how to help people in FijiIn 2016, Cyclone Winston, the most powerful tropical storm on record in the southern hemisphere, ripped through the island of Fiji. Winston killed 44 people, destroyed 30,000 homes, and caused nearly $200 million in damages. Later that same year, Cyclone Zena caused significant flooding and damage to Fiji as well. Much of the country’s formerly well-developed infrastructure was damaged by these two storms, and efforts to find out how to help people in Fiji must be continued.

Before the devastation of the double cyclones, there was a good deal of work being done in Fiji to help impoverished communities on the islands. One of the most prominent groups doing this work was HELP International. Projects HELP committed to included anti-drug activism, financial responsibility courses and a multitude of physical education classes for children, especially those with disabilities. However, while only 40 percent of the population was directly affected by Winston and Zena, the most pressing issues remain the assistance and rehabilitation of the islands most dramatically impacted by the tropical storms.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is one of the most prominent groups working on how to help people in Fiji. In terms of immediate response, the FAO distributed 90,000 packets of seeds and more than 500,000 fresh planting materials in order to combat food insecurity.

Despite these encouraging signs, there is still much to be done a year after the cyclones devastated the islands. If you are trying to find out how to help people in Fiji, the Fijian government has established a plan to work the islands back to functionality, but foreign aid and investment will be needed.

A program called “Adopt a School” has been started by the Fijian government, with the express purpose of allowing concerned groups to establish and rebuild damaged schools. The “Help for Homes” initiative is a program partially funded by the government in an attempt to subsidize the rebuilding of homes for those who lost them in Winston and Zena.

However, the government is short roughly $97 million, and is relying on donors to fill the gap. The sugar industry, devastated by the storms, is facing similar rebuilding problems and requires similar levels of assistance. Though we cannot forget those affected here in the United States by Irma and Harvey, aid to those whose lives were destroyed by other storms in other countries should not be kept from all who need it.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in New CaledoniaThe islands of New Caledonia lie 900 miles to the east of Australia in the southwest Pacific ocean and are a French territory. The Loyalty Islands, Belep Islands, Iles des Pins, and the mainland (also called New Caledonia) form the majority of New Caledonia, with some other small islands also belonging to this French territory. Gorgeous lagoons and white sand beaches make New Caledonia a popular travel destination and a beautiful home for its citizens.

The people of New Caledonia have a high quality of life, and hunger in New Caledonia poses little to no problem. Of its 270,032 citizens, all have access to improved sanitation, 98.5 percent have access to improved drinking water sources, 96.9 percent of the population is literate, and life expectancy at birth is 77.7 years. Additionally, New Caledonia ranks 61st in the world for per capita GDP, showing the relative strength of its economy.

Most of New Caledonia’s statistics show its success in providing a strong quality of life for its people; however, its poverty rate is 17 percent, which is high for a developed state. Comparatively, the United States’ poverty rate is about 15 percent and France’s is 14 percent. Although New Caledonia has moderate poverty, hunger in New Caledonia is a non-issue. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations continually reports that the number of undernourished people living in New Caledonia is not significant.

Hunger in New Caledonia is not a significant issue, as basic needs are met for New Caledonians. Poverty, however, is still rather high, indicating the needs of New Caledonians as being at a higher level than basic physiological needs. These needs include ensuring greater levels of education equally to both European and non-European New Caledonians, and an expanded job market to help lower the high unemployment rate (14.7 percent in 2014).

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in South AmericaThe regions of Central and South America, in addition to the Caribbean Islands, collectively comprise what is currently recognized as Latin America, which is home to a growing population of roughly 637.6 million inhabitants. Of the three, the twelve nations of South America comprise the majority, or about 66 percent of that population. Despite all of these countries having experienced economic turmoil, political instability and social injustices, as a whole, the issue of hunger in South America does appear to be improving.

Since 1991, hunger in South America has seen significant declines. The largest of these has been Bolivia, which had 38 percent of its population without sufficient access to food in 1991. As of 2015, it had managed to reduce this number to 15.9 percent. Other countries have also made significant strides, such as Peru, which reduced its percentage of hunger from 31.6 in 1991 to 7.5 percent in 2015.

The basis for these accomplishments was established after Latin America adopted a U.N. Millennium Development Goal in 2000. The goal was to cut hunger in half in South America and its other regions by 2015, according to a State of Food Insecurity in the World report released by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. The region fortunately accomplished this goal, and while South America still has the largest proportion of undernourished people to its population, it was able to do this at a quicker and more effective rate than Central America or the Caribbean Islands.

One reason it was likely able to do this is that a handful of countries in South America are major agricultural producers and exporters. Brazil, for example, uses 31 percent of its land for crops; the country mainly grows sugarcane, but they also are dominant producers of coffee, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, papayas and oranges. Additionally, they rank second behind the U.S. in terms of total beef production. Similarly, Argentina is also a large beef producer, and Ecuador is a dominant producer of bananas.

In fact, due to its current production levels and untapped resources, economists and agricultural experts have speculated that Latin American countries will have a decisive role to play in the coming decades when it comes to global food production, something that could certainly play to their advantage. As of 2015, Latin American food imports accounted for a mere four percent of food imports worldwide. In contrast, their food exports accounted for 16 percent of food exports worldwide.

However, there are still tens of millions of people experiencing hunger in South America today. The existence of such a problem reflects that South America’s issue is not that it lacks sufficient food resources, but that it lacks adequate methods of distributing and allowing access to these resources. This is typically reflective of a larger, systemic problem of inequality. However, if resolved, it could improve the continent’s ability to produce and distribute these resources at a rate that would allow its countries to not only be dominant economic players in the international community, but also to take care of their own citizens simultaneously.

In a world whose population is estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and whose food demands are expected to be 60 percent higher than they are today, it is critical that Latin America, and more importantly South American governments, establish economic reform that would allow for more equal food distribution. By doing so, they could then benefit from and play a major role in assisting future food shortages across the globe.

– Hunter Mcferrin

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Guyana has improved exponentially over the past decade as the number of people who suffer from hunger has been halved.

According to the U.N., Guyana is one of 38 countries that have met internationally established targets in the effort to eliminate hunger.

The country was recognized by the World Food Summit (WFS) for more than halving the absolute number of undernourished people between 1992 and 2012. The number reduced from more than 19 percent to just over five percent in that 20-year time span. The number lowered from 143,000 to 38,000 undernourished people.

Reflected in the WFS report are the implications of poverty, food insecurity and hunger in Guyana. Extreme poverty in Guyana has declined from 28.7 percent in 1993 to 18.6 percent in 2006. In order to reach the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, that rate must have fallen by four percentage points by 2015.

The report raised concern not about the availability of food in the region, but rather the ability to make food widely accessible. Guyana has remote rural regions of underdeveloped communities to which it is difficult to distribute quality, nutritious meals. Raising agricultural productivity is the key in this regard because remote rural areas are largely dependent on their own crops and livestock.

Sixty percent of the country’s gross domestic product is represented by six exports: sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber and rice. Guyana was once a powerful producer of sugar, yet its production sunk to an all-time low in 2014. However, more recent crop production numbers have shown improvement.

To limit malnutrition, assuring the right food choices is important. In 2008, less than one percent of children under five suffered from extreme malnutrition. In addition, less than six percent experienced mild to moderate malnutrition.

The country’s minister of agriculture Leslie Ramsammy produced a food security report in July 2012. The report stated that an increasing population and the adverse of effects of climate change were the drivers of food insecurity. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently established a National Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Plan for the agriculture sector.

Ramsammy noted that a high food import bill and high national debt were the two biggest threats. At that time, debt levels were at more than 45 percent of Guyanese Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The minister of agriculture concluded that Guyana must reaffirm its commitment to the science of crop management and agriculture practices.

Hunger in Guyana has improved greatly over the past 20 years. The country has resolved to work with international organizations to reach global goals to develop locally groundbreaking agriculture advancements.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a two-island nation located in the Caribbean, just north of Venezuela. The population there totals more than 1.3 million and has “one of the highest per-capita incomes in Latin America and the Caribbean.” As of 2016, about 100,000 people, or nearly eight percent of the population, were undernourished and nearly 30 percent were considered to be in poverty.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., hunger in Trinidad and Tobago has been on the decline since the protein supply has increased over the past 10 years.

Despite this improvement, there is still work to be done. The World Bank determined Trinidad and Tobago to be the most wasteful country in terms of food per capita. Local nonprofit Nourish TT is working to end hunger in Trinidad and Tobago by serving as a connection between organizations that feed hungry people and businesses that have food left over.

By taking food that would have otherwise gone to waste and giving it to those who need it most, Nourish TT seeks to end hunger in the area. It is effectively changing the amount of food wasted through retail into meals. More than 36,000 kilos of food and nearly 90,000 meals have been donated through the organization.

Food for the Poor is a U.S. organization that is working to alleviate hunger in Trinidad and Tobago. Working on the islands since the late ’80s, Food for the Poor focuses on feeding people who are hungry, building housing for those in poverty and providing other types of aid. Over the last 30 years, the organization has been working with orphanages and building houses in Trinidad and Tobago.

Poverty and hunger are two issues that go hand in hand. In Trinidad and Tobago, strides are being made to eradicate both.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

 Hunger in Dominica
With a GDP of nearly $5.2 million and a population of 72,680 people, the Commonwealth of Dominica is considered an upper-middle-income country, according to the World Bank.

While the average citizen does not regularly face hunger in Dominica, many still face malnutrition through the introduction of the Western diet. Approximately 55 percent of all foods consumed in Dominica are imported, which contributes to a calorically dense, yet nutritionally weak diet and increases in diet-related non-communicable diseases like obesity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and local clinicians alike have identified obesity to be a persistent issue for the island country, with clinical data estimating 24.8 percent of adolescents to be overweight and 9.1 percent obese in 2016. The WHO has enlisted a series of nutritional initiatives and campaigns to reduce obesity through nutrition counseling and promotion of unprocessed foods.

Dominica is also especially susceptible to natural disasters due to its location in the Caribbean. Hurricanes and tropical storms can severely stunt the island nation’s food production, as seen in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. The Agriculture Minister at the time, Johnson Drigo, reported over $200 million in damages to Dominica’s agricultural sector months after the tropical storm had passed.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has contributed much to the literature surrounding nutrition security in Dominica, as well as measures to improve it. The FAO and the government of Dominica have agreed to collaborate over the 2016 to 2019 timeframe in three primary categories: food and nutrition security, agricultural health and food safety; risk management, building resilience to climate change; and sustainable rural agricultural development.

For instance, the FAO aids Dominica’s National School Feeding Program in connecting school lunch programs to local farms and improving nutrition education among students. The FAO also recognizes that domestic agriculture and fisheries production contributes significant food culture and nutrition value for the population.

When it comes to natural disaster relief, the FAO invests in the short-term, emergency recovery efforts of small farmers and supports long-term, emergency relief planning and agriculture disaster risk management.

While hunger in Dominica may not be the most pertinent issue in the country’s food security, the key to minimizing hunger, obesity and malnutrition alike may lie in improving sustainable nutrition development and in preserving and protecting local agriculture in light of natural disasters.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Farming Communities
In 2013, the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Haiyan, wiping out the majority of its leading agricultural product: coconut palm trees. Nearly 33 million trees were left in ruins, inflicting economic strife upon Philippine farming communities.

Will Lauder, the founder of Kapuluan Coconut, initially had the purpose of visiting the Philippines for a surf trip before hearing about the typhoon. Following the news of the devastation left behind from the storm, Lauder adjusted his itinerary and traveled to the Philippines to offer relief by delivering clean water to affected communities. It was this first-hand experience that led Lauder to create Kapuluan Coconut as an initiative to restore the mass desolation of coconut palms on the island through a “One for One” program.

Although Filipino farming communities are a globally dominant source of coconut oil production, farmers live under exploitative working conditions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Of the three million coconut farmers within the industry, 60% live in extreme poverty. The quality and production of coconut oil have been compromised through industrialization processes, inflicting a type of “modern slavery” for coconut farmers.

Recognizing the reality of the coconut farming industry, Lauder created Kapuluan Coconut in order to restore the Philippines’ source of coconut palms, enhance the sustainability of farming conditions for coconut farmers and offer a coconut product with the finest quality.

Lauder argues, “everyone supports Fair Trade coffee; what about coconut?” With this, he implemented the “One for One” program which plants a palm tree for every Kapuluan Coconut product sold. As a result, jobs will be created for sustainable coconut oil farming thus providing an increase in prices, income, and job opportunities for Filipino communities.

Kapuluan Coconut’s efforts are to restore the “tree of life” that drives Filipino agriculture and to give back to local Filipino community organizations, such as the Lingap Center. This past December, Kapuluan donated $5 per sale to the Lingap Center for children, which offers assistance for children that have suffered from abuse, abandonment, and exploitation.

By subscribing to the email list, users will instantly receive a 10% discount on their first purchase while simultaneously helping to plant their first coconut tree. Through his experience and initiative efforts to help improve Philippine farming communities, Lauder says, “true happiness is… how helpful you are to people and to the world.”

Amy Williams

Photo: Flickr

The Booming Camel Trade in the Horn of Africa
Last year, war-torn Somalia saw the highest in two decades export revenue from the sale of livestock abroad: $384 million. The increasing trade is a result of increased demand from the Gulf states for camel meat. The booming camel trade is a source of hope for the otherwise unfortunate country.

Once called the “Switzerland of Africa,” Somalia has been entrenched in a bloody civil war between the government and Islamist militant groups since 1986. Estimates place deaths between 350,000 and 1 million.

This year, hope glimmers in the Horn of Africa. The first democratic elections are under way, using a unique model drafted with the help of the United Nations, amid allegations of mass corruption.

In the peaceful regions, progress is taking place. The government has expanded its port facilities for shipping livestock, including camels, goats, and cattle. The animals are shipped mainly from the port of the capital, Mogadishu, but also from the northern ports of Bosaso and Berbera.

Somalia is home to world’s largest population of camels, a third of all on the planet. With an impressive number of 7.2 million animals, they surpass the next biggest herd, in Sudan, by almost 50 percent. They are also the largest camel milk producer worldwide “by far,” according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United nations.

The FAO has worked with the Somali government in the past five years to invest heavily in livestock infrastructure, vaccination programs and producing fodder. The capital for this initiative is coming from the European Union and the U.K. Of the country’s 10.5 million people, more than half rely on livestock for food and income, the Somali Chamber of Commerce has concluded.

The traditional methods used by Somali herders render the meat a unique taste that is desired in the Gulf. The government is trying to market it elsewhere as well. The booming camel trade is expanding to new markets. They recently started exporting to Egypt and are scheduled to begin trade with Malaysia.

The trade of livestock accounts for 40 percent of Somalia’s gross domestic product and is expected to reach 50 percent by next year. It is also the most important source of foreign-exchange earnings, only outnumbered by remittances from Somali diaspora, a central bank official told Bloomberg news.

The booming camel trade is not limited to Somalia. Camels from Sudan and Eritrea are also in high demand. The Rashaida tribe who lives there is known to produce the world’s best racing camels. These are coveted by the high-income countries of the Gulf who traditionally host camel races.

Buyers from the United Arab Emirates buy every year 100 to 300 young camels from the small village of Abu Talha. Some sell for as much as $80,000. Sudan’s exports more than tripled between 2010 and 2013 to $670 million, when the last World Bank data was available.

“The camels are everything, they give us meat, milk, and trade,” Hamed Hamid, a member of the Rashaida tribe told the Economist.

Eliza Gkritsi

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Chile
Chile is a coastal country in South America housing 17.65 million people, with an estimated 2.5 million living under the poverty line.

Those living below the poverty live and inevitably those experiencing hunger in Chile, have been the recipients of governmental and international aid. In 2014, Chile was recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as having reached the first Millenium Development Goal to reduce the number of those facing hunger in Chile by half since 1990.

Statistics show undernourishment was reduced from 4.3 percent between 1990 and 2015. Currently, 2.5 percent of the population is undernourished.

These reductions are a result of the government-sponsored “Fondo Chile Contra el Hambre y la Pobreza,” or the Chile Fund against Hunger and Poverty. This organization, as well as the UNDP, has funded programs targeting the South-South Cooperation (SSC) and consequently Millennium Development Goals.

The SSC is defined as a developmental program among southern countries to promote, “multi-stakeholder approach, including non-governmental organizations, the private sector, civil society, academia and other actors…”

Through communication and integration, the SSC enables countries to enhance economic, social and scientific potentials.

As the Fund’s handbook stated, this organization encourages Chilean economic prosperity through, “multilateral perspective; which was acknowledged as one of the Millennium Goals, specifically reflected in Goal eight: developing a global partnership for development.”

Central to Chile, however, the issue of hunger has escalated to a triple issue involving undernutrition, obesity and income. Mark Hyman explains this phenomenon, “These foods [processed foods] crowd out more nutrient-dense foods because they are inexpensive and convenient.”

The price difference forces low-income, rural citizens to buy unhealthy foods. When only able to buy and consume unhealthy food, more people will sink into the undernourished population.

To combat this issue, FAO has implemented priority themes, all of which are part of the DRE, decent rural employment promotion. It focuses on “employment-centered responsible agro-investments, gender and age-disaggregated analysis, decent work conditions in agriculture,” and advocacy for natural disasters.

These priorities centralize on the Chilean Fund’s initiatives such as “Malnutrition, Food Security Fostering Employment and Decent Employment, Design of Social Programs…”

These organizations and their programs promote the job market for many men and women who in turn, will receive higher incomes and be able to provide themselves with healthier food.

The already visible success is a positive trend for those living in hunger in Chile. Such achievements will help reduce the number of those living below the poverty line and those who are undernourished.

Kristen Guyler

Photo: Flickr

Reducing Food Loss
A simple invention aims to revolutionize the preservation of perishable goods, thereby reducing food loss.

The invention in question is known as FreshPaper, a small sheet of biodegradable material infused with a special mixture of botanical extracts that claims to preserve food freshness. Its inventor? Then 16-year-old Kavita Shukla, who was inspired to tackle the problem of food waste in a unique way.

It began with Shukla trying her grandmother’s home remedy for an upset stomach: a mixture of plant extracts, botanicals and spices. Upon the remedy’s success, Shukla was inspired to test it further, thus discovering its antimicrobial properties.

Several years of research later, she was able to receive a patent for the mixture, now known as Fenugreen. At 27, Shukla joined forces with a friend to launch the product in Cambridge.

Food waste is a big problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N., one-third of food produced for human consumption worldwide is wasted annually. This waste typically happens at the consumer end of the production process. “Food loss” occurs earlier on during production, post-harvest and processing.

Developing countries in particular struggle with food loss, since they often lack the industrialization necessary to preserve food long enough to reach consumers. The National Geographic states that India loses up to 40 percent of its fruits and vegetables in this manner.

There is no one solution to food waste or loss. Instead, it is important to take action at multiple steps in the food making process. In developing countries, aid organizations are providing for better storage facilities for farmers, preventing them from losing excessive amounts of crops during transit.

Since 1997, the FAO has donated metal silos to more than 15 countries by training local craftsmen in their construction, use and delivery to farmers. In one study, 96 percent of the beneficiary farmers in Bolivia responded that the silos in question improved food security by reducing the amount of food lost post-harvest and maintaining grain quality.

Shukla is currently working to make FreshPaper available to food-banks and to farmers in developing countries. She hopes that her invention can have a big impact in reducing food loss.

Sabrina Santos
Photo: Flickr