Rise Against Hunger: An Organization Striving to Create a Tangible Impact

With an alarming 805 million people in the world impacted by hunger, organizations such as Rise Against Hunger are striving to do their part in alleviating malnourished and hungry nations. Because poverty is largely caused by conflict and lack of resources, it is said to be the principal cause of hunger. Rise Against Hunger ignites the passion and drive to address this reality by doing its part in feeding millions and ending global hunger.

What Does Rise Against Hunger Do?

Established in 1998, Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization with aspirations to end hunger by 2030. Its daily task is to distribute food and aid to the world’s most vulnerable. The organization’s 2017 impact report shows that well over 1.4 million lives were impacted by this single organization in 36 different countries, sending out 76 million meals. A crucial factor in its success can be accredited to its four pillars toward ending world hunger:

  1. Grow movement
  2. Empower communities
  3. Nourish lives
  4. Emergency relief

An effective tool it uses for growing the movement is the volunteering events it hosts throughout different universities and other organizations. This allows people to come together as a community to take action with Rise Against Hunger by packaging meals for distribution to the world’s hungry.

The organization empowers communities by educating and advocating about topics such as sustainable agriculture and hosting clean water projects. Rise Against Hunger also nourishes lives by giving warm, sustainable meals to those who are in dire need by responding to disasters efficiently, therefore providing effective emergency relief with these prepackaged meals.

Who Does the Organization Help?

Tom Barbitta, the Rise Against Hunger Chief Marketing Director, emphasizes the importance of how education plays a vital role in global poverty and how this, as a result, affects the hunger scale of a nation. “A country has never been able to lift itself out of poverty without first hitting a 40 percent literacy rate,” he told The Borgen Project. “Because of this, around 40 percent of the meals distributed from Rise Against Hunger end up in school feeding programs.”

Children who are living in severe poverty have to spend their time begging for food, rather than receiving an education that will benefit them in the future. The organization keeps this in the forefront of its work and Baritta comments that “we hope to empower young minds to take control of their own community.”

Aspirations Become Reality

A 12-year-old child from Zambia, Aswali, who once did not have adequate access to food, now receives meals each day from Rise Against Hunger distributed by Family Legacy Missions. He is also able to provide food for his family while attending school, decreasing the global poverty rate.

Meals from Rise Against Hunger are also distributed to vocational training facilities. In places such as West Africa, when the people in these facilities have access to meals, they are able to focus on their skills which will, in turn, give them an income that allows them to allocate more food for their families and live life on their own terms.

Rise Against Hunger is an organization that makes valuable efforts toward putting an end to the widespread global hunger. Its impact remains prevalent, with thousands of volunteers joining each year creating an effective tool for growing the movement. Rise Against Hunger understands the importance of every individual being able to make a viable difference toward diminishing poverty.

– Angelina Gillispie

Photo: Flickr

How many people are starving around the world?In the U.S., it is not uncommon to hear the all-too-familiar phrase about “the starving children in Africa” who would “love to have that food you are wasting!” Seemingly daily reminders of how many people are starving around the world permeate Western society, whether through billboards, commercials, requests to donate to X or Y charity at the grocery checkout or homeless people begging at stoplights.

Despite all these reminders, the U.S. ranks lower than the average developed country in the Commitment to Development Index. Designed by the Center for Global Development (CDG), the Commitment to Development Index measures developed countries’ contributions to providing necessary aid in seven fields: aid, finance, technology, environment, trade, security and migration. Out of the 27 countries measured, the U.S. ranks twenty-third overall.

In the meantime, approximately 793 million people are starving around the world, according to the U.N. That makes up about 11 percent of the population. Of the 793 million, more than 100 million suffer from severe malnutrition and risk starving to death. Of the 793 million, 780 million, or 98 percent, inhabit developing countries. One million children under the age of five die from malnourishment each year, comprising 45 percent of all child deaths up to age five.

A person living comfortably in a developed country may find it difficult to address issues like global poverty or think about how many people are starving around the world. Though not necessarily intentional, this lack of awareness leads to inaction. When local political figures do not hear anything from the people they represent on certain issues, they focus on addressing other topics about which people seem to care more. As a result, bills regarding hunger do not get passed, people do not volunteer their energy and nothing gets done about global poverty.

Considering how many people are starving around the world today, people in developed countries must take action, even just by calling or emailing their political representatives about addressing global poverty. Though it seems like an insurmountable task, enough mobilization beginning at the individual level can help to eradicate poverty once and for all.

– Francesca Colella

Photo: Flickr

current global issues

Among all the good in the world, and all the progress being made in global issues, there is still much more to be done. Given the overwhelming disasters that nations, including the U.S., have been or still are going through, it is important to be aware of the most pressing global issues.

Top 10 Current Global Issues

  1. Climate Change
    The global temperatures are rising, and are estimated to increase from 2.6 degrees Celsius to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. This would cause more severe weather, crises with food and resources and the spread of diseases. The reduction of greenhouse emissions and the spreading of education on the importance of going green can help make a big difference. Lobbying governments and discussing policies to reduce carbon emissions and encouraging reforestation is an effective way of making progress with climate change.
  2. Pollution
    Pollution is one of the most difficult global issues to combat, as the umbrella term refers to ocean litter, pesticides and fertilizers, air, light and noise pollution. Clean water is essential for humans and animals, but more than one billion people don’t have access to clean water due to pollution from toxic substances, sewage or industrial waste. It is of the utmost importance that people all over the world begin working to minimize the various types of pollution, in order to better the health of the planet and all those living on it.
  3. Violence
    Violence can be found in the social, cultural and economic aspects of the world. Whether it is conflict that has broken out in a city, hatred targeted at a certain group of people or sexual harassment occurring on the street, violence is a preventable problem that has been an issue for longer than necessary. With continued work on behalf of the governments of all nations, as well as the individual citizens, the issue can be addressed and reduced.
  4. Security and Well Being
    The U.N. is a perfect example of preventing the lack of security and well being that is a serious global issue. Through its efforts with regional organizations and representatives that are skilled in security, the U.N. is working toward increasing the well being of people throughout the world.
  5. Lack of Education
    More than 72 million children throughout the globe that are of the age to be in primary education are not enrolled in school. This can be attributed to inequality and marginalization as well as poverty. Fortunately, there are many organizations that work directly with the issue of education in providing the proper tools and resources to aid schools.
  6. Unemployment
    Without the necessary education and skills for employment, many people, particularly 15- to 24-year olds, struggle to find jobs and create a proper living for themselves and their families. This leads to a lack of necessary resources, such as enough food, clothing, transportation and proper living conditions. Fortunately, there are organizations throughout the world teaching people in need the skills for jobs and interviewing, helping to lift people from the vicious cycle of poverty.
  7. Government Corruption
    Corruption is a major cause of poverty considering how it affects the poor the most, eroding political and economic development, democracy and more. Corruption can be detrimental to the safety and well being of citizens living within the corrupted vicinity, and can cause an increase in violence and physical threats without as much regulation in the government.
  8. Malnourishment & Hunger
    Currently there are 795 million people who do not have enough to eat. Long-term success to ending world hunger starts with ending poverty. With fighting poverty through proper training for employment, education and the teaching of cooking and gardening skills, people who are suffering will be more likely to get jobs, earn enough money to buy food and even learn how to make their own food to save money.
  9. Substance Abuse
    The United Nations reports that, by the beginning of the 21st century, an estimated 185 million people over the age of 15 were consuming drugs globally. The drugs most commonly used are marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, amphetamine stimulants, opiates and volatile solvents. Different classes of people, both poor and rich, partake in substance abuse, and it is a persistent issue throughout the world. Petitions and projects are in progress to end the global issue of substance abuse.
  10. Terrorism
    Terrorism is an issue throughout the world that causes fear and insecurity, violence and death. Across the globe, terrorists attack innocent people, often without warning. This makes civilians feel defenseless in their everyday lives. Making national security a higher priority is key in combating terrorism, as well as promoting justice in wrongdoings to illustrate the enforcement of the law and the serious punishments for terror crimes.

With so many current global issues that require immediate attention, it is easy to get discouraged. However, the amount of progress that organizations have made in combating these problems is admirable, and the world will continue to improve in the years to come. By staying active in current events, and standing up for the health and safety of all humans, everyone is able to make a difference in changing the fate of our world.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr



Hunger in GuineaSituated in West Africa, Guinea is a country populated with around 12 million people. As in many impoverished countries, hunger and malnutrition are issues primarily affecting the rural areas of the nation. Over half of the population lives in extremely poor conditions, and 17.5 percent are food-insecure. Coupled with poor socioeconomic conditions and a weak government, natural disasters and disease further add to the chronic malnourishment issue. There are several programs, however, that have contributed to alleviating the consequences of hunger in Guinea over the past few decades.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working on reducing hunger in Guinea since the mid-1960s. In the time the organization has spent in Guinea, WFP has effectively improved nourishment by promoting education programs in schools, providing nourishment to women and children specifically with HIV, tuberculosis and Ebola and promoting locally grown foods. Another area of focus for food insecurity that the WFP is addressing is access to healthcare supplies by supporting government incentives for air transport.

Similarly, Action Against Hunger (AAH) is helping Guinea move forward in food security and nutrition. AAH began work in the mid-1990s and has worked to fight disease such as cholera, while also promoting better practices relating to hunger in Guinea. AAH assisted 264,124 people in 2016.

Earlier in 2017, two native Guineans were celebrated on International Women’s Day for their contributions to the fight against hunger in Guinea. The food security, resiliency and archeology project team of the Stop Hunger foundation awarded the two women for their work in involving local parboiling in schools in rural areas that experience food-insecurity. Supported by local government, the program is an excellent example of mobilization of local communities and the effectiveness that larger nonprofits have in sparking efforts toward reliving hunger in Guinea.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr

Guinea Persists
More than half of Guinea’s population lives below the poverty line despite the country’s great mineral wealth. Guinea ranks 178th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. Poverty in Guinea is an immense problem, as 40% of children below the age of five are chronically malnourished.

Foreign investments have unfortunately been dropping due to political, social and governmental crises, including emerging tensions with refugee populations coming from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

There are around 25 foreign international mining companies that currently run operations in Guinea, as well as four domestic mining companies. Guinea has the largest export of bauxite in the world — the primary source of aluminum — as well as possessing vast iron ore, gold and diamond reserves, but, unfortunately, this generation of wealth is lost on the population, as the country gains little compensation for its mineral riches.

Guinea has also been faced with an Ebola crisis during the global outbreak between 2014-2015. It is clear that it had a profound effect on various social aspects of Guinean life. Unemployment doubled in urban areas, and many families withdrew their children from school.

Today, Guinea’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has rebounded by 5.2% from the shock of the Ebola crisis, but, unfortunately, the growing economy has been unable to reduce poverty in Guinea, as it persists in rural areas where 67% of the population resides.

The current government of Guinea headed by President Condé, the country’s first democratically elected leader, received help from the World Bank. Jointly, they started the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Project. The project aims to cut poverty in Guinea by investing in transport and energy, as well as cutting back red tape on job and business creation. By increasing public transit connectivity, President Condé hopes to allow rural workers to go to work in the city. As of now, these workers are landlocked and dependent on subsistence farming for a living.

Guinea has a bright future ahead if it is able to keep its current foreign investment status. With the help of foreign investors, it will be able to continue to develop its MSME Development Project.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

The World Food Program (WFP) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to fighting hunger and promoting food security. As a branch of the U.N. the WFP is funded solely through voluntary donations which allow the organization to reach around 80 million people annually in 80 countries.

Though the WFP has a strong impact on the battle against world hunger, over 795 million people remain undernourished globally. Often people in developing countries become undernourished when faced with external factors like natural disasters or political instability. These factors can cause entire communities to lose access to necessities like food and water.

Currently, southern Africa is experiencing drought due to the year’s El Nino weather pattern — it is believed that Malawi was hit the hardest of the countries affected. The drought coupled with severe flash floods has devastated the country’s crops.

Up to 40 percent of the population of Malawi may need emergency assistance. In an attempt to provide food relief to vulnerable populations like those in Malawi, the WFP created an app called ShareTheMeal.

ShareTheMeal allows users to help those in need with the touch of a button. By choosing to share a meal, users donate 50 cents, the cost to feed one child for one day, to school children in Malawi. Of course, more than one meal can be donated at a time, but allowing users to donate as little as 50 cents makes food relief an affordable act for all.

At this time, WFP is focusing ShareTheMeal towards food relief in Malawi, but the app has been used to help several other vulnerable communities since its inception in the summer of 2015. In fact, the ShareTheMeal website states that donations on the app have provided over 7.5 million meals to those in need.

Recently, between June and July of 2016, all donations on the app went to feeding Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. The donations from those two months were enough to provide one year worth of food to 1,500 children.

While these numbers may seem impressive, the WFP is setting the bar even higher for relief in Malawi. Through ShareTheMeal, the WFP’s goal is to provide 58,000 school children with food for an entire year. If the goal is reached, those 58,000 children will have better chances of staying in school and learning the essential skills that could one day lift them out of poverty.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in NigeriaAfter assessing areas of the country previously cut off from foreign assistance by Boko Haram, the U.N. released a statement on July 1, declaring that 50,000 children in northern Nigeria stand to die from undernourishment and hunger in Nigeria if left untreated.

“Unless we reach these children with treatment, one in five of them will die. We cannot allow that to happen,” stated Jean Gough, Nigeria Representative of UNICEF.

Over the past year, the Nigerian army, with the help of troops from neighboring countries, fought to reclaim territories in the north taken by Boko Haram. The struggle resulted in the displacement of 2.4 million people in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, making food insecurity and malnutrition an emergent issue in these countries.

The violence in northern Nigeria greatly disturbed the supply of food to markets, increasing the cost of basic commodities. However, the recapturing of northern territories allowed humanitarian agencies like MSF to provide aid in the form of medical services and health supplies to the most vulnerable residents of these areas.

In addition, on June 27, the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $13 million to provide immediate life-saving aid to northern Nigeria. Funds will be used to provide food, money for purchasing food, nutritional supplements, and seed and tools for the forthcoming planting season.

Unfortunately, this is only a portion of what needs to be done to end hunger in Nigeria. Conflict between the militant group and the Nigerian army is still ongoing, and the afflicted areas need more rapid assistance.

“While the government and humanitarian organizations have stepped up relief assistance, the situation in these areas requires a much faster and wider response,” said the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Munir Safieldin.

Hopefully increased efforts from international organizations will continue to assist reducing malnutrition and the under-five mortality rate in the country.

Ugochi Ihenatu
Photo: Flickr

A large number of children in Nadjote, a small village located 18 km from the city of Dapaong, suffer from serious malnutrition. In order to combat this suffering, the Togolese government has established a safety net program aiming to financially help the most vulnerable households.

Specifically, the government set up a cash transfer program to provide financial assistance to households with malnutrition-suffering children in Togo.

This program is intended to provide a brighter future for children from the most disadvantaged families. Moreover, this program encourages households to obtain birth certificates for their children, offer them with education and health care.

Abna Kolani is one of the beneficiaries. She gave birth to seven children, but three of them died of malnutrition. As a beneficiary, during the past 12 months, she has received monthly financial assistance of 5,000 CFAF—around $9—for the children’s feeding and education.

According to the World Bank article, Abna noted that “With the money I receive each month to provide my youngest child with better nutrition, I can provide healthier food for all my children. I see a big change in their physical condition— their health and hygiene conditions are much better than before.”

“When they are sick, I can take them to the health center to receive care. In addition, the program has allowed me to send my eldest child to school and now all four have birth certificates.” Abna continued.

The project was launched by the Togolese government in 2013 and supported by the World Bank and the Japanese government.

Cooperating with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the program is aimed for parents with children between the ages of 0 and 24 months in the Kara and Savanes regions where malnutrition rates are extremely high.

Nanifei Lardja is another mother living in Nadjote mentioned in the World Bank article. Naniferi has five children, and she says, “I buy corn for 2,000 francs, soap for 1,000 francs, and small fish for 1,000 francs. I have my small plot for the vegetables I need and put aside the remaining 1,000 francs for other possible expenses.”

The program gives her not only material support but also confidence for a better future with her children.

“We are very pleased to note that the support activities organized, in particular the educational talks on the rights of children, nutrition, health and basic family practices have produced largely positive effects,” said Joachim Boko, a Social Protection Specialist at the World Bank.

According to Pounpouni Koumaï Tchadarou, the Regional Director for Social Action in the Savanes region and Program Coordinator, this program offers much more than mere financial assistance. Besides the 5,000 francs supplement, this program also provides a range of services, such as reminders of regular prenatal care and children’s register.

“We do everything to ensure that school-age children attend school. We also do home visits to heighten the awareness of the beneficiaries regarding the role played by good hygiene in improving the health of their children,” said Tchadarou.

“One day, you will come back here and see that the children you have helped have become teachers, nurses, and doctors,” said Yom Kouloukitibe, one of the 14,016 recipients to date of this financial assistance.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: World Bank 1, UNICEF, World Bank 2
Photo: Flickr

Golden Rice grain compared to white rice
Recently, scientists at the Ghent University have successfully engineered a new folate-rich rice strain. The most notable achievement of this experiment has been the stabilization of the bio-engineered nutrition richness.

Biofortification is a relatively new venture into the field of agricultural biotechnology. It involves modifying the genetic makeup of an agricultural plant to yield a more nutrient-rich product. The results of biofortification of plants have been tested for nutritional value and bio-availability for the consumers, with promising results.

In addition to increasing the nutrition value of food products, scientists are also focusing on making the products more sustainable. New research in this area is committed to not only increasing the dietary value of the crops, but also providing for practical answers for food shortage problems globally. For instance, crops that are more resistant to droughts and natural adversities are being manufactured. Food staples such as grains are being engineered to comprise nutrients from more expensive and inaccessible vegetables.

A significant issue in the provision of sufficient food for the whole world is the problem of food wastage and storage. The world today produces more food per person than ever before; however, food insecurity continues to be an issue with the improper handling and storage of food.

Crops such as rice, wheat and other grains are generally easier to store than most foodstuffs. However, the long-term storage of food deprives them of much of their nutritional value. Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are likely to be degraded as a result of long-term storage, as well as the methods of storage.

Folate, or Vitamin B9 as it is popularly known, is one such nutrient. It is found in abundance in leafy green vegetables such as spinach; such vegetables are, however, difficult to store for extended periods of time. Folate is a water-soluble vitamin; consequently, it cannot be stored in the body, and needs to be replenished constantly. Folate deficiency can lead to abnormally large blood cells, and ultimately anemia, which is particularly dangerous for pregnant women.

To tackle this problem, the researchers at Ghent University took a two-pronged approach: making the rice folate-rich, as well as stabilizing the folate to ensure its availability after long periods of storage. They used a folate-binding protein- found originally in animals- to stabilize the folate molecules. The resulting molecule was found to be more resistant to degradation after storage.

The rice strain manufactured has not been introduced commercially as of yet; the public use of the strain remains subject to testing and approval by appropriate authorities. This research is, nevertheless, an innovative step in the quest for engineering more nutritious and healthier crops for ending hunger and malnourishment.

Atifah Safi

Sources: Ugent, NIH
Photo: cbnnews

Malnourished People
In the United States, we have generally come to associate a bloated stomach with obesity. Counter-intuitively, the same notion applies to undernourished or malnourished people. Many forms of malnourishment – the most widely known of which is Kwashiorkor – are characterized by bloated, distinctively rounded stomachs.

Kwashiorkor: The Bloated Bellies of Malnourished People

Although many forms of undernutrition, as well as malnutrition, can manifest in a characteristic big abdomen, Kwashiorkor is the most commonly known form of malnutrition with this symptom.

To understand the reasoning for this, it is important to know that in malnourishment, the rounded abdomen is not due to fat accumulation. Instead, the water retention and fluid buildup in the body cause the abdomen to expand. This results in a bloated, distended stomach or abdominal area.

The physiological reasoning behind this is the specific lack of certain nutrients, which determine which kind of nutritional deficiency it is. In Kwashiorkor, for instance, the caloric intake of the children affected is fine in that is it is not lacking in the energy needed by the body for metabolic processes. However, the diet is severely lacking in certain nutrients, particularly proteins.

Proteins in the body are responsible for the balance of osmotic pressure in the body, besides their structural roles. Proteins are generally macromolecules, which means that they are sizably large and not easy to transport through cells permeable membranes. The proteins can pass through the membranes only through special mechanistic procedures in the membranes and are otherwise found in the blood serum or lymph.

The presence of proteins in the lymphatic system of the body leads to a higher osmotic pressure in the lymphatic fluid, as compared to the water in the gut. This hypertonicity causes fluid to flow from the gut into the lymph fluid and eventually into the blood stream.

The regulation of water maintains a healthy distribution of water throughout the body. If this regulation is compromised due to protein deficiency, the buildup of fluid leads to distention of abdomen as well as fluid retention or edema.

Another function of the proteins is to act in reverse of the hydrostatic pressure to maintain osmotic pressure in the tissues. The presence of proteins in the bloodstream of capillaries keeps water inundation of tissues in check. Proteins being larger molecules do not seep out of capillary walls like water does. Therefore, the presence of these proteins inside the capillaries creates colloid osmotic pressure.

This regulates the uptake of water back into the bloodstream, so the tissues are not over saturated with water. With a lack of proteins due to malnutrition, this mechanism of regulation is stunted and water builds up in tissues as well.

The buildup becomes more pronounced in the more severe cases, with fluid retention becoming apparent in other parts of the body besides the abdomen as well, such as facial areas.

The cure for edema developed due to malnutrition is to replenish the body with lacking nutrients. It is common practice to deliver simple carbohydrates and fats before administering proteins to achieve a normal blood pressure. The symptoms of malnourishment including distended abdomen may take a few days to alleviate. However, the impact on future growth and physical strength of children affected by this is permanent in nature.

Atifah Safi

Sources: NIH, AJR
Photo: Indiana Public Media