NamibiaNamibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. However, it is still dealing with the result of socioeconomic inequalities that came from the apartheid system during colonization. The government has achieved the UNDP Millennium Development Goal of cutting its poverty rate in half, but has unfortunately failed to eradicate hunger in Namibia.

Namibia has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 31.4, as reported by the International Food Policy Research Institute. This shows an alarming level of hunger in Namibia. What makes it more serious is the fact that Namibia has the lowest percentage reductions in GHI scores since 2000. Though child stunting, child wasting and child mortality have declined, undernourishment has increased to 42.3 percent. The factors that lead to hunger in Namibia include frequent droughts and flooding, putting pressure on the country’s agricultural and livestock production.

Chronic droughts, lack of agricultural land and water shortages result in crop failure. This means that agricultural production is severely low, even though about 70 percent of the population depends on the agricultural sector for their subsistence.

15.8 percent of Namibia’s population lives on less than $ 1.25 per day. Its economy is largely dependent on extraction and limited processing of minerals like diamonds, gold and zinc. It is also one of the largest producers of uranium in the world. However, only 10 percent of the labor force is employed in the mining sector.

Poverty is the most important of the causes of hunger in Namibia, limiting access to food. Another problem is that Namibia is heavily reliant on food imports (60 percent of all its food requirements), which means it is subject to high prices. The proportion of food insecure individuals was estimated at 25 percent in 2016.

Recently, the World Food Programme and Namibia’s National Planning Commission launched a five-year Country Strategic Plan (CSP) with an aim to end hunger in Namibia. The CSP is aligned with the Fifth National Development Plan and the Zero Hunger Roadmap, meant to achieve two strategic wins: enabling the vulnerable population to meet their food and nutrition requirement and ensuring government policies and programme designs are more informed of hunger issues. The support includes implementation of food-based safety net programmes, food management and monitoring system as well as capacity development to sustain the improvements and achieve zero hunger in Namibia.

Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Cabo Verde
Cabo Verde is no stranger to the widespread hardships of famine. Ever since its establishment, hunger in Cabo Verde has been one of many trials and tribulations the country has faced.

Cabo Verde’s ongoing history with droughts, the first recorded in 1747, is one of the main causes of its hunger problem. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were three major droughts that resulted in the deaths of at least 100,000 people. It was not always that way. When Cabo Vervde was first discovered by the Portuguese in 1456, it was lush in vegetation. It even got its name from the green landscape it had upon discovery.

Portugal’s failure to assist those in Cabo Verde during these droughts only added to the problem. While being part of the Portuguese empire starting in 1495 and remaining one of its territories up until 1975, Cabo Verde had received little help during its droughts. The droughts and lack of government assistance continued into the twentieth century, where thousands more died of starvation.

Drought still plagues Cabo Verde to this day. There was a 65 percent decrease in rainfall in 2013 and 2014, which caused the loss of crops for 30,000 people. This drought led to the lowest corn production on record for 2014. However, there has been much greater initiative currently than there was in the past to find solutions to the issue of hunger in Cabo Verde. From the years 1991 to 2015, the total percentage of hunger in Cabo Verde decreased from 16 percent to 9 percent.

In an effort to address the problems caused by the 2013-2014 drought, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supplied 7,015 households with a 17-kilogram kit containing bean, corn and cowpea seeds. The FAO also supplied 554 households with tomato, cabbage and onion seeds along with drip-irrigation kits in response to Cabo Verde’s lack of reliable water resources.

Cabo Verde has taken it into its own hands to ensure the proper nourishment of its citizens. The country was chosen to share its story in successfully feeding its young children to the 2015 Global Child Nutrition Forum. Proper nutrition is highly valued and is considered to be correlated to the strong development of a country, according to minister of education and sport Fernanda Marques.

The U.N. declared that the nation had met the Millennium Development Goal with 98.7 percent of its children enrolled in school, meaning that the majority of kids received the benefits of this program. These benefits include meals based on what the population likes to eat like the cachupa, which is a traditional dish made with vegetables, meat, fish and corn.

“My philosophy is that the purpose of foreign assistance must be to end the need of its existence – that we not only have to minister to immediate needs, but we have to help people take care of themselves,” USAID administrator Mark Green said in his speech at the World Food Program USA’s McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony.

Hunger in Cabo Verde may still persist, but Green’s words of aid being key to solve the problem holds true, as the nation is seeing improvement little by little.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr

5 Ways Climate Unequally Affects Vulnerable PopulationsMore than three billion people live in poverty today and depend on natural resources for survival. Gradual changes in average climate conditions severely impact impoverished nations; however, unforeseeable variabilities in climate are of particular concern. Climate unequally affects vulnerable populations and lessens their capacity for adaptation to particular climate factors. Their lack of technological and financial resources, as well as their dependence on agricultural resources, hinder their ability to withstand some climate factors that impact developed countries at a lesser scale. While all societies have to adapt to the multifaceted challenges posed by climate, poor countries are at a particular disadvantage, notably with respect to the following five climate factors:

1. Natural Disasters
Natural disasters stimulate poverty and prevent the alleviation of existing poverty. Poor nations are more exposed to natural disasters and are at a higher risk of losing a majority of their assets and income. It is much more difficult for impoverished nations to recover from a disaster and they typically receive much less support. Depending on the fragile infrastructure, agricultural resources, and ecosystem incomes increase a nation’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

2. Warming
Even a slight rise in temperature at a global level negatively affects water quality and hygiene, which increases a nation’s risk for various diseases including malaria, encephalitis, Lyme disease and diarrhea. Rising temperatures creates a climate that is more susceptible to vector-borne diseases, which increase the diseases’ effects, further the diseases’ reach and stimulate the diseases’ prevalence.

3. Drought
Lack of access to water deeply affects developing countries. It becomes more difficult to sustain the agricultural sector and a cycle of devastation often hits. Less water reduces crop yields, increases food prices and decreases wages. Drought also affects agriculture indirectly, through climate-dependent stressors such as pests and epidemics.

4. Rain
Although rain and access to water are necessary for successful agriculture, too much rain and flooding can completely wipe out a season’s crop yield. Poorer nations often lack the ability to predict an expected rainfall, which can turn into overwatering or drowning of crops. Any loss in crop yield affects more than just economic instability as it almost always leads to an even greater risk of undernutrition.

5. Air pollution
Food production in developing nations is directly affected by the high emissions of pollutants. While the impact varies from crop to crop and region to region, the overarching negative impacts are irrefutable. High emissions decline crop yields in and of itself, but increased pollutants also interact with fertilization and greenhouse gases. Air pollution also negatively affects health; 800,000 out of the annual two million child deaths are from respiratory infections, which are caused by indoor air pollution.

All of the above climate factors are deeply embedded with the successes and failures of impoverished people. Climate unequally affects vulnerable populations in many ways; however, the encouraging news is that economic development, poverty reduction, better infrastructure and increased access to healthcare have the potential to compensate for the effects of climate.

Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in MaliMali, the eighth-largest country in Africa sits landlocked in the western region of the continent. Hunger in Mali is often driven by drought and conflict in the region. There have been three major droughts that affected Mali in the last decade. In March 2012, the country faced a coup and a rebellion in the north.

According to a report from the World Food Programme, approximately 475,000 people were displaced from their homes after a major conflict in the northern part of the country. The country also suffered from food insecurity and faced issues of nutrition during this time.

In the northern regions of Mali, including Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, about one-fifth of the households experience food shortages. Additionally, approximately 15 percent of children are afflicted with acute malnutrition in Mali, according to the report.

According to an article from Action Against Hunger, rates of malnutrition in Mali “exceed the critical threshold on a national level.” Specifically, the Sahel region of northern Mali is perpetually in a state of nutrition emergency.

Since 1996, Action Against Hunger has provided treatment for malnourished Malians and helped to develop support malnutrition management in public health facilities.

In 2015, the World Food Programme reported that 2.5 million Malians were struggling to feed their families, and just over 300,000 of the country’s residents were considered to be in need of severe food assistance.

The report also stated that over half of the women in Mali are anemic. Furthermore, approximately 80 percent of children in Mali suffer from anemia.

Hunger in Mali is also worsened by over half the country living below the national poverty line. However, aid from global organizations has helped Mali in respect to food insecurity.

According to their report, the World Food Programme utilizes a cross-border operation from Niger to transport food to northern Mali. This organization also assists the country’s residents by providing them with cash to purchase fresh produce.

While hunger in Mali remains a pressing issue, the stress of food insecurity has the potential to be lessened by global organizations.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

Over the last few years, Zimbabwe has been in a major drought due to climate change. According to NewsDay, the residents of this African country have experienced “suffocating dry spells with uncertainties on when exactly the rains [will pay them] the long-awaited visit.”

The uncertainty of rain has led many Zimbabweans, especially children, to become undernourished and thirsty at all times. With 90% of agriculture being rain-fed, most of the food sources are also being destroyed.

This is where the international NGO Practical Action steps in. These expert problem solvers have developed a way to contain the little rain that does fall and allow it to be used for everyday water needs by harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe.

Practical Action states that one key source of clean water is through “harvesting rainwater as it falls and retaining it in the soil or in tanks below ground.” There are a couple of methods it has come up with to help store rainwater, for both irrigation and drinking purposes.

First, by constructing divots into the earth, people can trap the rainwater instead of letting it run off the land. This better sustains crops, which improves nutrition.

A second way to capture and store rainwater is with tanks. Practical Action gives many examples of how to do this, including water falling off of roofs, flowing out of dams or gathering up in puddles. Underground or above ground, tanks are useful for collecting rainwater and storing it for an indefinite amount of time until it is needed.

There are many benefits to this innovation. Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe can be done whether there is a little sprinkle or a storm. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority said: “The claim that rainwater harvesting is only possible when the rains are heavy is, unfortunately, one of the biggest misconceptions that have scuttled rainwater harvesting efforts in the past.”

People can harvest rainwater year-round, so Zimbabwean families can see more impactful results.

Zimbabwe local and Rainwater Harvesting Chairman Tias Sibanda has noticed a change in his life due to his use of this system. He remarked: “Thanks to the water harvesting techniques shown to us by Practical Action… and with the contour field structures, we are now more ‘food secure’ and have no worries about soil loss.”

Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe could be a hugely beneficial technique to keep families healthy and happy for the duration of the drought.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr

Clean water is essential to the survival of all living things. Weather conditions in the Horn of Africa, the lack of the yearly rainy season in 2016 and an increase in sea surface temperatures have created an extreme emergency. Drought conditions have affected water quality in Somalia and have created both a food and health crisis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), extreme drought affects more than 6.2 million people. Water quality in Somalia has deteriorated, placing 5.5 million people in danger of contracting waterborne illnesses — with half being women and children under the age of five. Drought conditions have also led to a food crisis affecting at least three million people and prompting President Abdullahi Mohamed to declare a national disaster. If conditions do not improve, the U.N. expects these numbers to double this year.

As the water quality in Somalia worsens so does the spread of diseases, such as acute watery diarrhea and cholera. More than 17,000 cases have been reported at the local Cholera Treatment Centre, and the number is expected to increase. The situation has been made worse by the food crisis, as people become undernourished and weak.

A lack of knowledge also contributes to the crisis. Ruun Ali, the mother of four-year-old Asma, said, “We don’t know what causes it, but many people are getting sick.” She brought Asma to the Cholera Treatment Centre when she became sick with vomiting and diarrhea.

UNICEF is providing support for treatment centers and hopes to save lives by providing medical supplies and educating people on health and hygiene.

UNICEF is working to improve the situation in Somalia. In addition to providing 400,000 people with vouchers good for a daily water supply, it is also digging wells and providing water, sanitation and hygiene kits, along with drums of chlorine to improve the water quality in Somalia.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr

The drought in Kenya has reached “epic” proportions, according to government officials. The lack of rainfall caused Kenyan officials to declare the situation a national disaster, and approximately 2.7 million people have been affected.

Fortunately, on Feb. 20, relief reached many via insurance payouts under a livestock insurance subsidy through the Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP). This is no ordinary insurance company, though. Thanks to development by Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and technical assistance from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), KLIP is using satellite technology to assist the affected farmers.

Automatically-Triggered Technology

Using both visible and infrared frequencies, the sensitive satellites used by KLIP record the color of ground vegetation in the affected areas. With comparative analysis, KLIP then reviews the recorded data to determine if there is enough “green” plant matter available for livestock to consume. If the index of data indicates a health risk for the livestock based on lack of resources, the insurance payouts are automatically triggered. The technology is tailored so that the subsidies are automatically deposited into farmers’ accounts. The state of the current drought in Kenya triggered KLIP’s criteria, and more than $2 million was paid to approximately 12,000 affected households.

Sustenance via Satellite

On average, each household will receive $170. Based on figures used by KLIP, the subsidy will be enough to support approximately 70,000 head of livestock. An estimated 100,000 people stand to benefit from the payout.

In addition to the monetary benefits, livestock feed, veterinary medicine and water trucks are deployed when the system is triggered. The Kenyan government also plans to increase food rations to those hardest hit.

Cabinet secretary for Kenya’s agriculture ministry, Willy Bett, acknowledged the importance of the recent disbursement to mitigate the drought in Kenya, “…without their livestock, pastoralist communities would be devastated.”

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr

Within 48 hours, 110 people die from starvation and dehydration as the drought in Somalia escalates.

The newly-elected prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, reported on the matter at a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The majority of victims consisted of women and children from the rural regions of Somalia’s southwestern Bay, where the drought is most severe.

This drought has affected more than 6.2 million people. As little rain has fallen and rivers have dried up, the people of Somalia are facing severe food insecurity and lack of clean water. Nearly 5.5 million are at high risk of contracting acute watery diarrhea, cholera and measles — all of which are waterborne diseases that rapidly spread through poor water quality.

As the death toll increases, the World Health Organization warned that the country is on the brink of famine, its potential third case in 25 years. The last famine, which lasted from 2011 to 2012, killed around 260,000 people. The famine of 1992 killed about 220,000.

Peter de Clercq, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, echoed the potential of famine — but only if the world is slow to step-up and increase humanitarian assistance. He warned, “If we do not scale up the drought-response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key state-building initiatives.”

As the drought in Somalia escalates, children are the ones impacted the most. Three million children are missing school in order to maintain the lives of their family’s livestock, and another 100,000 may soon join them. Perhaps more tragically, over 363,000 children have been reported as acutely malnourished and another 70,000 severely malnourished, all of which are in desperate need of life-saving support.

Somalia is one of four nations listed by the U.N. as at-risk of famine, alongside Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. Famine is declared when 20 percent of households cannot function during food shortages, more than 30 percent of the population experiences acute malnutrition and more than two deaths occur per 10,000 people.

The Associated Press has reported the U.N. is calling for $864 million in humanitarian assistance, with a recent appeal for another $26 million that will fund a response as the drought in Somalia escalates.

Brenna Yowell

Photo: Flickr

5 Ways on How to Stop Desertification
Drought, deforestation and climate change. All of these contribute to the extreme global issue known as desertification. According to the environmental campaign Clean Up the World, desertification is the degradation of land in drylands, which affects all continents except Antarctica. Approximately half of the people worldwide who live below the poverty line live in affected areas.

The result of desertification is barren land that cannot be used for crop and food production or other agricultural purposes. Prevention methods have been introduced and tend to be more successful than attempts to restore already damaged regions, which can be costly and yield limited results.

  1. Land and water management: Sustainable land use can fix issues such as overgrazing, overexploitation of plants, trampling of soils and irrigation practices that cause and worsen desertification.
  2. Protection of vegetative cover: Protecting soil from wind and water erosion helps to prevent the loss of ecosystem services during droughts.
  3. Alternative Farming and Industrial Techniques: Alternative livelihoods that are less demanding on local land and natural resource use, such as dryland aquaculture for production of fish, crustaceans and industrial compounds, limit desertification.
  4. Establish economic opportunities outside drylands: Unpacking new possibilities for people to earn a living, such as urban growth and infrastructure, could relieve and shift pressures underlying the desertification processes.
  5. Great Green Wall: Eleven countries in Sahel-Sahara Africa — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal — have focused efforts to fight against land degradation and revive native plant life to the landscape. The initiative, managed in part by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), plants a line of trees as a sustainable way of regenerating the parkland and serves as an example for other problematic locations.

Such large-scale environmental complications may seem troubling to deal with, but the outlined methods and many more make all the difference, giving individuals an idea of how to stop desertification.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Jamaica
The Government of Jamaica has revealed that the series of dry weather that the country is experiencing will continue to affect the country. “That is a problem that is critical in Jamaica right now,” said Albert Gordon, director general of the Office of Utilities Regulation and chairman of the Organization of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR).

The recent drought caused the National Water Commission (NWC) to take action by strategically shutting off water in certain areas during scheduled times. With disparities between urban and rural areas, water availability varies with each area, often revealing the country’s need of proper water storage facilities and distribution systems to improve accessibility and water quality in Jamaica.

Water Quality in Jamaica: Regional Assessment

  • Water in Rural Jamaica: Access to household running water remains something that most residents living in rural Jamaica have been without for most of their lives. The Minister of Water Robert Pickersgill expressed that some parishes are experiencing more severe signs of drought with as low as eight percent rainfall since May of 2016. Schools, particularly in rural Jamaica, that lack drinking water and hand washing facilities create high risks for children and staff to environmental health hazards.
  • Water in Urban Jamaica: Water storage levels at the Mona Reservoir have depleted significantly to 32.8 percent. This reservoir serves as a critical source of water for the island. In addition, water levels at the Hermitage Dam have depleted by 44.2 percent of its capacity. Individuals living in the outskirts of the urban area or in illegal settlements have little or no access to piped water supply. According to Gordon, the government of Jamaica needs assistance in tackling their current water issues. “There are things that need to be strengthened. We don’t have a water sector law that can facilitate more people coming in and providing alternatives to NWC (National Water Commission),” said Gordon. “How do we incentivise others to come in? Because NWC cannot do it.”

Government Involvement in Water Quality in Jamaica

Access to water will be one of the main issues discussed at the 14th Annual Conference Organization of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) in Montego Bay set to happen Oct. 26 to 28. The conference will feature presentations from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the benefits of international water investments as well as the importance of public-private water partnership to improve water quality in Jamaica.

While there are no immediate plans to build additional dams or reservoirs, mitigation measures have been employed to assist southern farmers who have been most affected by the drought. Trucking via the Rapid Response Unit and through the National Irrigation Commission allows access to water by the gallon in these areas.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr