Cutting Iraq WFP Aid
The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) began providing food aid and humanitarian assistance to Iraq in 1991. In October 2016, 1.2 million Iraqis received food assistance from the WFP. However, a staggering 4.4 million across the nation are still in need.

Due to cuts in funding from donor states, the WFP has reduced food rations in Iraq by 50 percent. The move will leave 1.4 million displaced Iraqis without assistance, although the agency is negotiating on how to regain full funding from donors such as the United States, Germany and Japan.

Occupation of the region by Islamic State facilitated the destruction of massive annual barley and wheat harvests, destroying an annual one-third of the nation’s crop yields. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace also attributes increasing influxes of internally displaced persons and Syrian refugees, inefficient supply chains, lack of governing infrastructure and cash shortages to be at the root of Iraq’s food supply crisis.

Agencies active in providing assistance include Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration, United Nations organizations and the WFP. These actors constitute the foundation of social protections and safety nets for Iraqi citizens through food distribution, development and financial support.

According to an Iraq WFP aid study on social protections from the Centre for Social Protection at the Institute of Development Studies, Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration granted financial aid of 300,000 dinars (USD$255) to 9,373 families displaced among a dozen countries. This ministry also runs a “human stability” program.

Although cornucopias of vulnerable populations, an absence of adequate legal statutes and corruption are all hurdles to food assistance, there are steps that can be taken to improve Iraqi social protection systems. For example, the WFP recommends “building the capacity of social protection research, increasing the number of beneficiaries and demanding inclusion of the unemployed in social welfare systems.”

Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in JordanJordan, home to Za’atari refugee camp, is facing a resource crisis. In an already resource-poor, food-deficient country, the influx of Syrian refugees, accounting for almost ten percent of Jordan’s population has added great pressure to the economy. Consequently, one of the biggest problems facing Jordan today is finding a way to feed its swelling population.

With a hike of around 20 percent in food prices, 2016 has plunged many Jordanians into a state of food insecurity. The alarming unemployment rate of 13.6 percent amplifies the problem as fewer people are able to buy the increasingly expensive food. Fortunately, NGOs and international organizations have been markedly proactive in their efforts to assist the food insecure.

On the local level, perhaps the most significant strides towards alleviating hunger in Jordan have been made by the Jordanian Food Bank (JFB) established in 2010. The non-profit has launched multiple projects such as the “Awareness for Hotels and Restaurants” campaign which collects unused food from Jordanian hotels, events, restaurants and others and donates it to families in need. It has also signed an agreement with the Jordanian Austrian Company to combat hunger and assist underprivileged families in local communities. Under the agreement, the Jordanian Austrian Company will provide 25 underprivileged families with food packages every month and half a ton of rice in support of various JFB programs.

Another local organization, Family Kitchen, works on a similar model, collecting uneaten food from hotels and bakeries and distributing them among the food insecure in Amman. Even individuals and groups at the grassroots level are playing their part by introducing initiatives such as Kulluna Ahl, a food bank run by Amman’s municipality and Izwati sandwich shop providing free sandwiches to the poor.

The drive of local organizations in helping the victims of food insecurity prosper is both admirable and necessary. However, factoring in the needs of Syrian refugees, local initiatives simply aren’t enough to combat the entirety of hunger, thirst and deprivation in Jordan. As a result, international organizations have stepped in to fortify existing efforts.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the biggest organization involved in alleviating hunger in Jordan. WFP launched an 18-month assistance program in 2013 to assist 160,000 vulnerable Jordanians affected by the extended economic crisis through cash and food transfers. It is also helping the Jordanian government with implementing a national school meals program to reach up to 320,000 school children in the most vulnerable and food insecure areas. In addition, it is providing food assistance to over 560,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan through electronic and paper vouchers.

International NGOs like Action Against Hunger are also having a huge impact on combatting hunger in Jordan. In 2015 alone, the organization helped 43,906 people in Jordan by providing them with nutritional support, safe water, sanitation and in some cases, enabling them to achieve economic self-sufficiency. The efforts of global organizations like this are vital to the protection of people in vulnerable situations. You can help facilitate their work by donating to Action Against Hunger here.

Mallika Khanna

Photo: Flickr

High Energy Biscuit
The World Food Program (WFP) High Energy Biscuit is pre-packaged and full of high-protein cereals, micronutrients and vegetable fat and requires zero preparation to be consumed. This food product extends to all groups suffering from hunger — women, children, infants, the elderly, those struggling with disease and communities in rural, underdeveloped regions, such as the Philippines, Kenya, North Korea and Afghanistan.

The biscuits serve as a lifesaving snack to survivors of natural disasters, conflicts and contain a multitude of healthy ingredients to keep individuals, especially children, strong and focused in school.

In 2014, WFP distributed its “biscuit-factory-in-a-box,” which, along with the WFP High Energy Biscuit, contains a variety of foods that are delivered to the world’s hungry. This includes fortified blends, or “mixtures of partially precooked and milled cereals, soya and beans that have been infused with micronutrients for additional health benefits.”

The primarily blended food produced by WFP is corn soya blend, cooked with water to create a warm, nourishing porridge. The blends not only provide protein supplements but also prevent and address nutritional deficiencies. Ready-To-Use Foods are also transported, typically to treat malnutrition among children between the ages of six months and five years old.

These products are easily accessible for poor families who lack access to running water or electricity, as they do not require heat or water to cook. The oil-based, low moisture consistency prevents bacterial contamination and gives them a long shelf life.

The successful impact of the WFP High Energy Biscuit and how much this program has grown since it was initially created has been documented over the years. Individuals who have benefited from the foods include more than 200,000 flood victims from Kenya, as well as 850,000 primary school children in North Korea, where the attendance rate has increased as a result of the incredible amount of aid offered to schools in the local area.

Most recently noted, the WFP High Energy Biscuit made its way to the people affected by the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the city of Tacloban. In the early days of the emergency response, the biscuits made a big difference and served as a light, convenient form of food aid. WFP has extended its operating locations, with one particular factory in Kabul, Afghanistan as the newest supplier for the WFP High Energy Biscuit.

WFP shows workers in new locations how to make the biscuits using local ingredients. This provides food for more people living in impoverished locations while stimulating the economies of these regions.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Pakistan: Fighting A Continual Uphill Battle
According to a  2016 report published by the World Food Programme (WFP), Pakistan produces enough food to feed all its citizens, yet, six out of 10 Pakistanis are food insecure. The worst off are women and children under the age of five, nearly half of whom are malnourished.

A tragic manifestation of this statistic is in the Tharpakar district of Pakistan. Within the first fortnight of 2016, 55 children in this region died as a result of malnutrition, pneumonia and other preventable diseases. Further, at least 650 children have died of the same causes over the last three years.These chilling figures bear more than a cursory investigation.

The International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) food security portal cites the main cause of widespread hunger in Pakistan as “a combination of militant activity, natural disaster[s], and economic instability”. These factors are particularly devastating in a country where the agricultural sector employs almost half the workforce and contributes over a fifth of total GDP.

The destruction caused by the 2010 floods in the Indus river basin bear testament to the catastrophic nature of the aforementioned elements. According to the WFP, the floods left almost 20 million people without access to food, which damaged the country’s agricultural sector. Bloomberg estimates that  sugar, wheat and rice crop worth $2.9 billion were ruined within three months of the flooding. Massive inflation and unemployment caused by militant activities in the region worsened the impact of their destruction.

What can be done for those who suffer the consequences of such devastation? What can be done for the children of Tharpakar, Pakistan?

Government acknowledgment of inaccessibility and insecurity plays a huge role in, at the very least, creating a starting point from which larger policy changes can be affected. Unfortunately, this seems to be a far-fetched goal. According to the Sri Lankan Guardian “Two provincial ministers who visited [Tharpakar] blamed underage marriages and carelessness of mothers for the child deaths…Despite print, electronic and foreign media all reporting the same child death statistics, the government continues to deny the figures.”

Therefore, raising awareness about the problem both in Pakistan as well as on a global level to pressure the government to be more proactive becomes incredibly important. The WFP is playing their part by releasing statistics to be shared on Twitter and other social media sites. In addition, WFP also partners with the Pakistani government in assisting malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, helping over 3.6 million people as of April 2016 through endeavors such as providing staple foods in schools across Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) agencies.

An early warning system for disasters such as the flood and subsequent earthquakes in the region would be a huge step forward in ensuring that stored crops are protected from their impact, which would help to combat hunger in Pakistan. And, taking a page from neighbor India’s book, passing a food security bill intended at providing vulnerable populations with subsidized grains could also help reduce malnourishment and insecurity, particularly among children and mothers.

While prospects for improving the situation in Pakistan have looked bleak in the past, NGOs such as Thali, Micro Nutrient Initiative and Action Against Hunger in partnership with the WFP, are making strides in reducing hunger in Pakistan. For the children of Tharpakar, even these baby steps are huge leaps into a healthier future.

Mallika Khanna

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Turkey
Turkey has a rich history of being a global leader in humanitarian efforts to reduce poverty. The nation is now one of the World Food Program’s (WFP) largest contributors despite needing aid about ten years ago. 

However, Turkey still has a long way to go to reduce poverty and hunger domestically — malnutrition is prevalent in its rural regions.

The rural poverty rate in Turkey is 35 percent compared to the urban poverty rate of 22 percent. The extreme poverty rate in rural households is at the root of growing hunger in Turkey.

Living in poverty impacts food security, secure employment, education and healthcare — all of which are easier to attain in urban regions of Turkey.

The recent influx of Syrian refugees also placed pressure on food security in Turkey. Turkish communities hosting Syrian refugees have expanded by up to 30 percent, which increased competition for employment and increased rent prices.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) implemented a plan in 2006 that focused on job-creation to bolster economic prosperity and improve living standards in rural areas to address hunger in Turkey.

The IFAD plan aims to increase participation in Turkey’s labor force by supporting small businesses and encouraging self-employment that generates incremental income.

This strategy also works to improve agricultural initiatives in remote areas of Turkey through the spread of farm mechanization and processing plants.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Ardahan-Kars-Artvin Development Project (AKADP) to further reduce poverty in Turkey.

By working with local farmers from rural, eastern provinces of Turkey, the AKADP would introduce and encourage sustainable agricultural practices to reduce rural poverty and hunger in Turkey.

The AKADP claims to benefit those living in rural Turkey by increasing livestock and crop productivity, improving knowledge of farm management and strengthening both economic and social infrastructure.

Turkey is making remarkable advances toward reducing hunger because of the UNDP and IFAD projects. The WFP recently acknowledged Turkey for reducing its total undernourished population by half.

The IFAD also recognized Turkey as one of the 79 developing countries that achieved their hunger target of reducing malnutrition and the proportion of underweight children under five years old.

The Turkish government and humanitarian organizations have made it a priority to continue to uplift those in rural areas out of poverty. It is possible to reduce hunger in Turkey by investing in the rural areas, which will help its inhabitants forge brighter futures.

Mariana Camacho

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Honduras

It is estimated that 1.5 million people will face hunger in Honduras at some point every year. Honduras is the third poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean, with over 62 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Rural areas of Honduras are even more susceptible to issues of hunger due to higher poverty levels and a lack of food security. Chronic malnutrition levels can reach up to 48.5 percent in the poorest rural areas.

According to the World Bank, Honduras is ranked 9th among countries with high-risk of mortality from exposure to two or more hazards. It is one of the most vulnerable countries to extreme weather conditions. Hunger in Honduras, therefore, is largely due to the reoccurrence of natural disasters such as flooding, drought, and hurricanes.

For small-scale subsistence farmers living in rural areas of Honduras, exposure to the disasters aforementioned can both decrease production and ruin crops and further prevent access to food and nutritional security.

Things, however, are looking up. Numerous global organizations, including the World Bank and World Food Programme (WFP), are initiating projects to alleviate Hunger in Honduras:

World Bank

The Corredor Seco Food Security Project is projected to lift 50,000 Hondurans out of poverty and reduce chronic malnutrition among children under the age of five by 20 percent. In order to achieve this goal, the World Bank is supporting small-scale farmers in one of the most drought-stricken areas of Honduras. The project will support the introduction of high-value crops, improve access to new markets, and increase food production.

In a recent press release, World Bank Representative in Honduras Giorgio Valentini stated, “This project is of vital importance because it aims at fighting poverty in rural areas, where most of the poor are concentrated, and to boost agriculture, one of the key sectors of the country’s economy.”

World Food Programme (WFP)

The School Meals Programme in Honduras is implemented in the poorest schools to provide funding for children’s meals and increase access to education. Thanks to such program, 1.4 million Honduran students in over 17,500 preschool and primary schools are able to receive a meal. The Programme in Honduras is WFP’s third largest school meal initiative worldwide.

In 2009, the School Meals Programme joined with WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P), which has been supporting agricultural production for small-scale farmers through connecting them to the local markets.

Two years later, nearly half of the maize and beans for the school meal rations were bought from smallholding farmers participating in P4P. In turn, the farmers’ yearly income was estimated to have increased by $500 and their crop yields by 50-80 percent.

With the support of global organizations like the World Bank and World Food Programme, farmers increase crop production, children receive adequate nutrition, while poverty and hunger in Honduras continue to decrease.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: Flickr

USAID FundsIn the southern African country of Zimbabwe, according to Deutsche Welle, the number of individuals requiring emergency food aid has increased from three to four million, as the nation is caught in a severe drought, induced by one of the most forceful El Niño weather patterns of the last 50 years. In response to the crisis, according to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the U.S. government has contributed an additional $10 million adding to the $25 million contributed to drought relief since June 2015 via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

This extra emergency food aid will secure adequate supplies for 600,000 rural Zimbabweans who are experiencing their second straight year of drought due to the devastation generated by El Niño. $5 million of the donation, which was officially handed over to the WFP by U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry K. Thomas Jr., will be used to provide emergency food supplies and cash allocations for the most at risk Zimbabweans.

The supplementary funds from USAID will allow the WFP to reach more emergency food aid to Zimbabwe’s most at risk individuals. The WFP noted that in addition to revitalizing existing operations in eight districts already receiving assistance (Zvishavane, Mudzi, Hwange, Binga, Chiredzi, Mwenezi, Kariba and Mbire) it will add three more districts: Chipinge, Mangwe and Uzuma Maramba Plungwe, to reach those most in need of emergency food aid. “With this funding, we will continue to pursue our goal to reach zero hunger in Zimbabwe by investing in resilience building activities while meeting the immediate needs of the most vulnerable people during this difficult time,” said WFP Zimbabwe County Director Eddie Rowe.

The additional $5 million USAID funds will be used by the WFP to resume its Productive Asset Creation program. This will, said the WFP, allocate monthly food rations or cash transfers to the most disadvantaged Zimbabweans in exchange for labor on community possessions such as irrigation schemes, dip tanks and dams. The assistance will improve rural infrastructure and at the same time improve economic conditions for those rural populations.

In response to the emergency food aid crisis, the WFP also plans to extend its relief program for those who have been hardest hit by food insecurity in Zimbabwe.

The calamitous weather conditions in the country have been a major cause of the extensive crop failure and livestock deaths across the country. The WFP reports that Zimbabwe’s 2014/15 agricultural season recorded a 51 percent decline in maize production compared with the 2013/14 season due to drought, which was exceptionally severe in the south of the country.

These exceptional circumstances have thus propelled the WFP to adjust their relief program and extend it, due to the extreme and ominous impact of El Niño. WFP’s seasonal relief, intended to help individuals through difficult pre-harvest months, typically is in operation from October to March. This year, for the first time, food and cash assistance will continue throughout 2016 and into 2017.

Heidi Grossman

global_consultation_in_geneva
From Oct. 14 to 16, Switzerland’s second-largest city became especially bustling as 900 people poured in with ideas about future humanitarian aid. They were invited by Switzerland to attend the Global Consultation in Geneva.

The Global Consultation in Geneva consisted of a live webcast and Q&A session. The purpose of the consultation was to introduce the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit that will be held in Istanbul in May 2016.

The event attracted a diverse crowd of members from struggling communities, government representatives and everyone in between. The webcast itself is available online for anyone wishing to be involved in future humanitarian aid.

A preceding online consultation posted several questions and proposals regarding preparation, empowerment, safety and more. For example, the World Humanitarian Summit said that affected communities should be given leadership positions when dealing with the crises in their areas.

Recognizing disaster victims as primary agents in the recovery process will increase their involvement in preparation and response tactics.

People from around the globe responded with suggestions and opinions. These responses were used as feedback for the goals announced in the Global Consultation in Geneva. This way, speakers would know ahead of time which concerns to target in their discourses.

One particular concern was strengthening the resilience of countries. Regions prone to natural disasters must be prepared, war-torn areas need fortification and the deeply impoverished want to be told that there is hope.

“Concentrating our efforts on humanitarian action and reconstruction is not a valuable strategy in the light of humankind’s growing exposure to the consequences of poor land use planning and climate change; preventive measures are much more effective than responding to disasters,” said Didier Burkhalter, former president of the Swiss Confederation, during the webcast.

World Food Programme (WFP) released a statement on the first day of the global consultation, revealing its proposals for 2016 humanitarian aid. Like many other humanitarian programs, WFP advocated for further mobilizing affected areas.

“While international actors can support countries in managing disasters, it is national and local actors who first and foremost require stronger capacity for preparedness and response,” said WFP.

As the refugee population increases, WFP requests that taking care of displaced persons be considered a “global good” and countries hosting refugees receive more support.

It hopes that the discussions prompted by these proposals will “bring forth more concrete ideas that will feed into agenda for Summit in Istanbul next year.”

Roughly 80 million people worldwide depend on humanitarian aid. Sixty million have been displaced from their homes.

These figures may seem insurmountable, but they can be overcome if the ideas and goals proposed during the Global Consultation in Geneva take root across the globe. Already, many people want to help, and many more want to be helped.

“No refugee wants to remain a refugee,” said Burkhalter in his speech. “Every child in this world prevented from going to school wants to return to their classrooms as quickly as possible.”

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Relief Web, EDA, WFP, World Humanitarian Summit
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition_in_Honduras
Honduras is the third poorest nation in the Americas. One-third of the population lives below the poverty line and 1.5 million Hondurans or 20% of the population, face hunger on a daily basis.

However, malnutrition is especially problematic for children.

  • In rural Honduras, the problem is especially acute with 48% of the population suffering from malnutrition.
  • 10% of infants born in Honduras are underweight as a result of malnutrition in the country.
  • One out of two children in the poorest communities suffers from stunted growth.
  • 50% of children between the ages of 2 and 6 suffer from anemia.
  • 29% of Honduran children younger than 5 years old suffer from slow growth rates.

Fortunately, several organizations are providing funding to the country to alleviate malnutrition.

World Bank and the United Nations

The growing rates of malnutrition in Honduras have prompted the World Bank and the United Nations to act. Currently, the organization is supporting a program called the AIN-C with the United States and investing $20 million into Honduras.

The money will be divided among nearly 1,000 Honduran communities and benefit 16,000 children.

World Food Programme

In addition, the World Food Programme (WFP) implemented the School Meals Programme in Honduras, which has provided 1.2 million children in primary school with food aid.

The program targets the very poorest communities in the country and provides the children with daily meals in order to encourage school enrollment. In addition to the program, the WFP has implemented the Purchase for Progress (P4P) program.

The P4P is a program that buys products from small farmers in order to help support the community. In partnership with other buyers, they have purchased $60 million in food from local Honduran communities.

Hopefully, as the international community continues to support poverty reducing programs in Honduras, the rate of malnutrition will decrease throughout the country.

Robert Cross

Sources: Hope International, World Bank, World Food Programme
Photo: Wikimedia

School Gardens in Developing CountriesRight now, world leaders are faced with a daunting challenge. At the current rate the population is growing, it is predicted that there will not be enough food to feed the world, especially in developing countries. Fortunately, the introduction of school gardens to education gives hope to the end of global poverty.

For many children in developing countries, students must walk to school at an utmost of 4 miles. Some children even walk to school knowing they will not have a lunch because their family could not afford the cost.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 795 million people are undernourished, meaning one in nine people will not receive enough food to lead a normal, healthy and active life.

Students cannot focus or comprehend new information in the classroom without a proper meal. If students do not learn and go to school, the cycle of poverty will most likely continue.

A solution to this problem exists with school gardens that can help overcome the nutritional crisis. Not only will children be guaranteed a meal during lunch, but they can also learn how to eat a healthy and nutritious meal.

For 14-year-old Marita Wyson, a student from Malawi, her school garden is making a lasting impact on her life and helping her gain the proper nutrients for healthy adolescent development.

“I am able to understand what my teachers are telling me,” she said. “My grandmother doesn’t have to worry so much about how she will provide food for me and my sister.”

With governments partnering with organizations around the world, school gardens are becoming increasingly popular and have shown to give students a better understanding about the environment. If children are introduced to agriculture and the environment at an early age, they are more likely to have a better attitude about the subject.

While the deadline for the U.N.’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals has passed this September, two of the most important goals — cutting poverty in half and making primary education universal — have come a long way since the turn of the century.

While poverty has been cut in half since 1980, primary education lags behind in developing countries including sub-Saharan Africa.

The introduction of these school gardens in developing countries may become the turning point in eradicating global poverty. With the world united, school gardens can make not only an immediate difference but ensure the future of children living in developing countries.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: FAO, KCET, The Christian Science Monitor, Vox World, WFP
Photo: Flickr