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Telemedicine Clinics in GuatemalaNew telemedicine clinics in Guatemala are providing vital resources to women and children living in remote areas with limited access to healthcare specialists. This advancement in healthcare technology increases Guatemala’s healthcare accessibility and follows a trend of a worldwide increase in telemedicine services.

Guatemala’s New Telemedicine Clinics

Guatemala’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (MSPAS), in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization, launched four new telemedicine clinics in Guatemala in December 2020.

The clinics were designed to improve accessibility to doctors and specialists for citizens living in rural areas, where unstable or lengthy travel can deter patients from getting the care they need. Lack of staff is another barrier telemedicine hopes to overcome. Special attention will be given to issues of child malnutrition and maternal health.

The funding of the program was made possible through financial assistance from the Government of Sweden and the European Union. aimed at increasing healthcare access in rural areas across the world.

Guatemala’s State of Healthcare

Roughly 80% of Guatemala’s doctors are located within metropolitan areas, leaving scarce availability for those living in rural areas. Issues of nutrition and maternal healthcare are special targets for the new program due to the high rates of child malnutrition and maternal mortality in Guatemala.

Guatemala’s child malnutrition rates are some of the highest in all of Central America and disproportionately affect its indigenous communities. Throughout the country, 46.5% of children under 5 are stunted due to malnutrition.

Maternal death rates are high among women in Guatemala but the country has seen a slow and steady decline in maternal mortality over the last two decades. The most recently reported maternal death rate is 95 per 100,000 births.

Guatemala does have a promising antenatal care rate, with 86% of women receiving at least four antenatal care visits during their pregnancies. By increasing the access to doctors through telemedicine clinics, doctors can better diagnose issues arising during pregnancy and prepare for possible birth difficulties that could result in maternal death.

Guatemala’s COVID-19 rates have also impacted the ability of patients to seek healthcare. The threat of the virus makes it difficult for those traveling to seek medical treatment due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Trends in Worldwide Telemedicine

The world has seen a rise of telemedicine clinics as the pandemic creates safety concerns regarding in-person visits with doctors. Doctors are now reaching rural communities that previously had little opportunity to access specialized medicine. Telemedicine is an important advancement toward accessible healthcare in rural areas. While the telemedicine clinics in Guatemala are limited in numbers, they set an important example of how technology can be utilized to adapt during a health crisis and reach patients in inaccessible areas.

June Noyes
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in MozambiqueThe state of healthcare in Mozambique has drastically changed in the last few decades. While Mozambique was once a country with little access to healthcare services, the country has decreased mortality rates since the launch of its Health Sector Recovery Program after the Mozambican civil war, with assistance from the World Bank.

History of Mozambique

The Mozambican civil war that took place from 1977-1992 had lasting effects on the country’s healthcare system and economy, resulting in limited funding for health services and insufficient access to care providers.

The Health Sector Recovery Program was launched in 1996 in order to refocus on funding healthcare in Mozambique, which desperately needed expanded resources to address the growing health crises. New health facilities were constructed throughout the country increasing accessibility to healthcare. The number of health facilities in Mozambique from the start of the civil war to 2012 quadrupled from 362 to 1,432 and the number of healthcare workers increased along with it.

Improvements to Healthcare and Accessibility

About 30 years ago, Mozambique had one of the highest mortality rates for children under 5 but was able to significantly reduce this number after the success of the Health Sector Policy Program. In 1990, this rate was 243.1 mortalities per 1,000 children. The rate has been reduced to 74.2 mortalities as of 2019. Maternal health was also targeted by the program, with increased health facility births from 2003 to 2011.

Conflict in Cabo Delgado

Despite these improvements to healthcare in Mozambique, Cabo Delgado, a northeastern province, is facing one of the worst healthcare crises in the country since violence struck the area in October 2017. Conflict between non-state armed forces clashing with security forces and other armed groups has caused more than 200,000 people in the area to become internally displaced. Coupled with the aftermath of Hurricane Kenneth, one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Africa, the area is facing severe food shortages and lack of shelter for people.

Cabo Delgado has also seen a rise in COVID-19 cases and other diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and measles, resulting from inadequate clean water and sanitation.

Intervention by UNICEF

On December 22, 2020, UNICEF shared a press release on the increased need for healthcare in Cabo Delgado. As the rainy season begins, there is an increased risk for deadly disease outbreaks. It appealed for $52.8 million in humanitarian assistance for 2021 projects aimed at aiding Mozambique.

UNICEF is expanding its water and sanitation response in order to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases like cholera and the further spread of COVID-19.

UNICEF also aims to give crucial vaccines to children in Mozambique, increasing its numbers from 2020. The 2021 targets include vaccinating more than 67,000 children against polio and more than 400,000 measles vaccinations. Children will also be treated for nutritional deficiencies from food insecurity and UNICEF plans to screen more than 380,000 children under 5 for malnourishment and enroll them in nutritional treatment programs.

Mental health support services will be provided to more than 37,000 children and caregivers in need, especially those experiencing displacement from armed conflict and those affected by COVID-19.

The Future of Healthcare in Mozambique

While healthcare in Mozambique has significantly improved in the last few decades, a lack of health services still affects the country’s most vulnerable populations. Aid from international organizations like UNICEF aims to tackle these issues to improve healthcare in Mozambique.

– June Noyes
Photo: Flickr

Sesame Street's Rohingya MuppetsSesame Street is developing two Rohingya muppets to help refugee children overcome trauma. Sesame Street aims to address the effects of poverty by fostering access to education. Poverty affects all aspects of life. Children who live in poverty suffer from many physical, intellectual and emotional complications. Child stunting, for example, is a result of nutrient-deficient diets, repeated infection and a lack of psychosocial stimulation in the first years of a child’s life. This has dire long-term outcomes for children, including impaired intellectual development. Sesame Street’s Rohingya muppets aim to improve the intellectual development of Rohingya children, which directly affects education, and in turn, poverty.

Stunting and Malnutrition in Rohingya Children

The Rohingya people are a stateless Muslim minority group who have lived in a state of flux, between Myanmar and Bangladesh, since they were forced to flee Myanmar. They were violently persecuted by the Myanmar military, an instance of ethnic cleansing. Close to 800,000 Rohingya refugees have escaped to Bangladesh. It is common for refugees to live in refugee camps within Bangladesh.

A group of refugee camps, located in Cox’s Bazar, was the subject of a 2017-2018 study on the rates of stunting and malnutrition in Rohingya children. The study found that the rate of stunting “dropped from 44% to 38% in the main camp.” Although it is positive that the rate of childhood stunting declined, the rate of childhood stunting still remained dangerously close to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) critical health emergency threshold of 40%.

Additionally, the rate of acute malnutrition dropped from close to 20% to nearly 10%. Childhood deaths declined. The rate of diarrhea, caused in some instances by dehydration or bacterial infection, also declined. Nonetheless, these rates remain too high to relieve concerns and the situation is still described as dire.

Malnutrition affects a child’s developing brain, impacting education and reducing the ability of a person to lift themselves out of poverty.

Sesame Street’s Rohingya Muppets

The majority of humanitarian funding is deployed to address acute effects of poverty like stunting and malnutrition. Sesame Street aims to address the effects of poverty by focusing on education and intellectual development. Sherrie Westin is the president of social impact for Sesame Workshop and she identified that “less than 3% of all aid is used for education.”

Sesame Street’s Rohingya muppets consist of two characters, Noor Yasmin and Aziz, to connect with Rohingya children on an intellectual and emotional level. Westin feels that without intervention by Sesame Street, Rohingya children risk growing up unable to read and write or do simple math.

Westin cited scientific research as the basis for her concern. Similar to the way inadequate dietary nutrition and disease lead to physical stunting, stress and trauma stunt brain development. Sesame Street aims to address the effects of poverty by providing emotional and intellectual support to Rohingya children who have endured trauma.

BRAC’s Humanitarian Play Lab

In Bangladesh, Sesame Street partnered with BRAC. BRAC’s Humanitarian Play Labs are designed to help children learn through play and recover from emotional trauma in the process. BRAC designs its play labs to resemble settings that are familiar to the children it works with. In Bangladesh, this means that Rohingya children are surrounded by “motifs and paintings significant to Rohingya culture.”

Sesame Street’s Rohingya muppets reflect an integral part of BRAC’s approach. Children relate best to characters that they can identify with and they flourish in settings that are familiar and comfortable. BRAC’s success speaks for itself. Close to 90% of the kids that BRAC works with complete the fifth grade of schooling.

Sesame Street Addresses Rohingya Poverty

While the humanitarian crisis among Rohingya refugees is ongoing, recognition of the long-term effects of stress and trauma on intellectual development is crucial to lifting the Rohingya out of poverty. Education alleviates poverty and negating the effects of trauma will allow for proper intellectual development to take on educational endeavors. Sesame Street aims to address the effects of poverty by focusing its attention on the intellectual development of Rohingya children.

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Madagascar’s PovertyMadagascar, an island country located in the Indian Ocean, is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, with 75% of its population living in poverty in 2019. Due to the country’s insufficient infrastructure, isolated communities and history of political instability, the economy of Madagascar has long been incapacitated and heavily dependent on foreign aid to meet the basic needs of its people, with food being the most urgent. In recent times, Madagascar’s poverty has been further impacted by more crises amid the country’s continued search for economic stability.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Madagascar’s economy has drastically worsened and so has Madagascar’s poverty as a result. With an already frail economic climate before COVID-19, the pandemic has negatively affected both the rural and urban areas of Madagascar, as precautionary measures enforced by the government are obstructing the flow of food and job opportunities, further stifling the already impoverished. Movement restrictions, one of many precautionary measures being enforced by the government, have cornered the most poverty-susceptible households to stay in place versus finding labor opportunities through seasonally migrating. Without the freedom to move about and access markets, these rural households are hard-pressed to find food and urban households are feeling the economic effects of this as well.

Drought in Madagascar

About 1.6 million people in southern Madagascar have suffered from food shortages since 2016. The reason for this food shortage: drought. Ejeda is one of many Madagascar villages that finds its villagers trekking miles away from their homes to dig holes into sand beds around rivers in search of water. If water is found, these villagers are then tasked with transporting it miles back home. Three years of recurrent drought in southern Madagascar has almost entirely eradicated farming and crop yields.

Declining Tourism Industry

Tourism in Madagascar is a significant source of annual revenue for the country. Home to lush national parks and scenic beaches, it is estimated that the fallout of COVID-19 has taken away about half a billion dollars of tourism revenue from the country since the pandemic began. Travel restrictions in Madagascar have gradually been eased but the damage has been done as people are simply not traveling unnecessarily during COVID-19. This loss of tourism revenue has been widely felt as it has added to the people’s ongoing struggle with poverty in Madagascar.

Poverty in Madagascar continues to worsen due to COVID-19, drought and the ensuing loss of tourism. With an already feeble economy before these crises, poverty has been intensified in both rural and urban areas as these crises continue to play out.

The Good News

Madagascar’s poverty has increased but there is good news to be found. A dietician and missionary from Poland named Daniel Kasprowicz recently raised 700,000 PLN through an online fundraiser to build a medical facility for malnourished children. Construction on the building has already started, and as poverty is expected to increase throughout Madagascar for the foreseeable future, it is believed that the facility will be opened and treating the malnourished by February 2021. In a time of crucial need, foreign aid means life or death in Madagascar and no act of assistance goes unnoticed.

– Dylan James
Photo: Flickr

GM golden riceRice is a staple crop in Asia that provides 30-72% of the energy intake in the region. Many children in these countries rely on meager amounts of rice and almost nothing else. Enter genetically modified (GM) rice. GM golden rice is a revolutionary modified rice crop, characterized by its golden color and vitamin A fortification. This biofortified crop works to alleviate the issue of malnutrition in Asia, especially among children.

Vitamin A

In Bangladesh, China, India and elsewhere in Asia, there is a vitamin A deficiency problem. Annually, vitamin A deficiency results in the death of several million children and blindness in 250,000, according to a study done by WHO. Half of these children die within 12 months of losing their sight.

GM golden rice allows for beta-carotene (a Vitamin A precursor) synthesis in the edible portion of rice. This process may prove to be a promising remedy to this widespread vitamin deficiency. The body can actually use beta-carotene in the edible portion of rice, rather than the rice’s leaves. Not only is it usable, but it can supply 30% to 50% of a person’s daily vitamin A requirement.

Other Benefits

Besides the nutritional benefit, GM golden rice also lasts longer than its non-GM counterparts. A Purdue University researcher found that some GM foods have an increased shelf life by a week longer than it would have originally. Foods that can stay fresher longer help impoverished regions store food and aid food distribution across long periods of time.  

Furthermore, modified foods, like GM golden rice, are routinely screened for safety. Simon Barber, director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at EuropaBio, the European biotech industry association, stated that before anything may be imported into Europe and used as animal feed or as an ingredient in food for humans, it had to travel through a security approval process.

In addition, the two genes inserted into GM golden rice, plant phytoene synthase and bacterial phytoene desaturase, are innocuous to the human body. Further, Dr. Russesll Reinke, IRR Program Lead for Healthier Rice,  stated that test trials in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. found this rice to be safe for consumption.

Conclusion

As technology rapidly evolves, people will have reservations about the unfamiliar processes involved. However, GM golden rice has continued to be a proven and effective supplement for adequate nutrition. With new technological solutions, like GM golden rice, food shortages can continue to decrease.

Justin Chan
Photo: Flickr

impact of conflict on poverty
Conflict can be a catalyst for an array of poverty-related events. It can impact poverty by depleting resources, interrupting supply chains, destroying infrastructure, taking lives and much more. Unfortunately, this trend has held in the country of Mali, which currently shows the significant impact of conflict on poverty.

Conflict Background and Economic Impact

The Mali War is an ongoing conflict that began in January of 2012. Since then, violence between the North and South of Mali has ebbed and flowed in severity but never subsided. Malian people, including the Tuareg, in the North of Mali, have expressed resentment and concern, as they feel that governmental groups and political factions have been neglecting their concerns and treating them unfairly. Ethnic divides, fundamentalist fighters and an unstable political system are a few issues that have caused this conflict.

There have been thousands of deaths and thousands of more people fleeing the conflict. As mentioned previously, many connect the weak economic sector in Mali to the outbreak of unrest and violence. Almost cyclically, this violence is now negatively impacting the economic sector. Before the conflict broke out, tourism accounted for more than 40% of Mali’s GDP. Researchers estimate that 8,000 people lost their job due to the drastic decrease in tourism after the conflict began. The economic connection highlights the ranging impact of conflict on poverty.

Many of those living in the North of Mali, mostly Tuareg and Arab groups, depend on the agricultural sector for their income. The government has invested very little in this sector and focuses primarily on tourism and the export of gold and cotton from the South. This has led many agricultural producers in the South to grow jaded towards the government due to their increased likelihood of experiencing extreme poverty.

The Impact on Public Health

Roughly 1 in 3 children in Mali are facing chronic malnutrition. An annual average of nearly four million people in Mali do not have access to an adequate amount of food. More than half of Mali’s children and young adults are illiterate and have been pushed out of school due to displacement. Many children in Mali are at great risk of being recruited into militant groups, further threatening their safety, educational resources, and ability to climb from poverty.

At its base level, the conflict in Mali threatens public health by the sheer loss of life it has caused. In 2018, hundreds of civilians were killed by armed groups. The byproducts of this violence caused even more people to experience extreme poverty, malnutrition and death. Additionally, more than 200,000 people have fled Mali altogether to avoid the violence. This stunts Mali’s economic growth, which reaffirms the dangerous impact of conflict on poverty.

Current Aid and Support Efforts

A military coup ousted the former President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, on August 19th, 2020. President Bah Ndaw became the interim leader of Mali and will hold the position until an election can be held. Some are hopeful that if a legitimate election can be held, much of the conflict in Mali will subside. In the meantime, many local and international nonprofit organizations have mobilized to aid in poverty-reduction efforts throughout Mali.

  1. For example, World Vision began providing aid in Mali in 1975, even before the conflict. In 2012 during the height of the conflict, World Vision provided aid in the form of food, clean water, and shelter to more than 150,000 people throughout Mali. Additionally, more than 60,000 children in Mali are currently benefiting from World Vision’s child sponsorship program. The program allows donors to provide monetary assistance to and communicate with an impoverished child. Many of these sponsored children in Mali reside within conflict-ridden areas.
  2. Peace Direct, another nonprofit organization, focuses on peacebuilding efforts in Mali. They support communities in their implementation of peacebuilding; in 2019 alone, they supported more than 20 projects throughout Mali. Peace Direct realizes the importance of community growth, both physically and emotionally, to peacebuilding. A lack of communal trust can be detrimental to poverty reduction, as teamwork makes progress more effective and efficient. Additionally, the building of trust and understanding among conflict groups is essential to support continued growth and stability throughout Mali. This trust will prevent future conflicts and allow Mali to focus on joint economic growth and poverty-reduction tactics throughout their country.

    3. “The Peacebuilding Stabilization and Reconciliation Project,” run through USAID, began in April of 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in March of 2023. This project focuses on rebuilding many of the conflict-ridden areas throughout Mali, providing rehabilitation resources to those impacted by the violence, increasing civic engagement and helping Mali’s government introduce barriers to prevent violent outbreaks in the future. USAID believes that providing community members with an active role in their governance will decrease dissent, enhance democratic values, reduce the likelihood of future conflict and decrease the joint poverty level throughout Mali. Success will also ideally increase GDP and overall well being while mitigating the impact of conflict on poverty in Mali.

The Future of the Region

The domino effect that violence can have on the prosperity of a nation is not a surprise. Violence decreases an individual’s ability to focus on economic growth or public health. It overtakes governmental initiatives and attention from the media, forcing poverty-related issues to take a backseat. The importance of the international community supporting peacebuilding efforts in Mali remains essential. The path toward peace will trickle-down benefits for many subsets of Mali’s society and will decrease the occurrence of extreme poverty throughout the nation.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: UN Multimedia

Child poverty in HaitiHaiti, a small country that borders the Dominican Republic on the Hispaniola island, suffers greatly from poverty. Natural disasters, systemic inequality and diminishing economic opportunities create a dire state of extreme poverty. Specifically, child poverty in Haiti is the major poverty crisis.

Over half of Haiti’s 11.2 million population live on less than $3 a day, and malnutrition affects 65,000 children under five. Many children under 14 — over a third of Haiti’s population — do not have ready access to health care, clean water, food security or the right to fair and decent work. The question stands: What does child poverty in Haiti look like today, and what obstacles persist in ending it?

It’s easy to forget that statistics reflect the experience of real, living people. Please keep this in mind. Considering this, here are five facts about child poverty in Haiti.

The Statistical Perspective

  1.  Caloric and nutritive malnutrition affects nearly a third of children in Haiti. Out of every five children, one child is malnourished and one out of 10 is acutely malnourished. Before the age of five, one child out of 14 will die. Those who live deal with the effects of inadequate food supplies. Poor access to vital nutrients means that children are subject to poor health, growth and development.
  2. Despite Haiti’s free publication education, only half of elementary-aged children are enrolled in school. Millions of disadvantaged parents have very few with little resources to secure education for their children. This is a result of Haiti privatizing 92% of schools.
  3.  Nearly half a million children are orphaned in Haiti. A significant proportion of these “lost” children are exploited for labor in dangerous conditions. “Host households” take in children whose families cannot provide for them. Many of these children — known colloquially as “restaveks” — end up as victims of human trafficking.
  4.  Adequate health care is hard to come by in Haiti. Child immunization has stagnated at 41%. The proportion of children who die before their first birthday has risen by 2% in the last year – from 57% to 59%. HIV, tuberculosis, and a variety of other chronic, crippling diseases ail an estimated 20,000 children in Haiti, and treatment is increasingly difficult to obtain.

COVID-19

Haiti is particularly prone to natural disasters, in large part due to its geographical situation in the Bermuda. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake ravaged the island of Hispaniola in 2010. A slew of tropical storms, hurricanes and additional earthquakes further compromised Haiti. Nearly 10 years later, Haiti still struggles with recovering from its 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew alongside dealing with recent social unrest and COVID-19.

Humanitarian aid efforts are nearing an all-time high for the country, but the efficacy of these programs and endeavors has been questioned. The threats of COVID-19 aren’t the only ones Haiti must face. The future is increasingly uncertain for millions of Haitians and their children, due to equipment shortages, lack of qualified health care professionals and a worsening economic climate.

Ways to Help

What is there to do? Explore The Borgen Project’s homepage. From there, it’s easy to email and call representatives and leaders. There is the option to donate to the cause. For free, one can create momentum on social media to raise awareness about the dire situation in Haiti. A number of ways exist to combat child poverty in Haiti; it just takes action.

Henry Comes-Pritchett
Photo: Flickr

 

Child Poverty in RwandaRwanda, an East African country, has a population of about 12.3 million. Around 45% of the country’s population, roughly 5.4 million, are under the age of 18. The rate of poverty has decreased from 59% to 40% since 2000. Additionally, the rate of extreme poverty was reduced to 16% from 40%. While the country achieved its Millennium Development Goals, child poverty in Rwanda continues to be a significant issue faced by the population. Therefore, Rwanda aims to end child poverty with one of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets focusing on reducing the number of impoverished children by half by 2030.

The Effects of Child Poverty in Rwanda

The rate of impoverished Rwandan children ages 0 to 17 is 39%. Children disproportionately undergo the struggles of poverty and it significantly impacts their well-being since they lack basic needs. Impoverished families in Rwanda, especially in rural areas, experience high rates of mortality among children under the age of 5. About 50 children out of 1,000 births in the country do not live past the age of 5 years old..

Impoverished children also struggle greatly with malnutrition. As a result, many children face low birth weight and infections. Malnutrition creates lasting effects on children, specifically in terms of cognitive development and physical growth. Furthermore, Rwandan children struggle with the impact of poor sanitation. A clean and safe source of water within 500 meters of a house is only accessible to 47% of Rwandan households. Additionally, 64% of households own a latrine. Lack of access to quality sanitation and water sources contributes to 38% of Rwandan children being stunted.

Child Poverty in Rural and Urban Areas

In terms of deprivation of sanitation, water, housing, education and health due to poverty, there is a gap between children living in rural areas and children residing in urban areas. Moreover, 83.5% of the rural population in Rwanda consists of children. In urban areas, 38% of children ages 0 to 23 months undergo multiple deprivations as opposed to 61% of children in rural areas. Additionally, in urban areas, 22% of children ages 15 to 17 are considered “multidimensionally poor” with a deprivation rate of 16% among children ages 5 to 14. On the other hand, in rural areas, the deprivation rate of children ages 5 to 14 is 32% and 50% of children ages 15 to 17 are “multidimensionally poor”.

Government Solutions

The Rwandan Government has worked toward further developing its Vision Umurenge Social Protection (VUP) program by including child-sensitive social protection. In 2011, the government passed Law N.54 to protect children’s rights but there is inequality in the law’s implementation, which prevents children from receiving its full benefits.

While Rwanda has witnessed a recent decrease in child poverty, through a Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA), UNICEF provides recommendations to further efforts to eradicate poverty among children. UNICEF suggests increasing the support provided by the Rwandan Government’s social protection program, VUP, to give children greater access to social services and to decrease the number of deprivations due to poverty. Furthermore, UNICEF recommends that the social protection program considers overlapping deprivations when providing services. UNICEF also emphasizes the importance of prioritizing the most vulnerable groups of children, especially those living in rural areas and children ages 0 to 23 months.

– Zoë Nichols
Photo: Flickr

Feeding School Children in East AfricaDespite leading the continent in incorporating students into primary and secondary systems of education, East Africa retains acute socio-economic problems. More than 55 million extremely poor people inhabit just the three nations of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. This situation cannot improve without addressing poor school attendance by children whose family circumstances customarily pressure them into prioritizing work over education and not obtaining the valuable knowledge and skills that could help them secure higher-paying jobs and bid farewell to poverty. NGOs are working on feeding school children in East Africa to improve attendance rates and simultaneously target issues like hunger and malnutrition.

School Attendance Rates in East Africa

In Kenya, 92% of those aged between 7 and 14 were receiving education in 2008. A decade later, UNICEF continued to record 1.5 million prospective primary schoolers missing out on learning. In other East African countries, the issue is direr. In Tanzania, from ages 5 to 6, the school attendance rates already drop by nearly 10%.

Feeding School Children in East Africa

Nonprofit organizations are actively altering this dynamic. By routinely feeding school pupils, the organizations demonstrate that enrolment in school can also involve getting adequate nutrition. It is a win-win situation as students simultaneously gain important academic and professional insights and receive a much-needed meal. Moreover, this work shows that education may improve one’s living standards not only in the long run but in the short run as well.

Food4Education

This Kenyan organization feeds young students locally sourced meals in the nation’s Kiambu and Nairobi counties at a subsidized rate of $0.15. Having started with only 25 food recipients, it has already served around one million meals, helping children enhance their school attendance and performance in class and in examinations. It hopes to reach out to all the primary school children in Kenya in the future.

In addition to attracting donations and using a mobile app, Tap2Eat, for parents to pay to subsidize their children’s low lunch fee, Food4Education also manages a restaurant in the country’s capital. Some of its revenue is used to fund school lunches and increase the NGO’s output.

The group’s impact remains localized but its recognition suggests that its efforts are sizeable. In June 2020, Wawira Nijru, the Food4Education’s founder, joined the prestigious Ford Global Fellowship Program. As part of this scheme, the United States-based Ford Foundation will invest in the NGO and offer advice to amplify its contribution in Kenya.

East African Children’s Fund

Operating in Kenya with a reported budget of $170,000, the organization supplies more than 1,000 schoolchildren in impoverished areas with a mixture of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. By procuring these products from the local communities, this organization likewise guarantees that the funding utilized in the process stays with the people needing it the most. The organization also distributes clothes and mosquito nets among schoolchildren and helps ensure that they are vaccinated. After all, missing school due to illness is equally a problem in a country, where more than three million people contract malaria each year.

The East African Children’s Fund’s purview extends into supporting sustainable farming techniques and projects in Kenya by, inter alia, promoting beekeeping and teaching young villagers to harvest rainwater and prevent water loss during field irrigation.

In 2019, it served close to 570,000 school meals, thereby causing an 80% reduction in local infirmary visits by schoolchildren. Between 2017 and 2019, more than 10,000 rural Kenyans received training in nutrition techniques from the group as well.

Mary’s Meals

This Scottish-registered charity is alleviating hunger in Malawi, Uganda and Kenya. In the former, it boasts a network of 80,000 volunteers who serve low-cost meals to as many as 30% of the nation’s primary school students in 20 different districts. In the other two nations combined, as many as 80,000 students are benefitting from school meals. A large proportion of them inhabit areas, such as the Kenyan town of Eldoret, where every second household falls below the poverty line.

Besides relying on volunteers, the group has full-time employees based in the target countries. Their task is to ensure compliance with hygiene standards and food quality by conducting regular school visits and compiling data on pupil and teacher satisfaction.

Based on approximately 4,000 responses collected in 2016, the number of Malawi pupils experiencing hunger during the school day decreased sixfold within fewer than 12 months. A comparable household survey registered a similarly impressive 64% decline in the number of adult respondents believing that their children were hungry at school. Most importantly, many more teachers have stopped describing classroom hunger levels as worrying. Considering that all the relevant parties are recognizing a difference, the NGO’s contribution is certainly worth mentioning.

Feeding school children in East Africa also mitigates malnourishment among the locals and facilitates the process of climbing out of poverty, since, through education, children could acquire the skills to qualify for better-paid jobs and escape reliance on subsistence farming.

– Dan Mikhaylov
Photo: Flickr

Brands Fighting HungerAmerica is well known for its quick and easy businesses, from countless fast-food restaurants to convenience stores at every corner. However, while many items from these places are easily accessible and affordable for just about anyone, the nutritional value and healthiness of products available are not always sufficient for a person to thrive. Over thirty-seven million Americans have faced hunger and around fourteen million Americans have a restricted list of foods. Given the lack of healthy options, here are five American brands fighting hunger and making a mission to provide healthy choices for their consumers.

Dollar General

In 2018, Dollar General announced a plan to remodel around four hundred stores to include a refrigerated section that includes perishable merchandise. About four hundred and fifty stores also began to include healthier options such as fruits and vegetables in order to promote a healthier lifestyle to their customers at an affordable price point. Many stores have also pushed to include food options that contain less sodium and higher protein. Since the inclusion of refrigerated merchandise and healthier food options, a nearly seven percent increase in sales was seen compared to a couple of years before the new renovations.

Propel

Technology in the twentieth century surrounds everyone’s daily lives, and impoverished communities reap the benefits from tech as well. Propel is a company that focuses on bettering the financial health of low-income people by providing a technology service that easily allows people to budget and makes money. EBT balances can be checked right on the Fresh EBT app created by Propel, as well as countless useable coupons from many stores. Propel also aids people by providing job opportunities that are legit and safe. By creating a technological feature especially for those who are struggling, Propel has reached around forty million Americans and continues to benefit those who need help.

Daily Table

Daily Table was founded in 2012 by Trader Joe’s former president Doug Rauch. The products available from Daily Table are wholesome and healthy, and best of all, affordable to everyone as many of the products are also available through SNAP. Over forty thousand members utilize the two Daily Table stores to provide food for their families, saving around thirty percent on average when they checkout compared to other stores. Whether it is finding ingredients to make your own meal through learning from Daily Table’s cooking classes or grabbing something quick on the go, Daily Table makes it a priority to provide nutritious meals to low-income people.

Aramark

With public school being the most popular option for American families, nutrition in schools often gets forgotten and overlooked as other priorities get in the way. Aramark is a company that specializes in all things school-related, including providing affordable meals during school. All of the meals are sourced in local areas and pass USDA regulations by meeting nutrition goals. School districts that include Aramark’s food programs see an average of around eighteen percent increase of free and reduced meal applications from parents. By bringing awareness to their children’s affordable school meal options, parents are able to ensure their child of a meal during school hours regardless of the price.

Kellogg’s

Cereal is an American breakfast staple, and Kellogg’s is a popular brand that helps Americans get their days started. Better Days is a program founded by Kellogg’s that aims to aid with hunger by providing nearly four hundred and fifty million servings of food a year. Just in the past year, as hunger rates are at an all-time high due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Kellogg has donated over thirteen million U.S. dollars in cash as well as food to help relieve hunger in impoverished communities. In the next decade, Kellogg hopes to benefit three billion people by providing Better Days for those who need it. Kellogg’s is also partners with Feeding America to help provide nourishment to hungry Americans.

As the United States moves forward in providing food security for struggling Americans, these five brands fighting hunger are contributing to healthy and nourishing products to better the lives of many.

— Karina Wong

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