Hunger in UkraineUkraine made global headlines just over three years ago, when weeks of protests culminated in the Maidan revolution that unseated President Viktor Yanukovych. Russia’s subsequent seizure of Crimea and the outbreak of war in the Russian-speaking east caused the country’s economy to collapse, plunging many Ukrainians into poverty and hunger.

Ukraine’s GDP decreased by 6.6 percent in 2014 and 9.8 percent in 2015, when fighting in the east escalated and devastated the once-rich industrial regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. According to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Ukraine is now home to one of the most violent conflicts on the planet.

Around 1.5 million Ukrainians suffered from hunger due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine after two years of fighting in 2016, with 300,000 in need of immediate help and food aid. The ongoing war led Ukraine to become the only European country to require assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP), which distributed rations and aid to Ukrainians in the east. The WFP has assisted over one million people in the country since it began operations there in August 2014.

Hunger is also a problem in western and central Ukraine, untouched by the conflict but still deeply affected by the country’s economic crisis. Corruption is still seen as a major problem after the 2014 revolution, and protests against the government of President Petro Poroshenko have erupted over concerns of rising poverty and corruption.

While the war has left over 2,500 civilians dead, the conflict has stalled and Ukraine is making progress in reducing poverty since the most violent periods of the war. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2017 Global Hunger Index, Ukraine sharply reduced its rate of hunger over the last several years and was one of the strongest performers after China since 2008.

– Giacomo Tognini
Photo: Flickr

Feed the FutureRecently the U.S. Agency for International Aid Development Administrator, Mark Green, announced the next phase for Feed the Future, and listed 12 countries that will be targeted to receive aid.

Feed the Future is a global hunger and food insecurity initiative that was founded in 2010. Originally, the project targeted 19 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Since 2011, Feed the Future has contributed to reducing poverty by 19 percent and dropped child stunting by 26 percent. 9 million more people are living over the poverty line and 1.7 million households are no longer suffering from hunger. Feed the Future farmers have produced higher maize and groundnut yields that were, on average, 23 percent and 64 percent higher than national averages.

Going forward, Green stated that the countries that would be targeted for this next phase are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. These countries were chosen based on their level of need, potential for growth, opportunities for partnership, opportunities for regional efficiencies, host government commitment and resource availability.

In Bangladesh, 40 million people (25 percent) remain food insecure and 31.5 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Ethiopia faces a 29.6 percent poverty rate and 40.2 percent of people are malnourished. In Ghana, the poverty rate is 25.2 percent which is a significant decrease, however there are still a lot of Ghanaians who are food insecure and live below the poverty line.

In Honduras, there is a 33 percent poverty rate and it is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Kenya has a 42 percent poverty rate and faces a humanitarian crisis as an influx of refugees enter the country. Mali’s gross national income is $580 and the poverty rate is 59.2 percent as of 2005. 25.2 percent of Nepal’s population lives below the poverty line.

The poverty rate in Niger is 48.9 percent. In Nigeria, the poverty rate is 53.5 percent and their GDP growth is -1.5 percent. Senegal’s poverty rate is 38 percent and the GNI is $950. Finally, Uganda has a 34.6 percent poverty rate and a GNI of $660.

In the new phase, each of the target countries will develop a whole-government plan for reaching the goals laid out in the Global Food security strategy. This will focus its efforts on promoting sustainable developments and providing people in these areas with knowledge and resources to be able to feed themselves long term.

The announcement arrived just a year after the passing of the historic U.S. Global Food Security Act and is meant to continue the progress that began with that law.

– Téa Franco

Photo: Google

Hunger has been defined in many different ways. Richard D. Mattes and Mark I. Friedman define hunger as “a physiological or metabolic state that results from a lack of energy or nutrients.” The two researchers detail the physical responses that occur within our bodies when proper nutrition isn’t provided in their 1993 paper, “Hunger.”

According to the Economic Development Association, nearly one billion people currently suffer from hunger worldwide. Although this number is appalling, efforts are being made around the world to decrease global hunger. The World Food Program (WFP) is a leading humanitarian organization that has aided in providing food to roughly 100 million people in more than 70 countries annually. It abides by two key missions: providing humanitarian relief and achieving developmental goals.

Its highest financial contribution comes from Switzerland’s humanitarian assistance program. Switzerland has committed to ending global hunger under the Food Aid Convention, its objective being to “improve the ability of the international community to respond to emergency food situations and other food needs of developing countries.” In its involvement with the WFP operations, Switzerland considers the following conditions:

  • Care requirements and financial urgency
  • Potential collaborations with other Swiss programs
  • Presence of a Swiss cooperation office on-site

Switzerland finances experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit to plan programs to alleviate hunger in affected countries. Trained specialists manage everything from emergency care to cash and voucher programs.  The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation states that there is a condition for providing this assistance: “it is essential to ensure that international humanitarian law and international humanitarian standards and principles are respected.”

Switzerland is devoted to the sustainable use of natural resources in its war against global hunger. This includes better access to loans, drought-resistant seeds and local food markets in the most deprived countries. Switzerland has supported a variety of causes, from the construction of wastewater purification systems and drinking water plants in Macedonia to the Small Enterprises Assistance Fund, a venture capital fund for small and medium-sized enterprises. During its 27 years of support, the fund’s mission has been to improve the lives of those who greatly require it.

– Nicole Suárez

Photo: CIA World Factbook

This Bar Saves Lives“Buy a bar, Feed a child” is the life-changing mission of snack bar company This Bar Saves Lives, with its nonprofit partners that distribute packets of food for every bar purchased to where it’s needed most. With 2,302,895 meal packets donated to date, the lives of millions of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition received the treatment and prevention methods they need in the form of various food products to go on to lead normal, healthy lives.

“Pretty Little Liars” actress Troian Bellisario recently teamed up with the brand, holding an interview session at the BUILD Studio in New York City to help raise awareness for the cause. The company is also discussing plans with Starbucks and Target to combat hunger domestically.

Two major points of emphasis for This Bar Saves Lives are treatment and prevention. For every one of the 2.6 million children who die from severe acute malnutrition each year, there are 10 more at risk of suffering the same fate. Working against this harsh reality, This Bar Saves Lives has developed a treatment in the last decade, Plumpy’Nut®, which has become one of the most important weapons in the war on global hunger.

The product is a nutrient-rich paste made from peanuts, milk powder, sugar, vegetable oils and a mixture of vitamins and minerals. Its simplicity makes it so that it can be eaten right away – no need to be cooked or refrigerated. In addition, Plumpy’Nut® has a two-year shelf life and consuming three a day for seven weeks can take a child from near death to survival. In terms of prevention, Nutributter® was designed for undernourished children below the age of two to prevent stunting, which affects a child’s growth, as well as lifelong health and productivity.

This July, Bellisario shared about her involvement with the company, “Raising awareness about child hunger… has always been a subject that is incredibly personal and important to me… I’m thrilled to be a part of such an exciting and important initiative.” Her husband Patrick Adams added, “I couldn’t be more proud to be working with everyone at This Bar Saves Lives to draw more attention to this problem and to help children in need find their way to an important and potentially life-saving meal.”

Since 2013, This Bar Saves Lives has teamed up with various international organization partners, including Action Against Hunger, Edesia and Second Mile Haiti to distribute food aid to Haiti, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, Mexico and Guatemala.

Mikaela Frigillana
Photo: Flickr

BRICS CountriesFive countries known as BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have become shining examples of successful poverty reduction with strong agricultural research systems and technologies. With major agricultural economies, the BRICS countries are leaders in the movement to eradicate global hunger and poverty in developing countries.

Agriculture is a major contributor to economic growth and poverty reduction, and BRICS play an important role in helping developing countries meet the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As contributors of more than 40 percent of the world’s population and more than 20 percent of the world’s GDP, the five countries account for more than one-third of global cereal production.

“In low-income countries, growth originating from agriculture is twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth originating from other sectors of the economy,” Kundhavi Kadiresan, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said at the seventh meeting of the BRICS ministers of agriculture.

BRICS countries lead the fight against global hunger and poverty with essential knowledge and technologies for sustainable development and rural growth through agriculture. FAO collaborates with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute to confirm that the technologies benefit smallholders. With BRICS agricultural research systems, developing countries will assess their challenges and find sustainable solutions.

According to FAO, biotechnology and agro-ecological approaches would also, “play a key role in these advances. Climate-smart agriculture will be essential to adapt to the uncertain changes facing our farmers, and it will rely heavily on cutting-edge research.”

Information and communication technologies address many of the challenges smallholders face, including prices, weather forecasts, vaccines and financial services. For example, South Africa’s Festa Tlala is a government-led initiative to support cultivated land expansion and food production for smallholder farmers. As BRICS find working solutions to global hunger and poverty, developing countries will increase their production and productivity with similar tools and approaches.

In addition, social protection programs help rural development and poverty reduction by strengthening family farmers and their entrepreneurship. Enriching health, education and other services outside of farming plays a significant role in developing a country, as do international trade, promoting food security and balancing the domestic food economy.

As leaders in poverty reduction and achieving Sustainable Development Goals, BRICS technologies and approaches for agricultural growth assist in strengthening developing countries by 2030. Their role could shape the economies of countries all around the globe.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr

In May, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Bank announced that they are strengthening their cooperative efforts to end global poverty and hunger. The two organizations are working together in supporting the governments of underdeveloped nations as they work to meet their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The U.N. was founded in 1945 and is comprised of 193 countries around the world, all working to secure peace, end global poverty and hunger, and eliminate terrorism, among other objectives. The World Bank, meanwhile, is an organization with 10,000 employees that provides low-interest loans, credit and grants to developing countries for ventures such as agriculture.

Together, these two groups are working more closely to make sure that the SDGs set by the U.N. are accomplished by 2030. There are 17 goals listed on the U.N.’s website, including the end of global poverty and hunger, quality education and decent work and economic growth, to name a few.

In order to meet these goals by 2030, a framework agreement was signed in Rome on May 10 by Daniel Gustafson, FAO Deputy Director-General, and Hartwig Schafer, Vice President of Operations Policy and Country Services for the World Bank.

Both Gustafson and Schafer agreed that signing this agreement would speed up their goals and help both the U.N. and the World Bank work more efficiently together to end global poverty and hunger. Schafer stated that signing the agreement is an important step in strengthening the organizations’ joint commitment to making project-level assistance faster and more efficient.

The very same day the agreement was signed in Rome, The Ghana News Agency reported a workshop was taking place, organized by the FAO and attended by members of the Coalition for African Rice Development. The workshop afforded members the opportunity to share information on improved rice production practices.

Abebe Haile-Gabriel, the FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, stated that the FAO’s newest operation is an important mechanism for the achievement of their strategic framework.

With the signing of the new agreement and the already-evident action being taken, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be on track to reach its goal, and ending global poverty will soon be less of an idea and more of a reality.

Vicente Vera

Photo: Flickr

Reducing Food Waste
When the topic of world hunger comes up, the natural response might be to suggest that more food be produced to feed those in need. Before investing resources in creating more food, recycling or reducing food waste should be considered as an effective solution to world hunger.

Grocery stores waste more than 30 percent of food, which equals about $160 billion in America, according to author Tristram Stuart. That amount of wasted food would be enough to feed the 800 million people internationally who live in hunger.

A majority of food that gets thrown out is still edible. Supermarkets often reject food for cosmetic reasons like vegetables looking crooked or blemished.

Stuart also argues that grocery stores are marketed as having excess food. This leads to consumers buying too much food and throwing out their excess, which contributes to the waste crisis.

Certain organizations around the world recognized this problem and actively work to reduce food waste and world hunger. Equoevento is a non-profit based in Rome that donates leftover food from events to charities.

The Huffington Post reports that Equoevento distributed 200,000 meals from food collected at approximately 400 events.

Another organization in Kenya, called Enviu, takes food that is rejected for cosmetic purposes and distributes them to schools that need extra meals.

In addition to feeding those in need, this practice demonstrates economic efficiency as farmers will not lose out as much on their produce getting wasted.

Methods for saving food even made an appearance at the Olympics this year. Refetto-Rio is an initiative, much like Equoevento, takes wasted food from the Olympic Village and converts it to meals for those in need.

Not all of us have the capacity to start organizations that reduce large-scale food waste, but we can attempt to reduce our own waste. By wasting food at home people actually harm the world’s hungry.

Consumers increase the demand for food by purchasing excess food that is not eaten. This causes global food prices to rise and makes food less affordable for others.

Paying attention to the food we waste and ensuring we only buy what we need is a start. There are a number of smartphone apps available, such as LeanPath, that show people the monetary cost of the food they waste.

Giving people a concrete representation of their waste can motivate them to be more efficient with their food and aid efforts in diverting unused food to those in need.

Technological innovations for food growth and quality should be encouraged; however, reducing food waste, on a large-scale and at a household level, is a more immediate solution that addresses food waste and world hunger.

Edmond Kim

Photo: Pixabay

World hunger facts

Sixteen years ago, the world decided it was time to formally prioritize ending world hunger. The United Nations (U.N.) Millennium Development Goal One (MDG1) was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. MDG1, Target 1.C, was to “halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.”

The U.N.’s target was largely met: the proportion of undernourished people in the world’s developing regions has fallen by almost half since 1990. But, there are still 795 million people hungry in the world and more than 90 million children under age five are underweight and malnourished. World hunger facts offer us insight into why this is still a problem in the world today.

According to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), there are two faces to world hunger and 10 crucial facts to understand. The two sides to world hunger are crises and chronic malnutrition. Emergencies such as wars and natural disasters “account for less than eight percent of hunger’s victims.”

Chronic hunger can continue with no end in sight with people living on less than the recommended 2,100 kilocalories daily intake of food. This chronic hunger accounts for mental disadvantages in adults, stunted growth in children and weakened immune systems.

10 World Hunger Facts from the U.N. World Food Programme

  1. Approximately one in nine or 795 million people worldwide do not receive enough food to lead a healthy, active life.
  2. Most of the world’s hungry live in developing countries: 12.9% of the inhabitants of these areas do not have enough food.
  3. Asia is the continent with the largest number of hungry people, making up two-thirds of the total number of malnourished peoples.
  4. Sub-Saharan Africa has one in four people undernourished; it is the region with the highest percentage of its population going hungry.
  5. Malnutrition causes 45% of the deaths of children under five. This accounts for 3.1 million deaths of children each year.
  6. In developing countries, one in six children is underweight.
  7. Stunting affects one in four of the world’s children and one in three children in developing countries.
  8. The number of malnourished could be reduced by 150 million if female farmers had the same access to resources as their male counterparts do.
  9. In the developing world, 66 million primary children attend classes hungry, 23 million of those in Africa.
  10.  WFP believes that the 66 million school-aged children could be fed with $3.2 billion per year.

Just as there are more than 10 world hunger facts, so too are there many organizations working to combat world hunger. One group that is helping to end world hunger is The World Bank. The group has been working with other international groups by “investing in agriculture, creating jobs, expanding social safety nets, expanding nutrition programs that target children under two years of age, universalizing education, promoting gender equality and protecting vulnerable countries during crises.”

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

end_global_hungerThe concept of poverty can be difficult to grasp, especially when it is far removed from our everyday lives.

While we may know that families go to bed hungry every night because they cannot afford to put dinner on the table, without tangible reminders that 925 million people around the world suffer from the effects of hunger, that knowledge often gets pushed to the background.

Overpopulation has been the most frequently blamed cause of starvation and global hunger, but there is more than enough food grown each year to feed the seven billion people on the planet. Then how is it that 2.5 million children die of starvation every year?

The answer to that question is complicated and has many contributing factors, but one reason is that a vast majority of the food grown today is fed to animals. The animal agriculture business has grown dramatically in the past 40 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“Global meat production is projected to more than doubt from 229 million [tons] in 2001 to 465 million [tons] in 2050,” the organization states. In order to sustain the increasing demand for animal byproducts, farmers have to grow or purchase more and more feed for their growing stock of animals.

The amount of grain produced today is enough to feed the entire world twice over, but 70 percent of that grain goes towards feeding livestock. Half of the water consumed in the U.S. is used to grow grain for cattle feed.

The water necessary for meat breeding equals about 190 gallons per animal per day, which is ten times more than the average Indian family uses in a day.

Meat in general, but specifically beef, is an incredibly inefficient food source. In order to raise a cow to the necessary size for consumption, 157 million metric tons of grain and vegetable protein is used to produce a mere 28 metric tons of animal protein.

When that is scaled to the industrial scope the cattle industry is currently at, the massive amount of calories that could be consumed by humans but are instead fed to cattle, is tremendous. If these calories were redistributed to feed humans instead of animals, it could help end global hunger.

In 2010, a UN report said, “A global shift towards a vegan diet [one that does not include any animal products] is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.” The report claims that the western meat and dairy rich diets have become simply unsustainable.

According to the same report, the meat and dairy industry account for 70 percent of global freshwater consumption, 38 percent of total land use and 19 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The vast amount of resources directed towards producing meat and dairy products is creating a food distribution issue. While there is enough food being grown, not enough of it is going directly towards feeding people, especially people in poverty.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Global Issues, Live58, The Guardian, Gentle World, FAO
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Photo Credit: Taken by Sean Hayes of

The United Nations has called for the end of world hunger by 2030 in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In Goal 2, of 17, the UN outlines the need for the promotion of sustainable agriculture that will improve food security and nutrition while protecting the ecosystem and fighting climate change. Although a tall order, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) along with the Austrian think tank, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, believes that the goal is attainable.

“I don’t think it’s all that ambitious to eliminate hunger,” said Jomo Sundaram, assistant director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). He told Reuters he attributes his optimism to rising incomes in much of the world, improvements in the transportation of food, and new technologies that are keeping yields of many key crops on an upward trend.

But in order to achieve the goal of eliminating world hunger, food waste and the inefficiencies of the livestock industry need to be addressed.

Despite the fact that there is currently enough food produced globally to end world hunger, much loss and waste occur postharvest. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), about 24 percent of all calories currently produced for human consumption are either lost or wasted.

The WRI reports that by reducing postharvest losses there will be more food available to farmers and communities, making food more affordable and accessible to the poor and food insecure. This can be done, the group states, through attainable solutions for developing nations such as pest-resistant packaging and cooling-cellar storage.

Changing dietary habits is another important solution to ending global hunger, particularly shifting from raising cattle as a source of protein to growing fruit, grain, and vegetables. According to the FAO, the amount of human-edible protein that goes into raising livestock is higher than the human-edible protein yielded from livestock. The group estimates that 26 percent of the world’s land that is being used for livestock grazing could produce better and more nutritionally valuable yields if converted to growing plant-based food for human consumption.

In addition to increasing the yield of protein-rich crops, reducing the number of grazing livestock, particularly cows, will also lower annual greenhouse gas emissions. According to the FAO, “Livestock contributes both directly and indirectly to climate change through the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.” The FAO estimates that 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock.

By implementing better waste prevention systems and simply eating less meat from grazing animals, the fight against global food insecurity could indeed be attainable.

Claire Colby

Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization 1, Food and Agriculture Organization 2, Huffpost Impact, The Physics Factbook, The World Bank, The World Factbook 1, The World Factbook 2, The World Factbook 3, World Resources Institute
Photo: fao