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Hunger in the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR), a landlocked country in Central Africa, has one of the highest rates of hunger in the world. In fact, it ranks second-to-last on the 2019 Human Development Index. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the country has struggled with weak markets, low productivity, gender inequality and hunger following years of political instability and conflict.

Hunger in the Central African Republic has become a more drastic concern as a result of a 2013 coup, which ousted President François Bozizé and led to a 36% reduction in the country’s GDP. The country’s ongoing civil war, with renewed violence starting in 2017, has displaced people from their homes and has led to rising food prices due to weakened food production. While much of the country is self-sufficient in food crops like cassava, peanuts and millet, the tsetse fly has hindered livestock development.

Natural Impacts on Agriculture

In the Central African Republic, the tsetse fly has contributed to a disease called animal trypanosomiasis, a fatal disease that impacts cattle and wild animals. The tsetse fly is responsible for killing off a significant portion of CAR’s livestock. Tsetse flies also cause sleeping sickness in humans. This can lead to seizures, central nervous system failure, fever and weight loss. With little food or clean water, people with sleeping sickness are often unable to recover from these symptoms.

According to researcher Paterne Mombe in a Wilson Center interview, the government of CAR enacted agricultural policies over the last 50 years that shifted focus towards importing food instead of growing it themselves. This has resulted in underperforming agricultural output. As a result of poor agricultural practices, Mombe stated that this has led to conflict against the government, the destruction of farmland and lack of policy reform. From 2012 to 2016, agricultural production of the country dropped to 65%.

Of the country’s 4.8 million people, 79% live in poverty, caused by not only displacement and conflict but also a below-average agricultural season and COVID-19 prevention measures. Although the rainfall level in 2020 has been generally average, the vegetation index is slightly in deficit due to the low rainfall that occurred between January and February 2020, subsequently leading to increasing prices for agricultural goods. The CDC has deemed the COVID-19 risk in CAR as high, meaning that movement restrictions have contributed to sharp increases in the price of essential food items, diminishing the ability of poor households to purchase food. The IPC predicts that COVID-19 will “have a drastic impact” on the economy and food supply chains.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Central African Republic

According to USAID, there were more than 697,000 IDPs in CAR in March 2020, as well as 616,000 Central African refugees in neighboring countries. Although the Government and 14 armed groups in the country signed a Peace Agreement in 2019, escalating conflict in the northeast of the country displaced another approximately 27,000 people between December 2019 and March 2020. As much of the population relies heavily on farming for their food, those who have experienced displacement have struggled to adjust to new climates or geographies; others have fled to areas prone to high food prices, poor access to clean water and few employment opportunities.

Concerning hunger in the Central African Republic, the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report found that 750,000 people are in a food insecurity emergency (which is a phase below famine), while 1.6 million are in a food insecurity crisis (which is a stage below emergency). Around February 2013, estimates determined that slightly over 20% of the country’s population were in urgent need of assistance, as opposed to over 40% in 2020.

CAR Ranks Unhealthiest Country in the World

The United Nations reported that an estimated 1.3 million people in CAR will require assistance to prevent and treat malnutrition in 2020, which includes nearly 50,000 children under 5 years of age suffering from severe malnutrition. A study by researchers at the University of Seattle in 2016 found that CAR ranks first in unhealthiest countries, due to malnutrition, AIDS and lack of resources. The UN World Food Programme has also noted that around 40% of children aged between 6 months and 5 years are stunted due to a lack of nutrients in their diet. The IPC has projected that some households in northwestern, southeastern and southwestern CAR will require emergency food assistance in the coming months to avoid emergency levels of acute food insecurity.

Response to the Central African Republic’s Hunger Crisis

In response to heightened food insecurity in CAR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and non-governmental organizations, have worked to prevent and treat malnutrition with funding from USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. In collaboration with the European Commission and countries like Germany and South Korea, WFP has provided emergency food and nutrition assistance to conflict-affected people throughout the country. These efforts reached over 920,000 people in 2018.

The WFP has recently scaled up its general food distributions and has conducted a food security program for children under 5 and pregnant and nursing mothers. It has also helped strengthen CAR’s Zero Hunger policies, including doubling producer incomes and adapting food systems to eliminate waste. The WFP also offers rehabilitation programs like Food Assistance for Assets, which provides people with work like repairing roads and bridges. Another program is Purchase for Progress, which helps poor farmers gain access to reliable markets to sell crops at a surplus.

Started in 2007, the organization ACTED provides emergency relief to the most vulnerable and displaced populations. It also works to strengthen the resilience of populations and local authorities. ACTED currently has teams in Ouham Pendé, Ouaka, Basse Kotto, Mbomou, Haut Mbomou and the capital Bangui. Meanwhile, other organizations like Concern Worldwide, Mercy Corps and Oxfam International are helping combat food insecurity through food-for-assets activities, food vouchers and local agriculture initiatives.

However, as COVID-19 continues to negatively impact the lives of thousands of civilians in CAR, hunger in the Central African Republic needs increased attention and aid to battle the rise of acute malnutrition in the midst of a civil war. The IPC advises that organizations implement urgent actions targeted at the most critical regions to facilitate access to food, put in place measures to prevent and combat COVID-19’s spread and improve food utilization by facilitating the access of populations to drinking water sources and awareness of hygiene and sanitation protocols.

– Noah Sheidlower
Photo: Flickr

Mercy Corps Supporting Girls' Education
Amid COVID-19, rural communities continue to face economic, health and safety concerns. From misinformation to improper sanitation, pastoral communities require immediate assistance to not only survive, but thrive. Mercy Corps, a humanitarian organization, has stepped in to support these communities’ most vulnerable members. In recent months, the NGO has shifted its priorities; now, Mercy Corps is supporting girls’ education more than ever.

The Mission of Mercy Corps

In addition to reducing poverty and oppression through sustainable community building, Mercy Corps recently established a Resilience Fund to combat COVID-19’s effects. Mercy Corps explained that its funding will “provide emergency supplies, food and clean water” to developing countries like Colombia, Yemen and Nepal. However, donations go beyond monetary support as the organization targets public health concerns and stimulates economic recovery through education.

To protect pastoral communities, Mercy Corps supplies counseling stations, hand-washing training and sanitary facilities for nursing mothers and children. It also provides food when local markets close and funnel donations directly to at-risk families. To stimulate economic growth, Mercy Corps’ supports farmers, small businesses and girls’ education.

A New Focus: Girls’ Education

Recently, Mercy Corps made girls’ education its top priority as it “produces exceptional gains in areas of health, infant mortality and economic well-being of families.” However, the consequences of the pandemic forced many rural communities to relegate girls’ education to a lower priority. When countries like Kenya closed their borders, cities also shut down their schools. In turn, young women returned to their families and household chores.

Mercy Corps projects that the pandemic will significantly affect learning within rural communities. UNICEF organizations like Voices of Youth understand that education can delay young women’s marriages: each year a woman remains a school, she receives greater opportunities for personal growth and employment. However, Mercy Corps, and perhaps even Voices of Youth, fear that COVID-19 will increase the number of high school dropouts and consequently increase the rate of child marriages.

In the face of economic uncertainty, Mercy Corps supports girls’ education and aims to prevent its disappearance from public consciousness. Small donations and public outreach will counteract the pandemic’s effects and return young girls to safe, supportive environments that nourish their learning potential. The Resilience Fund will also maintain the Mercy Corps’ STEM program, which helps women in Nepal and Yemen complete their education through invaluable tutoring programs.

Cooperating with Communities to Increase Impact

Mercy Corps values girls’ education as a resource for development and hints at its potential social effects. However, UNICEF believes local communities must provide women access to quality education in three concrete ways:

  1. Low-Cost Education at Convenient Times. UNICEF argues that women’s education should be free or cost relatively little. School hours should be flexible so girls can maintain commitments to their families, complete their chores and finish their assignments. If families worry about the loss of income, schools should compensate community members by providing young girls with scholarships or stipends.
  2. Female Teachers and Schools Close to Home. Girls’ safety remains an everyday concern for most parents. Schools with women teachers can eliminate this stress and ensure that girls succeed without external pressures. Schools within walking distance of home also ensure the safety of young girls by reducing exposure to dangerous areas.
  3. Empowering Curricula. Because girls’ education has the potential to “enhance women’s self-esteem,” their course curricula should “avoid reproducing gender stereotyping.” Building a woman’s skills and self-confidence transforms her into a better worker, citizen and parent—all invaluable outcomes that extend far beyond graduation.

If rural communities consider UNICEF’s recommendations and remain open-minded to the benefits of girls’ education, the Mercy Corps Resilience Fund will serve a greater purpose. The Resilience Fund will stimulate economic development and encouraging proper hygiene. It will also counter COVID-19’s effects and ensure that girls’ education becomes a worldwide priority. Mercy Corps is supporting girls’ education to provide hope for economic viability in the next generation of women.

– Kyler Juarez
Photo: PickPik

Displacement in Yemen and Somalia
In 2019, an estimation concluded that 29 million Americans would spend a total of nearly $500 million to dress up their pets on Halloween. Half a billion dollars is equivalent to 25% of the money needed to fund the U.N.’s June through December 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan assisting Yemen. War and displacement in Yemen and Somalia have caused a lack of funds and resources in these countries. However, some organizations are attempting to provide aid.

The History of Yemen and Somalia

Yemen’s poverty rate increased from 47% of the population living in poverty in 2014 to 75% at the end of 2019. The war in Yemen is contributing to poverty, and if it continues, Yemen could become the poorest country in the world by 2022. Yemen has been in a civil war since 2014 when Houthi rebels took over the capital. The conflict took off when a Saudi-led military coalition fought back against the rebels to defend the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The combat has been going on ever since and has plunged Yemen deeper and deeper into poverty.

The nearby country of Somalia has been struggling as well. General Siad Barre led a military coup and took over the government in 1969. In 1988, northern tribes rebelled against the dictator, and then in 1991, tribes from the north and south fought and brought down Barre. From 1991 on, a civil war has ravaged Somalia, with different factions fighting throughout the country.

The Displacement of Somalis

As the Somalian civil war has been charging on, Yemen, despite its instability, has been a place of refuge for around 200,000 fleeing Somalis. The action and displacement in Yemen and Somalia have caused many hardships for these countries’ citizens. The incoming Somalis, as well as the Yemenis, are facing dire conditions due to circumstances in Yemen. For example, Yemen imports most of its food, but since the beginning of the war, the cost of wheat flour has increased by 120%. The high poverty rate, combined with rising food prices, is leading to malnourishment affecting 3.2 million children and women.

Along with war and displacement in Yemen and Somalia increasing the risk of famine, Yemen is struggling with health care facilities. The war caused damage to more than half of Yemen’s health care facilities; as a result, these facilities were unable to provide sterile water and sanitation to 20.5 million people. Poor sanitation leads to many disease outbreaks, and this threat compounds the already-present risk of COVID-19. This situation is not only dangerous for Yemenis but also affects Somalian refugees residing in the country.

Aid for Yemenis and Somalis

Mercy Corps has been helping people in Yemen by providing them with food vouchers, repairing their water systems and educating them about health. In 2019, Mercy Corps assisted 1.2 million people, and the organization is now working to limit the effects of COVID-19.

Besides Mercy Corps, the UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, is also helping to mitigate the effects of displacement in Yemen and Somalia. The UNHCR began its Assisted Spontaneous Return (ASR) program in 2017. The ASR program assists Somalis on their return home from Yemen. By 2019, the ASR program had organized 37 trips, and more than 4,800 refugees had returned from Yemen to Somalia.

Fashion designer Gabriela Hearst has also decided to pitch in to help Yemen. From December 2 to 9, 2019, she donated all of her proceeds to Save the Children. Save the Children is a nonprofit organization that works towards relief on the ground in Yemen. To make the initiative more successful, she decided to “make her eclectic handbags” available at her online store. Typically, she only sells this handbag collection by request giving it a high value.

There is more the world can do to combat the war and displacement in Yemen and Somalia; however, Mercy Corps, the UNHCR and individuals such as Gabriela Hearst are making significant strides toward improvement.

Hailee Shores
Photo: Flickr

Violence in ColombiaThe Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) formally ended their armed conflict with a peace agreement in 2016. This was after more than 50 years of conflict between the government and the guerilla group. Despite the agreement’s plans for peace and a hopeful future, there were still illegal militant groups and members of FARC who refused to obey the government. They continued to perpetrate violence in the country as they fight for political and economic control over different Colombian regions. As a result of continued conflict, violence in Colombia remains a public threat and results in mass displacement, deaths and disappearances.

Links Between Violence and Poverty

Violence in Colombia sustains the country’s extreme poverty. A study conducted in rural Colombia found that those who experience violence are more likely to remain in a cycle of poverty as a result of economic loss, trauma and fear. The country’s unparalleled amount of internally displaced people also contributes to poverty. 139,000 people were displaced within Colombia due to violence in 2019 alone. Most of the people displaced come from rural areas where 70% of the population lives in poverty. This makes them particularly susceptible to violence. Violence prevails in the nation and continues to keep people in poverty. However, nonprofits are committed to reducing violence by promoting a culture of peace. These 3 organizations are working to reduce violence in Colombia.

Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)

GPPAC aims to motivate Colombian youth as changemakers by promoting dialogue between different generations. The organization addresses the lack of youth community and political engagement in Colombia. GPPAC recognizes that young people’s faith in their country’s social fabric is essential to promoting peace over violence. By inspiring a new generation of peacemakers that learn from the past and are excited about the future, GPPAC quells violence in Colombia.

The organization’s Intergenerational Project in Colombia in 2017 and 2018 resulted in dialogues in 15 regions most affected by violence. GPPAC organized conversations that took place in schools and included the participation of teachers, parents, students and members of several social organizations. The diversity of people participating built trust between different generations and social groups. This empowers young people to continue fostering a culture of peace in their communities.

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps aims to address violence in Colombia through prevention and intervention. The organization strengthens networks between teachers and parents to keep children in school since parents often take their children out of school to work. However, children who do not attend school are more likely to experience violence. Mercy Corps tends to students’ individual needs and equipping schools with the tools to address students subjected to violence. By doing this, it puts an end to the cycle of violence that is correlated to a lack of education. The organization also tends to former child soldiers by teaching them how to generate income. It also empowers them with leadership skills. Since its founding, Mercy Corps has served more than 62,000 children in areas most affected by violence in Colombia.

Interpeace

Interpeace builds a culture of peace in Colombia through the Peacebuilding Model of National Police, a program that began in 2017. In partnership with nonprofit Alianza para la Paz, Interpeace works with the Colombian National Police to promote peacebuilding responses to violence and conflict.

One Interpeace program focuses on violence prevention and management in 5 regions that are particularly prone to violence. Police are encouraged to resolve conflict in socially violent situations rather than exacerbating the situation with an aggressive response. Another program aims to improve police response to gender-based violence in areas most affected by armed conflict in Colombia. Interpeace strives to improve the government’s preparation and response to these types of violence. Ultimately, these programs will improve the local trust of police and other government figures. At the same time, they will reduce violence in Colombia’s most vulnerable communities.

 

Overall, the 2016 peace agreement provided a foundation for a hopeful future. However, the Colombian government needs to address violence in the country’s most vulnerable rural areas more effectively. The Colombian government could reduce poverty in Colombia’s rural areas to bridge the urban-rural gap. By doing so, it could more successfully quell violence in the nation. This renewed government response is integral to strengthening Colombia by reducing violence. By following the lead of GPPAC, Mercy Corps and Interpeace, the government can successfully move Colombia forward. These 3 organizations are instrumental in fostering a culture of nonviolence in Colombia.

Melina Stavropoulos
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Niger
About 20% of people in Niger are food insecure due to a growing population, regional conflict and environmental challenges. Though that percentage is rising, international organizations and governments are finding innovative ways to end hunger in Niger.

Threats to Food Security in Niger

According to the World Bank, Niger’s population is increasing annually by 3.8%, well above the average for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Coupled with a large number of refugees from countries like Mali and Nigeria, an extremely high birth rate is driving Niger’s population growth and ultimately causing food resources to become scarce.

As a result of the conflicts on the borders of Mali and in the Lake Chad Basin, an influx of refugees has migrated to Niger. Further, these regional conflicts have caused widespread displacement among Nigerien citizens domestically, resulting in a major displacement crisis. According to the Norweigan Refugee Council, Niger’s displacement crisis is severe and worsening from the lack of international aid and media coverage. Because food resources are scarce, this displacement crisis is intensifying hunger in Niger.

In addition to the upsurge in Niger’s population, environmental challenges pose a threat to food security. Niger experiences an annual dry or “lean,” season where a lack of rainfall limits crop production and thus lowers the availability of food. A dry season is regular and Niger’s people expect it; however, in the past 20 years, rainfall and temperature have become increasingly irregular, causing more severe food shortages. Nigerians are concerned that desertification and rising global temperatures will only extend and intensify the dry season, disrupting the livelihoods of the majority of rural Nigerien households that rely predominantly on agriculture to survive.

Although food insecurity affects all types of Nigerien communities, it more heavily affects two demographic groups: women and children. Women and children in Niger are more likely to experience malnourishment, which leads to higher rates of anemia. According to the World Food Programme, estimates determined that 73% of Nigerien children under the age of 5 and 46% of Nigerien women are anemic.

The International Community’s Role in Ending Hunger in Niger

Countries like the United States are supporting programs like the World Food Programme, Mercy Corps and Doctors Without Borders to relieve both the immediate and long-term effects of food insecurity in Niger. Each organization takes unique approaches to end hunger in Niger.

The World Food Programme, for instance, focuses on land rehabilitation programs that provide food and financial aid to families who are trying to recover unproductive farmland. The hope is that healthy land will allow agriculture in Niger to be prolific in the future.

Mercy Corps works with mostly Nigerien citizens on projects that encourage people in Niger to diversify their livelihoods in order to ensure that families have several opportunities to earn income in the event that climatic shocks should continue to stunt the agricultural industry. It helped more than 130,000 people in Niger in 2018.

While the World Food Programme and Mercy Corps focus largely on developing a self-sufficient Nigerien economy, Doctors Without Borders works to alleviate the immediate consequences of hunger in Niger by treating acute malnutrition, especially in children. The organization provided 225 families with relief kits in Tillabéri.

While regional conflict, a rapidly growing population and unpredictable weather further food insecurity in Niger, the international community is seeking a multidimensional solution to stimulate the Nigerien economy, end hunger in Niger and help communities flourish.

Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Sudan
Sudan is one of the poorest developing countries in the world with over 40% of its citizens living below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan results from a combination of factors ranging from the country’s location in the Sahara desert to rampant government corruption.

The History of Poverty in Sudan

Around 80% of the country’s rural population relies on subsistence agriculture. However, due to inconsistent rainfall and a lack of conservation measures, many of these vulnerable populations end up landless and jobless due to desertification and flooding. As a result of these conditions, more than 2.7 million children are acutely malnourished. Further, estimates determine that 5.8 million people in Sudan are food insecure.

Additionally, since its independence in 1956, Sudan has faced continued political unrest. The dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir banned nongovernmental organizations, which inhibited humanitarian assistance and led to the persecution of the Christian minority in the country. Although circumstances looked hopeful in 2019 as a result of the overthrow of Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the shift of Sudan into a transitional democratic government, the scars of Bashir’s 30-year regime remain. Sudan still faces an economic crisis due to the loss of two-thirds of its oil revenues with the succession of South Sudan during Bashir’s rule. Additionally, Sudan has over 2 million internally displaced people.

These conditions have left Sudan in a humanitarian crisis. However, many organizations are combatting the issues and providing relief to the Sudanese people. Here are five organizations fighting poverty in Sudan.

5 Organizations Fighting Poverty in Sudan

  1. UNICEF Sudan: Around 65% of the Sudanese population is under 25 years old, and UNICEF Sudan is the leading agency dedicated to providing long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to these vulnerable children and adolescents across the country. The organization has allocated an aggregate budget of $47,125,000 from regular resources and $193,925,000 in other resources to Sudan’s country program from 2018-2021. UNICEF Sudan established its Policy, Evidence and Social Protection program to help strengthen the national and local governmental agencies in Sudan by redistributing budget allocations to improve holistic conditions for children in aspects ranging from health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and social protection. One of UNICEF Sudan’s objectives in 2020 is to provide treatment for 300,000 children between the ages of 6 to 59 months who experience severe acute malnutrition.
  2. The World Food Programme: The World Food Programme works to improve conditions in Sudan by providing food, economic resources and educational programs to the Sudanese people experiencing continuous internal conflicts. In 2019, the organization implemented a four-tier plan that will last until 2023 and aims to respond to imminent emergencies and other persistent issues such as malnutrition, food insecurity and lack of access to humanitarian resources. In 2019, there were 3,810,110 beneficiaries of the program. The program also delivered 153,698 mt of food to the country. The World Programme is currently working to install a solar power plant to reduce carbon emissions in Sudan.
  3. Save the Children: Save the Children began its work in Sudan in 1984. This organization aims to help displaced women, children and families by providing assistance in the areas of education, health and related programs. Although Bashir’s rule in 2009 revoked Save the Children U.S., its partnership with Save the Children Sweden and help of donations and sponsors allowed this organization to continue to affect change by protecting 38,342 children from harm and providing 185, 009 children vital nourishment.
  4. Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps began humanitarian and development assistance in Sudan in 2004. It operates primarily in the South Darfur and South Kordofan states to provide resources for food, health care, education and other humanitarian efforts. In addition, Mercy Corps also helps Sudan manage conflict and disasters with the hope of providing long-term stability and resourcefulness to the Sudanese people. Specifically, Mercy Corps hopes to maintain stability through its establishment of 10 community-based organizations that provide emergency preparedness, response and coordination in South Kordofan states. MercyCorps has impacted hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people to date by providing clean drinking water to  265,000 individuals and assisting 23,000 local farmers.
  5. Plan International: Plan International has provided humanitarian relief to Sudanese women and children since 1977. Plan Sudan focuses on the following program areas: children’s health, water and sanitation; hygiene; learning for life and economic security. One can see the success of its efforts through its sponsorship of 31,419 Sudanese children.

Though the country requires a lot more work to eliminate poverty in Sudan, these organizations provide hope for its people. Through continued efforts, hopefully, Sudan will overcome the systemic poverty and internal corruption that has long plagued the country.

– Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr

Though many areas of Africa are developing thoroughly and implementing infrastructure, food security still remains an issue. Internal displacement, environmental factors and price fluctuations in countries like Ethiopia can be devastating. Predictions from the Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan estimated that about 8.1 million people became victims of food insecurity in 2019. Additionally, although about 2.2 million people have been internally displaced in Ethiopia as of May 2019, government operations allowed for the return of approximately 1.8 million people to their areas of origin. These seven facts about hunger in Ethiopia will give an overview of both the issues facing the country and the measures being taken to provide a solution to the food shortages.

7 Facts Concerning Hunger in Ethiopia

  1. In 2019, there were about 8 million people in Ethiopia that needed some form of aid or assistance. Of that total, approximately 4.2 million were children. Not everyone could be reached, however. The aid supplied in 2019 was only projected to reach about 3.8 million people, 2 million of which were children.
  2. Seasonal rains are often delayed in the Ethiopian region, which can lead to drought. Much of the affected population are subsistence farmers and are, therefore, unable to grow crops during this time. Insufficient rainfall to meet standards for crops occurs often, and as recently as the 2017 rainy season. The BBC estimates that droughts can cause the yield for crops to decrease to only 10% of what is expected for a regular season.
  3. Cultural biases, including those towards males, make the challenges already faced by the general population heightened for women and children. Because resources are traditionally directed towards men first, approximately 370,000 women and children in Ethiopia are in need of dire aid due to issues like severe acute malnutrition.
  4. To cope with the hunger crisis in their country, many Ethiopians have been forced to sell some of their assets. Traditionally, respite for Ethiopians is found through selling cattle for a decent sum. However, due to the prices of cattle falling during a famine, families are forced to forfeit their houses, gold, and even their land.
  5. An estimated $124 million was required to adequately serve and protect Ethiopians from hunger and famine in 2019. Due to the novel coronavirus and other health issues arising, these numbers could rise in the wake of the pandemic. Serving the healthcare sector directly benefits the issue of hunger as well.
  6. Organizations like World Vision, Food for Peace (FFP) from USAID and Mercy Corps are acting throughout Ethiopia to provide the necessary resources for surmounting the famine. Investigations and studies of the government’s safety net are being conducted to ensure the safety of the citizens in the future should famines arise again. Additionally, consortiums are periodically being held to provide food assistance to those Ethiopians facing acute food insecurity.
  7. Mercy Corps specifically recognizes education as a barrier to effectively fight famine and poverty in general. The organization’s efforts are concentrated on diversifying the prospective methods of financial gain for Ethiopians so that droughts will not completely wipe out their only source of income. Additionally, the organization is working in health-related facilities around Ethiopia to educate workers on the treatment of malnutrition.

Though Ethiopia has struggled to meet the needs of its people with regards to food supply in the past, current aid and education from foreign nations are assisting in the ultimate goal to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. The issue of hunger in Ethiopia is an immense one to tackle, but with work to develop and improve agricultural techniques for individual farmers, the country can collectively improve the situation.

– Pratik Koppikar
Photo: World Vision

Starvation in Asia
The number of deaths from starvation in Asia is significant in many different regions, including South-East Asia and South Asia. Several global organizations including the United Nations have come forward to claim that malnutrition and a lack of food distribution are major global issues.

The Facts About Starvation

In 2018, Time Magazine reported that nearly half a billion people in the Asia-Pacific region suffered from starvation. Meanwhile, according to Mercy Corps, nine million people die from starvation every year, which is more than the deaths from malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. Whilst the causes of starvation-related deaths vary from region to region, there are common factors that have lead to their increase. Using India as an example, the organization Action Against Hunger lists poverty, low availability of food, disease, climate change and violent conflicts as just a few factors that contribute to malnutrition and starvation rates.

Whilst no one knows the exact number of deaths from starvation in Asia, the website Hunger Notes breaks down undernourishment based on region. According to Hunger Notes, South-East Asia, including areas such as Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, and South Asia, comprising of India and Pakistan, account for the highest percentage of undernourished citizens. Over half (56.5 percent) suffers undernourishment and 27.8 percent of South-East Asia’s population does not have adequate nourishment.

The facts from Action Against Hunger mentioned earlier, provide a clear indication as to why the South Asia region has such a high malnutrition rate. As for South-East Asia, according to a World Bank report, some of the underlying causes of malnutrition for Vietnam include diseases, infections, parasites and a lack of food security. The rate of starvation in South Asia has seen a 6.6 percent increase in growth from 1992 to 2014 in the percentage of the world’s hungry people. The organization explains that both an increase in global malnutrition and an increase in malnutrition in the region have caused this. India alone accounts for 22.3 percent of the world’s malnutrition rate, according to Action Against Hunger. Meanwhile, UNICEF states that the malnutrition rate in South Asia has decreased since WorldHunger.org published its report. In 2018, the malnutrition rate stood at 27 percent, compared to the reported 37.5 percent in 2014.

Organizations Fighting Against Starvation in Asia

Mercy Corps, Action Against Hunger and Food Aid are helping to fight against deaths from starvation in Asia. The Mercy Corps aims to assist farmers by providing them with what they need to help supply their regions with food and improve sustainability. According to The Mercy Corps, there has been a 17 percent increase in the amount of food on a per-person basis in the last 30 years. The Mercy Corps also states that whilst the world produces enough food to supply the population, the distribution of that food is the real cause of starvation and deaths from starvation both in Asia and worldwide.

Action Against Hunger aims to provide emergency care for malnourished children and help governments give their people clean water and improved nutrition. In 2018, it worked with the Indonesian Ministry of Health on a joint project to help fight malnutrition. In 2018, Action Against Hunger provided over 1,800 people in Indonesia with food security programs and livelihood programs. It also assisted the Indonesian government in creating a Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition Project that helped provide sanitary water to the people of Indonesia.

Food Aid works as a global food pantry, providing unused food to communities in need. It has also helped supply soup kitchens, welfare programs and families with the food necessary to function.

Whilst the number of deaths from starvation in Asia continue to be a part of the larger issue of global starvation, there have been progressive strides towards improving the statistics. The United Nations, however, did warn in its 2018 report that these numbers need to fall much quicker in order for the world to see a significant change in global malnutrition. Several global organizations have been working to help fix the major problem areas, though, such as food distribution, sustainability, hydration and malnutrition among youth.

– Jacob Creswell
Photo: Flickr

Progress in Mali
With a poverty rate of 42.7 percent, Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its arid climate also makes Mali one of the hottest countries and armed conflict, famine, weak infrastructure and food insecurity are widespread. Mercy Corps, a non-governmental organization (NGO), has provided humanitarian aid in Mali since 2012. Their efforts have reduced food insecurity, built resilience to armed conflict and natural disasters and assisted in infrastructure development.

Goals of Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps believes conflict prevention and long-term food security programs are important to the livelihoods of Malians. Supporting agriculture, pastoralism and other professions leads to reduced conflict over sparse water and land. Since 2012, more than 250,000 women, children and men have benefited from approximately 20 programs created by Mercy Corps.

According to the U.N., more than 3.2 million Malians need humanitarian assistance, 70 percent of whom live in the Mopti and Segou regions. About 2.7 million are food insecure and malnutrition affects more than 600,000 children. Mercy Corps’ goals are wide-reaching, yet its focus is on long-term stability. The conflict over land and water and overpopulation are two major issues that Mercy Corps and other NGOs are combating by providing humanitarian aid in Mali.

Progress in Mali

Since 2012, Mercy Corps has assisted 98,000 Malians affected by food insecurity. Agricultural support, entrepreneurship and apprentice programs and business development support are three major focus areas. In 2018 alone, the NGO helped 41,000 people through agricultural programs. More than 80 percent of Malians are farmers and fishers, which is one reason Mercy Corps prioritizes agricultural productivity. Seed distribution, technical training and infrastructure rehabilitation were all emphasized during 2018. Improving agricultural productivity and resilience to droughts is essential to helping those affected by food shortages.

Mercy Corps also made progress in Mali by assisting more than 1,112 pastoralists in 2018 with the provision of livestock feed, distribution of goats and animal care from local veterinarians. Livestock and agriculture comprise 80 percent of Mali’s exports, and the assistance from Mercy Corps and other NGOs helps to not only increase food security but also increase income. Mercy Corps provided financial assistance to 25,600 people for basic needs and in support of economic recovery.

Individual Success Stories

Mercy Corps is a major supporter of youth entrepreneurship in Mali, as 60 percent of Malians are less than 25 years old. The NGO assists young entrepreneurs by providing financial assistance and teaching better business practices.

Bibata is a 25-year-old Malian who sells paddy rice and grilled potatoes from her home. Most of her income comes from her business. With her grant money, she was able to buy more paddy rice, spices and vegetables, doubling her profit within months. She stated that the grant money helped her expand and she hopes to grow further into raising cattle.

Hassan is another Malian that benefitted from Mercy Corps’ support. He barely made enough money to care for his nine children, but after a Mercy Corps’ professional training course he understood how to get reimbursed by clients and access services from microfinance institutions. He received a grant, opened up his own shop and now earns twice the income he had earned before.

The Future of Mali

In response to violence in Mali, the United Nations launched a Humanitarian Response Plan in 2019 to assist with food, shelter, nutrition, protection, education and hygiene. Alongside continued efforts by the United Nations, United States government and NGOs, Mercy Corps is set to advance its mission of providing humanitarian aid in Mali. Conflict and high population growth are ongoing in 2019, yet progress is currently being made.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: USAID

life expectancy in Jordan

Jordan is an Arab country in West Asia with a population of more than 10 million people and a life expectancy of 74 years. Although some in Jordan face health and economic struggles, efforts are in place to raise the average life expectancy rate. Here are seven facts about life expectancy in Jordan.

7 Facts about Life Expectancy in Jordan

  1. As of 2017, road injuries ranked number nine of 10 factors causing the most deaths in Jordan. In 2007, road injuries ranked much higher at sixth, as there were 110,630 road accidents and 992 fatalities. That statistic increased from 1987’s 15,884 accidents. In response to these 2007 numbers, the Jordanian government applied new traffic laws in 2008 and increased police activity, which, ultimately, boosted life expectancy.
  2. Air pollution is in the top 10 risk factors of death and disability combined in Jordan. In urban areas, 50-90 percent of Jordan’s air pollution comes from road traffic, and based on a report in 2000, air pollution causes around 600 premature deaths each year. The main factor of poor air quality is lead-based gasoline used in cars, emitting lead pollution. In 2006, the government introduced two types of unleaded petrol for cars. However, air pollution was still a leading cause of death in 2017.
  3. Noncommunicable diseases are on the rise in Jordan. Even though these diseases cannot be transmitted to others, they remain some of the most common causes of death. From 2007 to 2017, Ischemic heart disease continued to be the number one cause of death for Jordanians and diabetes moved up from fifth to fourth. As of 2017, strokes ranked second.
  4. Chronic illnesses are some of the most common diseases in Jordan. Approximately one-third of Jordanians over 25 have a chronic illness or suffer from more than one. Reported chronic illnesses are largely caused by the practice of smoking tobacco. Out of the entire population, 38.2 percent use tobacco, including 65.5 percent of males over 15. If the amount of smokers does not decrease in the future, it will negatively impact the mortality rates and overall life expectancy in Jordan.
  5. Jordanian’s access to healthcare and insurance is increasing every year. From 2000 to 2016, on average, the percent of those insured increased by an average of 1.2 percent. Overall, 70 percent of Jordanians are insured. All children under six and citizens older than 60 are eligible for insurance with Jordan’s public healthcare sector as well. Primary healthcare clinics are available in both urban and rural areas, and those with insurance receive free medication.
  6. The Jordanian government developed a national electronic medical library (ELM). The ELM gives students and healthcare workers free access to medical resources to encourage and increase the number of people pursuing a career in medicine. The government hopes that the ELM will help increase the availability of healthcare and allow the medical industry in Jordan to flourish in the future.
  7. Mercy Corps has been supporting Jordanians since 2003. The organization has 250 workers in the country. Mercy Corps not only provides basic needs but also long-term solutions, such as working to reduce tensions between leaders in communities. Mercy Corps has helped more than 3,000 vulnerable households with costs to meet urgent needs and in 2017 alone, more than one million Jordanians benefitted from their work.

Although certain health and economic issues are prominent, Jordan is making improvements to its quality of living. The government is taking the initiative to move the country forward, economically and medically, which can only mean an increase in life expectancy in Jordan in the future.

– Jordan Miller
Photo: Unsplash