Montserrat is a self-governing, British Overseas Territory located in the Eastern Caribbean. It is a relatively small island made mostly of mountains and volcanic beaches. In 1995, Montserrat faced catastrophe as the Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted. This article will provide a brief account of how hunger in Montserrat (among other factors) after the eruption of the volcano increased.
The eruption resulted in a mass evacuation of the island — leaving only 30% of the original population behind. This natural disaster has had lasting effects on the island’s resources and economy. However, perhaps the largest impact was increasing hunger in Montserrat, of course, due to the volcanic eruption.
The volcanic deposits from the Soufrière Hills Volcano severely damaged a majority of the territory’s farmland. In this way, the eruption destroyed much of Montserrat’s agricultural sector. Land that was not damaged by the eruption was placed in the exclusion zone. This, in turn, proved to make food and resources inaccessible and scarce for those remaining on the island. Notably, since the eruption occurred, most food in Montserrat comes from overseas imports rather than the territory’s domestic agriculture.
Lasting Impacts on Hunger Issues
In 2012, a Country Poverty Assessment found that 36% of Montserrat’s population was impoverished. Since most food in Montserrat enters the country from abroad, many families are unable to afford weekly food costs. Children under 15 years of age experience this at high rates and unfortunately make up 33% of the territory’s population that is food insecure.
Hunger in Montserrat after the volcanic eruption of 1995 increased. However, the lack of school-based food programs exacerbates the problem. With poverty largely affecting children under age 15, this lack of support only fuels food insecurity issues. A study of primary school students from 2016 revealed that financially insufficient families could not send their children to school with food.
Since the natural disaster in 1995, Montserrat has made progress in fighting hunger. Importantly, this progress in fighting hunger comes in conjuncture with assistance from the U.K. as well as other countries. Foreign aid has massively contributed to decreasing poverty and hunger in Montserrat. As a result, Montserrat currently ranks as an upper-middle-class country. Aid also comes from organizations, and not just the U.K., helping Montserrat achieve new levels of economic stability. For example, the Montserrat Foundation focuses on distributing money and resources to local individuals on the island. Furthermore, the foundation distributes this aid (money and other resources) to organizations within the island territory to create economic opportunities and growth for the community. As a promising show, after receiving foreign aid, the country’s GDP experienced a 1.5% increase.
From Natural Disaster to Natural Resource
Montserrat is simply another example of how foreign aid can effectively create a promising future for a once troubled community. Out of natural disaster and tragedy, the island territory suffered higher rates of hunger and poverty, yet through foreign aid efforts, it is beginning to improve.
– Adelle Tippetts