WFP in Venezuela
In April 2021, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reached a deal to distribute food to vulnerable school children in Venezuela. The program ambitiously seeks to help 185,000 students in 2021 alone and 1.5 million children by the end of the 2023 school year. Since schools in Venezuela remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and teachers can pick up rations at their local schools. A monthly ration consists of nine pounds of lentils, 13 pounds of rice, one pound of salt and one liter of vegetable oil. The WFP additionally manages its own supply chain and partners with local teachers and nongovernmental organizations to distribute food. Once schools open again, the WFP in Venezuela will also teach school faculty about food safety.

First Shipments Arrive

Recently, the first shipments of food arrived in Maracaibo, Venezuela. The stockpile includes 42,000 packages of food for this month. The WFP in Venezuela targets children under six deemed to be the most food insecure. Originally, the program began in the state of Falcón and intends to expand to other Venezuelan states gradually. The first set of rations went to a total of 277 schools in the state of Falcón.

Venezuela’s Economic Crisis

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, 96% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. The country is heavily reliant on the export of natural gas and oil. In fact, oil makes up one-quarter of Venezuela’s gross domestic product (GDP). As oil prices dropped dramatically in 2014, Venezuela began to undergo an economic crisis. Between 2014 and 2016, oil prices had decreased from $100 to $30 per barrel. Since 2015, over 5 million Venezuelans have left the country in search of better opportunities, according to the United Nations. Additionally, Venezuela’s GDP reduced by two-thirds between 2014 and 2019.

Venezuela was once the second-largest producer of oil in the world, behind the United States. Venezuela was also a founding country of OPEC in 1960. The country has had a long history of dictatorships and consolidation of the oil industry, which the state and a select few companies controlled. Some believe that the current president, Nicolás Maduro, underwent reelection through undemocratic means in 2018. In January 2021, after Maduro had claimed victory in the election, candidate Juan Guaidó argued that Maduro had won illegitimately. The United States and several other countries acknowledged Guaidó’s victory.

Although exact figures are unknown, the WFP estimates that one-third of Venezuelans do not have enough to eat. Furthermore, approximately 16% of children suffer from malnutrition within the country. About 7 million Venezuelans are in need of humanitarian aid.

The Importance of WFP in Venezuela

The WFP in Venezuela is much needed as the country struggles economically and fails to provide for its citizens. WFP representative Susana Rico said that “We are reaching these vulnerable children at a critical stage of their lives when their brains and bodies need nutritious food to develop to their full potential.” Hence, this program will be instrumental in providing the necessary resources to underserved young children.

– Kaylee DeLand
Photo: Flickr

Childhood Malnutrition in NepalChild malnutrition in Nepal, a relatively small nation in Asia, has been a persistent issue. The lack of food throughout the country has significantly contributed to illness and death. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has worsened. Though there have been multiple failed government attempts to reconcile the food supply, Nepal is slowly finding its way back to proper nutrition for children with the help of organizations such as UNICEF.

Child Malnutrition in Nepal

According to the United Nations World Food Programme, Nepal ranks as the 148th most impoverished country in the world out of 189 countries. It continues to struggle with low general well-being because of civil unrest, a difficult geographical landscape and poor infrastructure. A combination of these factors has also impacted food availability. Food that is available often lacks the nutrients necessary for children to maintain proper health and growth. As a result of malnutrition, children battle stunted physical and mental growth, severe weight loss and compromised immune systems.

In addition to poor nutrition, many children are also exposed to contaminated water, which can lead to chronic diseases. According to the Nepali Times, a recent Johns Hopkins University survey showed that severe malnutrition impacting children younger than 5 could cause 4,000 childhood deaths a year due to insufficient food from lack of income caused by the pandemic. A quarter of Nepal’s population already lives under the poverty line. The pandemic has pushed more families closer to impoverishment.

The Solution

Due to multiple failed government efforts to help assist families, it is clear that part of the issue lies in the poorly structured national, provincial and local governments. Though the government has made efforts to tackle malnutrition in Nepal, including the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Plan that led to major strides against child malnutrition in the past, the issue persists.

To combat child malnutrition in Nepal, UNICEF has partnered with the government of Nepal in order to treat malnourished children with nutrition response and recovery actions. It has also taken the initiative to educate and provide resources for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Nutrition education aims to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring infants receive essential nutrients.

Furthermore, UNICEF is helping the government of Nepal to strengthen its response to prevent more malnutrition in the country. Nutritional assistance is also provided in the form of micronutrient powder for children and iron folate supplements for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

The Road Ahead

Though child malnutrition in Nepal has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still hope. With help from UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations, Nepal has a chance to address this persistent issue. Moving forward, it is essential that the government and humanitarian organizations continue to prioritize child malnutrition in Nepal.

– Allie Degner
Photo: Flickr

Gojira's activismThe Yanomami indigenous reserve in Brazil is roughly the size of Portugal, though fewer than 200 healthcare workers serve the area. The effects of malnutrition and malaria among indigenous Brazilians have taken a severe toll on children. Indigenous populations are also more vulnerable to COVID-19. Epidemiologist Andrey Cardoso told The Guardian that the COVID-19 death rate is higher in indigenous children younger than 5 compared to the same age group in the general population. Deteriorating healthcare is just one of the issues indigenous people in Brazil face. Rampant deforestation and attacks from illegal gold miners have also plagued these groups. These issues have resonated with a heavy metal band, Gojira. Gojira’s activism has spurred people to raise more than $300,000 in support of the indigenous Brazilian rights group, The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil.

Illegal Gold Mining

Violent attacks have been a growing problem for indigenous Brazilians. Land conflicts in Brazil hit an all-time high in 2020 with more than 1,500 cases, 656 of which involved indigenous Brazilians. Illegal gold miners have been particularly aggressive toward indigenous groups. In May 2021, unlawful gold miners invaded the Munduruku indigenous reserve, setting multiple houses ablaze.

In another attack on the Yanomami people, illegal miners “opened fire with automatic weapons” during three consecutive days of violent fighting. Illegal mining has also led to severe deforestation in the region with more than 3,000 acres of forestland cleared in the Munduruku reserve in January and February 2021 alone. Additionally, reports indicate that more than 1,700 acres of land have been degraded in the Yanomami reserve from January 2020 till May 2021.

Brazilian Indigenous Healthcare

The effects of the attacks comprise just a portion of the problems that plague indigenous groups in Brazil. A 2019 report requested and funded by UNICEF reveals that, in the Yanomami areas of Polo Base de Auaris and Polo Base de Maturacá, roughly 81% of children younger than 5 were chronically malnourished. Poor access to nutritious foods was highlighted as one of the causes.

Overall, healthcare access in these regions is also poor. Member of the Indigenous District Health Council, Junior Yanomami, told El Pais that healthcare groups had not visited the village of Maimasi for six months at one point. Not only were many residents stricken with malaria, but several children suffered from malnutrition and verminosis — a disease caused by parasitic worms. In total, fewer than 200 healthcare workers cover the 28,000 Yanomami and Ye’kwana people in Brazil, highlighting the lack of health support in the areas.

Gojira Assists

Upon learning more about the problems plaguing indigenous people in Brazil, Gojira partnered with the activism support website, Propeller, to host an auction of heavy metal memorabilia in support of the largest indigenous rights group in Brazil, The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil. Gojira’s activism auction came after the band released its single, Amazonia, in support of The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil.

The auction, which featured personal memorabilia from heavy metal icons like Metallica, Slayer, Slash and Tool, raised more than $300,000 for the indigenous rights group. In another successful effort by the band, Gojira’s activism also garnered support and awareness for an important cause. “Words are great, music is great, but action is something concrete,” Gojira drummer, Mario Duplantier, told Louder Sound.

Inspiring Activism

Hopefully, Gojira’s activism marks just one way in which indigenous groups in Brazil begin to receive the support and fundraising needed to combat the major issues they face. In addition, Gojira will hopefully serve as an example of how other famous groups can use their platforms to make an impact in struggling communities around the world.

– Brett Grega
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in NepalChild poverty in Nepal is an issue that the country continues to struggle with. While the child poverty rate has decreased over the past few decades, it is still detrimental to the overall progress of the country. In combating this issue, it is important to understand the consequences that stem from living in poverty. Two of these consequences are high levels of malnutrition and child marriage.

Overview of Child Poverty in Nepal

While Nepal has seen improvements over the past few decades, the overall poverty rate remains high. The decline of the child poverty rate in the country has not matched the decline of the overall poverty rate. Between 1995 and 2006, there was an 11% decline in the overall poverty rate, yet the decline in child poverty in that time period was only 8%.

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this issue by weakening Nepal’s economy and forcing children to stay home. The lack of income for parents and the lack of schooling due to the pandemic has pushed millions of households into a precarious situation. It is estimated that nearly 10 million children in Nepal live in impoverished circumstances. The presence of COVID-19 exacerbates the already damaging effects of child poverty, including malnutrition and child marriage.

Malnutrition Among Nepali Children

Maintaining high nutritional standards for children is vital for a country. It ensures children will grow up to be healthy and productive adults, fully able to break cycles of poverty. Child poverty in Nepal is detrimental, in part, because it leads to high rates of malnutrition. Malnutrition may cause developmental issues and results in chronic health problems later in life. While Nepal has made progress in lowering malnutrition rates among children, it is still a cause for concern. In 2019, 43% of children under 5 years old were malnourished. Moreover, 36% of these children suffer from stunting and 10% of these children suffer from wasting.

The country’s high poverty rate exacerbates this issue because low-income families are unable to afford a nutritious diet for their children. As a result, malnutrition rates in Nepal are directly linked to poverty. According to USAID, “17% of children in the highest wealth quintile are stunted as compared to 49% of children in the lowest wealth quintile.” These statistics demonstrate how poverty impacts child mortality. Malnutrition causes the deaths of almost half of all children who perish before reaching the age of 5 years old.

Due to the impacts of child poverty and malnutrition, the government has set up initiatives to improve nutritional standards in the country. Since the 1990s, programs such as the Vitamin A campaign have launched in order to increase the consumption of certain nutrients. In 2004, Nepal implemented the National Nutrition Policy and Strategy, which focuses on the nutrition of women and children.

Child Marriage and its Relation to Poverty

Child poverty in Nepal also directly impacts the rates of child marriage in the country. Despite the fact that marriage before the age of 20 is illegal, 37% of girls are married before the age of 18. Girls who marry at a young age are at a higher risk of facing domestic violence. Human Rights Watch states, “A study across seven countries found that girls who married before the age of 15 were more likely to experience spousal abuse than women who married after 25.”

Additionally, early marriages are associated with lower levels of education. Strict gender roles in Nepal dictate that married girls are expected to be homemakers so girls who get married while still in school often do not finish their education. Early childbearing also has health consequences for these young women. Poverty is a primary reason child marriages persist in Nepal, despite efforts made by the government to stop the practice. Young girls in impoverished families are married off to ease the economic burden on the family. One less child to feed is sufficient justification for a family to allow a child marriage. Some of these girls even welcome child marriage because it means they will have food to eat.

Looking Ahead

At a 2014 “Girl Summit” in London, Nepal pledged to end child marriage by 2030 in accordance with the U.N. Sustainable Goal to end child marriage by 2030. The government of Nepal partnered to develop the National Strategy to End Child Marriage in order to meet this objective.

Child poverty in Nepal continues as a challenge for the country and impacts a wide range of topics. Malnutrition and child marriage are pertinent issues associated with child poverty. With a government commitment and help from organizations, child poverty in Nepal can be combated.

Nikhil Khanal
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Uganda
Many know Africa as having a high amount of poverty. Uganda is becoming one of the most impoverished countries, which is significantly affecting the children. The life-threatening impacts children in Uganda face every day include malnutrition, health assistance deprivation, access to education, shelter deprivation and exposure to crime. Here are five life-threatening impacts pertaining to child poverty in Uganda.

5 Life-Threatening Impacts Due to Child Poverty in Uganda

  1. Malnutrition: One of the biggest problems with child poverty in Uganda is malnutrition. Child hunger and malnutrition result in poor health and failure to reach educational potential. Malnutrition in young children can result from a lack of nutritious food but disease, including diarrhea, can also cause it. At least half of all children aged 6-59 months old are anemic as a result of malnutrition. In 2003, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture created a policy that aims to “reduce malnutrition among children; reduce low birth weight among newborns; and eliminate micronutrient deficiencies (in vitamin A, iodine and iron).”
  2. Health Assistance Deprivation: Most of the children in Uganda lack access to healthcare assistance and are not able to receive vaccinations at a young age because of their inability to afford them. According to the UNICEF Child Poverty and Deprivation analysis, “Children slept under treated bed nets to prevent malaria, which was the (leading) cause of 27% of deaths in Uganda in 2016.” A significant amount of children, mostly orphaned, have been suffering from HIV/AIDS in Uganda without any medical treatment. Without parents to provide for their children, the children end up being unable to access any medical assistance. Furthermore, small households with a single parent and a single child are more prone to catch illnesses.
  3. Access to Education: As a result of child poverty in Uganda, children are not always able to garner education and they frequently lack access to school supplies because of the inability to afford them. A majority of the children are unable to read or write, causing Uganda to have one of the highest illiteracy rates in Africa. Lacking nutrition in diets may cause them to miss school; even if they attend class, they may have trouble focusing on their lessons. In Uganda, the deprivation rates are increasing, with nine out of 10 children not having access to educational resources like uniforms, books, chairs and desks.
  4. Shelter Deprivation: Most Ugandan children in poverty live in rural areas with their families. In Uganda, the typical poor family is one that cannot afford access to basic necessities of living. This includes shelter, water, food, beds, blankets and cooking equipment, etc. Additionally, poorer families are not always able to afford any damages that might occur to their homes, causing the damages to worsen over time. A common living condition that the poor in Uganda have to deal with is leaky roofs, which may cause dampness in dwellings and the formation of mold. Also, most children live in households that are unable to put aside money for emergencies. Moreover, they cannot always afford to replace broken pots and pans that their households use for cooking.
  5. Exposure to Crime: Due to Child Poverty in Uganda, a growing number of children are becoming victims of criminal activity. Some forms of crime include theft, housebreaking, abuse, assault, defilement, murder, property damage and robbery. The percentage of defilement cases involving juvenile offenders rose from 28% in 2008 to 42% in 2010. The most frequent form of crime children and their families have experienced in Uganda is theft and housebreaking. Child abuse is more common in girls than boys, with 60% of child abuse crimes involving girls. Even if the crimes are not violent, the constant exposure to such crimes can cause an impact on the social and psychological health of a child.

Save the Children

The life-threatening effects of malnutrition, limited healthcare access, lack of education, shelter deprivation and higher exposure to crime rates could significantly increase if no one addresses child poverty in Uganda. Luckily, the organization Save the Children is aiming to fight for children’s rights to education, healthcare and safety around the world. In 2020, Save the Children and its donors changed the lives of over 552,000 children in Uganda by providing education, protection and health assistance.

While child poverty in Uganda is prevalent, the efforts of Save the Children have had a significant impact. Through continued work, child poverty should continue to reduce in Uganda and around the world.

– Mary McLean
Photo: Flickr

Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa with a population of more than 15 million people. Today, more than 70% of the country’s population experience poverty. The people of Somalia struggle with food insecurity, vulnerability to human trafficking and youth unemployment among other challenges. One issue, in particular, is malnutrition in Somali children.

Food Insecurity

The most recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report on Somalia projects that 22% of the population or 2.7 million people will struggle with acute food insecurity in the coming months. The main factors contributing to food insecurity are locusts, floods, droughts and low amounts of rainfall.

Malnutrition in Somali Children

The current food insecurity crisis facing Somalia has placed more than 800,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition. Nutrition surveys taken in 2020 measured Global Acute Malnutrition levels of 36 population groups in Somalia on a scale increasing in intensity from Acceptable (IPC phase 1) to critical (IPC phase 4). Specifically:

  • Nine out of 36 population groups in Somalia faced critical levels of Global Acute Malnutrition. This means that more than 15% of the population of children in these regions are suffering from acute malnutrition.
  • A total of 28 population groups suffered from severe (IPC phase 3) levels of malnutrition. This means at least 10% of the population experienced acute malnutrition.
  • More than 34% of Somali children are in need of treatment for acute malnutrition.

Compared to years past, more populations have improved to phase 3 as their acute malnutrition levels decrease. Malnutrition levels have improved due to continued humanitarian aid efforts and accessibility to milk. The ongoing pandemic and seasonal challenges may lead to increased levels of acute malnutrition as food access decreases and the ability to get aid to at-risk populations becomes more costly.

Combating Malnutrition

Save the Children is a humanitarian organization that has been working in Somalia since 1951. The organization has helped more than 500,000 children by providing food, water and medical assistance to at-risk populations. With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to cause further harm to Somali children, Save the Children has created an emergency fund to increase the amount of aid it can provide.

Action Against Hunger is another humanitarian organization that has been combating malnutrition in Somali children since 1992. In 2019, the organization had provided aid in the form of food, water and health services support to more than 600,000 people. The organization helped more than 20,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition and provided health services to more than 160,000 pregnant women. Action Against Hunger plans to continue supporting Somalia. It plans to expand existing health services for the Somali people and empower the Somali healthcare system.

With millions being affected by food insecurity and more than 800,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition, Somalia is in need of continued humanitarian support. Continual improvements to healthcare, food and water systems have improved the lives of millions of people. The ongoing pandemic and droughts are obstacles in the way of continuing progress in combating malnutrition in Somali children. With these issues, the need for continued humanitarian support only grows.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a country in West Africa that is home to more than 20.9 million people. The Burkinabe people have dealt with ongoing instability, displacement and food insecurity as the result of the dissolution of a government regime in 2014. With 40% of the country’s population living in poverty, there is a clear need for humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian organizations like the World Food Programme have been working to help combat food insecurity and malnutrition in Burkina Faso.

Current Situation in Burkina Faso

The World Food Programme (WFP) released its 2020 Annual Country Report for Burkina Faso, which contains various statistics and the humanitarian goals for the country until 2023. Burkina Faso has experienced an 80% increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) since 2019, with more than one million IDPs. The WFP estimates that 15% of the country’s population, or 3.3 million people, face food insecurity.

Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization, states that more than 1.5 million children under 5 are affected by the nutrition crisis in Burkina Faso. COVID-19 has worsened the situation in Burkina Faso as it becomes more difficult to get humanitarian aid to those in need. Other factors contributing to the current food insecurity crisis in Burkina Faso include the armed conflict, droughts and poverty.

Humanitarian Response

The WFP states that the number of people it reached in 2020 doubled compared to 2019, with the WFP reaching more than two million people. The WFP has worked in Burkina Faso to provide people with cash transfers and emergency school feeding initiatives. It also provided more than 305,000 children as well as pregnant and lactating women with treatment for acute malnutrition. The organization’s ability to help the Burkinabe people weakened as COVID-19, access and security restraints as well as regional instability made it more difficult for assistance to reach vulnerable populations.

Save the Children has been working in Burkina Faso since 1982, reaching more than 85,000 children in 2020. The nonprofit is focusing its efforts on providing children with a healthy start to their lives, providing children with opportunities to learn and protecting them from any potential harm. The organization has been working with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health to strengthen healthcare systems in the country. The organization has programs that provide food assistance, clean water, sanitation and hygiene products to children, pregnant women and mothers.

Save the Children works with schools and teachers to create literacy centers to improve the quality of education for children. An alternative education program called Youth in Action focuses on providing an education to IDPs and children without access to school. The education program focuses on literacy, basic finance knowledge and developing life skills. The organization is also working to protect children from dangerous jobs, educating people on ways to protect their children and promoting parenting methods that support children. Other efforts also promote local organizations that are actively working to provide children with more opportunities and end child marriage in Burkina Faso.

Looking Forward

With 40% of the population living in poverty, increasing insecurity from conflict and more than a million IDPs, Burkina Faso is facing a growing humanitarian crisis that requires continued humanitarian attention to combat. COVID-19 has caused the conditions in Burkina Faso to deteriorate as humanitarian assistance becomes more difficult to deliver. The WFP and Save the Children intend to increase efforts to combat malnutrition in Burkina Faso by providing nutritious food, building resilience and empowering the Burkinabe people.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Peanuts Reduce PovertyEvery year, more than three million children under 5 years old die as a result of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), making it the largest killer of young children. In developing countries, including sub-Saharan African countries, Uganda, Malawi and Haiti, malnutrition is a severe issue that pediatricians and scientists are looking for a simple way to solve. Some of these ideas are successfully showing how peanut butter and peanuts reduce poverty and save lives.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition starts in the womb. Therefore, scientists intend to stop malnutrition and anemia in young mothers hoping to give their babies a more nutritional start to life. In Malawi, roughly 50% of all pregnant women and nearly a third of nursing mothers are anemic and in need of a higher calorie diet that can start with peanut butter.

The Power in a Peanut

Peanuts contain more plant protein per ounce than any other nut, making it a powerhouse for nutrition. Only one ounce of peanuts reduces malnutrition by providing an adequate source of niacin and magnesium. Peanut butter is also a good source of fiber and contains other essential nutrients. The nutritional value in peanut butter creates better nutritional and health outcomes, necessitating fewer hospital visits for young children.

Peanuts also contain healthy oils that are “trans-fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in saturated fats.” As a high caloric nut and an impressive source of nutrients, peanuts reduce poverty because the nut addresses malnutrition in malnourished children and young mothers, helping them to gain weight and maintain a balanced diet.

Peanut Butter With a Punch

Peanut butter alone is a good source of nutrition and calories but scientists working to eradicate malnourishment have amped up the standard peanut butter recipes to cater to undernourished bodies.

The most talked-about of these miracle nutritional products is Plumpy’Nut, a nutritional, protein-packed peanut-based paste. Plumpy’Nut comes in portioned plastic wraps that are easy to store and easy to open, making it a resilient food for unstable conditions. Unlike some other ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF), one does not need to mix Plumpy’Nut with water, cutting down the risk of spreading disease.

Nourimamba is a similar peanut-based product that includes extra protein. Packaged in jars, hospitals mostly use Nourimamba to treat severely malnourished children. These jars of sweetened paste also end up in schools as snacks for children.

Dr. Mark Manary founded Project Peanut Butter, an organization in Malawi that helps to feed malnourished children in Sierra Leone, Malawi and Ghana. The organization uses a locally sourced, protein-rich and high caloric peanut butter known as “chiponde” to treat severe malnutrition.

While peanut butter is already a nutritious food, these pastes pack a greater punch in the fight against malnutrition. These products have a long shelf life and require no preparation, making them the ideal snack for undernourished individuals.

Positive Impacts on Poverty

Getting peanut butter into hungry stomachs is the top priority, but in the process, the nut helps uplift developing nations. In addition to addressing malnutrition, these peanut butter products create jobs that can break the cyclical poverty malnourished children are born into.

The Mwayi Wathu Peanut Butter Processing Group, supported by Oxfam and the Catholic Development Commission of Malawi (CADECOM), produces peanuts and peanut butter. This cooperative addresses malnutrition with its products while creating local jobs to stimulate the economy.

Peanuts Reduce Poverty

W. K. Kellogg graciously funded Accesso’s nutritional snack program, which aimed to feed 11 schools in central Haiti. As a result of this initiative, enrollment at the schools increased by 20%. The jobs that the program created allow parents to send their children to school. These families were unable to afford educational endeavors before.

Accesso works with 7,400 local farmers and has tripled the profits of farmers through its agribusiness model. Through this model, farmers strengthened their income and the organization can provide nutritional peanut snacks to more than 4,000 children every single day.

Part of this improved agribusiness model is the spicy peanut butter, Lavi, which holds the promise of opening up new markets for these developing nations. Accesso, the organization that championed the creation of Lavi, aims to expand its business to global markets, especially the United States, where demand for peanuts is high. As the most commonly enjoyed nut by U.S. citizens, more than two-thirds of all nut consumption in the U.S. is peanuts, making it a powerhouse in helping foreign farmers increase their incomes and rise out of poverty.

The benefits of nutritious peanut butter products show how peanuts reduce poverty in developing countries, tackling several concerns at once.

Veronica Booth
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in NepalIn 2019, the malnutrition rate in Nepal was 43% for children under 5 years old. Malnutrition is defined as a lack of nutrition and can be a result of either being underfed or not eating enough nutritious foods. When children suffer from chronic malnutrition, it can result in stunting, which can permanently affect a child’s growth physically and cognitively. For the first two decades after 1990, malnutrition in Nepal decreased. Thereafter, malnutrition progress slowed down. Currently, malnutrition in Nepal is still a serious issue that needs addressing.

Malnutrition in Numbers

Nearly 66% of children between 0-5 months old are exclusively breastfed. Between 6-24 months old, only 36% of babies receive a minimum acceptable diet. Additionally, as little as 47% of these children receive diversified diets with the proper nutrients.

Mother Fights Malnutrition

To help fight malnutrition, adolescent girls, women and children, need access to better nutritious diets and associated nutritional care. According to UNICEF, “The first 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy to a child’s second birthday offer an extraordinary window of opportunity for preventing undernutrition and its consequences.” In this critical period, preventative intervention is vital. This includes breastfeeding support,  supplementary foods for infants and micronutrient supplementation for women and children.

Bimala Chaudhary is an example of a mother who has been educated on the importance of nutrition. On a monthly basis, Chaudhary participates in a mothers’ group meeting where female community health volunteers teach mothers about how to improve both their own nutrition and the nutrition of their children. The mothers have been taught lessons that include the importance of handwashing and how to prepare nutritious porridge.

The health volunteers also visit Chaudary’s home to provide one-on-one nutritional counseling. A USAID-supported radio program called Mother Knows Best further emphasizes the lessons she learns through the women’s group. She also receives SMS messages to remind her to take her daughter for visits at the clinic in order to monitor progress.

To help the community, Chaudhary shares what she learns from the meetings with other mothers. Her end goal is to make sure no children are malnourished in the future.

Solutions

Since the 1990s, a lot of progress has been made to fight malnutrition in Nepal. The current country program (2018-2022) works to improve nutrition in Nepal. Adolescents, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants and young children receive special focus. UNICEF supports the Government of Nepal in the implementation of comprehensive nutritional strategies. These strategies include deworming children, vitamin A supplementation, iron folate supplementation and nutritional education and counseling.

The Nepal Youth Foundation has developed child malnutrition treatment centers. These Nutrition Rehabilitation Homes (NRHs) treat severely malnourished children, teach mothers about children’s health and train professionals on best nutritional practices. These homes bring in critically-underweight children for three to four weeks to help improve their health through a monitored diet. For a long-term solution, caregivers and mothers are taught how to make nutritious meals. They are then encouraged to share these lessons with their communities. Since the first NRH was opened in 1998, 15,000 malnourished children have been restored back to health.

Food for the Future

By increasing the nutritional education of communities, malnutrition in Nepal can improve. With both short and long-term solutions, organizations like UNICEF and the Nepal Youth Foundation improve the lives of mothers and children.

Sarah Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Sudan
Sudan, a country in northeast Africa, is Africa’s third-largest country by area. After years of conflict and political instability, this vast country continues to suffer from underdevelopment and poverty despite its Human Development Index increasing by 52% from 1990 to 2017. One group that suffers the effects of poverty the most is Sudan’s children. Despite making recent gains in development, child poverty is still a major concern throughout Sudan because of its various humanitarian crises. Here are some important things to know about child poverty in Sudan.

Child Poverty Overview

According to UNICEF, 36% of Sudanese live under the poverty line. When children live in poverty in Sudan, they face violence, lack of schooling and health problems. In 2018, 1 million Sudanese children encountered global acute malnutrition because of food insecurity, poor health services and unclean water supply. The financial status of families often dictates access to resources. In Sudan’s poorest families, children have 2.1 times the risk of death in comparison to children in financially stable homes. To combat malnutrition, UNICEF has partnered with local farmers and communities to cultivate peanuts. Using peanuts, UNICEF creates Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a peanut paste that provides sufficient nutrients for malnourished children. UNICEF and partnering communities’ procurement of RUTF is making significant advances in addressing malnutrition.

Inter-Communal Violence

Violence and conflict harm many Sudanese children. Over a single weekend in January 2021, an inter-communal conflict in Darfur, Sudan killed 83 people, including children, and forced many families into displacement. Often separated from their families, displaced children live in horrible conditions and do not have access to health services. Some Sudanese children, mainly boys, even participate in armed conflict.

Registration of Children

In Sudan, 33% of children 5 and under have not registered with civil authorities. Registering a child at birth means the child is eligible for schooling, health services and other government activities. Parents often find obtaining registration difficult because of registration fees and insufficient registration centers. Registration rates vary by state with the average rate of registration being 67%. The highest rate of registration is in the Northern state with 98.3% and the lowest rate is in Central Darfur with only 30.9% of children registered.

UNICEF works in Sudan to ensure Sudanese children have appropriate registration. In 2019, UNICEF registered over 175,000 children in states with low registration rates like East Darfur, Gedaref, North Darfur and White Nile.

Child Labor and Overwhelmed Schools

Past political instability in Sudan led to a struggling economy. Because of this, many families struggle financially causing children to leave school to support their families. The government banned child labor but often leaves the ban unenforced in the informal sector. About 25% of Sudanese children participate in child labor. Common jobs for children are trading and carpentry. In Khartoum, Sudan, children earn $1 to $1.50 per day.

 Of all Sudanese children, aged 5-13, 3 million of them do not attend school. Although Sudanese law ensures free education, headmasters at schools often charge a fee meaning families cannot afford school to send their children to school.

In addition to children leaving school due to their families’ financial concerns, poverty overwhelmed Sudan’s school system. UNICEF’s Ministry of Education reported that Sudan built its school system to hold only 60% of the children which left 40% of children without the opportunity to receive an education. The government does not have the resources to accommodate all Sudanese children. Beginning in 2015, The African Development Bank (AfDB) implemented a project in Sudan that works to improve learning conditions by enhancing teaching capacity and developing technology training. AfDB plans to complete this project by the end of 2021.

Child Protection Programme

Within the past few decades, Sudan increased its Human Development Index and transitioned to a lower-middle-income country. While Sudan accomplished major developments, child poverty in Sudan continues to be an issue. UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme (CPP) in Sudan is making strides toward relieving child poverty in Sudan. CPP began in 2018 and plans to achieve results by the end of 2021. One way UNICEF accomplishes this is by working with national and state governments in Sudan to ensure that it appropriately meets the budgetary needs for children’s health, education and social protection. The program plans to ensure all children in Sudan have protection by offering care services and social support. Thus far, CPP provided services to over 1 million children.

UNICEF’s CPP utilizes the ‘whole child’ approach. The ‘whole child’ approach acknowledges that children need protection throughout their childhood, from infancy to teenagehood.

The ‘whole child’ approach recognizes that Sudanese teens face violence and danger because of the ongoing conflict. UNICEF’s CPP in Sudan intends to support Sudanese children who the armed conflict affected. In 2019, CPP provided 1,039,769 children with child protection services. CPP increased the number of social service workers in Sudan from eight to 12 per 100,000 children. Social service workers collaborate with the Ministries of Social Welfare and Justice to protect children from violence. In all, UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme works to form an environment free of violence and neglect, that supports all Sudanese children. Organizations, like UNICEF, continue to advance Sudan toward a country free of child poverty.

While child poverty in Sudan continues to evoke concern, the country has progressed and will continue to do so in the future as organizations, like UNICEF, address crucial problems affecting Sudan’s children.

– Bailey Lamb
Photo: Flickr