In recent decades, Uruguay has taken strides to eliminate poverty and the prevalence of hunger. Only 3.3 percent of the country’s population was considered undernourished in 2016. Only 1.3 percent of children under the age of five experienced wasting conditions. The elimination of hunger in Uruguay can be attributed to both broad changes in infrastructure and the contributions of nonprofit organizations.

Uruguay succeeded in meeting the first U.N. Millennium Development Goal, known as the “Zero Hunger Challenge” in 2013. The country achieved this goal two years ahead of schedule.

The government’s success in its social policies against poverty has received international attention. The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) especially praised the implementation of monthly income subsidies. Households classified as “vulnerable” receive a monthly income subsidy of 700 Uruguayan pesos. “Highly vulnerable” families receive twice that amount.

As an outcome, moderate poverty decreased from 32.5 percent in 2006 to 9.7 percent in 2015. Additionally, extreme poverty decreased from 2.5 percent to 0.3 percent in the same period.

Alongside broad government initiatives to eliminate poverty in general, a number of small-scale nonprofit organizations have arisen in recent years. Many share the goal of eliminating residual hunger in Uruguay.

Niños con Alas, or Children with Wings, works specifically to improve the infrastructure of Uruguayan schools. The organization provides schools with staple pantry products like flour, sugar, rice, cornmeal, tomato pulp, oil, noodles, milk powder and minced meat on a weekly basis. Through its contributions, Niños con Alas supplies three meals a day for more than 1,000 children.

Argentine national Santiago Abdala created Uruguay’s Banco de Alimentos, in 2012. Originally operating from Santiago’s home, the food bank now delivers food to more than 45 charities and helps feed more than 7,000 individuals. Banco de Alimentos is supported by the Global Food Banking Network and partnerships with international companies like Unilever.

Overall, the Uruguayan government and charitable nonprofit organizations have provided the people with options in terms of hunger. The defeat of hunger in Uruguay sets a good example for countries all over the world looking to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr