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U.S. Companies Alleviate PovertyMany countries in Africa are still experiencing problems with disease, poverty and starvation. However, many people and organizations with the tools to help, have reached out to lend a hand. Even large American corporations such as Coca-Cola and Chevron are doing what they can to help. These companies see an opportunity to help struggling nations, that opportunity being that if these companies’ efforts succeed then Africans will no longer need to worry about these particular issues again, and could potentially become customers. Listed below are some examples of how U.S. companies are helping alleviate poverty in Africa.

Coca-Cola

In 2009, the Coca-Cola Company launched RAIN: The Replenish Africa Initiative, a program with the express purpose of bringing fresh drinking water to Africa’s poor. Since the initiative’s start, they have done work in 35 of the 55 total African countries. The program is making positive change through things like building sustainable communities, catalyzing investment in access to clean water, improving both water and sanitation access for school children and replenishing more than 2 billion liters of water back to communities and the surrounding nature. Coca-Cola’s $30 million investment paired with an additional $40+ million from their over 140 partners, looks to continue their work of bringing clean drinking water to Africa.

Chevron

Chevron has been a corporation that has shown exactly how U.S. companies can help alleviate poverty in Africa over the years through multiple donations and poverty-reducing initiatives. One of these examples includes a $50 million to the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI), an organization that focuses on improving socio-economic conditions to the more than 30 million people living in Niger’s delta region. With Chevron’s help, the organization has been able to help nearly 4,000 people raise their annual income by 92 percent in various agricultural industries. Chevron has also made huge progress combating Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemic by donating over $60 million since 2008. With help from Chevron’s partnerships with organizations such as Pact, Born Africa Free and The Global Fund, they have made positive changes in reducing mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

General Mills

In 2008, the famous cereal giant, General Mills, launched the Partners in Food Solutions. A nonprofit with the goal of bringing improved food production as well as food processing expertise to small and medium-sized food processors in African nations. Since its establishment, the organization has helped with food production in the African countries of Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The organization has also gained the support of other major U.S. companies such as Hershey’s and Cargill to further increase their influence and accomplish feats such as strengthening food security across the continent, improving the nutrition of African grown and produced foods and increasing economic development by expanding the competitiveness of Africa’s food processing sector.

These examples of how U.S. companies are helping to alleviate poverty in Africa show a growing trend by big businesses to invest in struggling communities. Not only because of the positive philanthropic impact behind their multi-million-dollar donations, but also because of the huge potential a healthy and prosperous Africa could bring to them as consumers. No matter the reason behind the initiative, however, the progress made by these seemingly unconventional donors has brought undeniable change to millions struggling to maintain basic necessities that others often take for granted.

– Alexander Capuano
Photo: Flickr

living conditions in mauritania
The country of Mauritania is located in West Africa. It encompasses a land area of 1,030,700 square kilometers and has a population of more than 4,600,000. This makes it the 11th largest African country in terms of land area and 40th in terms of population. Despite its vast size, Mauritania is experiencing a devastating food and nutrition crisis, along with a horrific drought, that is making hunger in Mauritania more acute than it has been in years. The following is a list of the top 10 facts about hunger in Mauritania.

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Mauritania

  1. Hunger is a serious problem: According to the 2018 GHI, Mauritania ranks 88th out of 119 qualifying nations in regard to the number of malnourished citizens within its borders. It has a score of 27.3 on the GHI Severity Scale. Thus, Mauritania is in the category of other countries, like Bangladesh and Burkina Faso, with serious levels of hunger.
  2. Drought cycles: Mauritania is located in the region of Africa south of the Sahara called the Sahel. This region consists of semi-arid grassland and has provided the continent with cash crops like cotton and millet. However, the Sahel receives extremely inconsistent rainfall and has suffered cycles of drought for thousands of years. The drought the Sahel currently endures has occurred since the 70’s. Because this drought is a regional problem, the lives of millions in countries outside Mauritania – like Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and Senegal – are struggling through this drought as well.
  3. Managing drought: In a national report for Integrated Drought Management, Sidi Bobba, Director of Operations and Weather Forecasting and Sid El Kheir Ould Taleb Ekhyar, General Manager of M’Pourié Farm, say that Mauritanian authorities are employing strategies to minimize the impact of Mauritania’s current drought. Some of these strategies include encouraging Mauritanians to diversify their crops and use organic manure. Other strategies are using crops that are resistant to drought and focusing on farming techniques that promote the economy of the soil water.
  4. Reliance on imports: While fish, iron, natural gas, oil, copper, wild animals and gold are all natural resources that Mauritania has in abundance, many Mauritanians specialize in farming and pastoralism. Unfortunately, these sources of income are vulnerable to environmental shock. And because 80 percent of Mauritania’s land is desert that cannot be used for agriculture, this lack of arable land, combined with drought, has made Mauritania into a nation that depends on foreign imports to feed its citizens. In a good agricultural year, 70 percent of Mauritania’s food supply is imported, but in a bad agricultural year, 85 percent is imported.
  5. Cases of acute malnutrition: In January, UNICEF reported that 130,000 children, including 32,000 children with severe acute malnutrition, would require nutritional care and treatment this year. UNICEF also reported in a Humanitarian Situation Report that 24,521 children with severe acute malnutrition (11,770 girls and 12,751 boys) were admitted for treatment throughout Mauritania. This is 76 percent of the estimated 32,244 cases of severe acute malnutrition for 2018.
  6. Pregnant women and malnutrition: UNICEF also reported that 31,000 pregnant and lactating women would require nutritional care and treatment this year. The same report that reveals the number of Mauritanian children treated for severe acute malnutrition also reveals that 32,876 pregnant and lactating women have been offered aid at community health facilities. And 4,373 pregnant and lactating women were treated for acute malnutrition.
  7. Extreme poverty: Mauritania is one of the poorest nations in the world, with a GDP per capita of $4,500. As one of the poorest countries in the world, around 25 percent of Mauritanians live on less than $1.25 per day. This extreme poverty hinders many Mauritanians from accessing health and education services.
  8. Water production: Even though Mauritania is now working towards a solution to its water shortage, the African Development Bank Group reports that Mauritania has been able to meet only half of its estimated daily drinking water requirement of 100,000 m³/day for more than a decade. Its production level is only around 55,000 m³/day from the only available aquifer in the southwestern Mauritanian city Trarza.
  9. Malian refugees: Thousands of Malian refugees, escaping the 2012 coup and civil unrest, have entered Mauritania and the ongoing conflict in Mali continues to bring even more. The UN reported that in March there were 58,000 Malian refugees in Mauritania. In addition to needy Mauritanian citizens, these refugees also rely on food assistance. The UN World Food Program (WFP) and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) give cash-based food assistance to around 55,000 Malians who live in the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania.
  10. Malnutrition a key issue: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has formed a chart that reveals the risk factors that drive the most death and disability combined in Mauritania. This chart ranks malnutrition as the chief risk factor from 2007 to 2017.

When one considers these top 10 facts about hunger in Mauritania, one might not be able to see a bright future for this country arising any time soon. But with the work of organizations around the world who are both providing aid to Mauritania and raising awareness of its food and nutrition crisis, one can hope that one day hunger in Mauritania will no longer be an issue.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Flickr


With a population of nearly 35 million people, Afghanistan is the 39th most populated country in the world. Due to political instability, terrorism and economic insecurity, hunger in Afghanistan is now an extremely prevalent epidemic. Below are important facts about the state of malnutrition in Afghanistan and its possible future.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Afghanistan

  1. As of 2017, Afghanistan had an unemployment rate of almost 24 percent, ranking it as 194th out of 218 total countries. Additionally, 54 percent of its population falls below the poverty line.
  2. Afghanistan’s economy relies heavily on agriculture. About 23 percent of the country’s GDP consists of agriculture. Due partly to natural disasters such as localized floods, dry spells and widespread insect infestations, Afghanistan suffered from a food deficit. In fact, the 2017 crop harvest suffered a 1.5 million ton production deficit in comparison to the 2016 and 5-year average production rate.
  3. Afghanistan developed a high rate of childhood stunting, the impaired growth of a child as a result of malnutrition. In fact, the country has a 41 percent prevalence rate of moderate and severe stunting. Some consequences of stunting include poor cognition, excessive weight gain in later childhood and a higher chance of suffering from nutrition-related disease during adult life.
  4. Wasting is when an individual is considered too thin for their weight or height. It is the result of rapid weight loss or lack of weight gain. Wasting is of medium prevalence in the country of Afghanistan. In fact, between 5 and 10 percent of children in Afghanistan suffer from wasting.
  5. Breastfeeding is extremely beneficial to the growth and development of a child as breast milk meets all the nutritional needs of an infant during the first six months of life. However, only 41 percent of newborns infants receive early initiation of breastmilk in Afghanistan. This trend does not become better as time goes on, as 43 percent of Afghan children are exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life.
  6. Iodine is a mineral found only in a few foods. However, it is necessary for the body to produce thyroid hormones, which in turn regulate the body’s metabolism. Therefore, many meet their recommended amount of iodine by consuming iodized salt, which is salt fortified with iodine. However, only 57 percent of households in Afghanistan consume iodized salt – putting much of the population at higher risk for iodine deficiency disorder.
  7. Anemia is a condition in which the body lacks healthy red blood cells capable of carrying oxygen to tissues throughout the body. It is commonly caused by the lack of essential nutrients, such as iron, folate and vitamin B-12 in the body. One in three Afghan girls suffers from anemia. Prolonged anemia can result in severe fatigue, heart problems and pregnancy complications.
  8. Vitamin A consists of a group of fat-soluble retinoids necessary for immune function, vision, reproduction and cell communication. Vitamin A deficiency is highly prevalent in Afghan children aged six to 59 months. However, due to the implementation of widespread nutrition programs, 98 percent of the Afghan population now supplements for vitamin A.
  9. In response to the spread of malnutrition throughout the country, Afghanistan joined the Scaling Up Nutrition movement (SUN). In addition to 59 other countries, Afghanistan will work in a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder space in order to end malnutrition.
  10. By putting an end to hunger in Afghanistan, the country stands to gain other enormous benefits as a well-nourished individual tends to complete more years of school and learn better. Therefore, by reducing malnutrition, Afghanistan will be able to see a boost in its economy, growth and development.

Shreya Gaddipati


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a small nation that consists of a federation of seven emirates along the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula. As of 2017, it is ranked as the eighth richest country in the world, mainly due to its status as a global supplier of fossil fuels. While the country is considered food secure its heavy dependence on food imports coupled with unsustainable agricultural practices and overfishing, pose unique challenges. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about hunger in the United Arab Emirates.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in the United Arab Emirates

  1. In 2018, the United Arab Emirates ranked 31st in the Economist’s Global Food Security Index — in between Hungary and Saudi Arabia — with a score of 72.5 out of 100. The data showed that there has been a slight, but consistent, upward trend in food security over the past seven years in the country.  
  2. About 17 percent of children under the age of 5 in the UAE are malnourished, often resulting in stunted growth. “This figure, if compared to the Western countries, is quite high and is also significant compared to other countries in the world,” said Dr. Mohammed Miqdady, Senior Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterology at Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi.
  3. The economy of the UAE, and particularly the emirate of Dubai, relies heavily on the tourism industry. Many hotels and restaurants feel pressured to produce vast amounts of food for incoming tourists that often does not get eaten. Because of this, food waste is a problem in the UAE, to the extent that more than $3.54 billion worth of food is wasted in the country every year. 
  4. While the UAE is considered to be food secure, food sustainability remains an issue. Out of 67 countries ranked in the Food Sustainability Index, the United Arab Emirates ranked last in terms of overall food sustainability. The country also came in last place as it relates to food loss and waste, and eighth-to-last in terms of sustainable agriculture.
  5. Part of the problem of food sustainability stems from the lack of reliable domestic food production. Less than 5 percent of land in the United Arab Emirates is arable, and the average yearly rainfall is at only 3.85 inches per year. Because of this, nearly 90 percent of the country’s food is imported.
  6. The UAE is predicted to be one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to climate change. Experts predict that agriculture in the UAE may be affected by extreme heat, harmful insects, flooding in some areas of the country and water shortages in others. In addition, the danger of a global food crisis affecting other countries may also affect the UAE, since the country already imports most of its food.
  7. The fishing industry, that has been a consistent source of food security in the country, is on the decline. Research from the Environmental Agency in Abu Dhabi shows that 85 percent of the grouper and rabbitfish populations, two key species in the Arabian Gulf have been depleted. Other species have suffered similar depletion, including the farsh or painted sweetlips, the population of which has been reduced to 7 percent of its original size. This is assumed to be the result of rampant overfishing in the Gulf.
  8. To make matters worse for the fishing industry, many experts have begun to worry about the potential effects of global warming on fish supply in the oceans surround the United Arab Emirates. Higher temperatures and changing oxygen levels could make the ocean surrounding the UAE uninhabitable for many species. In fact, between overfishing and changing ocean climates, 30 percent of all species in the Arabian Gulf are predicted to be extinct by the end of the century. Given the importance of the fishing industry in the UAE, both the economy and the food supply of the country may be drastically affected.
  9. The UAE has turned to technology to find new solutions to an environment inhospitable to food production. One such solution is cloud seeding, a science-based process that involves encouraging water condensation and precipitation by spraying small flares of chemical compounds into the clouds. UAE meteorologists hope that cloud seeding may hold the key to increasing the country’s rainfall and making agriculture more feasible. 
  10. The United Arab Emirates has created a national plan — based on four developmental pillars — to make its way into the top 10 on the food security index by 2021. The plan includes increasing the number of agribusiness companies worldwide that involve UAE companies, improving domestic food production and reducing the amount of food waste in the country by half by 2030. The plan is also concerned with food safety and nutrition in the UAE.

If the UAE can find ways to work around the potential threats of climate change and resources being exhausted, hopefully, the country will be able to create more sustainable food sources for its citizens. 

– Keira Charles

Photo: Unsplash

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in the Syrian Arab Republic
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 815 million people are undernourished worldwide. Of these 815 million individuals, 6.5 million (33 percent of the population) are facing food insecurity or lack reliable access to nutritious food in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War has caused the country’s starvation rate to double. Although various organizations continue to provide food and aid, militias prevent organizations from reaching those who need it most. Other chief contributors resulting from the war include increasing poverty rates and population displacement. To date, over four million people with over 2 million of them being children, are unable to purchase a sufficient supply of food.

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in the Syrian Arab Republic

  1. Various military actors in the war have purposefully starved Syrian civilians. The effects have disproportionately harmed vulnerable individuals such as children, the elderly and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Since militias have been using aid as a political tool, aid workers find it difficult to provide food for the hungry in conflict zones. In March 2018, Human Appeal, a humanitarian aid charity in the U.K., called on the International Criminal Court to start prosecuting those who deliberately starve civilians.
  2. A lack of security, employment opportunities and basic services have led to the world’s largest displacement crisis. In Syria, 6.3 million people are displaced while 5.3 million have taken refuge in nearby countries. While over 720,000 Syrians have returned, new displacements have arisen in northeast Syria, Hama, Aleppo and Idleb Governorates.
  3. The recent conflict in Syria has damaged the economy and pushed almost seven million people into poverty, according to the U.N. Of Syria’s population, 82.5 percent is below the poverty line while 50 percent is unemployed. Additionally, 40 percent of families report they do not have enough food.
  4. When food does become available, Syrians put themselves at risk when attempting to obtain it. According to the Save the Children Federation, there are various reports of individuals being targeted while shopping at supermarkets and local markets. Amjad, a Syrian resident, said: “The shelling happened every day…it was not always day or night, you never knew when it would happen. The clashes between the armed groups would happen all the time, too; shooting everywhere. It was impossible to go and find food.”
  5. Most food shortages have been caused by a significant increase in food prices. The price of some of the most essential food items has increased by 100 percent in recent years. Many families have become impoverished by conflict and are unable to cope. An estimated 50 percent of households have reduced their intake of daily meals and 30 percent of adults are prioritizing children by limiting their consumption.
  6. Breastfeeding mothers and babies who are not breastfed in Syria do not receive the support necessary to ensure proper nourishment for development. This puts Syrian children at risk of dying from a lack of sufficient nutrients, developing malnutrition and having limited access to medical professionals who are familiar with treating malnutrition. Without nutrients, children are also at a higher risk of getting a disease, especially with Syria’s shortage of clean water.
  7. Prior to the conflict, agriculture was the main sector of Syria’s economy and contributed 18 percent to the GDP. Since the start of the war, agriculture and infrastructure have collapsed, costing over $16 billion in damages and loss. Despite an increase in wheat production and access to farmland, crops fail to sell due to high costs.
  8. The increase in violence, road closures and proliferation checkpoints has hindered humanitarian organizations’ ability to reach various parts of the country. This limits the United Nations to only providing aid in areas not impacted by conflict. Due to these restrictions, only half of 2.4 million civilians in Aleppo, Syria received humanitarian aid in 2013. Additionally, territories controlled by the government do not always allow aid workers to access civilians despite the need.
  9. Rise Against Hunger is an organization that utilizes volunteers in their mission to end world hunger. Volunteers package numerous meals that are packed with nutrients to nourish the world’s hungry. Rise Against Hunger has served and provided the Syrian Arab Republic with almost 550,000 meals.
  10. The World Food Programme (WFP) is responding to Syria’s food crisis in various ways. WFP provides over four million people with monthly food rations and over 900 schools in Syria with nutritious snacks. WFP also offers nutrition support to mothers, breastfeeding mothers and children.

The developing country of the Syrian Arab Republic is still enduring food insecurity and a lack of humanitarian aid. The majority of the population is facing various consequences of the Syrian Civil War, making it difficult to improve their livelihoods and find food. These top 10 facts about hunger in the Syrian Arab Republic highlight the need for crucial humanitarian aid.

– Diane Adame
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in America
The United States (U.S.) is home to millions of people and considered one of the most developed countries in the world. However, hunger in the U.S. still remains a significant problem.

The National Commission on Hunger officially defines hunger as “a situation in which a member of a household does not have enough money to provide for all the needs of the family.” Families that suffer from hunger in the U.S. are struggling through many other disadvantages that come from food insecurity.

10 Facts About Hunger in America

  1. Statistically, about one in six people in the U.S.A. face hunger as one of the biggest concerns in life. For children, more than 20 percent are at risk of hunger and malnutrition. This means that about 40 million people struggle with hunger in the U.S. and 12 million children are unable to get one decent meal a day.
  2. The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the lack of access to enough food to feed the immediate family at all times. In 2013, it was found that 17.5 million households in the U.S. were food insecure. This means that these people go day-to-day without an actual meal throughout the day.
  3. The dilemma of those with food insecurity does not stop with just choosing how to supply food. A 2014 study by Feeding America found that its members are always conflicted about what to spend their money on. This was because people have a limited amount of resources yet have other priorities in life. The study found that 69 percent of the members had to choose between food and utilities, 67 percent had to choose between food and transportation costs and 66 percent had to choose between food and medical care.
  4. Lack of nutritional food increases the number of health problems because the body is unable to protect and nurture the person. Food insecurity can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity because people with food insecurity are usually without a lot of savings, and so if they had the chance to purchase and consume unhealthy food such as fast food, they would take it.
  5. Children who are unable to acquire the necessary nutrition to develop and grow properly are prone to more problems. For example, children who are deprived of food experience developmental impairments such as language and motor skills. Such impairments can also lead to children struggling in school because they are more likely to repeat a grade and display behavioral problems.
  6. Children who come from households with food insecurity can participate in school lunch programs. In a typical school day, it was found that around 70.5 percent of enrolled students receive free or reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program.
  7. With 42.3 million people from the U.S. currently partaking in the program, it is evident that the people who use this program the most are those who are below the poverty line. With about 59 percent of households with food insecurity participating in federal nutrition assistance programs, these programs serve as one of the best available for those with hunger in the United States of America.
  8. One of the United States’ nutritional programs is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps its participants with the cost of buying food. This aid can be done through food stamps or funds sent to those in need. In the fiscal year of 2015, an average SNAP recipient received about $4.23 a day to use for food. While this may not seem much, it is still more than what these individuals have on a daily basis, which makes a difference. Eighty-three percent of SNAP households have incomes below the poverty line — every cent counts in trying to alleviate their food insecurity.
  9. Another federal program is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). As of 2014, WIC serves about 6.4 million infants and children under five, and 2 million women.
  10. Hunger in the U.S. prevails not because of the lack of food, but rather because some people are unable to lift themselves out of poverty and food insecurity due to the unequal income distribution. It is a true struggle to provide anything for a family without funds, so the root of the problem comes from the lack of livable income and employment opportunities.

Hunger in the U.S.

For those with the resources and means, hunger can be eliminated with a quick trip to the grocery store; however, it must be understood that is not the way of life for many citizens living among us. These facts about hunger in the U.S. show that even in developed countries, there is still a long way to go until no one suffers the pain of poverty and food insecurity.

-Jenny S Park
Photo: Flickr

Challenges Facing Refugees in SerbiaIn 2016, 65.6 million people were forced to leave their homes, and these people are known as refugees. Refugees are usually forced to leave their countries for one of three reasons: victimization, violence or war. Refugees everywhere face immense hardships, and the challenges facing refugees in Serbia are widespread.

Serbia is mainly viewed as a stop along the way for refugees hoping to reach countries in central Europe. In 2015 and the first part of 2016, over 920,000 refugees traveled to Serbia. According to the European Commission, the shutting down of the Western Balkans migration route left 4,146 refugees stranded in Serbia.

Kimmie Whicher, a student at George Mason University, traveled to Serbia on scholarship from Boren. There, she worked with a small non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide food and clothes for hundreds of refugees in a camp in Belgrade, Serbia. In the nine months that Whicher was there, her NGO grew from feeding about 300 to upwards of 800 men.

Approximately 2.6 million refugees live in camps; many of these refugees are living in extremely harsh conditions. In Whicher’s experience, here are some of the challenges facing refugees in Serbia.

1. Poor Living Conditions

One of the challenges facing refugees in Serbia is poor living conditions. According to Caritas, eight out of 10 refugees in Serbia stay in government shelters, the rest must sleep outside in public parks. Among the hardships that come with living outside is the extremely cold weather. Whicher recalled the winter weather in Serbia: “The cold is absolutely ruthless. Our organization that cooked for these men would take hot kettles of boiling water and when we tried to clean up after cooking we would pour it on the table and it would freeze the second it would hit the table.”

Winter temperatures in Serbia are often below freezing. Many refugees are left no choice but to sleep in public parks where they risk getting frostbite, among other conditions due to prolonged exposure to the cold weather. According to The Independent, many children don’t even have gloves or shoes to keep them protected from the snow.

2. No Protection by the Government

A common hardship for many refugees is the lack of safety and protection provided by the government. According to Whicher, “It was a very miserable place. A harsh reality for many of these boys was that this is the border of Europe, so when you’re living here and you’re trying to get through, if you go to a camp you’re probably going to get deported or the police are going to break your phone or take your clothes.”

3. Hunger

Another one of the challenges facing refugees in Serbia is hunger. Refugees have to scrape by on whatever they can get to eat in a day. Small NGOs such as Whicher’s can provide some meals for the refugees, but the majority of those escaping their home countries are still underfed. According to Whicher, “One hot meal a day was our motto.” In this way, organizations can begin to help refugees by providing food and clothes, but they do not have the means necessary to help every refugee.

4. Worsening Physical and Mental Conditions

Due to these hardships, refugees struggle with new or worsening sickness. Due to the freezing temperatures in the winter, refugees in Serbia suffer from frostbite. According to The Independent, in order to escape the freezing temperatures, refugees light fires in their makeshift shelters, which further leads to respiratory problems from the smoke. However, physical sickness is not the only sickness refugees endure. Whicher recalled her experience: “You would literally watch them lose their minds… We saw this one man deteriorate to the point where if he were to go back to school, he would have to be in a special education classroom.”

Despite the harsh reality for many refugees in Serbia, organizations are making great strides to improve refugee conditions. Just by supplying food and clothes to these refugees, these organizations such as the one for which Whicher volunteered, are saving the lives of many.

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr

poverty in ZimbabweAfter 57 years of colonial rule, African guerilla forces wrested control of the territory that had been Southern Rhodesia since 1923. By 1980, Robert Mugabe was elected to the position of Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Following Zimbabwe’s independence, the economy, which was mainly supported by the agricultural industry, fell on tough times. In 2000, the government chose to instigate a policy of land redistribution from whites to native Africans. This reorganization placed the fate of the country’s economy in the hands of comparatively inexperienced farmers.

Cash crop production, once a huge contributor to the Gross Net Product, was nearly lost as a result of unyielding droughts. Additionally, those farmers who produced the dietary staple maize faced further difficulty in production, due to the government’s lack of support in areas such as water management.

To further demonstrate the severity of the country’s situation, look no further than the 72.3 percent of the population living in poverty in Zimbabwe.

Here are 10 facts to clarify the state of poverty in Zimbabwe:

  1. Since the early 1990s, roughly 20 percent of Zimbabweans have emigrated in search of greater economic prosperity elsewhere. This has left a large gap in the nation’s workforce and knowledge base.
  2. With the majority of males moving from rural agricultural towns to the cities, women are increasingly becoming single heads of household.  
  3. Poverty in Zimbabwe is mainly concentrated in the northern province of Matabeleland, and in the southeastern regions of Manicaland and Masvingo, where water is extremely scarce.
  4. As of 2015, 16 percent of Zimbabweans were food insecure, meaning they were unable to obtain nutritious and plentiful food for their families.
  5. Just 7.6 percent of farmers in Zimbabwe practice conservation agriculture, a method of soil management that ensures nutritious soil and increases crop production.
  6. Zimbabwe suffered from 12 years of sanctions imposed by the U.N. in opposition to President Mugabe’s continued rule after the disputed election of 2002. In 2015, the U.N. lifted those sanctions and offered the government $273 million in aid, which was intended for collaborative development projects.
  7. About 28 percent of children in Zimbabwe are stunted from a lack of adequate nutrition in their diets.
  8. Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product has been declining since the 2008 financial crisis. In the years immediately following the crisis, it fell by 17 percent.
  9. 86 percent of households in which the woman is widowed are impoverished.
  10. 57 percent of women living in rural areas use contraceptives. The maternal mortality rate is 960 out of 100,000 births, with a dramatic increase in rural areas.

The question now is whether or not Zimbabwe will be able to improve its situation in the coming years. Unfortunately, with the economic growth rate dropping to just 0.5 percent between 2015 and 2016, there may be a need for an increase in external development aid if there is any hope of reversing the effects of poverty in Zimbabwe.

-Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in UzbekistanHunger in Uzbekistan remains a serious issue, yet it is not recognized as a national one.

Close to 75 percent of the working-class population in Uzbekistan live in rural areas, and thus the income of this stratum of the population typically remains low, which exacerbates the lack of food security. This level of poverty has its roots in Uzbekistan’s independence.

Both the domestic and foreign policy of Uzbekistan are inimical to any significant changes that would address the hunger that plagues the country. Since the main priority of such policies is to keep the ruling regime in power, securing food and combating hunger is simply not a huge priority.

Another cause of the lack of food security is the slow growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), which in recent years was as low as seven percent, which is not sufficient for the steadily increasing population.

Furthermore, the economy of Uzbekistan, in regards to agriculture, is largely confined to producing cotton. This lack of diversification exposes Uzbekistan to increased economic risk. This problem is exacerbated by rising food prices as well.

Despite all of these indicators painting a bleak picture of Uzbekistan in the long run, recent reports have shown a decrease in hunger. From 2000 to 2014 the number of undernourished Uzbeks were reduced to less than half of what they previously were. Currently, this number is at around 1.7 million. While much work has to be done, this is a great improvement.

Additionally, unlike the GDP, the rate of agricultural production increased gradually at about 6 percent every year from 2000 to 2007. Furthermore, the wheat production grew nine-fold from 1991 to 2006. These stark improvements are largely a result of the isolationist approach Uzbekistan has adopted in terms of its foreign policy, which has both its pros and cons.

One of downsides that the Uzbeks have experienced as a result of this foreign policy has already been mentioned: the aversion of the rigid regime to take chances that may benefit its population but would otherwise risk its own stability, such as lifting restrictions on trade. The pros of this are increased self-sufficiency that has spurred the growth in certain aspects of the agricultural sector.

There is much work that needs to be done in order to reduce hunger in Uzbekistan. The country has improved in some ways but further work is needed in order to develop a sustainable model that adequately addresses the needs of the citizenry.

– Mohammad Hasan Javed

Photo: Flickr

 

Honduras

Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America, with more than 66 percent of the population living in poverty. In rural areas, it is even worse, with about one in five Hondurans living on less than $1.90 per day. Poverty in Honduras has been exacerbated by several issues.

 

Here are four main causes of poverty in Honduras:

 

Hunger and Malnutrition

Honduras has a population of over nine million people, yet hunger proves to be a severe issue, with over 1.5 million facing hunger at some point each year.  Chronic malnutrition also proves to be a tremendous problem; approximately 49 percent of people living in rural areas experience malnutrition, with a stunting rate of 34 percent. According to the World Health Organization, stunting refers to a child being too short compared to the Child Growth Standards median. The stunting rate is largely related to frequent hunger and chronic malnutrition.

Natural Disaster and Drought

Honduras is considered to be one of the most vulnerable countries to natural disasters. Hurricanes, heavy rain, flooding and frequent drought often destroy crops. Rural populations are severely dependent upon agriculture, as a source of livelihood and food security. The country’s GDP also relies heavily on agriculture, as its two main exports are bananas and coffee. In times of severe weather conditions or natural disaster, many vulnerable populations are at risk for hunger and food insecurity, which in turn continues to perpetuate poverty in Honduras.

High Unemployment

High unemployment rates have also contributed to the causes of poverty in Honduras. As of 2016, unemployment rates were at nearly 15 percent, which is more than triple the unemployment rate in the United States. Unemployment often increases the risk of poverty, as individuals are not able to adequately provide for themselves or their families.

Violence

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, with 59 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016. This high rate of violence costs an estimated 10 percent of the annual GDP. The prevalence of violence and homicide is largely related to drug trafficking and gang warfare. Crime and violence often negatively impact the economy, as resources that could be used elsewhere to provide additional food security or a better educational system are instead allocated to deal with the issue of crime. This, in turn, perpetuates poverty in Honduras.

While the causes of poverty in Honduras appear to be deeply rooted in a variety of issues, many organizations such as the World Food Programme have provided support and services to people in need by providing well balanced meals to school children, food to vulnerable populations following a natural disaster as well as creating a program called Purchase for Progress. This a poverty reduction effort that supports agricultural production for small-scale farmers, encouraging Hondurans to buy local products while also helping to lower unemployment rates and provide farmers an opportunity for greater financial security. These efforts, coupled with a greater sense of awareness, can help to reduce poverty in Honduras.

Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr