Togo, officially the Togolese Republic, is a country in West Africa with a population of 7.8 million people. While the climate and landscape of the country lend itself to agriculture, periods of the socio-political and economic crisis has led to high levels of food insecurity and poor nutrition. Here are nine facts about hunger in Togo.
- The poverty rate in Togo is 58 percent, and the acute malnutrition rate is five percent. While the poverty rate is still high, it is improving. An improving economy and increased aid have helped reduce the percent of people in Togo living in poverty from 61.7 percent in 2006.
- Hunger in Togo has an even greater effect on children. Around 29.7 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished, and 30 percent are stunted, meaning they have a low height for their age due to malnutrition.
- Malnutrition worsens in certain regions of the country, due to low resources and an increase in poverty. In the Savannah region, which is the poorest in Togo, chronic malnourishment in children reaches 43 percent.
- Natural disasters have had a significant impact on hunger in Togo. A series of floods has hurt food security and increased the number of internally displaced people, who are especially vulnerable to malnutrition.
- Agriculture makes up a significant part of Togo’s economy. However, seed shortages and poor weather have resulted in low crops, which contribute to hunger in the country.
- Development aid to Togo stopped in 1992 because of government issues and human rights abuses. However, improvements in the country have resulted in donors returning, which brings promise for reducing hunger in Togo.
- The U.N.’s World Food Programme runs food-for-work programs in Togo in order to decrease hunger while improving the community. The programs have people help with reforestation and the rebuilding of rural roads in exchange for food.
- Many families in Togo will reduce other expenses in order to feed themselves. Education, for example, is commonly cut. While initial school enrollment in Togo is high, a large portion of students drop out soon after because their parents cannot afford the necessary fees and supplies.
- Malnutrition also affects children’s safety, as many families turn to child labor as a way to help earn extra money. Around 30 percent of children in Togo work. While the country has taken steps to eliminate forced child labor, voluntary work still has negative effects as it inhibits children’s ability to receive education and increases their risk of exposure to disease.
While poverty and hunger rates in Togo are still high, an increase in aid and promising new programs provide hope that hunger in Togo will soon be reduced.
– Alexi Worley