Hunger in Cabo Verde
Cape Verde, commonly referred to as Cabo Verde, is a country consisting of 10 islands off the west coast of Africa. The country has a small population of 525,000 people — about one-sixteenth of the population of New York City alone — dispersed among the nine inhabited islands. Due to the country’s isolated location, volcanic origin and limited resources, poverty and hunger in Cabo Verde are significant issues. Here are five facts about hunger in Cabo Verde.

5 Facts About Hunger in Cabo Verde

  1. As of 2017, 12.6% of the population of Cabo Verde was unable to meet their daily food needs. Hunger in Cabo Verde has been decreasing since 2010 but at a rate of no more than 0.6% per year. In recent years, this rate has decreased to about 0.1%, marking little change in the total population that remains hungry. When comparing rates of hunger to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), hunger decreased at the highest rates during the years the GDP increased at the highest rates. Since 2017, the GDP has been increasing at a much slower rate, and the smaller monetary value of goods and services in Cabo Verde leads to fewer resources in battling nationwide hunger. This is a small amount of progress, and this progress may diminish if the economy does not continue to grow.
  2. Cabo Verde has limited access to water. One of Cabo Verde’s most limited resources is clean water. Ever since a nearly two-decade-long drought beginning in the 1970s, citizens must pay for buckets of filtered water for delivery to their homes. Recurring drought and the allocation of clean water to drinking and hygiene have led to frequent failures in agriculture. Crops that rely on irrigation are not sustainable, and this can lead to a lack of crops that could feed many people on islands where importing crops is difficult.
  3. Trade is successful, but not in terms of food. Cabo Verde’s highest exports are fish products, and its highest imports are petroleum and automobiles. Due to the republic’s lack of resources such as natural gas, imports like the aforementioned are necessary and common. However, the closest coast to Cabo Verde is roughly 350 miles away, so transporting any fresh food is difficult due to expiration periods. As a result, international trade cannot make fresh food more accessible, exacerbating the problem of hunger in Cabo Verde.
  4. The soil is volcanic and rocky. The islands of Cabo Verde are the creation of multiple volcanic eruptions. In fact, a quarter of the land is volcanic rock and the country’s soil is rough and unrefined. The land is ideal for grazing, which allows for livestock throughout the country. However, poor soil contributes to the country’s inability to rely on agriculture as a food source. Any available water cannot irrigate the tough soil, and wind erosion has led to a loss of valuable soil.
  5. Absolute poverty is a factor in hunger in Cabo Verde. As of 2015, 35% of the population lived in poverty. Limited resources across the country have systematically led to low rates of education and high rates of unemployment. Rates of higher education dropouts are high and no universities exist. Reform in education systems and growth across more industries beyond the exportation of goods can help close the poverty gap. An economy that values diverse industries and expanding resources will result from improved education, more job opportunities and the ability for citizens to complete degrees in other parts of the world. With expanded industrial areas comes more opportunities for residents to earn money and combat the effects of hunger that low-income households often face. Essentially, better primary education leads to strength in higher education, and the need for higher education is evident in a nation with an economy of limited industries.

Solutions to the Hunger Issue

Fortunately, some have taken steps to address hunger in Cabo Verde. In 2016, the country hosted the Center of Excellence Against Hunger’s Global Nutrition Forum, a panel of 40 government leaders that discuss solutions to hunger. At this event, the Cape Verdean School Social Action Foundation emerged to increase the number of nutrition programs in public schools. With the support of this panel and its creations, the U.N.’s Hunger Map has removed countries like Brazil. With continued support and brainstorming of creative solutions to battle hunger, Cabo Verde can move towards poverty reduction and solve its hunger crisis.

Hope for Cabo Verde

Even though poverty and hunger are a concern in Cabo Verde, the nation remains relatively economically free and has maximized its trading efforts in spite of limited resources. As a country far from the coast, it typically has the responsibility of remaining self-sufficient in terms of its economy and the way in which it handles poverty- and hunger-reduction. However, it is possible to continue lowering rates of poverty and hunger. Recognizing this country’s impact on the trade market is a step that other nearby countries can take, as this is the way that Cabo Verde stimulates its economy. If more countries create strong trade relations with this nation, it is likely that Cabo Verde will receive more imports of valuable resources, and it will also likely pave the way for the creation of more jobs in the trade industry. Despite its economic stability, the problem of hunger is still significant in Cabo Verde. However, it is possible to take more steps to eradicate hunger in the country.

Evan Coleman
Photo: Flickr