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Children_in_Togo
A large number of children in Nadjote, a small village located 18 km from the city of Dapaong, suffer from serious malnutrition. In order to combat this suffering, the Togolese government has established a safety net program aiming to financially help the most vulnerable households.

Specifically, the government set up a cash transfer program to provide financial assistance to households with malnutrition-suffering children in Togo.

This program is intended to provide a brighter future for children from the most disadvantaged families. Moreover, this program encourages households to obtain birth certificates for their children, offer them with education and health care.

Abna Kolani is one of the beneficiaries. She gave birth to seven children, but three of them died of malnutrition. As a beneficiary, during the past 12 months, she has received monthly financial assistance of 5,000 CFAF—around $9—for the children’s feeding and education.

According to the World Bank article, Abna noted that “With the money I receive each month to provide my youngest child with better nutrition, I can provide healthier food for all my children. I see a big change in their physical condition— their health and hygiene conditions are much better than before.”

“When they are sick, I can take them to the health center to receive care. In addition, the program has allowed me to send my eldest child to school and now all four have birth certificates.” Abna continued.

The project was launched by the Togolese government in 2013 and supported by the World Bank and the Japanese government.

Cooperating with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the program is aimed for parents with children between the ages of 0 and 24 months in the Kara and Savanes regions where malnutrition rates are extremely high.

Nanifei Lardja is another mother living in Nadjote mentioned in the World Bank article. Naniferi has five children, and she says, “I buy corn for 2,000 francs, soap for 1,000 francs, and small fish for 1,000 francs. I have my small plot for the vegetables I need and put aside the remaining 1,000 francs for other possible expenses.”

The program gives her not only material support but also confidence for a better future with her children.

“We are very pleased to note that the support activities organized, in particular the educational talks on the rights of children, nutrition, health and basic family practices have produced largely positive effects,” said Joachim Boko, a Social Protection Specialist at the World Bank.

According to Pounpouni Koumaï Tchadarou, the Regional Director for Social Action in the Savanes region and Program Coordinator, this program offers much more than mere financial assistance. Besides the 5,000 francs supplement, this program also provides a range of services, such as reminders of regular prenatal care and children’s register.

“We do everything to ensure that school-age children attend school. We also do home visits to heighten the awareness of the beneficiaries regarding the role played by good hygiene in improving the health of their children,” said Tchadarou.

“One day, you will come back here and see that the children you have helped have become teachers, nurses, and doctors,” said Yom Kouloukitibe, one of the 14,016 recipients to date of this financial assistance.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: World Bank 1, UNICEF, World Bank 2
Photo: Flickr

Town Installs Outdoor Refrigerator to Feed the Hungry in Spain
There are 795 million people worldwide who do not have the resources available to them in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. That means that one in nine people in the world do not have enough food and often live in hunger.

UNICEF estimates that 20 percent of the children in Spain are living below the poverty line and hunger is becoming a more relevant problem in the country. In 2013, Spain distributed breakfast and snacks for 50,000 kids at risk of exclusion.

Seventeen percent of Spanish children are obese and living below the poverty line and do not have access to fresh food, fruit or vegetables.

Unemployment has been climbing since the 2008 financial crisis and Spain was one of the hardest-hit countries. People who once held regular jobs are out of unemployment benefits and are turning to squatting and collecting food from the garbage outside of stores.

In Galdakao, Spain, people are putting leftovers in a fridge on the street in order to feed the hungry.

The city has a population of 30,000 and created a communal refrigerator to help eradicate hunger in their town. After Alvaro Saiz, who ran a food bank in Galdakao, saw starving people digging through trash outside of stores and restaurants he decided there was a better way to not waste unused food through a new organization called Solidarity Fridge.

People in homes, people on the streets, and restaurant owners now take their unused food and put it in the communal fridge for the people who need it most to eat.

The project cost $5,500 and they had to change the law to prevent any legal action against the city if someone got sick. However, no raw meat or eggs are allowed in the fridge and anything in the refrigerator after four days must be thrown out. Solidarity Fridge says no food remains more than a few hours before it is taken by someone who is hungry.

Solidarity Fridge has become a learning experience for children as well. Schools organize field trips to visit the fridge and teach children about sharing and not wasting food.

One-third of food produced is wasted or lost every year, which is 1.3 billion tons. The entire net production of food in sub-Saharan Africa is 230 million tons. Solidarity Fridge may be a future model for other cities around the world wanting to feed the hungry while cutting down on wasting food.

Donald Gering

Sources: Good News Network, New York Times, Revolting Europe, UNEP, WFP
Photo:  Flickr


In 2013, the United Nations reported that eating insects could reduce world hunger and food insecurity.

Eva Muller, a Director of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, “Insects are not harmful to eat, quite the contrary. They are nutritious, they have a lot of protein and are considered a delicacy in many countries.”

In fact, scientists have discovered over 1,900 edible insects. Some of these include beetles, wasps, caterpillars, grasshoppers, worms and cicadas. Scientists also claim that insects have more protein than beef and other meats.

Insects may also be better for farming than pigs and cows. Not only are insects easier to raise, but they also require less water, feed on waste materials, and produce less greenhouse gasses than cows and pigs. Insect farming could even provide income-generating opportunities for people in rural areas, which ultimately could decrease poverty and end world hunger.

After the report was published, Muller said, “Consumer disgust remains one of the largest barriers to the adoption of insects as viable sources of protein in many Western countries.”

Recently, however, eating insects has gained more popularity.

Daniella Martin, author of the blog Girl Meets Bug, says, “At any angle you look at it, insects have the advantage. They’re ecologically sustainable, use fewer resources and are a high-protein option. It’s also cleaner than livestock.”

Insect recipes are proving to be incredibly trendy, but most importantly, accepted by consumers.

With this in mind, perhaps more researchers can perfect technologies to grow insects in large numbers to feed people all around the world.

Bugs can do more than save the lives of the hungry, but can also conserve our planet.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Armenpress, Business Insider 1, Business Insider 2,
Photo: BugsFeed


In May, the French Parliament unanimously passed a law that banned supermarkets and restaurants from throwing out food. The excess food has to either be used as animal food, composted or donated to food pantries or charities. A recent economic slump has revealed just how many French people scavenge dumpsters for food every night. Now, they will get the food they need.

Although the law does not go into effect until next July, supermarkets and other food distributors are taking early initiative. According to Jacques Creysel, who represents La Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution, over 4,500 stores have already partnered with charities or food banks. There are also reports of “food tents” popping up around grocery stores where food-insecure citizens can come and shop for free.

Food waste is a troubling problem in France and the developed world. Every year, about a third to a half of all food produced is thrown out. This is an unacceptable number, considering one out of every nine people on earth is food insecure.

The waste has other and less obvious consequences. When food is thrown away, all the labor and natural resources that went into producing and transporting it are also wasted. Once the food waste gets into a landfill, it decomposes without oxygen and produces methane. This greenhouse gas is 20 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

The law will also prohibit retailers from bleaching food before it goes to the dumpsters, a common strategy employed by food stores to discourage people from scavenging in the garbage.

The man who inspired the law, Arash Derambarsh, is now campaigning to get other countries to adopt it. A Councillor in his Paris suburb, Derambarsh received over 200,000 petition signatures supporting the law. Now he has the support of ONE, an anti-poverty group led by U2 singer Bono, the French government and other groups.

Derambarsh and his supporters are now bringing this issue to the highest level. At the Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, they are hoping to convince other countries to ban food waste.

Food waste does not make sense from an environmental and financial standpoint. But when there are over 800 million food-insecure people around the globe, it becomes unconscionable.

Fortunately, the issue is being addressed with urgency.

Kevin Meyers

Sources: Think Progress 1, The Guardian, The Buddhist Centre, Think Progress 2
Photo: Planet on a Plate

America's-poor
The Huffington Post has started exploring the lives of America’s poor in a novel way. Rather than reporting on them, it asks the poor themselves to write about their experiences. All their stories are consolidated under a page entitled “All Work and No Pay: False Promises of the American Economy” on the Huffington Post’s website. While many are from people who live under the poverty line, others are from those who earn well above it–and still struggle to make ends meet. Here are a couple of common themes in these stories:

  1. You can work incredibly long hours for almost no money but still look for more opportunities for extra hours. You are almost always exhausted, and leisure time becomes impossible.
  2. Saving and planning for the long-term becomes very hard when you are living paycheck to paycheck. In addition, there’s a nagging fear of losing everything you have anyway. Disaster, often in the form of a simple unaffordable car crash, can be just around the corner.
  3. The struggle of the “in-betweeners.” You work multiple jobs to make ends meet, but by doing so, earn too much to qualify for government assistance. This creates multiple problems. For instance, you are not eligible for day-care assistance for your children but are yourself so busy that it is difficult to look after them.
  4. It can cost a lot of money just to keep your job or try and find a new one. Transportation and car maintenance costs are often unaffordable. A better job with longer-term prospects can be out of reach because it is simply too far away.
  5. Even if you have high qualifications and lower your standards drastically by agreeing to work for minimum wage, it is still very difficult to find work. Many employers shun “overqualified” or older people, believing they will be more demanding.
  6. You make shortsighted financial and health decisions because having small pleasures from time to time makes life worth living. For instance, you might pick up smoking to relieve your stress, while choosing to ignore its long-term effects.
  7. Investing in your future, such as going to school, can make your life more miserable. It adds to your stress and depression and makes it harder to pay your bills. Crippling student debt has driven people towards a lifetime of debt.
  8. It is difficult to socialize with friends because you are too busy and do not want to spend extra money.
  9. You often avoid basic medical treatments, like going to the dentist. Even when you are experiencing something more serious, the tendency is to avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible.
  10. Sometimes you just go hungry. Especially if you have kids and need to feed them instead.
  11. Having kids is something that needs to be a decision that is very carefully examined. Partners often realize that they cannot afford children and give up the dream of having them.

Radhika Singh

Sources: Huffington Post 1, Huffington Post 2
Photo: Epic Times

Experience_With_Hunger

In April 2015, actress Gwyneth Paltrow accepted the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, which required her to live on a food budget of $29 for one week. Now she reflects on her experience with hunger and the challenge.

Celebrity chef and founder of the challenge, Mario Batali, says, “For one week, walk in someone else’s shoes. Knowledge is power, and by truly understanding what our friends and neighbors are going through, we will be better equipped to find solutions.”

Concerned with the cuts Congress was making to food stamps, Batali sought to encourage people around the United States to experience the difficulty of living on a miniscule allowance.

In addition to nominating Gwyneth Paltrow, he nominated celebrities Sting and Deborah Harry, neither of which participated but donated to the World Food Bank.

Soon after accepting the challenge, Paltrow snapped a picture of her purchases for the week. The caption read, “This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store—what families on SNAP (food stamps) have to live on for a week.” The picture showed brown rice, black beans, a carton of eggs and vegetables.

Her food choices received criticism, especially because the items did not offer the average person’s weekly worth of calories. However, her picture showed how difficult it is to eat healthy while living on food stamps.

Chief marketing and communications officer for the Food Bank of New York City, Silvia Davi, says, “Serving fresh produce is a very big part of what our program offers to families. What we distribute on a regular basis is fresh produce, a lot of the things that were in her image and in her photo.”

Paltrow admits that within four days she quit the challenge and ate chicken and fresh vegetables.

Reflecting on her four-day experience with hunger, Paltrow says, “My perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days—a challenge that 47 million Americans face every day, week, and year.”

By walking in the shoes of the millions who survive on food stamps, Paltrow is grateful that she can afford to feed herself and her children healthy food.

She says, “I know hunger doesn’t always touch us all directly—but it does touch us all indirectly.”

Most importantly, Paltrow recognizes that hunger impacts millions of people around the world. She declares, “Let’s all do what we can to make this a basic human right and not a privilege.”

In addition to participating in the challenge, Paltrow contributed $75,000 to the Food Bank of New York City.

– Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Daily News, Upstart Business Journal, Huffington Post, E News, Food Bank for New York City, The Wrap
Photo: ABC Today

Banning Bull Slaughter Makes Vulnerable Populations Poorer
Earlier this year, the government of Maharashtra, India, decided to ban bullock and bull slaughter. The slaughtering of cows, which are considered to be sacred in Hinduism, had already been prohibited since 1976. This new law has faced opposition from many sectors of society that claim it destroys businesses, makes farmers’ livelihoods more vulnerable, and hurts the very animals it hopes to protect.

Another argument against the law is that is promotes Hindu extremist interests over the nation’s secular principles. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the force behind the new law, argues instead that it protects religious beliefs. However, even one of the BJP’s strongest allies, the Republican Party of India (RPI), has expressed discontent with the law.

Farmers from the state have protested that banning bull slaughter means they can no longer sell their old animals that have outlived their usefulness. Many farmers count on the money made from the sale to pay back loans. In India, where huge numbers of farmer suicides have been a pressing concern, the new law has made farmers’ limited sources of income more precarious.

Some people have even argued that the law will lead to farmers simply abandoning their cattle because they cannot afford to look after them. They will be left on the streets to starve and die, or be smuggled in terrible conditions to Bangladesh, where they will be slaughtered. The very purpose of the law—to protect bulls—would be left unfulfilled.

The law has also eliminated the only type of meat poor people can afford. In India, beef is commonly called the “poor mans’ protein,” as it is much cheaper than mutton or chicken. Buffalo meat, while still legal, is predicted to become more expensive because of a lack of alternatives. In a country where more than half of children under five are malnourished, this ban is feared to increase rates of starvation and sickness.

Specific castes have also been negatively affected. The Qureshis, a Muslim community that has been synonymous with bull slaughter for generations, can no longer practice the only livelihood they know.

The Dharavi leather market has also lost its bearings. Dharavi, one of the biggest slums in Asia, obtained much of its income from its once-thriving leather industry, where workers would make wallets, belts, jackets and handbags. Now, hundreds of workers have been left jobless.

Sources: The Hindu 1, The Hindu 2, The Hindu 3, Times of India, The Independent, Al Jazeera, New York Times 1, New York Times 2
Photo: Stock Photos

hunger_in_tuvalu
Hunger has been a problem for Tuvalu in recent year due to the environment and the economy. This article will examine the country of Tuvalu, the problem of hunger, and some possible solutions to this issue.

 

THE COUNTRY OF TUVALU

Tuvalu is a small country in the southwest Pacific Ocean made of up nine islands. By land area, this country is the fourth smallest country in the world and it is inhabited by 11,636 people. Most of the islands are less than fifteen feet above sea level. Subsistence fishing and subsistence farming primarily drive the economy. The climate is typically hot and rainy.

 

HUNGER AND DROUGHT

Tuvalu experienced extreme droughts from 2010 to 2011 due in part to La Niña and exacerbated by climate change

During this time, most residents could not get clean water and many were concerned about food security. A lack of rain spelled trouble for farmers and contributed to hunger in Tuvalu.

 

HUNGER AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change has had an immense impact on hunger in Tuvalu. Subsistence fishing is the most common trade on the islands and most people of Tuvalu have a heavy diet of fish, but it has become harder for Tuvaluans to catch and eat fish.

Even the fish that many fishermen catch have been noticeably smaller. Fishermen have to fish farther from shore and for longer periods to catch enough fish to feed their families.

This is because the habitats of the reef fish are being threatened. The warmer sea waters cause the coral reefs to bleach and die. This, in turn, means that reef fish will die because they no longer have a thriving habitat.

Additionally, rising sea levels have made the soil more salty, which has made it harder for farmers to grow food. Consequently, more subsistence farmers are having trouble feeding their families.

 

HUNGER AND THE ECONOMY

In recent years, Tuvalu has experienced high levels of unemployment and few opportunities for employment.

As the climate of the globe has changed, the farmers and fishermen of Tuvalu have faced economic problems because they are used to being self-sufficient. Now Tuvalu must import much of its food, but many families cannot afford to.

 

SOLUTIONS

The solutions to the problem of hunger have to consider both economic and environmental factors that contribute to this problem.

In 1998, the Government of Tuvalu allocated funds called the Special Development Expenditures to help diversify the economy. This has been successful. More people in Tuvalu are owning private businesses, and more people are becoming commercial fishermen.

However, the problem of climate change puts more responsibility from other countries around the globe because other countries contribute to climate change that greatly affects Tuvalu, especially because of its low-lying islands. Other countries must take responsibility to combat climate change to alleviate the problem of hunger in Tuvalu.

– Ella Cady

Sources: Tuvalu Millenium Development Goals, The Guardian The Hunger Site Tuvalu Islands
Photo: Flickr

food insecurity
A study done by Oxfam finds that large agricultural companies are displacing small farmers in Latin America, creating food insecurity and hindering community development.

Latin America is a region rich with fertile land for crops. Enough food is produced every year to ensure each individual has enough to eat, but the crops are not reaching the hands of its hungry farmers.

The central-west region of Brazil produced 78.5 million tons of soybeans and maize in 2013, a record for the country. Most of the crops, however, did not return to those who farmed them, but were exported to produce biofuels.

Agribusiness has not only had a negative effect on Latin America’s hungry, but also on the environment. Natural resources are contaminated and soil is becoming infertile. As a result, food prices have increased.

Agroecology is emerging as an answer to the problems agribusiness creates. Defined by Agroecology in Action, it is “concerned with the maintenance of a productive agriculture that sustains yields and optimizes the use of local resources while minimizing the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of modern technologies.”

In other words, agroecology is an interdisciplinary approach to agriculture that takes into account communities, social conditions, environmental health and production. At its base are small farmers,  a sector agribusiness has ignored.

The largest supermarket chain in Ecuador decided in 2002 to make a shift from 2,500 small producers to 250 large producers. This move has caused many families who hold small farms to suffer.

“I used to work in a big farm, applying pesticides,” says Emilia Alves Manduca, a farmer in the central-west region of Brazil, “I had to go to the hospital twice because of the side effects.”

Manduca spoke at an agroecology conference, where she shared the success story of her community, Mato Grosso. By moving away from the monoculture design of big agriculture business, and growing more than 30 types of crops with no pesticides, Mato Grosso became a self-sufficient community and brought itself out of poverty in six years.

As the Guardian writes, “the problem of hunger [in Latin America] is not due to lack of food, but a lack of access for the poorest.” Agroecology ensures that land and healthy agricultural practices are accessible to all levels of society, including the poorest. The result will be more communities like Mato Grosso.

“Agroecology is the only viable option to meet the region’s food needs in this age of increasing oil prices and global climate change,” says Miguel Altieri, professor of Agrecology at the University of Berkeley.

– Julianne O’Connor

Sources: Agroecology in Action, Oxfam, The Guardian
Photo: The Alternative

eating dogs
Around the world, people are becoming increasingly aware and disgusted by the market for dog meat. While some activists and international companies have deemed the practice as reflecting poorly on a country, it still seems entirely normal to some. Why do those in the United States consider eating dogs unnatural? How has the market for dog meat survived for so long long with the increasing opposition?

French actress and activist Brigitte Bardot discussed the more popular perspective during a Korean radio interview, where she stated: “Cows are grown to be eaten, dogs are not. I accept that many people eat beef, but a cultured country does not allow its people to eat dogs.”

Where the issue arises for most is the thought of eating an animal meant for companionship. While eating dog is taboo in the West, many countries raise dogs for the specific purpose of eating them. Therefore, the market for dog meat is just as natural as other livestock like pigs and cows.

In China, an annual dog meat festival, held each year in Yulin to celebrate the summer solstice, has attracted increasing negative attention. Those defending the practice asked protesters to explain why they ate beef in order to put it in perspective.

In Korean cities, dogs are raised as pets and are bought and sold for companionship. On the other hand, in the country’s rural areas, dogs are raised for their meat. The distinction does not come with breed but rather depends on where the dog is born.

There are also groups of people who do not have the option to eat what Americans consider traditional livestock. In India, cows are sacred and are thus off limits for being farmed and eaten. For Muslims and Jews, eating pig is forbidden.

Jonathan Safran Foer, a novelist and vegetarian, writes in his book Eating Animals, that euthanizing pets “amounts to millions of pounds of meat now being thrown away every year.”

He adds: “The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. It would be demented to yank pets from homes. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-cute-enough-to-take and not-quite well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be like killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too.”

There is still the unarguable fault in the dog meat industry, which is the current treatment of dogs before they are killed and the method of killing. Governments of nations who practice dog-eating are working on legalizing, licensing and regulating the industry so the methods become more humane.

Even this point has been argued by pro-dog meat people. While some facilities are inhumane in the treatment and killing of the dogs, there are plenty of slaughterhouses in the U.S. with horrid treatment and killing methods for the animals kept there.

If the process is legalized and regulated, dog meat can be added as an option for anyone to eat, and for those who have few options to begin with, this can make a difference.

However, even if eating dog becomes widespread and safe, will it be accepted? It is still considered a strange and barbaric idea in some cultures, but if the practice achieves universal acceptance, then it may make the process safe and widespread enough to feed more mouths than previously thought possible.

Courtney Prentice

Sources: Slate, CNN 1, CNN 2, CNN 3, Wall Street Journal
Photo: CNN