Community Gardening Projects
A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. 
On a rooftop of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, the United Nations began to promote food gardens by setting an example and creating a garden in the heart of the city.

In 2015, cooperation between interested members of U.N. delegations and community organizations officially opened the U.N. Food Gardens. These gardens do not only promote international cooperation among U.N. staff but also help promote United Nations sustainable community gardening projects around the world.

They use similar practices as their international developmental counterparts, such as turning food waste into sustainable fertile soil. They also serve as an outreach program. United Nations programs and international charity programs use a similar tactic. By showing a successful garden in one part of a city, town, or village, maybe the idea will be adopted by other communities and countries.

FAO Role in Community Gardening Projects

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is the biggest promoter and leader of the community gardening projects around the world. To promote and spread this idea the instructions of sustaining a successful community garden are accessible on the FAO website.

The instructions are separated into 12 parts. They cover everything from securing funding, motivating the community, planting the correct fruits and vegetable, instructions on how to properly care for them and selling the extra for profit. The most important step is step number 12 that covers the motivation of participants. For teachers, it is recommended that they suggest special days in a season so that the students can look forward to each season. This aims to create a sense of ownership over the garden by giving the children assignments like watering or weeding the garden. It will also give them the knowledge and tools to begin their own garden later in life.

The Example of Dangerendove

FAO community garden projects can be found all around the world. Not only do they help to provide food and income to communities but they have also been able to break down social barriers. In 2014, an article was written about one of the greatest successes of the FAO’s community garden projects. This story occurred in a small town named Dangarendove in Zimbabwe.

The FAO provided over 40,000 farmers, out of which 90 percent were women, on over 800 farms, with seeds and fertilizers. One of the women interviewed for the article describes that the biggest difficulty is not taking care of the garden but keeping up with the demand for their products. Traders come from villages all around to buy their products by the cratefuls. Approximately 200 cratefuls are produced each week earning the village around $3,000.

Due to the success, the men of the village have begun to take part in the gardening process, taking roles and responsibilities that were once delegated only to women. The success of this program demonstrates that providing food and economic security can do much more than just feed the people and provide money.

Latin America and Community Garden Projects

Many other communities are starting to realize the benefits of community garden projects. In Latin America, rapid urbanization of many Latin American countries in the late 20th and in the early 21st century has caused demand for fresh fruits and vegetables to decline. In Brazilian favelas, in large urban communities sometimes called shantytowns, that often lack access to clean water and sewage and have high crime-rates due to lack of employment, the formation of community gardens has begun.

In 2008, the Formiga Favela in Rio de Janeiro was pacified (a term used to refer to favelas that have been returned to government control) and the Formiga community garden projects have been initiated soon after. These projects have not only helped to provide food in this impoverished area but also to provide employment to the people that live in these communities.

Community garden projects are feeding and employing people, but they also improve social equality. However, their biggest impact is that they put power in the hands of individuals.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Staving Off Post-Hurricane Hunger in DominicaDominica, the first Caribbean island hit by Hurricane Maria, reported 27 people dead and hundreds of others missing as of October 9, 2017. Hunger in Dominica increases as the wait for food and other supplies to the island lengthens.

While Maria marks the fifth time that Dominica has withstood a direct hit from a hurricane, it has never been hit by one of such incredible force and magnitude, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

According to onsite volunteers, a month after Hurricane Maria struck Dominica, island residents still lack clean water, adequate food and medical attention. One of two airports serving the country is out of commission. Roofs blew off in 95 percent of Dominica towns such as Portsmouth and Mahaut. No information exists on nearly nine remote communities, as communications are down in the more rural areas.

However, signs of the island nation’s restoration are finally becoming visible. Principal seaports have reopened, allowing NGOs to deliver food, water and necessities consistently.

The World Food Programme (WFP), working with the government of Dominica, distributed over 66 tons of food to approximately 30,000 people, supplying almost half the residents. Over 40 United Nations workers are on the ground to help the struggling community. WFP reports it now can distribute water and supplies to nearly all people, although the organization expects future hurdles.

On September 29, over 11 tons of WFP wheat biscuits containing high-protein cereals and vegetable fat arrived in Dominica. The organization distributed aid by helicopter to interior communities and waterfront communities by ship. Ultimately, the WFP intends to distribute food to approximately 25,000 residents over the next three months. The organization is in discussions with the government to develop a functional system to supply Dominica’s residents with meal vouchers that will be valid once local shops reopen.

The U.N.’s central goal is to help people feel confident and stable. WFP officials project that if residents of Dominica have access to food, water and shelter, belief in that security provides the psychological lift necessary to withstand hunger in Dominica.

Heather Hopkins

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Guinea-Bissau
Hunger in Guinea-Bissau is a fact of life. Slightly less than triple the size of Connecticut, Guinea-Bissau is a small West African nation of a mere 1.7 million people. Unfortunately, Guinea-Bissau is also among the world’s poorest countries, with exports in 2016 totaling a mere $163 million. Of this figure, approximately 80 percent of exports come from cash crops, specifically cashews. As a result of the economy relying on cash crops, therefore, over two-thirds of Bissau-Guineans live below the poverty line.

With much of the nation’s food being exported, rather than consumed, hunger in Guinea-Bissau is a pressing issue. One in 10 people in Guinea-Bissau is food insecure, with the figure being as high as half of people in rural areas. According to the World Food Programme, hunger in Guinea-Bissau is plagued by three key factors: political instability, irregular rainfall and fluctuating rice and cashew prices on the global market.


Politica and Hunger in Guinea-Bissau


Guinea-Bissau’s political struggles stem from the current president’s dismissal of prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, a politician popular among the people for his work with Western leaders donating to Guinea-Bissau. The national parliament has not met in over a year, and the instability has caused severe issues with access to electricity and water. By prolonging water shortages as a result of political deadlock, Guinea-Bissau struggles to properly irrigate its crops and feed struggling communities. Resolving the deadlock is critical to solving other more pressing matters.

Of course, the issue of water shortages is not helped by irregular rainfall patterns that have likely emerged as a result of climate change. As the nation’s prime exports are agriculturally-based, it is clear that reliable weather patterns are vital to sustaining not only the economy, but the very survivability of the people, as hunger in Guinea-Bissau will only worsen if crops continue to fail. An acute lack of rainfall will also lead to the spread of desertification.

With little industry in the country, even by African standards, Guinea-Bissau is among the most vulnerable countries to the negative effects of climate change, especially given the country’s reliance on agricultural goods to support both the economy and themselves. Sustainable and responsible water usage practices must be undertaken when water is once again made available after the resolution of the political stalemate.

Finally, there is the issue of fluctuating prices. Despite the suspension of donor flows into the country following the dismissal of Pereira, Guinea-Bissau’s economy actually grew at approximately 5 percent in the past two years. With two-thirds of the nation reliant on cashew exportation, however, price shocks to the international cashew market are capable of crippling entire communities and worsening issues of hunger in Guinea-Bissau. In order to combat this extreme vulnerability, the country must diversify its economy far beyond cashew production and exportation, and eventually beyond agriculture as well.

The situation is desperate, but not hopeless. In order to reduce and eventually eradicate hunger in Guinea-Bissau, the first issue to address must be that of the controversial political deadlock in the capital. In doing so, more urgent issues can be addressed by political leaders. The implementation of sustainable water practices and diversification of the entire national economy will alleviate the suffering of communities across the small West African nation and prevent them from happening in the future.

Brad Tait

Photo: Flickr

Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, has a population of about 15 million people. Nearly half of the Senegalese population – 46.7 percent, to be exact – are living in poverty. The following 10 facts should help explain and give context to the Senegal poverty rate.

  1. The Senegal poverty rate is determined in terms of consumption. Estimates of consumption per household are divided by the number of adults in the household; this number excludes children, who are assumed to consume less than adults. From here, a minimum acceptable standard of consumption is calculated and individuals below this level of consumption are considered poor or living under the poverty line.
  2. Geographic disparities in poverty exist between rural areas and Dakar, the capital city and largest city in Senegal. In rural areas, 66 percent of residents are considered poor compared to 23 percent of residents in Dakar. Additionally, the general poverty line in Dakar is almost two times higher than it is in rural areas.
  3. As of 2011, about 38 percent of Senegal’s population was living on $1.90 or less a day.
  4. Senegal’s gross national income as of 2016 was $950.
  5. Senegal’s economy relies on industries such as mining, construction, agriculture, fishing and tourism, but also heavily relies on foreign aid and remittances. Nearly 75 percent of the population works in the agricultural sector, which is regularly threatened by inclement weather such as drought and other climate changes.
  6. Senegal has a poor economy and, as a result, many Senegalese people emigrate to other countries. An economic crisis in 1970 ignited migration, which accelerated even more by 1990. Many migrants left for Libya and Mauritania, searching for opportunities in their thriving oil industries. Others left for more developed countries such as France, Italy and Spain for other economic opportunities.
  7. Senegal’s GDP rose at an average rate of 4.5 percent from 1995 to 2005. After 2005, however, while the rest of Africa enjoyed economic growth, Senegal’s economy started to decline. From 2005 to 2011, Senegal’s economy rose at an average rate of 3.3 percent. Decline in economic growth, especially during 2005 to 2011, can be attributed to drought, floods, rising fuel prices and the global financial crisis.
  8. The World Bank reported that Senegal’s GDP growth is too low for significant poverty reduction.
  9. The fertility rate in Senegal is almost 4.5 children per woman. Young people comprise a large portion – 60 percent – of the Senegalese population. Additionally, Senegal has an illiteracy rate of 40 percent and a high unemployment rate of 12.7 percent, both of which provide dim outlooks for Senegalese youth. According to the Hunger Project, 22 percent of children ages five to 14 are working and not attending school.
  10. Unlike many countries facing extreme poverty, Senegal has one of the most stable governments in Africa and is considered a model for democracy in Africa. Since its independence from France in 1960, Senegal has elected four presidents and has witnessed three peaceful political transitions.

Despite the fact that the Senegal poverty rate is high, many projects have been implemented to reduce the poverty rate. President Macky Sall unveiled the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), which strives to prioritize economic reforms and growth. The International Monetary Fund has been providing assistance for the ESP from 2015 to 2017.

In an attempt to take a fresh look at poverty, Senegal’s national statistics office distributed the second Senegal Poverty Monitoring Survey. The World Bank, the Canadian government and the World Food Programme provided financial support. The survey, however, has room for error because it is heavily dependent on the time of year that residents fill it out, as consumption levels vary based on the harvest.

Microfinance has become a key role in reducing poverty in very poor countries, such as Senegal. This program has allowed poor individuals who are excluded from traditional banking to obtain micro loans. The Hunger Project introduced the Microfinance Program (MFP) in Senegal, which strives to incorporate female farmers and entrepreneurs in order to give them a larger voice in the community. Three of the MFPs in Senegal have been approved by the government to operate as Rural Banks. MFPs provide credit and savings programs and have allowed many farmers to move beyond exclusively subsistence farming.

Economic growth will be the key component in reducing poverty in Senegal. These projects involving the Senegalese government and other various organizations will spark this economic growth, which should in turn help to reduce the Senegal poverty rate.

Christiana Lano

Photo: Flickr

Global Need Through Graphic NovelsThe World Food Program has teamed up with comic writer Joshua Dysert, artist Alberto Ponticelli, colorist Pat Masioni and letterist Thomas Mauer to illustrate global need through graphic novels.

Their first collaboration was “Living Level-3: Iraq” in February 2016, which followed Khaled Bushar, an Iraqi refugee, as he tries to survive in the country during the rise of the Islamic State. In 2017, their second graphic novel, “Living Level-3: South Sudan”, follows members of a Sudanese family who have to leave their home for a more dangerous place because of famine. Both graphic novels also revolve around Leila Helal, an aid worker for the WFP.

Before working on either graphic novel, Dysert spent time in both countries, classified by the United Nations as level 3 emergencies due to extreme humanitarian crises, interviewing the citizens and studying the area. He then worked with the rest of the creative team to devise graphic novels that present an honest and compelling picture of the situation in each country.

One of the benefits of illustrating global need through graphic novels is the ability to create an engaging story while informing the public about the country’s humanitarian situation. In an interview with Humanosphere, Dysert discussed how he wanted to present facts about what was going on in Iraq, but not in a dry medium like many documentaries. Graphic novels provide him with that opportunity, using illustrations and storytelling.

Another opportunity that results from highlighting global need through graphic novels is the scope that graphic novels can cover compared to other mediums. WFP’s head of television communications Jonathan Dumont and head of graphic design and publishing Cristina Ascone have talked about how graphic novels provide an overall picture of everything involved with the crisis, from the citizens to the governments to the aid organizations and beyond. Details like these are harder to notice when looking at a photograph or watching a short video.

Illustrating global need through graphic novels also provides more opportunities for empathy. As discussed by Mashable, the readers get to know the characters, their personalities and their relationships. Therefore, the readers are more invested in what happens to those characters when the hardships of living in their communities occur. They wish for a better life for those characters and praise the efforts of the aid organizations. A final benefit that comes from describing global aid through graphic novels is that it promotes global advocacy to a new audience.

WFP is already working on a third “Living Level-3” graphic novel. Their dedication to explaining global need through graphic novels will hopefully spark an interest in global issues in others.

Cortney Rowe
Photo: Flickr

According to reports by the World Bank, climate change could send 100 million more people into poverty by 2030. Although climate change impacts people regardless of their socioeconomic status, people living in poverty are hit the hardest. Here are five ways climate change impacts the poor.

5 Ways Climate Change Impacts the Poor

  1. Natural resources. The World Wildlife Fund estimated in 2014 that over-exploitation of natural resources created a global decline of 60 percent of many vital natural resources, such as arable land, fish, water and wood. Marine and forest ecosystems, which provide jobs, food and resources for some of the world’s poorest people, are expected to experience significant losses as a result of pollution and over-exploitation of resources like fish and wood.
  2. Water. Already a key topic of discussion surrounding global poverty, water scarcity and pollution is expected to increase as a result of climate change. UNICEF estimates that around 175 million children each year over the next 10 years will be affected by water extremes caused by climate change. Accessibility to clean water is tied to health, sanitation and food security, especially for people living in developing countries. All of these are expected to worsen as a result of climate change.
  3. Food. Food prices are expected to rise by 17 percent on a world scale by the year 2080, with the greatest impacts in poor regions. A 77 percent increase in food prices is expected in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to only a three percent increase in Europe and Central Asia. Rising food prices hit people living in poverty the hardest. Poor households spend nearly 60 percent of income on food, compared to wealthy households which can spend less than 10 percent. Food scarcity issues caused by climate change are projected to create a 20 percent increase in the risk of hunger and malnutrition across the world by 2050.
  4. Health. The World Health Organization estimates that climate change will account for 250,000 deaths per year by malnutrition, malaria, heat stress and diarrhea between 2030 and 2050. This will generate $2-4 billion in climate change related costs each year by 2030. Globally, 20 percent of health care costs are paid out of pocket, but this number grows to 47 percent in low-income countries and to 55 percent in lower middle-income countries. This means that climate change increases health risks of those living in poverty and decreases the ability to recover from them.
  5. Natural disasters. An overall increase in natural disaster frequency can be expected as a result of climate change. The World Food Program estimates that 90 percent of all natural disasters are droughts, floods and storms. All of these calamities will increase in frequency, along with other out-of-the-ordinary disasters. Natural disasters hit poor people the hardest, as they live more exposed to the elements and experience greater losses as a result of such disasters.

The most important fact about how climate change impacts the poor may be the preventability of these issues. Tools such as heat-resistant crops, improved warning systems for disasters, emissions reductions plans, international aid, carbon pricing and universal health coverage are only a few of the many ways to fight climate change. With policies such as the Paris Climate Agreement and what the World Bank calls “rapid, inclusive, climate-smart development,” informed decisions about climate change today can decrease sources of poverty in the near future.

Cleo Krejci

Photo: Flickr

The cash-based transfer is a form of food assistance that has been supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations since the early 2010s. In contrast to in-kind food assistance, which feeds hungry individuals by way of donations of food, cash-based transfers consist of physical money, debit cards and vouchers distributed to those in need and allow people freedom in selecting their food.

Cash-based transfers are both practical and empowering. Individuals that receive aid of any kind are often viewed as passive recipients. However, the program recognizes that people that receive aid know their nutritional needs best and deserve the agency to choose their own food.

The cash-based transfer is also a more sustainable aid program when compared to in-kind food assistance. The money provided through aid goes into local economies and provides support for a future in which hungry individuals will be able to obtain food from their communities. For example, $1.29 billion USD were introduced into Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey by WFP to revitalize those economies in the wake of the Syrian conflict.

Users of cash-based transfers can redeem them in stores connected to WFP and related U.N. agencies. This allows WFP to track what is bought and informs their future decisions concerning what foods they stock in their stores and what amounts of money are appropriate for cash-based transfers. The program is sustainable in its implementation on the ground and through the feedback that it provides to WFP.

However, the cash-based transfer is not always the most effective form of food assistance. It is inappropriate in areas with severely disrupted markets or untrustworthy banks and is too dependent on the structure to function in times of crisis, such as in the event of a tsunami, during which time direct donations of food are necessary for basic survival. WFP contends that it evaluates areas in need case-by-case and determines what combination of in-kind and cash-based transfer aid is appropriate. One variation on the cash-based transfer allows access to this type of aid conditionally— for instance, if a family’s children stay in school, they receive cash-based transfers. Other cash-based transfers only allow for the purchase of specific items.

It is important to note that cash-based transfers currently comprise less than 10 percent of overall global humanitarian aid. U.S. in-kind aid programs such as the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program and Food for Progress are established and have succeeded in feeding billions of people all over the globe. However, the humanitarian nature and sustainability of cash-based transfers will likely continue to appeal to different governments as they search for long-term solutions to world hunger.

Caroline Meyers

Photo: Flickr

The international community has proposed a goal to rid the world of hunger by 2030. This goal would make history while creating a generation that cooperates to sustain a zero hunger status.

In modern Europe, “economy” refers to societal matters, but has origins within families where the European Union funded assistance is provided through the World Food Programme (WFP). When resources are scarce to the extent they are in these households, the need for making true economic choices appears.

The World Food Programme (WFP) believes that these decisions manifest through a woman’s major role to provide meals in the household. Women are responsible for 90 percent of the work involved in preparing a meal for the family. They grow, harvest, and prepare the food.

Groups like the WFP have suggested empowering women as a way of combating hunger because they hold such a dominant role in feeding their families. These organizations have brainstormed ways to aid women in hopes of empowering them and combating hunger. The WFP distributes cash, trains in food preparation, devises ways for starting micro-businesses and teaches cultivation of vegetables to women. The goal is to supply them with knowledge and funding so they can maximize family educational, health and nutritional benefits and work towards combating hunger.

Investing in women can pay dividends for future generations, breaking intergenerational hunger cycles. Studies show that an increase in income greatly benefits the children’s health and nutrition when managed by women directly.

Empowering women could prove to be a way to increase the current efforts of combating hunger needed to accomplish the zero hunger goal by 2030. While women are more likely to be victimized by hunger, they are also the most effective in combating hunger.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr

Sao Tome and Principe is a small island located off the African coast near the equator. The small island has a population of 190,344 and is the second-smallest country in Africa. The country is often not thought of when it comes to poverty, but about 66 percent of citizens live below the poverty line. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Sao Tome and Principe.

10 Facts on Hunger in Sao Tome and Principe

  1. Hunger in Sao Tome and Principe causes ongoing conflicts between the citizens in efforts to find food for their families or themselves. In an effort to end this, the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided 43,200 meals to primary school children in the country.
  2. More than one-third of child deaths in the country are caused by undernutrition, mostly from the increased severity of diseases as a complication of such.
  3. Children who up to age two are prone to cognitive development impairment. About 65 percent of newborns in the country do not receive breast milk within one hour of birth. During the period of switching between breast milk and solid foods (between six and nine months of age), 40 percent of infants are not fed appropriately with breast milk and solid foods.
  4. Malnutrition consequently makes the country’s productivity and growth drop enormously.
  5. Causes of undernutrition in Sao Tome and Principe include poor infant feeding, the price of food, and high disease burden. Undernutrition in Sao Tome and Principe increases the chances of falling sick or the severity of diseases. Parasitic infestation often diverts nutrients from the body and can cause blood loss and anemia.
  6. The country relies heavily on imports, but food availability is unpredictable. The infrastructure can be a challenge, as deep-sea ports and landing strips are completely unavailable on days with inclement weather. Even on fair-weather days, importation is difficult, as there is only one airport strip on the island.
  7. The World Food Programme has been present in Sao Tome and Principe since 1976. Education is the organization’s primary goal to help end hunger in Sao Tome and Principe.
  8. The World Food Programme focuses on supporting the government with capacity development activities. The organization’s goal is for the country to eventually provide its national school feeding program without assistance. WFP hopes to gradually give the responsibility of the program to the government.
  9. WFP is also working with UNICEF to improve hygiene and sanitation in schools.
  10. WFP intends to work with the country’s government to integrate nutrition learning in the national nutrition policy.

Paige Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Since Timor-Leste gained independence in 2002, it has made significant improvements in economic and human development. At the same time, while hunger in Timor-Leste has decreased, rates of malnutrition and stunting are still the highest in Asia. The U.N. has provided assistance aimed at stabilizing the government since 2006.

  1. According to Oxfam Australia, 41 percent of people in Timor-Leste live on less than $1.25 a day. Timor-Leste ranks very poorly in GDP and GDP per capita, making it one of the poorest countries in the world. A weak economy and an unstable political environment have made it difficult for residents of Timor-Leste to escape extreme poverty and hunger.
  2. Timor-Leste is a small country with only 1.13 million inhabitants, of which 74 percent live in rural areas. Because residents often depend on local agriculture to supplement their diet, the high instances of drought, flooding and cyclones in Timor-Leste lead to food insecurity.
  3. Persistent food insecurity and hunger in Timor-Leste have resulted in high rates of malnutrition among Timorese youth and adults. In fact, UNICEF reports that 58.1 percent of the population suffers from moderate and severe stunting, affecting the growth of many children and young adults.
  4. Life expectancy for the Timorese population is about 69 years, up from about 61 years in 2002. This increase is largely attributable to reductions in poverty through foreign aid that has led to an increase in the availability of food.
  5. In 2014, Timor-Leste became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to adopt the U.N.’s Zero Hunger Challenge. The program aims to eliminate food insecurity and childhood stunting by improving food infrastructure, increasing the productivity and income of small farm-owners, and lessening food waste.
  6.  Since 1999, the World Food Program has provided supplemental nutrition for the most vulnerable Timorese and worked to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Eventually, the U.N. hopes to turn the supplementary feeding program over to the government of Timor-Leste.

A recent report by the World Bank indicates that Timor-Leste has made significant strides in reducing poverty and projects that the economy will rebound with high growth rates in the coming years. As more Timorese escape poverty, continued foreign aid will be key to sustaining development and reducing hunger in Timor-Leste.

Yosef Gross

Photo: Flickr