hunger in fijiFiji, a country bordering both Tonga and Futana, has faced increased obstacles with food security. It is estimated that amongst the population of 926,276 citizens, over 250,000 individuals are battling poverty and hunger. However, increased efforts have been made to combat this rise in hunger in Fiji.

Problem in Numbers

It is estimated that over 35% of Fiji’s population is below the national poverty line. With the income of households drastically declining, thousands of families do not have the proper resources to thrive.

Fiji children are also heavily impacted, further contributing to the increased rate of hunger in Fiji. It has been recently estimated that over 40% of Fiji’s children are malnourished. A majority of children in Fiji suffer from “protein-energy malnutrition”, meaning that they do not consume enough vital and nutritious foods for their bodies.

The Causes

The lack of food distribution in Fiji points towards a variety of factors. A primary cause is due to Fiji’s political instability and corruption. Additionally, with tourism making up a majority of Fiji’s GDP, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to decreased budgets and widespread unemployment.

Climate change has also affected hunger in Fiji. Cyclones have led to massive agricultural losses, resulting in widespread losses of income and the destruction of food that would be derived from the agricultural crops.

Another cause contributing to the hunger in Fiji is the increased dropout rates among children. With the majority of Fiji’s population battling poverty, children are often instructed to leave school in search of work. From grueling street work to harsh agricultural labor, children earn very little over the years.

In 2016 it was estimated that over 55% of children at primary school age were not attending school. This low schooling rate leaves many children uneducated, unskilled and closed off to stable job opportunities which in turn leaves them unable to afford basic necessities as adults.

The Road to Change

However, despite the increased rates of hunger among the Fiji population, organizations have stepped up to aid the needy. A prominent organization is Moms Against Hunger, which has dedicated itself to providing food for the individuals battling poverty. Moms Against Hunger has recruited numerous volunteers and has delivered over 250,000 food packages to families in need. Under the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of families received enough food to last several months.

Another impactful organization is HELP International, which looks to empower and educate individuals in need. HELP International focused its efforts in the nutrition sector, teaching individuals nutritional guidelines, financial literacy and the importance of schooling. Through these efforts, thousands of families can learn to manage a budget, eat well and pursue higher education.

Additionally, Aggie Global seeks to educate farmers on sustainable practices. Under a team of various volunteers, Aggie Global hosted workshops to teach farmers about crop control, production tricks and sustainable solutions. After conducting these workshops, hundreds of farmers were able to boost production, increasing the amount of food distributed to the public.

The Future

Despite organizations looking to aid those in need, Fiji continues to face problems in feeding the entirety of its population. The efforts from nonprofit organizations provide short-term relief but Fiji is in great need of government assistance to see great and lasting change.

For Fiji to see an immense reduction in its hunger rate, the government must act alongside nonprofit organizations to provide for families. In addition, the Fiji government must prioritize the youth and support and encourage the pursuit of higher education. With increased positive influence and support from Fiji’s government, poverty-stricken families all over Fiji would benefit, lowering the overall hunger rate.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in The Democratic Republic of The Congo
The facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reveal that poverty in the country is a result of the combination of conflict spilling over from neighboring African nations and an embedded culture of governmental corruption.

The facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will address the underlying causes and how the DRC has been able to improve impoverished conditions in recent years.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. The DRC has a population of approximately 77 million people out of which 80 percent live in extreme poverty. Internationally, the DRC is ranked medium in terms of human development. Indicators of human development measure a population’s well-being, i.e. its life expectancy, infant/maternal mortality, child mortality, malnutrition and mortality associated with diseases such as malaria.
  2. The well-being of a population is disproportionate: it is far better in urban areas since wealth determines access to sanitation and medical services. Therefore, the poor in rural areas are most affected by the consequences of poverty.
  3. Poverty is a byproduct of political conflict during the 1990s, i.e. the DRC’s involvement in African War, a political/ethnic conflict from neighboring Rwanda in 1994. The country has seen a dramatic transformation from a state engulfed in brutal genocidal violence to a relatively stable post-conflict society. One-third of the DRC’s population has been internally displaced as a result of the country’s long history of political instability and violence. War-torn communities have left approximately 4 million children as orphans or homeless.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, poverty and development are linked. As the African nations’ economies develop, the population also increases steadily. The flip side to this is that malnutrition and new diseases are spreading as the existing system of governance is not equipped to keep up with the uptick in population.
  5. The DRC transitioned from a Marxist to Free Market economy, which has relied heavily on wealth from the mining industry. Upon the transition, the new economy has not been managed appropriately as wealth is spent lavishly on patronage for government officials instead of humanitarian efforts. It is for this reason that the DRC has been subjected to numerous the military coups and ceaseless internal conflict.
  6. The civil war has had a huge impact on health and poverty in the DRC by destroying infrastructure that communities relied on for clean water and sanitation. It has contributed to the spread of disease. Waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria are the most common and deadly. Three percent of those who contract cholera die due to inadequate treatment. Less than one-fourth of the DRC’s population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation services. It has a 45 percent inoculation rate of malaria that has resulted from a lack of access to cleaning drinking water and poor nutrition. Approximately two out of every five deaths in the DRC is caused by malaria.
  7. The DRC’s governmental structure has had a tumultuous relationship with their population, engaging in genocidal violence during internal conflict, and an unstable kleptocratic government system post-conflict. Historically, the DRC functions under a government that spends on personal relations to buy popular support rather than on social programs that would earn support.
  8. The people of the DRC look to the international community and nonprofits for assistance. La Nouvelle Esperance (The New Hope) program offered tremendous assistance in the Millennium Declaration, which is based on human development and humanitarian assistance. It also has specific goals to eliminate poverty altogether using a strategy that fosters national and international stability. The Global Partnership plays an integral role in improving education in the DRC, increasing access to education by providing $20 million in learning materials and renovating 728 classrooms as well as establishing learning centers. Other notable contributions have come from UNICEF and USAID.
  9. There are significant assistance programs from transnational banks such as The World Bank and African Bank. African Bank’s program helps reduce infant and maternal mortality rates through programs which distribute medical supplies. The World Bank’s program aims to increase standards of living through sanitation, energy and various accessible social services. It has 24 projects and 57 trust funds as well as $2.51 billion in commitments to eradicate extreme poverty with only 42 percent of its total resources used so far. 63 percent of these resources are to be spread across various sectors including road and transportation infrastructure, energy, water and urban development. The World Bank has also funded medical projects assisting the DRC in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis. There is a great improvement to be noted as its strategy has shifted from emergency assistance programs to sustainable growth strategies.
  10. With the help of the U.N. and Great Britain, the DRC has successfully demobilized and improved health and education opportunities. The British government has proven to be a world leader in combating global poverty. Britain’s Department of International Development has developed an initiative that aims to support long-term programs that tackle the underlying issues of poverty by ensuring primary education, gender equality, a reduction in child and mother death rates as well as environmental protection. Other notable contributions have come from the French and Belgian governments through the WBG, fostering public management of resources as well as public administrative support.

The facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provide an understanding of not only the history and effects of poverty in the country but also working solutions to address the issue.

– Kimberly Keysa

Photo: Flickr