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Child Malnutrition in MaliAfrica is the only continent in the world in which poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. In a vast country with an undiversified economy, Malian households are especially vulnerable to poverty food insecurity.

Recently, Mali has faced “shocks” to its economic profile, including from a partial drought and internal strife. A 2013 World Bank study found that a 25 percent increase in cereal prices and 25 percent decrease in cereal production would push over 600,000 individuals to food insecurity levels in Mali. In addition, sustainably high population growth rates have risen the number of malnourished individuals in the country.

Effects of Child Malnutrition in Mali

While millions of Malians of all ages are affected by food insecurity, malnutrition is the second highest cause of death of children under the age of five. Almost 900,000 Mali children are at risk of global acute malnutrition in Mali, including 274,000 facing severe malnutrition and at risk of imminent death, according to UNICEF and the World Bank. To put this in the context of the country’s population, a 2013 World Bank study found that 44 percent of Malian households have at least one chronically malnutritioned child.

Malnutrition leads to devastating, long-lasting effects on young people. Research by an associate professor at the Federal University of São Paulo, Ana Lydia Saway, shows that malnutrition is linked to higher susceptibility to gain central fat, lower energy expenditure, higher blood pressure and disruptions in insulin production. These are all factors which heighten the risk of other chronic diseases later in life. 

How Mali is Combatting the Issue

Child malnutrition in Mali is a significant concern, requiring action and deserving worldwide attention. But a major problem limiting international assistance comes in the form of funding for aid.

In May, UNICEF reported that limited donor interest in the region has made it increasingly difficult for the organization to provide children with therapeutic food necessary to combat malnutrition. Funding for humanitarian organizations is low, as nearly 80 percent of UNICEF’s $37 million call for humanitarian aid for the year 2018 has not been raised.

“The children of Mali are suffering in silence, away from the world’s attention,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore said during a visit to the country this year. “Amid increasing violence, more children are going hungry, missing out on learning and dying in the first days of life.”  

Still, community and international-based organizations are working to mitigate the effects of child malnutrition in Mali. For example, in the capital of Ségou Centre, the local population, with the help of the World Bank and Swiss Corporation agency, is working to provide necessary social services to its commune.

The third phase of this project involved the decentralizing of health facilities, which were starchly underequipped. The commune recently constructed a community health center, showing promising bottom-up action within Mali. Other organizations are helping out to create sustainable progress in development, including Groundswell International.

Furthermore, farmers and processors in Mali have been working together to increase the presence of Misola flour to combat malnutrition. During processing, vitamins and minerals are added to the flour, targeting those with nutritional deficiencies. 

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that Misola can help rehabilitate undernourished children and help those with depressed immune systems. “The porridge made from the flour allows for a nutritional transition from breast milk to traditional solid food,” Fernand Rolet, co-President of the Misola Association, said. 

Overcoming Child Malnutrition Globally

Rwanda provides a prime example that overcoming child malnutrition is possible. The nation, which has a similar wealth level to Mali, has made progress in lowering malnutrition levels. A 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Access Report found that the level of stunting in young children dropped seven percent from three years prior. In Rwanda, the World Food Programme has been largely active, supplying food assistance such as providing meals for thousands of primary school children.

Combating malnutrition is an ongoing struggle, especially in Africa. Due to poor economic conditions and food scarcity, malnutrition continues to take the lives of thousands of children in Mali each year. Although citizens have founded programs to improve child nutrition and the issue is on humanitarian aid organizations’ radars, it is clear that more effort is needed to eradicate the problem. With continued efforts, child malnutrition in Mali will begin to decline.

– Isabel Bysiewicz
Photo: Flickr

social responsibility marketing

Consumers in 2018 have no problem accessing information. In a time where finding a company’s track record is a mouse-click away, reputation is key. A scandal gone viral can be the only thing needed to affect an otherwise strong company.

In 2017, United Airlines experienced this firsthand. A video showing officials dragging a passenger off a flight lead to uproar across the world. Many wanted a complete boycott of the airline, a frequent result of company scandals.

Most companies are not handling a major PR crisis like United’s. But that does not mean that positive brand image is any less critical to success. Millennial consumers have steadily-increasing purchasing power in the global economy, providing a unique challenge. To appeal to millennial consumers, companies must recognize value differences from previous generations.

Prioritizing social responsibility marketing (SRM) is one of these differences. This strategy focuses on customers wanting to make a difference through their purchases. Social responsibility marketing takes many forms. Sustainable packaging, volunteer-focused ad campaigns and product donations are all possible SRM strategies.

A majority of millennial consumers look for social responsibility marketing when purchasing. This age demographic expects companies to be upfront with social responsibility, spending more on ethical, helpful products. But the shift toward social responsibility is more than an opportunity for a company. For the millions that struggle with food and water insecurity globally, SRM is good news.

Here are the top four ways that social responsibility marketing helps fight poverty.

  1. By Providing Food
    With consumers pushing for social responsibility, ground campaigns are a frequent response. The intention of these programs is to provide aid, such as food and water, directly to those in need. Notable companies have launched major campaigns that do exactly that.
    Kraft Heinz Company set a goal to provide one billion meals by the year 2021. By doing so, Kraft Heinz Company has shown a company priority for social responsibility. Given the impact on global poverty of so many donated meals, the situation is a true win-win.
  1. By Empowering Women
    A branding focus toward social responsibility marketing can provide unique benefits to women. Consumers have pushed companies toward sourcing their products in a socially-responsible way. With increased attention on sourcing, programs to hire women and offer products made by women in developing nations have emerged.
    Coca-Cola launched an initiative to hire five million women by 2020. In the age of social responsibility marketing, this is hardly out of the ordinary for a company to do.
  1. By Helping at the Corporate Level
    Besides helping those in need, SRM helps companies be successful. A company that is socially-responsible can use social responsibility to connect with consumers. By helping improve global conditions, a company creates positive brand associations. These positive brand associations are critical to customer loyalty. With people placing high importance on social responsibility, that loyalty is essential.
  1. By Preserving the Environment
    Changing consumer preferences push companies toward behaviors that help the environment. In practice of implementing an SRM strategy, making products has changed. Processes have become better for the environment and produce fewer pollutants.
    Beyond socially-conscious production materials, basic operations have become better for the environment too. A focus on minimizing waste and maximizing resources has emerged. Recycling and conservation have become standards, not perks. For the environment, this push is long overdue.

On the whole, social responsibility marketing has changed the way companies do business. Consumers continue to demand better practices from companies, and companies are listening.

– Robert Stephen

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

food for all africaElijah Amoo Addo was the head chef at a restaurant in Accra, Ghana. It was here he saw a homeless, mentally challenged man shuffling through the dumpster to find food to feed himself, and friends, living on the street. After witnessing the man looking for food, Addo decided that the unused food from his restaurant would no longer be thrown away, but rather be used to feed people in need. This was just the beginning of what was to become Food For All Africa.

Researching Solutions

The first step Addo took in acting out his vision was starting an advocacy group to research the issues surrounding food insecurity in Ghana. Furthermore, he created a social intervention program.

Through this research, Addo learned that the Ghanaian government prioritized the ‘building [of] a sustainable food system’. In Ghana, one of West Africa’s most developed countries, nearly one-third of the population is living on less than $1.25 a day. As a result of the low income, many do not obtain the proper amount of food.

Launching Food for All Africa

After seeing the results of his research, Addo quit his job, opting to apply to the West Africa Regional Leadership Center. With the leadership knowledge and business skills Addo developed, he launched Food for All Africa. Its mission statement is “To create sustainable means of nutrition for the vulnerable in society.”

Addo and his team at Food for All Africa aim to reduce food waste. They create efficient nutrition systems for low-income communities by redistributing leftover food from restaurants. Additionally, they work with rural farmers to use their produce at urban hospitality companies.

The Food for All Africa organization also facilitates discussions regarding the food supply chain. It considers areas which need to be improved as well as creating a more sustainable food supply chain throughout Africa.

The Far-Reaching Impact of Food for All Africa

Currently, the organization gets $5,700 worth of food from businesses within the food supply chain, each month to contribute to the food bank. Food For All Africa provides about 48,000 meals to people annually.

Food for All Africa is hoping to reach and impact 1 million low-income people by 2020. To help achieve this goal, the organization is working with orphanages, schools as well as vulnerable communities.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr


In Tanzania, Africa, many children struggle just to get a meal. Tanzania has suffered from reoccurring droughts throughout the region that make farming difficult and food scarce. However, since 2002, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program has provided school meals of rice and beans for more than 100,000 students a day throughout the country.

With the proper amount of food, the students have more energy and are able to focus on their schoolwork. School attendance rates have increased since the program was installed. The Food for Education program isn’t limited to Tanzania; it has also reached hundreds of thousands of students in Guatemala, Bolivia and Nicaragua. Overall, the program has reached 40 million students in 24 countries.

The McGovern-Dole Food for Education program does more than just provide school lunches. It also plants school gardens, teaches farming techniques, and involves parents in cooking and donating food in order to allow local communities to take responsibility for school meals.

Due to the severe droughts in Tanzania, prices for basic groceries have increased significantly. The droughts have also put a large strain on livestock because of the lack of water and pastures. Maize prices rose by 25 percent in a 12-month period beginning in 2016.

The McGovern-Dole Food for Education program doesn’t limit itself to improving the wellbeing of schoolchildren. It helps families of all stages by offering nutrition programs for pregnant and nursing women, infants and preschoolers. These programs are run by nonprofits and the United Nations World Food Program.

The U.S. budget proposal for the next year has zeroed out the funding for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program. The meals these students need to thrive in school are now at risk of disappearing, although according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Congress seems to be leaning toward a rejection of the administration’s proposal.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

Kenya_HungerMore than 600,000 Kenyans are in urgent need of food aid after the region was hit by a drought, which started in February when most farmers were preparing for planting season. The weather has dried up waterholes and rivers leading to crop failure.

The Kenyan government has promised to release 50 million Kenya shillings, or $5 million, to be used to purchase food aid, but the government has yet to release the funds. West Pokot deputy governor Titus Lotee said, “We have started distributing food but the 4,000 bags of maize is not enough,” and called on humanitarian organizations to help fight the hunger in Kenya.

Action Against Hunger has implemented a strategy for 2015–2017 in Kenya in order to address two main pillars: ending the drought emergency and addressing all forms of malnutrition.

Action Against Hunger has strengthened its approach to addressing health problems in Kenya by implementing programs in nutrition, food security, water, sanitation and hygiene. Thus far, 275,552 people have received nutritional support and 25,060 people have accessed safe water and sanitation.

Another charity, Feed the Children, provides access to food, water and schooling in four of Kenya’s counties. The organization focuses on the most vulnerable: malnourished children under the age of five, pregnant and lactating women, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Feed the Children has built water pans and rainwater harvesting systems, which can hold water for up to seven months after the rain stops for the year. The Australian government assisted Feed the Children in building 35 latrines in six schools and supplied 8,000-cubic-meter water tanks to seven schools.

The Feed Hungry Children in Kenya project is providing health clinics, where children are weighed and measured and given food supplements. Poor families are given a food ration of beans and maize each month.

In addition to the two organizations, the World Food Programme works with Feed the Children to serve regular meals to children in 170 schools throughout Kenya in hopes of mitigating the crisis.

These humanitarian organizations will work to tackle starvation and hunger in Kenya until the country’s food availability problem improves.

Jackie Venuti

Photo: Flickr

Food Aid in SyriaIn the first week of August, the U.N. flexed its creative muscle to provide food aid in Syria to internally displaced Syrians by hoisting supplies via crane over the walled-off Jordanian border. The process was monitored by drones on the other side.

The border was sealed following a June attack on the Jordanian military. The border closure is problematic for a number of reasons, one being that the World Food Programme (WFP) and other U.N. partners previously delivered supplies from Jordan to the 75,000 people living the area.

WFP representative and country director in Jordan, Mageed Yahia said that most of the people living in the region are women, children and the elderly. Many of these individuals are sick or wounded, and none of them have regular access to food or medicine.

The BBC reports that thousands of people have been migrating to this point at the border, a heavily entrenched area known as the berm since late last year. The number has ballooned because of strict immigration restrictions imposed by Jordan, limiting those who are allowed to cross. Of the 4.85 million Syrians registered as refugees with the U.N., 655,000 are hosted by Jordan.

Five years of war have left Syria broken, beaten and scarred, but there are still some 18 million people living in the country. Outside of the capital, Damascus, the Syrian people struggle to get by; 13.5 million of them are said to need humanitarian aid.

The war has destroyed Syria’s economy with an estimated cost of $255 billion, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research. Unemployment stands at over 50 percent, a 36 percent increase since 2011. And yet, there are still those who have not given up hope.

The WFP and other organizations came together to devise this unconventional program of food aid in Syria in the spirit of providing temporary relief to those on the other side. The partners delivered 650 metric tons of aid to two locations over three days.

Of note, 70-meter-high cranes lifted pallets over the border in Rukban and Hadalat, lowering them into encampments on the other side. Items delivered included food from WFP, bread from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and hygiene kits from UNICEF.

The WFP is calling this operation a “one-off distribution,” and says that a long-term solution is necessary to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of displaced and hungry Syrians in the area. The Jordanian government has said that it will not allow future aid deliveries to the area due to concerns over security.

This instance of food aid in Syria may have been a singular effort, but it provided food to people who had not received aid in months. Furthermore, officials at the U.N. and the WFP are using their best efforts to come up with a sustainable, long-term solution to the problem.

Aaron Parr

Photo: United Nations Foundation

Poverty in Madagascar

As the weather changes from the 2015–2016 El Niño, its impact is still felt around the globe. For already drought-prone Madagascar, this means continued crop failure and a widespread need for emergency food aid. As rain has failed and market prices have risen, 1.1 million Malagasy have lost their food source, compounding the hardships already felt by many as a result of enduring poverty in Madagascar.

While residents of Madagascar have faced significant periods of drought over the years, failing crops and widespread malnutrition, accompany one of their worst droughts in recent history. By some estimates, over 80 percent of the country has lost a source of steady food supply as a result of those crop failures. The subsequent rising of market prices has compounded the problem.

Food scarcity and market fluctuations in Madagascar mean increased hunger for one of the most impoverished nations in the world. Already, 70 percent of Malagasy people suffer from malnutrition, and the average inhabitant earns $1 a day.

Of those Malagasy people suffering from malnutrition, approximately one million are children. Children under the age of five are quite vulnerable to stunted growth as a result. Due to poverty in Madagascar, such stunting occurs there at one of the five highest rates in the world.

Compounding the many issues related to poverty in Madagascar is the lack of aid they receive. Its isolation as an island nation causes some to argue that inhabitants’ needs are frequently overlooked. The urgency of the crisis can also cause the aid which does arrive to be less effective. For example, for the starving residents of one Southern Madagascar town, when their crops failed they were sent seeds from USAID and the World Food Programme. However, their situation had been rendered so desperate that they were unable to wait to plant and harvest the crops, and instead ate the seeds themselves.

The crisis has been ongoing, with the past three years being marked by rising temperatures and irregular rainfall. Harvest projections predict continued food scarcity through September 2016, and potential crisis exacerbation through to March 2017.

In the face of augmented urgency in Madagascar, the need for emergency food aid is increasingly dire. Dina Esposito, Deputy Assistant Adminstrator to the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID) has announced that the U.S. will provide $8 million in aid to Madagascar as they face the current crisis and disconcerting projections of upcoming harvests.

The current 2016 rainy season has been the worst in the past 35 years in Madagascar, leading to the declaration of a national disaster in the country. However, despite the dire circumstances, hope for aid continues. For some inhabitants in especially hard-hit areas, relief comes in the form of a single daily meal, prepared and offered by nuns.

More broadly, relief and hope are drawn from international aid like that announced by USAID, as well as that already received from the United Nations World Food Programme and other organizations. Through contributions from organizations like these, Madagascar receives food aid, help with cultivation efforts and the opportunity to trade services for food.

Charlotte Bellomy

Photo: World Food Programme

What Causes Famine in Africa
What causes famine in Africa? Over 40 million African lives are threatened by famine and food crisis. A number of factors contribute to widespread and stubborn famine, such as extreme weather, weakening currencies and a failure to mobilize resources.

Although international aid is an imperative aspect of a country’s ability to cope, food aid alone will never solve the reoccurring problem.

“Food aid is focused on short-term emergencies and doesn’t address the causes of the crisis,” according to Poverties, an organization that provides social and economic research. “That’s why even if it’s badly needed in emergencies, a long-term plan is also vital.”

Programs such as The Purchase for Progress and World Food Program seek to develop local farming industries. Investing in agriculture prevents future food shortages and supports a local economy rather than only relieving famine in the short-term.

For international aid to be most effective, it is crucial that it arrives in a timely fashion in predictable amounts and is properly targeted. An earlier response to a crisis builds resilience in a community and is more cost-effective than waiting to treat seriously malnourished people. According to Mail and Guardian Africa, the continent needs at least $4.5 billion for emergency relief.

Across the Horn of Africa and South Sudan, a combination of war and severe drought create food insecurity.

“In war, food sometimes becomes a weapon,” according to World Food Program, the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger. “Soldiers will starve opponents into submission by seizing or destroying food and livestock and systematically wrecking local markets. Fields are often mined and water wells contaminated, forcing farmers to abandon their land.”

Continuous fighting hinders food aid; the areas that need it the most are the areas hardest to reach due to the security situation. Ethnic discrimination is a factor as well as the region being hit hard by AIDS. The disease causes those weakened by starvation to be unable to fight for survival.

Instability in the market causes food prices to fluctuate, making it difficult for the poor to have access to nutritious food consistently. These spikes in price hit children and the elderly the hardest.

With unrestricted access and thorough planning, international aid can drastically relieve food crisis. Providing resources and assistance to Africans can foster sustainable development strategies specific to the region and its weather as well as boost economic development, preventing famine in the future.

Emily Ednoff

Sources: Poverties, Mail & Guardian Africa, Deutsche Welle, World Food Programme
Photo: Flickr

8164882223_104e12da94_kFrom July to September of this year there’s been just one day of rain per month where “it should have been raining every other day,” Mr. Yasin, a local farmer in Ethiopia, told reporter Jacy Fortin of NY Times. His crops have since failed as this year’s drought in Ethiopia erodes away his land and his stability.

Reportedly caused by this year’s potent El Niño, the drought is beginning to take its toll on this country where 80 percent of the population works in agricultural productivity. Because of this, 40 percent of the country’s economic output is from the agriculture, which makes for a bad mix.

This drought is estimated to put 8.2 million people in need of food assistance; that nearly doubles the count before the drought began which was 4.55 million.

This year, however, is not the first time this country has faced a massive drought; in 2002, the GDP of Ethiopia dropped 2.2 percent as a result of widespread crop failure from a drought. Once before then the country had fallen to drought since there was a drastic famine that spurred massive aid to the area as a result.

Ethiopia’s government plans to outsmart the drought this year and has come up with ingenious precautions and early action initiatives to supplement its food aid assistance. In doing so, it hopes to establish a source to cling to throughout the drought’s duration.

Since July, the parliament has allotted $192 million in food aid, water transport and animal feed with the hopes of sustaining a viable option even with the effects of the drought. This plan was adopted because early warning systems in Ethiopia are capable of providing large windows of time before possible droughts occur.

Despite this domestic solution, more is needed to successfully pull through the crippling natural disaster. The conditions have forced the government to raise international funding requests by $164 million in order to fully assist all those in need.

Only about 43 percent of the total $596 million request has been met, but international aid does take time to fully take effect, so Ethiopian officials are expecting more soon. They also claim that the drought could last up to a year and estimate a staggering 15 million could be in need of food assistance in 2016.

For now the Ethiopian government must stress the importance of rationing food, and individuals must find new ways of providing monetarily and nutritionally for their families.

Emilio Rivera

Sources: NY Times, University of Notre Dame
Photo: Flickr

new_zealand
The Tribal Huk gang of Ngaruawahia, in New Zealand, has been working for the last four years to help feed the country’s poor children. Every day, the gang has been making and delivering sandwiches to thirty-one schools in the area and putting food in more than four hundred hungry children’s mouths.

Jamie Pink, the president of the organization, called Kai 4 the Future, knows what it is like to grow up in poverty. As a child, he barely ever had enough food for himself. When he grew to be an adult, he knew he wanted to do something about it. Although he does admit he likes violence, he says he liked helping people even more.

Now, Tribal Huk leases fifty acres of farmland around Horotiu and Ngaruawahia, and owns dozens of beef, sheep and pigs. Some animals are sold to finance the foundation while the rest go in the sandwiches.

In New Zealand, 270,000 children live below the poverty line, according to the country’s Children’s Commissioner. Although the government has implemented a $9.5 million program in the last couple of years to help solve the problem, children remain hungry.

Pink laments that New Zealand has enough water, food and other resources- sheep even outnumber people ten to one- to support their population, but children are still going hungry. He hopes to get government assistance so the gang can make even more sandwiches every day.

He is also hoping to start a new trust in which people donate just $5 a week to the Foundation. If 50,000 people pay this amount for a year, they would collect $30 million – enough to feed every hungry child in the country.

Radhika Singh

Sources: Stuff, RadioNZ
Photo: Stuff