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hunger in Serbia
The Republic of Serbia, located in the Balkans region of Southeast Europe, has a population of approximately 7 million citizens and ranks 25 out of 117 qualifying countries struggling with hunger, per the Global Hunger Index. Hunger additionally coincides with low food security — a detrimental status that many inhabitants face due to lack of money for food or the absence of other resources for them to use as food. The United States Department of Agriculture defines low food security as the multiple reports of “reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet.” As Serbia’s persistent hunger crisis continues to affect its inhabitants, many will encounter illness and death because of the insufficient amounts of nutrition consumed. Here are five facts about hunger in Serbia.

5 Facts About Hunger in Serbia

  1. Global Hunger Index: Serbia has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) score of 6.5; a value that the country’s indicators of undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality determines. All of these variables factor into caloric deficiencies and poor nutrition statistics throughout the country. On the GHI Severity Scale, a score of 6.5 is considerably low.
  2. Malnourishment: According to Macrotrends — 5.7% of Serbia’s population had gone undernourished from 2016 to 2017. Those that the study accounted for did not meet the dietary energy requirements because of their inadequate food intake.
  3. Children: Children under the age of 10 are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and can suffer from being underweight and thin. According to a cross-sectional study in regard to hunger in Serbia by Cambridge University Press — Serbian school children (ages 6 to 9) attending schools without any health-focused educational programs were “1.57 times more likely to be thin than peers enrolled in schools with such programs.”
  4. Disease: Coronary heart disease and heart inflammation (also known as myocarditis) are the two leading causes of death in Serbia. A study that the Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences conducted found a link between malnutrition and cardiac debility — especially in children. Those children experiencing malnourishment are likely to experience alterations to their body compositions as they mature, including a loss of skeletal and heart muscle mass as well as other cardiac abnormalities that electrolyte, mineral or vitamin deficiencies cause. In 2018, coronary heart disease contributed to 22.16% of total deaths in Serbia, while myocarditis contributed to 16.02% of total deaths.
  5. Dietary Assessment Tool: The Network for Capacity Development in Nutrition in Central and Eastern Europe and Balkan countries (NCDNCEE) created a dietary intake assessment tool to identify areas of hunger and challenges of malnutrition within the region. By utilizing pre-existing food composition databases, dietary studies and micronutrient suggestions — the Diet Asses & Plan (DAP) platform can identify any nutritional concerns within the region.

A Need for Strategic Intervention

As the issues of malnutrition and hunger in Serbia continue to affect the populace, the country’s overall health will continue to decline — unless the country devises and implements a premeditated plan of action. Despite the many hunger reduction and alleviation strategies that have emerged to aid in these issues, the Republic of Serbia still has ample room to enhance its citizens’ nutritional health and well-being for a much healthier future.

Isabella Socias
Photo: Flickr

The hunger and deprivation that plagued refugee camps during the Kosovo War inspired Clint Borgen to found The Borgen Project, and one of the countries that saw the largest influx of suffering refugees during that time was Serbia. Though conditions today are far better than they were in 1999, hunger in Serbia is still a problem. Here are 10 facts about the past and present conditions.

  1. In 1999, the U.N. World Food Program distributed 145,000 tons of food to Serbia, feeding approximately 890,000 undernourished people. At that time, the WFP compared conditions in Serbia, where 10 percent of the population faced a humanitarian crisis, to those in North Korea.
  2. In 2008, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) was 7.8 in Serbia and has since dropped to 7.1 in 2016. The GHI uses undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality in their formula for determining hunger levels.
  3. The proportion of people experiencing hunger in Serbia, meaning they have insufficient caloric intake, was 6.9 percent in 2016, an improvement from 7.4 percent in 2008.
  4. The prevalence of wasting in children younger than five, which means their weight is low relative to their height, was 3.9 percent, down from four percent in 2008. Wasting is a measure of acute malnutrition.
  5. The prevalence of stunting in children younger than five, which means their height is low for their age, was six percent, down from 7.4 percent in 2008. Stunting is representative of chronic malnutrition.
  6. The mortality rate for children under the age of five is .7 percent, a small improvement from .8 percent in 2008.
  7. Of 113 index countries, the Global Food Security Index ranks Serbia 47th in affordability, 65th in availability and 52nd in quality and safety. Their overall rank for food security is 59.4, making them 52nd overall of the 113 countries.
  8. The Global Food Security Index also reports that hunger in Serbia leaves the average intensity of food deprivation at eight kilocalories per person per day. Each day, Serbia’s population lacks a total of 336,00,000 kilocalories.
  9. Because the nation has been a member of the U.N. since 2000, hunger in Serbia is a major factor in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda is comprised of 17 goals, the second of which is “zero hunger.”
  10. Because it is far cheaper, it was reported that Serbians ate three times more bread than the average EU citizen in 2014 (89 kilograms/year), and close to a third of the amount of meat, at 35 kilograms per year, compared to 90 in Germany, 91 in Italy and 102 in France.

Conditions have been steadily improving to help eliminate hunger in Serbia. Where the country faced a humanitarian crisis at the beginning of the century, it is now working with the U.N. to meet a goal of zero hunger by 2030. The statistics concerning Global Hunger and Global Food Security clearly illustrate the successes of aid programs and domestic growth in the country, while the presence of malnutrition and child mortality reiterates that until there is no hunger, there is always more to be done.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr