Hunger in East TimorThe situation in Timor Leste (East Timor) has been characterized by war and oppression for decades. In 1975, after Portuguese colonialism finally abdicated control of the region, there began a brutal war between the people of Timor Leste and neighboring Indonesia.

The war resulted in a 24-year Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste, and a cumulative death toll of 200,000 people – nearly one-quarter of the current population. Throughout the country’s occupation, there were guerilla movements working to remove Indonesia from power. However, the final decision to leave Timor Leste to its own devices came after a change of leadership occurred in Indonesia and U.N. intervention.

The Timorese voted for independence in 1999 – the result was a 78 percent majority. Unfortunately, the vote was far from respected. Those who did not wish to be independent of Indonesia instigated yet another insurgency against the majority of Timorese, necessitating more direct United Nations involvement. Finally, in 2002, after two years of U.N. Peacekeeping presence, full independence was attained.

However sweet this victory may have been, it did little to alleviate the problems of poverty, malnutrition and hunger in East Timor. Hunger is arguably the country’s most urgent problem. It affects nearly 100 percent of the population.

In 2010, 57.7 percent of children under the age five were classified as stunting, a term used to describe the condition of weighing too little for your height. Other indicators of malnutrition, such as wasting and generally being underweight, are prevalent, indicating that the situation is dire.

One of the many organizations working to mitigate the effects of hunger in East Timor is Oxfam Australia. The work they do is primarily aimed at educating the public, generally women and children, about the effects of malnutrition and specific ways to increase their family’s consumption of important nutrients.

In classes that they term “supplementary feeding courses,” they demonstrate how to cook nutritious meals, process fresh food so it lasts longer and which ingredients have the highest protein content.

This program, coupled with the organization’s efforts to work with local farmers on improving agricultural yields for their farming cooperatives, has been a formidable attempt to arm Timorese communities with life-saving nutritional and agricultural knowledge.

-Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr


malnutrition in venezuelaA humanitarian hunger crisis has struck the country of Venezuela. The economy has hit rock bottom and moderate to severe child malnutrition in Venezuela has reached 11.4 percent for children under the age of five. The World Health Organization states that a threshold of 10 percent must be surpassed in order to declare a crisis, and Venezuela has well exceeded that threshold. Venezuela’s continuously unstable economy is to blame for the decrease in food and the increase in hunger.

When Venezuela struck massive amounts of oil during World War I, its economy skyrocketed. Its success with oil reserves led to a blossoming economy that assisted in providing its people with what they needed to thrive. However, Venezuela had only relied on the income from the oil industry to fuel its economy. With no economic backup plan, Venezuela was heading down a path of economic destruction.

Venezuela’s economy began its dramatic decline in the 1980s. After the oil price collapse and the accumulation of internal and external government debts, it became apparent that the country had a major financial burden to address. Economic policies to solve this issue were failing and the government was falling deeper into corruption, causing more economic instability.

The coming years would not be any brighter for Venezuela. Ongoing economic mismanagement led to increasing poverty levels. Venezuela went into a recession in 2014, invoking more worry for the country and putting more pressure on the government to make the right economic decisions. The government’s dysfunctional way of solving the country’s money problems eventually led to the worst economic decision to date.

Venezuela’s inflation levels became one of the highest in the world, reaching a record high of 800 percent in December 2016. This hyperinflation came after the Venezuelan government’s decision to enact an internal embargo on food imports, completely cutting off outside sources of food and causing massive food shortages. These food shortages caused an increase in food prices to an unattainable amount. People could not buy food anymore, as a basic food basket could cost up to 16 times the amount of minimum wage.

A popular food item bought in Venezuela is cornmeal. Used to make an arepa, the previous cost of a two-pound bag of cornmeal was 190 bolivars. Now, the cost is 975 bolivars per two-pound bag. This astronomical increase in price hinders the ability to purchase the essential ingredient to make a wholesome meal.

Food shortages directly affect child malnutrition in Venezuela. In just four short years, child malnutrition has gone from three percent to as high as 13 percent in some parts of Venezuela. Families are scavenging the streets to find any morsel of something edible, or standing in line all day only to receive two to three morsels of food to feed their entire family. Today, eight in 10 families eat less than before, and six in 10 families go without food on a regular basis.

Business Insider conducted an interview with Venezuelan resident Lilian Tovar. She weighed in on her personal experience with hunger, stating “If we eat breakfast, we don’t eat lunch, if we eat lunch, we don’t eat dinner, and if we eat dinner, we don’t eat breakfast.” Compromise has become a mindset of the Venezuelan people, deeply affecting both themselves and their children.

Malnutrition can have a lasting effect on a child’s life. When there is limited access to food, children can become deficient in nutrients needed for proper body development. Some of the 20 essential nutrients needed for a healthy body include calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, boron and manganese. These nutrients are found in many plant-based foods and grains. Unfortunately, these products are not easily found, and if found they are at a price that no family can afford. Therefore, a child who is lacking these essential nutrients has a higher risk of bone growth problems and will likely never reach their full growth potential. Inadequate nutrition can also lead to a weak immune system, allowing the body to become more susceptible to diseases and infections later in life. In the worst cases of child malnutrition, normally involving gastrointestinal infection, death is imminent.

Caritas, a crisis-centered organization whose work is now heavily dedicated to Venezuela’s malnutrition crisis, states that “The response to the food crisis must be a social and economic priority, taking the politics out of protecting the most vulnerable people and facilitating the relief work of all those who, officially or unofficially, have direct contact with those most in need throughout the country.” Caritas’ thorough research studies across the four Venezuelan states of Distrito Capital, Vargas, Miranda and Zuliahave have led to their decision to put their full foot forward in rehabilitating the country.

Caritas’ main priority is children under five. They supply malnourished children with food supplements that include protein and iron. Children are brought into Caritas’ makeshift facilities for regular nutrition check-ups in order to provide them with nutritional and medical attention.

Caritas is sending out a desperate plea for the sake of child malnutrition in Venezuela. Their efforts cannot be accomplished alone. Families are suffering and every day more children are being diagnosed with malnutrition. This is now a worldwide cry for help, a call to action and a need for involvement. To eradicate child malnutrition in Venezuela, this call must be answered. Children are the future and with the help of the people, the future is what these children will see.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in UzbekistanHunger in Uzbekistan remains a serious issue, yet it is not recognized as a national one.

Close to 75 percent of the working-class population in Uzbekistan live in rural areas, and thus the income of this stratum of the population typically remains low, which exacerbates the lack of food security. This level of poverty has its roots in Uzbekistan’s independence.

Both the domestic and foreign policy of Uzbekistan are inimical to any significant changes that would address the hunger that plagues the country. Since the main priority of such policies is to keep the ruling regime in power, securing food and combating hunger is simply not a huge priority.

Another cause of the lack of food security is the slow growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), which in recent years was as low as seven percent, which is not sufficient for the steadily increasing population.

Furthermore, the economy of Uzbekistan, in regards to agriculture, is largely confined to producing cotton. This lack of diversification exposes Uzbekistan to increased economic risk. This problem is exacerbated by rising food prices as well.

Despite all of these indicators painting a bleak picture of Uzbekistan in the long run, recent reports have shown a decrease in hunger. From 2000 to 2014 the number of undernourished Uzbeks was reduced to less than half of what they previously were. Currently, this number is at around 1.7 million. While much work has to be done, this is a great improvement.

Additionally, unlike the GDP, the rate of agricultural production increased gradually at about 6 percent every year from 2000 to 2007. Furthermore, wheat production grew nine-fold from 1991 to 2006. These stark improvements are largely a result of the isolationist approach Uzbekistan has adopted in terms of its foreign policy, which has both its pros and cons.

One of the downsides that the Uzbeks have experienced as a result of this foreign policy has already been mentioned: the aversion of the rigid regime to take chances that may benefit its population but would otherwise risk its own stability, such as lifting restrictions on trade. The pros of this are increased self-sufficiency that has spurred the growth in certain aspects of the agricultural sector.

There is much work that needs to be done in order to reduce hunger in Uzbekistan. The country has improved in some ways but further work is needed in order to develop a sustainable model that adequately addresses the needs of the citizenry.

– Mohammad Hasan Javed

Photo: Flickr


VALID Nutrition Fights Malnutrition in Africa
Global malnutrition rates “remain alarming” in 2017, according to research done by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank. Fourteen million children in Africa are too thin for their height, and 4.1 million of these children are said to be in critical condition. Fifty-nine million are “stunted” or failing to grow both physically and cognitively due to acute malnutrition. In 2016, one-third of the world’s stunted children under the age of five lived in Africa.

Progress is being made to find innovative and cost-effective ways to get starving and stunted children the nutrition they need. Ready-to-use therapeutic foods such as pastes and pills providing protein, vitamins, minerals and fat are given to individuals suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The nonprofit VALID Nutrition fights malnutrition in Africa as the first organization to develop, manufacture and distribute such foods exclusively on the continent.

Funded by the Global Innovation Fund, VALID Nutrition received a grant of over $155,000 to test a new supplement in Malawi. The new high-nutritional food is made of local ingredients to reduce the cost of manufacturing.

According to VALID Nutrition, the nonprofit “sources ingredients for its products from indigenous smallholder farmers and local suppliers. This brings major advantages in terms of food security for farmers and, critically, a developmental multiplier effect to local economies— a sustainable approach in the broadest sense.”

Currently, two-thirds of all ingredients for ready-to-use therapeutic foods are sourced from developed countries, whereas only one-third is sourced from crops in developing countries, according to VALID Nutrition.

In Malawi, the nonprofit built a factory in the capital city of Kanengo, which in 2016 produced 8.5 million units of ready-to-use therapeutic foods. This food then treated 80,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. VALID Nutrition fights malnutrition in Africa on a large scale, which continues spread to other countries.

In 2016, VALID Nutrition launched a new ready-to-use therapeutic food supplement in Malawi with the aid of Dr. Peter Kumpalume, MP and Minister for Health, Malawi.

“VALID Nutrition’s Social Enterprise model, whereby they source and manufacture locally, is one we very much admire,” stated Kumpalume in a press release. “Not only does it contribute to economic development and avoid the need to import, but thanks to the innovative approach, the company has also got the potential for export.”

VALID Nutrition’s business model pushes for further engagement in the private sector, engaging other non-governmental organizations. Since established, the VALID Nutrition factory in Malawi has produced 40 million units of ready-to-use therapeutic foods which treated 400,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. VALID Nutrition fights malnutrition in Africa by utilizing local resources that go directly to those in need.

Riley Bunch

Photo: Google

Hunger continues to be the world’s biggest health problem. Hunger is one of the most emblematic images of poverty: the picture of stunted, malnourished children tends to resonate empathetical feelings in almost anyone. Just thinking of an image like this shows how, in one way or another, society knows how much suffering world hunger causes. With this information, the real question is how many people die from hunger each year.

This year, 36 million people will die from starvation. Essentially, that equates to a person dying of hunger every second of the year. Of these 36 million inhabitants, children are especially vulnerable. Every minute, 12 children under the age of five will die of hunger.  This fact represents a death every five seconds.

The question itself of hunger, not just hunger-related deaths, is just as equally an important issue. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hunger as the want or scarcity of food in a country. The current world population is more than seven billion, and 795 million people, or one in every nine people, suffer from hunger. Almost all of these people are living in developing countries. Countries in Asia suffer from this problem more than any other region, with 525 million people suffering. Sub-Saharan African countries follow with a combined 214 million.

These regions are the most susceptible to conflict and drought, and usually, these tragedies end in famine.  All of these factors are a direct relation to hunger. Consequently, 50 percent of all hungry people are families that depend on agriculture.

While there may have been an extreme spike in cases of hunger from 1995 to 2009 (an increase from sub-800 million hungry citizens to more than one billion in 2009), there has been a stark and continual decrease from 2009 to 2017. Currently, the world is seeing the lowest number of hungry people since 1995. There are 200 million fewer people suffering from hunger than there were 25 years ago.

With the understanding of how many people die from hunger each year and how many people still suffer from it, the question is how can this issue be addressed? One method to fight against global hunger is by supporting The Borgen Project. The Borgen Project places its focus on alleviating global poverty.  By ridding the world of poverty, there will directly influence those who are also suffering from hunger.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

Namibia is an upper-middle income country that has sustained positive growth between 2000 and 2015. Plagued by HIV, tuberculosis and malnutrition, lower-income earners experience conditions of poverty. Recurrent natural disasters along with drought keep food production inconsistent.

For that reason, there is a heavy reliance on imports. This makes Namibia very susceptible to increases in food prices and is a key reason that 42.3 percent of the population is undernourished.

Low-income earners are susceptible to these changes and the prevalence of food insecurity continues. As a result, malnutrition has become a hindrance to sustainable growth. Hunger in Namibia is so serious that it is rated among four other African countries as one of the highest when it comes to the amount of population that’s undernourished. Income-disparity levels play a large part in why that statistic is true, as the country is also ranked among the top in that category.

The unemployment rate is also high at 29.9 percent leaving many without a sustainable source of funds. This contributes to the hunger in Namibia.

The heavy prevalence of HIV/AIDS is an additional factor contributing to food insecurity. With a rate of 13.5 percent, Namibia ranks as the sixth-most affected country by the disease. Those infected have a hard time working and providing support for their families.

Recently hit by the biggest drought in 35 years, Namibia declared a state of emergency. An already arid environment became much worse and, coupled with existing conditions of poverty, the situation prompted a response. The government has taken initiative in trying to recover damages from recurrent droughts. From April 2015 to March 2016, $916 million has been spent on a drought relief program. This is a serious problem in the country.

With food production continuously dropping, prices on food imports will continue to plague the population. The government has taken positive steps with regards to agriculture, but more is needed to combat hunger effectively.

Nick Katsos

Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in India
India is one of the fastest growing economies in 2017, yet it has the highest number of children suffering from malnutrition, according to World Bank data. Forty-four percent of the children below the age of five are underweight, 72 percent of the infants have anemia and 194.6 million people are undernourished.

A quarter of undernourished people in the world live in India. India’s dependence on carbohydrates with low protein in their diet is the main cause of malnutrition, according to Nobel Prize winner for economics Angus Deaton. Poor sanitation has triggered infection-borne deficiencies in nutrients.

According to United Nation estimates, 2.1 million children die in India every year before reaching the age of five and four die every minute. One thousand children die every day because of diarrhea. Forty-eight million children under the age of five are stunted. According to a study, malnutrition in India could cost the economy $46 billion by 2030. Five states and 50 percent of the villages account for 80 percent of the malnutrition.

Reasons for this challenge stem from a lack of an institutional framework to address malnutrition, a lack of monitoring and accountability in publicly funded nutrition programs and a lack of convergence among multiple governments on an approach to address this issue.

Overcoming malnutrition in India would require a multifaceted approach including education for girls, availability of safe drinking water and vaccinations and public interventions focusing on socioeconomic development. More research is required in this area to tackle this challenge.

Political commitment is essential for a well-planned and long-term project that can enhance development. Nutritional planning focused on improving production and distribution of food is needed to reach the grassroots of the society. Making food available through public distribution systems and increasing the purchasing power of people in low-income countries is crucial. Nutrition education and early detection of malnutrition are factors which can empower society against this challenge.

Although India has taken many programs including improving salt iodization, improving breastfeeding and improving large-scale food fortification, the country needs to make fighting malnutrition a national priority to overcome this tremendous challenge.

Aishwarya Bansal

Photo: Flickr

20 facts about hunger
Hunger is an issue affecting all nations. Nearly 43 million Americans faced food insecurity in 2015, and feeding the American homeless, poverty-plagued families and undernourished children are matters the U.S. government takes seriously. The following 20 facts about hunger shine a specific light on the plight of the most malnourished nations. From these 20 facts about hunger, it is clear that people all over the world are afflicted by the issue of hunger.

20 Facts about Hunger

  1. Poverty is the principal cause of hunger. In 2012, the World Bank estimated that there were 896 million people in developing countries living at or below $1.90 a day.
  2. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. The world produced 2,790 kilocalories per person per day between 2006 and 2008.
  3. Malnutrition can lead to growth failure. Principal types of growth failure are ‘stunting’ and ‘wasting.’ Stunting is a slow process caused by a lack of nutrients and wasting is caused by insufficient protein.
  4. Around 794 million people were undernourished between 2014 and 2016 — 10.9 percent of the global population.
  5. In Angola, an African country with the highest under-five mortality rate in the world, more than 15 percent of the population is underweight and nearly 30 percent suffer from stunting.
  6. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 161 million children worldwide are affected by stunting. Suffering from nutrient-poor diets or ongoing infections, stunted children may have normal body proportions but look younger than they actually are.
  7. Iodine deficiencies during pregnancy can lead to severe mental retardation or stillbirth. Though iodized salt is common in the developed world, more than 50 countries report a serious iodine deficiency problem.
  8. With more than 30 percent of people underweight, Pakistan ranked last on the 2012 Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index for its public spending on agriculture as a share of total public spending.
  9. More than 232 million people living in Africa were undernourished between 2014 and 2016 — 20 percent of the African population.
  10. In 2013, Myanmar ranked last on the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index for access to agricultural research and extension services.
  11. Undernourished children are more likely to underperform in school and on tests of intelligence and reading.
  12. Malnutrition during pregnancy increases the risk of mental illness. Studies investigating famines reported increases in the rate of schizophrenia during periods of prolonged prenatal exposure to hunger, or “nutritional inadequacy.”
  13. The World Food Programme calculated that it would cost $3.2 billion annually to feed the 66 million hungry school-age kids around the world.
  14. There are many scientific theories of why humans get hungry. Some of them are the stomach contraction theory, the glucose theory, the insulin theory, the fatty acid theory, and the heat-production theory.
  15. Almost 780 million people living in developing regions were undernourished between 2014 and 2016 –12.9 percent of the developing nations population.
  16. Over the course of two decades, the amount of undernourished Latin Americans has shrunk by more than 30 million.
  17. The availability of water is crucial to farming and food production. Climate change may affect crops and hundreds of millions of “water-stressed” people in the coming decade.
  18. The World Food Programme calculated that it costs $0.25 daily to give a child the vitamins and nutrients necessary for healthy growth.
  19. Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries defines hunger as “the state of not having enough food to eat, especially when this causes illness or death.”
  20. In 2011, undernutrition was estimated to be the cause of more than three million child deaths — 45 percent of all child deaths.

These 20 facts about hunger only highlight the issue on a universal level, but they can act as a guide unveiling the true lives of those who live in poverty stricken conditions on a daily basis. Knowledge can prevent many in the position to help alleviate the problem to act. With combined knowledge and aid, terminating world hunger remains hopeful.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr

The Republic of Cameroon, located in Central Africa, is one of the youngest and hungriest countries in the world. At just over 50 years old, Cameroon ranked 153 out of 188 on the 2015 Human Development Index and 68 out of 104 on the 2015 Global Hunger Index. Forty percent of the country’s nearly 24 million people live below the poverty line and 2.6 million are food insecure.

Programs Focus on Agriculture to Reduce Hunger

Over the past decade, more and more organizations have worked to reduce hunger in Cameroon. The Agricultural Competitiveness Project, launched in 2010, is one of these assistance programs. The organization’s goal is to boost Cameroon’s agriculture production by developing rural infrastructure facilities and investing in value chains for maize, rice and meat.

By June 2016, the Agricultural Competitiveness Project had raised rice crop yields by 16 percent, maize yields by 98 percent and plantain yields by 220 percent in targeted areas. The production of meat for consumption had significant increases as well – annual pig live weight had a 122 percent increase, poultry live weight increased by 257 percent and average annual egg production showed a 141 percent increase.

Since 1974, Heifer International has also been working in Cameroon, along with the Ministry of Livestock and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to help as much of the poor population as possible. Heifer has primarily focused on job creation in the dairy industry but has recently expanded to include other livestock species in its projects (which are located in six of Cameroon’s 10 regions).

Despite the influx of foreign aid and a public investment program by the government of Cameroon, financial stability is in question due to growing debt and low levels of private sector lead growth. The country has not seen the levels of progression that are necessary to sustain its people. From 2001 to 2014, poverty levels fell from 40.2 to 37.5 percent. Cameroon has been able to meet only one of the Millennium Development Goals, which was focused on primary school enrollment. Despite reduction efforts, hunger in Cameroon is still an issue that warrants direct attention. The programs set forth have shown obvious positive results in most cases, but progress in Cameroon should continue to grow with additional future endeavors.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Recent growth and investment in agriculture in Eastern Asia and Latin America have put the regions on the path toward eliminating hunger. On the other hand, climate change, conflict and poverty have prevented more than 50 countries from reaching international food availability goals. This list of the top 10 hunger stats references in-depth studies and highlights global trends. Additionally, the list offers perspective into the effects of hunger on impoverished communities. Ahead are the top 10 hunger stats.

10 Hunger Statistics

  1. Between 2014 and 2016, 794.6 million people faced undernourishment around the globe. This is equivalent to 10.9 percent of the global population.
  2. Of those undernourished between 2014 and 2016, 779.9 million lived in developing regions. This number is equivalent to 12.9 percent of the population of developing areas.
  3. In Africa alone, 232.5 million people were undernourished between 2014 and 2016. This represents 20 percent of the African population.
  4. Undernourishment in Eastern Asia has fallen by nearly 50 percent in the last two decades, from 295 million undernourished between 1990-1992 to 145 million undernourished between 2014-16.
  5. In 2011, undernutrition was estimated to be the cause of 3.1 million child deaths — 45 percent of all child deaths.
  6. In 2013, 51 million children under the age of five suffered from wasting, or a decrease in fat and muscle tissue, with 17 million of those affected severely. Two-thirds of those children lived in Asia and almost one-third lived in Africa.
  7. In developing countries, close to 40 percent of preschool children are estimated to be anemic, or iron-deficient.
  8. An estimated 250 million preschool children across the globe do not have adequate levels of Vitamin A. Of those 250 million children, between 250,000 and 500,000 go blind each year. Additionally, half of that number die within 12 months of onset.
  9. Conflict increases hunger. In 2012, the estimated number of conflict-affected residents represented 21 percent of the estimated 805 million undernourished people in that year.
  10. In 2013, there were a dozen countries with a rate of under-five mortality at 10 percent or higher. They are all on the continent of Africa. The country of Angola is the only country in the world with an under-five mortality rate greater than 15 percent.

Hunger begets hunger. Many times malnutrition and undernourishment leads to low weight and poor human growth and development. These symptoms cause future health and financial problems. These top 10 hunger stats represent that, while the numbers of hunger are improving, past deficiencies have stunted growth for many nations.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr