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

Significant progress has been made on the issue of hunger in Oman, including the country already meeting eight of its Millennium Development Goals. The amount of extreme poverty and hunger has been cut in half in Oman since 1990.

The World Food Program defines hunger as undernourishment, or chronic undernourishment. Undernourishment is the result of chronic hunger, that can result in stunted growth in children, the loss of mental and physical abilities, and even death. Undernourishment affects one in six people around the world today.

Another unfortunate result of hunger is referred to as the “under five mortality rate” or the proportion of children who die before reaching the age of five. Hunger plays a large part in this rate, and Oman reduced it’s under five mortality rate by two-thirds since 1990. In fact, the percentage of children under five who were underweight was 9.7 percent in 2014, compared to 23 percent in 1995.

Maternal health is also a big beneficiary of the fight against hunger. As mentioned, undernourishment can have drastic effects on the health and livelihood of individuals, let alone those who are eating for two. Maternal mortality is a huge problem in countries where poverty and hunger rates are high, and Oman was no exception. Since 1990, the maternal mortality rate has been reduced by 75 percent.

Oman has made such strides in the past two decades, that it is now on the other side of the coin. In 2014, Oman donated $1 million to the World Food Program to be used to fight hunger in Mauritania and Senegal, two countries in Africa that are plagued by drought and constant violence.

Success stories like this on hunger in Oman should be built upon for future progression across the board. Oman was near the bottom, with poverty levels and hunger levels affecting the lives of its citizens. Thanks to collaboration from other countries throughout the world, and the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals, Oman has come closer to stabilization than ever before.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Sierra Leone
The West African country of Sierra Leone is home to some of the greatest diamond, gold, and titanium mines in the world. Despite this natural wealth, however, more than half of Sierra Leone’s people live below the poverty line. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Sierra Leone:

  1. There are more than 6.4 million people living in Sierra Leone, 52.9 percent of whom live below the national poverty line.
  2. Malnutrition is the greatest cause of child mortality in Sierra Leone, accounting for nearly half of all child deaths. Almost one-third of children under five are chronically malnourished.
  3. Roughly 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas, the majority of whom rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
  4. Agriculture, however, has faced many challenges in recent years due to lack of equipment, poor quality seeds, deforestation and climate change. Rice production has declined so significantly that only four percent of farmers produce enough to meet their needs.
  5. Due to these agricultural struggles, the country now imports large amounts of food. Between $200 and $300 million is spent each year importing rice alone, harming local agriculture and increasing the country’s vulnerability to global price fluctuations.
  6. Economic development halted between 1991 and 2001 due to a civil war. This has had lasting impacts on the country’s economy, as approximately 1.5 million people were forced to leave their homes and livelihoods.
  7. The Ebola outbreak also worsened hunger in Sierra Leone. Approximately 280,000 people were made food-insecure due to the disease.
  8. In order to encourage young people to attend school, and to increase the education that is vital to rebuilding the country post-war, many primary schools offer feeding programs.
  9. In areas of the country where agriculture is still not providing enough food to feed the villages, food-for-work and food-for-training programs are in place to help support people as the country’s infrastructure is rebuilt.
  10. The World Food Programme runs a number of programs in order to combat hunger in Sierra Leone. Among them is a supplementary feeding program in order to treat malnutrition in lactating mothers and children under five.

While the country is still struggling to rebuild its economy after repeated crises, progress has been made. Numerous programs have been put in place that are making a significant impact in the fight against hunger in Sierra Leone.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Madagascar
While Madagascar was made famous by the 2005 DreamWorks animated movie about talking zoo animals, it is also one of the world’s poorest nations, with four million people suffering from lack of food access.

Drought, cyclones, floods and locust infestation worsen the case of hunger in Madagascar. Natural disasters are likely to grow worse with the continuation of climate change. Madagascar is one of the 10 nations most vulnerable to natural disasters affecting food security and nutrition.

Those who live in southern Madagascar are most likely to suffer from hunger because the lean season takes up a much longer portion of the year. The lean season is the period of time in between the harvest and the first plant of the next season. During this time, poor farmers and their families have little food or income on which to survive.

In 2016, a drought worsened by El Niño, an irregular and complex series of climatic changes, left 1.4 million people in Madagascar desperately short on food. These people are expected to face food shortages through 2017.

Crop failure causes people to take desperate measures to survive, such as selling their livestock and farming tools and moving into the wild to forage. Over 90% of Malagasies live below the poverty line.

Chronic malnutrition affects nearly half of all the children in Madagascar under five. Hunger in Madagascar also results in stunted growth in children and high mortality rates. Anemia is one of the biggest health issues in Malagasies facing hunger, with one-third of children under five and women suffering from iron deficiency.

More than six percent of children die before they reach five years old, and 500 out of every 100,000 live births result in the mother’s death. High levels of anemia lead to this high maternal mortality rate.

Collaborative Efforts Against Madagascar’s Hunger

Despite the bleak outlook caused by hunger in Madagascar, not all hope is lost. The World Food Program (WFP) works in conjunction with 30 other organizations to relieve Madagascar’s most vulnerable regions, including the South and poor urban areas.

This is done through:

  • Providing meals, nutritional information and promoting hygiene for children in schools;
  • Empowering smallholder farmers, who own small plots of land and harvest only a few cash crops, through increasing access to markets and supporting farmers’ associations;
  • Providing relief and early recovery assistance to households affected by natural disasters;
  • Placing food in remote and disaster-prone areas before incidents are expected to occur to prevent malnutrition;
  • Distributing cash assistance and food during the 2016-2017 prolonged lean season;
  • Assessing Madagascar’s vulnerability to shocks, coordinating livelihood activities and implementing community planning exercises.

To help relieve hunger in Madagascar, you can make a donation to the WFP.

Cassie Lipp

Photo: Flickr

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%. 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