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Syrian Refugees in Jordan
Recently, the Syrian War has caused a large influx of refugees to make their way to Jordan. Since the start of the conflict, Jordan has seen an increase of about 1.3 million Syrian refugees. Of these Syrian refugees in Jordan, about 17% live in dangerous conditions within displacement camps. The other 83% may also face extreme levels of poverty and often cannot establish a livelihood to feed their families.

Hunger Reduction for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Hunger is particularly an issue for Syrian refugees who live in Jordanian camps. In comparison, hunger for average Jordanians is relatively minimal. The World Food Programme (WFP)’s Integrated Context Analysis (ICA) demonstrates the differences in hunger throughout the area. The WFP’s ICA is a map that includes analysis of which populations are most vulnerable and food insecure. The population of Syrian refugees in Jordan is currently the most desperate in terms of need and food insecurity.

This ICA can help through the identification of broad national programmatic strategies, which can consist of resilience strengthening, disaster risk mitigation and implementing social protections. ICAs can also identify sectors wherein food security monitoring and assessment are necessary. The ICA categorizes the country’s districts into categories that it labels one through five, representing which areas face the most critical food insecurity needs. On the map, the Syrian refugee camps on the border of Jordan showed the most severe essential food security issues.

Syrian Refugee Displacement Camps

Displacement camps for Syrian refugees exist at the edge of Jordan and Syria. Salah Daraghmeh, the Médecins Sans Frontières representative for Syrian refugees, commented on their high risk. He stated that Syrian refugees who have escaped death from conflict and war, become more at risk of dying from preventable conditions, like dehydration and illness, during the process of resettling in Jordan. Refugees at the border of Jordan often sleep in the desert, where they have limited access to food, water and medical supplies. Additionally, refugees use holes in the ground as toilets and have to live in makeshift tents. Refugees frequently die from dehydration, scorpion stings and drinking contaminated water.

Organizations Helping Syrian Refugees

Action Against Hunger is one organization that has taken a stand to end hunger for Syrian refugees in Jordan.  The most urgent need for these refugees is providing access to livelihoods in Jordan, which should enable them to feed their families. Action Against Hunger was able to open a base in December 2019 in Madaba, Jordan. This base provides water, hygiene, food, sanitation and potential livelihoods for Syrian refugees. It also offers waste management programs and “Cash for Work” to enhance the lives of Syrian refugees.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) also does valuable work in Jordan. The IRC focuses primarily on health care, mobile outreach and empowerment/employment programs. On a practical level, it offers skill training, counseling, recreational activities, cash assistance and employment opportunities. The IRC’s goals for 2020 include improving refugee’s health, safety, education and economic well-being. Its action plan for 2020 includes focusing on these goals by providing direct aid. The IRC’s mission is to grant assistance to those whose livelihoods disaster and conflict have ruined so that they may survive, recover and become independent again. Its efforts are particularly significant in repairing the lives of Syrian refugees, who have suffered immensely.

After fleeing life in Syria, refugees face additional struggles while living in Jordan. From food scarcity, dangerous conditions and difficulties adapting to Jordanian life, Syrian refugees have to combat many issues even after leaving their war-torn country. To help overcome these problems, the Jordanian government has partnered with Action Against Hunger and the International Rescue Committee. These organizations seek to provide a resilience-based approach to help Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in MauritaniaMauritania, a sizable northwest African desert country, was recently ranked 161 on the U.N.’s Human Development Index in terms of life expectancy, education and per capita income. It has a population of 4.4 million people, 42% of whom live below the poverty line. The country has an abundance of minerals and natural resources. However, recurring natural disasters and economic, social and educational disparities plague Mauritania with vulnerability. Despite this, the youthful population, alongside a generous NGO, has the potential to develop and overcome poverty in Mauritania.

Environment and Health

Following an early 2018 drought in Mauritania, an estimated 350,000 people were left food-insecure for up to five months. Changing weather patterns and prolonged water scarcity cause the country’s periodic droughts, a challenge already sustained by many Mauritanians. Soil erosion and deforestation are spreading desertification, a major threat to the Senegal River. This river is one of the country’s only available freshwater resources. As a result, 42% of the population does not have access to improved water sources, and 60% do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.

The resulting water contamination and inadequate sanitation levels have left Mauritanians at high risk for infectious diseases. The Journal of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease highlights a study conducted at Mauritania’s National Referral Hospital which found that 14% of children hospitalized for diarrhea between 2011 and 2014 had died. Continued consumption of highly contaminated water often causes diarrhea, as well as typhoid fever and hepatitis A.

Government and Economy

With its generous supply of gold, iron ore, oil and fish, Mauritania’s economy should, ostensibly, be blossoming. However, surrounding terrorist occupation and a lack of economic diversification prevent foreign investment and overall improvement.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a terrorist organization and al-Qaeda affiliate operating in the Sahara and Sahel regions. Due to the group’s holdings and criminal activity in the surrounding countries, including Mauritania, there is a low potential for the extractive industry in Mauritania. Therefore, foreign governments instead look elsewhere for precious natural resources and fine minerals.

Nearly 40% of Mauritania consists of agricultural land, which over half of the population depends on for food and income. Because the country’s periodic droughts often force the migration of farmers to cities, food insecurity occurs with farm-dependent people. In addition, disarray occurs in the economy.

Education

The prospects associated with a large youth population could mean a great change in Mauritania. However, things will only change as long as the education frequency and quality increases, particularly for young girls. Only 55% of children aged 6-11 attend school due to geographic dispersion, forced displacement and gender inequities. Females, with a literacy rate 20% lower than males, do not receive enough representation in the classroom. This disparity negatively affects the economy because educated girls lead to innovative entrepreneurship and economic growth.

The Good News

Action Against Hunger is a multinational organization, headquartered in France, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, intent on combating Mauritania’s imperfections and mitigating global poverty through implementing sustainable solutions and creating community prosperity. For nearly 40 years, long-term change has been Action Against Hunger’s endgame. This resolution is exemplified in the organization’s motto: “For a world free from hunger.”

The organization’s work in Mauritania began in 2007, but Action Against Hunger has served 43 countries around the world since its inception. The initial Mauritania vision was to manage malnutrition in order to mend healthcare and education limitations. However, the solution-oriented organization has since broadened its focus.

To improve community food security, Action Against Hunger issues micro-grants to support families recovering from natural disasters, provides seeds and tools to struggling farmers, teaches land preservation techniques and offers livestock and veterinary services.

To ensure improved sanitation facilities and defend against water contamination, the organization drills and decontaminates wells, distributes hygiene kits and builds hand-washing stations. It also encourages and trains community-based water committees for long-term water management.

To treat malnutrition, Action Against Hunger delivers therapeutic food for children and trains employees in healthcare centers on how to treat malnourished children and pregnant mothers.

To dismantle the connection between conflict and poverty in Mauritania, as well as the rest of the world, Action Against Hunger advocated for the U.N.’s adoption of Resolution 2417 which was unanimously passed in 2018. The resolution condemns warfare-induced starvation, forced displacement and humanitarian aid denial as violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The resolution also increases the likelihood of foreign aid investment in Mauritania. It aims to block terror involvement and promote stable government in the world’s most conflict-cluttered countries.

Action Against Hunger’s collective efforts directly impacted 354,179 Mauritanians in 2018 alone with more projects and progress to come. However, the organization recognizes, especially in these uncertain times, that adaptability, innovation and strategic foresight are the best measures of success and will result in the greatest reduction of poverty in Mauritania.

– Natalie Clark
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Niger
Niger is a country in West Africa and is one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Although the country has made significant effort in poverty reduction, Niger’s extreme poverty rate remained at 41.4% in 2019, affecting 9.5 million people. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Niger.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Niger

  1. Niger’s fast-growing population adds to its high poverty rate. The United Nations expects Niger’s population to triple by 2050. As a result, the country’s inability to break the cycle of poverty for impoverished families will increase.
  2. Population Services International (PSI) Corporation promotes family planning resources in Niger. In 2019, PSI partnered with the Nigerien Ministry of Public Health to administer an outreach mission for voluntary family planning to rural areas of Niger. For example, the operation provided long-acting contraception methods and health education.
  3. Niger battles hunger. As of 2015, with a population of 18 million, 81% of Niger’s population lives in rural areas. Due to the rurality, most of the community does not have access to a food market. This exacerbates the problem of food security for the 20% of citizens who do not have enough food.
  4. Action Against Hunger aided 429,301 Nigeriens in 2018. The program provided better access to food markets and seasonal cast-for-work opportunities. Action Against Hunger assisted families by donating seeds and agricultural tools to those in need.
  5. Niger encounters climate challenges. As a country in West Africa, 80% of Niger is coated by the Sahara Desert, causing challenges for agriculture. The dry climate and minimal crop growth force 40% of Nigerien children under the age of five to experience malnutrition.
  6. Frequent droughts harm Niger’s economy. Niger’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, accounting for more than 40% of its GDP. As a result, when the country faces continuous short rainy seasons, there are food and job shortages.
  7. The World Food Programme (WFP) assists Niger’s farmers. The WFP buys produce from local Niger farmers and connects the farmers with corporate markets. This program helps the farmers to gain a steady income and reduce poverty.
  8. CARE Niger transforms the lives of Nigerien citizens. Since 1973, CARE Niger has reduced hunger through its Food Security and Nutrition and Management of Natural Resources Program. The plan established farmer field schools that advocated for markets and nutrition.
  9. Conflicts near Niger’s borders affect its citizens. Thousands of Nigerians have fled Nigeria to Niger due to violent extremism. As a result, almost 23,000 Nigerian refugees arrived in Niger in April 2020 alone.
  10. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) establishes nutritional opportunities for Niger. In April of 2020, USAID announced a five-year plan titled the Yalwa Activity, which plans to bolster the capabilities of Nigerien farmers by mandating access to affordable, safe food. Additionally, the Yalwa Activity will enhance food storage for farmers, allowing farmers to sell their produce at markets across Niger.

With its growing population, harsh climate and troubled borders, Niger remains one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Nevertheless, through outreach and international aid, Niger hopes to reduce its extreme poverty rates.

– Kacie Frederick 
Photo: Flickr

hunger in GeorgiaNestled in the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe, the people of Georgia receive a sufficient quantity of food. However, the population suffers from stunted growth and undernourishment because of the quality of their diet. This leads to a condition called hidden hunger, in Georgia.

Background

Hidden hunger in Georgia results from a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in its accessible food. The people there often do not consume enough protein, iron and vitamin A. This can cause tangible issues. For example, half a million Georgians are malnourished and infant mortality is twice the EU average. Additionally, a significant number of children under five years old are anemic.

Most of the foods that Georgians eat are quite high in starch and have little nutritional value. The two most popular dishes in rural Georgia are fried potatoes and lobio, which is made of boiled beans. Overreliance on these types of foods have made cardiovascular disease the most common chronic disease in the country. Currently, it accounts for 69% of Georgia’s mortality.

The main cause of the dietary insufficiencies in Georgia is a lack of access to meat and meat-based products. Unfortunately, these products are rather expensive at local markets. With the average household income being just $6 per day (⅓ of the population earns only $2.5 per day), the consumption of meat is rather impractical for most people.

Furthermore, the gross domestic product of Georgia was just $16.21 billion in 2018, with a per capita GDP of $4,723. For comparison, the 2018 GDP per capita for the European Union was $35,616.

Although the country’s GDP is growing overall, economic downturns, such as the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, the 2015 stagnation and the 2020 pandemic, reduce the value of the Georgian Lari. These kinds of shifts can create vulnerable conditions for Georgia’s population and reduce food security.

Solutions

Fortunately, governmental and nonprofit organizations across the world are taking steps to improve the dietary standards and hunger in Georgia. Action Against Hunger has had a Food Security Program in the country since 1994, established shortly after the dissolution of the USSR and the collapse of collective farming in the region. It was able to help 5,937 people in 2018.

BRIDGE is a Georgia-based NGO that publishes comprehensive studies detailing the dietary habits of Georgians. It also publishes policy recommendations, which range from developing monitoring systems for the Georgian diet to embedding nutrition into the Ministry of Education’s agenda.

The Georgian Agricultural and Rural Development Alliance (GAARD), of which BRIDGE is a member, was able to register a “Food Security Bill” in Parliament in 2017. This bill aims to reduce Georgia’s reliance on imported food and improve the country’s nutrition self-sustainably.

The Impact of COVID-19

Although the country has only 879 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths as of June 16 2020, the global pandemic may put national food security at risk if another wave of the virus hits the region.

There are some subsistence farmers in the country, but many people buy their food from street markets or bazaars. Places like these are potential hotspots where the virus can spread. However, it is essential that these markets remain open because if they were shut down by a government mandate, many people would struggle to achieve their daily food quantity as well as combat hidden hunger in Georgia.


Hidden hunger presents itself in Georgia due to a lack of essential minerals and vitamins in its available food. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 69% of Georgia’s mortality. COVID-19 has the potential to increase the impact of hidden hunger if markets are shut down. While Georgia is facing a struggle with hidden hunger, organizations like Action Against Hunger, BRIDGE and GAARD are working to improve the quality of food in the country in order to make a positive impact.

– Christopher Bresnahan 

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Myanmar
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a nation with a diverse population of approximately 53 million people of at least 135 different ethnic groups. While it is the second-largest country in Southeast Asia, Myanmar remains one of the least developed nations in the world.

Progress in the fight against hunger in Myanmar

The country of Myanmar has made significant progress in the fight against hunger in the past few decades. The rate of under-five overweight children fell from 2.6% in 2009 to 1.5% in 2016. Myanmar’s low birth-weight prevalence also decreased slightly from 13.9% in 2000 to 12.3% in 2015.

The proportion of undernourished people in the population also declined remarkably. In 2019, around 1 in 10 Burmese were undernourished, which shows significant progress compared to 2000 where almost half of the population was undernourished.

Myanmar is also performing well among developing countries in reducing wasting in children. Wasting in children means having a low weight for height ratio, which is a strong predictor of under-five child mortality. Compared to the average developing country rate at 8.9%, Myanmar’s national under-five wasting prevalence stood at 6.6%.

Despite these achievements, more than a third of Myanmar’s population who live in poverty spend a significant amount of their limited income on food, and they are still struggling with malnutrition.

Malnutrition burden

Malnutrition among the under-five population is a serious factor when it comes to the state of hunger in Myanmar, as it hinders the children’s growth and development. This issue also exposes these children to various illnesses.

Approximately 29.4% of the children under five were stunted in 2016. While this percentage is indeed an improvement from the national prevalence of 35.1% in 2009, it is still significantly high when compared to an average of 25% in other developing countries. In some states or regions, the prevalence could be upwards of 41%, indicating that 4 in 10 children will not be able to reach their full potential in life.

Malnutrition also disproportionately affects children from the poorest households. While the rate of stunting in children from the wealthiest group is 16%, the rate is more than doubled for the poorest group of children, with 38% of them stunted.

Malnutrition due to poor diets not only negatively affects the children, but is also a great burden to the adult population in Myanmar. A staggering 46.3% of women of reproductive age have anemia, while 7.9% of adult women and 6.9% of adult men are diabetic. Meanwhile, 4% of men and 7.3% of women are obese, leaving them at risk of different cardiovascular diseases and other serious health consequences.

Rohingya crisis

The Rohingya people are among those who are the most at risk of poverty and hunger in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddist nation. The Rohingya population, a large majority of whom are Muslims, has long been experiencing discrimination, restrictions from basic services and denial of citizenship by local authorities despite condemnation from the international community.

In 2017, after attacks from the Rohingya insurgents killed several members of Myanmar security forces, the Myanmar military ferociously retaliated by massacring and destroying villages in the western Rakhine state. This forced nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. After the army crackdown, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that more than 80,000 children under 5 years old living in parts of western Myanmar were wasting and may need treatment for malnutrition.

Withholding food supply or forced starvation are other strategies being used against the Rohingya Muslims to drive them away from their homes. The Rohingya refugees interviewed by Amnesty International reported that soldiers blocked them from accessing rice paddies and other food resources, stole their harvests, and gave their food and livestock to non-Rohingya neighbors. Sometimes they would have to go for several days without food.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have been displaced due to violence in previous years must live in makeshift shelters with appalling living conditions and under direct threat of dangers caused by monsoon rains. Surveys show that 38% of children living in these camps are stunted, and at least 12% are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Assistance from the international community

High exposure to natural disasters, armed conflicts or inter-communal clashes are just some of the numerous challenges that Myanmar faces. These factors combined leave a large proportion of Myanmar’s population suffering from poverty and hunger. It is estimated that nearly 1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since 1994, Action Against Hunger has worked to fight hunger in Myanmar by improving nutrition, food security, water quality, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities where ethnic minorities reside. In 2018, the organization’s nutrition and health programs reached 26,751 people. Another 19,461 people benefited from the water, sanitation, and hygiene programs, while 23,790 people were helped by the food security and livelihood programs. In just 2018 alone, Action Against Hunger has reached 76,312 in vulnerable communities across Myanmar.

The organization also works to respond to the urgent needs of the displaced Rohingya people who fled from violence in Myanmar. In just one year, Action Against Hunger has helped more than 700,000 displaced people with food security and livelihoods, mental support and care practices, water quality and access, and hygiene and sanitation.

 

Despite the challenges, Myanmar has achieved the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger and reached the status of a lower-middle-income country in the past decades. Many organizations are working hard alongside the government to alleviate poverty and hunger in Myanmar. However, with the conflicts between Myanmar’s authorities and the Rohingya Muslims remains ongoing inside the nation, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Philippines
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the estimated poverty rate was 16.6% in 2018 and 17.6 million people faced extreme poverty. Hunger is one of the critical problems stemming from poverty in the Philippines, with 64% of the population suffering from chronic food insecurity.

According to the World Food Programme, factors such as climate issues and political challenges have contributed to the food insecurity that Filipinos continuously face. The Mindanao region has endured four decades of armed conflict that resulted in more than 40% of families displaced between 2000 and 2010, thus deteriorating food security. Natural disasters like typhoons are a typical experience in the Philippines, at a rate of about 20 per year. In fact, the country ranks third out of 171 countries in the 2015 World Risk Index and fourth out of 188 countries in the 2016 Global Climate Risk Index.

In response, many organizations have shown interest in improving the conditions in the Philippines through various programs and projects. Here are five organizations that have stepped up to address hunger in the Philippines.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is an organization that has worked in the Philippines since 2000. Since then, it has aided a total of 302,014 Filipinos in poverty to improve various aspects of their daily lives.

In particular, the organization has reached 2,000 people with nutrition and health, 221,820 people with water and sanitation and 73,207 people with food security and livelihood programs. Action Against Hunger also focuses on community-led initiatives within the areas affected by armed conflicts and natural disasters.

World Food Programme

World Food Programme (WFP) tackles hunger in the Philippines with an emphasis on rebuilding communities. For example, its food and cash assistance programs provide aid in exchange for participation in vocational skill training and asset creation activities.

One major program of the WFP is Fill the Nutrient Gap, which aims to address malnutrition among children which can cause health issues like stunted growth. In the Philippines, 33% of children aged 5 or younger, which amounts to 4 million children, are less likely to reach their full mental and physical potential due to stunted growth. To address these issues, Fill the Nutrient Gap has helped identify and prioritize certain policies and program packages. Its goal is to improve nutrient intake for target groups through increased availability of nutritious food. The program resulted in various recommendations on health, social welfare and food processing policies for the country.

The organization also provides school meals to more than 60,000 children in the areas of Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur in the Philippines. In addition, WFP deals with early childhood nutrition. WFP encourages certain products like micronutrient powder for children aged 6 months to 23 months and fortified food for those under 3 years old.

Feed the Children

Feed the Children has battled hunger in the Philippines since 1984. Its programs have positively influenced more than 283,000 people in 38 communities. Through the use of Child-Focused Community Development (CFCD), the organization helps children overcome both short-term and long-term hunger issues.

The CFCD approach works with vulnerable and at-risk children as well as their caregivers and communities. Through this program, Feed the Children has provided caregivers with necessary training and resource provisions required to feed families, build clean communities and increase access to education.  As a result, it was able to achieve the goal of cultivating appropriate conditions required for thriving, specifically in terms of food and nutrition security.

FEED aids Filipinos in many areas, such as improving childhood nutrition and development or training on water and sanitation. It also utilizes the idea of child-managed savings groups to teach financial management to children and allow them to develop savings for food and family use.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines

Rise Against Hunger Philippines is an international organization focused on the distribution of food and relief aid. Its primary goal is to provide packaged meals and facilitate shipments of donated products like medical supplies, water and food. Numerous volunteers contribute by packaging meals that contain an array of micronutrients vital for human growth and sustainability. So far, the organization was able to supply 20.75 million meals to the Philippines, saving 1.4 million lives.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines also provides relief aid for natural disasters and political conflicts through vast networks that work to address various needs. Additionally, it has created safety net programs that provide nutrition and vocational skill training for the poor to transition out of poverty.

Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry (FH) has been active in the Philippines since 1978. Beginning with helping refugees, the organization has expanded its efforts to other developmental programs which include the issue of hunger. It has reached 23 different communities and sponsored 6,565 children in the Philippines.

With a significant portion of the Filipino population under the poverty line, FH has focused on long-term developmental programs. These are to create opportunities for improved nutrition and poverty reduction. To create foundations for self-sufficiency, FH employs a four-phase community development plan in Filipino communities.

Phase One begins with discovering the risks and needs of the people, especially in regards to the children. Phase Two is where local government and community leaders come together with FH. From there, they develop action plans that would create livelihood programs and training for future leaders. Subsequently, Phase Three promotes these development projects, handles solutions for health and reduces disaster-related risks. The main goal in this phase is to reduce food insecurity in the event of natural disasters or political conflicts. Finally, Phase Four evaluates how people’s needs were properly addressed and how the community gained a sense of independence in food provision.

These five organizations are just a glimpse of the work that some are doing to help reduce hunger in the Philippines. They have implemented a wide variety of plans to help reduce poverty and provide nutritional meals to the poor. Furthermore, there have been additional efforts in helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, even with the progress, more aid would help combat the ever-imminent issue of hunger in the Philippines.

Kiana Powers
Photo: USAID

Hunger in Sierra LeoneOf Sierra Leone’s population of 7 million people, more than half are living below the poverty line. In 2019, the U.N. Development Programme Index ranked this West African country 181st out of 185 countries based on “average achievement in three dimensions of human development—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living.” Such a ranking is significantly influenced by the fact that millions of Sierra Leoneans are affected by food insecurity and many children are malnourished. Here are five facts about hunger in Sierra Leone. 

5 Facts About Hunger in Sierra Leone

  1. More than 3 million Sierra Leoneans lack reliable access to adequate food. In total, over 40% of Sierra Leone’s population is food insecure. Over 50% of Sierra Leone’s population lives on less than $1.25 per day, so many people struggle to buy sufficient and nutritious food. According to the 2019 Global Hunger Index, about one out of every four people in the country are undernourished.
  2. Nearly 40% of children suffer from stunted or impaired growth as a result of chronic malnutrition. This can permanently impact health and cognitive development. Families living in poverty are less capable of providing their children with an adequate variety of nutrients in their diets. In 2018, the rate of mortality for children under 5 years old was 10.5%; about half of these deaths are attributable to malnutrition.
  3. Sierra Leone ended an eleven-year war in 2002, and was hit by the 2014 Ebola pandemic; these have greatly exacerbated rates of poverty and hunger in Sierra Leone. The long-term conflict dismantled national infrastructure in both rural and urban areas, resulting in a lack of effective basic social services  Beginning in May 2014, the Ebola crisis resulted in almost 4,000 deaths and a serious economic downturn in Sierra Leone. The country is still dealing with the aftermath of these events.
  4. Irregular rainfall has significantly reduced rice production in recent years. Rice is a staple food in Sierra Leone, but local agricultural production is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of the population. In 2018, the majority of rice-growing households produced only half as much rice as they expected. Therefore, instead of exporting rice, which would improve economic growth, the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars importing the staple.
  5. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting more people at risk of acute hunger and starvation. According to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), without sufficient aid, countries with high levels of food insecurity may face “mega-famines.” The WFP has also reported that food insecurity could double worldwide in 2020, affecting 130 million more people.

Solutions

Many organizations have taken action to address food insecurity and malnutrition in Sierra Leone. In 2018, Action Against Hunger aided 8,000 people with food security programs that reduced malnutrition among children and increased dietary diversity. The WFP, UNICEF and Sierra Leone’s government are distributing nutrient-dense food to young children and mothers to reduce child malnutrition.

The WFP also provides food to children in schools and supports smallholder farmers. In May 2020, the WFP assisted more than 17,000 people by distributing over 47 metric tons of food assistance, transporting 900 metric tons of improved seed rice to smallholder farms, and providing cash payments to more than 1,000 farming households

The World Bank has provided Sierra Leone’s government with $100 million to deal with economic challenges during the pandemic and reduce poverty. The U.N. is attempting to coordinate a global response to the pandemic that would require $4.7 billion to “protect millions of lives and stem the spread of coronavirus in fragile countries,” including Sierra Leone. 

Conclusion

These facts about hunger in Sierra Leone show that this issue is widespread and likely worsening during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with multiple NGOs and members of the international community working to address this problem with food assistance and aid for farmers, there is hope for improvement; Sierra Leoneans may experience lower rates of hunger and malnutrition in the near future. 

Rachel Powell
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Hunger in Colombia
The Republic of Colombia, better known as simply Colombia, is a country located in the northwestern region of South America. With a population of 49 million as of 2019, it is the second-largest country in South America with the third-largest economy on the continent. Colombia is one of the most populous countries in South America. Over the last 25 years, the poverty levels have decreased by over 50% to under 30%. Because of such a sharp increase in the poverty rates, food sources for citizens have been scarce. Access to food has remained scarce as decades of civil unrest have led to constraints on deliveries in large parts of the country. Despite these sharp increases, global efforts from various organizations have helped improve these rates and contributed to an expected overall decrease in hunger in Colombia. Here are six facts about hunger in Colombia.

6 Facts About Hunger in Colombia

  1. Nutritional Deficiencies: A study from the Colombia Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development showed that in 2005, over 85% of Colombians had a calcium deficiency. In addition to this, 62% had a zinc deficiency, 22% had a Vitamin C deficiency and 32% had a Vitamin A deficiency. Recent studies have shown that these numbers have decreased, with 14% of Colombians having a Vitamin D deficiency and 24% having a Vitamin A deficiency. Despite these improvements (as a result of outside assistance from organizations and advocacy-based groups), zinc deficiency is still a pressing issue in Colombia, with 43% of people living in Colombia suffering from a zinc deficiency.
  2. Affected Populations: Hunger in Colombia has statistically affected more ethnic populations than others. Indigenous people take the brunt of this impact, with 30% of the population living in extreme poverty and 79% of indigenous children suffering from malnutrition. In addition to hunger, indigenous populations suffer from other issues such as forced displacement and drug trafficking.
  3. Effects of Immigration: Colombia has high levels of immigration from other Latin American countries. The majority of these immigrants come from Venezuela, with over 1 million Venezuelans immigrating as of 2018, though some estimates could be as high as 2 million. The majority of these immigrants live on the border between the two countries, and nearly half of them live in regions characterized by extreme violence, which leads to the deprivation of these resources. Advocacy groups working in these regions, like Action Against Hunger, have helped to alleviate these issues by monitoring nutrition levels and providing monetary assistance to help people have access to these basic resources.
  4. Maternal and Child Health: Malnutrition heavily affects children in Colombia. The Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) conducted a study that found that 13% of children under the age of 5 showed growth delays. Further, over 30% of all children have shown to suffer from distinctly low heights. Malnutrition also targets pregnant women and women of childbearing age. One out of every three pregnant women and one out of every five menstruating women suffer from iron deficiency.
  5. Organization and Advocacy Efforts: The largest organization working to combat hunger in Colombia is the World Food Program (WFP). Though the WFP has been in Colombia since 1969, it implemented the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation, which focuses its hunger efforts on areas that war conflicts heavily affect. The WFP has assisted nearly 330,000 people in January 2020 alone by providing access to healthy food and directly addressing the Venezuelan migrant crisis directly. The organization Action Against Hunger provides various forms of aid to Colombians affected by political instability and natural disasters. Action Against Hunger has assisted over 83,000 Colombians through projects such as providing clean water, and implementing nutrition and food security programs.
  6. Decreasing Hunger Rates: According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report, the number of people suffering from malnutrition in Colombia was 4.2 million between 2004 and 2006. This number has decreased to 2.4 million between 2016 and 2018. These decreasing rates contradict Latin America as a whole, compared to an increase from 39 million people to 42 million suffering from malnutrition in the same time frame of 2016 to 2018.

These facts about hunger in Colombia show that it is a concerning issue that disproportionately plagues poorer and migrant populations. Though organizations such as the World Food Program and Action Against Hunger are helping to combat this issue, much work still lies ahead to entirely eliminate hunger. However, with the persistent help of these organizations, the crisis of malnutrition and hunger in Colombia can hopefully come to an end.

– Alondra Belford
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Hunger in Cambodia
Hunger is an issue that plagues much of Southeast Asia — 9.8% of the population experiences undernourishment, which equates to 27.8 million people. Cambodia, a developing country between Thailand and Vietnam, remains one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. Although Cambodia has made considerable strides in diminishing poverty rates and growing the economy over the years, food insecurity is still an ongoing and serious issue. Here are five facts about hunger in Cambodia and what some, like the World Food Programme (WFP) and Action Against Hunger in Cambodia, are doing to eradicate it.

5 Facts About Hunger in Cambodia

  1. Political Instability: Political instability has been a major contributing factor to chronic hunger in Cambodia. The country has suffered many years of war, particularly the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, which depleted natural resources.
  2. Undernourishment: Around 15% of the country’s 16 million people suffer from undernourishment, according to the World Food Programme. This percentage amounts to more than 2 million people throughout the country. 
  3. Agriculture and Natural Disasters: Around 79% of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas, and 65% rely on agriculture, fisheries and forestry to survive. Natural disasters, like floods and droughts, often threaten the country and therefore are extremely damaging to the food system.
  4. Rice and Seasonal Shortages: Of the country’s 1.6 million households, two-thirds face seasonal shortages each year. Many Cambodians are rice farmers. In fact, rice alone accounts for as much as 30% of household spending
  5. Chronic Malnutrition and Stunting: About 40% of Cambodian children suffer from chronic malnutrition, which stunts the growth and cognitive development of 32% of Cambodian children under 5-years-old. This high statistic is mainly due to nutrient deficiency. According to World Vision, this stunting contributes to “increased child mortality as children are more vulnerable to infection and disease.” Additionally, 10% suffers from wasting, low weight to height ratio.

The World Food Programme

Since 1979, the year the Khmer Rouge ended, the World Food Programme has helped vulnerable Cambodians “meet their emergency needs and have access to nutritious, safe and diverse foods.” WFP also works toward enhancing long-term food and nutrition security for Cambodian families.

In order to meet its goal of terminating hunger in Cambodia by 2030, the WFP is working with the Royal Government of Cambodia to create programs that promote access to nutritious diets within the country and to strengthen systems to be nationally-owned. One example of this is the WFP-supported home-grown school feeding program. The WFP is working to transition the program to a “nationally-owned home-grown school meals model” that “sources ingredients from local farmers, incorporates food quality and safety, encourages community ownership, and supports local economies.” 

Action Against Hunger

Similar to the World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger is also working to end hunger in Cambodia. The organization has been serving the nation since 2013. In 2018, Action Against Hunger reached 11,291 children with lifesaving nutrition and health programs, provided 2,378 people with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions and supplied 27,568 people with food security and livelihoods programs. 

These five facts about hunger Cambodia show that though hunger is still an issue that plagues the nation, organizations like the World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger are helping to reduce it. Hopefully, with continued effort, hunger will continue to subside in the country.

Emma Benson
Photo: Flickr

hunger in IndiaIndia has a constantly growing population of more than 1.3 billion. While its economy is booming, its unequal wealth distribution has created an issue for a large portion of the population. Over the past few decades, hunger in India has remained a prevalent issue for the population.

Undernourishment in India

Almost 195 million people (15% of the population) in India are undernourished. Undernourishment means that people are not able to supply their bodies with enough energy through their diet. In the 1990s, 190 million people in India were undernourished. That number remains the same today. Lack of proper diet leads to stunted growth for children; in India, 37.9% of children under the age of five experience stunted growth due to undernourishment.

Malnutrition in India

Malnutrition is one of the bigger implications of the overarching problems India has to deal with: a wide range of hunger, extreme cases of poverty, overpopulation and continually increasing population, a poor health system, and inaccurate national statistics due to the aforementioned overpopulation.

According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, India will not reach the minimum nutritional goals by 2025 set by the World Health Organization. With 46.6 million children stunted in growth, India “bears 23.8% of the global burden of malnutrition.” These goals include “reducing child overweight, wasting and stunting, diabetes among women and men, anemia in women of reproductive age and obesity among women and men, and increasing exclusive breastfeeding.”

Action Against Hunger

As a result of all these issues, there are organizations that are trying to help India in its pursuit to provide food to all. Action Against Hunger raises money through donations and uses these funds to provide sustainable food for impoverished areas of the world. For 40 years, they have been operating worldwide and have helped 21 million people in just the past year.

Action Against Hunger facilitates field testing and train small-scale farmers in sustainable practices. Additionally, the organization provides clean water to communities and helps populations in times of natural disasters or other conflicts.

Action Against Hunger launched its program in India in 2010. With a team of 144 workers, they helped over 75,000 people in just the last year. Much of their work has caught the attention of state governments. For example, they have partnered with the Indian state of Chhattisgarh to “offer technical support in the fight against malnutrition,” and plan to do so with other states as well. In Rajasthan, the organization executed the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition program. As a result, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand recognized the organization for its advocacy efforts.

Moving Forward

While India may not reach the WHO goals in five years, progress continues to spread across the country. Each year, India is reducing the number of people who are malnourished. Organizations such as Action Against Hunger partnering up with local and state governments are the first step in helping pave the way for a hunger-free India.

– Shreya Chari 

Photo: Flickr