The Cambodian Fish Industry
The Cambodian fish industry is vital to the nation’s food security and economy. Recent support that USAID provided has bolstered the skills, knowledge and resources of those engaged in the fish market. This action provides positive assistance to strengthen a vital system within an impoverished country.

The Importance of the Cambodian Fish Industry

Cambodia depends on the strength of its fishing industry, both for the economy and for the nourishment of the general population. It is estimated that its fisheries produce around 2.1 million tonnes of fish per year. According to Open Development Cambodia, “The country holds two world records: the highest catch of inland fisheries per capita and the highest consumption of freshwater fish per capita.” Since seafood is so ingrained in Cambodian society, growths within this field have the ability to reduce poverty and raise the quality of living for inhabitants. As of 2019, 17.8% of the population lived below the poverty line. Two separate projects that USAID produced are fostering positive growth within the Cambodian fishing industry, showing promising implications for future success.

New Fishway Development

The first of these projects reached completion on August 24, 2022. USAID funded the creation of two new fishways to increase accessibility to fishing in the Pursat Province. Prior to the official construction of the new fishways, two demonstrative fish passes were constructed in 2019 and 2021 to act as proof of concept. Because the passes correctly showed the possible impact of the final plan, USAID moved forward with the project shortly after.

These new routes will allow fish to avoid irrigation structures and travel upstream, touching communities in otherwise unreachable areas. USAID states that “These fishways also demonstrate that small-scale fish passes are a feasible, relatively inexpensive solution to the problem of declining fish stocks,” which provides a sense of optimism for future use of similar ventures. The new fishways will allow growth within the crucial Cambodian fish industry.

Nutritional Information Database

Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, is another USAID program. A Cambodian researcher by the name of Chakriya Chum has been collecting fish samples across the country for more than a year, for the sole purpose of creating a nutritional database focused on the fishing industry. Feed the Future has supported her work in the hopes of spreading dietary knowledge across Columbia.

Because the population is so highly reliant on fish, it is important for citizens to understand the differences between each type. Chum stated that “Knowledge and research [generated with and] transferred to the community will improve health, fish processing and their livelihood.” The database includes information about best practices for preservation, which will hopefully increase national food security. In addition to the general population, policymakers and farmers can utilize this information to help them create more productive practices.

Both USAID projects provide support for the Cambodian fish industry, an important factor in national food security and economic matters. In the coming years, these programs may be able to expand to neighboring areas and expand in size to create greater change on an international level.

– Hailey Dooley
Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future
Feed the Future is a project that aims to address food insecurity in countries around the world. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) coordinates the program between local actors in chosen countries and various agencies within the federal government of the United States. One of the main goals of Feed the Future is to foster the development of regional agricultural markets in the countries in which it works, thus promoting long-term sustainability. Other goals of Feed the Future include the expansion of technologies shared between agricultural communities and positive changes in nutrition, particularly for mothers and children. Notably, Feed the Future works with universities to fund agricultural research as well as national governments and private employers to improve agricultural policy and the economy. One of the recipients of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative is Cambodia, where 45% of the population experience food insecurity and 77% of people in rural areas rely on agriculture as their livelihood.

Improvements in Agriculture Yields Lower Poverty Rates

During 2004 and 2012, improvements to agriculture in Cambodia helped reduce poverty from 53% to 18%. This decrease occurred in part due to increased use of land for farming and expansion of technologies such as fertilizers, irrigation and mechanization. However, the growth of the agriculture industry in Cambodia began to slow the following year, necessitating a renewal of policy changes and programs to boost long-term output.

Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II

With assistance from USAID, the Feed the Future initiative in Cambodia created a program called Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest II began in 2017 and lasted through 2022. The program successfully generated more than 2,500 jobs and boosted agricultural policy. The direct economic impact of the program resulted in “$28 million of new private sector investments” and “$75 million of incremental sales” for businesses.

Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest III

Due to the recent success of Harvest II, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken unveiled the continuation of the program with Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest III, or simply Harvest III, on August 4, 2022. This program is a further $25 million investment in agriculture in Cambodia over five years. USAID will continue to coordinate the program and will work with local technological and economic institutions and agricultural actors to improve both the job and product markets. The government expects that the program will create “$38 million in new private sector investments” and “ $100 million in sales,” which represents a significant improvement from the previous success of Harvest II.

The following week, on August 9, 2022, the United States Ambassador to Cambodia, W. Patrick Murphy, affirmed the start of Harvest III with the Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, H.E. Veng Sakhon in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. After an almost $100 million investment in agriculture in Cambodia, Ambassador Murphy expresses hope that the continuation of Harvest III will maintain progress in improving agriculture and nutrition, especially among women and children in Cambodia.

– Kaylee Messick
Photo: Flickr

Bangladesh, a country long associated with malnutrition and chronic hunger, has made incredibly noteworthy strides in its fight against hunger. Furthermore, it serves as an inspiration to other countries that struggle with the same problems. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, with a population of more than 165 million people and a projected population of more than 200 million people by 2050. This poses clear challenges, as it places economic, social and environmental strains on the country and drastically affects its ability to provide for its citizens.

How Bangladesh is Transforming into a Food Secure Country

In the last 40 years, Bangladesh has transformed from a country with chronic food shortages and poverty into a food basket that even serves the international community; food production has quadrupled in the last 40 years, and Bangladesh now exports food to other nations. Overall, hunger in Bangladesh has lessened.

This upward trend began in 1971 when Bangladesh gained its independence. This freed the country from economic strangulation and consequently high levels of poverty and extreme hunger. Initially, it struggled with extreme, devastating floods, which destroyed fertile farmland and resources. Bangladesh also did not initially receive adequate aid for food production. However, Bangladesh is now a model for other countries seeking to mitigate issues of hunger, as it has made notable strides in reducing malnutrition. A recent U.N. report even highlighted Bangladesh as a “bright spot” in the global movement to end global hunger before 2030. Since 2000, Bangladesh has lowered its hunger level by more than half and reduced the number of underweight children by 25%. In addition, it has decreased the infant mortality rate by 50%, an achievement that it shares with only five other countries.

To succeed in these ways, Bangladesh had to prioritize its development by promoting economic and food security. In the late 90s, improvements in rice varieties allowed for a revolution in rice production. This also combined with developments in aquaculture — 150,000 shallow ponds are now sustainable fish farms, for example. This also promotes women’s rights and development, as more than 60% of the nation’s fish farmers are women.

The Work of USAID

Many organizations have assisted Bangladesh in its efforts. USAID has been an incredibly active partner to Bangladesh in this effort, as it trained 67,000 women in aquaculture techniques. It works with the Bangladeshi government on various development activities that help improve availability and access to domestically produced, nutritious foods. Additionally, USAID assistance provides funding for research, monitoring, and training within Bangladeshi government agencies.

U.S. State Department funding helped establish the Food for Education program, which provided food vouchers and cash for poor families in exchange for their promises to send their children to school and help educate the next generation. This initiative, which started in Bangladesh, proved so successful that it was implemented in other countries; according to the U.N., the initiative was crucial in reducing global malnutrition. Bangladesh has also implemented microfinance programs to combat hunger and poverty, especially for women. Small loans enable small businesses to start and produce income that helps families around the country.

Feed the Future

Another essential initiative is Feed the Future, which the U.S. government funds. Bangladesh receives the third highest amount of any country. This initiative helps improve productivity and agricultural diversity in specific areas of southern Bangladesh; this enhances private sector competition by promoting economic growth, corporate practices and supply chain developments that assist poor farmers and struggling businesses. Additionally, the government consistently demonstrates its commitment to mitigating the issue of food insecurity, as its enthusiasm to work with these initiatives has proven.

All of these efforts are imperative because they help diversify sources of income for Bangladeshi farmers. The focus on aquaculture also broadens the variety of plants, fish and livestock. In addition, it encourages the adoption of post-harvest practices and promotes off-farm income. Bangladesh’s progress also shows the importance of coordinating with private and public sectors to identify market opportunities and strategies. Through improved collaboration, these efforts supported more than 225,000 farmers, who applied improved technologies in agronomic practices, such as irrigation, pest and disease management and livestock management.

Bangladesh is now completely food secure in rice production and produces sufficient amounts to feed its population of 165 million. This is a very noteworthy accomplishment, especially given the struggles with changing weather. According to household surveys that USAID and Feed the Future conducted, there has been a 16% decrease in poverty levels in areas that receive USAID and Feed the Future assistance. It is difficult to precisely pinpoint how much of this reduction in the poverty level is due to USAID programming, but this initial data is certainly encouraging.

Moving Forward and Ensuring Long-Term Prosperity

Going forward, these initiatives can improve by encouraging more nutritional diversity. Since most of the typical Bangladeshi diet is rice, young children may be prone to stunting or chronic malnutrition. About four-fifths of children do not receive a sufficient diet for their age range; on a national scale, 36% of children below 5 years of age experience stunting. Meanwhile, less than one-fifth of Feed the Future’s budget, for example, goes toward eliminating malnutrition. With more balanced programs, initiatives that Feed the Future and USAID run can better target this problem. Meanwhile, the country will continue to be an example of how implementing better agricultural practices and working with various initiatives can assist in mitigating poverty and hunger in Bangladesh.

 – Shiloh Harrill
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in MalawiWith 80% of Malawians working as smallholder farmers, a great deal of the Malawian population and economy depend on the agricultural sector. However, 70.3% of Malawians currently live below the international poverty line and severe droughts and floods frequently threaten agriculture in Malawi and farmers’ livelihoods. The Malawian people are in need now more than ever of initiatives and funding to support the agricultural sector.

This is why the U.S., in its recent developmental work in Malawi, is largely prioritizing agricultural initiatives which have the potential to see the country’s soaring poverty and food insecurity rates decrease as well as boost economic growth and innovation. With that, here are a few of the important steps the U.S. is currently taking to support agriculture in Malawi.

Increasing Commercialization

Among the U.S.’s goals for the Malawian agricultural sector, one major aspect is expanding the industry’s commercialization. In a recent press release, USAID announced its $35 million support for the expansion and strengthening of Malawi’s agricultural industry. It pointed out that the country’s population is growing and limited agricultural productivity has presented numerous obstacles to meeting growing needs.

“Malawi’s agricultural industry is not sufficiently commercialized nor large enough to meet the needs of a growing population, which is projected to double to nearly 34 million people in just over two decades,” USAID explained. “[This] new project will generate jobs and incomes for smallholder farmers and increase agricultural and food exports for the country.”

Strengthening the Private Sector

As part of supporting the expanded commercialization of Malawi’s agricultural industry, the U.S. also aims to boost investment in the country’s private sector. In a speech in Malawi on July 2, USAID Administrator Samantha Powers reconfirmed this commitment, stating, “We will invest in rural economic hubs, supporting companies that, themselves, support smallholder farmers or help process their goods for export.”

One such program which will invest in the private sector in order to bolster agricultural growth and commercialization is the “Let Them Grow Healthy” initiative. Through this initiative, “USAID will invest $23 million and the private sector will match this by also contributing $23 million.” Specifically, the initiative will aim to invest in companies that have the potential to aid the Malawian government’s goals related to increasing the country’s food security and nutrition services.

Roughly 5.4 million Malawians face moderate or severe food insecurity. Initiatives such as this one are a step in the right direction for encouraging the growth and development of new, accessible and nutrient-rich food products and services.

Feed the Future Initiative

In another major victory for the future of agriculture in Malawi, at the recent G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany, U.S. President Joe Biden announced the expansion of the Feed the Future Initiative to include several new African countries, Malawi among them.

Developed by the U.S. in 2010, Feed the Future works to identify the root causes of hunger and poverty around the globe and address them by “boosting inclusive agriculture-led economic growth, resilience and nutrition in countries with great need and opportunity for improvement.” Feed the Future is widely regarded as the U.S.’s flagship agricultural development program. USAID Administrator Samantha Powers, responding to the expansion, briefly summed up its significance for Malawi. She stated that “This will mean an intensification of our efforts to strengthen food security, poverty reduction and agricultural growth in the country.”

According to USAID, in Malawi, among other things, Feed the Future will specifically work to:

  • Develop strategies for long-term agricultural development
  • Train farmers to utilize new practices and technologies to boost productivity
  • Improve nutrition and curb child mortality
  • Work with the Government of Malawi to “develop enabling agricultural policies.”

Future at Glance

Harsh climate shocks and limited economic growth have had a negative impact on many Malawians’ way of life in the agricultural sector in recent years. However, with these current programs in place and others scheduled to take place, hope is certainly on the horizon.

Given the significant strides Malawi has made in other areas of its country— such as increased access to education, the prioritization of gender equality, as well as the reduction of some income inequality between the rich and the poor — Malawi is certainly capable of positive change. With this strong support from the U.S. and its continued partnership with the Government of Malawi, agriculture in Malawi might just see a similar chance for improvement.

– Riley Wooldridge
Photo: Flickr

Secretary Vilsack
The secretary of agriculture in President Barack Obama’s administration, Thomas J. Vilsack, has returned in 2021 to serve in the same position under President Biden. Secretary Vilsack has received recognition for his civil service and efforts to combat global poverty, receiving recognition from the Congressional Hunger Center and the Global Child Nutrition Foundation. He is also “a former member of the board of directors for GenYOUth as well as Feeding America.” At the U.N.’s Food Systems Summit in September 2021, Secretary Vilsack declared that the U.S. would invest $10 billion to ensure global food security over the next five years. Here are five global food security initiatives that Vilsack supports.

5 Global Food Security Initiatives Secretary Vilsack Supports

  1. Feed the Future. Secretary Vilsack supports Feed the Future, the United States’ program to ensure global food security “by boosting inclusive agriculture-led economic growth, resilience and nutrition in countries with great need and opportunity for improvement.” Feed the Future began in 2010 following the 2007-2008 global food crisis. In 2016, Secretary Vilsack supported the Global Food Security Act, a bill ensuring that the efforts of Feed the Future could continue on even after Obama’s end of term. By backing the bill, he expressed his support for sustainable food systems for the world’s impoverished. The Feed the Future program significantly contributes to poverty reduction, reducing poverty by 37% over 10 years in countries like Bangladesh.
  2. McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program combats global poverty and hunger through the support of the USDA. As secretary of agriculture, Vilsack oversees this program, which supports education and child development in low-income countries, donates “U.S. agricultural commodities” and provides financial assistance for school feeding and community nutrition programs. Overall, the program aims to increase literacy and education to break the cycle of poverty. By overseeing the McGovern-Dole Program, Secretary Vilsack works to ensure that students in need, especially girls, receive the nutrition and support required to thrive in schools.
  3. Food for Peace. Secretary Vilsack also oversaw Food for Peace in the International Affairs Budget during the Obama administration. The Office for Food and Peace began with President Eisenhower’s Food for Peace Act in 1954. Food for Peace aids people in low-income countries and areas of conflict by providing international emergency services, organizing development activities and providing nutritional support. Its development activities shares tools and resources with people in food-insecure areas to end global hunger.
  4. Food is Never Waste Coalition. Secretary Vilsack announced in 2021 that the U.S. would be partnering with the Food is Never Waste Coalition. The coalition emerged from the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit. The coalition aims “to halve food waste by 2030 and to reduce food losses by at least 25%.” Reducing food waste involves member collaboration to create sustainable food pathways and invest in food loss reduction methods.
  5. School Meals Coalition. While attending the U.N. Food Systems Summit in September 2021, Secretary Vilsack remarked on collaborating with the School Meals Nutrition, Health and Education for Every Child coalition. The coalition strives to provide all children access to nutritious school meals by 2030. In 2021, 150 million students continue to go without school meals worldwide, which sometimes stands as their only meal of the day. The coalition seeks to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing nutrition within education. As a member state of the coalition, the United States will invest in feeding programs to incentivize education globally.

Reducing Global Poverty and Hunger

Secretary Vilsack maintains his efforts to reduce both poverty and hunger through his work in the USDA. By supporting and overseeing various food security initiatives and aid programs, Secretary Vilsack positively impacts the lives of those in need across the world.

– Dana Gil
Photo: Flickr

fight against poverty in MaliMali ranks 175th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. Due to a complex web of social and geographical problems, more than half of the population in Mali lives below the poverty line. The combination of a harsh, unforgiving climate and severe political instability leaves Mali extremely vulnerable to the onset of poverty and food insecurity. However, in response to these conditions, organizations are entering the fight against poverty in Mali through strategies and solutions.

The State of Poverty in Mali

Geographic complications constitute a significant source of poverty in Mali. Agriculture is the number one employer in Mali, yet roughly 65% of Mali’s geographic area is designated as desert or semi-desert. This means that most of the agricultural activity in Mali is restricted to the fertile area near the Niger River. As a result, the country is vulnerable to changes in the climate as well as natural disasters like droughts. Mali’s tenuous agricultural dependence means that food insecurity is a major issue in the country. In fact, malnutrition is the second leading cause of death in children age 5 and below.

Mali’s situation has only grown direr since 2012 when civil war broke out after a coup d’etat by insurgents. In the years since, violence has been a constant. After the initial coup, other insurgent groups like ISIS seized the opportunity to move into a volatile area, further exacerbating Mali’s problems.

Organizations Working to Address Poverty in Mali

There are several organizations working toward poverty eradication in Mali today. From foreign aid agencies to nonprofit organizations and think tanks, diverse groups are working to address poverty in Mali. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) addresses poverty in Mali on multiple dimensions. This includes agriculture and food security; democracy and good governance; environmental changes; education; global health and climate management. USAID has had particular success employing poverty reduction strategies in the agricultural sphere. Through USAID assistance in 2018, more than 404,000 farmers in Mali were able to apply improved technologies to their agricultural practices.

In 2016, Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, started the Innovation Lab for Food Security in Mali. The innovation lab conducts research on things such as the type of fertilizer farmers in Mali use and how potential innovations in agricultural technology can help fight food insecurity.

Innovations for Poverty Action

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is another organization taking action to spur innovations in poverty eradication in Mali. The IPA first opened an office in Mali in 2010. However, the IPA relocated its base from Mali to Burkina Faso after the coup but remains active in Mali to this day. Much like USAID, IPA conducts research on different factors that exacerbate poverty in Mali. IPA is studying innovations in agriculture, global health and other fields to evaluate their potential utility in the fight against poverty in Mali.

The fight against poverty in Mali includes fighting political instability as well. There are several successful innovations in this area. For example, the global cybersecurity company Kaspersky expanded into West Africa in 2020. Kaspersky’s expansion will drastically improve intelligence capabilities against violent insurgent groups. With intervention from foreign aid and collective action to eradicate poverty, Mali’s future is looking brighter.

Leo Ratté
Photo: Flickr

livestock can alleviateThroughout the world, 689 million people are estimated to be living in conditions of poverty and surviving on $1.90 a day or less. Of these numbers, around 70% of those impoverished depend on livestock for employment, income and food security. The ability for families to stay afloat, send their kids to school, put food on the table and sustain themselves, depends on the health of their herds. Livestock can alleviate poverty by providing several benefits.

Oxfam: Livestock for Poverty Reduction

Oxfam, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty, donates money, food and livestock to struggling communities for long-term success. Oxfam works with local organizations and coalitions in 70 countries both before and after crises occur to treat both the symptoms of systemic inequality as well as the systems themselves. Oxfam advocates for the rights of the impoverished and those facing oppression by challenging government leaders to do more for their constituency.

Feed the Future Campaign

Oxfam has worked with the U.S. food security initiative, Feed the Future, to help farmers in countries like Ghana, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Haiti, Senegal and Tanzania. Through intense research and direct communication with local communities, Oxfam has strengthened strategies for the success of female farmers, growth in the agriculture sector and maternal and child nutrition. Oxfam stresses the importance of aiding small scale farmers to end the cyclical nature of poverty and food insecurity. This initiative includes providing access to opportunities and resources that some families do not have, holding accountable the governments and businesses for the harmful policies that affect farmers and ensuring a positive relationship with local groups.

The Impact of Livestock

Part of Oxfam’s mission is to set communities up for success in the long-term by providing them with resources and tools to maintain these resources. Oxfam does not just provide livestock such as goats and sheep, but it provides farmers with resources and training for herds to be healthy and successful. Growth in agriculture directly leads to economic security and growth. It profits the entire community as it lowers the costs of food, creates wealth for producers and creates opportunities for other economic areas to flourish as more consumables become accessible. The work Oxfam does in bringing livestock to impoverished communities alleviates poverty and produces greater economic growth and opportunity. Livestock can alleviate poverty as it takes on laborious duties that lessen the strain on families. Livestock also produces and becomes a source of food and increases the flow of income and ability to work on other aspects of life.

Nyalit, a woman in South Sudan, was given two goats from Oxfam and has seen her life improve tremendously since the contribution. The goats provide a source of food and income, producing milk. The goats have also reproduced, allowing the farm to grow.

Livestock Programs Reduce Poverty

Oxfam has made considerable contributions to lessen the impact of poverty throughout the world and continues to do so with its programs. Its work is evidence that livestock can alleviate poverty and expand the socio-economic opportunities of the farmers. The organization has empowered female farmers, provided food security for mothers and children in developing areas and encouraged growth in the agricultural sector.

– Lizzy Herestofa
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Nepal
In Nepal, one in four people lives below the national poverty line, earning only $0.50 a day. This makes it nearly impossible for them to afford basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. In recent years, many organizations have provided aid to Nepal to improve living conditions and lower hunger levels. Outlined below are three organizations fighting hunger in Nepal.

World Food Programme

The World Food Programme (WFP) is a humanitarian organization run by the United Nations with the goal of fighting global hunger. WFP distributes more than 15 billion rations to people affected by hunger in countries around the world. Two-thirds of the countries it serves are affected by conflict. Statistically, people in conflict-ridden countries are three times more likely to be malnourished than their counterparts living in peaceful environments.

One of the countries WFP has been working to address food security and hunger in is Nepal. Roughly 36% of Nepali children under five are stunted due to hunger, while an additional 27% are underweight, and 10% suffer from wasting due to acute malnutrition. As part of their work to address hunger in Nepal, WFP established the Zero Hunger strategy, which is a program with the goal to achieve zero hunger by 2030. This program has directly helped strengthen the government’s capacity to improve “food security, nutrition, as well as emergency preparedness and response.”

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger was created to establish a stronger method for dealing with hunger. Over the past 40 years, it has provided life-saving services in more than 45 countries, one of which is Nepal. Since 2005, Action Against Hunger dedicated a team of 25 employees to address hunger in Nepal.

Nepal is very susceptible to natural disasters based on its proximity to the Himalayas. Its location causes more than 80% of the population to be at risk of storms, floods, landslides or earthquakes. A 2015 earthquake greatly affected Nepal’s Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts. In response, the team created and integrated water and sanitation reconstruction for the areas impacted.

In 2019, Action Against Hunger was able to provide treatments for severely malnourished children through two inpatient and 28 outpatient therapeutic care centers. The organization has carried out various livelihood programs that include helping Nepali citizens implement “home gardening, mushroom farming, poultry and integrated shed management” into their lives. In 2019 alone, the organization provided aid to 99,455 Nepali citizens. Among these citizens, 90,316 were reached by nutrition and health programs, 4,570 were reached by water, sanitation and hygiene programs and 4,569 were reached by food security and livelihood programs.

Feed the Future

Feed the Future was started with the intention of creating sustainable and long-term strategies that would put an end to chronic hunger and poverty across the globe. The organization now operates in twelve different countries affected by food insecurity to execute their goals.

In Nepal, almost 70% of the population works in agriculture; however, many farmers struggle to afford supplies to yield fruitful crops. Feed the Future works with the Nepali government and the agricultural private sector to “produce more diverse and nutritious foods, improve agricultural practices among farmers, and create more inclusive economic opportunities.” So far, the organization has increased nutrition access for 1.75 million children under the age of five. In 2018, it increased vegetable crop yields by 22% and raised farmers’ gross profit margins for vegetables by 17%. The organization also helped the farms it worked with generate $20 million in sales for their crops.

Eradicating Hunger

For years, Nepal has had high food insecurity and hunger due to economic hardships and natural disasters. However, organizations like the World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger and Feed the Future are making measurable and tangible differences in the lives of Nepali citizens. Through the work of these organizations and so many like them, eradicating hunger in Nepal is possible in the coming years.

Sara Holm
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Mali
A land-locked, predominantly rural society with limited women’s rights, a poor health care system and constant conflict due to recent terrorism and political instability, Mali and its population are extremely vulnerable to poverty. In fact, 49% of Malians live below the poverty line.

Poverty in Numbers

The astronomically high rate of poverty in Mali affects various parts of its society, namely food security, education and women’s rights. More than 70% of families in Mali are four individuals or larger given that the average Malian woman gives birth to six children. Big families, combined with the rising number of droughts, food shocks and unsustainable agriculture practices, have adversely impacted food security and the cost of living in Mali. This leads to many children dropping out of school to support their family by working, a problem that the increased poverty due to COVID-19 will likely exacerbate. As a result, the total adult literacy rate is just 33% while only reaching 22% for women, thus hurting the future prospects and opportunities for Mali’s population.

Furthermore, many treat Malian women as property to buy and sell. This oppressive culture along with widespread poverty in Mali has greatly contributed to about 49% of Malian girls having to marry before they turn 18 against their will, as husbands will pay more money for younger brides.

The government of Mali has consistently viewed international cooperation and collaboration as the most effective way for it to reduce domestic poverty. Traditionally, however, Mali’s largest obstacle to overcome has been the constant threat of terrorism in its north, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in addition to reducing the government and NGOs’ ability to provide basic services to those who fled.

Programs to Help Mali

Governments across the world have provided aid for Mali’s people through a variety of programs. Notably, the United State’s Feed the Future initiative not only gives nutritional help to millions of Malian children per year but it advances long-term food solutions to food security in Mali by providing sustainable farming technologies for thousands of Malian farmers.

Canada has pursued a similar mission by funding hydro-agricultural infrastructure to help 7,500 women gain access to high-quality, irrigated land as well as helping about 470,000 women obtain crop insurance or agricultural credit from 2014 to 2017. This further bolstered food security for at-risk families, thereby building resilience to possible environmental events.

Finally, the World Bank has allocated $1.5 billion to 30 programs directly improving Mali’s infrastructure, financial sector and agricultural sector. The results of such ventures have been overwhelmingly positive for eliminating poverty in Mali. Almost 80,000 Malians have received cash transfers four times a year, more than 100,000 women and children received nutritional supplements and new water sanitation facilities underwent establishment in communities experiencing the threat of water scarcity.

The Road Ahead

The efforts of Mali and its partners cannot stop now. COVID-19 will inevitably create even more poverty throughout Mali with numerous economic and health factors on top of a possible increase in terrorist activities. For many reasons, stepping up efforts to help Mali’s government is the only option. Failing to prevent Mali’s condition from further deteriorating could have dire humanitarian repercussions. On the other hand, acting now and collectively is essential to ensuring regional peace and prosperity for the future. Helping Mali is no longer a choice for the world; rather, it is fundamental to eliminating poverty by the United Nations’ 2030 target date.

– Alex Berman
Photo: Flickr

Fight Against Global Poverty
While every country in the world is diverse and faces a number of different problems, the struggle to fight against global poverty is something all nations can relate to. According to the World Bank, 10% of the world lives on less than $1.90 a day.

Evidently, all nations must find a way that fits their specific needs when addressing poverty. However, there are some governments that lack the resources and therefore the ability to reduce poverty in their respective nations. Because of this lack of resources, the rates of poverty in these undeveloped countries are only getting worse. In fact, according to the Human Development Report, 54 countries in the world are poorer now than they were in 1990. As a result of this recurring issue, the governments of many developed countries have taken on the burden of addressing poverty not only in their own country but in the aforementioned developing countries as well. Specifically, the United States has done a lot of work to fight against global poverty.

The United States’ Role in Fighting Global Poverty

The United States has the world’s largest national economy and is a highly industrialized nation. Therefore, it makes sense that the country has taken on the responsibility of helping to fight against global poverty. The United States has been a major player in the fight against global poverty for a very long time. President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech largely addressed the United States’ role in diminishing global poverty and his pledge to help do so.

There are a number of ways the United States has contributed to eradicating worldwide poverty. One major way the United States has helped feed the world is by feeding farmers and their families. Farmers of the world are vital to the world’s economy as well as the world food supply. However, these small plot farmers that the world’s agricultural system depends on often struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.S. program Feed the Future has helped close to 7 million farmers boost their harvests and keep their families fed.

The United States has also worked to fight against global poverty by encouraging banks to loan to “risky borrowers” through its work with Feed the Future. Being able to borrow money allows farming families the ability to make investments that will help them grow. For instance, the U.S. government worked with Feed the Farmers to help about 17,000 farmers and small entrepreneurs benefit from rural loans and grants in Senegal which led to access to better seeds and modern equipment, as well as weather-indexed crop insurance and helped negotiate favorable contracts with commercial mills.

Criticisms Over the United States’ Handling of Global Poverty

On the other hand, the United States has received some criticisms claiming that it can do much more to help fight against global poverty. Many Americans incorrectly estimate that about 20% of the United States’ federal budget goes to combating global poverty when in reality, less than 1% of the budget goes towards this cause. Consequently, the U.S. government receives a lot of criticism for not making the fight against global poverty a greater priority since it seemingly has the resources to do so. In fact, according to the Baltimore Sun, the United States has the ability to prevent 25,000 children from dying each day and should make efforts to do so.

How the US Could Provide Energy

There are many ways poverty experts believe the United States could be doing more to reduce global poverty rates. For instance, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of energy, producing 12.16 barrels of oil every 24 hours. This could provide an opportunity to help fight global poverty. For example, in 2019, over 1 billion people did not have access to electricity worldwide and life expectancy for those without electricity was 20 years less than those who did have electricity. Since the United States has become a leader in energy production, many citizens take having electricity for granted not realizing that access to electricity connects to so many other aspects of a human’s well-being such as child and maternity mortality, public health, economic growth and education, etc.

With technological advancements, the United States is increasing its reserves of energy resources faster than it is depleting them, and therefore, has the power to bring great numbers of people out of poverty worldwide. Over 3.8 million people die every year from indoor pollution due to burning wood, kerosene and/or animal dung for cooking or heating homes. Half a million people die each year from contaminated water and even more die each year from preventable illnesses that emerge due to a lack of heat in the winter.  If the U.S. were to export its excess supply of energy sources, all of these numbers would likely decrease along with rates of global poverty.

Looking Forward

It is clear that as a leading world power, the United States has a responsibility to help in the world’s efforts to decrease rates of global poverty. While many praise all that the United States has already done to combat this issue over the country’s history, there are many people who criticize the government’s lack of funding towards lowering rates of global poverty. This leaves the United States with the option to use proposed ideas, such as using its abundant energy sources to lower rates of global poverty, to increase its efforts to reduce global poverty or to disregard their critics and continue to help in the manner that they have been for years.

– Danielle Wallman
Photo: Flickr