Hunger in Romania
Romania, one of the least urbanized countries in the European Union, is home to eight UNESCO world heritage sites. Yet of the 27 EU member countries, Romania has the sixth-largest population with only the 15th-largest gross domestic product. Poverty, hunger and instability are key issues in Romania where 25% of the population lives on $5.50 per day. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Romania.

10 Facts About Hunger in Romania

  1. In 2018, Romania received a ranking as the second-highest EU country for the percentage of its population at risk of poverty and social exclusion. In fact, poverty impacts approximately 32.5% of its population or 6.5 million people. Romania’s poverty and inequality are due to high unemployment rates, overall low levels of education and regional gaps between urbanized and rural communities.
  2. Rural Romania includes 75% of the country’s impoverished population. The Romani or Roma people, a minority group, are most likely to live in non-urbanized slums, and experience discrimination, poverty and hunger. On average, 40% of Roma living in the EU experience hunger at least once per month. In Romania, the Roma employment rate is 28%, and the poverty rate is nearly 70%.
  3. Despite its poverty rate, Romania’s 2019 Global Hunger Index score is less than five. This means the prevalence of hunger in Romania is low relative to other countries globally. However, child stunting, or the share of children under the age of 5 whose growth has experienced stunting due to malnutrition, is 6.6%. When comparing this to the less than 2.5% of undernourished individuals in the Romanian population, it is clear that child hunger in Romania is disproportionately high. Child stunting is a consequence of insufficient nutrient intake and absorption due to hunger, inadequate nutrition and poor diets.
  4. The poverty rate in Romania’s rural areas is three times higher than in urban areas. As of 2016, 5% of families living in rural Romania encounter difficulty ensuring that their children have a quality diet. Romania’s national Roma integration strategy aims to combat poverty and hunger among its rural Roma populations by increasing education and employment rates, and by improving access to healthcare and housing.
  5. Romania’s economy has improved significantly in recent years. At 11.7%, Romania had the second-largest decrease in poverty among EU member states from 2008 to 2018. In tandem with this decrease in poverty, hunger rates in Romania have decreased. Romania’s Global Hunger Index score fell from 8.3 in 2000 to 5.6 in 2010 and to its most recent score of below five.
  6. Romania is one of the largest producers of wheat and maize in the EU Relative to an EU average of 4.9%, approximately 23% of Romanians have employment in agricultural industries. While Romania benefits from an expanding agricultural industry, droughts and adverse weather cause frequent instability in agricultural output and in the lives of Romanians working in the agricultural industry. By the end of 2021, forecasts determine that grain production will decrease by 2.6% as expectations are that dry weather conditions will reduce the 2020 and 2021 winter crop yields.
  7. Organizations like Mission Without Borders NZ are fighting hunger in the six poorest countries in Eastern Europe, including Romania. The organization sponsors children in their pursuit of education while also helping families out of poverty. Mission Without Borders NZ does this, in part, by providing families with the resources and animals they need to begin farming. In 2018, the organization sponsored 4,810 children and 2,023 families and donated over 30,000 parcels of food, clothing and other necessities. The organization also delivered 29,000 food parcels and served over 170,566 meals in its soup kitchens in 2019.
  8. The European Anti-Poverty Network Romania (EAPN RO), RENASIS, emerged in 2008. This branch of the EAPN helps combat the impact of poverty and inequality in Romania. RENASIS, originally an acronym in Romanian, stands for the National Anti-Poverty Social Inclusion Network when translated to English. It supported and worked to strengthen the Minimum Income Schemes in Romania, which are income support measures that provide a safety net for individuals who are unable to work and are not eligible for social insurance payments.
  9. Romania’s government has taken significant steps toward combat poverty, socio-economic instability and hunger in Romania. These steps include the implementation of the Romania National Strategy and Strategic Action Plan on Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction for 2015-2020. The government also created a comprehensive package of 47 anti-poverty measures. These new measures aid marginalized populations and aim to increase social inclusion and economic competitiveness through socio-economic integration.
  10. Romania supports the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda aims to end inequality, poverty and hunger while improving access to clean water and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy. Romania’s agenda implementation strategy focuses on supporting the inclusion of people with disabilities, youth and women in policies of development. The country has also focused on stimulating and improving its energy sector, which helps influence economic growth in the country.

The situation in Romania has improved in recent years. However, many people remain vulnerable to poverty and hunger in Romania. Through continued legislation and anti-poverty initiatives, Romania is working to reduce the number of vulnerable people within its borders and increase stability in the lives of people across the country.

Zoe Engels
Photo: Flickr