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Hunger in MoldovaMoldova is a small landlocked country in Eastern Europe which has a trend of increasing hunger since the late 1990s. Legal frameworks within the country support the right to food. Despite an average economic growth rate of 4.6% annually and continued decreases in the rate of poverty since the early 2000s, hunger in Moldova persists, with a relatively high percentage of the population suffering from food insecurity.

6 Things to Know About Hunger in Moldova

  1. The prevalence of hunger in Moldova is linked to insufficient productivity in agriculture and impacts national health, economic and security interests.
  2. There is a legal basis for ensuring the right to food within Moldova.
  3. Agriculture is a major source of economic growth in Moldova, accounting for 18% of the country’s total GDP.
  4. The prevalence of wasting and stunting in children under the age of five in Moldova were 3.0% and 6.8%, respectively, from 2013-2017.
  5. An average of 200,000 million people from 2017-2019 and 4% of the population from 2017-2018 qualified as severely food insecure in Moldova.
  6. Thousands of Moldovans cannot afford either an energy sufficient diet or a nutrient adequate diet.

Why Should We Focus on Hunger?

The legal basis for the right to food in Moldova is based on both national and international law. The Republic of Moldova’s constitution unequivocally guarantees food as a right of the Moldovan people. Further, the country is a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which also calls on members to guarantee adequate food for all those living within the country.

In addition to legal obligations to support the alleviation of hunger in the country, there are also economic incentives and national health interests at stake. According to Dr. Rodica Perciun of the National Institute for Economic Research and Dr. Maria Oleiniuc of the Alecu Russo State University of Bălți, food security acts as a “mirror” into a country’s welfare and reveals a lot about the quality of life. They state that alleviating hunger in Moldova should be considered a priority national strategy; it is an integral component of national security.

Further, hunger can have long-term impacts on the population, directly affecting the health of the population. Malnutrition in children can lead to poor outcomes regarding development and health.

 While food insecurity in adults can lead to the development of chronic conditions. The impact of hunger can have serious ramifications for a nation’s economy. In one study on the impact of hunger in Ontario, Canada, it was found that the effects derived from hunger can potentially cost the government around $2.9 billion annually in healthcare spending.  In middle-lower-income countries like Moldova, addressing hunger is integral to the country’s economic development.

What Can be Done?

 There are a number of frameworks in place to address the level of hunger in the country including those occurring at the national and international levels. The Government of Moldova is addressing hunger alleviation through a focus on entrepreneurial activity. The aim is that by continuing to improve the economy and the agricultural sector, hunger will be alleviated.

Dr. Rodica Perciun and Dr. Maria Oleiniuc proposed a Food Security Strategy for Moldova designed to provide adequate access to resources, thereby fostering healthy lifestyles, favorable socio-economic conditions and the development of a sustainable agri-food complex. Many of the strategies embedded in their proposed action plan to focus on the agricultural sector; notably, the diversification of food production, the creation of food resource resilience to natural disasters and climate-change-induced shocks. The development and promotion of food security policies are also important to this strategy.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) also has strategic objectives for hunger alleviation in the country, which focuses on improving the capacity of the agricultural sector, especially as it pertains to the links between the development of producers, markets and suppliers. The U.S. contributions to the IFAD account for 8.7% of the organization’s total resources from 2016 to 2018. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s proposed budget for 2021 allocates $30 million in support of the IFAD. However, the president’s proposed budget allocates zero dollars to the IFAD. The Treasury Department highlights that international assistance is integral to the U.S. economy and national security. Continued advocacy in support of international assistance is integral to the realization of these goals.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Flickr

Although Namibia is an upper-middle-income country, it still struggles with a high rate of poverty and undernourishment. According to the World Food Program, 26.9% of the country’s population lives in poverty. In addition, according to the UN, 430,000 people are in desperate need of food. Namibia, since its independence, has seen good economic growth. The country’s GDP grew from $3.8 billion in 2000 to $12.3 billion in 2019. However, hunger in Namibia remains a growing issue.

Over the past years, the agriculture economy in Namibia has suffered from droughts. The reduction of produce from the food industry is causing hunger in Namibia as families struggle to grow enough food to feed their families. Hunger in Namibia is leaving many children and families malnourished which significantly affects the progress of the nation. Still, both the government and its partners are working to address hunger in Namibia.

Who Is Affected?

Over the past decade, Namibia has faced a lot of droughts leaving low-income-earners struggling to make a living. With a population of approximately 2.4 million people in 2018, 18% (430,000) of the country’s people face severe acute food insecurity and need humanitarian aid.

According to a government report, the country’s agriculture sector, which is partially powered by smallholder farmers, provides for most of the country’s population. Many families who are low income find it difficult to buy food because of increasing food prices.

Malnutrition in Namibia is also affecting children. According to the World Food Program, approximately 23% of children in Namibia are stunted in their growth because they do not eat enough nutritious food. Stunting can have a dangerous effect on the development of children and can even influence their behaviors as they grow older.

Causes of Hunger in Namibia.

In 2019, because of the lack of rain, Namibia food production, both its crops and livestock, fell. Namibia lost 60,000 tons of crops and 60,000 livestock. The two main crops that are planted are maize, which declined in production by 26% between 2018 and 2019, and millet, which declined by 89%. The lack of rain in Namibia hit cereal production the hardest.

The most affected regions of the country are Northwestern parts and the Southern provinces. Due to losses in sales from their livestock, some farmer’s households are finding it difficult to purchase food from markets. Currently, families in 14 regions in Namibia spend more than 50% of their income on food. The cause of drought in Namibia has been attributed to climate change, which is said to be only getting worse.

What Is Being Done?

To help fight against the hunger crisis, the government incorporated the Hunger Initiative in the Harambee Prosperity Plan in August 2016, a plan which is in action through 2020. The plan focuses on 5 different pillars: Effective governance, economic advancement, social progression, infrastructure development, international relations and cooperation. The fight against hunger falls into the Social Progression sector. According to a government report in 2019, Namibia’s government is addressing the country’s hunger crisis by making food banks available in 7 different regions in the country. These food banks reach 17,260 food-insecure households. To deliver food the government relies on unemployed youth who are part of Street Committees.

The government aid given to people who are food-insecure varies. For example, between 2016 and 2017 the government spent $304 million on its drought program but only $5 million in 2017-2018 because the impact of the drought was lower. To provide malnourished children with food, the government uses a program called the School Feeding Programme. In 2017 they fed 377,521 students. According to the government, providing students with food helps limit the school dropout rate among students who live in poverty. The World Food Program is also helping the government fight malnutrition in children by providing Namibia with technical assistance; the group also helps the country with both policy and strategic guidance.

Furthermore, to help farmers, the government work also extends to provide them with 162 tractors to aid in the cost of plowing for communal farmers.

Although Namibia faces the constant threat of drought, the government and its partners are dedicated to providing nutritious food to many families in need.

Joshua Meribole

Photo: A Cup of Jo

 

Hunger in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has experienced notable progress in several developmental areas. The country has achieved improvements to primary education, a reduction in childbirth rate and decreasing poverty levels. However, food insecurity remains a consistent problem. Hunger in Sri Lanka is a major obstacle to the nation’s socio-economic development. According to the
2019 Global Hunger Index, Sri Lanka scores 17.1, ranking 66 among 117 qualifying countries.

The Numbers

According to a UN report, more than 800 million people worldwide were estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017. Over 90 million children under five are underweight. Sri Lanka ranked poorly on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) and global food security index, two major indicators of food security in any country. Food and Agriculture Organization report from 2014 to 2016 found an average calorie deficit in Sri Lanka of 192 kcal per capita per day. In South Asia, only Afghanistan (36.6%) and Pakistan (30.5%) had higher rates of food inadequacy.

A study by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) revealed that more than 13% of minors in Sri Lanka were malnourished between the period of 2006-2010. The survey found that 23% of children between six and 59 months of age were stunted, 18% wasted and 29% underweight.

AHRC also found that remote and underdeveloped areas suffer more from hunger than larger cities. Although Sri Lanka has moderate percentages of food accessibility (54.5%), availability (52.8%), quality and safety (49.5 %), it is still struggling to achieve the United Nation’s goal for zero hunger by 2030.

Causes of Persistent Hunger

A food-insecure family lacks access to an optimum quantity of affordable and nutritious food. The immediate and obvious impact of food insecurity can be observed in physical health. Children struggle to concentrate in school and adults find it hard to perform well in their job. The household hunger scale (HHS) measures food insecurity in Sri Lanka on the basis of three factors: lacking access to food, sleeping hungry because of not having enough to eat and household members spending the whole day and night without eating anything.

There are several drivers behind hunger in Sri Lanka. Stagnant growth in crops in recent years has created a shortage of essential food. As the population continues to grow, this problem worsens. Furthermore, 35% of crops end up being wasted, never reaching hungry people. Rising food prices are also a concern in Sri Lanka. Changes in import duties and non-tariff barriers have caused increases in food prices as well.

Unemployment is also a major factor behind food insecurity and hunger in Sri Lanka. Many families have one or more members unemployed. One report shows that around 30% of the households depend on casual wage labor for their livelihood and food security. Around 90% percent of households in the city of Jaffna and 75% in the Vavuniya District were unemployed around 2012.

Initiatives to Address Hunger

Agriculture is one of the key ways to combat hunger and malnutrition. Different policies are intended to help fulfill Sri Lanka’s food requirement, including the National Climate Change Policy and the National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change Impact. A climate-smart agriculture system is working on increasing climate-resilient crops, rainwater harvesting, crop diversification and use of technology.

Under the National Nutrition Policy, every Sri Lankan citizen has the right to access adequate and appropriate food — irrespective of geographical location or socio-economic status. In addition to these efforts, global agencies like the World Food Program are working to combat hunger in Sri Lanka. UNICEF is also working to improve child and maternal nutrition.

Additional Ways to Combat Hunger

Socially vulnerable groups — like the elderly or female-headed families — are more prone to food insecurity. Sri Lanka’s government and other organizations should supply food vouchers to these vulnerable groups.

Because livestock production in Sri Lanka offers vast opportunity, the government should also encourage training and veterinary services to promote livestock production. In addition to this, privatizing the fish industry could help generate employment.

 

Moving forward, the government and other humanitarian organizations need to make reducing hunger in Sri Lanka a priority. Policies like the ones listed above are crucial for reaching the U.N.’s goal of zero hunger.

– Anuja Kumari
Photo: Flickr

hunger in GeorgiaNestled in the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe, the people of Georgia receive a sufficient quantity of food. However, the population suffers from stunted growth and undernourishment because of the quality of their diet. This leads to a condition called hidden hunger, in Georgia.

Background

Hidden hunger in Georgia results from a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in its accessible food. The people there often do not consume enough protein, iron and vitamin A. This can cause tangible issues. For example, half a million Georgians are malnourished and infant mortality is twice the EU average. Additionally, a significant number of children under five years old are anemic.

Most of the foods that Georgians eat are quite high in starch and have little nutritional value. The two most popular dishes in rural Georgia are fried potatoes and lobio, which is made of boiled beans. Overreliance on these types of foods have made cardiovascular disease the most common chronic disease in the country. Currently, it accounts for 69% of Georgia’s mortality.

The main cause of the dietary insufficiencies in Georgia is a lack of access to meat and meat-based products. Unfortunately, these products are rather expensive at local markets. With the average household income being just $6 per day (⅓ of the population earns only $2.5 per day), the consumption of meat is rather impractical for most people.

Furthermore, the gross domestic product of Georgia was just $16.21 billion in 2018, with a per capita GDP of $4,723. For comparison, the 2018 GDP per capita for the European Union was $35,616.

Although the country’s GDP is growing overall, economic downturns, such as the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, the 2015 stagnation and the 2020 pandemic, reduce the value of the Georgian Lari. These kinds of shifts can create vulnerable conditions for Georgia’s population and reduce food security.

Solutions

Fortunately, governmental and nonprofit organizations across the world are taking steps to improve the dietary standards and hunger in Georgia. Action Against Hunger has had a Food Security Program in the country since 1994, established shortly after the dissolution of the USSR and the collapse of collective farming in the region. It was able to help 5,937 people in 2018.

BRIDGE is a Georgia-based NGO that publishes comprehensive studies detailing the dietary habits of Georgians. It also publishes policy recommendations, which range from developing monitoring systems for the Georgian diet to embedding nutrition into the Ministry of Education’s agenda.

The Georgian Agricultural and Rural Development Alliance (GAARD), of which BRIDGE is a member, was able to register a “Food Security Bill” in Parliament in 2017. This bill aims to reduce Georgia’s reliance on imported food and improve the country’s nutrition self-sustainably.

The Impact of COVID-19

Although the country has only 879 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths as of June 16 2020, the global pandemic may put national food security at risk if another wave of the virus hits the region.

There are some subsistence farmers in the country, but many people buy their food from street markets or bazaars. Places like these are potential hotspots where the virus can spread. However, it is essential that these markets remain open because if they were shut down by a government mandate, many people would struggle to achieve their daily food quantity as well as combat hidden hunger in Georgia.


Hidden hunger presents itself in Georgia due to a lack of essential minerals and vitamins in its available food. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 69% of Georgia’s mortality. COVID-19 has the potential to increase the impact of hidden hunger if markets are shut down. While Georgia is facing a struggle with hidden hunger, organizations like Action Against Hunger, BRIDGE and GAARD are working to improve the quality of food in the country in order to make a positive impact.

– Christopher Bresnahan 

Photo: Flickr

hunger in AfghanistanAmidst a country recovering from drought and conflict, COVID-19 threatens to increase the severity of food insecurity in Afghanistan. Food insecurity and hunger persist in Afghanistan; many people do not have the resources or access to consistently obtain enough nutritious food to live a healthy life. Many causes of this issue have accumulated over the years, such as a lack of education, underemployment, conflict, natural disasters and the poverty that accompanies food insecurity. Currently, more than 50% of Afghanistan’s population—over 17 million people—live under the national poverty line.

A lack of income results in less purchasing power and thus a decreased access to food, especially nutritious food. In Afghanistan, around 11 million people live with severe food insecurity; kids aged five and under account for two million of those living with food insecurity. Without access to proper nutritious food, starvation and malnutrition can stunt children’s growth, hindering brain development and causing growth and developmental impairments.

Three Main Reasons for Hunger in Afghanistan

  1. Drought: In 2018-2019, Afghanistan faced such a severe drought that the country is still struggling to recover from. This drought affected 22 out of the 34 Afghan provinces, causing major population displacement because people could not feed themselves. The majority of Afghans typically rely on subsistence agriculture. However, the drought destroyed crops, and markets can be hard to access. Ordinarily, 12% of the population cannot easily reach markets. This influx of people, as well as halting agricultural livelihoods, placed pressure on the cities people fled to.
  2. Floods: Floods are a common disaster during the rainy season and are a reason food insecurity and hunger persist in Afghanistan. Since March 2020, flash floods have caused damage to infrastructure and contributed to the loss of lives across 18 provinces, affecting around 15,300 people. The flooding destroyed thousands of houses and decimated thousands of crops; displaced families lost their livelihoods and precious possessions all at once. Close communities usually host those displaced while waiting for the rain to cease. However, given the current circumstances with COVID-19, this allows for an easier transmission of the virus. With farmland and crops destroyed, people still recovering from an intense drought now have even less to live off of.
  3. Conflict: A war spanning nearly two decades has also contributed to mass hunger in Afghanistan. Since 2001, the conflict between the Taliban and the United States, allied with the Afghan Northern Alliance, has killed tens of thousands of civilians and intensified problems of food insecurity, poverty and poor sanitation. As a result of the war, Afghanistan became isolated, unable to really participate in the global economy, meaning agriculture remained the main source of livelihoods—nearly 70% of Afghans depend on agriculture. However, agriculture alone is not reliable. War, along with drought and floods, have destroyed farmland and obstructed markets, leaving people without income and nourishment.

Added Pressure of COVID-19 Causes Hunger in Afghanistan to Worsen

COVID-19 makes the hunger problem much worse, exacerbating an already grim situation. Because of the virus, the price of food is rising. Due to heavy demands and little supply, prices for items like wheat flour and cooking oil increased by 23%. Additionally, the cost of rice and sugar increased by 12% more than it was previously valued. With a lockdown in place, most of those who work in Afghanistan’s large informal sector are not getting paid, so they have no way to purchase food, especially with the inflated prices.

Additionally, more than 115,000 Afghan migrant workers also returned from Iran due to lockdowns to rejoin their communities. These returning workers could potentially carry COVID-19, but also add even more strain to those trying to bring relief to the hunger problem.

Amidst the fight for food security, The World Health Organization (WHO) is sending aid to Afghanistan. The organization operate sites where people can collect food or cash, up to $40, to cover their food needs for two months at a time. Without a way to earn money, this gives people a reprieve from worrying about how to feed families.

The World Bank is also working with the Afghan government to create a warning system to recognize droughts in order to deal with the impending water shortage beforehand. An early response will allow people to prepare instead of struggling to survive during the crisis.

Since 2017, the government’s Citizen’s Charter Program has created community grain banks to help prevent food insecurity during the winter. The grain banks are located in 4,000 villages across the country.

Food insecurity and hunger persist in Afghanistan. Droughts, flooding, and conflict only exacerbate the problem, and the COVID-19 pandemic only threatens to worsen the situation. While there is still work to be done, organizations like The WHO and the World Bank, as well as Afganistan’s Citizen Charter Program, are working to help those facing hunger in the country. 

– Zoe Padelopoulos 
Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in BeninHunger in Benin affects thousands of people across the country. According to the World Food Programme, most of the Republic of Benin’s population of 11.2 million people live primarily in rural areas. Almost 10% of them struggle with food insecurity. However, Benin also exemplifies some of the successes that international organizations and state governments have had in collaborating with Benin’s leadership to create positive change. Two key players in Benin’s fight against hunger are the nonprofit The Hunger Project and USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Hunger in Benin specifically affects vulnerable groups like young children. The World Food Programme warns that chronic malnutrition is a major threat to Benin affecting the development of up to 32% percent of its children ages five and younger. Suffering from chronic malnutrition at this age can negatively affect children’s health later in life.

The Hunger Project in Benin

The Hunger Project has been working in Benin since 1997 and uses the ‘epicentre strategy’ to fight hunger. It works to organize around 138 villages (311,078 people) into 18 different epicenters for greater collective action. Using this strategy allows for villages in Benin to share resources and address hunger and food insecurity together. As a group, the villages learn and cultivate self-reliance.

The villages are able to capitalize on aid the Hunger Project provides initially and then, through developing community infrastructure, communities become self-reliant. This has proven successful in three epicenters already. Each epicenter focuses on four core phases for success: “Mobilization (I), Construction (II), Programme Implementation (III) and Transition to Self-reliance (IV).”

USAID’s Role in Helping Alleviate Hunger

The United States coordinates its international aid efforts through organizations like USAID. Specifically in Benin, USAID contributes to the “new alliance for food security and nutrition,” which organizes the G7 states with the Republic of Benin’s government to invest in the agricultural sector. The World Food Programme reported that agriculture makes up to 70% of the country’s employment. Furthermore, agriculture is responsible for 25% of Benin’s GDP. Increased investment will undoubtedly aid in hunger alleviation.

Additionally, USAID helps Benin fight off major food insecurity causes like pests in crops. One pest that USAID is addressing is the Fall Armyworm (FAW). FAW is particularly dangerous to African crops because it feeds on maize, a key food source for more than 300 million African families. Across the 12 main maize-producing countries in Africa, the Fall Armyworm can cause an annual loss of “between $3.6 and $6.2 billion.” That kind of loss can devastate farmers.

To combat FAW, USAID held a “Fall Armyworm Workshop” in Benin in 2018, bringing agricultural experts, plant protection experts and technical staff. The workshop was intended to educate farmers and other essential workers on how to locate, identify and exterminate the pests.

Looking Ahead

Hunger in Benin continues to be an obstacle for the country. Benin only scored a 51/100 on the 2019 Global Food Security Index. But with multilateral support from state governments and international organizations, Benin represents a model for successful collaborative efforts to address hunger and poverty collectively, as it has risen above the regional average score of 47.9/100 for food security.

Kiahna Stephens
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in GuineaGuinea, a nation on the west coast of Africa, has a population of 13.1 million people. With 55% of its population falling below the poverty line and 21.8% of households considered food insecure, hunger in Guinea is one of the nation’s most pressing issues. Hunger and malnutrition are particularly urgent problems for children, with 24.4% of Guinean children suffering from stunting. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse and has put many of Guinea’s most vulnerable citizens in danger.

Factors Limiting the Potential of Guinea’s Untapped Natural Resources

Guinea is rich in natural resources and has a climate capable of supporting a variety of crops. Its economy relies heavily on mining and agriculture, but poor infrastructure, lack of education and corruption have prevented Guinea from using its natural resources to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty. The situation is further complicated by political instability in surrounding countries resulting in many refugees fleeing to Guinea, putting further stress on the food supply and economy.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, agriculture accounted for 19.8% of Guinea’s economy in 2017. Although this is a significant portion of the economy, there is room for considerable growth in the industry. Many farmers are limited by poor infrastructure that prevents them from having access to profitable markets and forces many to practice subsistence farming on small plots of land. This greatly reduces the potential productivity of farmers and leaves many households, particularly in rural areas, without sufficient food supplies and dangerously vulnerable. Guinea has an extreme wet season and is prone to flooding that can wipe out entire fields, leaving subsistence farmers with no food for their families.

In addition to flooding, Guinea is susceptible to a variety of natural disasters that threaten food security for many Guineans. In the dry season, bush fires can burn through fields, and disease outbreaks in the last decade, such as Ebola and COVID-19, prevent many people from obtaining the resources that they need.

Emergency Relief and School Feeding Programs

With hunger in Guinea remaining so high, school attendance and literacy rates are very low, as children must leave school to work. The World Food Programme reports that only 32% of Guinea’s adult population is able to read and write. This issue is even worse for women, who had an adult literacy rate of 22% in 2014 compared to 43.6% for men. Women also account for 60% of those who suffer from chronic hunger in Guinea.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working to address hunger in Guinea since 1964 in a variety of ways, including providing emergency food assistance during crises and school feedings. In the last decade, WFP’s emergency response has helped the Guineans who are most vulnerable during floods and Ebola outbreaks. Their school feeding program has reached 150,000 students, offering school meals that encourage attendance. The program also includes take-home rations for girls in their last year of primary school to incentivize the education of young girls.

Programs Developing Sustainable and Local Food Systems

The World Food Programme runs Smallholder Agriculture Market Support (SAMS) and Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) programs that work to provide farmers with financial and technical support while also building sustainable food systems. These programs have been able to improve crop yields and connect farmers with stable and profitable markets, including the school feeding program.

The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) also operates in Guinea, in an attempt to promote economic growth and reduce poverty. WAAPP works to help farmers in Guinea increase their crop yields by adopting improved crop management practices and using more productive crop varieties. Post-harvest losses are a large issue for many Guinean farmers, but these losses have been reduced through WAAPP and the implementation of small-scale food production. WAAPP has been able to reach 120,000 Guineans and increased their beneficiaries’ income by 30%. This program indirectly impacts many more people, as more productive farms require more workers, which creates jobs and stimulates economic growth.

The result of these initiatives is the development of a sustainable food system focused on local markets that rely less on transportation infrastructure and remote markets. If successful, this focus on local markets may simultaneously address multiple challenges for both producers and consumers. Farmers generate more revenue and are more productive; households are incentivized to send children, including girls, to school, which increases the national literacy rate; and the number of hungry children falls. With continued development, systems like these will be able to feed more people and leave many farmers more resilient to disease outbreaks and flooding, ultimately reducing hunger in Guinea.

Despite these efforts, political instability and COVID-19 have created new challenges that keep many people in Guinea in poverty. Programs such as SAMS, FFA and WAAPP have succeeded in helping those that they can reach, but they are still unable to help the majority of Guineans. Corruption and political unrest further exacerbate food insecurity and lead to underfunded domestic aid programs. If the underlying corruption and political instability can be addressed,  increased funding to build necessary infrastructure and sustainable food systems through programs such as SAMS, FFA and WAAPP could reduce poverty and hunger in Guinea while fostering a sustainable and strong economy.

William Dormer

Photo: Wikimedia

hunger in IndiaIndia has a constantly growing population of more than 1.3 billion. While its economy is booming, its unequal wealth distribution has created an issue for a large portion of the population. Over the past few decades, hunger in India has remained a prevalent issue for the population.

Undernourishment in India

Almost 195 million people (15% of the population) in India are undernourished. Undernourishment means that people are not able to supply their bodies with enough energy through their diet. In the 1990s, 190 million people in India were undernourished. That number remains the same today. Lack of proper diet leads to stunted growth for children; in India, 37.9% of children under the age of five experience stunted growth due to undernourishment.

Malnutrition in India

Malnutrition is one of the bigger implications of the overarching problems India has to deal with: a wide range of hunger, extreme cases of poverty, overpopulation and continually increasing population, a poor health system, and inaccurate national statistics due to the aforementioned overpopulation.

According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, India will not reach the minimum nutritional goals by 2025 set by the World Health Organization. With 46.6 million children stunted in growth, India “bears 23.8% of the global burden of malnutrition.” These goals include “reducing child overweight, wasting and stunting, diabetes among women and men, anemia in women of reproductive age and obesity among women and men, and increasing exclusive breastfeeding.”

Action Against Hunger

As a result of all these issues, there are organizations that are trying to help India in its pursuit to provide food to all. Action Against Hunger raises money through donations and uses these funds to provide sustainable food for impoverished areas of the world. For 40 years, they have been operating worldwide and have helped 21 million people in just the past year.

Action Against Hunger facilitates field testing and train small-scale farmers in sustainable practices. Additionally, the organization provides clean water to communities and helps populations in times of natural disasters or other conflicts.

Action Against Hunger launched its program in India in 2010. With a team of 144 workers, they helped over 75,000 people in just the last year. Much of their work has caught the attention of state governments. For example, they have partnered with the Indian state of Chhattisgarh to “offer technical support in the fight against malnutrition,” and plan to do so with other states as well. In Rajasthan, the organization executed the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition program. As a result, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand recognized the organization for its advocacy efforts.

Moving Forward

While India may not reach the WHO goals in five years, progress continues to spread across the country. Each year, India is reducing the number of people who are malnourished. Organizations such as Action Against Hunger partnering up with local and state governments are the first step in helping pave the way for a hunger-free India.

– Shreya Chari 

Photo: Flickr

Turkey is a country with major economic influence in the Middle East, and it is ranked as the 17th most prolific economy worldwide. However, data about hunger in Turkey shows that 2.5 percent of the population is undernourished. In fact, hunger in Turkey increased marginally last year, alongside a 3.5 percent increase in poverty.

Causes of Hunger in Turkey

One major cause of hunger in Turkey is the Syrian refugee crisis. Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country in the world. With nearly 3.1 million refugees, the government has needed to provide substantial support to its newest migrants. So far, the Turkish government has provided over $10 billion to support the refugees. General migration due to poverty has also caused an increase in hunger in Turkey. In response to the high rates of migration, Turkey’s E.U. Affairs Ministry stated, “Access to food and nutrition is the most fundamental right and this right of migrants should not be violated.” 66 million people have been forced to migrate due to poverty or wars. Turkey houses 26 percent of those people in its region.

Organizations Fighting to Eradicate Hunger in Turkey

Many international organizations have partnered with the Turkish government to assist with the migrants and refugees living in the country. One such organization is the World Food Programme (WFP). The influx of Syrian refugees has put a strain on local markets and infrastructure in Turkey. The WFP has focused on providing cash assistance to refugees to stave off hunger insecurities.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is another organization that has helped issues around hunger in Turkey. IFAD recognized that isolated rural villages in Turkey had a particular need for physical and social infrastructure. Many IFAD projects and loans have worked to improve rural living conditions for families, and specifically, women. Agriculture employs 45 percent of the Turkish workforce, including 90 percent of rural women working outside the home. Through IFAD’s low-interest loans and grants, it develops projects to help rural populations overcome hunger and poverty.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is another organization that has partnered with Turkey to do more to eradicate global hunger. Since Turkey is one of the world’s leaders in agriculture, it can promote new technologies and food availability for countries in need. In the Turkish Partnership Program, Turkey allocated $10 million towards food safety projects. Additionally, Turkey has made significant donations to the WFP. In fact, the WFP sees Turkey as one of its most generous donors. Just a few decades ago, Turkey was receiving significant assistance from the WFP to reduce hunger.

Hope on the Horizon

Even with all of these efforts, hunger in Turkey has been on a steady increase since 2015. The proportion of undernourished individuals has increased as well. Fortunately, since the 1990s, the prevalence of malnourishment in children under five has decreased. The child mortality rate in children under five-years-old due to hunger has also decreased from 14 percent in the 1980s to 1.2 percent in 2019.

Overall, the rate of hunger in Turkey was on a steady decline until the start of the Syrian refugee crisis. Despite some setbacks, Turkey’s promising history with caring for migrants and undernourished populations indicates that these rates may decrease again.

– Mimi Karabulut 

Photo: Flickr

Poetry, one of the most ancient art forms, serves as an outlet for poets to convey their most profound emotions. Poetry is magical because it paints a picture with words and navigates the reader through a flurry of feelings. While few reach glory, many poets go unrecognized or misunderstood in their pursuits. These are four poems about poverty.

Song of the Shirt

“Work—work—work!

From weary chime to chime,

Work—work—work,

As prisoners work for crime!

Band, and gusset, and seam,

Seam, and gusset, and band,

Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed,

As well as the weary hand.

[…]

In poverty, hunger, and dirt, And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,—Would that its tone could reach the Rich!—   She sang this “Song of the Shirt!”

This excerpt from the 19th-century poem by Thomas Hood talks about the labor exploitation of the middle class by the aristocracy. A woman works hard night and day, through tiredness and sickness, with dreams ranging from a simple meal to eternal prosperity. Unfortunately, she drowns in the pit of poverty and despite her efforts, is unable to climb out. This issue has spanned the centuries and labor exploitation remains a problem in the 21st century. Especially in developing countries where instances of trafficking and child labor are all too common. More than 150 million children are subjected to child labor around the world. The U.N. is currently working on enforcing appropriate legislation in countries to absolve the use of child labor.

Refugee Blues

“Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

[…]

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.”

W.H. Auden, a 20th-century poet, originally wrote this poem about the Jewish refugees who were seeking refugee status in the United States. The theme, however, extends beyond the grim years of World War II. At the end of 2018, there were roughly 71 million forcibly displaced people in the world. They were forced to leave due to conflict, violence or persecution. Many have not found homes or countries that are willing to take them in. Countries are beginning to pay attention. World leaders in the U.N. are working on implementing programs that will help refugees without disappointing host nations.

Poverty

I saw an old cottage of clay,

And only of mud was the floor;

It was all falling into decay,

And the snow drifted in at the door.

Yet there a poor family dwelt,

In a hovel so dismal and rude;

And though gnawing hunger they felt,

They had not a morsel of food.

The children were crying for bread,

And to their poor mother they’d run;

[…]

O then, let the wealthy and gay

But see such a hovel as this,

That in a poor cottage of clay

They may know what true misery is.

And what I may have to bestow

I never will squander away,

While many poor people I know

Around me are wretched as they.

This sorrowful poem written by Jane Taylor in the 19th century paints a vivid picture of the horrid conditions associated with poverty. Taylor writes about a family that lives in an unsafe cottage without an ounce of food. The children starve and beg for food that the mother is incapable of providing. As seen in this poem, poverty is an exclusively uphill battle. There are a million forces exerting pressure on the lives of the impoverished but many must keep persevering to survive.

More than 3 billion people in the world today are living on less than $2.50 per day. More than 1.3 billion are living on less than $1.25 per day. Hundreds of millions of children and adults are malnourished and do not have access to basic healthcare. While this is a depressing statistic, the rate of extreme poverty in the world has decreased in the last several decades.

Poor Children

“They are the future of humanity
But many of them living in poverty
And without shelter homeless on the street
Searching through rubbish bins for scraps of food to eat.
Poor children are victims of circumstance
In life they never really get a chance
Or have opportunities as privileged children do
The road from the poor suburb to prison leads them to.

[…]
Poor children without homes and sleeping rough
And life for them already hard enough
At the wrong end of the social divide
Any chance of a good future to them is denied.”

This poem by Francis Duggan, while relatively recent compared the other poems on this list of four poems about poverty, speaks volumes about the struggles associated with child poverty. Roughly one billion children are currently living in poverty and according to UNICEF; approximately 22,000 children die daily due to poverty. A pattern of malnutrition and disease weakens the body to a point of no return. Coupled with the social repercussions of impoverishment, the odds of survival are slim. A recent study revealed that children who succumbed to childhood poverty were seven times more likely to harm themselves and 13 times more likely to engage in violent crime than their more affluent counterparts.

These four poems about poverty are quite striking. They convey deep emotions and spread ideas that have been prevalent for generations. Poverty is not skin-deep; the consequences of impoverishment extend to all elements of life. It is vital that people take action against poverty by reaching out to elected officials who have the ability to implement legislation that aids those in dire need.

Jai Shah
Photo: Flickr