world_food_program
The World Food Programme is waging war on hunger and fighting an uphill battle in six of the world’s hunger hot spots; Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Nepal and the Ebola affected regions in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Most of the world’s population live in developing countries. Many of them are mired in extreme poverty, with little hope of access to clean water and often reduced to scavenging for food in trash heaps lining their decrepit shanty town streets, just to feed their children. But in these six emergencies, the situation is even more urgent.

The World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian aid agency fighting hunger is the food aid branch of the United Nations, working to address hunger across the globe and promoting food security. Workers are on the ground in these areas trying to ease the crisis by providing needy families with life-saving food.

In Syria, the WFP is struggling to meet food need demands as nearly six million people have been displaced. The ongoing armed conflict in Syria has been growing worse and the situation steadily deteriorating. Although the WFP has been reaching approximately 4 million people using hand to mouth operations, funding is running low and the need is increasing drastically.

Iraq has been in crisis for years and continues to be. Recent upsurge in violence has left one point eight million displaced without access to water or food. The WFP reports to have reached out to about a million people since June, providing assistance.

Yemen is a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian emergency. With around half of all children under five being stunted; too short for their age, Yemen already stands as having one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world. Millions of people are being cut off from basic human needs such as food, water and electricity as fighting persists and fuel shortages continue.

Although the food security threat in South Sudan has been stabilized for now sustainable assistance is essential in the region as the situation remains extremely fragile. The WPF has been able to reach more than 2.5 million people this year but if fighting continues, the situation in South Sudan could turn into a full blown catastrophe.

The seven point eight magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th 2015 devastated the region leaving approximately eight million people affected, living without access to food, water or shelter. With the epicenter being just outside of Kathmandu, large populations were displaced and 30 out of 75 districts in the country were ruined. The Nepalese government issued a state of emergency and the WFP is currently in the country providing assistance.

The WFP has responded in force to the Ebola emergency plaguing West Africa and has met the needs of people affected by the outbreak since April in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Along with food assistance, the WFP is also helping get the humanitarian staff and equipment into the crisis zones.

According to www.worldhunger.org the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the seven point three billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties.

When disaster strikes, or when war tears through a nation, humanity can be taken to the breaking point. With help from organizations like the World Food Programme, families fighting for survival can find some relief, and possibly some hope.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: WFP, World Hunger
Photo: Action Against Hunger

soya

Malnutrition, an ugly consequence of poverty. runs rampant in developing countries. In Afghanistan, the World Food Programme (WFP) is introducing a source of protein less known there. Soya could help stop hunger in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Malnutrition is defined as the lack of proper nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things or being unable to use the food that one does eat. Malnutrition is commonly due to the absence of quality food available to eat and is often related to high food prices and poverty. A lack of breast feeding may contribute, as may a number of infectious diseases such as gastroenteritis, pneumonia, malaria and measles, which increase nutrient requirements.

There are two main types of undernutrition: protein-energy malnutrition and dietary deficiencies. Protein-energy malnutrition has two severe forms, marasmus (a lack of protein and calories) and kwashiorkor (a lack of just protein), both of which can be fatal without quick intervention and care.

Soya has been widely used in China for centuries and was even considered one of the five holy crops along with rice, wheat, barley and millet. Soya is very versatile in diets and very healthy, with a high level of complete protein, which means that they contain significant amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that foods containing soy protein may also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Soya is fairly inexpensive. It’s much cheaper than meat or other protein rich vegetables, making it a perfect fit to deliver a protein punch to a poverty-stricken nation such as Afghanistan.

Rates of malnutrition in Afghanistan are incredibly high. More than 40% of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished; nearly 10% of children and 9% of women of reproductive age are acutely malnourished, and almost one-fourth of children are underweight.

Soya, with all its health benefits, was virtually non-existent in Afghanistan and very few people knew of its value. The WFP saw soya as a possible answer to the malnutrition poisoning the country and began establishing it in 2014.

According to the WFP, more than 8,000 Afghan farmers were trained in how to grow the protein-rich bean, with over 84 metric tons of seed handed out to farmers. Six factories have now been established in different parts of the country, and several types of soya products are now available in the Afghan markets. The WFP in partnership with Nutrition Education International is teaching communities in Afghanistan to familiarize themselves with soya and several public awareness workshops have been established and are being attended by thousands of people.

Afghanistan is unquestionably one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world, and malnutrition is a genuine danger effecting the lives of its people. Efforts by the WFP and the introduction of soya with its nutritional benefits could certainly be instrumental in relief for a population plagued by years of war and poverty.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: WFP, Food and Development (Young)
Photo:
Flickr

World’s Poorest Need Just $160 Per Year to Eradicate Hunger
A new report released last week by the United Nations has predicted that only $160 per year for each individual currently living in extreme poverty is necessary to eradicate hunger in the world by 2030.

The joint report, which was prepared by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Program (WFP), and International Fund for Agricultural Development, argued that such funding to eradicate hunger should be provisioned through both the transfer of cash and certain investments considered supportive of impoverished areas.

In order to meet the current base poverty line of $1.25 per day stipulated by the World Bank, the UN hopes that cash transfers will assist in the immediate elimination of hunger. Officials estimate that this undertaking would cost $116 billion per year, of which $75 billion would be designated to rural areas.

The UN has also estimated that an additional $151 billion per year will be necessary to fund “pro-poor” investment projects designed to support the predicted decreases in the frequency of poverty while also encouraging sustainability. Such endeavors could include the expansion of irrigation systems, the construction of more effective sanitation systems or infrastructural repair.

The FAO stated within their report: “Eradicating world hunger sustainably by 2030 will require an estimated additional $267 billion per year on average for investments in rural and urban areas and social protection so that poor people have access to food and can improve their livelihoods.”

The FAO estimates that over 800 million people across the earth still do not have access to adequate and sustainable food resources. A large portion of these people have been found to live in rural areas, a geographical prevalence which has caused many organizations to shift the focus of development projects towards rural regions in recent years.

Noting the necessity for increased efforts to eradicate hunger, José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the FAO, recently stated: “If we adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach, by 2030, we would still have more than 650 million people suffering from hunger.”

Graziano also argued, “The message of the report is clear: Given that this ($267 billion) is more or less equivalent to 0.3 percent of the global GDP, I personally think it is a relatively small price to pay to end hunger.”

The Sustainable Development Goals, which are new objectives designed by the United Nations to replace the outdated Millennium Development Goals, will be completed this fall and currently have created 17 different goals regarding global development. The second Sustainable Development Goal is focused on the issues of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

In regards to the structure of plans outlined by the new report, Graziano stated: “We are championing an approach that combines social protection with additional targeted investments in rural development, agriculture and urban areas that will chiefly benefit the poor.”

James Thornton

Sources: Business Day Online, Reuters, India Times
Photo: NDTV

guinea-bissau
Hunger and malnutrition are significant concerns in the country of Guinea-Bissau that can be attributed to several factors including food insecurity, poor health and sanitation, limited access to water and low literacy rates.

According to a report released by the World Food Programme, only seven percent of people living in Guinea-Bissau are food secure. The report also revealed that 93 percent of the rural population in the country is food insecure as a result of cashew prices. In addition, an estimated 15,000 children suffer from malnutrition across Guinea-Bissau.

Due to Guinea-Bissau’s political instability and socioeconomic uncertainty, the country’s food security remains compromised. Poverty rates have increased from 65 percent in previous years to 75 percent and although the country has ample natural resources, a substantial amount of rainfall and good soil, Guinea-Bissau is still dealing with political disruption that makes it susceptible to poverty.

A large aspect of the country’s economy can be found in the agricultural sector, which 85 percent of the population relies upon. The population of 1.6 million not only relies on agriculture as a main source of income, but also as a main source of nutrition. Cashews account for 98 percent of the country’s revenues, while other crops such as rice are grown for sustenance.

In the past several years alone, food insecurity in Guinea-Bissau has increased as a result of strikes and political upheaval, both have devastated the cashew nut season and compromised the country’s main source of income. This disruption not only affected revenues, but it also limited access to food and further burdened households in rural areas.

In past years Guinea-Bissau had not been making a political commitment to combating hunger in the country; however, recently the country along with several other organizations including WFP have partnered up in an effort to reduce hunger.

“Thanks to the work we do with our partners on emergency preparedness, support to family farmers, nutritional assistance – particularly in a child’s first 1,000 days – and building the resilience of communities to withstand shocks, millions of people are now better able to focus on building a future free of hunger for themselves and the next generation,” said WFP Executive Ertharin Cousin.

WFP and the government of Guinea-Bissau have launched several initiatives in hopes of alleviating hunger and combating malnutrition in the country. The initiatives aim to provide immediate food aid, operate school meal programs and aid small-scale farmers. WFP is currently providing meals to 86,000 school children and handing out rations as a means to increase attendance among girls. As part of the initiative, an estimated 36,000 women and children have received resources to combat malnutrition.

“Every year, we witness hunger’s devastating effect on families, communities and whole economies,” Cousin says. “But despite horrific crises engulfing entire regions, we are making real progress in the fight to sustainably and durably end hunger and chronic malnutrition.”

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: World Food Programme, International Food Policy Research Institute
Photo: DNS Tvind

Djibouti
Throughout its long history, Djibouti has served as an important part of international exchange. Located in the center of the Horn of Africa, Djibouti has been a principle port of trade, exchange and shipping for nations like Saudi Arabia, France and China.

Yet, in spite of its historical significance, Djibouti’s small population of 886,000 people, most of whom are urban residents, cannot afford food or proper dietary provisions. This number includes children, approximately 109,000 under the age of five, who are at risk of stunted growth, improper mental development and death due to malnourishment. It is estimated that 29.8 percent of children under the age of five in Djibouti are underweight.

In recent years, severe drought has caused the traditionally pastoral society of Djibouti to lose up to 70 percent of its livestock. With less than .10 percent of Djibouti’s land considered arable, it is difficult to maintain sustainable agriculture or for families to feed themselves. Due to a combination of high communicable disease infection, low crop production and extreme poverty, child mortality rates are increasingly high, with 81 of every 1,000 live births resulting in death. Though child mortality has declined considerably in the last 24 years, children continue to suffer greatly in the region.

Djibouti has one of the world’s highest rates of chronic child malnourishment. The latest statistics provided by WHO show that 18 percent of children suffer from malnutrition and 5.6 percent face severe acute malnutrition. Djibouti currently ranks at 165 of 187 countries in the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, indicating poor development and improper nutrition throughout the average Djiboutian’s lifetime.

In an effort to combat malnutrition and child mortality rates in Djibouti, a number of international organizations have developed programs and assistance intended for the ‘under five population’ and mothers. In June of 2014, the World Bank announced a $5 million dollar credit to the Social Safety Net Program, which provides food assistance and cash-for-work incentives to mothers with young children. It emphasizes the ‘first 1000 days’ of a child’s life as being critical to developing proper nutrition and health.

In 2011, UNICEF installed a therapeutic feeding center in the Balbala community in Djibouti, offering treatment and nutritional supplements to malnourished children. The feeding center also offers resources to mothers in order to prevent future cases of malnutrition. The World Food Programme has also been a leading contributor of food and health assistance in Djibouti. Its assistance in Djibouti has helped over 90,000 people in Djibouti, especially children.

The WFP said, “WFP also helps fight against malnutrition by providing fortified food to children under five, as well as to pregnant and nursing mothers at health centres in both urban and rural parts of the country.”

Additionally, The World Bank, WFP, UNICEF and other organizations have helped Djibouti become self-sufficient by aiding in efforts focused on education, environmental sustainability and useful crop production. These efforts have contributed to the ongoing decline of malnutrition throughout Djibouti.

Candice Hughes

Sources: The World Bank, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2, WHO 1, WHO 2, World Food Programme
Photo: Flickr

djibouti

Djibouti is a small country on the Eastern coast of Africa populated by malnourished people. Because of its location, Djibouti is a shipping hub for Eastern Africa, and so it has a large urban population. Still, a World Food Programme Emergency Food Security Assessment in 2012 found that three-fourths of assessed households were “severely or moderately food insecure.”

In rural areas, where one-third of Djibouti’s population lives, there is a severe hunger crisis. One in five children aged one to four  years is malnourished and, in the rural areas, about 70,000 people were food insecure in 2012. In the slums, Arhiba and Balbala, there is a high rate of child mortality from malnutrition.This is in part due to the fact that the country has very little natural resources and there have been recurring severe droughts in the region.

Additionally, in recent years Djibouti suffered from a cholera epidemic. The droughts have damaged food production from crops and livestock in rural areas, and because the rural villages are spread out across the country, it is difficult for aid organizations to send food and healthcare to each community.

Many rural families have moved to cities in search of work and a better life. However, work is often difficult to find and, with more people migrating to the cities, the unemployment rate has increased quickly. Other rural families are fleeing to the slums to escape the harsh conditions of rural life.

Most households are receiving assistance, without which they could not survive. Fewsnet found in a 2012-2013 report that, in some areas, “households are marginally able to meet minimum food needs only through accelerated depletion of livelihood assets and adoption of unsustainable coping strategies such as charcoal sales.”

Prices and unemployment are rising as the droughts continue. The people of Djibouti need strategies for clean water, agriculture, health and nutrition. Until these needs are met, World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger and other organizations and governments are working to provide citizens with basic needs and helping the government develop programs for sustainability.

-Kimmi Ligh

Sources: Relief Web, Action Against Hunger, World Food Programme, The Guardian
Photo: Flickr

zillow
Years ago, prospective homeowners would go to local real estate agencies to look for housing. It used to be that real estate agents held exclusive knowledge of the local and national housing market and that any buyer had to go through their local agency to find and purchase a new house.

Today, companies like Zillow Inc. and Trulia Inc. streamline the process with their online platforms. They offer searchable databases of real estate data for free to any online user, and make profits on advertising and agent listings. Together, both companies dominate the online marketplace and have 68.4 million unique users as of June.

On July 28, Zillow Inc. announced it had agreed to acquire Trulia Inc. for $3.5 billion in stock transactions. The purchase comes at a time when both sites are booming with user interaction, but profit from the online platforms is not yet optimal. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff believes the acquisition of Trulia Inc. will help both companies cut costs and increase efficiency overall. As the Chicago Tribune reported, Rascoff told financial analysts that both companies “independently [have] very large rental audiences and…both [are] in the early stages of monetizing those rental audiences.”

The deal has the potential to help consumers engage with real estate data more efficiently and at a cheaper price, but the money spent on Zillow’s acquisition is substantial. If spent on advancing the interests and development of the poor, that money would have a tangibly greater social impact.

The World Food Programme (WFP,) for example, recently announced that it was unable to provide food to nearly 800,000 due to budget shortfalls. United Nations WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres urged donors to provide an additional $186 million in funding to provide food rations to nearly 800 thousand. If not, food aid would have to be cut, threatening already high levels of malnutrition and anemia among refugee populations.

If the same money that was spent acquiring Trulia Inc. went to providing food to refugees, approximately 15.1 million more refugees would benefit from food rations from the WFP. Put another way, 2.4 million refugees depend on food aid from the WFP each year. If $3.5 billion was invested, every African refugee would have his or her nutritional needs met for over six years, based on U.N. and WFP figures.

The money spent on advancing the online potential of the real estate industry is an important development to consumer interests; however, even small monetary developments can have significant impacts when invested in the poor.

– Joseph McAdams

Sources: Chicago Tribune, LA Times, World Food Programme
Photo: LA Times

mobile assistance
During the hungry season, the period of low crop production from October to March, over 2 million people in Zimbabwe need food assistance. But this year, the U.N. World Food Programme and USAID took a new approach to the seasonal food relief.

The aid organizations utilized mobile assistance on top of direct food aid to help individuals maintain food security. WFP and USAID offered cash transfers in villages where the food supply was high enough to meet consumer needs.

This was a pilot run of the country’s first mobile money assistance program.

Drought and poor harvests in certain regions in the nation critically threaten food security. With low production, food becomes more and more expensive and many to go hungry. Many in Zimbabwe need assistance during these tough times to make it until the more fruitful harvesting season.

The way the program worked was that about a week prior to food distribution, recipients of the mobile cash received a text message that said the $4 for each person in their family was now available in their e-wallet. The individuals could then go directly to the closest EcoNet agent to receive the hard cash.

To make the money accessible, the international organizations worked with EcoNet, the biggest cell phone provider in Zimbabwe, and its partner Steward Bank. With cell phone coverage in over 92 percent of the country, providing direct cash to help families from going hungry proved efficient and reliable.

With the food supply a critical factor in Zimbabwe’s economic state, a new program could only be implemented in regions where food production was high. If the mobile money was to be used in areas where food was scarce, the cash supply would be greater than the food stock.

Instead, the agencies maintained their normal food distribution programs for these regions.

Many receipts greatly appreciated the advantages that came with this new system. Mobile money allowed people in Zimbabwe to directly manage their own funds as needed and gave them the control over what their families consumed, instead of simply taking whatever food was being handed out during distributions.

The combination of mobile money and food assistance also helped to better stimulate local economies. The program grew businesses because it increased cash flow in both local markets and EcoNet businesses. With more Zimbabweans spending money and buying products, the regions hopefully will be able to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on direct food assistance.

From the experience and lessons learned from the first trial run, USAID, WFP and EcoNet plan to use and expand the approach for the next hungry season. Improvements include better verification of recipients and their associated phone numbers and more readily available cash for EcoNet agents.

Though still in its testing stages, the mobile cash program offers a new way to manage aid in Zimbabwe and provides a model to be used in other countries. With the program’s ability to make fewer people reliant on direct food handouts, the goal of the WFP and USAID is to assist Zimbabweans in maintaining food security.

Kathleen Egan

Sources: USAID, WFP, UN
Photo: MercyCorps

hunger in tajikistan
Hunger in Tajikistan is a major challenge. The World Food Programme reports one third of the country is affected by food insecurity, while the World Bank casts Tajikistan as the poorest former Soviet country in the Central Asian region. Only seven percent of the land in Tajikistan is capable of producing food, and that number is reduced by consistently harsh winters. Low-income combined with reduced access to food means thousands in Tajikistan go hungry.

After achieving independence from the Soviet Union, Tajikistan fell into civil war in the 1990s and the result was high levels of hunger and poverty that permeate the country to this day. AnneMarie van den Berg is the Deputy Country Director in Tajikistan for the WFP. She explains the WFP sponsored school feeding programs which combat hunger in Tajikistan.

“Tajikistan is a landlocked country and a net importer of food, which means that the country has been particularly hard hit by the high food and fuel prices,” AnneMarie describes why Tajikistan is suffering.

The WFP program provides hot meals for primary school children in the areas hardest hit by the food crisis. Beginning in 1999, 5,000 school children were served meals. By the 2007-2008 academic year, that number had increased to 265,000 primary school children. Another program was also implemented which rewards attendance for secondary school girls with food to take home to their families, 105,000 girls were able to take advantage of that in the 2007-2008 school year.

The effect has not only been higher nourishment levels among the children, but also higher concentration and school performance. Many children come to school without having had anything to eat, and find it difficult to maintain focus throughout the day. Both teachers and parents agree the hot meals provided by the WFP improve the children’s education quality.

The school feeding program directly impacts the lives of children such as Matona, age 10, and her brother Hofiz, age 9. Matona and Hofiz live in Kalai-Sheikh, a village in eastern Tajikistan. On March 21 the children, with the rest of the country, celebrate Navruz, the Central Asian New Year. They are particularly excited about the traditional Navruz dish, Sumalak. In school, Matona and Hofiz water wheat seeds on metal plates and watch as they grow into green shoots.

“The greatest joy of all for Mastona and Hofiz on this holiday is the return of their father, Firuz Bekov, from Moskow. Firuz is one of the half-million Tajik migrants in Russia working as laborers to send money home to their families,” writes the WFP.

— Julianne O’Connor

Sources: The Examiner, World Food Programme 1, World Food Programme 2, Global Voices
Photo: The Feed

world food program
As a result of the recent, escalating conflict in the northern part of Pakistan, the World Food Programme has rapidly scaled up their food distribution in the region. Since June 22, the World Food Program has given 15 day food rations to over 4,600 families in the Bannu and Lakki Marwat districts.

Since the start of the offensive, launched by the Pakistani military, at least 350,000 people have been displaced, with most of them fleeing to the nearby town of Bannu. Unfortunately there is only one refugee camp in Bannu, and it lacks the basic necessities like food, water, and sanitation. Government officials have been urging people to flee the region as soon as they can, but according to the government approximately 80 percent of the 7 million people that live in the Waziristan region still remain in the area. In addition to other problems that typically go hand in hand with refugee crises, children that have been fleeing from the region are at an especially high risk of catching and spreading infections diseases. In addition to this, there at least 200 militant deaths already recorded and, most likely, many more which haven’t.

According to the Disaster Management Authority located in the Waziristan area, only 36,000 families have registered as displaced. Because these are only families that have registered, even higher numbers have been estimated, and the number continues to climb as the conflict continues. The Government of Pakistan announced on June 22 that they would contribute an additional 25,000 tons of wheat to the World Food Program for distribution to those who have been affected by the conflict. USAID has also provided an additional $5.5 million USD to cover the cost of milling, fortifying, and distributing this wheat to those most in need. The food distributed by the World Food Program consists of fortified wheat flour, vegetable oil, iodized salt, and emergency rations of high-energy biscuits for children.

The World Food Program Country Direct in Pakistan, Lola Castro, recently released a statement on the issue: “We are working closely with the national and provincial authorities and civil society and our utmost priority is to provide food to all displaced people in the shortest possible time.” With any luck the World Food Program will be able to distribute this food to those who need it as soon as possible.

– Andre Gobbo

Sources: World Food Programme, The Borgen Project, BBC News
Photo: Wikimedia