malnutrition in South SudanSince 2013, political unrest in South Sudan has created a wave of violence, forcing millions from their homes to seek refuge elsewhere. According to the International Rescue Committee, the violence has left approximately 10,000 dead and displaced more than two million South Sudanese people, or one in three.

Among the displaced, about 65 percent are children under the age of 18. About 19,000 children were recruited into militias, according to a UNICEF press release. The enduring violence has disrupted the economy, education system and healthcare and has caused severe malnutrition in South Sudan.

According to the UNICEF press release, more than one million children, which is more than half of the youth population in South Sudan, suffer from acute malnourishment. With no real progress in sight, malnutrition is expected to worsen in the coming year.

“In early 2018, half of the population will be reliant on emergency food aid. The next lean season beginning in March is likely again to see famine conditions in several locations across the country,” said the Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Mark Lowcock to the OCHA security council.

Causes of Malnutrition in South Sudan

Besides flooding, which has displaced more than 100,000 people, the primary suspect causing malnutrition in South Sudan is the ongoing conflict. Destroying villages and separating families, the violence has created devastating consequences for the citizens of the African nation.

The threat of being killed or recruited into militias has forced millions from their homes and away from their farms. Now living in crowded refugee camps, and with a decrease in crop production, thousands of people are almost entirely reliant on humanitarian aid.

Not only does the violence cause millions to seek refuge and halt crop production, it also prevents humanitarian aid from reaching much-needed parts of South Sudan that suffer from food insecurity. According to OCHA, humanitarian aid will not be entirely successful until the conflict ends and allows organizations like UNICEF and the International Rescue Committee access to the malnourished people of South Sudan.

Thus far, 95 aid workers killed in South Sudan, 25 of which were killed in 2017. These unfortunate acts are the ones that hinder NGOs and other organizations’ abilities to send aid.

Aid Contributions

UNICEF has treated more than 600,000 people in South Sudan for malnutrition and aims to give about $183 million in aid during 2018. Furthermore, the World Bank’s South Sudan Emergency Food and Nutrition Security Project plans on giving about $50 million to help supply food and assist farmers in increasing their crop yield. Finally, the International Rescue Committee has helped in South Sudan by establishing clinics focused on addressing health-related issues, including malnutrition.

While these organizations and others are fighting malnutrition in South Sudan, violence has greatly affected their ability to assist. Constant warfare has left villages and farms deteriorated and has strained the already limited amount of food.

Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, voiced his concern for the future of South Sudan when he and Lowcock initiated an appeal for an additional $1.5 billion in funding to combat the worsening conditions in South Sudan.

“The conflict is purging South Sudan of the people who should be the greatest resource of a young nation. They should be building the country, not fleeing it,” Grandi said. “For as long as the people of South Sudan await peace, the world must come to their aid.”

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr

According to the Word Food Programme, around 795 million people globally do not have enough food to lead active lives. Lack of nutrition leads to a number of other health problems among the world’s poor such as disease, stunted growth and even death. Here are three methods that can help prevent hunger:

1. Invest in Agriculture

Agricultural investment prevents hunger in the long and short term because it allows the poor to become more independent. Most of the world’s poor live in rural areas where agriculture is the source of income and food.

More investment is needed for programs that provide farmers with land incentives, train them on how to maximize their produce and teach them when and what to plant throughout the year.

Through such programs, farmers will not only be able to feed their family but also sell their harvests for profits.

In turn, parents can invest in their children’s education and end the generational cycle of poverty. This financial stability could also mean less pressure on parents to force their daughters into early marriage.

2. Financial Planning

With unpredictable climate and political changes in developing countries, financial planning acts as a safety net in case of drought, famine or war.

Financial security gives families a head start when they are displaced due to conflict and also helps prevent hunger during times of drought.

Training farmers on how to save and invest their money also allows them to invest in machinery and livestock to maximize their productivity and prevent malnutrition.

3. Focus on Women

Empowering women by educating them on agriculture and giving them the resources to provide for their families will make households mores sustainable. The tradition of gender inequality is what makes hunger inheritable in developing countries.

Each year, around 19 million children are born underweight because their mothers were not adequately nourished during pregnancy. More often than not, malnutrition continues through infancy because their mother’s breast milk does not provide enough nutrients.

In addition, weak immune systems due to malnutrition allow the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child. HIV/AIDS treatments and prenatal health care ensure the birth of healthy babies.

A program combining these three methods to prevent hunger would ensure impoverished communities are able to sustain healthy lives and break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: WFP, AIDSInfo
Picture: Google Images

usa food wasteWhat’s the number one risk to worldwide health? The answer may surprise you–it’s not AIDS or malaria, but hunger and malnutrition. One in nine people in the world do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. And yet, in countries like the United States, there remains a shocking excess and waste of food products that could be used to feed millions around the globe. As people become increasingly conscious about recycling and the environment, they should also take a moment to turn their attention to how much they put on their plates. The following points are seven eye-opening facts that shed light on just how extensive the problem of American food waste is.

1. Let’s Talk Calories

The volume of American annual food waste might be better understood in terms of calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that each year, a staggering 141 trillion calories are gone unconsumed. This is equivalent to around 1,300 calories per capita, per day. This is approximately the number of calories consumed by a small adult or child in a day, meaning that these wasted calories could go toward nourishing several hungry people.

2. Just How Much Food Is 141 Trillion Calories?

Not everyone likes to count calories, and even fewer know what exactly a calorie is. To put it in different terms, over a third of the entire U.S. annual food supply is wasted, a total of 133 billion pounds. That equals more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Most everyone knows what pounds are, and that’s a lot of them.

3. Americans Waste Some Foods More Than Others

According to the USDA, the top three kinds of food thrown away in 2010 were dairy (25 billion pounds), vegetables (25 billion pounds) and grains (18.5 billion pounds). These are three of the essential food groups on the food pyramid.

4. The U.S. Navy Throws Away What It Can’t Fit In Its Boats

The government provides the brave men and women of the U.S. Navy with the food and drink necessary to make their sea excursions bearable, but sometimes it isn’t possible to get all the food that is given to them into the storage space of their vessels, which are often very small. One might suppose that when this happens the food is donated to a local homeless shelter or food bank.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Because the U.S. government could be held liable for any sickness that might result from the consumption of a donated food product, the Navy is forced instead to throw surplus provisions away. The extra microwave pizzas and cereal pouches might not seem like much, but this wasted food could be used to feed a family in need.

5. Americans Throw Out More Food Than Pretty Much Anything Else

Food waste makes up over a fifth of American garbage, and half of the waste accumulates at landfills. America tosses more food into the trash than paper, plastic, metal or glass—with 5 million tons as the smallest discrepancy.

6. Food Waste Hurts The Environment

The aforementioned landfills are filled with decomposing organic waste that produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. These landfills are the largest producer of methane emissions in the United States, making up almost a quarter of the total emissions, according to the NRDC.

7. On the Bright Side…

The amount of food wasted, not only by the United States but by other nations as well, suggests that alleviating world hunger isn’t a matter of producing more food. Instead, it is a matter of better managing the food that is already produced, by preserving it and distributing it more thoroughly. There is enough food to feed all 7 billion people in the world. It just needs to get to put in mouths instead of in the trash.

Katharine Pickle

Sources: NPR, Washington Post
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Facts About MalnutritionWhen focusing on the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition are two things that are frequently brought up. People tend to have an awareness of the concepts along with their prevalence, yet many facts tend to be ignored in discussions relating to malnutrition. Discussed below are the leading facts about malnutrition and their implications.

Top 10 Facts About Malnutrition

1. Two Billion People Worldwide Suffer from Malnutrition
Although malnutrition is often discussed as a problem, it is generally discussed as a problem of the unlucky few. Yet, the reality shows just how widespread the problem truly is. Two billion people, or nearly a third of the global population, suffer from malnutrition.

2. Two-Thirds of Those Suffering from Malnutrition Live in Asia
Although Asia is not the continent with the highest rate of malnutrition, it is the continent with the largest number of malnourished citizens. There is some good news on the issue, however, as the percentage of the population suffering from malnutrition in South Asia has fallen in recent years.

3. Almost 14 Percent of the Population in Developing Countries is Malnourished
The fact that malnutrition primarily affects developing countries tends not to surprise people. However, it is still shocking how widespread the problem is in these countries. More than one in nine people in developing countries suffer from malnutrition.

4. Scaling Up Programs to Target Malnutrition Worldwide Would Cost Only 11.8 Billion Dollars Per Year, According to the World Bank.
For context, the United States spent 618.7 billion dollars on military expenditures in 2013. The need for action is great, and action on behalf of the United States has never been more possible in the fight against hunger.

5. One in Four of the World’s Children is Stunted.
Being “stunted” is defined as having one’s physical and mental growth and development stalled due to a lack of food. This problem mainly impacts developing countries where the number has the potential to rise to one in three.

6. One in Four People in Sub-Saharan Africa are Malnourished
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the greatest rate of malnutrition among its population. The global need to address malnutrition is a challenge, but with the unfair impact it has on regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, it is a challenge we must be willing to face.

7. Half of All Pregnant Women in Developing Countries are Anemic
Anemia, a possible result of malnutrition, causes 110,000 deaths each year during childbirth. Women as a whole also tend to suffer more from malnutrition due to often-sexist norms relating to the issue.

8. Underweight Children are 20 Times More Likely to Die Before the Age of Five
Malnutrition’s biggest victim, of course, is children. Along with the one in four children who are stunted by malnutrition, underweight children are victims of malnutrition. Underweight children, particularly those born to malnourished mothers, are 20 times more likely to die before the age of five.

9. One Third of Child Deaths Prior to the Age of Five are Caused by Malnutrition
As mentioned, malnutrition particularly harms children. Perhaps that harm to children is the most inexcusable aspect of malnutrition. One-third of child deaths prior to the age of five are caused by malnutrition, something that could be addressed through a deeper global focus on improving access to food worldwide.

10. It’s Getting Better, but There is Progress to be Made
So, here’s a little bit of good news: since 2009, the number of children receiving treatment for the acute malnutrition they suffer from has tripled. There is still progress to be made, however. Although the number of children receiving treatment has tripled, the number of children receiving treatment still remains as low as 15 percent.

Through understanding the facts that surround malnutrition, a shift can be made toward addressing the issue. The challenge is great and the global community’s ability and need to face that challenge is even more so. Only through a willingness to take action, can meaningful action be made.

– Andrew Michaels

Sources: USA Today, World Food Programme World Food Programme Action Against Hunger World Food Programme
Photo: Adfinitas

children eating rice

All the talk these days is about global hunger. Under-nourishment. But in focusing solely on that, we completely miss the issue of mal-nourishment. An issue that is becoming all the more relevant as more people are raised out of extreme poverty. Getting enough to eat is one thing, but with nutrition, quality counts nearly as much as quantity.

This facet of global malnutrition is further reaching than that of global hunger. Malnutrition is present in all societies, in developed and undeveloped regions. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), two billion people worldwide are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.

The consequences of malnourishment are severe and irreversible. For children who aren’t getting enough nutrients, stunting can do permanent damage to the brain’s ability to develop. Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF emphasizes the difference between lacking food versus lacking nutrition:   “The fact is that India, with 48 percent (childhood) stunting, is considered food secure – but that doesn’t mean food is distributed equitably within India.”

Conversely, 1.2 billion are obese. Many of those people live in developed countries where the issue isn’t getting enough to eat, it’s eating healthily. It’s an unfortunate thing that a by-product of readily available cheap foods is that they tend to be unhealthy. Meaning that those who do climb out of extreme poverty and the constant struggle with hunger, end up instead in a situation where the food available to them is cheap and processed and can lead to obesity.

In order to truly break out of a cycle of malnutrition, people need to not only escape extreme poverty, but to reach a point where they can afford to buy more than just the basics. Education also plays a role in this. Understanding and awareness of what’s available and what’s beneficial can go a long way towards improving quality of life. And the knock-on effects of that can be huge. A report by the FAO claims that the combined effects of malnutrition cuts global income by 5% annually due to lost wages, amounting to some $3.5 trillion.

Perhaps a report highlighting this figure will garner some attention for the complex issue of malnourishment. It’s not enough to simply reduce global hunger. The fight doesn’t stop there. That’s only the first step towards a healthier world.

– David Wilson

Sources: Voice of AmericaFAO, Reuters
Photo: World Barrios