Stunted Growth in Children
In 2019, 149 million children under the age of 5 around the world experienced stunted growth. Children that stunted growth affects are 33% less likely to evade generational poverty as adults. By continent, 36% of children in Africa under the age of 5 are malnourished. Around 40-45% of “all preventable child deaths” are due to undernutrition. In 2012, this meant that more than 6 million children died from stunted growth disorders.

Stunted Growth in Children

Malnutrition in the early stages of a child’s life causes stunted growth. Stunting correlates with impaired physical growth and cognitive development, a weakened immune system, higher mortality rates and overall poor health. Stunted growth is a chronic condition that appears within the first two years of a child’s life.

Children who experience stunting are more likely to be fatigued and less curious, which naturally lessens their psychosocial development. Additionally, they tend to face disciplinary challenges as well as possess less developed motor function and social skills. These challenges perpetuate the cycle of poverty, as stunted growth in children leads to higher dropout rates and a 22% reduced earning capacity in the workforce.

While the effects of stunted growth are largely irreversible, reducing malnutrition will lessen underdevelopment and other illnesses that stem from malnourishment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has plans in place to reduce the prevalence of this disease by 40% by the year 2025.

Physiological Explanation

Malnutrition causes diminished cognitive function and psychosocial adversity in children by altering neurological function. This, in turn, leads to reduced income as adults. Dendrites are neurons that communicate with nerve cells and pass on signals in the brain. Malnutrition in young children decreases the density of dendrites in the brain and therefore reduces the number of neurons. This process negatively affects critical brain development such as memory formation, locomotor skills and other neurological functions, which are critical to healthy brain development.

Links to GDP Growth

According to the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, malnutrition drains the global economy of approximately $3.5 trillion per year from lost productivity. Individuals often experience a lack of brain development during the first years of their lives from undernourishment. They later suffer from diminished productive capacities in their livelihoods. The Global Panel reports that a 3% to 16% annual GDP loss results from malnutrition. Simply put, better-nourished children grow into more productive adults.

Policy Changes and Solutions

As with many public health problems worldwide, foreign aid investments may be a critical starting point for reducing malnutrition and stunted growth in children in poor regions. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that if the U.S. invested $1.2 billion per year in the global fight against malnutrition, the decrease in deaths and an increase in “future earnings” (GDP income and relative economic benefits) would generate $15.3 billion for the U.S. per year. This calculation represents a thirteen to one benefit-to-cost analysis.

An Ethical Approach

Much more than an economic incentive, there is a moral imperative to improve nutrition globally. Eliminating malnutrition would increase the overall health of populations. Poor communities that lack consistent access to nutritious food and healthcare would particularly feel this effect.

Research shows that, while the impaired cognitive state is not necessarily permanent and can improve incrementally, there typically remains overall “cognitive dysfunction” in stunted children in comparison to healthy children. The FAO’s recommendations include dietary supplements, food fortification (the addition of nutrients to food to increase the nutrient content) and biofortification (agricultural practices that incorporate DNA recombination to augment nutritional content in primary crops).

Along with FAO dietary solutions, the WHO has developed policy aims to reduce stunted growth in children by 2025. Its policies include collaboration between organizations such as Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), which works to reduce global malnutrition and the health disorders that accompany malnourished children. SUN helps countries develop and implement government policies to improve nutrition during the critical period before a child’s second birthday. Through collective action efforts, SUN, WHO, governmental entities, the U.N. and individual stakeholders are joining forces to eliminate malnutrition.

Nye Day
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Global Maker Challenge
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity (the Global Prosperity Initiative) launched the second cohort of its Global Maker Challenge in late 2019, in Abu Dhabi. The challenge is an innovation-based contest that brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to present ideas and solutions for promoting global prosperity and improving living standards.

Global Maker Challenge 2019 Themes

The Global Prosperity Initiative partnered with 10 U.N. agencies as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solve, a marketplace for social impact initiatives, to select four themes that Global Maker Challenge submissions must follow. This cohort’s themes are (1) Sustainable and Healthy Food for All, (2) Climate Change, (3) Innovation for Inclusive Trade and (4) Innovation for Peace and Justice. Nearly 3,400 participants submitted cutting-edge ideas — including web and mobile applications, machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence and cloud-based solutions.

The Finalists

In the end, 20 finalists (five from each section) were chosen by a select group of experts from U.N. agencies, global organizations, digital innovation companies, NGOs and academia. The final projects selected stood out among the rest because they were both affordable and scalable — two characteristics that are critical when working with disadvantaged communities. Limited infrastructure and resources  are often some of the greatest challenges that must be overcome.

Category Objectives and Finalist List

  1. Sustainable and Healthy Food for All: Ideas submitted to this category aim to address issues regarding access to sustainable and nutritious food among growing urban populations, as well as reducing hunger and malnutrition. Finalists presented solutions for storing fresh produce and extending the shelf life of foods. Finalists accomplished this using temperature control hubs and sustainable packaging that reduces waste. Another finalist introduced an idea for a social enterprise that makes affordable and nutritious food more accessible to low-income communities.
  2. Climate Change: Contestants focused on promoting sustainability and efficient resource use to lower carbon emission and eliminate waste. Several finalists addressed the textile industry and how to make its materials more sustainable. Submissions included technologies to create biodegradable textiles from plant-based materials, upcycled plastic and ethical sourcing. Other projects addressed the issue of climate change in different ways, such as generating electricity from wastewater and creating a circulation system to convert compost into fertilizer.
  3. Innovation for Inclusive Trade: This category aims to increase the market inclusivity of rural populations to promote global, economic growth. Finalists introduced several digital platforms that provide access to financial literacy tools and empower small business owners. Ideas included an application providing financial tools and market information to emerging enterprises. Also, platforms for connecting rural farmers to international markets and mapping tools — which increase the visibility of small retailers.
  4. Innovation for Peace and Justice: Contestants provided solutions for displaced populations and refugees seeking essential services and resources. Several finalists focused on making education more accessible. Ideas included virtual reality classrooms for students in underserved communities. Also, technology training and legal services for residents of refugee camps and solar-powered learning hubs. Other finalists presented solutions for improving the quality of life of displaced populations, such as user-managed identification and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) learning technology and games.

Final Pitch

Finalists will present their solutions in a series of virtual pitches, starting in late August 2020 and commencing in early September of the same year — during the Global Maker Challenge Award Ceremony. Prizes include project funding and mentorship worth up to $1 million.

Seeing the Big Picture

The second cohort of the Global Maker Challenge comes at a critical time. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable groups lack humanitarian aid, social protection and stimulus packages. Unless action is taken, as many as 50 million people could fall into extreme poverty, as a result of the pandemic. Innovation and collaboration are powerful tools for developing solutions to unprecedented challenges. Today’s entrepreneurs and designers provide hope for overcoming setbacks caused by the pandemic and maintaining progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Sylvie Antal
Photo: Flickr

international food tradeMalnutrition, the state of nutrient over-consumption or under-consumption, plagues every nation in the world. Every day, one out of every nine individuals around the world goes hungry, while one out of every three is overweight. What causes this problem? The growth of the international food trade has stoked the flames of a malnutrition crisis that already disproportionately impacts impoverished countries. Nevertheless, governments and major firms in the international food trade can take simple steps to transform markets and reduce malnutrition all over the globe. Here are three ways that rethinking the international food trade can help impoverished regions deal with malnutrition.

Rethink Pricing Policies

It’s simple economics that when products drop in price, they become more widely purchased and distributed throughout the world. Unfortunately, many of the foods priced lowest in the international food trade fall into the category of “ultra-processed.” Consumption of these nutrient-poor foods is increasing due to their low price. In October 2019, sugar was priced at around $0.13 per pound, and its consumption was set to increase by 1.4%. Comparatively, meat saw a 1% decrease in production from 2018 to 2019 when its prices increased moderately.

With reduced national wealth, impoverished countries must often resort to purchasing these cheaper, unhealthy commodities. Driven by lower sugar prices, the consumption of sugar is expected to grow in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. Less wealthy countries will therefore continue to purchase “ultra-processed” foods linked to heart disease and diabetes. In doing so, they will provide their citizens with potentially harmful food that will only worsen the malnutrition crisis.

Rethinking trade policies can solve this issue of imbalanced prices. Many processed foods made with sugars or fatty oils have low international safety standards, which allows them to be sold within markets for low prices, whereas healthier fruits and vegetables have high international safety standards, which causes their prices to rise. This makes healthier foods less affordable for impoverished regions.

By applying high safety standards to sugar- and oil-based foods, the international food trade could equalize prices of healthy and unhealthy products. Healthy foods would then be more accessible to malnourished communities and help to reduce the impacts of malnutrition. Additionally, individual countries can redesign national trade policies to subsidize the production of healthier foods like fruits and vegetables so as to make them more affordable for impoverished countries.

Rethink Market Orientations

By 2022, the global fast food market is expected to grow by $188.4 billion. From 2018 to 2019, the international trade of oil crops reached an all-time high, and experts also expect the international market of sugar products to expand through 2020. Comparatively, the international market for healthier products like coarse grains may soon undergo a “sharp anticipated drop” in consumption and production.

The international food trade is therefore oriented toward distributing foods around the globe that contribute to the growth of obesity-related diseases and malnutrition. Given that the international food trade continues to prioritize markets for “ultra-processed foods,” it becomes even more likely that poor individuals will have to purchase and consume these foods. In turn, this will lead to poor regions eating increased amounts of refined foods linked to chronic diseases while consuming fewer natural foods that contain essential nutrients.

Such a market orientation stands to further deprive already starving individuals of the few nutrients remaining in their diet, thus worsening the global malnutrition crisis. In this case, governments and major food producers can help reduce malnutrition in impoverished countries by reorienting international food markets toward the production and consumption of healthier commodities like fruits, grains, vegetables and meats. These food groups currently make up only 11% of global food production.

By overhauling what gets sold within the international food trade and by emphasizing the commercialization of healthier foods, governments can work together to provide nutritious food to every country. These foods would help eliminate, not contribute to, cases of debilitating malnutrition.

Rethink Food System Investment

According to the WHO, 42 million children worldwide under the age of five are overweight or obese, while 50 million children are too thin for their height. Both of these conditions are associated with massive health risks as well as massive risks to the health of global economies. By 2030, the economic cost of diabetes, a disease linked to obesity and highly processed foods, could increase to $2.5 billion a year.

Through micro-financing and “multisectorial investments in nutrition,” governments and international food trade firms can grant increased buying power to communities with particularly high malnutrition levels. This type of investment could provide impoverished communities with food or direct cash grants that could help them reduce malnutrition and stimulate economic growth. Domestic financing has the potential to kickstart the economies of impoverished regions, which gives them the opportunity to purchase healthful foods crucial to reducing malnutrition rates.

Many current food systems lack any outside investment. For this reason, countries around the world would need $9 billion per year over the next five years to meet nutritional goals. By rethinking investment into international food markets and systems, the global community can come together to stimulate the economies of impoverished countries. This would give them a dignified way to access markets, purchase healthy foods and reduce malnutrition in the communities most in need.

Overall, although the current mechanisms of the international food trade foster malnutrition, countries can easily redesign them in ways that will actively help to reduce malnutrition worldwide. By rethinking trade policies, market orientations and community investments, governments and major firms in the international food trade can begin to address malnutrition and help provide impoverished individuals with the wholesome food crucial to lifelong health and happiness.

– Nolan McMahon
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is an East African country in the African Great Lakes region with a population of around 56.32 million people. Tanzania is a developing country and it struggles with widespread hunger and poverty. In 2019, the Global Hunger Index ranked Tanzania 95th out of 117 countries, with a level of hunger classified as serious. Here are five important facts about hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania.

5 Facts About Hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania

  1. Malnutrition: Malnutrition due to hunger is a serious and widespread health issue for those living with food insecurity. Studies show that around 3.3 million children in Tanzania suffer from chronic malnutrition and 58% of children are anemic. In addition to the lack of access to food, malnutrition is a result of poor water quality and sanitation services. A shortage of medical supplies and properly trained healthcare workers have also worsened this crisis, affecting children’s’ health and growth over the long-term. In order to help defeat the damage of malnutrition on vulnerable children, doctors and humanitarian aid groups, such as the World Food Program, have begun providing malnourished children with fortified food products to help them gain the nutrients they require to thrive. Additionally, pregnant women, new mothers and young children are receiving regular checkups to ensure that they remain healthy and that they can receive treatment for malnutrition in its earliest stages.
  2. Infant Mortality Rates: Lack of access to food and proper nutrition has an especially harmful impact on infant mortality rates and the health of pregnant mothers. It is vital for children to receive adequate nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life in order for them to grow up strong and healthy. The widespread prevalence of malnutrition in Tanzania creates a health crisis that affects young children and causes a third of all deaths of children under 5, in addition to the many health problems that can damage children who survive. Studies have shown that babies who suffer from malnutrition, even briefly, are often at a higher risk for mental and physical illnesses even into adulthood, as well as learning difficulties, stunted growth and weaker immune systems in childhood. Pregnant women are also susceptible to malnutrition in part because of cultural myths about motherhood, such as the widespread belief in Tanzania that eating less during pregnancy will cause a baby to be smaller and easier to deliver. This can cause dangerous health issues for mothers as well as making their newborns more prone to malnutrition. Women of childbearing age and children under 5-years-old are the most prone to health problems due to malnutrition such as iron and vitamin A deficiencies. In Tanzania, 58% of children and 45% of women are anemic, and 33% of children and 37% of women have vitamin A deficiencies.
  3. Rural Hunger: Hunger in Tanzania disproportionately affects rural families living in poverty. Over half of the country lives in rural areas and works in the agricultural sector, a population that contains almost three-quarters of Tanzanians suffering from undernourishment and 80% of the country’s hungry citizens. Hunger in these rural areas increases during Tanzania’s dry season, which lasts from June to October. Harvesting crops becomes especially difficult during these months and maintaining an adequate amount of food is an even greater challenge.
  4. Agriculture: Although many people living in Tanzania work in agriculture, the country’s agricultural output still lags behind much of Sub-Saharan Africa. There are a number of reasons for this poor performance, such as less agricultural research, the continued use of rudimentary and outdated farming technology, lack of access to seeds and fertilizers and the inaccessibility of financial assistance such as agricultural loans. The struggling agricultural sector leads to higher rates of poverty and hunger among those who work in this field and rely on farming as their main food source.
  5. Organizations: Several organizations are combatting hunger in Tanzania. Efforts to fight malnutrition from the World Food Program and other organizations have decreased the mortality rate of children under 5-years-old by two-thirds and the infant mortality rate by 6% since 1990. The humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger recently trained 229 health workers in Tanzania on how to provide proper treatment and management of acute malnutrition. It also provided technical support to 41 healthcare facilities and screened over 10,000 children for malnutrition.

These statistics paint a sobering, yet not an entirely hopeless picture of the hunger in the United Republic of Tanzania. Many are working to help combat this issue, though more progress is still necessary to ensure that no one in Tanzania goes hungry.

 – Allie Beutel
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in MadagascarMadagascar is an island located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa. Established as an independent country in 1960, Madagascar is known for its diverse culture of French, Indian, Chinese and Arabic influences, along with many others. The island is home to about 27 million people. The majority of these people are currently living in extreme poverty in Madagascar.

Poverty Rates in Madagascar

According to the World Bank, 75% of people in Madagascar are estimated to be living on less than $1.90 per day as of 2019. This number has decreased since the last official statistic in 2012 (when 77.6% were living in poverty in Madagascar). Still, this remains one of the highest poverty rates in the world. For comparison, in the U.S., 1.2% of people lived on $1.90 or less per day in 2016. According to data from 2015, 10% of the world’s population lives on $1.90 or less per day.

Additionally, in Madagascar, approximately 85% of homes do not have access to electricity. Almost one-half of children in Madagascar are likely to experience stunting as a result of undernutrition. One in 16 children dies before the age of five. As an island, Madagascar is at a high risk of natural disasters and climate change effects, experiencing an average of three natural disasters per year. These are responsible for approximately $400 million in damages.

Georgette Raharimalala is a Malagasy mother to three in Betafo, Madagascar. On average, women in Madagascar have five children. Raharimalala, known as Zety, primarily makes her money by working in the fields in her village with her children, buying and reselling peanuts and occasionally gardening where she can find space on her small property. “Life is very hard,” she said. “As soon as we make a bit of money, we buy food.”

However, poverty in Madagascar continues to improve. There are many programs in place to provide economic assistance to low-income countries like Madagascar.

World Bank’s IDA Program Helps the Economy

Zety is eligible for financial assistance from the International Development Association (IDA) on a bi-monthly basis. The IDA is part of the World Bank, which distributes loans and grants to 74 of the world’s poorest countries. The bank aims to improve local economies, reduce inequalities and improve living situations. This IDA program requires Zety to take her children to the wellness center in her village for a checkup once a month to ensure they are properly nourished. She also learns how to cook and provide proper diets for her children. Children in families receiving financial assistance must also be enrolled in (and remain in) school. As a result of the IDA program:

  • 1.3 million children have had access to free healthcare
  • 347 healthcare centers have been refurbished
  • Over 700,000 mothers and children have improved nutrition

The Support of the US

In addition to programs like the IDA, the United States supports Madagascar on its own. In fact, the U.S. is the largest donor country to Madagascar. It has provided foreign aid in the following areas to help reduce poverty in Madagascar:

  • Food: The U.S. was the largest donor of food following the severe drought on the island.
  • Development: The U.S. provides aid in areas that USAID refers to as “WASH,” or water, sanitation and health.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Madagascar is known for its incredible diversity and has more unique species than the entirety of Africa, which U.S. aid supports.

The U.S. has dedicated $109.91 million to Madagascar for the year 2020, a small percentage of its total foreign aid budget.

While the struggle for basic healthcare, education and income is still prominent for many Malagasy citizens, conditions are continuing to improve for people like Zety and her children due to a combination of national and international policy and aid efforts. Though there is always room for improvement, poverty in Madagascar is being reduced and fewer are living with less than $1.90 per day.

Sydney Bazilian
Photo: Unsplash

Children in the Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean, have high poverty rates. Approximately 30% of the populations of Majuro and Ebeye, the Marshall Islands’ most populated territories, live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, 60% of the populations of the remaining 34 islands and atolls are impoverished. These conditions have left children in the Marshall Islands behind in terms of education, nutrition and growth.

History

Beginning in 1946, the United States used the Marshall Islands as a site for nuclear bomb testing for over 10 years. The 67 nuclear tests left the Marshall Islands with contaminated land areas and elevated radiation levels.

As a result, many residents live in small, overcrowded spaces. For example, in Ebeye, 10,000 of the total 55,000 Marshallese people reside in an area that encompasses less than a tenth of a square mile. This island has become known as the “slum of the Pacific,” but inhabitants fear to relocate due to contamination.

Effect on Children

These poor living conditions have had a large effect on the health of children in the Marshall Islands. According to a study conducted by UNICEF and the Marshallese government, over a third of children below the age of 5 are unable to grow and mature at a rate standard for children. This can be attributed primarily to malnutrition, which inhibits one’s intellectual and physical development.

The study concludes that reducing malnutrition levels within the Marshallese population may provide a series of benefits.  Most notably, these benefits would include the improved health of Marshallese children and improved economic conditions of the Marshall Islands due to a more prosperous upcoming generation.

Foreign Aid

Several organizations, including the World Bank, have made efforts to improve the current conditions that the people of these islands face. In 2019, the World Bank launched the Early Childhood Development Project in response to a request for aid made by previous Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine. The project focuses on improving the lives of children in the Marshall Islands by investing in education and healthcare.

Heine hopes this project will improve the overall quality of life in the Marshall Islands. “By investing in our children and ensuring they are afforded the best opportunities to learn and thrive, we are ensuring a sustainable and rich future for the Republic of the Marshall Islands.”

By the end of 2024, the Early Childhood Development Project aims to have enrolled 1,000 children between the ages of three and four in kindergarten, which is an addition of 762 students from their start in 2019. In terms of health improvements, the project hopes to provide essential health and nutrition services to at least 19,850 people. This is clearly a substantial improvement from the zero receiving similar services in 2019.

Moving Forward

This is only the beginning of helping the Marshall Islands recover from decades of poverty. Moving forward, it is essential that the World Bank and other humanitarian organizations continue to focus on improving the health of children in the Marshall Islands. These efforts are vital to the Marshall Islands’ ability to move towards a more prosperous future.

Hannah Carroll
Photo: Flickr

Double Burden of Malnutrition
Typically, obesity and being generally overweight are thought of as problems exclusive to higher-income countries, while undernourishment is believed to be only within low- and middle-income (LMI) countries. However, LMI countries disproportionately face both obesity and undernourishment, which is known as the double burden of malnutrition (DBM).

More than one-third of LMI countries are facing the double burden of malnutrition. This rise in the prevalence of DBM is attributed to dramatic changes within our food systems. Globally, our diets have experienced a shift towards greater consumption of ultra-processed and high caloric foods. This includes things such as sugar-sweetened beverages and fast-foods.

The Double Burden and Poverty

LMI countries disproportionately deal with the double burden of malnutrition because they experience this shift in diet on top of pre-existing undernourishment. Poverty creates a tremendous strain on one’s ability to access proper nutrition. Impoverished individuals experiencing food insecurity may resort to purchasing ultra-processed foods because they are cheaper. This means that they are either not getting enough food to begin with causing undernourishment or eating unhealthy foods, which can cause obesity and undernourishment due to micronutrient deficiencies.

Undernourishment and obesity are health risks that interact and lead to one another. For example, mothers that are either underweight or overweight during pregnancy can face health risks themselves, such as anemia or gestational diabetes. They can also put their child at risk; being underweight could lead to a low-birth-weight for the baby, and being overweight could increase the likelihood that the child will be overweight later in life. The DBM directly impacts health and places a strain on the healthcare system, but it affects countries’ economic growth as well.

An Economic Burden

In 2017, the World Food Program (WFP) released a report examining the economic cost of the double burden of malnutrition in Latin America. Undernutrition and obesity undermine individuals’ productivity. Undernourishment hinders physical and brain growth, while being overweight or obesity causes non-communicable diseases like diabetes or heart disease. These health conditions create situations where it may be difficult for adults to work consistently, or children may be too ill to go to school. Losses in productivity can hinder economic growth, which maintains poverty and only worsens the double burden of malnutrition. The report claims that economic losses from productivity are “estimated at 500 million in Chile, 4.3 billion in Ecuador and 28.8 billion in Mexico.”

In Latin America, rates of obesity and undernourishment are increasing significantly. About 25% of adults are obese, and 7.3% of children under five years old are overweight. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Regional Representative, Julio Berdegué, states that “obesity is growing uncontrollably. Each year we are adding 3.6 million obese people to this region.” Additionally, rates of undernourishment are rising. 39.3 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing hunger. In Venezuela, there are 3.7 million people hungry. There are 4.8 million people hungry in Mexico.

Combatting Malnutrition

The double burden of malnutrition is detrimental in this region and is causing great concern. However, many countries have implemented strategies to combat this:

  • Chile has approved front-of-pack-labeling (FOPL) that warns consumers if the product is high in sodium, saturated fats or sugars. It has also imposed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Brazil has increased infant breastfeeding by 32.3% and reduced children-under-five stunting by 30%.
  • Mexico is the first Latin American country to impose a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. It has also created a social welfare program called conditional cash transfer (CCT), which aims to make families food secure and use education and supplements to improve nutrition.

The double burden of malnutrition is a complex and multifaceted issue, which will require comprehensive interventions. It is crucial to target early-life nutrition, ensure that hunger programs provide nutrient-rich foods, and begin managing the production and distribution within larger food systems. While this task is daunting, it is essential to correctly address all forms of malnutrition in order to make the most impact.

Paige Wallace
Photo: Unsplash

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

 Sanitation in Czech Republic The Czech Republic, or Czechia, is a bordered country in Central Europe with a population of 10.69 million. Around 98% of the population has access to sewerage systems which the country has carefully manufactured so that the water is clean and safe to drink right away. Even some of the people with lower social and ethnic status have access to this water. Here are nine facts about sanitation in the Czech Republic that detail how its sanitation has evolved.

9 Facts About Sanitation in the Czech Republic

  1. Clean Water Access: In 2017, calculations determined that 98% of the population had access to clean water. Since Czechia is a landlocked county, all of its water flows out of the country and into neighborhoods. New water sources are dependent on the atmosphere’s participation. Drinking water is dependent on ground sources which are based on hydrologic basins.
  2. Health Care: With highly qualified staff in hospitals, private care is usually more expensive than regular public health care. Many of the private hospitals are more equipped to work with patients and have a service-oriented approach to medical care. This allows patients the advantage of getting medications faster. Although it takes longer to receive medical treatment in public care, some health care workers speak English. This serves as a high advantage to expats and hospitals that receive heavy subsidies, however, hospitals are equally accessible to all insured persons. The health care system also offers mental health care through inpatient facilities. With healthy sanitation, the hospitals are better equipped and have a high rate of patient recovery especially with good water sanitation.
  3. Soil Sanitation: With good precipitation and weather changes, the growing season is in good condition and produces quality vegetation. Growing quality produce keeps the population healthy and the precipitation helps prevent the spread of diseases.
  4. Sanitation in Schools: Kids in the Czech Republic have good sanitation in schools, and because of this, they have actually encouraged other schools to improve their hygiene. The Czech Republic Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia provided support to the Girl Friendly Schools: improving sanitation, hygiene and health education in the Cambodia project in 2018. To date, this project has helped 2,415 students in 12 different schools gain higher quality sanitation.
  5. Waste Sanitation: Czechia has a waste problem. Households do not produce as much garbage as the U.S. but still need some improvements considering that most waste comes from schools and neighborhoods.
  6. Waterborne Illness: Between 1995 and 2005, only 33 outbreaks of waterborne illness occurred, affecting a small amount of the Czech Republic’s population. Only 27 outbreaks of unsafe drinking water caused them, coming from sources like pools and mineral water springs. There were reports of some small cases but no serious cases seem to have occurred.
  7. Food Safety: A microbiological compliance test on food supplies occurred in 2018 and showed that 146 batches were unsafe for human consumption. The foods that this test found unsafe were mostly vegetables, dairy and meat products. About 67 catering facilities shut down because of poor hygiene. Since the country still must make progress to ensure food safety, it is discussing laws to help improve food safety. These laws will make it easier to control food safety and ensure that catering businesses meet standards going forward.
  8. Sustainable Development of Sanitation: The Czech Republic ranks as the seventh most developed country. Because Czechia has always had clean water and overall decent sanitation, the country has fostered sustainable communities and maintained healthy economic growth since the beginning, causing it to rise in the rankings. It has already met one of the goals for the SDGs (sustainable development goals) and is on track to complete more. The country hopes to meet more goals by 2030.
  9. Safely Managed Sanitation Services: In 2017, four out of 10 people used sanitation that was safely managed. In 2015, 3.4 billion people used a safely managed sanitation service in comparison to only 2.1 billion in 2000. Though some areas still lack managed sanitation, safe sanitation services serve most of the population.

These nine facts about sanitation in the Czech Republic show how the population has gained quality sanitation. There are still areas that are in the process of improvement. In general, the country’s sanitation is in good condition and is safe for both citizens and visitors.

– Rachel Hernandez
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in AngolaAngola is a country in Southern African that is home to nearly 31 million people. Of those people, at least 2.3 million of them are at high risk for extreme malnutrition. Angola experienced an El Niño from 2015 to 2017 and the impact of this phenomenon along with the 2019 drought has been long-lasting. Here are five facts about hunger in Angola.

5 Facts About Hunger in Angola

  1. Widespread drought is the central cause of hunger. A devastating drought hit Angola in 2019 that reversed much of the steady decline in hunger and malnutrition within the country. The start of 2019 marked an uptick in both Angola’s Global Hunger Index rank and prevalence of stunted children under 5 years of age. Nearly half a million people at high risk for extreme malnutrition are under the age of 5. This drought was especially harmful to Angola due to the country’s fragile state after the recent El Niño in 2017. The drought’s impact on hunger in Angola can be seen across all aspects of everyday life.
  2. Commercial cattle farming hurts local cattle farmers. As the drought took its course in Angola, thousands of kilometers of previously fertile land was rendered useless. About 40% of Angolans live in rural areas where they depend on livestock-related activities for survival, mainly cattle farming. Commercial farmers were given 2,629 square kilometers of the remaining fertile land, leaving only 33% of the fertile land for local cattle farmers. Cattle farming is the main source of income for Angolan locals; however, when the drought began, their land was taken from them without due process. One of the hardest-hit provinces was Cunene, a province of rural farmlands that commercial cattle farmers now occupy.
  3. Improper governmental land distribution reveals corruption from within. The constitution of Angola clearly states that before any of its people’s land is taken away, there must be a consultation with the government. No such consultations were made before 46 commercial cattle farmers took the Angolan land, which is a clear violation of the country’s constitution. Shortly after these unlawful land seizures, the Angolan government ratified several laws to protect the right to food and clean water for its people, although no reparations have been made to those living in Cunene. With Cunene being the second largest province for cattle farming, the seizure of communal farmland forced locals to travel long distances to other provinces for water and food they previously had access to on their land.
  4. Conditions in Angola force people to turn to new food sources. With local cattle farming being the main source of food, there is a distinct lack of food because of the drought and improper land distribution. Hunger in Angola has intensified because communal cattle grazing land has either dried up or been given to commercial farmers. This has forced people to eat wild leaves to avoid starvation. Eating wild leaves causes sickness, diarrhea and skin conditions in both adults and children. Despite many adults giving up drinking milk so their children may have it, malnutrition levels in Angolan children younger than 5 continue to increase.
  5. The fight against hunger forces education to the back burner. In a country where people fight daily to find clean water and decent food, education becomes less of a priority and more of a luxury. Children spend their days helping their parents search for clean water and food, which has led to the closure of 160 schools alone in Cunene, one of the most affected provinces. Over 70% of Angolan children have had their education disrupted due to an inability to meet their basic needs. Even when students can come to school, most of them are exhausted from their long days of searching for clean water and food: and oftentimes these searches yield few results.

Although Angola faces these pervasive issues, some organizations are working to fight for the Angolan people and their well-being. Doctors With Africa CUAMM is an NGO working to fight malnutrition specifically in mothers and children under the age of five in Cunene. They first began their work in Angola in 1997, but their “Mothers and Children First” program took off in 2012 by working to ensure safe birthing and newborn care practices. Doctors With Africa CUAMM has visited nearly 27,500 Angolan mothers and newborns in addition to building 20 health centers near Cunene. The NGO focuses on building long-term healthcare projects, training African and Italian health care providers, conducting scientific studies about health in Africa and providing educational resources about health to the general public.

In 2017, Angola requested aid to help provide resources to Congolese refugees entering Angola. The U.S. Food for Peace partnered with the U.N. World Food Program to contribute $4.5 million to their efforts in 2019. The money went toward local food distribution, to affected locals and refugees as well as monitoring the drought situation. With this money, better protection of refugees has become possible, and locally produced food has become more accessible in northern provinces. While these are helpful steps forward, a more permanent set of solutions is still needed to eliminate hunger in Angola.

– Natalie Tarbox
Photo: Flickr