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Suaahara II ProjectIn Nepal, 36% of children who are under the age of five remain underdeveloped in terms of growth and health despite progress in recent years. Through cooperation with USAID, the Nepalese Government and local private sector groups, Hellen Keller International (HKI) has provided impactful services that have helped rectify the systematic obstacles causing these health issues. Hellen Keller International is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce malnutrition. The Suaahara II project takes a pivotal role in these efforts.

What is the Suaahara II Project?

One of HKI’s most notable services is the Suaahara II project, which started in 2016 and was initially set to end in 2021. However, it will now extend to March 2023 due to COVID-19. Operating in 42 of Nepal’s districts with a $63 million budget, HKI partnered with these six organizations for the project:

  • Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE)
  • Family Health International 360 (FHI 360)
  • Environmental and Public Health Organization (ENPHO)
  • Equal Access Nepal (EAN)
  • Nepali Technical Assistance Group (NTAG)
  • Vijaya Development Resource Center (VDRC)

Hellen Keller International’s primary role in the Suaahara II project deals with the technical assistance of child and maternal nutrition. This means that its tasks are oriented around building the skills and knowledge of health workers. This includes teaching health workers how to adequately measure and evaluate assessments; additionally, another technical facet relies on promoting governance that invests in nutrition.

A Multi-Sectoral Approach

Kenda Cunningham, a senior technical adviser for Suaahara II who works under HKI, told The Borgen Project that the Suaahara II consortium has taken a “multi-sectoral approach.” She believes in the importance of this as it pushes individuals to “learn and think beyond their sector.” The Suaahara II Project’s demonstrates its integrated strategy in the initiatives below:

  1. The WASH program focuses on water, sanitation and hygiene through WASHmarts, which are small shops dispersed across districts that sell sanitary products like soap and reusable sanitary pads. Kenda explained how this has helped “bridge a gap” so that poorer households can access hygiene enhancing products. This also allows assistance from private actors, who can expand their markets in rural areas.
  2. The Homestead Food Production program (HFP) encourages households to grow and produce micronutrient-rich foods through vegetable gardening and raising chickens, for example. As a result, 35 districts have institutionalized HFP groups.
  3. The Bhancchin Aama Radio Program is a phone-in radio program that runs twice every week. It hosts discussions among marginalized communities and demonstrations for cooking nutritious foods. It has encouraged the Nepalese to socially and behaviorally alter their health habits.

Advancements from Suaahara I

The Suaahara II project’s contribution to improved health and nutrition in Nepal is also illustrated in its progression from the Suaahara I project’s framework. In addition to understanding the changes made in household systems and at a policy level from Suaahara I, Cunningham told The Borgen Project that technological developments have elevated the Suaahara II Project’s impact in Nepal.

Specifically, smartphones expedite the data collection process when studying trends pertaining to the 2 million households across the districts. The development of new apps provided more households with access to smartphones and key information. This therefore allowed officers to transition from pursuing “a mother-child focus to a family focus” in terms of the Suaahara II project’s accommodations and services.

Challenges with Suaahara II

While the Suaahara II Project has led to institutional and social enhancements regarding health and nutrition, some districts had access to the project earlier. This created a dissonance in the rate of health improvements amongst the districts. Cunningham reported that “far western areas are much more remote and therefore disadvantaged and food insecure.”

This inconsistency was largely due to the “Federalism” that took place in Nepal in 2017, which was a decentralization process that created 42 municipalities for 42 districts. Since every municipality has a different political leader, some districts had the advantage of assistance from foreign NGOs while others did not because their leaders rejected involving foreign NGOs. In these cases, as Cunningham explained, it is like “you are creating your own NGOs from the ground up.”

Suaahara II Achievements

These obstacles, however, have not been pertinent enough to counter the consortium’s efforts in fulfilling the Suaahara II project’s objectives. For example, a primary objective for Suaahra II is to increase breastfeeding amongst babies under six months of age. Exclusive breastfeeding of children under six has increased from 62.9% in 2017 to 68.9% in 2019, according to data that Cunningham shared with The Borgen Project.

Expanding children’s access to diverse and nutritious foods is another objective that has been achieved under the Suaahara II project. The dietary diversity among women of reproductive age (WRA) has increased from 35.6% in 2017 to 45.3% in 2019, according to Cunningham. Given the efficient rate of improvement in women and children’s health, governance and equity in only the first two years of the Suaahara II project, it can be inferred that the consortium will continue to progress in achieving its targets among the Nepalese in the three years that remain.

Regarding how HKI has responded to challenges with the Suaahara II project, Cunningham said  “[We] don’t use a one size fits all approach.” The advancements in Nepal’s health and nutrition systems can be largely attributed to HKI’s multifaceted and integrated strategy, a model that could yield prosperity in the rest of the developing world.

Joy Arkeh
Photo: Flickr

Solving Hunger in South Korea, From Its Own Borders to the International CommunitySouth Korea remains one of the most technologically and economically developed countries. Standing as the number one most educated country and the 14th largest economy, South Korea has a small rate of undernourishment and relatively low levels of poverty. The poverty rate in South Korea is 13% for the working-age population and 44% for the elderly, ages 66 and older. Additionally, the rate of hunger in South Korea is relatively low. As of 2019, South Korea ranks 29 on the Global Food Security Index and only 2.5% of South Korea is undernourished. Stunting in South Korea, which refers to a child who is too short for their age as a result of chronic malnutrition, is 3%. These low rates of undernourishment and stunting are due to the high presence and quality of South Korea’s Food Safety Net Programs.

Innovate Ways to Battling Hunger

South Korea has implemented excellent programs and initiatives for poverty and hunger-reduction. The South Korean government worked to alleviate hunger among the elderly by offering a retirement program where elderly individuals receive about $200 a month. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in South Korea also established a food safety management system to provide safer and healthier food. Foods that are made domestically go through a three-step process of manufacturing, distribution and consumption.

During the manufacturing stage, the business operator must submit a food and item report. Inspections are then conducted to ensure the safety of the products. In the distribution stage, food products are collected and inspected further to strengthen the safety of food distribution. The food is also traced through a system so that all distribution routes are tracked. Lastly, the program ensures that in the consumption stage, all false or over-exaggerated advertisements are monitored thoroughly and food standards are met. This three-step program is essential to ensure the food safety and nutritional needs are met.

Addressing Food Waste and Building Rice Self-Sufficiency

Today, the world produces enough food to sustain every single individual, but almost a third of all food produced every year never reaches consumption due to excessive food waste. To tackle this problem and maximize the efficiency of food distribution, South Korea has implemented food waste programs that recycle more than 95% of its food waste. Leftover food in major cities like Seoul is collected from residences, hotels and restaurants and deposited in sorting facilities. The food is then crushed and dried and used as fertilizer, animal feed and even used for generating electricity. This program has reduced food waste in districts by 30% and in restaurants by 40%.

One of the biggest contributions to hunger reduction in South Korea is the system of rice self-sufficiency, where rice consumption became a matter of “national duty.” In the late 1970s, South Korea grew self-sufficient in rice for the first time. Local consumers were prompted to buy local Korean produce through food campaigns that insisted on the consumption of rice as an important national responsibility. As a result of local rice production and consumption, the average rural income grew higher than the average urban income and South Korea became self-sufficient in its most essential food commodity: rice. This rice self-sufficiency contributed tremendously to food security in South Korea.

Helping Others

South Korea has come a long way since the Japanese colonization of Korea and the Korean War. The country has found innovative ways to strengthen its economy, reduce its poverty and establish food security and food safety net programs. These innovative programs and the resulting low rates of hunger have inspired the international community to take note of South Korea’s achievements and follow its lead. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), for instance, has joined forces with South Korea to encourage and strengthen its Zero-Hunger efforts in the Asia-Pacific region. South Korea has been working with FAO to help drought-stricken farmers in Afghanistan as well as provide training in rice production for farming communities in West Africa. In June of 2019, South Korea also responded to the severe food shortages afflicting 40% of North Korea by distributing $8 million in food aid to North Korea.

Today, the vast influence that South Korea has on the international community is clear. Not only did they create new critical ways to solve important issues such as poverty, hunger and food waste in their own country, but they also shared these strategies with other countries. South Korea continues to provide aid and assistance to countries like Afghanistan and communities in West Africa while ensuring that hunger in South Korea is managed.

—Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr

Activism's Impact on Poverty Around the World
A lot of this world’s success in bridging social and economic gaps between people can be accredited to the activists and advocates all around the world. Every day, there are millions of people working endlessly to improve societies by bringing awareness to global issues by educating, protesting and speaking out.

According to The American Press Institute, activists are more likely to be successful in their careers and personal lives because they are more engaged with the news and they use social media to stay informed and take action. Activism is a necessity in not only improving society but improving our social lives as well; without social connections, activism becomes harder to achieve. To learn more about the significance of activism, below are three occasions that activism has had an impact on poverty.

Three Times Activism Has Had an Impact on Poverty

ONE. Cofounded by Bono, Bobby Shriver and many other activists, ONE is a campaign with nearly nine million people from around the globe fighting extreme poverty and treatable diseases. ONE stands against poverty through various actions, including lobbying world leaders, creating grassroots campaigns, protesting and educating people all around the world, making ONE one of the most successful campaigns worldwide. To top it off, ONE is operated almost entirely on foundations, individual philanthropists and businesses instead of using government and public funding.

ONE’s impact on poverty:

  • It has raised $37.5 billion to fight health initiatives and diseases such as AIDS, TB and Malaria.
  • It has secured legislation in The U.S., E.U. and Canada to fight corruption and assure that money from oil and gas revenues be used towards fighting poverty.
  • It has increased advocacy and developmental assistance globally by $35.7 billion between 2005 and 2014.
  • It helped pass U.S. legislation on the Electricity Africa Act of 2016 by having hundreds of thousands of ONE members email and call Congress as well as sign petitions and write letters for four months.

Global Giving. Global Giving is the largest crowdfunding community in the world, bringing together nonprofit organizations, donors and companies in all around the world to help people everywhere access the right tools they need to be successful. Global Giving aims to help other organizations that also fight poverty and such by allowing donors to use the Global Giving site to donate to other charities.

In February 2000, Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle, founders of Global Giving, gathered together more than 300 participants from different backgrounds with a mutual goal of changing the world for the better. 

Global Giving’s impact on poverty:

  • In 2002, Global Giving created a new funding platform that resulted in 763,640 donors, $324 million in donations to charities and 19,368 projects funded across 170 countries.
  • It has improved funding for more than 69 percent of Global Giving’s partners.
  • In the last year, Global Giving provided an extra $13.6 million in funds to its partners that had made improvements.

Poor People’s Campaign. Organized by Martin Luther King Jr. and carried out by Ralph Abernathy after King’s assassination, the main focus of The Poor People’s Campaign was to have economic justice in America, giving everyone what they need to survive.

After King’s death, thousands traveled to and built “Resurrection City,” made up of 3,000 wooden tents where they camped out until they were evicted after 42 days. Resurrection City was intended to focus on fighting poverty and bridging social and economic gaps between “The People.” According to The Smithsonian, although the camp was eventually shut down, the camp brought awareness to global issues and had a significant impact on America.

Poor People’s Campaign’s impact on poverty:

  • Food programs were started in 1,000 counties.
  • A food program for mothers and children had been put in process by the end of the year.
  • Congress devoted $243 million to expand and improve school lunches for poor children.

Make A Change

Activism is vital in making social and economic changes because it requires people to act. Without acting and being the change in the world that we want to see, very little is accomplished. It all starts within. As Michael Jackson said, “if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

– Kristen Uedoi
Photo: Flickr

Food program initiatives in The Gambia
One of Africa’s smallest countries, The Gambia is plagued by desertification, political corruption and rampant poverty. But thanks to the contributions of numerous agencies, the government has been able to make rapid advancements, with a clear-cut, long-term plan for food program initiatives in The Gambia. Providing increased support in the agricultural sector and expanding resources will benefit both the private and public sector, leading to economic prosperity.

According to the CIA World Factbook, crop failures caused by droughts between 2011 and 2013 have increased poverty, food shortages and malnutrition. Furthermore, The Gambia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in West Africa. Another issue that impedes The Gambia’s agricultural growth is climate change, which has hindered poverty alleviation.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization launched the “Improving Food Security and Nutrition in the Gambia, Through Food Fortification” project on September 262017. Its purpose is to improve education about nutrition and increase micronutrients, as well as allocate funding towards the following projects:

  • Support for household incomes
  • Agricultural production
  • Food diversification
  • Treating acute malnutrition
  • Promotion of optimal care practices

Vice President Fatoumata Jallow-Tambang, who launched the project, says that these food program initiatives will pave the way for increased capabilities in the public and private sector. She claimed that such projects will increase essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, zinc and folic acid among others. Increasing micronutrient deficiency control has been a core principle of food program initiatives in The Gambia. The government has taken many steps to do so, which include revising a 2006 food fortification and salt iodization regulation that was enacted to provide food fortification.

Other food program initiatives in The Gambia that have steadily increased awareness at a local level include the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative. The operation is a four-year project funded by the European Union, the FAO and The Gambia. It aims to tackle poverty by “ending hunger, improving resilience to climate change and using a landscape approach.” Furthermore, the project targets rural farmers, a pivotal component of controlling land degradation and deforestation. The initiative also serves to empower local communities by establishing “community woodlots, community managed forests and promoting joint forest park management,” according to Regional Forestry Officer Ebou Janha.

The Gambia struggles with illiteracy, with more than half of the country unable to read or write. This new approach tackles the importance of reaching out to students in the classroom to educate them on how to properly manage natural resources and to actively become engaged in their communities. One additional component includes promoting environmental management.

Patta Kanyi, Focal Person at the Agency for the Development of Women and Children emphasized the importance of educating local communities on the proper usage of cooking stoves to reduce the effects of climate change and lessen the need for wood.

Such practices make The Gambia’s objective of eradicating poverty more attainable. The efforts being made to combat such hardships are truly remarkable. By building more robust communities through partnerships with inter-governmental organizations and the private sector, The Gambia has become a trading partner with developed countries. The attempt to involve rural farmers in forest management will be crucial for maintaining a sustainable environment. The food program initiatives in The Gambia demonstrate the objectives this country has in eradicating poverty for good.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Facts about Poverty in Brazil
Brazil’s learning initiatives focus on ending poverty at both the national and international levels. However, the Brazilian economic boom of the last decade seems to have concluded with millions returning to poverty. The following 10 facts about poverty in Brazil provide insight on the country’s current poverty threshold, political state, budget cuts and programs created to combat poverty.

Facts about Poverty in Brazil

  1. Brazil’s poverty line is set at 140 Brazilian reais per month, which roughly converts to $44 at the current exchange rate. Brazilians making less than $528 per year are considered to be in poverty.
  2. According to the World Bank, 28.6 million Brazilians emerged from poverty between 2004 and 2014. The World Bank further estimates that, from the start of 2016 to the end of this year, 2.5 million to 3.6 million Brazilians have fallen below the poverty line.
  3. Several cuts in social services, such as Bolsa Familia, have occurred under President Michel Temer. Bolsa Familia is Brazil’s family allowance program that provides monthly subsidies to qualifying low-income people. Non-labor income, such as Bolsa Familia, is responsible for the nearly 60 percent reduction of people living in poverty. Although increased unemployment pushes more citizens toward the program, fewer people are actually qualifying for coverage. Bolsa Familia’s decline in coverage may correlate with the recent crackdown on fraud, as Temer’s administration found discrepancies regarding 1.1 million recipients.
  4. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been under investigation regarding corruption allegations. Da Silva is appealing a conviction regarding a 10-year sentence for corruption, but he continues to lead preference polls for next year’s presidential election. His campaign promises to refocus on the poor and return to better economic times.
  5. After hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro has suffered extreme economic unrest. The city struggles to pay thousands of public workers, with many receiving wages in late installments. Further items that have been reduced from the budget include garbage collection and a community policing program.
  6. Brazil’s learning initiative World Without Poverty (WWP), or Mundo Sem Pobreza, educates the world on social protection policies and initiatives to fight poverty. Brazil’s innovative solutions have been documented for international access since 2014 and WWP continues to compile the best practices used by other countries to improve global social protection systems.
  7. The Food Purchase Program, PAA, encourages family farming and increases food availability. The program increases regional and local marketing networks, promotes purchasing of foodstuffs by government, endorses biodiversity and organic food production, supports cooperatives and associations and encourages healthy eating habits.
  8. Cisterns Program, or Programa Cisternas, is a national program to support rainwater harvesting and other social technologies for accessing water. It is a part of the Water For All program where concrete cisterns are built for water storage. Stored water is consumed by households, business facilities and rural schools in the semi-arid region.
  9. Brazil’s semi-arid region frequently suffers droughts. The Cisterns Program’s initial goal was to install one million cisterns for domestic use, which was achieved in 2014 and has since been surpassed. Although the region has experienced a harsh drought since 2012, negative effects, such as child mortality, mass migration and starvation, are no longer widespread.
  10. 43 percent of children under five (almost 250 million) in low and middle-income countries face severe developmental issues due to hunger, malnutrition and violence. The Lancet launched “Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale” in Brazil. This study focuses on child development from birth to three years of age, emphasizing the importance of proper care during this critical period. Insufficient care can result in poor academic performance, chronic diseases and other developmental issues.

According to Fox News, the average American spends approximately $1,100 per year, more than double Brazil’s poverty threshold, on coffee. A simple conclusion can be reached from these 10 facts about poverty in Brazil: if every American cut their coffee budget in half, they could help eradicate poverty in Brazil.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr