Food Insecurity
Food insecurity is an issue that affects those in poverty at a higher rate. Due to supply chain issues, food prices are at a record high. Lower and middle-income countries are at a higher risk of the impact of increases in food prices because they spend a higher percentage of their income on food.

Food Insecurity

Food security is defined as having access to an adequate amount of food to sustain individual health and well-being. More than 2.3 billion people were food insecure in 2020. This was an increase of about 320 million people from 2019. In addition, there are still an estimated 660 million people who may experience food insecurity by 2030. Food insecurity is a serious threat to the livelihood of those in poverty. Those in middle and lower-income countries are more likely to suffer from hunger due to the inability to access the resources needed to be food secure. There are currently about 800 million people who are malnourished, and about 780 million of them live in low to middle-income countries. Additionally, in areas with chronic poverty, malnutrition is often present. Food insecurity is an economic issue, and when local areas do not have control over their food supply, the economy suffers, along with the health of the individuals that comprise it.

Economics and Food Insecurity

Food insecurity closely relates to economic principles; supply chain issues have caused an increase in food insecurity, especially in countries with weaker economies. In July 2022, the Agriculture Price Index was 19% greater than in January 2021. Moreover, the price of maize was 16% higher and wheat prices rose by 22% from January 2021 to July 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic still plays a huge role in supply chain issues and food insecurity. Around 130 million people could endure chronic hunger because of the pandemic’s damage to the supply chain. Furthermore, the supply chain has been restricted since the start of the war in Ukraine. Additional limitations by more than 15 countries since July 2022 have exacerbated supply chain issues. World events influence the supply chain, but strengthening local economies and producers will likely contribute to increased food security.


In order to solve food insecurity, it is essential to make food accessible. One way to do this is through the supply chain. When every branch of the supply chain – from the local farmers to the consumers – is strengthened, local communities can be better served. Up to 80% of food comes from small farms; when these farmers are able to work in their local communities, they can cut down on costs and fight food insecurity. Economically, it is less expensive to buy food locally than to import it. However, farmers need additional support to counteract the supply chain issues and potential loss of income. The average salary of more than 500 million small farmers around the world is just $2 a day. Making the necessary changes to food accessibility, such as subsidizing local farms, will be a boon to food security.

Soy Farming

In the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, the startup, Agrorobótica, is analyzing dry soy fields using NASA technology. This organization takes soil samples and then analyzes their composition. The robots measure the amount of carbon in the soil. When farmers know how much carbon is in their soil, they can find ways to improve their farmland. By implementing sustainable farming practices like cover cropping, conservation tilling and crop rotations, farmers are able to improve soil productivity and, thus, fight food insecurity. Agrorobótica CEO, Fabio Angelis, explained that Brazilian agribusiness could account for 40% of the 70% increase in agricultural productivity over the next ten years. The startup is investing in Brazil’s soil to make food more accessible. The desired goal is for the supply chain to become more sustainable and efficient.


Food insecurity is an issue that predominantly impacts low-income countries. Improving the supply chain can make a huge difference in fighting food accessibility. There are a wide variety of solutions ranging from economic improvements in farming to reforming entire industries.

– Ann Shick
Photo: Unsplash

food banks in AfricaAccording to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 702 to 828 million people worldwide suffered from hunger in 2021, and more than 30% of them were on the African continent. While there are many hunger relief efforts on the continent, food banks are the least prominent or known. There are many reasons for this, including bureaucracy in local governments, lack of funding, poor geographical location and poor infrastructure. Nevertheless, food banks in Africa are increasing in number despite the challenges and are making a significant impact on reducing food insecurity. Some things to know about food banks in Africa include:

Food banks are relatively new to Africa.

While there may be many hunger relief initiatives in Africa with long histories, food banks, especially those formed by local initiatives, did not form before the beginning of the 21st century. The earliest African food banks include the Egyptian Food Bank, founded in 2006, and FoodForward South Africa, founded in 2009.

Food is sourced directly from farmers and processing companies.

Most food waste in Africa comes from post-harvest and food processing levels of food distribution. This is unlike established food banking systems in the U.S. and Europe, which mainly source food waste from restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores and other similar places. Other differences between these established systems and emerging ones in Africa and other parts of the world are challenging what is understood about food banking. As a result, food banking is being reevaluated on its impact on food insecurity.

Food banks expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the number of people in Africa suffering from hunger increased by 46 million; by 2021, 278 million people on the continent faced hunger. New food banks in Africa stepped up to cope with the increase and served 906,026 people, increasing their reach by 169% compared to their impact in 2019. Through the Africa Food Bank Incubator Conference held annually since 2019, African food banks came together virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic to share advice and strategies contributing to their exponential growth.

In 2019, African food banks joined the Global Food Banking Network for the first time.

The Global Food Banking Network is a nonprofit organization supporting food banks worldwide. Except for its partnership with FoodForward South Africa, the organization had no presence in the African continent. In 2019, the organization partnered with 40 food banks in Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Botswana to form the Africa Incubator Program.

Food banks are helping food insecurity.

Food banking systems as a means to combat food insecurity and food waste in Africa will continue to mature as the continent continues to develop alongside the refinement of international interdependence. The present challenges to food banking in Africa can therefore be considered an opportunity to test innovative solutions in the fight against food poverty.

– Kena Irungu
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Young Jordanians Who Confront Food Insecurity via InnovationJordan has been experiencing food insecurity challenges due to multiple factors, such as water scarcity and slow economic growth. As a result, many Jordanians struggle to afford food for themselves. Food insecurity is a pervading problem in Jordan because 63% of its population is under 30 years old, a generational issue. However, young Jordanians have discovered new ways to cleverly tackle food insecurity in their country without successful government policies. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and The World Food Programme (WFP) have recently established the Youth in Food Security Innovation Programme, which gathers young Jordanians who confront food insecurity via innovation.

Food insecurity has become the central issue amongst citizens in the developing world primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russia war and economic decline. This made tackling food insecurity in developing countries more challenging especially given the vulnerability of the governments. Therefore, citizens living in the developing world are compelled to find effective alternative methods to feed themselves, their families and their fellow citizens. The innovations in tackling food insecurity presented by these young Jordanians highlight new ways to reduce hunger quickly. The key is to discover the latest methods and adopt them as official development policy.

The Current Food Insecurity Situation in Jordan

The food insecurity situation in Jordan worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic as it “has affected sustainable development efforts.” On February 28, A U.N. policy brief on Jordan’s food security strategy stated that 53% “of Jordanians are vulnerable to food insecurity” while 3% of Jordan’s households are struggling with food insecurity. Jordan is also facing water scarcity which can heavily impact its agriculture since it absorbs more than 50% of water in order “to produce 45%” of Jordan’s agriculture. The country relies on young Jordanians who confront food insecurity via innovation to solve the hunger issue.

Aya Kreik: The Soil as a Sustainable Source of Food

One of the young Jordanians confronting food insecurity via innovation is Aya Kreik, an architecture student living in Jordan’s capital city, Amman. Aya is part of a team that “succeeded in converting farm waste into organic fertilizers rich in nutrients.” This innovative method revived the soil and compelled farmers to stop using chemical fertilizers. Furthermore, the soil would “retain water in a large proportion,” reducing water irrigation in a water-scarce country. This method that Aya and her team created produces more organic food for Jordanians, which helps tackle food insecurity while promoting environmental sustainability.

Alaa and Nourhan: Plants that Self-Feed

Alaa (Banking and Finance student) and Nourhan (Business Intelligence student) are also young Jordanians who confront food insecurity via innovation. The students teamed up to build a start-up enterprise that specializes in producing “self-watering and self-feeding plants.” This is done by transforming “moisture in the air into pure water” via a type of hydrogel that is made up “of self-absorbing polymers.” This method allows for the availability of more water that produces more food at a time when Jordanians are struggling to find water and food.


Jordan, as with many other Middle Eastern countries, is experiencing severe food shortages and high prices for food items due to COVID-19 and the Ukraine-Russia war. However, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, Jordanians have proven that tough challenges can be easily overcome via innovation and creativity. The innovative methods the young Jordanians have presented to the world are helping Jordan solve its food insecurity problem by producing healthy organic food that contributes to environmental sustainability. The creative methods show the world that solving development issues and policies in the developing world requires intelligent solutions. In other words, the world may be closer to ending hunger than before.

Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

Harvest AfricaIn 2017, NASA, in partnership with the University of Maryland, established its official agriculture and food security program known as Harvest. Using resources like Earth observation (EO) data, artificial intelligence and the knowledge of experts worldwide, Harvest works to enable informed agricultural decision-making in the U.S. and around the world, all while doing so in a “cost-effective and transparent” manner.  As part of this broader Harvest framework, however, there is also Harvest Africa— the more targeted initiative working to advance agriculture and food security in Africa specifically.

Harvest Africa’s Objectives

The program also works to advocate for the wider use and implementation of these advanced agricultural tools by both “public and private organizations” in an effort to “benefit food security, agriculture and human and environmental resiliency,” per Harvest’s mission statement. There are several key aspects to know about this program and its work on the African continent.

With an emphasis on Eastern and Southern Africa— two regions in which the World Bank projects an estimated 66.4 million people will experience food-related crises in July 2022. Harvest Africa intends to find innovative, partnership-driven solutions to address Africa’s most difficult food and agricultural issues.

Using data gathered from advanced satellite and machine technology, the program works to identify the root causes of problems like crop failure or production shortfall in Africa, all in an effort to get out in front of those problems early.

 Several crucial objectives of Harvest Africa, according to its website, include:

  • Using “world-class technical expertise,” artificial intelligence and “EO-based data and tools” in order to advance agricultural land use, sustainability and productivity.
  • Promoting the implementation and use of satellite-based data and technology for crucial agricultural monitoring and assessment.
  • Working with agencies and organizations on both the national and local levels in developing and implementing these advanced agricultural tools.
  • Making this agricultural data as widely available to the public as possible in order to “promote the operational uptake and sustainability of these new methods.”

The Impact So Far

Harvest Africa is currently carrying out numerous projects; many of which are seeing extremely promising results. In Kenya, for example, an estimated 3.5 million people in the country’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) region are currently facing acute food insecurity. Harvest is running a program that is playing a massive role in helping government officials and local farmers diagnose and find solutions to widespread crop failure.

By using satellite data to track elements such as rainfall, soil moisture and land use, NASA teams funded by Harvest and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are helping to make more accurate and detailed assessments to track where crops are growing, according to NASA Applied Sciences.

As described on NASA’s website detailing the program, “Agriculture officials in Kenya now have help pinpointing exactly where farms are thriving or struggling. They’re using views from above provided by NASA satellites to help direct support where it is needed most,” NASA Applied Sciences reports. 

Another Harvest project making great strides is the Crop Monitor. In close collaboration with several other global organizations, this project is working to implement the wider use of EO satellite data and agricultural monitoring systems in various African countries, according to EOS.

Having been “adapted and adopted for full operational use by national ministries in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda,” and “currently in development for use in Mali and Rwanda,” the Crop Monitor project is an exciting possibility for other African countries.

In countries like Mali, where over 29% of the population is battling malnourishment and Rwanda, where one-fifth of the population is food insecure, the development of such a project is certainly good news, as it has the potential to bring much-needed relief in the face of harsh struggle.

A Fighting Chance

As threats to African crop production prove more and more numerous— such as increased drought, frequent flooding and growing pest infestation — the need for innovative solutions and increased cooperation is higher than ever.

 However, with the work of Harvest Africa, African countries and their farmers have a real chance of getting ahead of such disasters; a chance which leads to the potential for greater crop success and, as a result, increased food security.

 With the help of these early warning systems, Earth observation data, artificial intelligence and some of the world’s brightest minds, Africa is becoming better equipped than ever before to thrive in the face of crisis.

– Riley Wooldridge

Photo: Flickr

E-Shop Fights Food InsecurityThe World Food Programme (WFP) Somalia developed the WFP e-Shop to combat food insecurity in Somalia where 4.1 million people were in need of food assistance in 2021. The online food-ordering e-Shop fights food insecurity using a delivery system that helps those facing hunger in Somalia access nutritious, affordable food.

Food Insecurity in Somalia

The food insecurity crisis in Somalia has only worsened in recent years, with COVID-19 threatening to double the number of people suffering from acute hunger in just one year alone. Some of the causes of this troubling trend include:

  • Conflict. Armed conflict in 2021 led to the displacement of women and girls in Somalia, making it difficult to access basic necessities including food.
  • Climatic shocks. Extreme weather patterns such as drought and flooding have resulted in widespread crop damage. In addition, Somalia endured a desert locust infestation that depleted the remaining crops and pasture in 2019 and significantly reduced food availability.
  • COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic reduced remittances due to global lockdowns, ultimately slowing food production and increasing rates of food insecurity.
  • Russia-Ukraine war. “Nearly all the wheat sold in Somalia comes from Ukraine and Russia, which have halted exports through the Black Sea since Moscow waged war on its neighbor on Feb. 24,” AP reports.

WFP Intervention

The WFP estimated that if the rainy season fails, Somalia could suffer from famine by the middle of 2022. A quarter of a million lives were lost when the last famine hit Somalia in 2011. To prevent another crisis, the WFP scaled up its emergency food and nutrition response to reach 3 million people. However, there is a large relief funding gap of $192 million, which means the organization has less than a third of the funding it needs to save lives.

A Technical Response

Trying out a new approach, the WFP in Somalia decided to go technical and launch the WFP e-Shop in 2018, a digital food assistance system. First, users can download the WFP e-Shop on a mobile device. Then, the app enables users to receive food vouchers to shop online from local grocery stores. In 2020, the WFP added a feature that delivers food purchases on the e-Shop to users’ homes. The e-Shop fights food insecurity in five major Somalian cities– Hargeisa, Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa and Galkayo.

The e-Shop app is especially useful in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. During social distancing, online ordering and delivery helped Somalians obtain food while still following protocols. That way, Somalians facing food insecurity can be safe and remain well-fed at the same time. Speaking on the benefits of the e-Shop app during COVID-19, one WFP beneficiary remarked, “It has changed many things in my life such as bringing the food into our houses due to precautions taken for coronavirus, so I am very grateful.” Thus, the e-Shop fights food insecurity in a way that is amenable to changing conditions.

Two years after the launch of the e-Shop, the app completed more than 43,000 successful deliveries with more than 90,000 registered users and 1,100 retailers, according to CTG. More importantly, though, the e-Shop app has greatly empowered local communities and economies. With 100% of the proceeds from the platform going to local businesses, the local economy benefits and bolsters up in the fight against food insecurity. Ultimately, as the innovative WFP e-Shop fights food insecurity, the flexibility and profitability of the app are crucial to changing the tide of the food crisis in Somalia.

– Sarah DiLuzio
Photo: Flickr

hunger in BrazilIn the working-class area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the largest urban garden in Latin America has plans to become the biggest in the world. The produce goes towards families in the area, helping to remedy food insecurity and hunger in Brazil.

Hunger in Brazil

Brazil is a large nation with a sizeable population of 212 million, so any social safety net shortcomings reflect on a larger scale, affecting millions. As of 2022, 60% of families in Brazil face some form of food insecurity; this equates to 125 million people.

The situation is not improving either as the number of those facing hunger doubled from 19.1 million to 33.1 million over the past two years, according to The Brazilian Report. Hunger in Brazil now is similar to rates from 30 years ago.

Urban Garden in Rio de Janeiro

Beginning in 2013, the Manguinhos community garden started in a patch of land previously used as part of the Rio Olympics. Around one football field of land became a workable garden thus far, BBC reports. Prior to its transformation, the land was infamous for being a slum, home to many displaced persons struggling with addiction.

There are currently 35 gardeners who assist in managing the land. They receive a monthly stipend of $95 in addition to access to fresh produce which they can take for free. The majority of the produce, however, goes to the tables of families in need in the area. Currently, the garden feeds 800 families a month. The food is always pesticide free, a rare option in the area.

Julio Cesar Barros, a soil and crop expert leading much of the project, stresses the importance of providing organic food in low-income areas. “Why do poor people have to be doomed to eating poisoned food? My goal is to stop organic food from just being for the elite,” he says.

Plans for the Future

The Manguinhos urban garden does not plan to stop at being the largest urban garden in Latin America. By the end of the year, the garden could expand to nearly 27 acres, according to BBC. This development would make it the largest urban garden in the world.

The plan is to donate half of the produce to those in the area in need, while the other half will be sold at inexpensive prices. All of the money will be divided amongst the gardeners, according to BBC. As such, the garden acts both as a means of accessible fresh and healthy food and as a source of income for those that dedicate their time to maintaining the land.

The Manguinhos urban garden is an innovative and sustainable way for Rio de Janeiro to combat growing food insecurity in Brazil. Once expanded, the garden should be able to feed 50,000 local families by 2024.

– Eleanor Corbin
Photo: Flickr

School Feeding in West AfricaThe COVID-19 pandemic forced schools across West Africa to shutter their doors. These widespread school closures had a deleterious effect on the education and well-being of western Africa’s most vulnerable children. Youth were not only deprived of an education but also a chance to receive a meal through their country’s school feeding program. As schools gradually reopened as COVID-19 rates subsided, school feeding in West Africa provided an avenue for children to receive nutritious food, a commodity that some children only attain through their educational institution.

What is School Feeding?

School feeding refers to a meal provided at a child’s school at no cost to the child’s family. According to the World Bank, it is “most frequently designed as a social protection measure for poor and vulnerable communities with the key outcome being an improvement in education through increased enrolment, reduced absenteeism and enhanced gender equality.”

With a full stomach, school feeding often leads to children’s increased ability to concentrate and learn. Additionally, per the World Food Programme (WFP), “every $1 invested in school meals has a $9 return on investment.” Finally, school feeding provides incentives for families to send girls to school instead of keeping them at home or marrying them off early.

Thus, initiatives to support school feeding in West Africa are crucial because of their remedial effects on the harmful repercussions of school closures. Fortunately, international organizations are partnering with government authorities to provide increased funding and efficacious implementation for school feeding in West Africa. Specifically, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Liberia have benefited from foreign assistance.

Home-Grown School Feeding in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is an impoverished West African nation bordered by Guinea and Liberia. According to the WFP, in 2022, more than 65% of residents living on less than $1.25 per day.

As food prices skyrocket across the nation, school feeding programs remain essential for children and their families. In 2021, the government of Sierra Leone launched an initiative to transition the nation to a home-grown model, according to the WFP. This novel type of school feeding allows local agricultural workers to directly supply schools with fresh produce.

Of note, the WFP is assisting the government by launching a pilot program in the town of Tawuya. The pilot initiative has been a blessing to local female farmers. Adama, a Tawuya resident and mother of seven, told a representative of the organization that the “WFP created a means for us women to earn money regularly.” Overall, the WFP’s intervention in Tawuya has enabled many families to overcome food insecurity.

The McGovern-Dole Program in Senegal

Currently, 751,000 Sengalese citizens are food insecure and 17% of children younger than 5 are malnourished. In response to the food security crisis in Senegal, Counterpart International, an organization focused on establishing enduring relationships with at-risk communities, announced in October 2021, that the nation would be the recipient of a $25 million McGovern-Dole program award. The McGovern-Dole program is an initiative by the United States Department of Agriculture to curtail childhood hunger by providing food and financial assistance to developing nations.

The new initiative seeks to bolster school attendance, literacy and community health through school feeding and enhance the Senegalese government’s ability to implement the program. In a 2021 article in Counterpart International, Brian Dotson, Director of Food Security at Counterpart International, commented “…this project will provide a vital safety net for food-insecure families living in poverty in Senegal…”

Save the Children’s $25 Million Project in Liberia

According to the 2021 Global Hunger Index, Liberia ranks 110th out of 116 countries. In an effort to ameliorate hunger in Liberia, Save the Children launched a $25 million school feeding program on June 2, 2022

The funds from Save the Children will help the Liberian government implement its “Liberia Empowerment Through Attendance, Reading, and Nutrition (LEARN) Project.” Although this is a program implemented by both the government and NGOs, the majority of its funds are supplied through donors. Thus, Save the Children revitalized the LEARN program which has distributed more than 10 million school meals to more than 45,000 Liberian children.

Western African Governments Take the Lead

As these three programs demonstrate, school feeding in West Africa is indispensable. While international organizations have largely funded and implemented these programs, western African governments have also taken action to strengthen school feeding.

According to Brookings, 27 countries from across Africa voiced approval for a United Nations school meals coalition that aims to exceed pre-pandemic school feeding levels. Specifically, President Patrice Talon of Benin and President Macky Sall of Senegal have allocated additional funds for their nation’s respective school-feeding programs. Additionally, the African Union, a collective organization of 55 nations, endorsed home-grown school feeding and marked 2022 as the “Year of Nutrition.”

– Alexander Portner
Photo: Flickr

USGLC Global Impact ForumOn June 13, 2022, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s (USGLC) Global Impact Forum took place. The USGLC Global Impact Forum 2022 entailed conversations with leading stakeholders and policymakers surrounding the role of the U.S. in the global sphere.

7 Key Discussions of the USGLC Global Impact Forum 2022

  1. Current Humanitarian Crises in Numbers. Across the globe, as many as 323 million people endure acute hunger and 100 million people have been forcibly displaced. In addition, just 17% of people in low-income nations have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
  2. Local Impact of Global Events. In simple terms, what happens globally impacts the U.S. domestically. An evident example of this is the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current spikes in food prices in the U.S. reflect how the pandemic impacts the United States on a national level. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also led to wheat export blocks, causing food shortages in countries in the Middle East and Africa. Famine can create instability and unrest, which can translate into conflict, and while conflict is a problem in itself, it also creates more problems like displacement and forced migration. Rising food prices across the world highlight the interconnectedness of the global food supply chain.
  3. Vaccines. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) has said “America might be done with the pandemic, but the global pandemic is not done with the world.” With COVID restrictions easing and life gradually going back to normal, it is easy to believe that there are no more obstacles to surpass. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Though the U.S. has committed to supplying roughly 1.2 billion vaccines globally, there remain issues with manufacturing and distribution. Less than 1% of vaccines consumed in Africa are manufactured locally, therefore, vaccine distribution is critical to effectively tackle COVID-19 and future pandemics. Similarly, despite the heavy exports of vaccines, funding is still necessary to facilitate the process of getting doses into people’s arms.
  4. Food Insecurity. Secretary Tom Vilsack from the U.S. Department of Agriculture simplified the issue of food insecurity into three C’s: “COVID, Climate, Conflict.” Three factors that all contribute to the ongoing food crisis. USAID is actively working across the world to invest in urban agriculture, reduce food waste and increase domestic cropping and production of fertilizers and other inputs. As farmers stand at the center of the food system, they require support to enable the U.S. to keep markets open to supply fertilizers and other goods globally. At the moment, the focus is on the Ukrainian conflict — helping citizens in Ukraine as well as providing support to other countries affected by the reduced production capacity in Ukraine.
  5. Extreme Weather Patterns. President Biden has called on all federal agencies to also prioritize efforts to tackle extreme weather events. USAID launched a climate strategy in April 2022 that seeks to decrease carbon emissions by 6 billion tonnes and aims to invest $150 billion in climate-smart efforts, among other initiatives. This is critical considering that extreme weather events go hand-in-hand with economic insecurity, habitat destruction, internal and external migration and climate refugees.
  6. The Importance of Funding. For all the government officials, companies and NGOs present at the forum, the general consensus is that more funding is necessary to tackle the aforementioned global threats. More aid is needed from federal sources but also from the private sector which can benefit from these investments as well.
  7. Benefits for the U.S. A common misconception among U.S. citizens is that foreign aid solely benefits the recipient, but the USGLC Global Impact Forum 2022 showcased that foreign aid is mutually beneficial. Coca-Cola representative Joanna Price shared that 95% of consumers are based outside of the United States, making it critical to invest in the markets of tomorrow. U.S. companies have to maintain and grow connections globally as this will strengthen the global economy and secure democracy and stability. Domestically, supplying aid should be viewed opportunistically, as it can create a business environment and generate jobs for Americans to help partners abroad.

The USGLC Global Impact Forum reminds the U.S. about the importance of remaining engaged globally and providing adequate foreign aid for those in need.

– Claudia Efemini
Photo: Flickr

Chad’s Food ShortageOn June 1, 2022, Chad declared a food emergency due to a dwindling supply of grain. A decrease in exports from Ukraine, as a result of their war with Russia, has caused food prices in Chad to skyrocket. Amid Chad’s food shortage, the country has asked the international community to provide aid as it is estimated that about one-third of the population of Chad will require humanitarian assistance this year.

Causes of Chad’s Food Shortage

While drought has ravaged Chad and surrounding countries for the past couple of years and undoubtedly plays a role, it is not the most significant factor causing Chad’s food shortage. Many factors have contributed to the severity of food insecurity in Chad.

In 2021, Chad experienced its second straight year of recession, with the country’s GDP dropping by 1.2% over the course of the year. Rising food prices, due to a combination of gradual inflation and rapid inflation sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have placed the final nail in the coffin. Internationally, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global wheat prices have increased for the fourth month in a row, rising 5.6% in May 2022 alone. Rising prices combined with dropping income place the people of Chad in a difficult situation. The U.N. ranks Chad as the third most impoverished nation in the world in 2022, a status that the current food emergency does not ease.

Solutions and the Way Forward

Chad’s food shortage has prompted the country to request urgent aid from the international community. While at the moment it is unclear which countries will answer the call, one organization that is already helping is the World Food Programme (WFP).

The humanitarian organization aims to provide assistance to approximately 3 million people facing food insecurity in Chad in 2022. About 42% of the population of Chad falls below the poverty line, but the WFP plans to help in a few ways. The organization provides displaced people within Chad with cash-based transfers to purchase food. The WFP also works with the Ministry of Health to support government-backed nutrition programs, reaching “458,000 children and 235,400 pregnant and nursing women with specialized nutritious foods” in 2021.

Another measure the organization is taking is working to provide children within Chad with school lunches. These provided meals not only help with food insecurity but also encourage school enrollment in a country with low rates of education. These school meals reached 200,000 children in 2021.

Chad’s call to action came just days before a meeting between Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and Macky Sall, the head of the African Union. On June 3, 2021, Sall met with Putin to discuss “freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilizers, the blockage of which particularly affects African countries.” The discussion did not spark any immediate change but there is cause for optimism as Putin said “We strive to develop humanitarian ties with African countries and will do everything in our power to make this process gain momentum.”

Whatever the outcome, Chad will need the support of numerous countries and organizations across the globe.

– Thomas Schneider
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in BaliWhen the COVID-19 pandemic limited human connection and disrupted everyday life, human unity and kindness were more valuable than ever. Since the confirmation of its first case in February 2020, Indonesia has recorded more than 4 million coronavirus cases and over 140,000 deaths. The prevalence of COVID-19 in Bali, in particular, harmed the nation’s economy, resulting in a growth in hunger. Fortunately, a new community-based program seeks to help hunger in Bali by helping individuals experiencing food insecurity while also combatting plastic waste.

Effects of COVID-19 on Bali’s Economy

Tourism is an important facet of Bali’s economy. Before the pandemic, Bali welcomed over 6 million visitors per year. However, until the rates of COVID-19 in Bali had sufficiently lowered, tourists could not visit the island. While Bali’s travel ban intended to keep people safe, hunger in Bali grew due to this financial halt. Approximately 92,000 people who worked in the tourism industry were laid off during the pandemic, having little to no means of supporting their families. With this complete loss of income, many tourism employees turned to agricultural business to make ends meet, though workers would sometimes only get $4 a day, barely enough to purchase a single bucket of rice.

Development of Plastic Exchange

Vegan restaurant owner Made Janur Yasa saw the grueling circumstances of unemployed people in his home village of Ubud. He wanted to use and donate his services and resources as sustainably as possible to avoid creating more plastic waste in an already excessively polluted place. Yasa explained to CNN, “I got to thinking, inside the challenge, there is an opportunity.” Thus, the impetus and conception for Plastic Exchange or Plastic for Rice were born. Yasa’s initiative, Plastic Exchange, isn’t just a means of feeding families who couldn’t afford rice, though. It encourages participants to travel down to their local parks and beaches to collect plastic waste. Plastic Exchange upholds three core values: dignity, prosperity, and environment. The first value of dignity is a noteworthy cause, as it is important to sustain a sense of self-worth in individuals who suffered the economic effects of COVID-19 in Bali. Its second core value ties in nicely with the first since people cannot thrive in their environment unless their most fundamental needs are met. Lastly, the hands-on initiative towards alleviating Bali’s plastic waste problem teaches citizens the importance of caring for their planet, reiterating that sustainability is achievable in the direst of circumstances.

Plans for Plastic Exchange

According to a report from the Bali Tribune, in August of 2021, a Plastic Exchange initiative in a village called Saba collected two tons of plastic within a timeframe of two hours. The positive results from plastic exchange programs have inspired Indonesian villagers to embrace small-scale acts as catalysts for large-scale sustainable improvements. Not only is this exchange of plastic an excellent means of recycling — Yasa sends the plastic waste to the island of Java, with a tremendous amount of infrastructure — but it is also a means of stabilizing the island’s economy. Local rice farmers and planters receive a more consistent income again as islanders can afford larger rice supplies again, which also combats high hunger rates in Bali. With more than 500 tons of plastic collected, Yasa is eager to take his successful initiative and encourage its operation in other Indonesian villages and potentially other countries as well.


Plastic Exchange’s website opens with a sped-up count of how many Bali villages have participated in the program, how many kilograms of plastic were collected, and how many kilograms of rice were distributed. It is overwhelming in the best way possible. There is also a PayPal link to donate towards the cause. For example, a $50 donation can buy 50kg of rice that feeds 200 people per day. Ultimately, plastic exchanges are a promising solution to end hunger and plastic waste in Bali.

– Maia Nuñez
Photo: Flickr