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Malnutrition in MaliA land-locked country in West Africa, Mali has an economy that is primarily based on agriculture. The main crops produced are millet, rice and corn. However, this country-wide reliance on agriculture depends on the weather, which often includes unpredictable rainfall patterns. Inconsistent agricultural production, high population growth and increasing desertification are some of the causal factors that have resulted in the country’s ranking 182nd out of 189 countries in the world on the Human Development Index. Malnutrition also happens to be one of the leading causes of death in Mali. Because of this, many NGOs and governments around the world have funded programs in Mali to help improve living conditions and decrease malnutrition.

Political Instability

Aside from agricultural issues, political instability has also led to severe malnutrition in Mali. Recently, USAID predicted that an additional 868,000 people will require urgent food assistance in 2019. Of these 868,000, 160,000 will be children. Children who are malnourished are at high risk of growth deficiencies; as such, many children in Mali are severely underdeveloped with regards to their height and weight.

Current and Past Progress

However, some progress has been made. From 2006 to 2013, thinness among women of reproductive age and adolescent women decreased by 2 and 4 percent, respectively. Additionally, the prevalence of underweight children (under the age of 5), decreased from 14 percent to 13 percent. Although this may not seem like a significant statistical improvement, 1 percent of the population of children under 5 years old (3.33 million) represents 33,300 children, indicating that progress has been made towards reducing malnutrition in Mali.

In 2010, then-U.S. President Barack Obama started the Feed the Future initiative, a U.S. funded foreign assistance program that targets specific countries to alleviate global poverty and improve food security. As one of 12 countries selected to receive aid, Mali continues to benefit from the implementation of environmental and nutritional plans. The country has begun to invest in fertilizers in farms across the nation to improve the quality of crop production, and an additional 4.3 million trees have been planted around the country to help make farms more resilient. Additionally, the initiative has encouraged farmers to plant oilseeds, which they can sell for people to use as biofuel and soap. As a result of all of this, the Feed the Future initiative has provided nutritional and humanitarian assistance to millions of individuals in Mali.

Other USAID programs have proven to be of great help in Mali as well, such as the Food for Peace program which has provided $28.5 million of emergency food assistance in the Mopti, Koulikoro and Segou Regions. The program aims to increase the diversity of foods consumed in these regions to decrease malnutrition and make the population healthier.

Today, the Office of Food for Peace (FFP), an organization within USAID, partners with the U.N. World Food Programme, U.N. Children’s Fund and CARE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending world poverty, to provide food assistance in the poorest regions of Mali. As of July 2019, FFP assists 300,000 people with food distributions, supplemental nutrition assistance and asset-building activities. 33,000 severely malnourished children have received ready-to-use food and 124,000 people in the Mopti Region have been provided with programs to improve food security, promote hygiene and provide conflict support.

– Hayley Jellison
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Malawi
Malawi is a landlocked African country that is bordered by Tanzania to the northeast, Mozambique to the south and Zambia to the west. The impact of poverty in Malawi can be seen prominently in the agriculture sector.

Malawi ranks 160 out of the existing 182 sovereign nations on the Human Development Index and is currently one of the world’s poorest nations. Nearly three-fourths of the population lives on less than a $1.25 a day, and approximately 90 percent live on less than $2 a day.

Agriculture makes up 35 percent of Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP), and nearly 85 percent of Malawians are employed in the agricultural sector.

Maize is typically grown for local markets; small-scale farmers typically grow various fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, guava, mangoes, lemons, green peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and eggplants.

Agricultural growth in Malawi is often limited and difficult to effectively sustain due to reoccurring droughts in the region. Nearly 80 percent of Malawians are smallholder farmers who rely on their crops to feed their families and communities.

Malawi experiences extreme weather conditions — periods of drought and flooding — that contribute to widespread famine and destroyed infrastructure.

USAID reports that they are currently developing the National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan that is closely related to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) plan, and the Agriculture Sector-Wide Approach to promote agriculture and address food insecurity at the national and local levels to reduce poverty in Malawi.

Feed the Future, USAID reports, is working closely with the Malawian government to devise policies to promote agricultural sustainability, improve access to food and invest in crops such as legumes and dairy that would expand domestic and export markets for Malawi to help their economy prosper.

Through the Feed the Future initiative, USAID helped trained farmers on better farming techniques to increase productivity and provided financial and marketing services to farmers as well. USAID reported that they are committed to promoting private sector development by strengthening government institutional capacity that will accelerate long lasting agricultural sustainability.

Since the beginning of the initiative, milk productivity has substantially increased by 52 percent. USAID has also successfully in organized 23,000 Malawians from rural villages into savings-and-loans groups. Adding to that success, USAID trained 60,000 farmers on new agricultural technologies and techniques that would improve irrigation and crop harvesting.

The Feed the Future initiative aims to improve the vulnerability of rural smallholder farmers to help them escape poverty and hunger. Also, they plan to impact the lives of 293,000 children in helping to provide better nutrition to reverse growth stunting and prevent infant mortality.

Economic issues and food shortage issues have historically affected the poverty in Malawi; however, the successful partnership between the Feed the Future initiative and the Malawian government continues to improve agricultural techniques, farming technologies and promote food security for impoverished communities.

Haylee Gardner

Photo: Flickr

History of Global Goals for Sustainable DevelopmentThe history of global goals for sustainable development is relatively recent. Building on the original Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) of 2000, which the world planned on achieving by 2015, the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals have drastically affected the way nations evaluate poverty, climate change and inequality and injustice.

The Global Goals have a much broader sustainability agenda than the MDGs. They address the root causes of poverty directly, as well as recognize the need for development that is universal and may be applied to all nations. Using the history of global goals for sustainable development, governments can be more effective when adopting certain initiatives.

World leaders first adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015.

The United Nation’s Development Program aims to carry out these Global Goals by providing support for governments, as well as ensuring transparency by the U.N. when it comes to the planning process.

The Untied States has begun the work to achieve these Global Goals through initiatives such as the Feed the Future Initiative. Established for several different nations, this initiative works to address the root causes of hunger by training farmers not only in sustainable farming and living, but also regarding their own healthcare. The 2015 report estimates that about 55 percent of the Feed the Future Initiative’s beneficiaries have been able to rise above the extreme poverty threshold of the US ($1.25 USD per day).

However, nations such as Brazil are taking the development of these Global Goals even further.

In 2015, Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, the first Head of State to address the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, used her time to emphasize her nation’s improved economy after their 2008 economic crisis and its efforts to provide for the migrants of Europe.

She focused on Brazil’s measures to lower taxes, expand credit, strengthen investment and stimulate household consumption. She also focused on her nation’s efforts to reduce 43 percent of its greenhouse gas emission by 2030.

Brazil even co-sponsored with the UNDP the “Implementing the SDGs: Integrated Approaches” session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya in this year. The session focused on discussing universal tools to advance the 2030 agenda through holistic approaches to the environment, and in doing so, not just eradicate poverty, but also accelerate environmentally sustainable growth.

Veronica Ung-Kono

Photo: Flickr