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Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Jordan
Though the pandemic left no one unscathed, it hit impoverished people in developing countries harder with poverty rates skyrocketing, social tensions brewing and education systems crumbling. Jordan, a Middle Eastern country, faced immediate effects. The World Bank is taking action to address the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jordan.

Rising Poverty Rates in Jordan

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Jordan, it had a prompt effect on poverty rates. At the peak of the pandemic, according to the World Bank, there was a 38% increase in poverty rates among Jordanians, with respect to the national poverty line of 67 Jordanian dinars per person per month. Regarding Syrian refugees in Jordan, the number of Syrians living under the national poverty line rose by 18%. This percentage is lower than the poverty rate among Jordanians likely because pre-pandemic, “many Syrians were already below the poverty line, limiting how many more could fall into poverty,” the World Bank explains.

Other Impacts

As jobs and resources became scarce, so did social tensions. The World Bank reports that during the lockdowns implemented, reports of domestic violence rose. Moreover, with school shutdowns, children faced difficulty accessing education, either left to attend school virtually or unable to continue their studies at all due to a  lack of access to the internet and technology.

Due to the impacts of the pandemic, in 2020, unemployment rates in Jordan reached a high of 25% for the general population and exceeded 50% among the youth.

As time went on, these difficulties further harmed Jordan’s economic state. With a declining job market, tensions rising and educational disparity, Jordan’s GDP declined by 1.6% from 2019 to 2020.

Hunger in Jordan

In 2022, the Global Hunger Index gives Jordan a score of 10.6, an increase of 1.8 points from 2020, equating to a moderate level of hunger. This ranks Jordan 53rd out of 121 countries in terms of hunger. In 2020, Jordan scored even better — 8.8, which equates to a low level of hunger. In terms of hunger levels, GHI indicates the severity of hunger in a country, with 100 representing the most severe levels of hunger and zero representing no hunger. The number of undernourished Jordanians rose to almost 17% in 2022, up from 6% in 2014.

In 2022, Jordan’s GHI (10.6) dropped below its pre-pandemic score — 0.2 points lower than in 2000 (10.8), according to the World Bank. Meaning, following the pandemic, hunger severity levels in Jordan are still lower than two decades ago.

Recovery in Jordan

Ultimately, following the pandemic, Jordan’s poor faced increased rates of malnourishment while disadvantaged youths faced education gaps and the working class dealt with unemployment and job scarcity. Yet, in 2022, with the help of emergency relief, Jordan is on its way to rebuilding itself.

On March 22, 2022, the World Bank approved $350 million worth of added funding for Jordan’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to provide cash transfer support for Jordan’s poor and those most negatively affected by COVID-19. The World Bank initially provided the first round of funding of $20 million to Jordan in April 2020.

These cash transfers enable low-income households in Jordan to meet their basic needs. This means households can put their income toward health and education services, both of which will aid in developing Jordan’s human capital.

While COVID-19 imposed some of the direst consequences, the world is recovering and developing countries like Jordan are back on track to reduce poverty and build their economies up.

With support from other countries and aid from the World Bank, the world’s poor can continue to progress. Though these are positive indicators of Jordan’s comeback, more aid is necessary to resolve the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jordan.

– Micaella Balderrama
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

10 Facts About Hunger in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a small country that was formerly a part of the Soviet Republic. Some call it the Land of Fire due to a continuous, naturally burning mountain fire in its Caucasus mountains, and the country consists of both urban and large agricultural areas. Over the past 19 years, Azerbaijan has been steadily addressing its hunger issues and making important improvements. The proportion of undernourished citizens has decreased from 22 percent to less than 1 percent since 2000. Along with this advancement, here are 10 facts about hunger in Azerbaijan.

10 Facts About Hunger in Azerbaijan

  1. Azerbaijan has a global hunger index of 9.5, which is a low level of hunger. The global hunger index is a scale ranging from zero to 100, with zero being zero hunger and 100 being the most severe hunger. Numbers below 9.9 indicate low levels of hunger and numbers between 10-19.9 represent moderate hunger levels. On the other hand, numbers between 20-34.9 represent serious hunger levels, 35.0-49.9 reflect alarming hunger levels and anything above 50.0 refers to extremely alarming hunger levels. The global hunger index is based on four factors – child stunting, child mortality, undernourishment and child wasting.

  2. As of 2018, Azerbaijan ranks 40 out of 119 countries on the global hunger index scale. In 2000, the country’s global hunger index was 27.0, placing Azerbaijan in serious hunger levels. As the years have passed, Azerbaijan’s partnerships with UNICEF and the United Nations have developed programs addressing its hunger issues. As a result, the country has made significant progress, allowing its hunger index to decrease to 9.5.

  3. Child stunting refers to the proportion of children under the age of 5 who experience low height as a result of undernutrition. The percentage of child stunting in Azerbaijan has decreased by almost 5 percent since 2000. This improvement is partially because of one of UNICEF’s health programs that creates more educational resources and services for new mothers. Through the memorandum that UNICEF signed in 2019, mothers should receive more breastfeeding counseling in a baby-friendly hospital environment. Breastfeeding children for the first six months is the most effective method of ensuring a child’s healthy development and preventing child stunting.

  4. Child wasting is the number of children who are underweight for their age, reflecting undernourishment. Similar to child stunting, the percentage of children who undergo child wasting has dropped by nearly 5 percent in Azerbaijan since 2000. Although this is positive, 4.9 percent of children still experience child wasting. UNICEF has found that iron-deficiency anemia is a major cause of this problem.

  5. Iron-deficiency anemia is a condition in which a person does not have enough red blood cells. A leading cause of iron-deficiency anemia is the lack of iron in one’s diet. This can often lead to headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness and cold hands or feet. Iron-deficiency anemia in Azerbaijan affects 38.2 percent of women of reproductive age and 39.5 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11. A solution to combat this problem is flour fortification, which is the addition of nutrients such as folic acid and iron to flour. UNICEF is currently working with Azerbaijan’s government to pass legislation that will mandate flour fortification in hopes of reducing child wasting and improving overall health.

  6. The United Nations created a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015 to end poverty and achieve peace around the world by 2030. The second SDG is to achieve zero hunger by ending malnutrition and providing nutritious food. In October 2018, Azerbaijan hosted the first forum to discuss methods and solutions towards meeting these goals, especially targeting hunger in Azerbaijan. This forum covered issues mentioned in these 10 facts about hunger in Azerbaijan. Its government will focus on renewable energy sources to reduce oil use. The country will also aim to increase business and individual participation within a circular economy viewpoint, encouraging continuous resource reuse and waste elimination.

  7. An important aspect of a circular economy is creating sustainable farming methods that will allow a country’s lands to stay healthy, resulting in more food production in the long run. Azerbaijan recognizes that one of its struggles is the sustainability of its natural land ecosystems. The government claims there is not a high awareness among the general population about protecting the environment, which poses a barrier in progressing with the SDGs. Fortunately, there has been a recent push to engage the population with the first national innovative contest in which young citizens submitted over 220 proposals with economic and sustainability solutions. With initiatives and positive mindsets like these, Azerbaijan is getting closer to its zero hunger goal.

  1. Azerbaijan has historically been an agricultural country with a high percentage of genetic diversity in its local seeds and plants. However, the country produces only 15-20 percent locally, while the rest come from imported plants. This poses a risk to food security, so the U.N. created a three-part program in November 2016 to protect biodiversity and increase food production. This is a five-year plan that should end by December 2021. The U.N. hopes that the construction of bigger agricultural institutions and the improvement of the skills of local farmers will allow for the planting of crops from native species.

  1. So far in the first year of the agrobiodiversity program, two field gene banks have emerged for cereal plants and forage crops, and there has been an increase in wheat varieties (1.5 percent), vegetable crops (0.7 percent) and forage crops (0.3 percent). The Agrarian Science and Informational Consulting Services buildings received vital repair works that will enable the institution to host farming seminars. Most importantly, two vegetable farmer-farmer networks constructed in the Goranboy region. The next steps will be to maintain the established field gene banks and the specified, conserved farm areas. While Azerbaijan is meeting these goals, the country will continue to grow the farmer networks it developed to teach them sustainable farming techniques with native crop species. The program will release more information regarding the number of farmers involved and the areas it reaches once the U.N.’s baseline study finishes.

  2. In Azerbaijan’s Shaki region, over half the population works in agriculture, contributing to 14 percent of the country’s wheat harvest. Since this region plays a vital role in Azerbaijan’s food production, the country intends to implement another agricultural program the UNDP Agro-Biodiversity funded to introduce new technology to traditional practices. In 2019, farmers are receiving new irrigation methods, small grants and training in the Shaki region. UNDP predicts that after receiving these resources, farmers can efficiently harvest more produce using less water. There will be economic benefits that enable farmers to buy more food themselves while providing more food for citizens. So far, four farming families have changed their irrigation methods to the drop-by-drop system and are using fewer pesticides.

With the rise of innovative programs and worldwide discussions, Azerbaijan has improved the state of its population’s hunger levels. By working with the United Nations and UNICEF, the country has been able to incorporate important research regarding child nutrition and farming techniques into achievable goals and programs. These 10 facts about hunger in Azerbaijan show the government’s dedication to further reducing hunger levels through educational resources and economic changes.

– Jane Burgan
Photo: Flickr

 

10 Facts About Hunger in Algeria
Located in Western Sahara, Algeria is one of the largest countries in the world. Home to around 40 million people, the French-speaking nation continues to grow in population. The Algerian economy centers around oil exports and that oil has allowed the Algerian economy to become one of the biggest in Africa. Despite this, many Algerians struggle to put food on the table and the main problem lies with the poorest people in the country. The unemployed and Sahrawi refugees struggle to maintain a healthy diet due to a lack of affordable and nutritious food. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Algeria.

10 Facts About Hunger in Algeria

  1. Only 17 percent of Algerian land is used for agriculture. The Sahara desert covers a large amount of Algeria. As a result, Algeria is unable to produce enough food for its people which forces it to import a lot of its food.
  2. Food products and vegetables make up 16.5 percent of Algerian imports. At first glance, 16.5 percent may not seem like a large amount, however, Algerian vegetables and food products make up only one percent of its exports. When a country is importing more food than it can produce, prices tend to be higher for its people.
  3. Almost 90 percent of Sahrawi refugees are food insecure or at risk of food insecurity. There are approximately 90,000 to 165,000 Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. The refugees are Western Saharans that the Western Saharan War in 1975 displaced. For almost 45 years, the refugees have been living in harsh desert environments with limited access to economic opportunity.
  4. Forty-five percent of Sahrawi women of childbearing age and 39 percent of children under five are anemic. Anemia in pregnant women can cause complications with the fetus and mother. Similarly, anemia in young children can cause serious health problems and hurt their growth.
  5. The World Food Program gives 125,000 food rations each month at Sahrawi refugee camps. The WFP also created nutrition centers to fight anemia and stunting in children. It also distributes thousands of school meals to refugee children to keep them in school.
  6. Algeria ranks 39th out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index. With a score of only 9.4, Algeria boasts a low level of hunger. Over the past few years, Algeria moved up two spots in the rankings.
  7. The prevalence of stunting in children under five years has reduced by half since the year 2000. At the turn of the century, almost a quarter of Algerian children under five had their growth stunted due to malnutrition. Now, only around 11 percent of children have problems with their growth due to malnutrition.
  8. The proportion of undernourished in Algeria is now under five percent. Twenty years ago, 10 percent of Algerians were undernourished. Currently, that number has dropped to 4.7 percent.
  9. Algeria’s infant mortality rate is at 20.6. Back in 1990, the mortality rate was over 40. Today, better support for infants and easier access to nutritious foods for Algerians has cut that number in half.
  10. Since the year 1990, Algeria’s life expectancy has grown by 10 years. Algeria’s current life expectancy is at 76 years. This is three years higher than the rest of North Africa. In 1990, Algeria had around the same life expectancy as its North African neighbors but Algeria has surpassed them.

These 10 facts about hunger in Algeria illustrate that hunger is a problem that the country may overlook. At first glance, the country may appear to be doing well, however, the most impoverished Algerians suffer greatly from food insecurity. Thankfully, the country as a whole is making progress in combating this difficult problem which means that there is hope that Algeria will one day eliminate hunger.

– Gaurav Shetty
Photo: Flickr