World Hunger
Over 815 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. The majority of these millions plagued by hunger come from lower income countries. Hunger and poverty are inextricably linked together in a cycle, poverty causing hunger through a lack of sufficient means, and hunger causing poverty due to high food prices and malnourishment, which affects performance in schools and in the workplace. Thus, in order to address hunger at any level, poverty must also be considered. There are a number of key organizations fighting world hunger as well as looking into its underlying factors.

Underlying Factors in World Hunger

In addition to stemming from poverty, world hunger can be the result of conflicts, climate change and economic and political issues that are seemingly unrelated. Long-term conflicts can interfere with food and agriculture production and also make humanitarian assistance very difficult. A poor economy can drive up prices, making food insecurity and hunger more prevalent. Natural disasters can decimate countries, leading to severe, temporary hunger; for example, El Nino is said to have been responsible for hunger in 20 million cases. Global climate change has also affected crop production as flooding or drought can destroy crops, which can lead to food insecurity.

In 2016, it was estimated that 10.7 percent of the world’s population faced chronic undernourishment.  This can lead to long-lasting physical and mental health impairments. Hungry people are 2.9 times more likely to have health issues. Over 3 million children die per year as a result of a hunger-induced illness such as stunting, vitamin deficiencies, and growth restriction (for babies and fetuses). There are also many diseases that can lead to death in which hunger is an underlying condition, and malnutrition magnifies the effects of all diseases including measles and malaria. Hunger can also exacerbate mental health issues; children who are hungry are four times more likely to need professional counseling.

Key Organizations Fighting World Hunger

In order to fight world hunger, there must be more education that inspires understanding and leads to action. A multitude of organizations exists to assist those experiencing food insecurity. The most influential organizations are those that address root issues rather than just addressing band-aid issues.

  1. Bread for the World addresses world hunger by lobbying world leaders to attack underlying causes, preaching that “we need to do more than just giving people a meal a day.”
  2. Results is another group that also uses education and lobbying as a tool to end world hunger through highly-trained advocacy volunteers.
  3. The Food Research and Action Center is a hub for an anti-hunger network of individuals and agencies seeking to improve public policies surrounding hunger and malnutrition in the U.S.
  4. Action Against Hunger eliminates hunger through detection and prevention measures as well as provides aid in treating malnutrition.
  5. The Hunger Project is committed to sustainable ways to end world hunger, empowering people to be self-reliant in the long run.
  6. Heifer International donates livestock to create long-term agricultural solutions and provide training in farming techniques.

These are but a few of the innovative organizations dedicated to helping the world’s hungry. The U.S., for example, assists in hunger reduction by providing emergency food aid, supporting long-term developmental agriculture programs and assisting with organizations in trying to achieve global food security.

In order to help reduce world hunger, it is important to support research and policy and give to dynamic organizations. When looking at where to donate, keep in mind creative initiatives, the desire to address the root causes of hunger and programs that promote self-sufficiency and sustainability in the long term.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

Consequences of Micronutrient Deficiencies
According to the Food Aid Foundation, 1/9 people on earth do not have access to enough food to ensure proper nourishment. Malnutrition is defined by the Oxford Living Dictionary as the “lack of proper nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things, or being unable to use the food that one does eat.”

Defining Malnutrition

This definition, although correct, hardly captures the severity of its meaning. A clear scientific explanation of malnutrition better illuminates the severity of the pervasive issue that exists primarily amongst those who live in poverty. Micronutrients — which are vitamins and minerals — are non-energy yielding compounds which the body requires to run efficiently. For example, the water-soluble vitamins (all of the B vitamins) are coenzymes which facilitate all of the bodies’ metabolic functions.

In light of their vitality to physiological homeostasis, a deficiency in any one of the micronutrients causes a wide variety of negative side effects. Iodine deficiencies cause goiters, iron deficiency causes anemia and vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause a wide variety of neurological defects, including symptoms of psychological disorders (depression, memory loss, sense perception loss etc.). It is clear that the consequences of micronutrient deficiencies are quite dire.

Consequences of Micronutrient Deficiencies

Given the importance of consuming the adequate amount of micronutrients — and the results of not doing so with even one of them — imagine having a lack of most micronutrients. Most people living in developed countries have adequate food intake, yet they are still deficient in a variety of micronutrients due to poor dietary choices. The consequences of micronutrient deficiencies are much more severe in the case of developing countries, where rates of starvation are higher than those of developed countries.

Considering how easy it is to be deficient in certain micronutrients due to simple nutritional ignorance, the level of micronutrient deficiencies –which in turn cause very negative health consequences — in developing countries where poverty is high and nutritional adequacy is low is much higher than in western countries where the contrary is the case. At the very least, 795 million people in the world experience severe negative symptoms due to lack of food.

For example, 84 percent of children in Kenya and 64 percent in India have a Vitamin A deficiency, whereas in a western country like Poland deficiencies in children are at less than 10 percent. These figures illustrate how countries that have a lower GDP per capita — and thus higher rates of poverty — often experience a higher rate/severity of cases of micronutrient deficiencies.

To cover all the micronutrients would be tedious; however, reviewing the statistics regarding the consequences of being deficient — specifically due to lack of food — proves extremely beneficial. The problem is extremely pervasive as one fourth of children’s growth is stunted globally due to malnutrition, poor nutrition causes 45 percent of child deaths ages 5 & below and malnutrition causes the death of 2.6 million children annually.

The above information may be unsettling, but understanding such disturbing information is the first step to changing such occurrences for the better. With concerted effort, the consequences of micronutrient deficiencies need not be as severe as they currently are.

Current and Future Progress

Progress on micronutrient deficiencies has certainly been made — prevalence and number of children suffering from stunted growth due to malnutrition has been on a slow but steady decline. There are specific examples of this, such as in Uganda, where the rate of stunting due to malnutrition has decreased from 33 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2016. In fact, the government of Uganda and its allies (the U.N.) have a  goal to totally eradicate malnutrition by 2030.

U.N. efforts in scaling up nutrition interventions has been very effective in reducing the rate of malnutrition. However, according to the World Bank, efforts to reach the 2030 goal would need an additional $70 billion of funding by 2025. Funding itself is the evident driver of progress. For example, investing in Peru’s malnutrition problem reduced stunting rates by 20 percent over a 20 year period.  

Ways to Help Combat Malnutrition

Many may ask, what can be done to help prevent this crisis from getting more out of hand? First and foremost, more people from all walks of life need to invest in nutrition. It is calculated that each dollar spent on nutrition delivers between $8 and $138 of benefits, according to the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

For more broad ways to help fight against world hunger and its negative consequences, donating to charitable foundations such as the World Food Programme, UNICEF, Feeding America, Feed the Hunger Foundation and others is something anyone can do to support the cause. Something “small” can make a huge difference, so it’s up to every willing individual to help solve this crisis.   

– Daniel Lehewych
Photo: Flickr

suffering in North KoreaThe late 20th-century famine in North Korea caused by drought, flooding and lack of government intervention left around two million Koreans dead. In the 21st century, thousands of children are suffering in North Korea due to malnutrition and the country is still facing difficulties in keeping up with its more developed counterparts.

Suffering in North Korea

North Korea is disconnected in many ways from our global world. However, reports released in June from the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will help humanitarian aid agencies better navigate their aid to the East Asian nation. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey used data from 8,500 households in North Korea last year to assess the lives of children and women. According to the troubling report, nearly 20 percent of children are stunted and 10 percent suffer from diarrhea — a condition usually associated with contaminated water.

Humanitarian Aid Organizations and North Korea

Fortunately, aid organizations are already working to mitigate suffering in North Korea. UNICEF trains doctors and health workers to improve breastfeeding rates and maternal health while UNICEF and WHO are supporting immunization programs.

Additionally, according to the WHO Country Cooperation Strategy for the DPR of Korea, improvements are being seen in the nation regarding women’s health and management of severe illnesses. The five priorities of the strategy are: the challenges of noncommunicable diseases and their modifiable risk factors; address women’s and children’s health to reduce vulnerability and promote disaster risk reduction; communicable diseases; strengthening health systems; and ensuring the country presence of WHO to support sustainable national health development. WHO also works closely with United Nations Strategic Framework, United Nations Populations Fund, European Union-funded nongovernmental organizations and The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The organizations can draw important conclusions from new data. For example, new information substantiates that rural areas are struggling greatly compared to their urban counterparts, that have more wealth and get better healthcare. In the capital city, Pyongyang, only 10 percent of the children are affected by stunting while in Ryanggang Province it is over 30 percent.

While reports are mostly positive, almost one in five youths are experiencing chronic or recurrent malnutrition. This number is down from nearly one in three just six years ago.

Steps to Alleviate Suffering in North Korea

In light of the new information, international aid organizers are emphasizing the need for increased assistance in North Korea. According to UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Shanelle Hall, “Humanitarian assistance is making a difference in the lives of women and children across the country.”

Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, said that the new data will help the organization to better direct their efforts to maximize aid — noting that accurate information is the “foundation” of humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian aid organizations are still facing hurdles. The World Food Programme’s 2018 appeal for $52 million to control the dire situation in Korea is so far only 19.2 percent funded. As North Korea is facing strict sanctions from governments across the world, humanitarian aid for food — which is largely exempt from sanctions — is significant. The largest sources of funding came from stock transfers and the Swiss and Canadian governments.

Conclusion

Food insecurity affects millions worldwide and its reduction requires systematic effort on behalf of governments, individuals and humanitarian aid organizations. With a per capita GDP of $1,700 and one of the weakest economies in the world, assistance from other developed nations is required to mitigate suffering in North Korea.

– Isabel Bysiewicz
Photo: Flickr

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

Biggest World Issues
World issues range from a variety of different factors; it could be anything from an environmental problem to a global health risk or an international conflict.

10 Biggest World Issues

  1. Malnutrition and Hunger: Malnutrition and hunger continue to be issues in developing countries, such as the Central African Republic, Chad and Yemen. According to the Food Aid Foundation, 795 million people in the world are not receiving the proper amount of nutrients. Additionally, hunger is the leading health problem among children and adults, causing approximately 45 percent of children’s deaths.
  2. AIDS: HIV/AIDS is an epidemic, in which more than 36.7 million people are living with the disease. About 2.1 million children currently have the disease, and in 2016 alone, one million people have died. The prevalence of AIDS is still alive; however, many international organizations have contributed to its decrease in recent years.
  3. Malaria: Malaria is a major health risk in tropical, developing countries, such as Kenya and the Congo. Approximately 3.2 billion individuals are vulnerable to Malaria — this is half of the world’s population. Young children are the most susceptible, and about 445,000 people died from Malaria in 2016.
  4. Air Pollution: Air Pollution is a global environmental problem that causes health issues and food shortages. Pollutants harm food supplies and crops, which further create problems for malnutrition and hunger. Pollutants also directly harm human life. According to Conserve Energy Future, 65 percent of deaths in Asia and 25 percent of deaths in India are due to air pollution.
  5. Lack of Human Rights: Political systems hinder human rights and liberties that are inherent to every individual regardless of his or her demographic, religion, culture, gender, race, etc. In 2014, Amnesty International recorded that more than a third of governments imprisoned its citizens who were exercising their rights. Abuse and conflict occur on every continent — from state-sponsored killings in Syria to repression of speech in Russia.
  6. Lack of Education: The right to education is not guaranteed within developing countries because of issues such as inequality among different ethnicities or classes, interstate or intrastate conflict, and poverty. 72 million children are unschooled, and about 759 million adults are illiterate. Additionally, girls are the least likely to receive an education.
  7. Gender Inequality:  Due to gender inequality, education and economic opportunity are inaccessible to many women of all backgrounds. About 150 countries have laws that discriminate against women’s rights. Underrepresented in governmental bodies, women only hold an average of 23 percent in parliamentary seats.
  8. Conflict and War: There are still many active conflicts in today’s world that have devastating effects for citizens living within war-stricken areas. The total number of casualties from the Syrian Civil War is about 465,000 individuals, and one in four children are the victims of war. In addition, international tension with North Korea has become the leading determinant of the United States’ international agenda and foreign policy. There is a multitude of other conflicts that have detrimental effects on civilian livelihoods and international peace/security.
  9. Displacement: The number of individuals who were forced to flee their homes has skyrocketed drastically in recent years. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (iDMC) reported that 31.1 million individuals were displaced in 2016. Displacement could occur after natural disasters or throughout war. Unfortunately displaced individuals have increased to approximately 59.5 million due to continuing conflict in the Middle East. In Syria alone, there are about 11 million refugees, which include young children.
  10. Global Poverty: Poverty is an overarching world issue that affects infrastructure, health, education, human rights, etc. Roughly one billion children live in poverty, and 80 percent of people live on less than $10 a day. Additionally, every 10 seconds, citizens across the globe die due to poverty-related issues. Dismally, the gap between economic and income disparity among countries is widening.

Fortunately, world issues have solutions, and a multitude of organizations are fighting to alleviate pain that has been afflicted by these problems. The International Affairs Budget is one of many solutions that funds development and helps fight diseases, prevent hunger, and create new jobs, while solving many other issues around the world.

If you would like to get involved in helping prevent these world issues, join The Borgen Project in supporting the protection of The International Affairs Budget from proposed budget cuts by sending a letter of support.

– Diana Hallisey

Photo: Flickr

 

Child Malnutrition in MaliAfrica is the only continent in the world in which poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. In a vast country with an undiversified economy, Malian households are especially vulnerable to poverty food insecurity.

Recently, Mali has faced “shocks” to its economic profile, including from a partial drought and internal strife. A 2013 World Bank study found that a 25 percent increase in cereal prices and 25 percent decrease in cereal production would push over 600,000 individuals to food insecurity levels in Mali. In addition, sustainably high population growth rates have risen the number of malnourished individuals in the country.

Effects of Child Malnutrition in Mali

While millions of Malians of all ages are affected by food insecurity, malnutrition is the second highest cause of death of children under the age of five. Almost 900,000 Mali children are at risk of global acute malnutrition in Mali, including 274,000 facing severe malnutrition and at risk of imminent death, according to UNICEF and the World Bank. To put this in the context of the country’s population, a 2013 World Bank study found that 44 percent of Malian households have at least one chronically malnutritioned child.

Malnutrition leads to devastating, long-lasting effects on young people. Research by an associate professor at the Federal University of São Paulo, Ana Lydia Saway, shows that malnutrition is linked to higher susceptibility to gain central fat, lower energy expenditure, higher blood pressure and disruptions in insulin production. These are all factors which heighten the risk of other chronic diseases later in life. 

How Mali is Combatting the Issue

Child malnutrition in Mali is a significant concern, requiring action and deserving worldwide attention. But a major problem limiting international assistance comes in the form of funding for aid.

In May, UNICEF reported that limited donor interest in the region has made it increasingly difficult for the organization to provide children with therapeutic food necessary to combat malnutrition. Funding for humanitarian organizations is low, as nearly 80 percent of UNICEF’s $37 million call for humanitarian aid for the year 2018 has not been raised.

“The children of Mali are suffering in silence, away from the world’s attention,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore said during a visit to the country this year. “Amid increasing violence, more children are going hungry, missing out on learning and dying in the first days of life.”  

Still, community and international-based organizations are working to mitigate the effects of child malnutrition in Mali. For example, in the capital of Ségou Centre, the local population, with the help of the World Bank and Swiss Corporation agency, is working to provide necessary social services to its commune.

The third phase of this project involved the decentralizing of health facilities, which were starchly underequipped. The commune recently constructed a community health center, showing promising bottom-up action within Mali. Other organizations are helping out to create sustainable progress in development, including Groundswell International.

Furthermore, farmers and processors in Mali have been working together to increase the presence of Misola flour to combat malnutrition. During processing, vitamins and minerals are added to the flour, targeting those with nutritional deficiencies. 

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that Misola can help rehabilitate undernourished children and help those with depressed immune systems. “The porridge made from the flour allows for a nutritional transition from breast milk to traditional solid food,” Fernand Rolet, co-President of the Misola Association, said. 

Overcoming Child Malnutrition Globally

Rwanda provides a prime example that overcoming child malnutrition is possible. The nation, which has a similar wealth level to Mali, has made progress in lowering malnutrition levels. A 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Access Report found that the level of stunting in young children dropped seven percent from three years prior. In Rwanda, the World Food Programme has been largely active, supplying food assistance such as providing meals for thousands of primary school children.

Combating malnutrition is an ongoing struggle, especially in Africa. Due to poor economic conditions and food scarcity, malnutrition continues to take the lives of thousands of children in Mali each year. Although citizens have founded programs to improve child nutrition and the issue is on humanitarian aid organizations’ radars, it is clear that more effort is needed to eradicate the problem. With continued efforts, child malnutrition in Mali will begin to decline.

– Isabel Bysiewicz
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Uganda
Under the U.S. Government Global Food Security Strategy, the U.S. selected Uganda as one of 12 Feed the Future target countries. Feed the Future is a U.S. global hunger and food security initiative that is primarily carried out by USAID. One main component of USAID’s Uganda strategy is nutrition since Uganda is among the top 20 countries with a high prevalence of malnutrition.

Effects of Malnutrition in Uganda

Malnutrition causes about 45 percent of child deaths in Uganda. Malnutrition severely affects children because it can lead to:

  • Stunting
  • Inability to gain/maintain weight
  • Frailty – especially regarding bone density, physical strength and endurance
  • A compromised immune system/greater risk of infection
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Anemia

Stunting is used as a primary indicator of malnutrition. As of 2018, 2.2 million (29 percent) of Ugandan children under the age of five are stunted, meaning they are too short for their age. About 850,000 (11 percent) of Ugandan children under the age of five are underweight and a further 300,000 (4 percent) are too thin for their height.

The severity of a child’s stunting directly relates to their degree of cognitive impairments. Adults who were malnourished as children often have lower educational attainment and earn decreased wages. These adults have a reduced likelihood of escaping poverty.

Malnutrition can also cause anemia, a condition marked by a low red blood cell count or low amounts of hemoglobin. More than 4 million (53 percent) of Uganda’s children under the age of five are anemic, but malnutrition in Uganda does not just affect children. USAID reports that 32 percent of women and 16 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 49 are anemic.

How USAID Fights Malnutrition in Uganda

One way USAID fights malnutrition is by training health care workers to better identify and manage malnutrition. In 2017, USAID helped more than 1,000 health care workers receive nutrition-related training, allowing them to reach more than 1.7 million Ugandan children.

USAID also works closely with Uganda’s government to implement programs for nutrition interventions on both national and local levels. These programs, plus more highly trained health care workers, have already had a massive impact on malnutrition in Uganda. With the help of USAID, the percentage of children under the age of five with stunted growth has been almost cut in half since 2001 when it was nearly 50 percent.

Some examples of the nutrition intervention programs include:

  • Routine nutrition monitoring
  • Nutrition rehabilitation
  • Counseling and education for caregivers on nutrition

Diversifying Diets

Dietary diversification interventions primarily change household food consumption patterns. In countries or regions where malnutrition is common, households often eat starch-based diets due to limited access to meats, dairy, fruits or vegetables. USAID’s Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project suggests increasing the consumption of animal-source foods as a possible dietary diversification intervention.

The nutrition education programs USAID and Uganda’s government have implemented work directly with caregivers, teaching them about the importance of certain types of food:

  • Foods that protect their children (vitamin- and mineral-rich foods)
  • Foods that build their children’s bodies (protein-rich foods)
  • Foods that give their children energy (foods with carbohydrates)

Dietary diversification’s objective is to increase the variety and quantity of nutrient-rich foods in a household’s diet.

Diversifying diets is generally achieved through social and behavioral changes. Besides the three types of food, nutrition education programs also provide cooking classes and teach caregivers about the importance of meal frequency, hygiene and even gardening. Changing behaviors such as meal frequency and hygiene greatly contribute to children’s overall health. Teaching caregivers about gardening improves their access to diverse foods.

USAID seeks to ensure that families have all of the knowledge and skills they need to maintain healthy diets and reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in Uganda.

– Kathryn Quelle
Photo: Flickr

Reduce Malnutrition in Angola
The first 1,000 days in a child’s life are crucial to their nutritional development throughout life. Children lacking nutrition experience growth stunts, muscle loss, communicable diseases, inability to keep up with school work and weight gain as they age. Unfortunately, quality nutrition is hard to find in Central Africa. If left unaddressed, an intergenerational cycle of poor nutrition, illness and poverty can continue. Some organizations, however, are teaming up to reduce malnutrition in Angola.

Organizations Partnering Up

Angola is among the top 40 most poverty-stricken countries in the world. Basic causes of malnutrition include limited access to resources such as land, education, income, and technology. Food uncertainty, unstable home environments and lack of health services are also challenges for healthy nutrition. 

While malnutrition in Angola might seem grim, several organizations are collaborating around the world with Sub-Saharan Africa to help reduce malnutrition in Angola:

  1. The U.N. Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
  2. National Directorate of Public Health
  3. World Health Organization
  4. Global Alliance for Vaccines
  5. World Food Programme
  6. Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN)

While Angola has not officially partnered with SUN yet, it is hopefully only a matter of time, as this organization is a recent country-led global movement to end stunting and other forms of malnutrition.

The Goal: Reduce Malnutrition in Angola

Some of the programming efforts include building and maintaining Special Nutrition Therapeutic Centres, which screen for nutritional deficiencies and other related health issues. They provide essential medications including vitamins, ready to use therapeutic food, and provide household visits to monitor the sustainability of food within families. Other programs include WASH, which promotes safe and appropriate sanitation and hygiene efforts. Construction of pumps, wells and restrooms for waste have also been ground targets for improvement. Health promotion teams have partnered to provide inpatient and outpatient services to help screen and vaccinate for diseases, as well as train for disease prevention and household practices to keep families healthy.

Interventions specific to nutrition in order to reduce malnutrition in Angola directly work with mothers, youth and infants. Most interventions focus on preventing low birth weight, providing complimentary feed or formulas that better meet the nutritional needs of the child, treating of micronutrient deficiencies, practicing good sanitation and accessing clean drinking water. Other supporting initiatives have been encouraged through legislation, health systems, community-based counseling and support. Counseling and community-based approaches in conjunction with other health and wellness strategies work to screen for acute malnutrition, deworming and delivering vitamins and supplements that holistically promote healthier development. 

Improvements for the Future

Future developmental goals are to continue partnerships and programming with various organizations. Most of the programming partnerships have occurred between 2000-2016 and allowed 1.9 billion children around the world to be vaccinated (3 million children in Angola). Currently, the government is working to increase social services, such as birth certificates, available to Angola citizens in order to recognize the identity and age of a child for better protection.

By 2019 it is projected that vulnerable women and children in Angola will have less illness and disease. Cases of diarrhea will be treated with oral rehydration using salt and zinc, children between 6 months and 5 years old will have access to 2 annual doses of Vitamin A supplements, more restroom facilities will be available and there will be reduced open-defecation in communities. It is projected that 80 percent of children under 18 years old will have a birth certificate. More than 40,000 vulnerable families will have access to social assistance transfer programs.

As of May, the government in Angola is meeting to monitor social programs and continue developing initiatives for quality education. However, currently 37 percent still live in poverty and 54 percent are under the age of 18. Efforts are still needed to reduce malnutrition in Angola.

– Ashley Cooper
Photo: Flickr

chronic malnutrition of children in RwandaRanked at 166 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, Rwanda remains one of the poorest countries in the world, struggling with household food insecurity and extreme undernutrition.

This undernutrition causes 21.9 percent of deaths in children, with only 20 percent of children in Rwanda having access to food rich in iron. Iron is especially important for children under five for growth and cognitive development.

Stunting is when a child is short for their age and is a result of chronic malnutrition, negatively affecting their brain development and health. This results in children being four times more likely to die before the age of five. Stunting is caused by chronic malnutrition, and in Rwanda, 47 percent of rural children are stunted, along with 27 percent of urban children.

These numbers have caught the world’s attention, resulting in programs working to reduce the chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda. These programs involve the government of Rwanda and the World Bank, The Power of Nutrition and the Global Financing Facility.

These programs have recently pledged to create an integrated program to combat chronic malnutrition, focusing on high-stunting areas and vulnerable populations through their funds and supportive methods.

Here are some of the ways each program is supporting Rwanda through its chronic malnutrition crisis.

The Government of Rwanda and the World Bank

These two groups signed a $23 million additional financing agreement on April 18, 2018. Working with the Nutrition Sensitive Direct Support, these funds will provide cash transfers to vulnerable families who are at risk of malnutrition.

The World Bank Vice President, Makhtar Diop, voiced his concern about this issue, saying, “We must act with a sense of urgency because our children’s future is at stake.”

The World Bank has also added to its current portfolio of $600 million, and pledged to invest $1 billion over the next five years in order to support Rwanda’s journey to prosperity. With this help, improvements have already been seen in Rwanda, with poverty rates decreasing from 59 percent to 45 percent over the last 10 years.

The decrease in poverty will allow citizens to spend more money on necessary food items to reduce malnutrition. These statistics show the success of programs working to reduce chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda.

The Power of Nutrition

The Power of Nutrition has also pledged to invest $35 million for the cause of reducing chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda. Power of Nutrition lives by its motto: “Multiply Money, Maximize Children’s Lives, That’s the Power of Nutrition”. Its belief is that stopping undernutrition is one of the best ways to improve a child’s life and increase their chance of survival.

In Rwanda, 22 percent of all children’s deaths are correlated with undernutrition.

Because of ongoing health problems, children are unable to continue their education, leading to lower adult wages which impact Rwanda to the tune of 11.5 percent of GDP per year. Improving child malnutrition therefore will not only benefit children and their families, but also the government of Rwanda.

The Global Financing Facility

The Global Financing Facility studies the influence of the allocation of resources to different countries in need, finding the shocking results of an estimated $33 billion annual financing gap between countries.

Therefore, it has dedicated its work towards closing the funding gap, and providing struggling countries, such as Rwanda, with a more attainable goal of abolishing chronic malnutrition.

There are many programs working to reduce chronic malnutrition of children in Rwanda, many more than the four mentioned above. However, although chronic malnutrition has decreased in Rwanda, it is important to realize that the country still needs a great deal of assistance.

– Adrienne Tauscheck

Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in Africa

Many people are aware that Africa suffers from widespread poverty, but many do not know what that poverty consists of or why it exists. Understanding the facts and seeing the statistics can result in change. Here are 15 facts about poverty in Africa.

Facts and Stats about Africa Poverty

  1. Africa is by far the poorest continent on the planet. 28 of the world’s poorest countries are African.
  2. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the second largest population of hungry people. The largest is in Asia.
  3. Half of the African population lives in poverty. These people do not have access to basic human needs, such as nutrition, clean water, shelter and more. 47 percent of the African population is living on $1.90 or less a day.
  4. Two in five African adults are illiterate. While the continent’s number of schools are increasing, the quality of learning and general attendance is still down due to local violence and gender oppression.
  5. It is projected that the global poor will become more concentrated in Africa. With the population rising at such a high rate on the continent, and having such a large number of poverty-stricken countries, it becomes very difficult to prevent increasing poverty.
  6. One in four people in the sub-Saharan region are malnourished. This is the highest amount of hungry people in the world.
  7. The causes for African hunger are poverty, conflict, the environment and overpopulation. These causes create issues such as disease, floods, genocide and many other resulting crises that result in a lack of food and health within many communities.
  8. Corruption on the continent makes it very difficult to conquer the poverty numbers. With governments confiscating donations from abroad, local militias slaughtering villagers and cultural leaders denying women the right and safety to attend school, poverty perpetuates.
  9. While worldwide poverty is declining — it has been divided in half in the last 30 years — in Africa the progress has been much slower. This is largely due to the rising population and the young age of its government systems, stemming from a history of colonization.
  10. Most of the perpetuation of poverty involves social issues. It is less a matter of wealth, as it is with how the wealth is distributed and shared.
  11. The African governments have not existed for very long. Even in 1950, only four of the 55 African countries had independent governments. Studies state that a government requires several decades at least to stabilize.
  12. The economic gap is huge and still growing. The class system contains huge gaps between the rich and poor, with little mobility due to gender inequality and corruption.
  13. Those living in regions affected by violence are 50 percent more likely to become impoverished. This makes them twice as likely to be affected by hunger. Much of Africa is war-torn and experiencing conflict.
  14. The average woman living in sub-Saharan Africa will give birth to 5.2 kids in her lifetime. While Africa is globally the poorest continent, it is also home to the highest birth rate. With a growing population, this is causing unemployment, disease and hunger.
  15. While the decline of the number of poor in Africa is slower than the global rate, it has recently decreased. It fell from 56 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012.

Knowing the facts about poverty in Africa can illustrate not only the work that needs to be done but also the progress that has been implemented. Africa is a struggling continent, and these facts about poverty in Africa point to a complex problem of young governments, few resources and a growing population. There is plenty of work still to be done.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr