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Hunger in Ecuador
Since 2000, the economy in Ecuador has turned around drastically. After its financial crisis in the early ’90s, poverty rates skyrocketed, and hunger in Ecuador multiplied. Foreign and domestic assistance programs, coupled with sound government actions have helped create a more stable environment. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of Ecuadorians going without.

More citizens in poverty than not

In the late ’90s, a failure of Ecuador’s largest banks resulted in one of the worst economic crises in its history. By 2000,  64.4 percent of its citizens were living below the poverty line. The Ecuadorian government stepped in and took out a loan from China to help stop the bleeding, and focused on bringing the 10 percent of the Ecuadorian population who emigrated after the crisis back with a “Welcome Home” plan. This aided those who returned to Ecuador to start businesses, which in turn helped unemployment and poverty levels. At the close of 2015, those living below the poverty line in Ecuador had fallen to 23.3 percent – still nearly a quarter of the population.

Despite the declining poverty levels, hunger in Ecuador is still a major concern, and 64 percent of people in Ecuador seeking refuge do not have sufficient access to food. In addition to this, 23.9 percent of children under the age of five are affected by chronic malnutrition or inadequate nutrition over long periods of time. Malnutrition in children leads to stunted growth, and a “wasted” or extremely thin, underweight body. Even Ecuadorian citizens who have consistent access to food are at risk of these concerns. This overlap is caused by a lack of proper nutrition awareness and a limited access to nutritious food. Ecuador is prone to natural disasters (the most recent – a devastating earthquake in 2016 which resulted in three percent of the GDP spent on reconstruction), soil and environmental deterioration, and climate change all have a negative impact on agriculture in Ecuador, and make the sustainability of food systems troublesome.

How to help

Those who are most vulnerable must be helped first, as they are encountering serious health risks every single day. The poverty line in rural areas is at 38 percent, almost double the national average. These people need access to nutritional food immediately. New mothers of Ecuador in these troubled areas need to be given information and assistance on what their children need in their early years to prevent this chronic malnourishment. Then, the government can be given support, advisement, and the resources necessary to ensure that hunger in Ecuador is no longer an issue in the future.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Micronesia
Poverty in Micronesia? The lush beauty of the tropical island group known as Micronesia implies a paradise of plenty, yet the Federated States of Micronesia remains a nation burdened by poverty. Here are five facts about poverty in Micronesia:

  1. Nearly one in five people live on less than $2 a day. Though the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of an impressive 607 separate islands across its four major states of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, the population totals approximately 100,000. As of 2013, over 17 percent of the population lived on just $1.90 a day, well below the poverty line.
  2. Malnutrition is a major contributing factor. A lack of variety in available foods results in hunger, especially among children, and impedes the opportunity for citizens to rise above poverty in Micronesia. Many families rely on a local diet full of processed meats, canned fish, and carbohydrate-heavy produce such as breadfruit and yams, resulting in malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, more than 20 percent of pregnant women are anemic in the broader Pacific Island region where Micronesia lies. Sadly, 29 of every 1,000 babies born in Micronesia currently do not survive past their first year.
  3. The global definition of poverty may not apply. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielagaoi went on public record in September 2016 criticizing the United Nations’ current formula to measure poverty across the globe. This criticism stems from his consideration of the practical realities of life in the Pacific, in which it is common for young adults to have many children. He went so far as to say the existing figure of poverty, which is defined by an individual earning less than $400 per week, was “very stupid.” In response, the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Group has appointed a dedicated committee to create a more appropriate replacement.
  4. A manufactured scarcity of resources is a leading cause. A drought in early 2016 caused the Asian Development Bank to lower the GDP projection for the Federated States of Micronesia to a mere 2 percent. Meanwhile, a broader problem of persistent societal disruption contributes to this slowing of growth. Initially examined in a 2004 study known as the Jenrok Report, life in the Pacific was described as a myriad of deficiencies. Overcrowding, contamination in ground wells and a lack of many home connections to a central water system cause sickness and contributed to poverty. Yet the Pacific governments consistently fail to spend all funds provided by other countries in foreign aid. This false scarcity shows that substantial improvement must be done at the administrative and infrastructural levels to provide for the people of Micronesia.
  5. Work is being done to improve it. The Salvation Army has worked tirelessly for more than two decades in the states of Pohnpei and Chuuk to reduce poverty, providing direct aid by supplying food and establishing social and spiritual development services. Another nonprofit organization, the USEAO, is headquartered in Seattle and was founded in 2013. They are similarly dedicated to improving the lives of citizens in Micronesia by contributing direct aid and concentrating on solving the problem of infant malnutrition.

Thanks in part to the efforts of organizations such as the Salvation Army and the USEAO, poverty-relief in Micronesia is improving. The Asian Development Bank GDP projection for the coming year is higher than 2016, and efforts to increase tourism in the Federated States of Micronesia show promise for a future where poverty is a thing of the past.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr


At least 1.3 million Ugandans face hunger following drought conditions and subsequent poor crop yields, according to a 2016 email statement from Christopher Kibazanga, Ugandan minister of state for agriculture. Among the harder hit were the citizens of the northeastern Karamoja region, with 65 percent of people having access to only half a meal or less per day.

Multiple nonprofits, however, have focused on eliminating Uganda food insecurity for decades and are still seeking long-term solutions to this crisis. Here are three nonprofit initiatives that are contributing to the fight against hunger in Uganda.

Hunger Project
Hunger Project has been working in Uganda since 1999, and utilizes an aid distribution method they refer to as an “epicenter strategy.” This method involves establishing community-built and community–facilitated mobilization centers that bring together multiple villages to share resources and address issues that affect all communities involved.

Over an eight-year timeframe, an epicenter addresses hunger and poverty while allowing communities to become sustainable and self-reliant, with the goal of being able to fund programs and activities without investor involvement.

Hunger Project has established 11 epicenters which serve 494 villages in total, reaching 287,807 people in all.

The World Food Programme
World Food Programme (WFP) is working with the Ugandan government, partners in the United Nations and nongovernment organizations to turn emergency responses to food insecurity into longer-term investments that seek to solve the root of the problems.

WFP supports approximately 70 percent of refugees in Uganda through monthly rations, cooked meals at transit centers and nutrition support for pregnant and nursing women and children aged between six months and five years.

This nonprofit program also organizes the distribution of 284 school meals to students in Karamoja. The meals include locally produced cereals, in hopes of facilitating local commerce.

Feed the Children
Since 2012, Feed the Children provided health education to communities in northern Uganda. These services include school health programs that provide meals and vitamin supplements, as well teach teens about making good food choices, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

As of 2015, 274 children in early learning centers received meals through their schools, 118 children received vitamin A supplements and 302 children received deworming medicine.

Feed the Children also promotes community malnutrition detection education to increase the number of children that can access quality and timely treatment. This initiative advocates family health planning as a realistic and sustainable method to minimize hunger in Uganda.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

World Hunger Statistics facts
While great strides have been made towards fighting hunger and malnutrition, world hunger remains a persistent problem. Hunger is detrimental to developing countries, as it pushes impoverished families into a downward spiral and prevents further development. This article discusses the leading world hunger statistics.

Top 15 World Hunger Statistics

 

  1.  Approximately 842 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. That’s almost 12 percent of the world’s population of 7.1 billion people.
  2. Ninety-eight percent of those who suffer from hunger live in developing countries. 553 million live in the Asian and Pacific regions, while 227 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 47 million.
  3. India has the highest population of hungry people. In 2014, over 190.7 million people were undernourished in India.
  4. Approximately 9 million people die of world hunger each year according to world hunger statistics; more than the death toll for malaria, AIDs and tuberculosis combined in 2012.
  5. Over 60 percent of the world hungry are women, who have limited access to resources because of the patriarchal societies in which they live.
  6. Because of the prevalence of hunger in women in developing countries, malnutrition is a leading cause of death for children. Approximately 3.1 million children die of hunger each year, and in 2011 poor nutrition accounted for 45 percent of deaths for children under five.
  7. Malnutrition is a primary symptom of hunger. Forty percent of preschool-age children are estimated to be anemic because of iron deficiency, and anemia causes 20 percent of all maternal deaths. In addition, it is estimated that 250 to 500 thousand children go blind from Vitamin A deficiency every year.
  8. Malnutrition causes stunting among children, a condition characterized by low height for a child’s age. In 2013, it was estimated that 161 million children under 5 were stunted worldwide.
  9. Malnutrition also causes wasting, a condition characterized by low weight for a child’s age. In 2013, it was estimated that 51 million children under 5 were wasted.
  10. Great strides have been made towards ending world hunger. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that the total number of hungry people worldwide has been reduced by 216 million people since 1992.
  11. 11. The regions that have made the greatest progress towards ending world hunger have been Latin America and South-East Asia. Latin America reduced its hunger rate from 14.7 percent in 1990-1992 to 5.5 percent in 2012-2014, whereas South-East Asia reduced its hunger rate from 30.6 percent to 9.6 percent in the same period.
  12. One region that has shown little reduction in hunger has been Sub-Saharan Africa. While the hunger rate in this region fell 10 percent from 1992-2014, the number of hungry people has actually risen during this time period, from 175.7 million to 220 million.
  13. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. Food availability per capita has increased from approximately 2220 kcal per person per day in the 1960s to 2790 kcals per person per day in 2006.
  14. Poverty is the number one cause of world hunger. The World Bank estimates that 10.7 percent of the world’s population, or 767 million people, lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.
  15. Over 75 percent of the world poorest grow their own food. This causes widespread food insecurity in developing countries, as drought, climate change and natural disasters can easily cut off a family’s food supply.

World hunger has proven to be a difficult problem to solve, despite the efforts of many nations and organizations working to eradicate it. However, world hunger statistics show that great progress has been made towards reducing it, and regions such as East Asia, South-East Asia and Latin America have met the Millennium Development Goal for developing countries to cut their hunger rates in half by 2015. If efforts from organizations like USAID and UNICEF continue, even more progress can be made to fight world hunger.

Chasen Turk

Photo: Flickr

 

Poverty in Djibouti
The small nation of Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa, is only about 9,000 square miles and has a small population of about 820,000 people. Currently, poverty in Djibouti persists as a major problem with more than 23 percent of those 820,000 living in conditions described as extreme poverty.

Consistent food deficits caused by Djibouti’s harsh climate make agriculture harder here than in other areas of the continent. This creates a dependence on imports to feed the population and leaves the country especially disadvantaged by drought, floods and other natural disasters. Droughts leave an exceptionally long-lasting impact in the form of crop destruction and loss of livestock. In 2011, the U.N. reported that Djibouti’s ranchers lost 70-80 percent of their livestock during a period in which food prices also rose 50 percent.

These increasing rates of malnourishment have led many to migrate away from rural areas to the capital in search of work. Today around two-thirds of the population is condensed in Djibouti City, leaving a small percentage to farm. These factors culminate into mass poverty in Djibouti and need direct solutions as well as continued foreign support to combat. Many in Djibouti must concentrate what little income they earn towards food and basic survival at the expense of health and education. Those in the Garabtisan Village must walk 23 kilometers just to fetch water for the village, many surviving on 40 liters for up to three days at a time.

Despite its plethora of issues and dependence on foreign aid, Djibouti’s geographical position as a trade gateway to Ethiopia has spurred some economic opportunities. The International Monetary Fund estimates that real GDP increased during 2015-2016 by around 6.5 percent, but continued support is needed to continue this positive trend into the future. Efficient infrastructure development, political stability, and natural disaster relief remain crucial to Djibouti’s continued growth. Suffering has been alleviated by efforts such as the U.N. raising $17.4 million in response to the 2011 drought, the World Food Programme providing emergency food aid to 61,000 rural farmers and $1 million from UNICEF for Djibouti’s children.

Continued economic growth may provide more paths out of poverty and consistent foreign assistance from countries around the world can, one day, end poverty in Djibouti. Reaching out to U.S. members of Congress for continued USAID support can go a long way in giving millions the opportunities needed to become self-sufficient. Each and every person in the United States possesses the power to speak out for what matters, ending human suffering around the globe.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

Aid for Afghanistan
In recent days, the United Nations has sought greater aid for Afghanistan’s most vulnerable population.

Those who qualify for humanitarian assistance in 2017 number at least 9.3 million—13 percent higher than last year and almost a third of its population. As Afghani people are displaced daily by the fighting between the Taliban and military groups, and thousands of refugees return from Pakistan and Iran, the government struggles to provide routine necessities for its people. A record of 8,397 civilians lost their lives due to the fighting in the first nine months of 2016, while another half a million people were displaced by last November. And so far, this trend is predicted to only grow.

But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, in 2014, it was believed that Afghanistan’s GDP would grow around 12 percent per year. This was prior to the international military force withdrawing from the country before it realized how fully Afghanistan’s economics depended on the foreign troops. Since 2002, foreign troops filled 800 bases, brought in hundreds of millions of dollars into their economy, and thus stood as Afghanistan’s single largest source of revenue. Their departure, then, was devastating. Annual GDP growth is now around one percent.

Afghan analyst Helena Malikyar wrote on the matter, “Projects attached to international aid – one of the largest sources of employment in the past decade – have for the most part shut down or placed in hibernation.”

The U.N.’s aid for Afghanistan, should it be received, will number 500 million dollars and will be given to the country’s 5.7 million most vulnerable population. Afghanistan currently carries malnutrition rates of about 15 percent in over a quarter of its provinces. Of the total 1.8 million people this affects, 1.3 million are children under the age of 5. Of the 9.3 million people in need of general aid, more than half are children. Not only facing malnutrition, the U.N. has reported abuse and exploitation, specifically through “forced marriage, sexual abuse and harmful child labor”.

While the U.N.’s aid for Afghanistan will assist a select group, it still will not be enough to end their plight. Until the Taliban’s insurgency ends and the economy is able to stand on its own, Afghanistan’s crisis must be watched carefully and tended to fervently.

Brenna Yowell

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Mali
As the 12th poorest country in Africa, Mali has remained poverty-stricken for many years. Malnutrition issues, lack of education and conflict are the main causes of poverty in Mali.

The average wage in Mali is $1.25 per day, and more than half of the population currently lives below the international poverty line. This contributes to Mali being one of the least developed countries in the world. The average life expectancy of adults in Mali is 55, due to malnutrition and the lack of access to clean water.

Mali is mostly self-sufficient in the food market. Many people work on farms in order to grow crops to provide for their families and communities. Mali faces many issues involving its climate and landscape. Two-thirds of Mali is desert, meaning that immediately, droughts become a serious issue. With poor soils, millions find it difficult to grow the crops they need and due to low wages, they are unable to buy what their family demands. As a result, malnutrition becomes a leading issue and is the main factor of poverty in Mali.

Poor education facilities across the country have led to poverty across Mali and as poverty heightens, the level of education deteriorates further. School enrollment is currently at 67 percent and across the country, the adult literacy rate is 38.7 percent. This is one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, as the global average stands at 86 percent. This figure shows that the level of education needs to be higher, which means that facilities need to be improved and the level of teaching must be higher.

The current conflict is adding to the problems revolving around poverty in Mali as over half a million families are affected. As conflict continues, Malians are fleeing to neighboring countries in seek of asylum. Families continue to live in poverty as food shortages continue to be an issue. As people are moving away from Mali, they are not earning enough money to provide their families with what they need.

The United Nations World Food Programme is aiding Mali by providing nutritional support to those who still live there. In 2013, around 125 thousand people were provided with food support in the north of the country. Others in the south are also aided while they work on community-building projects. The program is helping to provide citizens with money to buy fresh vegetables and meat, which not only helps to provide for families but also to boost the local economy.

Georgia Boyle

Photo: Flickr

Green Revolution in Africa
Agriculture is the key industry in developing countries. It grants a generous number of employment opportunities to the local population and therefore, is an important source of income for poor households. Farmers are responsible for harvesting fresh produce and contribute significantly to the health of the local community.

The Green Revolution, with its roots predominantly in Africa, proposes specific targeted measures to increase yields from farming. It advocates the use of scientific research to complement traditional farming techniques. By doing this, farmers can be advised on the optimum conditions to grow their crop, the comparative effectiveness of fertilizers and even the best technology that can aid farming.

Approximately a decade ago, Africa substantially increased its core investments in agriculture. The investment not only involved increasing support for farmers but also directing more resources towards research and development to discover more effective farming strategies.

One important objective of the Green Revolution in Africa is to transition from a highly human labor dependent farming system to a mechanized system, whereby machines perform repetitive tasks with greater efficiency.

Ren Wang, Assistant Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, expresses his belief that, “mechanization in its broadest sense can contribute significantly to the sustainable development of food systems globally, as it has the potential to render post-harvest, processing and marketing activities and functions more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly.”

The Green Revolution in Africa also aims to improve farmers’ links with external supply outlets to maximize incomes and increase job prospects.

Increasing farming productivity and output is likely to contribute to better incomes for farmers and greater opportunities for entrepreneurship. Farmers are more likely to be encouraged to continue farming if equipped with good quality resources such as fertile soil, controlled climatic factors and efficient machinery.

Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have demonstrated support for this ambitious revolution by donating millions of dollars to the cause. The reasoning for these donations lies in the fact that the agriculture industry has made considerable progress, yet poor nutrition remains an important cause of mortality and morbidity in Africa.

Malnutrition, especially in younger children, has resulted in approximately 18 percent of children under the age of five being underweight. This not only has detrimental consequences for normal physical development, but also future social capital. If children do not receive adequate nutrition, their ability to learn is impaired and they will only be able to contribute to the society in a limited number of ways.

According to the United Nations, by 2050, Africa is estimated to have approximately 2.4 billion individuals — nearly double its current population. With such a precipitous increase in population, the Green Revolution can only aspire to transform farming into a profitable and productive proposition.

Tanvi Ambulkar

Aquaculture in Bangladesh: Using Seafood as a Means to Overcome Hunger
Bangladesh has maintained its status as one of the most populous countries in the world. Despite its dense population, the country has experienced a reduction in population growth rates in recent years. This population decrease can be linked with ameliorated education facilities and improved health care provision.

According to statistics released by the World Bank, extreme poverty rates in Bangladesh have shown an impressive decrease from 18 percent in 2009-2010 to 12.9 percent in 2015-2016.

With its close proximity to the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh has a robust supply of water and other aquatic produce such as seafood. Fish is touted as one of the most popular food sources in Bangladesh. Fish is particularly valued for its nutritional content, including a good supply of essential fatty acids and protein.

Fish also contain zinc, which facilitates normal development in children, and iron, which plays a role in the development of the brain. It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of Bangladesh’s population consumes fish almost every other day.

Recently, revolutionary research revealed that a balanced combination of agriculture and aquaculture in Bangladesh may help palliate hunger. This combination achieves a reduction in hunger by producing both rice and fish, the two most popular foods in Bangladesh, in large quantities.

Malnutrition rates in Bangladesh are very high, with approximately 54 percent of preschool-age children suffering from stunted development and 56 percent belonging to the underweight category. Micronutrient deficiencies are also particularly rife in the country, with zinc and iron being among the most common minerals excluded from the diet.

Aquaculture in Bangladesh, which involves increasing productivity of fish suppliers, addresses the issue of malnutrition effectively. Techniques to increase fish supply include increasing food availability for fish, application of fertilizers and creation of local ponds to culture fish in a carefully controlled environment. Another simple yet effective strategy involves “stocking” fish for future use, allowing fertilization to occur and then harvesting the resultant stock.

Nonprofit organizations such as WorldFish, an organization focused on aquaculture, support research and development in the field of aquaculture to improve techniques for fishing. Sustainability is also an important factor to preclude the possibility of extinction of fish species and ensure that the population is assured of a constant food supply.

Aquaculture in Bangladesh not only addresses the rampant issue of malnutrition in the country, but it also provides a steady source of income in the form of export earnings. It is estimated that Bangladesh earned approximately $547.28 million from the export of fish and similar products. These earnings can be utilized for the benefit of the country by setting up feeding campaigns in school and providing information about the importance of proper nutrition.

Tanvi Ambulkar

Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Ghana
Malnutrition in Ghana has cost its economy $2.6 billion annually or 6.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) due to increased health care costs, additional burdens on the educational system and lower productivity by its workforce, according to a new United Nations report.

In the Northern Region, malnutrition is much more prevalent with 20 percent of children under five being underweight. As a result, there is a high stunting rate of 32.4 percent. The region is also plagued by high rate of micronutrient deficiencies such as anemia and vitamin A deficiency.

The USAID Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING), a collaborative project dedicated to sustainably reducing poverty and improving livelihoods and nutritional status of vulnerable populations, called for exclusive breastfeeding to combat malnutrition in Ghana.

“Mothers should stick to [exclusive] breastfeeding for the first six months after which they can introduce the sour foods to children,” nutrition officer of the USAID-RING Project, Kristen Kappos underscored.

Kappos also implored health workers, volunteers and farmers to continue raising people’s awareness on breastfeeding within their operational zones.

As far back as 1991, Ghana adopted the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) to promote and support the practice of exclusive breastfeeding. However, exclusive breastfeeding rate has remained unchanged for two decades at 64.7 percent, far lower than the World Health Organization would prefer.

According to a recent study, knowledge gaps in key nutritional areas, especially infant and young child feeding, are the main reason leading to a low rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana.

About 26 percent of the mothers studied were unable to define exclusive breastfeeding and 22 percent of them said breastmilk only was not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the child. They believed that the child may not be satisfied and could die if fed with only breastmilk for six months. Nearly 90 percent of the mothers did not know that breast milk could be expressed, stored safely and given to the child when the mothers were absent.

In addition, cultural factors also create challenges for mothers to breastfeed. The majority of the mothers showed a lack of confidence in expressing and storing breastmilk, a taboo in the local context.

Interventions must be designed to increase women’s confidence and dispel their misconceptions regarding breast milk, USAID-RING Project urged. Meanwhile, Hajia Ayishetu Bukari, Central Gonja district director of Ghana Health Service, also emphasized the need for employers to create and maintain conducive workplaces for exclusive breastfeeding practices.

Yvie Yao