Hunger in Haiti acts as one of the country’s largest ongoing problems. With two and a half million Haitians living in extreme poverty, Haiti is the poorest country in the northern hemisphere.

Though partly due to the series of severe natural disasters over the last two decades, the nation’s humanitarian and developmental challenges stem from numerous factors.

    1. The country faces its worst food insecurity crisis since 2001.
      The United Nations World Food Program appeals for $84 million to alleviate hunger in Haiti and the country’s increased suffering state. The organization hopes to aid one million Haitians battle extreme malnutrition and high death tolls.
    2. Two out of three Haitians live on less than $2 per day.
      Half of the population earns less than $1 per day. Many people lack access to electricity, water, sanitation and/or healthcare. With this level of extreme poverty, Haiti is in dire need of assistance to improve living conditions.
    3. Fifty percent of urban Haitians are unemployed.
      This statistic can serve as a stark contrast to urban America, where the unemployment rate is 4.7%, as of 2015. That’s 45.3% more of the Haitian population who are unable to provide for themselves and their families.
    4. Climate change is a growing issue that threatens over 500,000 Haitians every year.
      Global shifts in atmospheric conditions and weather patterns caused by human-induced climate change and increased carbon emissions leave a lasting negative impact on poor farmers and production.
    5. Although agriculture provides 50% of jobs in the country and accounts for 25% of GDP, this profession does not contribute to improving hunger rates in Haiti. 
      The country fails to produce enough food and imports 80% of its main staple, rice.
    6. Drought has had detrimental effects on the Haiti population.
      With only 10% of crops irrigated, 90% of farmers depend on rain for their harvest. Lack of rainfall and the rising cost of basic necessities act as the main reasons for the scarcity of local products on the domestic market.
    7. One hundred thousand children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, while one in three children’s growth is stunted.
      The World Food Programme’s operations in Haiti work to end chronic malnutrition by providing nutritional meals to kids in schools and delivering supplementary food rations.
    8. A large portion of the Haitian population lacks access to clean water and adequate sanitation.
      Forty percent of the people in Haiti lack access to clean water and only one in five can access a sanitary toilet. Unfortunately, few water treatment facilities are properly functioning for the general public in the country. Soil erosion and deforestation also heavily contributed to diminished water quality.
    9. One-third of Haitian women and children are anemic.
      A result of poverty, the average Haitian child’s diet lacks many and most nutrients, including iron. The iron level in Haiti is also low because of intestinal blood loss due to worms and parasites.

The people of Haiti face a multitude of problems, and struggle to sustain a full, healthy life. Luckily, organizations like WFP, the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, the Food and Agriculture Organization and UNICEF work to end poverty and hunger in Haiti and help these communities rebuild their shattered lives.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Year of QuinoaYou’ve seen it in the grocery store, on TV and maybe in your pantry — the tiny grain known as quinoa. What you probably didn’t know is this grain, which is no bigger than a pinhead, has the power to conquer a huge challenge. Quinoa could put an end to global hunger, which is why the United Nations created the International Year of Quinoa in 2013.

Quinoa is known for its efficiency in health and cost. It has an outstanding nutritional profile, low production costs, adaptability to various climates and vast genetic diversity. The U.N. went as far as declaring quinoa one of the most promising and energizing crops to humanity, due to its ability to grow in poverty-stricken and harsh climate areas.

According to the U.N. News Center, quinoa can thrive in extreme temperatures, ranging from minus 8 degrees Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius. It is not impacted by moisture and it can grow at 4,000 meters above sea level.

Due to its extreme versatility, the General Assembly honored the crop by dedicating 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. The U.N. believes the crop to be a viable option to alleviate world hunger.

The goal of the International Year of Quinoa was to raise awareness of the nutritional and economical value this crop offers. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke highly of the year of quinoa as a kick-start to reaching global poverty reduction goals.

“I hope this International Year will be a catalyst for learning about the potential of quinoa for food and nutrition security, for reducing poverty- especially among the world’s small farmers — and for environmentally sustainable agriculture,” said Ki-moon.

The Keenwa Cause also launched an effort to fight against world hunger while supporting the development of quinoa as a sustainable crop — similar to what the International Year of Quinoa hopes to promote.

The organization sells quinoa krisps, sweet granola-like snacks made from the well-known crop. For every product they sell, eatKeenwa donates resources to the hunger initiative. Every day the organization and its customers are helping feed the hungry around the world.

Quinoa’s economic advantages are rooted deeper than surface-level versatility. The nutritional power the crop offers at such a low cost is the most compelling option for poor countries looking to boost their economies. The crop contributes to improved health and food security and can also boost broken and struggling economies around the world.

Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador are the leading producers of the quinoa crop. They produce more than half of the annual global total of 70,000 tons according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. The crops’ production is beginning to expand to areas of Kenya, India, North America and Europe.

Reducing world hunger by half is one of the global targets of many economically advantaged countries. According to Ban Ki-moon, if South American countries continue to increase their production of and access to foods like the superfood quinoa, this goal will soon be reached in large strides.

Katie Grovatt

Photo: Flickr

Unregulated Fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) results in billions of dollars of lost revenue annually. A recent, groundbreaking treaty passed by the U.N. combats the threat against this natural resource and protects the livelihood of millions.

The Problem

Globally, IUU fishing costs $23 billion each year, with West Africa alone seeing a loss of US $1.3 billion each year. IUU fishing affects West Africa the most dramatically, with unregulated fishing comprising one-third to one-half of all fishing. One in four jobs in the region are linked to the fishing industry, further exacerbating the devastating effects of illegal fishing.

Employment, trade, and food nutrition and security in W. Africa depend heavily on fisheries. As a result, illegal fishing can put the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. In recent years, the increased demand for fish worsened the economic losses seen as a result of illegal fishing.

The majority of IUU fishing in W. Africa can be traced back to vessels coming from East Asia and Russia. Smaller nations, such as Senegal and Mauritania, lack sufficient resources to monitor illegal fishing off their coasts. Scarce resources also prevent developing nations from monitoring legal fishing agreements made with the European Union, Southeast Asia, and Russia.

The inability to monitor illicit and illegal fishing practices destroys Africa’s potential for a “Blue Revolution” in ocean management. With access to the sea, Africa’s economy would greatly benefit from a boom in the fishing industry. However, IUU fishing and minimal capacity to monitor it jeopardizes economic growth.

Not only does IUU fishing result in loss of revenue, it also contributes to global overfishing. Overfishing is a significant problem and could be quelled through increased monitoring of illegal fishing practices. Doing so would help guarantee the sustainability of the industry in the future.

Experts predict that by 2030, 80 percent of the world’s poor will live in Africa. Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary-General, states that this prediction could be prevented, “if the runaway plunder of natural resources is brought to a stop. Across the continent, this plunder is prolonging poverty amidst plenty. It has to stop, now.”

The Solution

Originally adopted as a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) agreement in 2009, the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) became an international accord on June 5, 2016.

Twenty-nine countries signed onto the treaty including Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the European Union (as a member organization), Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palau, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, the United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

PSMA changed the requirements for monitoring IUU fishing. Historically, each country monitored its own fleets. The new treaty shifts this responsibility, calling for ports to track information on each vessel upon entrance.

Port state measures are more efficient and cost-effective for fighting illegal fishing. By detecting illegal fishing, stopping ill-caught fish from being sold, and sharing fishing vessel information globally, PSMA will improve the oversight of the fishing industry and lessen the resource limitations faced by developing countries.

The treaty also requires wealthier countries to aid those with minimal resources. South Korea has already committed to making a financial contribution and other nations are expected to follow this example. In addition, the treaty installed the Technical Cooperation Programme and a Global Capacity Development Umbrella Programme to assist with logistical, legislative and legal aspects of implementing the agreement.

The adoption of PSMA also contributes to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by promoting the conservation of and sustainable use of oceans, specifically targeting IUU fishing.

Despite the strides made with the new treaty, the U.N. urges stronger implementation of PSMA. Combatting IUU fishing still faces resource and capacity restraints and the world will not see a decline in illegal fishing without action by the international community.

Anna O’Toole

While hunger has always been a ubiquitous concern among humanitarian and developmental organizations, it is often misunderstood. Here are five things to keep in mind when considering a problem affecting millions around the world:

1. Hunger is widespread.
The United Nations estimates there are 795 million hungry people today, mainly rural people in developing nations. Although hunger is a global problem, it is concentrated primarily in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. India has the most hungry people: 194.6 million, which is roughly 24 times the population of New York City.

2. It affects children the most.
Hunger is the leading cause of death for children under five. That is about 3.1 million deaths per year, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). Hunger also causes physical and cognitive stunting; a fourth of children worldwide suffer from this condition. Without proper nutrition, children cannot develop strong bodies and minds. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are especially important.

3. It’s caused by poverty and waste.
A common misconception is that hunger is caused by global food scarcity or overpopulation. In fact, a third of the food the world produces goes to waste every year. Poverty and the unequal distribution of resources are actually the leading causes of hunger. It is often made worse by disasters, both natural and man-made.

4. It weakens the immune system and helps disease spread.
A proper diet is essential to a functioning immune system. Nutritionally deficient people are more likely to become infected with disease, more likely to suffer worse symptoms and less likely to recover. The World Health Programme estimates that iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional concern, affecting almost two billion people. Vitamin A deficiency is also a cause for concern, especially among children and pregnant women.

5. It can be solved during our lifetime.
José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, recently called on the world to become the “Zero Hunger generation.” Hunger is a problem that can be solved and organizations around the world have made great progress to date. The WFP calls this effort a “best buy” because it can be very cost-efficient. For example, a child only needs 25 cents per day to receive the essential nutrients and vitamins, according to the WFP. That’s why the United Nations made global hunger a top priority in its Millennium Development Goals. That effort was a success; according to a recent report, 72 of 129 nations monitored by the United Nations met their goal by 2015. But the work continues.

– Kevin McLaughlin

Sources: U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, UNICEF, World Food Programme, World Health Organization
Photo: Humanosphere

hunger_in_kiribatiKiribati has made great strides in combating hunger; however, the growing issue of climate change is drastically affecting food sources and slowing the achievement of hunger reduction goals.

In 2014, Kiribati was one of 13 countries recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization for their progress in eradicating hunger. Through developing quality food systems, bolstering rural development and income, increasing production, improving food access and reinforcing social protection, the hunger target of halving the number of hungry people was achieved.

Additionally, social protection programs, along with agricultural intervention and development, have provided hunger relief to villages throughout Kiribati.

According to World Bank, Kiribati imports most of its food; however, high food prices have drastically affected hunger and poverty. In 2011, Kiribati received an emergency grant of 2 million dollars to aid with the existing food crisis. In recent years, similar funding projects have helped combat hunger in Kiribati; nonetheless, the issue of hunger as a result of climate change is fluctuating. Without financial support, the cost of food will continue to increase, leaving thousands of people at risk of food insecurity.

However, Kiribati is expected to face a much larger problem than hunger or poverty—climate change. With a total population of 102,400, Kiribati is still viewed as one of the least developed countries in the world. Eroding shorelines and flooding is causing extensive damage to the everyday lives of the people of Kiribati. Roads, utilities, villages and households as well as food and water supplies are being impacted. There has been and continues to be damaged crops and contaminated fresh water due to excessive salt-water. A consequence of the climate change is that it leads to serious food and water deficits, and thus increasing hunger in Kiribati.

Additionally, the concentration of resources has shifted from developing economic stability in Kiribati to building sea-walls in an attempt to fight the consequences of climate change.

For example, according to the government of Kiribati, an estimated two billion dollars is needed to protect the inhabited islands of Kiribati from the effects of climate change.

Unfortunately, a looming natural adversity threatens food supplies for people living in Kiribati. Contaminated crops, water and resources influence hunger and poverty in Kiribati.

Despite consequences of climate change on hunger and poverty in Kiribati, there is still good news: extensive aid programs are focusing on preserving water and food supplies as well as combating the threat of climate change.

Adaptation programs and rehabilitation projects, including the Rain Water Harvesting Contract—producing reserve fresh water supplies—and global aid of 23 million dollars provided by the European Union are some of the aid being implemented. These government plans and development aids are expected to alleviate hunger and poverty. Furthermore, through the Kiribati Development plan, arrangements are being made to continue enhancing economic growth, securing food and reducing poverty.

Although hunger in Kiribati seems to be fluctuating due to climate change, aid and assistance is being provided from around the world to combat climate change, hunger and poverty in Kiribati.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization, The Hungry Tide, The World Bank
Photo: Live Mint


October 2014 will see the second annual Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) Food Security Summit in Jakarta.

The summit will address the food security crisis that parts of Southeast Asia are facing. The event will primarily focus on food security with respect to the agricultural and nutrition sectors.

AIDF said that the Food Security Summit will provoke “robust debate and frank information sharing and will provide a platform for the formation of strategic partnerships and collaborations.”

According to AIDF, the event will feature attendees from more than 300 Asian governments, NGOs, U.N. and intergovernmental agencies, investors, research institutes and private sector companies.

Last year’s summit, held at the U.N. Conference Center in Bangkok, featured over 200 attendees from more than 20 countries. Some of the event’s speakers included the Director General of the Asian Development Bank, an advisor from Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment and a Regional Representative Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Asia-Pacific branch.

The organization’s press release noted that 700 million people in Asia and the Pacific live in a state of poverty where they subsist on less than $1.25 a day. Since the middle of the twentieth century, the world’s population has grown by more than 280 percent.

The significant increase in the world’s population in the preceding decades “has had profound implications for development, with effects on sustainability, urbanization, and access to youth services and empowerment.” AIDF’s press release said.

In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated that the global demand for food is expected to increase by 60 percent by 2050. Between 2011 and 2013, 827 million people in developing regions were underfed. However, the number has fallen by 17 percent since 1990 through 1992.

AIDF maintains a number of strategic, media and international partners support the event. These include Kubota, the Agricultural Research Communication Center and SWITCH-Asia, respectively.

Ethan Safran

Sources: Aid & International Development Forum 1, Aid & International Development Forum 2, YouTube, Food and Agriculture Organization
Photo: Aid & International Development Forum

Universities Fighting World Hunger
By 2050, nine billion people in this world will be living in hunger. Universities Fighting World Hunger is dedicated to ending the current poverty situation and preventing it from recurring in the future.

The organization was first established in 2004, when Auburn University was invited to participate in a campaign to mobilize students to fight against hunger, along with the U.N.’s World Food Program , the world’s largest humanity agency. In its first ten years, UFWH has been established as an organization that integrates multi-disciplinary academic with grassroots activities, spread out over 300 campuses.

The following are some of the major activities UFWH is involved in:

· Raising hunger awareness and consciousness.
· Advocating for and teaching students how to get more involved into the campaign.
· Providing a Hunger Studies Minor and other research opportunities in the university
· Partnering with major humanity organizations such as WFP and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Universities provide breeding grounds for innovations. One of the ideas of the organization is bringing people from all disciplines together to solve the hunger problem. UFWH holds an annual summit, inviting people from all areas to discuss cutting-edging research and solutions.

In addition to its convocations, UFWH has launched an international campaign, called “Why Care.” A group of students are called to ask themselves and the peers around them why they should care about global hunger. The question pushes the responders to develop personal and ingenuous answers. The purpose of this campaign is to make people realize that poverty is not far away from us, and the first step in solving it is saying “we actually care.”

– Jing Xu

Sources: Auburn University 1, Auburn University: War on Hunger 1, Auburn University: War on Hunger 2, Auburn University: War on Hunger 3, Universities Fighting World Hunger
Photo: Auburn

Vegan option. Meat alternative. Fake meat. From labels to a wide array of dishes conceivable, a slew of faux-meat products are not new to the market. Yet the innovators at Beyond Meat have created a faux-chicken alternative that is described to look, feel and more importantly, taste like chicken.

Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown and his team have high ambitions for their product—hoping to market the faux-chicken in the meat aisle section of the grocery stores as opposed to being placed alongside tofu and other vegan options.

Whole Foods, a distributor of Beyond Meat, currently sells the meat alternative product although not necessarily in the meat aisle section.  Currently, Beyond Meat’s beef alternative is in the process of wide release.

Located in Columbia, Missouri, Beyond Meat has in its employ, Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff, University of Missouri professors who have spent a decade developing their pea protein and soybean based product into imitating a chicken-y likeness.

A study found the likeness of a food is just as important as the actual ingredients within regarding drawing consumers to meat options.

The process requires cooking the protein mixture in varying degrees of temperatures, which is then lengthened into strip to be grilled at the end of the process. In total, the method requires 90 minutes of cooking time in comparison to the energy and time it takes to produce factory farm chicken.

As a result, the chicken-like muscle fibers have drawn the attention of individuals such as Twitter Founder and long time vegan Biz Stone, former president Bill Clinton and even former professional boxer Mike Tyson.

A United Nations Environment Programme study reports that agricultural livestock is the source of 25 percent of green house gasses (GHG.) With the rising increase of meat consumption towering over production, satisfying meat consumers proves to largely be unsustainable. Meat consumption from 2009 to the next 40 years is predicted to increase by 65 percent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Furthermore, about 50 percent of the water used in the United States alone goes towards raising livestock. A pound of chicken can use up to 468 gallons of water.

At $5.29 per package, Beyond Meat’s faux-chicken product hopes to draw a wide appeal given the chemicals infused in the market variety meat products as well as the environmental impact of our meat-eating tendencies.

Beyond the environment, Oxfam America’s GROW Campaign aims to diminish global hunger by reducing meat consumption. The land usage and water consumption that essentially drives meat production which results in a competition for the world’s resources. For this reason, individuals living in dire poverty levels face the brunt of meat consumption. Reducing a meal to meatless staves off pressure to the Earth’s resources and saves what would otherwise have been an equivalent of 12 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Pretty soon, the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, will prove irrelevant. Beyond Meat hopes to revolutionize our diet beyond meeting our carnivorous choices.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Al-Jazeera, Care2, Farm Progress, Huffington Post Taste, Huffington Post, Slate, CNN, Oxfam America
Photo: Joe-Yonan

There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but due to a variety of factors, global hunger persists. In fact, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO,) the world produces enough food for everyone to intake 2,700 calories a day, much more than the recommended 2,000.

Nevertheless, nearly a billion people go to bed hungry. The reason behind this is multifaceted. Astounding amounts of food are wasted due to poor transportation and storage infrastructure. Even more goes in the trash uneaten. A great deal of grain crops are used for bio-fuels and animal feedlots rather than starving people. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact hunger is caused by inequality.

How are people to combat this inequality? Countries such as Brazil and Ghana have shown success through raising their minimum wage, giving cash to poor people, and investing in small-scale farms. World hunger comes down to the fact that many people simply cannot afford food, with over a billion people living on $1 a day.

The history of poverty begins with globalization and colonialism. When land is privatized and controlled by the few, the majority of people are forced into selling their work for food. Land ownership in the hands of the few is the main cause that spurred income gaps throughout the world.

Colonies exploited the resources and land of their colonies and kept them saddled in debt by claiming ownership in order to maintain this advantage for the long run. Today, less than 25 percent of people use more than 80 percent of the world’s resources. This is a direct result of the economic repression that so many populations are under and have been under for hundreds of years.

Greed led to colonial powers gaining monopolies and establishing claims on resources that were not theirs. Greed led them to effectively enslaving their colonies under shackles of labor and heavy debt for land and resources that originally belonged to the colonies. Although there are many great NGOs and advocacy agencies that have brilliant ideas for solutions to global hunger, few acknowledge colonialism as the original foe, and lack of land ownership as the original problem.

Perhaps people can examine this complex issue more clearly if they perceive it as a parable. In a sun-drenched country, men live peaceful lives on their own farms. One day, a greedy man takes over, burning all their farms and forcing them to work for him. This man builds one massive farm, and exploits their labor and pushes growth, seeking to eat up the rest of the smaller farms in the land. In the end, he is the one who gets all the profits, while the rest barely survive.

This is not a story anyone wants to hear, but it is one that has been in action for centuries. Let us acknowledge this past and seek ways to start a new story.

Jordan Schunk

Sources: Alternet, The Economist, The Guardian, Huffington Post

World Food Day, celebrated on October 16, was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1979 to encourage activism and campaigns to end world hunger. For the first 30 years of the commemoration of World Food Day, the United States hosted an annual World Food Day Teleconference. This event included renowned experts in a wide range of fields including agriculture, economics, environmental science and human rights, and a global hunger-related theme. This year, the chosen theme is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition,” and many prominent food and packaging brands, including Dow Chemical Company, Unilever, Beaulieu Vineyard and Nouri, have taken initiative to help ameliorate world hunger.

Dow Chemical Company, the world’s second-largest chemical manufacturer, is investing in packaging practices and materials that allow food to survive its journey better. Diego Donoso, business president of Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, stated that his company is “committed to creating innovative technologies in packaging and collaborating with industry partners to minimize food waste and ensure that more food reaches more kitchen tables around the globe.” Dow has also used its website and social media profiles in order to educate the public about sustainable food packaging.

Unilever, a company that owns Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Hellman’s mayonnaise, Lipton tea and Vaseline lotion, is motivating its employees to partake in the fight against world hunger. Unilever’s CEO, Paul Poman, has worked with other companies to raise awareness about sustainable food supply and global hunger. In addition to this effort, Unilever has created a “meal for meal” program that requires Unilever to donate the cost of a meal to the United Nation’s World Food Programme every time an employee buys lunch.

Beaulieu Vineyard, a Napa Valley wine producer, is using its influence to educate poor families about how to maintain a balance between affordable and nutritious food. Beaulieu Vineyard is hosting a “Give & Give Back Chef Challenge” in which renowned chefs compete to create nutritious and affordable meals with basic ingredients. This contest aims to raise awareness about world hunger and teach needy families how to best use the resources they have. Beaulieu has also partnered with food donation organizations to donate food to families in need.

The efforts made by these food packaging and producing companies give everyday individuals an alternative opportunity to get involved in the fight against global poverty. Companies like Unilever and Dow also educated individuals about the importance of food sustainability. Without methods of maintaining the freshness of donated food, many poor families will become susceptible to food-borne illnesses.

– Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: Food Production Daily, Dow Chemical Company