.R. (to the East).

At the end of 2017, the UNHCR (the U.N.’s Refugee Agency) reported that over 85,000 Nigerian refugees lived in the Far North region of Cameroon and about 231,000 refugees from C.A.R lived in the North, Adamaoua and East regions. Such dramatic population influxes take a severe toll on the already limited food supply of Cameroon.

In addition, Boko Haram — the major cause of most Nigerian refugees fleeing for Cameroon — has been active along the Nigerian-Cameroonian border; so, along with forcing Nigerians to flee violence and resettle in the Far North of Cameroon, Boko Haram violence also forces local Cameroonians from the Far North to flee south into the North and Adamaoua regions.

These internal Cameroonian refugees are officially referred to as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Between 2014 and 2015, over 70 percent of farmers in the Far North region, fleeing Boko Haram violence or over-crowding caused by the influx of refugees, deserted their land to move elsewhere to a less crowded area.

However, rather than lessen the pressure placed on the already scarce food resources of the Far North, IDPs abandoning their farms only increases it, for much viable land is now not being farmed. As a result, the production of cereal crops, the main staple food of the region, was down over 50 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Efforts to Help & Reasons for Hope

The WFP is committed to helping achieve the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) goal number two and to helping end hunger and malnutrition in Cameroon. To accomplish this, the organization chose to target the four above-named regions most impacted by food shortages and malnutrition in Cameroon.

Regional violence — such as that caused by Boko Haram — makes delivering food especially difficult, but the WFP has remained committed to helping in Cameroon nonetheless. The organization continues to raise money and increase the amount of food and nutritional supplies being sent to refugee camps. Furthermore, the WFP runs a supplementary feeding program that specifically targets childhood nutrition, as an estimated 31 percent of all children in Cameroon between the ages of six months and five years are chronically malnourished.

Despite continued challenges, the impact of WFP shows reasons for hope. In April of this year alone, the WFP helped over 292,000 people in Cameroon. Almost 75,000 CAR refugees living in East, Adamaoua and North regions, 47,500 Nigerian refugees and almost 17,000 Cameroonian IDPs in the Far North region received food rations or cash transfers from WFP.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Hunger Crisis in Venezuela
On May 20th the current President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, was re-elected for a second term in office amid a highly controversial election; in fact, one of the largest controversies was food. The country currently experiences one of the worst economic crises in recent history.

Hunger in Venezuela

Soaring prices and mass shortages of basic goods have left grocery shelves empty and most of the country hungry. According to surveys done by Caritas Venezuela, the Catholic church’s aid agency, 46 percent of Venezuelan’s eat less than three meals a day and 14.5 percent of children under five suffer from acute malnutrition.

Rather than finding solutions to fix the hunger crisis in Venezuela, Maduro exploited it to secure votes in the election alongside a multitude of other autocratic measures. While this creates a dismal outlook for the state, there are still many within the country working to alleviate this issue for everyone.

Coercive Elections

The dependency on the despondent economic conditions caused many people to rely on government-subsidized groceries to survive. In order to receive these subsidies, recipients must present a special identity card to local councils loyal to Maduro that hand them out. They were also told they must also present this card on election day at polling stations run by Maduro’s party as a check to see who has voted.

At campaign rallies Maduro made the expectation behind this measure quite explicit: “Everyone who has this card must vote…I give and you give.” This falls in place alongside the refusal of the government to accept humanitarian aid to amend the hunger crisis in Venezuela— with some political analysts suspecting this move as a way for Maduro to maintain control over the population.

Standing Strong

However, many did not give into this manipulation. Around the country, voter turnout was extremely low, at 46 percent compared to an 80 percent turnout rate in the 2013 election. This trend reflects both a call for the boycott of the election from opposition leaders alongside overall apathy in the electoral process.

Many more have fled in the wake of the election results, on top of the 1.5 million that have left since the economic crisis began in 2014. Besides refusing to recognize the election results, the United States is working to support those that have fled through earmarking an aggregate $16 million over 2018 in funding towards countries in Latin American and the Caribbean that have supported the influx of Venezuelan refugees.

Cooperatives of Social Services of Lara State

The efforts of those remaining within the country, such as the Cooperatives of Social Services of Lara State (CECOSESOLA), illuminate who is truly giving to Venezuela’s development. Originally founded in 1967, CECOSESOLA today is a non-hierarchical network of over 50 cooperatives and grassroots organizations of about 20,000 members in the Venezuelan state of Lara.

The collaboration offers a range of important amenities such as healthcare, community-backed loans, funeral services and an alternate supply chain for food. Its food distribution service in particular extends to five states within the country and offers savings of 30-50 percent compared to market value of most goods.

CECOSESOLA have stepped up even further in response to the current hunger crisis in Venezuela. In 2014, the group would see 40,000 people at their weekly Family Consumer Fairs; today, that number has increased to 150,000. Accordingly, CECOSESOLA has worked to increase the number of perishable products they distribute weekly from 500 to 800 tons. In order to meet such demand, over 300 cooperative workers (in total) facilitate these fairs Thursday-Sunday, with days sometimes as long as 14 hours.

Forces of Change

The moving force behind CECOSESOLA’s dedicated efforts to the public are illuminated by interviews conducted between 2012 and 2013 of Gustavo Salas, a CECOSESOLA member of over 40 years and active food market participant: “We cannot treat our counterparts like things that we want to profit from. We must perceive the entire person. In order to do that, we need transparency, honesty, and responsibility. They are the basis for trust, and that is fundamental. Because trust is the foundation for what we call ‘collective energy.’…That is why we say that our process is limitless. We show that is it possible to relate to other people in a different way.”

CECOSESOLA holding together against all odds makes the process truly seem limitless. Between the devastation from the economic crisis, the government’s refusal to accept outside aid, and the most recent election fiasco is setting Venezuela down a trajectory towards becoming a failed state.

The success of CECOSESOLA demonstrates that perhaps the country is not as close to complete economic and social collapse at the grasp of Maduro’s unchecked self-indulgence as it may seem. It’s paving another road where it is indeed “possible to relate to other people in a different way.” The small victories of collective self-sufficiency are combating the hunger crisis in Venezuela and putting the country back into the hands of its people.

– Emily Bender
Photo: Flickr

How many people are starving around the world?In the U.S., it is not uncommon to hear the all-too-familiar phrase about “the starving children in Africa” who would “love to have that food you are wasting!” Seemingly daily reminders of a how many people are starving around the world permeate Western society, whether through billboards, commercials, requests to donate to X or Y charity at the grocery checkout or homeless people begging at stoplights.

Despite all these reminders, the U.S. ranks lower than the average developed country in the Commitment to Development Index. Designed by the Center for Global Development (CDG), the Commitment to Development Index measures developed countries’ contributions to providing necessary aid in seven fields: aid, finance, technology, environment, trade, security and migration. Out of the 27 countries measured, the U.S. ranks twenty-third overall.

In the meantime, approximately 793 million people are starving around the world, according to the U.N. That makes up about 11 percent of the population. Of the 793 million, more than 100 million suffer from severe malnutrition and risk starving to death. Of the 793 million, 780 million, or 98 percent, inhabit developing countries. One million children under the age of five die from malnourishment each year, comprising 45 percent of all child deaths up to age five.

A person living comfortably in a developed country may find it difficult to address issues like global poverty or think about how many people are starving around the world. Though not necessarily intentional, this lack of awareness leads to inaction. When local political figures do not hear anything from the people they represent on certain issues, they focus on addressing other topics about which people seem to care more. As a result, bills regarding hunger do not get passed, people do not volunteer their energy and nothing gets done about global poverty.

Considering how many people are starving around the world today, people in developed countries must take action, even just by calling or emailing their political representatives about addressing global poverty. Though it seems like an insurmountable task, enough mobilization beginning at the individual level can help to eradicate poverty once and for all.

– Francesca Colella

Photo: Flickr

top 10 hunger quotesGlobally, around 795 million people lack access to adequate food resources. This equates to approximately one in nine hungry humans who do not have enough to eat. As these quotes about hunger will illustrate, hunger and malnutrition are self-perpetuating issues that affect a person’s mental ability, health, work and productivity. They constitute the world’s greatest public health risk, more pressing than AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

The good news is that hunger is preventable; the earth produces more than enough food to provide for all of its citizens. The problem lies in food access and apathy from developed nations. Solving world hunger involves investing in smallholder family farmers, healthcare, financial services and increasing women’s access to resources. The following are 10 of the greatest, most thought-provoking quotes about hunger that bring various perspectives to this complex issue.

  1. “If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger.” –Buzz Aldrin
  2. “It is an eternal obligation toward the human being not to let him suffer from hunger when one has a chance of coming to his assistance.” –Simone Weil
  3. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
  4. “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” –Mahatma Gandhi
  5. “We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.” –Jimmy Carter
  6. “The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation.” –John F. Kennedy
  7. “Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” –Anne Frank
  8. “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” –Mother Teresa
  9. “It is important for people to realize that we can make progress against world hunger, that world hunger is not hopeless. The worst enemy is apathy.” –Reverend David Beckmann
  10. “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. This is how prayer works.” –Pope Francis

For anyone moved by these quotes about hunger, there are many ways for individuals to get involved. Advocacy is essential, and contacting representatives is an easy and effective means of citizen involvement. Supporting hunger initiatives and awareness over social media is another simple option. On a local level, communities can provide meals for the hungry among them.

In the last 26 years, the number of hungry people worldwide has fallen by 216 million. With enough public determination, this amount will continue to drop until no one in the world goes to bed hungry.

– Anna Parker

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in East TimorThe situation in Timor Leste (East Timor) has been characterized by war and oppression for decades. In 1975, after Portuguese colonialism finally abdicated control of the region, there began a brutal war between the people of Timor Leste and neighboring Indonesia.

The war resulted in a 24-year Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste, and a cumulative death toll of 200,000 people – nearly one-quarter of the current population. Throughout the country’s occupation, there were guerilla movements working to remove Indonesia from power. However, the final decision to leave Timor Leste to its own devices came after a change of leadership occurred in Indonesia and U.N. intervention.

The Timorese voted for independence in 1999 – the result was a 78 percent majority. Unfortunately, the vote was far from respected. Those who did not wish to be independent of Indonesia instigated yet another insurgency against the majority of Timorese, necessitating more direct United Nations involvement. Finally, in 2002, after two years of U.N. Peacekeeping presence, full independence was attained.

However sweet this victory may have been, it did little to alleviate the problems of poverty, malnutrition and hunger in East Timor. Hunger is arguably the country’s most urgent problem. It affects nearly 100 percent of the population.

In 2010, 57.7 percent of children under the age five were classified as stunting, a term used to describe the condition of weighing too little for your height. Other indicators of malnutrition, such as wasting and generally being underweight, are prevalent, indicating that the situation is dire.

One of the many organizations working to mitigate the effects of hunger in East Timor is Oxfam Australia. The work they do is primarily aimed at educating the public, generally women and children, about the effects of malnutrition and specific ways to increase their family’s consumption of important nutrients.

In classes which they term “supplementary feeding courses,” they demonstrate how to cook nutritious meals, process fresh food so it lasts longer and which ingredients have the highest protein content.

This program, coupled with the organization’s efforts to work with local farmers on improving agricultural yields for their farming cooperatives, has been a formidable attempt to arm Timorese communities with life-saving nutritional and agricultural knowledge.

-Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr

 

Hunger in BarbadosBarbados is an eastern Caribbean island that, along with other Caribbean nations, has faced problems with malnourishment. Hunger in Barbados and other Caribbean countries was a major issue between 1990 and 1992, when there were an estimated 8.1 million malnourished citizens in these countries.

However, by 2016, that number decreased to 7.5 million, improving by 7.4 percent. Barbados is also one of the leaders in the Caribbean when it comes to ending malnourishment. Barbados, along with Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met the global hunger target set at the World Food Summit in 1996. Hunger in Barbados is nearly gone; the estimated rate of malnourishment in Barbados is less than 5 percent.

Barbados has taken great steps towards ending hunger; however, Barbados has a new problem: childhood obesity. At the National Committee Monitoring the Rights of the Child, Consultant Pediatrician from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Professor Anne St. John gave a speech. She praised Barbados for conquering malnutrition and the illnesses that go along with it, but then said, “now we have gone from under-feeding to overeating, and obesity is a form of malnutrition.”

Dr. St. John also explained that the average Barbadian is now eating 400 more calories a day than they were just 30 years earlier. According to a 2005 study, about 27 percent of students in primary school are obese, which could be a result of these extra calories that mostly come from fat and snacks. Dr. St. John believes that cultural practices and traditions may be a contributing factor to this weight gain in adolescents. She says that some parents claim their child is a picky eater, but some parents take more drastic measures. She has heard stories of parents hitting their children with a belt or ruler if they do not finish their plate, or some resort to “shoveling food down the child’s throat”.

Along with the increase in calorie intake, the idea around exercise at a young age has also affected obesity rates. Dr. St. John explained that when children begin choosing classes in third form, some schools do not have physical education as a requirement, so some students no longer take it. Also, students’ parents are using conditions such as asthma as an excuse to take them out of these classes, when in reality they should stay in, as it helps increase their lung capacity.

Barbados is working on ways to stop this increase in childhood obesity, such as removing mascots from children’s cereal like Tony the Tiger. Children may choose these cereals based on the characters, when in reality they are full of sugar and less healthy than alternatives. Educators are also trying to teach children that fruit juices, though they contain fruit in the name, are actually unhealthy based on the added sugars. Like hunger in Barbados, obesity is another issue that Barbadians will be sure to solve.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

ChowberryChowberry is an app combating hunger and food waste in Nigeria. The app was invented by Nigerian software developer Oscar Ekponimo. According to the Nigerian Tribune, Ekponimo has partnered with the program Project FoodAccess to connect impoverished Nigerians and non-governmental organizations with cheap food.

Chowberry works through several steps. The first step involves local grocery stores. As the store’s food products near their expiration dates, the stores begins reducing the food prices each day. The app alerts Nigerians and food organizations about the lowered food prices. Project FoodAccess specifically matches the food with families they register need it the most. These include families with young mothers and female breadwinners.

Chowberry helps to alleviate the problem of hunger, which affects Africa as a whole and Nigeria in particular. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 223 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry or malnourished from 2014 to 2016. Nigeria itself has been declared unable to feed its entire population by the World Food Programme.

Ekponimo himself has a personal experience with hunger. After his father had a stroke and could not work, his family could not afford to feed themselves. Chowberry has given Ekponimo the opportunity to help others going through similar situations.

The app has had a significant impact within different areas in Nigeria. The three-month trial run has fed 200 families and 150 orphans. Many Nigerians have requested that the program expand to more communities.

Chowberry also has assisted the 20 participating grocery stores. Food that would have been thrown out before now gets sold to families in need at a profit to the store. The helpful software has gained international recognition as well, winning the Rolex Award of Enterprise in 2016.

Ekponimo hopes that he can expand Chowberry to feed the hungry in other African countries. With continued innovation from people like Ekponimo, technology like Chowberry could be used to help put an end to hunger in Africa and around the globe.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in MartiniqueMartinique is a satellite nation of France located in the Caribbean. Its economy is supported by the production of items like rum, sugar and bananas, and by the spending of the French government. This makes the nation better off than some of its Caribbean nation neighbors.

On the World Food Programme’s 2011 Hunger Map, Martinique was listed as a Category 1 country, with less than five percent of its population undernourished and experiencing hunger. This puts Martinique at extremely low risk for hunger and malnutrition, on a similar level as countries like the United States.

More concerning for Martinique is the presence of a dangerous pesticide, Chlordecone – found in the soil and in plants – that has been causing inflated rates of prostate cancer in men for decades. It is estimated that 80,000 people or more in Martinique live in areas where the soil is contaminated by Chlordecone. About 13,000 of these people absorb much more than the recommended daily dose of the pesticide just by eating their own plants and produce that they’ve grown themselves.

Fisheries have also suffered from the effects of Chlordecone poisoning, as many lobsters and fish in the area contain an unsafe level of the toxin. Poor people and farmers are most affected by these rates of poisoning because of the loss of fisheries and agriculture.

For every 100,000 men in Martinique, 227 have prostate cancer – an alarming rate considering the drastically lower numbers in neighboring countries. Prostate cancer, along with breast cancer in women and cognitive malfunctioning in children, has been linked to exposure to Chlordecone.

It is estimated that it will take another 600 years to reduce the current amount of Chlordecone in the ground, so this is a problem that aid groups and foreign countries must help the people of Martinique learn to live with.

Recently, the French Overseas Minister to Martinique, Victorin Lorel, has created a $2.66 million aid package for Martinique’s fishermen to ease current and future industry loss. He has also promised a new and “ambitious plan” for fisheries in Martinique and other French islands.

The European Union has similarly allocated €520,951,695 to Martinique between 2014 and 2020. This money is intended to rebuild infrastructure, implement sustainable energy production, improve the skills of poor people in Martinique, and ultimately raise quality of life by lowering the poverty rate.

There are many other organizations involved in solving the problem of hunger in Martinique; their projects include setting up food and clothing drives to raise necessary funds. With continued efforts, it is possible that the poverty rate in Martinique will decrease, which will in turn have a positive effect on reducing hunger due to Chlordecone poisoning.

Saru Duckworth

Photo: Pixabay


Hunger continues to be the world’s biggest health problem. Hunger is one of the most emblematic images of poverty: the picture of stunted, malnourished children tends to resonate empathetical feelings in almost anyone. Just thinking of an image like this shows how, in one way or another, society knows how much suffering world hunger causes. With this information, the real question is how many people die from hunger each year.

This year, 36 million people will die from starvation. Essentially, that equates to a person dying of hunger every second of the year. Of these 36 million inhabitants, children are especially vulnerable. Every minute, 12 children under the age of five will die of hunger.  This fact represents a death every five seconds.

The question itself of hunger, not just hunger-related deaths, is just as equally an important issue. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hunger as the want or scarcity of food in a country. The current world population is more than seven billion, and 795 million people, or one in every nine people, suffer from hunger. Almost all of these people are living in developing countries. Countries in Asia suffer from this problem more than any other region, with 525 million people suffering. Sub-Saharan African countries follow with a combined 214 million.

These regions are the most susceptible to conflict and drought, and usually, these tragedies end in famine.  All of these factors are a direct relation to hunger. Consequently, 50 percent of all hungry people are families that depend on agriculture.

While there may have been an extreme spike in cases of hunger from 1995 to 2009 (an increase from sub-800 million hungry citizens to more than one billion in 2009), there has been a stark and continual decrease from 2009 to 2017. Currently, the world is seeing the lowest number of hungry people since 1995. There are 200 million fewer people suffering from hunger than there were 25 years ago.

With the understanding of how many people die from hunger each year and how many people still suffer from it, the question is how can this issue be addressed? One method to fight against global hunger is by supporting The Borgen Project. The Borgen Project places its focus on alleviating global poverty.  By ridding the world of poverty, there will directly influence those who are also suffering from hunger.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

The Global Hunger Relief Run
In the world of fundraising, activities such as running and walking have been a staple and are an easy way to get a crowd of supporters to participate. Great examples include The Walk To End Breast Cancer and The Walk To End Alzheimer’s. On June 14 in Phoenix, AZ, there wasn’t a walk, but rather a run. The Global Hunger Relief Run is an annual 5K run through downtown Phoenix. Participants meet at the Phoenix Convention Center at 6 a.m. and are bussed to Steel Indian School Park where the race begins.

Registration for the race starts at $25 and all proceeds raised from registration fees will go to feed the more than one billion people without adequate food supply around the world. One hundred percent of the registration fees will be donated to The Global Hunger Relief (GHR), and supporters are encouraged to make additional donations as well.

The Global Hunger Relief Run is arranged by a coalition of Southern Baptist organizations that include the Woman’s Missionary Union, Guidestone Financial Resources and LifeWay Christian Resources. According to their official website, projects such as the Global Hunger Relief Run combat hunger around the world by participating in disaster relief, addressing chronic hunger and working to eliminate urban food deserts.

The sponsors also provide business services, working in the fields of national and international development and medical and evangelical activities.

The registration website states that 80 percent of funds are used internationally through the work of the International Mission Board and Baptist Global Response. According to the Baptist Press News, The North American Mission Board (NAMB) distributes the other 20 percent with the supervisory help of the Baptist state conventions.

Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, stated: “Our partners have put together a first-class event for those who run and for those who simply want to have fun and support the lifesaving work of Global Hunger Relief while we’re together in Phoenix.”

In 2015 alone, more than six million meals were provided through projects supported by the GHR. The 2017 Global Hunger Relief Run hopes to raise even more. To support the visibility of this event, use the hashtag #GHR5K.

Vicente Vera

Photo: Flickr