Below are 10 interesting facts about poverty and malnutrition.

1. Malnutrition takes two general forms. Protein-energy malnutrition, which is basically a lack of calories and protein. This form of malnutrition is the most lethal and is the type of malnutrition that is referred to when world hunger is discussed. The second type of malnutrition is micronutrient or vitamin and mineral deficiency.

2. According to The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, it is estimated that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world – or one in eight – were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012.

3. Poverty and malnutrition have a direct link – poverty is the main and principal cause of malnutrition. The World Bank estimated that in 2008 that there were about 1.35 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1.25 a day or less.

4. In addition to poverty, the other main causes of malnutrition are harmful economic systems, war and conflict and climate change.

5. The countries with the highest rates of malnutrition also have the lowest economic indicators.

6. Children are the most vulnerable victims of malnutrition.  Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year.

7. Mothers who lack access to proper nutrients bear malnourished children. These children face greater challenges in their ability to learn and thrive. They are more susceptible to illness and disease. Their compromised opportunities for healthy development and mental and physical agility usually means the cycle of poverty continues.

8. In another link between poverty and malnutrition, the WHO reports that one out of three people in developing countries are affected by vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

9. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. The real problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow or income to purchase enough food. Poverty and malnutrition can create a self-sustaining cycle where there is never enough security or stability for recovery of health or economic development.

10. Some countries address the problem of poverty and malnutrition by administering programs that provide assistance to those who suffer from a lack of nutrients in their diet by offering dietary supplements and fortified foods. This is seen as a cost-effective strategy in combating poverty and malnutrition.

Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: World Hunger Education Service, Wise Geek
Photo: IPS

Cambodia saw a rise in gross domestic product of more than 6 percent per year between 2010 and 2012, but to this day it remains one of poorest countries in Asia and long-term economic development remains a challenge.

Since 2004, garments, construction, agriculture and tourism have driven Cambodia’s economy. The garment industry accounts for about 70 percent of Cambodia’s total exports, and currently employs more than 400,000 people while the Cambodian tourism industry has accounted for more than 2 million visitors per year since 2007; in 2012, Cambodia had over 3 million foreign arrivals.

Despite the influx of tourists, Cambodia lacks basic infrastructure, particularly in the impoverished countryside. More than 50 percent of the government budget comes from donor assistance. Economic development in Cambodia is stalled by corruption, limited educational opportunities, high income inequality and poor job prospects.

Poverty in Cambodia remains a major issue, with 37 percent of Cambodian children under the age of five live in a constant state of malnutrition. 90 percent of Cambodia’s 4.8 million poor live in rural areas. At least 12 percent of these people are landless, and though most of them depend on agriculture, productivity is low. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, two thirds of the country’s 1.6 million rural households face seasonal food shortages, and rice alone accounts for 30 percent of household expenses.

Women in particular have a disadvantage, as they do not have equal access to education, paid employment, land ownership or other property rights. Often, reproductive health services do not exist at all or they are inadequate.

More than 50 percent of the population in Cambodia are under the age of 25. The World Factbook said creating an economic environment “in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia’s demographic imbalance” will be the major economic challenge in the next decade.

In 2005, oil deposits were found in Cambodia’s territorial waters. According to the World Factbook, this represents “a potential revenue stream for the government, if commercial extraction becomes feasible.” The World Bank also said that Cambodia needs to maintain banking and financial stability through effective supervision. The World Bank also recommends that Cambodia sustain economic growth by “promoting diversification and enhancing competitiveness.” It also says further investments into agriculture will result in more sustainable agricultural growth, which will contribute to poverty reduction.

– Alycia Rock

Sources: CIA Factbook, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Radek Lesak

There’s more to climate change than warmer summers and winters.

In the Pacific Ocean, the entire nation of Kiribati is facing a threat that has become all too common among the inhabitants of islands, archipelagos, and the like across the globe. Although this common threat is to be feared greatly, it is not terrorism or a military coup. This great threat is sea level rise and it is but one of the many effects of climate change that have become all too familiar for the inhabitants of many of the Earth’s once beautiful and lush islands.

But sea level rise is just the beginning. According to an article by The Guardian, carbon emission is at its highest point in 300 million years. As a result of the increased emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), the Earth’s climate has changed significantly – a change which has resulted in undesirable effects such as sea level rise and ocean acidification.

Many Americans think the effects of climate change (or global warming to many) will not be felt for many years and is a problem best left for future generations to handle. However, the effects of climate change can be felt right now, bringing more than just hot summers and warm winters. In fact, sea level rise and ocean acidification may be two of the biggest contributors to a problem that many agree is facing the world at present: global food security.

Ocean acidification and sea level rise dramatically affect the ability of the Earth’s many islanders to sustain the livelihood of the families who rely on the islands’ resources for survival. For instance, sea level rise has already caused significant damage to many island villages across the globe. A rise in sea level raises high water marks, and these increased high water marks have resulted in higher tides. These higher tides often destroy crops and contaminate drinking water, leaving many islanders with no choice but to seek refuge on the mainland once the sea level reaches a critical level.

While the effects of ocean acidification are less significant than that of sea level rise, there is strong evidence the current level of carbon emissions will likely soon begin to affect marine life. Currently, acidification damages coral reefs, which are vital to the health of fisheries, acting as a nursery to young fish and smaller species that provide food for bigger fish. Acidification also harms plankton, which fish rely on for development. Since further and more extensive acidification is inevitable at current emission rates, it is likely that those who rely on marine life as a significant source of food will be greatly affected in the coming years.

A rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide can also affect the availability of food on the mainland of several continents, not just on islands. For instance, a study by Rosenzweig and Parry suggests that crop yields in Africa and South America may decrease as concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere become greater.

Although reducing emissions will not have an immediate impact on climate change, if the process does not begin now, the livelihood of many islanders is almost guaranteed to worsen. Due to the significant effects the changing climate can have on feeding the world’s hungry, it is important to ensure that climate change legislation is pursued with as equal vigor as foreign aid legislation. Advocates of global food security should support climate change legislation by indicating so when calling their Congressional leaders to support international aid. Addressing climate change is a very slow and complicated process, but supporting climate change legislation can help protect the food security of many of the Earth’s inhabitants in the long term.

Cavarrio Carter

Sources: Pew Research Center, Huffington Post,, The Guardian, Mongabay ,The Telegraph, Washington Post, Climate Change and Food Security
Photo: Travel Brochures


Every year the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide release a Global Hunger Index (GHI) report that documents the trends in global poverty and hunger across the globe. The report calculates each country’s index number by combining three equally weighted indicators. The first indicator, undernourishment, is reflected as the percentage of undernourished people within the country’s population. The second indicator is the proportion of children younger than the age of five who are underweight. The last indicator is the mortality rate of children younger than the age of five, which reflects an inadequate diet and an unhealthy environment.

The GHI ranks nations on a 100-point scale with 0 representing no hunger and 100 representing a large portion of the population suffering from hunger. This year’s index indicates that global hunger is decreasing as the world’s GHI score has fallen by 34 percent since 1990; however, world hunger remains a serious and important issue.

India’s GHI has decreased from 65 to 63, but the nation is still plagued by high levels of hunger. The Indian people also have one of the highest populations of underweight children. South Asian countries have the maximum number of hungry people in the world, followed by sub-Saharan Africa.

Because it takes years for a country’s economy to improve, the organizations that author the GHI Report offer other alternatives to combat global hunger. Welthungerhilfe, one of the largest NGO aid organizations in Germany, has provided over 6,800 projects that have been carried out in over 70 countries. Concern Worldwide, another NGO, focuses on long term development work by addressing the root causes of poverty through education and advocacy work.

– Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: International Food Policy Research Institute, Jagran Josh
Photo: Rediff

There are approximately 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today, with hunger and malnutrition as the leading causes of death in the developing world. Yet, despite the overwhelming magnitude of this problem, global hunger can be solved. By addressing the factors behind widespread hunger – poor agricultural systems, poverty, environmental exploitation and economic crises – we can come closer to ending it. Below are just five practical ways to end global hunger.

1. Decrease the production of meat.
The intense rate at which many countries focus on producing meat has taken a serious toll on resources. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s valuable agricultural resources go towards feeding livestock. If the production of meat was reduced, those resources could go toward ending undernourishment instead.
2. Food for Life and the human responsibility. 
Food for Life is an organization committed to putting a stop to world hunger. Based on simple, yet powerful, principles of human spirit, humility and compassion, Food for Life has developed a number of programs that bring both food and education to malnourished countries.
3. Stop land grabbing. 
Wealthy countries without extensive landholdings have started seizing land in underdeveloped countries to use as allotments. This “land grabbing” prevents people living in the region from using that land to grow crops and sustain their communities, further perpetuating hunger and malnutrition in the area.
4. Small-scale farming. 
Family farmers play a vital role in the development of food sustainability. Small farmers are more likely to produce crops rich in nutrients as opposed to conventional agribusiness that grow mostly starchy crops. Organizations such as AGRA, which works towards a green revolution in Africa, focus heavily on small farmers, providing them with education, quality soils and the seeds necessary to build a prosperous farm.
5. Eliminate infant malnutrition. 
Infant malnutrition is rampant in underdeveloped countries that lack the resources and education necessary to nourish healthy children. Educating families and mothers living in these regions on proper feeding techniques and providing them with the right nutrients at every stage of the pregnancy will make a huge difference in alleviating infant malnutrition.
– Chante Owens

Sources: The Guardian, Food for Life, Living Green Magazine
Photo: Greenpeace


Malaria is the result of an infection that is transmitted by mosquito bites. The parasite, once it enters the bloodstream, travels and infects blood cells. Symptoms range from simple chills to a life threatening coma.

The first and most prevalent symptom is a fever, accompanied by chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and sweating. While these are common symptoms for many different illnesses, including the flu, and any other viral or bacterial infection, it is also indicative of malaria. Since these are ordinary side effects, they are often the most ignored. A slight fever could be neglected with the thought that it’s “just a fever,” while in truth it’s an indicator of malaria.

More severe than the fever and chills is jaundice, which is the inflammation of the liver. Jaundice is accompanied by yellowing of the skin, and the eyes, which is a result of high levels of the bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice can be the result of many other illnesses, including cancer, or hepatitis. Jaundice is, however, one of the most obvious symptoms of malaria.  In the case of malaria, it is a symptom that can only be treated along with the illness. Because jaundice needs to be treated immediately, diagnostic tests are conducted to determine the exact cause of the jaundice, and in this process, malaria could possibly be identified.

Seizures are another side effect of malaria. Some seizures are unidentifiable, as they result in “staring spells,” while others are accompanied by spasms, convulsions, or shaking of the body. Seizures are hard to identify immediately with malaria, but only immediate medical attention can help determine exactly what is causing the seizures.

Anemia may also point to malaria, especially in areas where malnutrition is high, as this can be a result. Anemia is the condition in which there are not enough red blood cells in the body. This can be due to any kind of a dietary deficiency, so it’s hard to attribute this just to malaria.

Finally, comas are an extremely obvious symptom of malaria. Comas can also be a result of anything; for a coma to come about, the patient has to have exhibited other symptoms first. Similar to the other side effects, comas are not exclusively associated with malaria. They can be a result of many other illnesses, and nothing but a proper diagnostic test can help determine whether it is truly caused by malaria.

In all these cases, a diagnostic test normally consists of a blood test to determine whether there are any bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in the blood. Normally, malaria is easily identifiable in these blood tests, and treatment can begin immediately. In areas without proper healthcare, however, this diagnosis and treatment process can take long, and that is why prevention is the first step in defeating malaria.

– Aalekhya Malladi


4-H Canada and Bayer CropScience have partnered to hold the global 4-H Youth Ag-Summit in Calgary, Albert, Canada from August 19-25th. Young adults (ages 18-25) from 24 countries worldwide will “come to the table,” share their ideas and develop a plan of action on how to best feed the hungry planet.

Throughout the week-long event called “Feeding a Hungry Planet,” 120 young agricultural delegates, 25 global mentors, and numerous volunteers will share and explore ideas with peers, business leaders, elected officials, and scientists about the global agricultural challenge.

The United Nations declared in November 2011 that the global population had surpassed 7 billion people. By 2050, it is estimated that another 2 billion people will need to be provided with adequate food and nutrition. The 4-H Youth Ag-Summit is built on the idea that no one person, company or nation holds the answer, but through discussion and innovation, these young minds can find and act upon groundbreaking agricultural solutions to feed our growing world.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that 870 million people, one in every eight people, were suffering from prolonged starvation in 2010-2012. This means they do not have enough food to lead healthy and active lives. Nearly all, or 852 million, live in developing countries. Hunger and malnutrition are the number one threat to global health, bigger than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Solving hunger lays the foundation for progress in other areas of development, such as health and education. Well-nourished women have healthier, heavier babies who have stronger immune systems. A healthy, nourished child is more likely to attend school and perform to their full potential.

Chronic hunger was reduced in the 1980s and 1990s, but progress leveled off between 2000 and 2010. Despite the scale of the issue, hunger is an entirely solvable problem. By combining today’s knowledge, tools, and policies, the world has the capabilities to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry. The young minds at the Feeding the Hungry Planet-4-H Youth Ag Summit are working to do just that.

– Ali Warlich

Sources: Feeding a Hungry Planet, World Food Programme
Photo: UK Ag News

Millions of children around the world suffer from undernutrition. It is defined by UNICEF as a diet bereft of the calories and proteins necessary for growth and bodily maintenance, or the inability to utilize the nutrients in food due to an illness. This undernutrition is the cause of death of 5.6 million children in the developing world annually. And it is largely responsible for the stunted growth of millions of others.

Stunted growth, or low-height for age, can be attributed to a number of factors including infection, parasites, and, as mentioned, undernutrition. While these factors are not explicitly related, they are each correlated with lower incomes and poverty. Moreover, as a result of these conditions, particularly during the early years of a child’s life, he or she may not receive the nutrients necessary for proper development.

Stunting could begin as early as gestation in the womb, and has lifelong consequences as a “chronic restriction of a child’s growth.” Children with stunted growth have restricted brain development, preventing them from achieving their full potential in schooling and the workforce thereafter. In terms of disease, stunting puts children at a greater risk of dying from infection.

The countries in the world with the highest prevalence of stunted growth include Peru, India, Ethiopia, and Vietnam. These countries have risen to the challenge of preventing stunted growth in their children, like Peru with its “5 by 5 by 5” program. This specific program aimed to “reduce stunting in children under 5 by 5 percent in 5 years” by following simple steps like bettering women’s nutrition, encouraging breastfeeding, providing vitamins and nutrient-rich foods, and so on. The success has been widespread in Peru and elsewhere. By 2011, stunting in Ethiopia was reduced from 57% to 44% in children below the age of 5.

– Lina Saud 

Sources: Do Something, World Food Programme, UNICEF, Princeton Publications
Photo: Flikr

Global Food Insecurity
There really is no formula to defining global food insecurity. Still, many world health organizations use the term to point out deficiencies in global food security. To understand what something is, it sometimes helps to understand what it is not. This may just be the case with food insecurity. To understand food insecurity, that is, one must first define and understand food security and work backwards. If food security does not exist, then, by definition, you have food insecurity.

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” This definition hinges on three qualifications: namely food availability, food access, and food use. Lacking one of these elements of food security, a population faces food insecurity, which can and does arise in an endless permutation of manners.


Global Food Insecurity: Failing Food Security Criteria


To establish food security, say, in a developing nation, food must first be available on a consistent basis. Some will argue that there is currently enough food in the world to feed everyone in the world. Nonetheless, people go hungry due to inconsistency in their daily intake of food. For example, one may go days without a meal. In this situation, a cornucopia of food, arriving two weeks later, does nothing to alleviate that person’s current hunger. As such, food security depends on food availability.

Second, the nation’s population must have access to the right kinds of food to sustain a healthy diet. Not only must a person have food available, that is, it must be the right kind of food. For example, a human cannot survive on rice alone. We need all different kinds of food to live healthy lives. The definition of healthy diet here also includes accommodations to particular dietary needs, such as avoiding certain foods or increasing intake of others.

Finally, food security requires appropriate use of food based on adequate knowledge of basic nutrition and care. In order to maintain a healthy diet, one must know how to eat the food that is available to him or her and portion that food out in a way that best serves the needs of his or her body. When USAID drops bags of food over Africa, for example, it will be helpful to also teach those receiving the aid how to ration the food. Basic sanitation and access to water are included in appropriate use to complete the qualifications of food security.

If even one of these three elements or qualifications is not met, it is easy to see how even a full plate of food, three times a day, may not be enough to maintain a healthy diet. Food security requires that the food is enough to satisfy the short, mid, and long-term needs of the human body and that the person consuming the food does so in an appropriate manner to maintain him or herself. Global food insecurity, or deficient food security from a worldwide perspective, exists in a world where even one person goes hungry.

Though great strides have been made in alleviating global hunger, the current level of food insecurity is unacceptable. Even in the United States, 1 out of 10 households were food insecure, hence the importance of food provision and education programs, like, local food banks. To learn more about food (in)security in the U.S., you can visit this site.

– Herman Watson

Sources: U.S. Food Aid and Security, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization
Photo: Security and Sustainability Forum

Chronic hunger is not just an issue that plagues the developing world.

Food poverty has become a huge problem in Ireland and throughout the European Union EU. The Irish Department of Social Protection recently reported that 10% of the Irish population, or nearly 450,000 people were victims of food poverty.

The Irish Food Poverty and Policy Report defines food poverty as “the inability to access a nutritionally adequate diet and the related impacts on health, culture, and social participation.” The deprivation indicators include the inability to access a source of adequate protein at least every other day, as well as the inability to afford a substantial meal on one or more days during a two-week span.

BBC One recently featured an exposé in which three famous chefs lived with a U.K. family for a week and recommend simple ways to shop for and cook nutritious meals on a tight budget. One chef reported that his host family of five lived on the equivalent of $2.50 per day.

Almost all of the families revealed consistently empty refrigerators and pantries. The few items they had consisted of ready-to-heat, pre-packaged meals, as the families reported that natural ingredients were too expensive to purchase and too complicated to prepare.

This phenomenon has led to food poverty’s ultimate paradox: that those experience food poverty in the developed world are more likely to be overweight or obese than those reporting chronic hunger in developing countries.

What accounts for this difference? In developed countries, people who cannot regularly afford food are often drawn to fast food and pre-packaged supermarket meals that boast the lowest prices. The food poverty problem worsens when the most readily available food is cheap, energy-dense, and nutrient poor.

And even though food poverty only affects a minority of Irish and EU citizens, it has implications that spread throughout society as a whole. The Irish Institute for Public Health concludes that high food prices and decreased access to healthy ingredients could cause food riots and geopolitical tension, among other consequences.

The biggest problem with food poverty may be finding a viable solution. Government and health officials have repeatedly turned a blind eye to the issue. The Irish Department of Health and Children recently established a framework for improving the health and wellbeing of the Irish population, yet failed to reference food poverty as a pressing issue.

If the EU truly wishes to uphold its reputation as a leader in developmental aid, it must first address its own developmental issues and assure the wellbeing of its own population. The EU may continue to “sleepwalk into a crisis” until it fully addresses this different kind of food poverty issues that plagues the developed world.

– Alexandra Bruschi

Sources: The Irish Times, EU SafeFood, Healthy Food For All, Combat Poverty Agency