Charities in SomaliaThe Somali state officially collapsed in 1991, and the country has been prone to violence and conflict ever since. In 2021 alone, political tensions prevented essential human rights reforms while conflict-related abuses, insecurity and humanitarian and health crises greatly affected civilians. Journalists faced extreme prosecution by federal and regional authorities. Additionally, there was no system in place to ensure the protection of human rights. An armed group, Al-Shabab, was responsible for hundreds of civilian attacks and deaths. The violence, according to the United Nations, has displaced between 60,000 and 100,000 Somali people.

Impacts of the Conflict

The conflict has also caused an increase in sexual and gender-based violence, especially towards women, which often results in death. The U.N. reported that the government interfered in investigating sexual violence incidents. Children are also facing great abuses; the conflict is so dire that children are becoming injured, experiencing recruitment as child soldiers or even dying.

According to the U.N., more than 2.6 million Somalis are internally displaced, mainly due to the conflict. Persistent drought, flooding, locust swarms and the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to the exacerbation of this crisis. Humanitarian agencies are facing serious challenges in accessing the people due to violence, deliberate attacks on aid workers and physical restrictions due to extreme weather.

However, there are several organizations in Somalia that are working, despite these violent conditions, to provide relief and aid to the Somali people. Here are five charities in Somalia.

5 Charities in Somalia

  1. OXFAM International: OXFAM has been in Somalia for more than 40 years. It works with local communities and authorities, as well as civil society, to provide humanitarian assistance and implement long-term development initiatives. OXFAM specifically focuses on providing water, sanitation access, hygiene supplies and ensuring food access. The organization’s goal is to meet immediate needs, while also setting the foundation for long-term recovery and resilience efforts. By constructing water sources and water trucking to remote communities, OXFAM hopes to improve water access. Additionally, the organization is constructing latrines and funding cash grants for the communities to use. Finally, OXFAM advocates for Somali debt cancellation, as well as more inclusive gender and youth-related policies.
  2. ActionAid International Somaliland: Another one of the many organizations in Somalia is Actionaid International Somaliland — a global justice federation that works to promote social justice, gender equality and the eradication of poverty in Somaliland, a northern and independent region of Somalia. Somalia’s independence has never received formal recognition, meaning it is prone to conflict. In this area, Actionaid International fights for basic rights to food, land, education and life security. For several years, the organization has worked to promote increased food security. Its main objective is to “contribute to the improvement of living conditions of [the] most poor and marginalized communities in Somaliland” and “to improve food security and promote endogenous development in 21 villages, through the improvement of agricultural production, the development of new commercialization channels and the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship.” The organization hopes to increase agricultural and food production, improve the capacities and marketing skills of farmers for agricultural and nonagricultural products, improve the living standards of women and sustainably manage the use of natural resources.
  3. Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Somalia: ADRA is an organization in Somalia that works to promote well-being in four specific areas: WASH, Education, Livelihoods and Emergency. In the WASH area, ADRA improves access to safe, potable water for vulnerable communities. In the “Education” section, ADRA works to increase access to education for students of all levels. This also entails strengthening educational structures and resources for the efficient delivery of educational services. The “Livelihoods” section involves building community assets and establishing safety nets so that civilians can better withstand recurring disasters. Finally, the “Emergency” section entails providing immediate, multi-sectoral assistance to people experiencing crisis and humanitarian emergencies.
  4. MercyCorps Somalia: MercyCorps Somalia, another one of the key organizations in Somalia, has been providing relief in Somalia since 2005 but especially increased efforts given the recent COVID-19 pandemic and increasing violence in the country. The organization focuses on five main areas: humanitarian response and resilience, quality basic services, inclusive economic growth, youth civic and economic engagement and participation/trust/accountability. In the humanitarian area, MercyCorps helps Somalia prepare for and respond to crises by addressing needs like food, sanitation, water access and shelter. In the “quality basic services” area, the organization improves well functioning and other water facilities. To promote economic growth, MercyCorps develops and manages savings groups for displaced youth and women. The organization promotes youth civic and economic engagement by providing vocational training and supporting small businesses. This helps mitigate issues of poverty and unemployment. Finally, MercyCorps strives to improve communication between communities and the government.
  5. Somali Youth for Peace and Development (SYPD): Somali Youth for Peace and Development (SYPD) is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization based in Somalia. It works to promote sustainable development and peaceful co-existence. It works with three core objectives: peace-building, development and humanitarian action. SYPD resolves injustice with nonviolence, establishes projects to promote sustainable development, and provides emergency humanitarian relief. Its initiatives have occurred in 71 Somali districts, and it has successfully organized and implemented more than 100 projects. Additionally, SYPD has reached more than 1 million Somali people.

Despite the challenges that Somalia has been facing, these five organizations have had a significant impact. Through their work to aid Somalia, life has improved for many Somali people.

– Shiloh Harrill
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Farming Initiatives Empower Women
In developing nations, females make up only 10%-20% of landholders, which leads to gender disparities in the farming industry. When female farmers lack power over land, they have less agency to occupy leadership positions and earn higher incomes. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched a program in April 2020 in Ouallam, Niger, to help women adopt sustainable farming practices and support themselves financially through agriculture. The program supports local women from Ouallam, women who faced displacement due to conflict in other parts of Niger and refugees from the neighboring country of Mali. Sustainable farming initiatives empower women in developing countries by helping women to establish their own businesses, fight hunger and boost local economies.

Women in the Farming Industry

According to the World Bank, in 2020, almost 43% of Niger’s people endured extreme poverty, which equates to more than 10 million people. Many global organizations recognize that women account for the majority of the world’s impoverished due to barriers arising through gender equality.

Gender roles make it difficult for many female farmers in developing countries to manage their own crops and handle their own finances. In some cases, even when a woman runs the land and makes important farming decisions, male farmers only ask to do business with a female farmer’s husband.

Female farmers also face obstacles with funding. Female-operated farms yield up to 30% less than male-operated farms because women tend to lack access to credit for funding. Without adequate capital, women farmers are less inclined to purchase and utilize “fertilizer, drought-resistant seeds, sustainable agricultural practices and other advanced farming tools and techniques that increase crop yields.”

Public and private organizations recognize the extent of gender disparities in agriculture and many have launched initiatives to address these issues. UNHCR’s work in Niger is one of many programs that show how sustainable farming initiatives empower women and help close the gender gap in agriculture.

UNHCR and Desert Farming in Niger

Farmers in Ouallam, Niger, must use tactical farming and irrigation practices to sustain crops in the desert. Around 450 female farmers work the land in Ouallam and many of them are refugees only recently entering the world of agriculture. The women grow crops like potatoes, watermelons, cabbage and onions to support themselves and their families. UNHCR’s initiative in 2020 helped the women adopt drip irrigation, which helps preserve water in the desert instead of letting it evaporate or go to waste. Female farmers in Ouallam benefit from UNHCR initiative by adopting efficient irrigation methods that maximize water use and crop yields.

Hunger and Poverty Reduction

Sustainable farming initiatives empower women, reduce hunger and combat poverty in communities around the world. If female farmers had the funding and resources to produce as many crops as male farmers, world hunger could decrease by roughly 17%, according to Oxfam International. Educational initiatives can also teach women highly efficient farming methods that they may not learn otherwise. As productivity and yields increase among female farmers, the incomes of women will increase along with their economic independence. Female farmers increase access to food and contribute to local markets, so they can benefit their communities at large by reducing hunger and poverty.

Public and private initiatives to uplift female farmers can lead to monumental changes in developing countries. Funding and education help women succeed in agriculture, gain financial independence and improve the quality of life in local communities overall.

Cleo Hudson
Photo: Unsplash

Food Insecurity in South SudanThe North African country of South Sudan is currently facing its worst hunger crisis to date. Estimations indicate that close to 8.5 million people out of the nation’s total population of 12 million people “will face severe hunger” in 2022, marking an 8% spike from 2021. There are several reasons for the worsening levels of food insecurity in South Sudan.

Issues Contributing to Food Insecurity in South Sudan

South Sudan’s most recent civil war, beginning in December 2013 and ending in February 2020, is one of the many reasons for the major food insecurity in South Sudan, among other issues. According to Oxfam International, the war caused an “economic free–fall,” leading to rising food prices and a crumbling economy. Furthermore, food stocks have diminished and harvests are poor due to extreme weather conditions.

The country is facing “the worst floods in 60 years,” affecting close to 1 million people and serving as a significant contributor to food insecurity in South Sudan. In just seven months, from May 2021 to December 2021, about 800,000 South Sudanese people endured the impacts of “record flooding” within the country. The floods have not only destroyed lands where crops were growing but have also led to the loss of a quarter million “livestock in Jonglei state alone.” The floods also swept away vital supplies such as fishing nets, impacting people relying on fishing in waterways as a means of securing food sources.

Along with the devastating floods, in 2021, the United Nations had to cut its food aid by about 50% due to reduced funding and increased costs of food. This reduction in the amount of food aid from the United Nations alone affects more than three million people.

Extreme Measures and Potential Collapse

To prevent starvation, families are resorting to extreme measures such as “ground-up water lilies” as their only meal of the day. Other people living in hunger have attempted to flee to other towns and states in search of food and shelter.

Further compounding the issue of food insecurity in South Sudan is “government deadlock as the country’s two main political parties try to share power.” Resistance among the political groups to work together is a cause of concern for the head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, who warns of “a collapse in the country’s peace deal” if parties cannot find common ground in the political arena.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

One of the organizations working to help end food insecurity in South Sudan is the WFP. The WFP is currently employing a variety of methods to get food to the millions of South Sudanese people enduring food insecurity. These methods “include airdrops, all-terrain vehicles, river barges and SCOPE registration.”

The WFP utilizes airdrops as a last resort to deliver food to the most “dangerous and inaccessible” locations in South Sudan where safe road travel is not possible. The WFP also utilizes SHERPs, a type of all-terrain vehicle, to deliver food supplies to isolated areas where travel is challenging but still possible. The SHERPs can traverse the most adverse roads, go over obstacles and “float across water” in flooded areas.

The WFP also uses river barges that run along the Nile River to transport food to families who live in areas where there are no roads. Lastly, the WFP uses SCOPE, which is a blockchain service employed to “register and document people who receive food assistance” from the WFP. SCOPE helps workers to track the individuals receiving assistance and record each person’s “nutrition and health status” and determine full recovery and treatment success.

Looking Ahead

Although the situation in South Sudan is dire and experts predict these circumstances will worsen, many organizations are committing to providing as much aid as possible to South Sudanese people facing the devastating impacts of several disasters. By supporting these organizations, even an ordinary individual can make a difference in reducing food insecurity in South Sudan.

– Julian Smith
Photo: Flickr

Safeguarding ToolkitThe Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) created a report to address why aid effectiveness and quality are so important to development goals. Increasing effectiveness is defined as ensuring that the most impoverished populations are receiving quality aid to improve their quality of life. In order to achieve this, donors and developing countries must be mutually respectful of one another in order to achieve the desired development goals. This means countries providing aid and on-the-ground development need to be mindful of and respectful to the communities they are aiming to lift out of poverty. A community-based safeguarding toolkit was launched to ensure that people are aware of their rights and protections when it comes to developmental aid efforts.

Dignity at the Center of Aid

Jonathan Glennie of Open Democracy presents the question, “What if dignity was placed at the heart of all development work, from planning, through implementation, to evaluation of its impact?” Glennie explains the importance of a dignity-centered approach when lifting individuals and communities out of poverty and how such an approach is a more effective way of alleviating poverty. Engaging in foreign aid with dignity for communities experiencing extreme poverty leads to the empowerment of these populations. According to Glennie, when communities are empowered they can reach their real goals, resulting in concrete benefits such as improved health and food security, quality education and higher incomes.

Safeguarding Toolkit

The concept of mutual respect and dignity is now generally accepted as a norm in the development world. However, communities are not always aware of their rights. Given this, Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam International and WaterAid collaborated to launch a “community-based safeguarding visual toolkit” in February 2021, with plans to review and update the toolkit in 2022, resources allowing. The toolkit was created to allow humanitarian and development organizations to give visual information regarding the Six Core Principles Relating to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse to the community members these organizations are working with.

NGOs are continuously evolving and many have recognized that safeguarding measures will be most effective with intentional and focused community engagement. This toolkit was designed to protect and embolden communities in which development is taking place to understand their rights, prevent exploitation and abuse and promote a speak-up culture in the world of development globally. The toolkit has been released in 24 languages so far and can be downloaded for free, making it widely and equitably accessible.

Encouraging Ethical Development

The toolkit contains 11 key messages with 29 corresponding visuals. Some examples of these messages are “aid workers are not allowed to ask for or accept bribes for aid” and “aid organizations encourage complaints — there are safe ways to complain.” Other visuals explicitly state community members’ rights against sexual abuse and/or exploitation by aid workers. These visuals are not intended to be a stand-alone effort in creating respectful and ethical development efforts but are to be utilized in conjunction with wider training and conversations.

Strategic and ethical aid promotes the economic prosperity of developing communities while creating self-reliance. It is important that such communities are aware of their rights and are engaged in the development process. This community-based safeguarding toolkit is working to ensure that efforts to lift people out of poverty respect the basic rights of the communities humanitarian organizations serve.

Tatiana Nelson
Photo: Flickr

Explaining the Massive Global Reduction in Poverty Since 1990From massive technological improvements to the ever-growing global communications network, world progress has proved exponential in the past 30 years. One such area of improvement is the global poverty crisis. While we advocate for further intervention within affected communities, it’s appropriate to step back occasionally and admire some victories made to this point. Since 1990, the statistics for poverty have plummeted. The extreme poverty rate globally fell from 35% to 11%. This means that 1.1 billion people are now living off of more per day than in the past. No individual body or organization can earn full credit for this global reduction in poverty; the effort is a result of dedication and persistence among a plethora of governments, groups and interested parties.

What Caused the “Lift?”

While the causes for the widespread poverty alleviation are varied, there are some programs that are generally implemented by governments (both locally and internationally) or even non-governmental organizations that work effectively to reduce poverty. These programs include microfinance, employment guaranteed schemes and property rights, among others.

NGOs are myriad and diverse. Some work directly in communities while others advocate for government assistance with these humanitarian issues. Two different but equally important contributors to this cause are Global Citizen and Oxfam International.

What these Groups Do

Oxfam International is an organization dedicated to creating change within local communities. Initially a combination of multiple independent NGOs, Oxfam has had enormous success globally since its inception, assisting local communities suffering from famine, disease and even sanitation struggles. Currently, its attention is focused on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

Global Citizen is a unique non-profit focused on educating people about global issues regarding education, sanitation, food availability and social awareness. The website has short quizzes, “actions” and other available resources for people to interact with. All of these resources serve a purpose, whether it be education, advocacy or simply direct fundraising. In turn, the person earns “points,” and these points can go toward raffles and gift opportunities. The website rewards initiative on the part of the reader, making poverty education interesting.

Together, these two groups have advocated and assisted vulnerable groups in impoverished countries. The success of these groups adds to the general trend in lower poverty rates worldwide, and many different organizations spanning every continent deserve praise for the improved global living conditions we’ve seen since 1990. The global reduction in poverty requires unification, and with plenty of different groups focused on different tasks, the success is apparent.

Room for Progress

Despite the success to date, the opportunities to improve globally still exist. Regarding the aforementioned decrease in extreme poverty, 11% of the globe is still around 800 million impoverished people, and with modern resources, experts think the battle could be more efficient. As such, it’s important to look at the global reduction in poverty through these lenses: if foreign governments and organizations become content with the work done to this point, public interest in the fight would surely cease. The fight against poverty only persists as long as the world cares about it and the global community continues to contribute.

Joe Clark
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in TajikistanThe Republic of Tajikistan is a Central Asian country landlocked by Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. Known for its mountainous terrains, Tajikistan was a union in the USSR until its collapse in 1991. The country currently has a population of approximately 9.6 million, with females accounting for slightly more than 50%. Unfortunately, women’s rights in Tajikistan is an issue that manifests itself in various different forms.

Maternal and Child Statistics in Tajikistan

The average fertility rate in Tajikistan is 3.6 births per woman, which is higher than the global 2.5 births. In 2017, maternal mortality stood at around 17 deaths per 100,000 births. Fortunately, this is a significant decrease in deaths compared to 1993 when the country noted 151 deaths per 100,000 births. The female child mortality in 2018 stood at approximately 30.6 deaths per 1,000 births, which is lower than the male child mortality rate of 38.9 per 1,000 births.

Political and Workplace Representation of Women

In Tajikistan, traditional gender roles are upheld and female political representation is quite uncommon. In 2015, women held only 19% of parliament seats. Despite this statistic, female political representation in local government is higher at around 40%. However, this was not always the case. Before the collapse of the USSR, Tajik women and men saw equal economic and political opportunities. Through its cessation from the Soviet Union along with civil unrest between 1992 and 1997, Tajik society began to reinforce strict gender roles.

Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women

In 2011, Tajikistan had rape rates of 0.6 cases per 100,000 people and HIV rates in women stagnated between the years 1999 and 2018. Moreover, in 2011, estimates indicated 48.5 cases of assault per 100,000 people, which reflects one of the most significant women’s rights issues in Tajikistan: Domestic violence.

Women in Tajikistan frequently endure severe domestic violence. According to Amnesty International, “Between a third and a half of women in Tajikistan have experienced physical, psychological or sexual abuse by husbands or other family members.” Through various studies conducted between the years 2017 and 2018, data reveals that 26.4% of Tajikistan women experience “lifetime physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence.” Although the Law on the Prevention of Violence in the Family came into effect in 2013, the nation is yet to criminalize domestic violence. Thus, cases of abuse often go underreported. The normalization of abuse permeates throughout Tajikistan and the United Nations reports that at least “one in five women” in Tajikistan are victims of domestic violence.

Current Economy for Women in Tajikistan

Due to the lack of job opportunities and high poverty rates, many Tajik men seek job opportunities in neighboring countries, especially in Russia. In 2010, 16% of Russian migrants were Tajik and more than 1 million Tajik citizens go to Russia for work reasons. In a 2019 research article by Edward Lemon for the Migration Policy Institute, the writer asserted that “the actual number of Tajiks in Russia may be much higher, with as many as 40% working illegally, and therefore, not appearing within the official statistics.” Moreover, the article reveals that “30% to 40% of Tajik households have at least one member working abroad.”

As men are often the ones traveling for work, women in Tajikistan must singlehandedly take care of their households. The China Global Television Network America conducted an interview with Tajik wives in the Dushanbe area of Tajikistan which borders Uzbekistan. Parvina, a mother of four, had been caring for her children by herself ever since her husband left for Russia two years ago. Although Parvina receives money from her husband, many other wives do not get any financial support at all. However, because of the lack of males in the country, Tajik women are now able to take on traditionally male roles both in the household or workplace in order to support their families. 

Efforts to Empower Women and Improve Women’s Rights in Tajikistan

While women in Tajikistan often suffer from domestic violence and are not given equal social and political opportunities, things are slowly changing. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has an office in Tajikistan that aids women’s resource centers in the area. According to the OSCE website, these resource centers are “the largest civil society network in Tajikistan promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls to claim their rights and access state services and institutions.”

These resource centers offer “free psychological counseling and rehabilitation for women in Tajikistan” who are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Oxfam International is also an organization that strives to empower Tajik women. Its “Transforming Care Work” aids rural communities in Tajikistan by creating leadership groups for women. This allows women to become financially independent, which can, in turn, alleviate the high poverty rates the country experiences.

Despite their lack of rights, high domestic abuse rates and lack of economic opportunity, women in Tajikistan are slowly achieving empowerment. If the Tajik government places more emphasis on the prevention of domestic violence and increased support for women in politics and the workforce, Tajikistan will continue to improve and become a significantly safer place for women.

– Kelly McGarry

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

fighting poverty with booksOxfam, an organization based out of Kenya, is fighting global poverty with books. How does that work, exactly? All over the world, second-hand Oxfam bookstores are popping up, sparking interest in the cause.

Oxfam: Alleviating Global Poverty

Oxfam provides support to people worldwide who suffer from disasters and poverty and works to build lasting solutions to these problems. Through “challenging the powerful,” Oxfam aims to hold those in power accountable for their actions in order to promote sustainable change. Oxfam challenges those in power by allowing disadvantaged groups’ voices to be heard, pressuring policy change and starting discussions with those in power to advocate for those in poverty. Throughout the organization’s 70 years of existence, Oxfam has changed lives on a global scale.

The number of global citizens living in poverty increased to 803 million people in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. The organization believes that the global community can alleviate global poverty by confronting the injustices in the world. In doing this, Oxfam provides a voice for those who often go unheard in their daily lives.

While working in 90 countries, Oxfam alone has changed the lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Oxfam used many different strategies, such as supporting NGOs on the ground aiding communities in need, donating funds and resources to humanitarian organizations and pursuing legal action for those in need. But, perhaps the most interesting is fighting global poverty with books.

The Oxfam Bookstore: Fighting Poverty With Books

A popular place for local bookstores to emerge is Great Britain. Walking through Oxford, near the pub C.S. Lewis frequented, is an Oxfam bookstore. The books within the bookstore come from donations to Oxfam and Oxfam disperses these books to the organization’s many locations. In selling these books to raise money, Oxfam is able to further fund its multi-faceted poverty-fighting agenda.

In these bookstores, it is easy to find books from all genres. A typical store features books from popular young adult fiction to antiquated books that are no longer in circulation. When a large bookseller hears about Oxfam and wants to contribute to the cause, it is quite common to find newly printed copies on Oxfam’s bookstore shelves as well.

In the event that there is no Oxfam bookstore location nearby, it is now possible to shop the bookstores’ selection online. To promote the organization’s values, it is essential for Oxfam to collect as many books as possible to boost sales. When looking online, it is easy to find the genres and the site even highlights a section to promote antiquarian, signed and valuable books.

To be more specific, volunteers run both Oxfam thrift stores and book shops around the world. The funds the bookstores raise are then dispersed to their various home bases. Through these bookstores’ contributions and by providing an accessible platform for people to donate and contribute to valuable causes, Oxfam furthers the global fight against poverty.

Fighting Poverty One Book at a Time

For book lovers who want to change the world, Oxfam bookstores are a great way to help out those in need while finding the newest story to delve into. From just a quick search, first edition novels such as “Ross Poldark,” “Will Grayson” and “The Screwtape Letters” can be found in these volunteer-led bookstores. Prices vary depending on the quality and rarity of these works, but it is clear that fighting global poverty with books is a great way to benefit both those in need and one’s own book cravings.

By fighting global poverty with books, Oxfam encourages widespread education that can be available to everyone, without having to explicitly say it. Contributing to the fight against global poverty can occur through the simple transaction of purchasing a book from a small shop.

– Natalie Belford
Photo: Pexels

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

Living on Less
The term “extreme poverty” is often used in political and humanitarian discussions. However, what does it really mean? About 734 million people around the globe live in extreme poverty. This means they live on $2 or less every day. It can be difficult for many people to grasp this concept. As a result, discussions about extreme poverty often focus on statistics in order to rationalize the issue. To truly comprehend what living in extreme poverty is like, statistics are not the only important information to take into consideration. Anecdotes and firsthand accounts from people living in this type of poverty are necessary for comprehensive understanding. They are the ones who can truly tell about their experiences and everyday lives as people living on less than $2 a day.

Serin Dossa of Lagos, Nigeria

Serin wakes up every day and begins making Koko, or porridge, to sell throughout the day. She makes the equivalent of $1.12 each day. Her husband does not have a job. Consequently, she has to take out loans to feed her family, including her young children. Although she works to save her money, it is difficult to do so when her family members fall sick so frequently due to unhygienic living conditions. She is the provider for the family like so many other Nigerian women in communities like hers.

Lal Mohammed of Kolkata, India

Lal pulls people and packages behind him on his rickshaw every day not because he likes to, but because it is the only stable job he can find. He supports himself, his wife and their three children. Lal takes the bus into the city every day where he then picks up his rickshaw and begins his long day of work. He sometimes walks up to 10 kilometers in just one day. Lal hopes his children will grow up to have a better education than himself. However, their family simply cannot afford to have any savings.

Akolgo A. of Salpiiga, Ghana

Akolgo is a peasant farmer, and his only source of income is his crop yield. In 2017, he put all of his money towards his farm crops in hopes of raising money to rebuild his home that was falling apart. Although he raised enough money to do so, his house flooded later that same year. His family has been homeless ever since. He receives $26 every three months from his government, but this is far too little money to rebuild his home how his family needs it to be.

Devli Bai of Rajasthan, India

Devli works as a day laborer doing manual labor. She takes the bus into the nearby city each day and waits for a contractor to hire her for the day. Her most common tasks include shoveling rocks and carrying rocks on her head at construction sites. She typically earns a little more than $2 each day, but the cost of her daily bus tickets dwindle that amount down so that she is living on less than $2 a day. She is divorced from her husband and raising her two children alone.

Who is Helping?

Although these stories are upsetting, they are crucial in understanding what living on less than $2 a day really looks like. The good news is there are several organizations doing great work to help those who live in extreme poverty. With over 70 years of experience, Oxfam International works with over 90 countries across the globe. In 2019 it directly helped 19.5 million people with their programs. It focuses on collaboration with communities who need help the most and long-lasting solutions driven by innovation.

The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development is another nonprofit organization. It is currently working on 31 global projects across several countries. One of its aims is to tackle issues one at a time in whichever community needs its help the most at a given time. It also has well-established emergency relief and response programs to prepare for the unexpected.

Another nonprofit fighting extreme poverty is Concern Worldwide. Its reach extends to 23 countries and its initiatives in those countries are guided by six central themes of poverty. In 2019 alone, Concern Worldwide helped 11.5 million people through their emergency response programs and 15.1 million people through their long-term development programs.

Living on less than $2 a day is something no human should have to endure, which is why nonprofits like these are so important in our contemporary global community.

Natalie Tarbox
Photo: Flickr

South Sudan’s Hunger Crisis
South Sudan gained independence in 2011, and in 2013 a civil war broke out. The civil war has displaced approximately more than 4 million people and caused extreme poverty. With the country still stuck in the throngs of conflict and the population on the verge of starvation, humanitarian aid has been especially important during this time. Here are nine organizations fighting South Sudan’s hunger crisis.

9 Organizations Fighting South Sudan’s Hunger Crisis

  1. Action Against Hunger: Action Against Hunger is a nonprofit organization that emerged in 1979 in Paris, France. Currently, Action Against Hunger is fighting emergencies in many countries in Africa with South Sudan being a focus area. The nonprofit has been working in South Sudan since 1985 and has focused its efforts on the recent civil war conflict and treating malnutrition. In 2018, it provided nutrition and other health services to 178,000 people; 46,607 children received malnutrition screenings and 3,250 obtained treatment in hard-to-reach-areas.
  2. International Medical Corps: International Medical Corps is a nonprofit that has been working in South Sudan since the mid-1990s. It provides seeds, tools and food to families in need to support a better livelihood as well as 24-hour stabilization centers that provide health care services. The organization works in five of the country’s 11 states providing outpatient and inpatient treatment for acute malnutrition. Nutrition programs are in Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Central Equatoria and Western Bahr-el Ghazal states and have implemented a blanket supplementary feeding program to prevent malnutrition in countries children.
  3. Save the Children: Save the Children is a U.S.-based nonprofit that has been working to better the lives of children all over the world since 1932. It provides food assistance following natural disasters, builds economic and food security within communities, strengthens socio-economic conditions and gives youths the means and information to earn a sustainable income. In South Sudan, Save the Children is the lead provider in six of 11 states with 61 primary health care facilities, 45 outpatient centers and 58 feeding programs for infants and children suffering from malnutrition. Over the years, it has given 466,579 children vital nutrition.
  4. International Rescue Committee: The Emergency Rescue Committee and the International Relief Association created the International Rescue Committee in 1942, joining forces. The organization has been working in South Sudan since 1989 but has doubled its efforts since the country gained independence and civil war followed quickly behind. It mainly works in the Central Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and Lakes states where it has opened health clinics and is providing nutrition and sanitation services to the communities. In 2018, the International Rescue Committee assisted 900,000 people in South Sudan.
  5. World Food Programme: The World Food Programme is the leading organization dealing with food assistance and providing communities with the ability to improve nutrition. Established in 1961, the World Food Programme works in over 83 countries a year. The first development program launched in Sudan and since then food assistance has increased over the years. The organization works to deliver food to hard-to-reach communities, provide school meals and treat malnutrition in children throughout the country with the help of 12,000 nutrition volunteers in South Sudan; in 2019, it assisted 5 million people.
  6. World Food Program U.S.A.: The World Food Program U.S.A. is a United State-based nonprofit that came into being in 1995. It has a partner in the United Nations World Food Programme. World Food Program U.S.A. works with U.S. policymakers, corporations and foundations to fight global hunger. The organization provides funding for the use of air-drops, all-terrain vehicles and river barges to get food to people. An average of eight air-drops, which can feed 2,000 each, occur in South Sudan. Also, it uses blockchain technology, called Scope, to monitor nutrition success cases. Over 1.4 million people have registered in the system.
  7. Humanity and Inclusion: Humanity and Inclusion, previously known as Handicap International, emerged in 1983. This nonprofit works with the disabled and handicapped communities within places facing extreme poverty, disaster and conflict. It provides services, rehabilitation and nutrition health information. Humanity and Inclusion has worked in South Sudan since 2006. The facilities had to close in 2013 due to the civil war, but have returned and now focus their efforts on rehabilitation of the country’s disabled or injured. Humanity and Inclusion work in South Sudan states Yambio, Lankien, Malakal, Bor, Bientu and Yida.
  8. Care: Care started out in 1945 and works to aid communities in emergencies. It also helps farmers, fishers and pastoralists ensure the nutrition of their families. Care has been working in South Sudan since 1993. The organization delivers emergency food assistance with care packages including sorghum, lentils and cooking oil. It also provides agricultural support, cash and environmental awareness-raising training.
  9. Oxfam International: A group of independent organizations founded Oxfam in 1995. Oxfam works to help fight global poverty worldwide, and it supports over 500,000 people in South Sudan. The organization provides emergency food distribution centers and clean, safe water to communities. In 2017, Oxfam built a solar-powered water treatment plant that reaches 24,000 people within the state of Juba. It also provides families with assets like livestock, tools, seeds and fishing gear to help people provide food for themselves, and give training on better farming methods.

South Sudan’s hunger crisis is a man-made tragedy and 60 percent of the population still faces severe hunger. Still, South Sudan is a great example of humanitarian action making a tremendous impact on communities. South Sudan has avoided famine with the help of many organizations providing food assistance, emergency aid and ways to have a better livelihood.

– Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr