Macedonia FYR (Former Yugoslav Republic) is a country in the crossroads: it is an emerging middle-class country, yet it has a hungry population in many areas. But great strides have been made over the last few years to decrease the number of people who are hungry, especially malnourished children.

The United Nations created the Millennium Development Goals where one goal would be to cut worldwide hunger in half by 2015. For the three years that indicators were completed for Macedonia FYR, the percentage of children under five moderately to severely underweight has dropped from 1.9 in 1999 to 1.8 in 2005 to 1.3 in 2011.

While these numbers do not seem particularly large or dramatic, they are only the percentages of children who are greatly malnourished. The numbers do not indicate the other children that might be slightly malnourished or food insecure. However, those children and their families still suffer from the effects of poverty and hunger.

Hunger in Macedonia FYR is tied to the historic economic instability of the region. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), “when prices [of food] rise, consumers often shift to cheaper, less nutritious foods, heightening the risks of micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition.” Even though malnutrition and hunger in Macedonia FYR are less than many other developing countries, in 2006 UNICEF still reported 17 deaths out of 1000 children under five.

There is no delineation in the study between what caused those deaths, yet most can be tied to malnutrition or diseases caused by poor nutrition. Hunger is inherited; an undernourished woman will give birth to an undernourished child. Yet the opposite is also true. According to the WFP, “well-nourished women have healthier, heavier babies whose immune systems are stronger for life. A healthy, well-fed child is also more likely to attend school.”

Malnourished children are more likely to have life-long health problems and not attend school, which creates a state where the economy sees a downturn and hunger rises again. When hunger is reduced, an individual can live longer and more productively, strengthening the economy. This very trend can be seen in Macedonia FYR.

The World Bank has assisted in boosting the nation’s economy, therefore helping to reduce hunger in Macedonia FYR. The country “has been a member of the World Bank Group since 1994 and currently receives funding from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.” The World Bank also says that Macedonia FYR “is an upper-middle-income country that has made great strides in reforming its economy over the last decade.”

How does a “middle-income country” still have hunger and malnutrition at levels high enough to be part of the Millennium Development Goals program?

UNICEF says that “disparities in access to health and education between rural and urban areas are obstacles towards achieving the low mortality rate of Western European countries.” The rural areas still need much more help before hunger in Macedonia FYR can be completely eradicated.

Great achievements have been made in helping those who are hungry in Macedonia FYR, but the number of children suffering from malnutrition has not been cut in half yet like the goal states. With the country’s economy becoming stronger and more children receiving good food and an education, it is conceivable that hunger in Macedonia FYR will be eradicated in the near future.

– Megan Ivy

Sources: UNICEF, World Bank, UNICEF, UN, World Food Programme
Photo: Jstor Daily