The Struggles of Single Parents in YemenThe current civil war in Yemen is a bloody one. Since the beginning of the civil war in 2015, the reported casualties reached 100,000 in October 2019. Among this number, about 12,000 were civilian casualties who attackers directly targeted. This ever-mounting amount of civilian casualties has multiple effects on many families in Yemen. On a surface level, these civilian casualties reflect the numerous children who lose their parents during the on-going conflict. Some reports suggested that there are currently more than 1.1 million orphans in Yemen. On the other hand, the casualty number also reflects the single parents in Yemen who are trying to raise their children in a war zone.

Single parents in Yemen are struggling due to many reasons including a lack of access to basic goods, or professional services such as maternal care during and after pregnancy. This struggle of being a single parent in Yemen falls mostly on many Yemeni women who lost their husbands in the on-going conflict.

Struggles of Single Parents in Yemen

Being a single parent, especially a single mother, in Yemen is difficult. Yemen’s female participation in the workforce is extremely low. This means that many women in Yemen rely on their husbands for financial support. However, the conflict in Yemen took many Yemeni men from their families. As casualties rise, both military and civilian, many women lose their husbands. However, because the majority of women do not have much work experience, they lack the experience or qualifications to go out and find employment.

The challenge of single parenting in Yemen begins even before a child is born. This is especially true for mothers, single or otherwise, in Yemen. According to UNICEF, one woman and six newborns die every two hours from complications during pregnancy and childbirth in Yemen. This is the reflection of poor conditions in Yemen where only three out of 10 births take place in regular health facilities. WHO’s 2016 survey of hospitals in Yemen reported that more than half of all health facilities in Yemen are closed or only partially functioning.

For mothers and newborns, this means that they lack essential natal care, immunization services and postpartum/postnatal interventions. This lack of natal care and medical services for newborns resulted in one out of 37 Yemeni newborns dying in the first month of their lives.

Malnutrition is another challenge that single parents in Yemen struggle against. Multiple factors contribute to malnutrition in Yemen. Some reports suggest that the Saudi coalition intentionally targeted Yemeni farms. A report suggested that the Saudi-led coalition launched at least 10,000 strikes against food farms, 800 strikes against local food markets and about 450 airstrikes that hit food storage facilities. This made civilian access to food extremely difficult on a local level. The Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of Yemeni ports and other entry points for food, medicine, fuel and foreign aid worsened this food shortage. Yemen’s impoverished civilians, 79 percent of whom are living under the poverty line, find it difficult to afford the ever-increasing food prices. For single parents in Yemen, this makes feeding their children a difficult challenge. An estimated 2.2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished.

Organizations Helping Yemen

Numerous organizations help single parents in Yemen. Doctors Without Borders, between 2015 and 2018, provided natal care for pregnant mothers and delivered 68,702 babies in Yemen. Oxfam provided multiple humanitarian services in Yemen. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, Oxfam provided cash to Yemeni families so that they could buy food. On top of this, Oxfam delivered water and repaired water systems in remote regions of Yemen. UNICEF launched the Healthy Start Voucher Scheme in 2019. This program provides coupons for poor and vulnerable pregnant women to help them cover the cost of traveling to hospitals for childbirth. The coupon also gives these women access to newborn care in case of complications.

The Future for Single Parents in Yemen

Single parents in Yemen struggle against the difficult daily conditions in the country. Lack of access to food, water, health care and basic goods makes it extremely difficult for single parents in Yemen to provide for their children. Malnourished children dying of hunger are truly a disheartening image of the current conflict in Yemen. However, there are signs of peace. In November 2019, the combatants of the conflict held behind-the-scenes talks to end the conflict in Yemen. In the meantime, the international community is relying on many relief organizations that work tirelessly to help the people of Yemen.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Malnutrition in Kenya
In Africa, about 257 million people do not know where their next meal will come from. This means that approximately 20 percent of the population is experiencing severe hunger as a result of the continent’s economic crisis and extremely dry conditions. Food prices soar in response to poor harvests and crop failures, leaving many to starve if action is not taken. Fortunately, humanitarian aid organizations like UNICEF reduce the impact of hunger in impoverished countries across Africa by stepping in with malnutrition prevention and treatment strategies that continue to save lives. This is how UNICEF is fighting malnutrition in Kenya.

The State of Malnutrition in Kenya

Kenya’s food insecurity issue is a direct byproduct of the country’s low agricultural productivity that is caused by a lack of rainfall. About 80 percent of the East African country’s land is arid.  These dry, drought-like conditions only exacerbate the dilemma of low crop and livestock production. This leads to a shortage of food, and the available food is often sold at an inflated, unaffordable price.

More than 3.4 million Kenyans are facing severe food insecurity and around 400,000 children under the age of 5 are malnourished. Approximately 26 percent of children 5 and under are stunted, while another 4 percent are chronically emaciated or “wasting.” With malnutrition being the leading cause of death in children, it is vital that something is done to prevent this hunger.

Taking Action

Luckily, UNICEF is taking action. Founded in 1946, UNICEF is fighting malnutrition in Kenya from the inside by providing millions of people with resources, medical treatment and even counseling. The organization’s Vitamin A Supplementation Policy helped more than 3 million children to receive Vitamin A, a nutrient that is crucial for the human body to develop properly. This supplementation program has helped children fight malnutrition by allowing them to build strong immune systems and reduce dehydration. According to UNICEF, Vitamin A supplements can increase a child’s chance of survival by as much as 24 percent.

In 2017, UNICEF provided malnutrition screenings to over 450,000 impoverished children through outreach services. This program was in response to Kenya’s national drought emergency that was declared in April of that year, which was projected to cause a rapid spike in food shortages. These screenings were able to provide life-saving treatments for children that were suffering from the effects of malnutrition.

Iron Folic Acid (IFA) prevents low iron levels in the body while also promoting proper growth and development. UNICEF recently donated Iron Folic Acid supplements to over 2.5 million women of reproductive age through the Girls’ Iron-Folate Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS) Programme, allowing adolescent girls and women to decrease their susceptibility to anemia. Since IFA is often used as a prenatal supplement, UNICEF is fighting child malnutrition in Kenya before it even starts.

In addition to increasing a child’s chance of survival, feeding practices like breastfeeding can promote optimal growth and development. Through the Community Health System, UNICEF counseled more than 1.7 million new mothers on safe and proper breastfeeding. By teaching mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, UNICEF has saved even more children from experiencing malnutrition at an early age.

Moving Forward

Kenya has made significant progress in reducing malnutrition rates. By promoting good nutrition and providing resources and outreach services, UNICEF has improved the lives of millions of families. As far as 2022, UNICEF plans on continuing to integrate nutrition-specific strategies to help fight malnutrition in Kenya.

– Hadley West
Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in Honduras
Poverty remains an issue in Honduras, but it is making progress in rural infrastructure development, education improvement and agriculture income growth. As reported in 2017, Honduras has a poverty rate of about 52 percent, partly due to slow economic development, extreme violence and political corruption. Those in poverty rely heavily on outside aid from the World Bank, the U.S. and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Thanks to the World Bank and its partners, major development projects in Honduras were successful, such as the Social Protection Project and the Rural Infrastructure Project. Progress is currently ongoing to reduce poverty, develop the Honduran economy and improve life for those in poor rural areas.

Social Protection Project

The Social Protection Project cost $77 million, began in 2010 and ended in 2018. Although poverty reduced from 65 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2017, poverty remains an issue and is one of the main reasons for Hondurans fleeing the country. One major effect of Honduras’ poverty is parents taking their children out of school and having them work to help the household earn a sufficient income. Since income is low, poor Hondurans often cannot afford quality health care.

Malnutrition in children under 5 was 43 percent for those in poverty and school enrollment for ages 12 to 14 was 65 percent. To combat this, the World Bank and Honduras worked together to improve education and health care. At the end of the project, school attendance increased by 5 percent for 6 to 17-year-olds and school enrollment increased by 5 percent. Child labor reduced by 2.6 percent and about 50 percent of the recipients from 0 to 23 months of age received vaccinations. More than 300,000 families benefited from the Social Protection Project. Conditional cash transfers helped reduce poverty for those who participated in the project, which granted monthly income to the extreme poor.

Rural Infrastructure Project

The Rural Infrastructure Project began in 2005 and ended in 2016. Most roads in Honduras are unpaved and about 16 percent of people in rural areas lack a clean drinking water source, which increases the risk of contracting diseases. Also, about 22 percent of sanitation facilities remain unimproved and 30 percent of those in rural areas lack electricity. The Government of Honduras worked with the World Bank to improve its lagging infrastructure because of this. The project benefited more than 300,000 households.

Among many other infrastructure improvements, the project resulted in installing 4,893 latrines and constructing 113 water and sanitation projects. The project improved more than 413 miles of roadways and financed more than 8,550 rural electrification projects, with most of the electricity powered from solar photovoltaic energy. The project also improved more than 500 miles of power lines, which made it easier to develop remote areas of Honduras such as the slums in the western part of the country.

U.S. Involvement

The U.S. is one of the main donors to Honduras. Through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the U.S. grants aid to those in need of foreign assistance. The U.S. Congress created the MCC in 2004 with strong bipartisan support. The MCC spent more than $200 million in infrastructure and agriculture improvements through four major projects in Honduras from 2005 to 2010. Some of the results include more than 350 miles of rural roads improved and paved. The biggest result was increasing monthly agriculture income by $3.50. The increase in income might seem small, but not for those in poverty, especially Hondurans who live in extreme poverty, off of less than $2 a day. For reference, the middle-income country poverty rate is around $5.50.

Poverty is slow to decline in Honduras, yet successful development projects in Honduras show improvement in other areas. Infrastructure is improving through the help of the U.S. and the World Bank. Poverty declined gradually from about 65 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2017. Development projects in Honduras in rural areas, such as through electrification, education and health care improvements and road construction shows promise for improving livelihoods for Hondurans in poverty.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Facts about Life Expectancy in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and the second most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. With a population of 6.4 million, nearly 50 percent live on just $2 a day. Though Nicaragua’s odds seem to be against it, the last two decades have shown an increase in life expectancy, averaging 74.5 years, which is an increase of six years since the late 90s. There are many contributing factors to this increase. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Nicaragua.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Nicaragua

  1. Nicaragua’s life expectancy is one year higher than the world average. As of 2019, the world average life expectancy was estimated at 72 years. One can follow life expectancy back to the Age of Enlightenment when only certain countries had the resources to industrialize. Consequently, this affected the distribution of health across the globe. Wealthy countries were healthy, whereas poor countries were not.
  2. Malnutrition and undernutrition is the primary cause of child mortality. Although Nicaragua is an agrarian economy, finding food and clean water is difficult. According to Project Concern International (PCI), nearly one of every five children have chronic malnutrition. PCI implemented the Food for Education project and feeds over 77,000 children every day. The integration between food and education encourages students to continue schooling without worrying about an empty stomach.
  3. Education is free and compulsory. However, travel expenses are costly and serve as an obstacle for low-income rural families. Only 29 percent of children attending school finish their primary education and roughly 500,000 children under the age of 12 are completely out of the education system. Those with more wealth and better health typically have an education of more than 12 years.
  4. Access to onsite health services is widely available. Nicaragua has a total of 32 public hospitals, 21 of which are departmental reference facilities. This means that medical professionals perform a variety of health services like inpatient care for internal medicine or surgery, and even diagnostic lab testing, in one central location. The majority of the hospitals, however, are on the Pacific side of the country, limiting access for those unable to travel.
  5. Nicaragua has the lowest HIV infection rates in Central America. Although case detection is slow (anywhere between two weeks and six months), preventive measures are stopping further spread of the disease. The Ministry of Health implemented case-based-surveillance (CBS) information systems. It continuously collects data on demographics, health events, diagnosis and routine treatment. The system also tracks outbreaks, viral mobility and mortality. CBS information systems support faster public health action.
  6. The Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI) developed and implemented technologies for low-income health settings. Diagnostic kits are readily available to test for communicable diseases like dengue and leptospirosis. Testing and sampling happen at local or regional labs and lab techniques such as cell culturing receive modifications on-site in low-resource settings.
  7. Nicaraguan health care systems have the support of nonprofits. To name a couple, Project HOPE created the International Diabetes Educator and E-Learning Program to combat the rising threat of diabetes. The program’s aim is to train health care professionals and volunteers. Similarly, the Manna Project created adolescent health education programs in response to teen pregnancy. It also implemented Community Health Promotion, a program to teach communities about healthy lifestyle changes.
  8. Life expectancy for males and females follows the same pattern worldwide. As of 2019, females outlive their male counterparts by four years, averaging 76 years. This is one more year than the world average.
  9. The primary cause of death is noncommunicable disease. Diseases of the circulatory system account for 27 percent of premature deaths. Roughly 13 percent are due to external causes such as suicide and accidents, and nutritional/metabolic-related diseases like chronic malnutrition cause 9 percent of deaths. The Family and Community Health Model that the Pan American Health Organization implemented has improved health service accessibility by renovating the technology and health infrastructure.
  10. Health expenditures are the lowest per capita in Central America. Nicaragua spends about 8.7 percent of its total GDP on health care services and resources. Nicaragua spends roughly $59 on one person with an average of $27 out-of-pocket payment. Out-of-pocket payments directly influence the increase in privatized health care facilities.

The years of dedicated collaboration and innovation created health modifications that directly impact the life expectancy of Nicaraguans. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Nicaragua illustrate how far it has come in the last 20 years and how far it has to go before it has health, wealth and happiness.

– Marissa Taylor
Photo: Flickr

12 Facts About Hunger in Afghanistan 
Due to decades of conflict, environmental disaster and economic instability, Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest nations. One of the largest issues to building national stability for Afghanistan is the remaining issue of food insecurity. Hunger and malnutrition are the biggest risks to health worldwide, according to the United Nations. Hunger prevents people from reaching their full potential by limiting their ability to work and learn. Here are 12 facts about hunger in Afghanistan.

12 Facts About Hunger in Afghanistan

  1. By the end of 2019, average wheat and staple food production contributed to stable pricing. Even though food prices have been stabilizing, households are unable to purchase necessary food because there are few opportunities to work. Even when work is available, the pay is not high enough to account for all living costs. People in Afghanistan, on average, spend 60 percent of their income on food.
  2. It is essential to invest in agriculture in Afghanistan, as it is almost 25 percent of the GDP. At least 50 percent of all households attribute at least part of their income to agriculture. The World Bank suggests that the most promising agricultural opportunities will be to invest in growing irrigated wheat and horticulture and to raise livestock. With the combination of investing in the growth of investment in these agricultural products, the World Bank estimates that there is the potential for the growth of 1.3 million jobs over a period of 10 years.
  3. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that approximately 38 percent of rural households face food shortages. It also determines that 21 percent of the rural population lives in extreme poverty due to continuing conflict in the region, drought and floods. In addition to this range of factors, agricultural production has decreased due to insufficient investment in the sector, crop diseases and pests.
  4. The World Bank also reports that over the past decade, hunger in Afghanistan has risen from 28 to 45 percent. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works closely with the Afghan government and development partners to reduce gender disparities and increase the social and economic status of vulnerable and marginalized communities. IFAD does this by increasing access to financial institutions in remote or rural areas, enhancing the skills of rural households and strengthening local infrastructure.
  5. From November 2019 to March 2020, the IPC, a coalition of U.N. agencies working on food insecurity, predicts that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity will rise to 11.3 million. According to the IPC, continued conflict, mass migration back to the region, predictions of rising crop prices in the winter and unemployment are the main contributors to rising hunger in Afghanistan at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
  6. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, predicts that 820,000 people will require food assistance through January 2020 in Afghanistan. It expects this number to rise between these dates because of the returning displaced citizens from Pakistan and Iran. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and local NGOs will provide food assistance.
  7. High rates of malnutrition and lack of the right variety of food for children in Afghanistan have contributed to a variety of health issues. Only 12 percent of children from 6 months to 2 years old receive the correct quantity of food in order to grow, according to UNICEF. This results in problems such as stunting, wasting and anemia. These problems result in ongoing health issues throughout a lifetime.
  8. Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization, provides extensive support to farmers in Afghanistan through a U.N. grant. From 2015 to 2019, the $34.6 million grant supported more than 7,380 farmers by training them to plant and produce opium alternative crops including grapes, almonds, pistachios, saffron and vegetables.
  9. One of the largest supporters of ending hunger in Afghanistan is the U.N. World Food Programme. The World Food Programme provides monthly food and cash for a period of six months while vocationally training men and women. In 2018 in Afghanistan, the WFP program had 14,000 women and 3,000 men graduate and learn income-generating skills. Additionally, between January and June 2019, WFP assisted more than 3.2 million people across 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
  10. UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) set up a national surveillance system in Afghanistan in 2013. The purpose of it is to guide the government and NGO partners to collect and analyze data in order to quickly address nutritional challenges or emergencies. Since 2013, the WHO has trained 1,500 community health workers to accurately collect nutritional metrics and quarterly report data from 175 sentinel sites around the country.
  11. A paper in partnership with the World Bank in 2018, the Investment Framework for Nutrition in Afghanistan, examined what would be necessary for Afghanistan to improve nutrition. This endeavor also included efforts to reduce stunting and invest more in children’s health for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health’s (MOPH) Basic Package of Health Service implementation for 2018 to 2021. The total estimated public investment necessary would be $44 million a year for five years. This money would prevent 25,000 deaths, 90,000 cases of anemia and 4,000 cases of stunting in children.
  12. Since 2005, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. has worked to improve the production of dairy in collaboration with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. The results of this partnership have been the establishment of five dairy process plants and 64 milk collection centers. From 2005 to 2017, production per cow went from 3.5 to 9.1 liters, resulting in annual household income growing from $371 to $852 through the sale of extra milk.

Although there are many challenges in the region to building local capacity to handle food insecurity, there are many Afghani and global organizations that are continuing to help formulate strategies to bring about change. These 12 facts about hunger in Afghanistan shed some light on these issues.

Danielle Barnes
Photo: Flickr

8 Quotes About How to End HungerMore than 820 million people are suffering from hunger. Further, 2 billion are suffering from malnutrition. However, there is enough food, knowledge and resources to end hunger. First, society must address the root cause to effectively end world hunger. Here are 8 inspiring quotes about how to end hunger.

8 Quotes About How to End Hunger

  1. “If with so little we have done so much in Brazil, imagine what could have been done on a global scale if the fight against hunger and poverty were a real priority for the international community.” -Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva. Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva is a former Brazilian president, with enormous popularity across Brazil. Lula Da Silva made the poor his central focus. He put into place many social welfare programs and was able to bring millions out of poverty.
  2. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” -Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa is widely known for feeding the hungry one person at a time. She also set up programs that assisted in resolving world hunger.
  3. “You cannot tackle hunger, disease and poverty unless you can also provide people with a healthy ecosystem in which their economies can grow.” -Gro Harlem Brundtland. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland was a physician and scientist for the Norwegian public health system and the Prime Minister of Norway. She later became the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Brundtland believes in being the moral voice in improving health and alleviating suffering for people around the world.
  4. “We cannot fight against the poverty and hunger in the world when our stomachs are full of delicious food… the fighters must feel the poverty not imagine it.” -M.F. Moonzajer. This quote comes from M.F. Moonzajer’s latest book titled “Love, Hatred, and Madness.” Moonzajer is a journalist and a former intern for the United Nations Secretariat in Bonn as well as a policymaker for an international NGO in Afghanistan.
  5. “Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per minute, per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty…” -Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro was the former Prime Minister of Cuba. Castro felt strongly about human rights, particularly the right to food accessibility. He accused wealthy nations of tolerating the genocide of starvation. He addressed the United Nations during the organization of a multinational force to aid “1 million Rwandan refugees in eastern Zaire where rebel fighting cut off the country’s food supply.”
  6. “When you see in places like Africa and parts of Asia abject poverty, hungry children and malnutrition around you, and you look at yourself as being people who have well being and comforts, I think it takes a very insensitive, tough person not to feel they need to do something.” -Ratan Tata. Ratan Tata is an Indian philanthropist working to improve conditions in India by honing in on the malnutrition of children, fortifying staple foods and aiming to alleviate poverty. The Tata Trusts are providing 60,000 meals a day.
  7. “If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved.” – Bono. Bono is a band member of the group U2 and is a leading voice for the world’s poor. His efforts mainly pertain to fighting hunger and poverty, particularly for those in Africa. The musician donates his time to philanthropic causes such as creating charities such as the ONE Campaign and the clothing line EDUN to stimulate trade in poverty-stricken countries.
  8. “If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering speak out, then the noise will be deafening.” -Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is an advocate for human rights, particularly the right to food and clean water. Tutu received the Global Champion Against Hunger award from the United Nations World Food Program for his efforts to defend the weak and the hungry.

These 8 inspiring quotes about how to end hunger show that there are people in the world trying to make a difference. But, as Bono said, everyone has to be involved to truly end world hunger.

Na’Keevia Brown
Photo: Flickr

Starvation in Asia
The number of deaths from starvation in Asia is significant in many different regions, including South-East Asia and South Asia. Several global organizations including the United Nations have come forward to claim that malnutrition and a lack of food distribution are major global issues.

The Facts About Starvation

In 2018, Time Magazine reported that nearly half a billion people in the Asia-Pacific region suffered from starvation. Meanwhile, according to Mercy Corps, nine million people die from starvation every year, which is more than the deaths from malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. Whilst the causes of starvation-related deaths vary from region to region, there are common factors that have lead to their increase. Using India as an example, the organization Action Against Hunger lists poverty, low availability of food, disease, climate change and violent conflicts as just a few factors that contribute to malnutrition and starvation rates.

Whilst no one knows the exact number of deaths from starvation in Asia, the website Hunger Notes breaks down undernourishment based on region. According to Hunger Notes, South-East Asia, including areas such as Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, and South Asia, comprising of India and Pakistan, account for the highest percentage of undernourished citizens. Over half (56.5 percent) suffers undernourishment and 27.8 percent of South-East Asia’s population does not have adequate nourishment.

The facts from Action Against Hunger mentioned earlier, provide a clear indication as to why the South Asia region has such a high malnutrition rate. As for South-East Asia, according to a World Bank report, some of the underlying causes of malnutrition for Vietnam include diseases, infections, parasites and a lack of food security. The rate of starvation in South Asia has seen a 6.6 percent increase in growth from 1992 to 2014 in the percentage of the world’s hungry people. The organization explains that both an increase in global malnutrition and an increase in malnutrition in the region have caused this. India alone accounts for 22.3 percent of the world’s malnutrition rate, according to Action Against Hunger. Meanwhile, UNICEF states that the malnutrition rate in South Asia has decreased since WorldHunger.org published its report. In 2018, the malnutrition rate stood at 27 percent, compared to the reported 37.5 percent in 2014.

Organizations Fighting Against Starvation in Asia

Mercy Corps, Action Against Hunger and Food Aid are helping to fight against deaths from starvation in Asia. The Mercy Corps aims to assist farmers by providing them with what they need to help supply their regions with food and improve sustainability. According to The Mercy Corps, there has been a 17 percent increase in the amount of food on a per-person basis in the last 30 years. The Mercy Corps also states that whilst the world produces enough food to supply the population, the distribution of that food is the real cause of starvation and deaths from starvation both in Asia and worldwide.

Action Against Hunger aims to provide emergency care for malnourished children and help governments give their people clean water and improved nutrition. In 2018, it worked with the Indonesian Ministry of Health on a joint project to help fight malnutrition. In 2018, Action Against Hunger provided over 1,800 people in Indonesia with food security programs and livelihood programs. It also assisted the Indonesian government in creating a Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition Project that helped provide sanitary water to the people of Indonesia.

Food Aid works as a global food pantry, providing unused food to communities in need. It has also helped supply soup kitchens, welfare programs and families with the food necessary to function.

Whilst the number of deaths from starvation in Asia continue to be a part of the larger issue of global starvation, there have been progressive strides towards improving the statistics. The United Nations, however, did warn in its 2018 report that these numbers need to fall much quicker in order for the world to see a significant change in global malnutrition. Several global organizations have been working to help fix the major problem areas, though, such as food distribution, sustainability, hydration and malnutrition among youth.

– Jacob Creswell
Photo: Flickr

Obesity in African Countries
Obesity in African countries, as well as malnutrition, is a rising issue. There are many documentations that wealthy countries are having issues with obesity, however, people have found that poorer countries in Africa are experiencing problems as well. This article will take a look at some of the potential reasons why African countries are experiencing obesity and malnutrition, as well as what people are doing to create healthier lifestyles in the future.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity in African countries has been on the rise over the past 25 years. BMJ journal studies have revealed that obesity has tripled in Egypt and Ghana since 1995, and doubled in many other countries such as Niger, Kenya and Rwanda. African women are especially at risk, showing rates of obesity much higher than men. One can attribute much of this rise to a few factors.

For much of the urban population, fast food is now readily available and cheaper than buying produce from a grocery store. This is causing problems with more people choosing fatty fast food with little nutrition over more wholesome options.

Along with this, there is a general lack of knowledge about proper nutrition. With more options readily available in stores, people are able to purchase more than just basic produce. However, without knowing how to eat a proper diet, many people choose the cheapest option or simply what tastes best. This leaves a nutrition gap in people’s diets.

 Beyond nutritional issues, there are cultural causes as well. Especially for women, many consider a larger body frame more attractive as they associate it with wealth, success and well-being. This cultural norm can set a dangerous precedent without proper education on true well-being. 

The Malabo Montpellier Panel and Potential Solutions

One program working to reduce obesity in Africa is the Malabo Montpellier Panel. This organization is a group of agricultural experts that strive to improve food security in Africa. It attempts to address the cultural and geographical problems causing obesity by influencing policy in African countries. It achieves this through research that it then reports to key government officials in the form of recommendations for policy. One of its achievements is getting 54 countries to sign the Malabo Declaration. This document states that these countries will strive to halve their current rates of poverty by 2025 through agricultural practices that provide jobs for people. These agricultural practices not only improve the economy making eating healthy more fiscally possible, but also ensure continued and improved access to fresh produce.

Striving for influence through policy advisors is just one way to go about solving obesity in Africa. One other such option is the use of educational programs to attempt to teach people better nutritional habits. People can develop programs and deliver them in urban and rural areas to promote healthy eating habits. Along with these programs, individuals can offer classes that instruct on how to properly cook nutritious food. Creating awareness of new cooking techniques can help expand the options people have for preparing food on a budget.

Lastly, people or organizations can implement programs that emphasize the importance of exercise. With more and more people living in urban areas and living sedentary lives, many people are not getting the exercise they need. Programs can both educate people on the importance of exercise, and provide training on how to properly get the exercise necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Conclusion

Though obesity in African countries is an increasing issue, there are options available that provide solutions. Organizations such as the Malabo Montpellier Panel are already starting to address issues and research solutions. As African countries address the issue, society as a whole will be better off and they will be able to put fewer resources into health care for obesity and more people should be able to contribute to the economy. Education and action could potentially eliminate the problem of obesity in developing nations in no time.

starvation in Africa
In East Africa, hunger is a major crisis. In fact, about 20 percent of the entire African population experiences hunger daily. While the claim that African children die from malnutrition every few seconds is a bit exaggerated, the true number of deaths from starvation in Africa is still quite alarming. Here are the causes and facts about the African hunger crises, as well as potential solutions to ebbing them.

The Causes

Hunger and malnutrition are not instantaneous, and there are many factors involved, such as poverty, drought, conflict and governance. Historically, famines and hunger crises from drought or war have plagued Africa’s poor since 1968. More often than not, extreme weather and climates will yield unsuccessful crops, which in turn subtracts from the profit that families can make from farming.

People suffering from poverty often cannot afford to purchase food, both in quality and quantity. Conflict and violence further instigate the food crisis by causing food insecurities and lessening the availability of food imports and incomes. Lastly, insufficient access to food can also be the result of poor governance and policies. Without proper leadership and guidance from governments, conflict and poverty can affect the quality, availability and affordability of food.

The Facts

As aforementioned, 20 percent of the African population—257 million people—suffer from hunger and famine. In the Sub-Saharan alone, 237 million suffer chronic undernourishment. As of June 2019, nearly 60 million children in Africa are underfed despite the continent’s recent economic growth.

Statistically, nine out of 10 African children do not meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for a minimum acceptable diet, and two in five children do not eat meals on a regular or scheduled basis. Children who suffer from such hunger also experience stunted growth and impaired cognitive development.

In truth, this is due to malnutrition, which is different from hunger in that while a child can fill its stomach with food and water, he or she will still suffer from a lack of essential nutrients that do not exist in the food they are eating. This is true for adults in Africa as well. While the number of starving, malnourished Africans is alarmingly high and ranging in the millions, however, the number of deaths from starvation in Africa is surprisingly low at approximately 400,000 deaths per year.

The Solutions

In order to prevent these numbers from increasing, the poor and the malnourished require accessible, affordable, good-quality food, as well as innovations to improve the harvests. In fact, the nonprofit World Vision has been doing so for over 40 years, providing emergency aid and long-term assistance to African communities and families.

In the event of a food crisis, World Vision offers food assistance, including emergency feeding those who are starving and treating malnourished children. It also provides fresh, clean water and sanitation to those in need. For the long term, World Vision offers business training and equipment to families to prepare them for another onslaught of adverse weather and gives families cash to support and provide for themselves.

In other words, with the right assistance, families and communities can avoid another hunger crisis and ebb the number of deaths from starvation in Africa. People either downplay or exaggerate the hunger crisis in Africa. The truth about starvation in Africa needs to come out.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

Aquaponics in South Africa

Aquaponics is an emerging, innovative and resilient method to raise both fish and vegetables concurrently without soil and with little water. Aquaponics combines conventional aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). The system imitates a natural wetland. The fish waste acts as a natural nutrient source for the plants and the plants filter the water. The water continues to cycle between both as the crops grow.

Aquaponics in South Africa

South Africa is currently experiencing drought conditions. Though aquaponics is new in South Africa, it has the potential of addressing food insecurity on a larger scale. It may serve as an alternative to traditional methods that are less environmentally sustainable. Growing crops traditionally requires fertile soil and large, consistent amounts of water. Traditional fishing leads to the depletion of fish in the ocean. With aquaponics, once the initial water supply enters the system, there is no need for additional water. The plants do not require soil. Climate conditions have little effect on the aquaponics system, though the fish may need a sustained warm temperature.

The installation of aquaponics can be on a large scale for market sale, or a small scale to feed a village. Even a small system can provide a surplus to sell for income beneficial to families living in poverty. Small-scale systems can be set up in a limited space, such as a backyard or a village common area. By 2018, 190 freshwater farms and 30 saltwater farms were in production in South Africa. Many farmers start small because of the start-up costs and may move to a larger system after developing their practice.

What Are the Benefits of Aquaponics?

Tilapia is the most common fish raised via aquaponics in South Africa. Leafy greens (lettuces) are the most common vegetables. Seventy-five percent of the aquaponics systems in South Africa serve the purpose of hobby farming or producing food for subsistence or human consumption, as opposed to producing for market sale.

Goals for those interested in expanding sustainability and food security with aquaponics in South Africa include raising awareness of the benefits and advancing the technology of small systems to improve production. Farmers practicing aquaponics need to develop an understanding of managing water quality, including pH, nitrogen and oxygen levels. Systems can be fully automated or semi-automated requiring more maintenance effort. Moreover, farmers may purchase fish food or use natural manure sources at no cost.

Aquaponics can grow other vegetables including tomatoes, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, peas and beans. Farmers can harvest plants after one to three months while the fish take 9-10 months to mature. Proponents state that the vegetables flourish and grow more quickly than a traditional garden.

Aquaponics in South Africa Could Help Solve Malnutrition

Aquaponics offers an essential option for those who are at risk of malnutrition, who experience poverty and those who do not have access to sufficient water for traditional farming or gardening practices. An aquaponics system can be set up in rural or urban areas. A basic setup may begin with two repurposed bathtub basins, a water pump and piping or gravel to hold the plants and a properly plumbed system for drainage and recycling of water.

The highly nutritious and organically raised fish and leafy green vegetables provide protein, vitamins and fiber. These high-value crops create a much better alternative to high-starch, low-nutrition foods which may be more readily available when food is scarce. As an added benefit, with a closed water system, no run-off pollutes the environment.

A Need for Funding

In order to continue to boost sustainability and food security goals via aquaponics in South Africa on a larger scale, farmers will need funding to develop the technologies. Scientists are currently studying which systems (tunnels and greenhouses) provide preferable temperatures for different types of fish considering the climate in South Africa.

Though South Africa’s agricultural department plays a role in aquaponics education, proponents ask that the government of South Africa include aquaponics in their agricultural policies so that they may assist with funding. In addition, there is a need for aquaponics education in secondary and tertiary schools to increase knowledge and understanding.

Farmers and entrepreneurs will continue to develop sustainability and food security with aquaponics in South Africa. Aquaponics may provide the solution to climatic variables such as drought. The potential of aquaponics draws fishermen who recognize the decline in fish as a wild resource. In addition, aquaponics eliminates reliance on soil, which becomes depleted of nutrients from overuse. Aquaponics provides highly nutritious food sources that will combat malnourishment in impoverished areas.

Susan Niz
Photo: Flickr