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10 Facts About Orphanages
UNICEF defines an orphan as “a child under 18 years of age who has lost one or both parents to any cause of death.” The United States and various other Western states have largely phased out orphanages — institutions aimed at caring for and housing children who have lost or been separated from their families. Parts of the developing world continue to use them, however. Keep reading to discover 10 facts about orphanages.

10 Facts About Orphanages

  1. The physical shelter of orphanages is a benefit for children who have become separated from or lost family, however, they need much more than that. Orphan children require affection, figures they can look up to and a sense of emotional security to ensure they reach their fullest developmental potential. While many orphanages have not provided this care in the past, the United Nations’ implementation of the “Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children” in 2009 calls for the strengthening of social services programs. Additionally, this document calls for the prioritization of family-oriented alternatives.
  2. For tourists looking to do some kind of service work abroad, volunteering in orphanages may not be the best way to do it. Throughout South Asia, human trafficking continues to plague many countries and can lead to the separation of children from their families. To continue attracting high paying tourists, many “orphanages” actually contain children whose parents or families are capable of taking care of them.
  3. Globally, the main reason for children winding up in orphanages is not due to parent loss. Rather, children often become separated from their parents due to poverty, which restricts parents from giving their children the care they need. In Sri Lanka, 92 percent of children in private institutions had at least one surviving parent, but these parents were unable to provide adequate care for their children.
  4. Many children who live in orphanages end up staying for extended periods of time, which can cause developmental delays in their social, emotional and intellectual developments.
  5. The number of orphanages is increasing, particularly in Asia, even though the number of orphans is decreasing. People’s living conditions are steadily improving around the world, and because of this, families are forcing fewer children from their family homes. Orphanage volunteerism, however, is a profitable market, which unfortunately means that the children’s wellbeing is often placed on the back burner.
  6. Oftentimes, the volunteers at orphanages are short-term, meaning that the kids living in the orphanages are not able to form healthy, long-term caretaker relationships. The best option would be to have qualified locals work in the orphanages, which would ensure that relationships last the duration of the children’s stay.
  7. A study conducted by the Bucharest Early Intervention Project found that if children under the age of two years old moved from institutional care to a foster care situation, they had a significantly higher chance of making developmental gains than those who stayed in institutional care.
  8. Donors and governments are usually well-intentioned while setting up orphanages but fail to see the long-term negative consequences that arise when children are in these institutions for prolonged periods of time. Creating a space in which disenfranchised children can exist together seems easier than helping an entire society of impoverished families create sustainable households.
  9. Children who end up in orphanages due to family separation do so because of natural disasters, displacement, economic hardships and other forms of conflict. Allowing them the chance to reunite with their families if possible is an effective way to ensure they do not suffer the negative effects of staying in an orphanage long-term.
  10. NGOs and governments often overlook children in institutions such as orphanages. SOS Children’s Villages, however, is an organization that focuses almost exclusively on orphaned children. Hermann Gmeiner founded the organization in Austria in 1949, because he saw the devastating effects of World War II on children firsthand. Today, SOS Children’s Villages works in 135 countries and villages. Instead of simply institutionalizing orphaned children, SOS Children’s Villages works with various communities in order to provide education and as close to family bonds as possible for the children.

These 10 facts about orphanages shed important light on what people largely think is a positive industry. While there are positive intentions behind the construction of orphanages, many do not provide children with the tools or developmental skills necessary to maintain long-lasting, healthy relationships. However, with help from organizations like SOS Children’s Villages, hopefully orphaned children will have a better future.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

malnutrition in haitiHaiti is a small island, yet it is the western hemisphere’s most impoverished nation. One of the many ways that poverty affects Haiti is through hunger. In 2015, 22 percent of Haitian children were suffering from malnutrition. Health is something that affects everyday life and is reflective of a country’s standard of living. In other words, learning about how malnutrition affects Haiti is important for understanding poverty and the development of this country.

Haiti’s History

Haiti became independent from the French government in 1804. This formerly colonized nation was the first country to achieve freedom through a slave rebellion. When Haiti became independent, most western countries (such as the U.S.) did not recognize the nation’s independence. This prevented any foreign trade from occurring with Haiti.

The first country to acknowledge Haitian independence was France; however, the acknowledgment was met with conditions. The French claimed that their economy would be hurt due to a loss in slave labor and, because of this, Haitians would have to repay the French with 100 million francs. The debt was not fully repaid until 1887 and, consequently, created negative effects on Haiti’s economy.

The country also regularly encounters natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. Since 1998, Haiti has faced 10 hurricanes in addition to other tropical storms. With a lack of infrastructure, every environmental disaster takes a large toll on the economy. After the 2010 earthquake, 1.5 million Haitians were displaced and the country was said to have faced $7.8 billion in losses.

The Role of Nutrition

Today, Haiti has a GDP per capita of $870, and 59 percent of the population works for less than 2 dollars per day. With such high rates of poverty, it’s no surprise that the country also suffers from malnutrition. There are some key facts to understanding how malnutrition affects Haiti.

  • Approximately 40 percent of the country is malnourished. In fact, one in five children is malnourished. In addition, 80 percent of rice, the country’s major food source, is imported, thus creating a large dependence on foreign exchange.
  • Agriculture in Haiti is also dependent upon external factors. Only 10 percent of the land is irrigated, making consistent rain a necessity for food production. When there is a drought, food production is affected. Lack of adequate crops increases malnutrition.
  • One-third of Haitian women suffer from anemia. Anemia is an illness that can be caused by iron and vitamin deficiency. It prevents oxygen from flowing through the blood to muscles and tissues, but it can be easily prevented through proper nutrition.
  • In rural areas, fewer than half of the people in Haiti have access to clean drinking water. Water is often contaminated. In 2010, the country faced a globally infamous earthquake. When U.N. workers arrived to provide aid, they accidentally created a cholera outbreak that spread quickly through the water. Since then, 770 thousand Haitians have been affected by the illness, creating an added risk to water consumption.

Who is Helping?

While the majority of Haitians still suffer from malnutrition, progress has been made. Hands up for Haiti is one nonprofit that is aiming to reduce issues surrounding nutrition in three different ways. The first way is through a supplement called Medika Mamba, a nutritional pill that is primarily nut-based and is high in calories. The pill is provided to 600 children each year on the bases of medical evaluation. The second way is through educational programs that teach locals how to grow small plots of food to support their families. Lastly, the organization offers centers with professionally trained medics to treat illnesses relating to malnutrition.

Understanding how malnutrition affects Haiti is key to recognizing the effects of poverty. The country’s long-standing history of natural disasters and colonization has affected its current economic situation as well as the health of the nation. However, nonprofits such as Hands up for Haiti have been making large strides within the country, giving a hopeful outlook to the future of this nation.

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Desertification
As the world continues to heat up from causes both natural and manmade, nations across the globe are seeing once fertile land becoming barren and unproductive. Some consider this process, known as desertification, irreversible. Officially, the United Nations defines desertification as “the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas.” The shrinking of arable land threatens food and water security for those in poor and rural areas. Poverty and desertification go hand in hand in a vicious cycle. It is important to understand where this phenomenon tends to occur and what the causes of desertification are.

Where Does Desertification Occur?

Desertification is most common in Africa. More specifically, areas of sub-Saharan Africa see the largest amount of devastation from this environmental issue. By 2030, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calculates that upwards of two-thirds of Africa’s fertile, productive soil will be lost if desertification continues.

In Ethiopia, FAO calculates that desertification causes the loss of 92,000 hectares of woodlands every year, along with 2 billion tons of fertile, productive soil. As a result, Ethiopian citizens cannot rely on food security. Senegal, a country all the way across the continent from Ethiopia, also struggles with the harsh effects of desertification. Here, desertification causes low productivity in agriculture and has forced Senegal’s citizens to migrate.

Africa is not the only victim, however. Mexico’s citizens are suffering, too. Many entering the U.S. from Mexico are fleeing poverty caused by land degradation, according to the Natural Heritage Institute. The state of Oaxaca, where fruit trees native to Mexico once flourished, possesses dry patches of land no longer useful for agriculture. Every year, nearly one million Mexican citizens have little choice but to migrate away from the barren land that threatens job opportunities and food security.

The Causes of Desertification

Desertification is caused by a number of different issues. Human hands or natural occurrences can exacerbate or spark desertification. In areas of low precipitation, like Sub-Saharan Africa, long droughts that turn arid land to unproductive, barren soil are a frequent cause of desertification. Drought alters just about everything including farming opportunity, food and water security, population growth and migration. Drought exacerbates poverty, which is already an issue in many Sub-Saharan countries like Ethiopia and Senegal. Many people in these areas are unable to confront what causes desertification without proper preparation.

Human activities are also what cause desertification in many cases. Overcultivation or overcropping occurs in population-dense areas around the globe. Soil nutrients deplete and become unproductive in areas where growers overuse and overharvest formerly arable land. In Nigeria, over cultivation is a major issue threatening the livelihood of its citizens who depend on the nearly infertile land for agriculture.

Overgrazing of livestock is another root issue of desertification. Farmers would formerly graze livestock by moving the animals around, but this is no longer the case. Cattle grazing in a permanent space prevents the regeneration of the plants the animals are feeding on. Overgrazing makes the soil unusable since the land is unable to keep up with the needs of the livestock. This is a large threat in the Central Asian rangelands, like Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

The Good News

The world can combat this phenomenon by understanding the causes of desertification and implementing various acts to aid in regenerating arable land. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), established in 1994, is working to improve conditions and increase productivity in vulnerable areas of the world. The organization created the Great Green Wall Initiative, in which the goals are to expand arable land, generate more economic opportunities and increase food and water security in struggling areas, among other objectives.

Action Against Desertification, an initiative built off of the Green Wall Initiative, is helping six African countries (Ethiopia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Niger and Nigeria) that struggle most profoundly with desertification by educating farmers about more sustainable agricultural practices, planting millions of seedlings to expand arable land and rehabilitating desertified forests.

In May of 2017, the China-U.N. Peace and Development Trust Fund created the Juncao Technology project to combat desertification, erosion and hunger in Asian and African countries. The project’s approach is to replace wood with grass. This, in turn, will help to soften the blow of overgrazing and generate clean energy, all while preventing soil erosion and desertification.

Further, the UNCCD is working to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN), which is defined as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.”

– Anna Giffels
Photo: Flickr

As conflicts in Libya move towards the capital, Tripoli, humanitarian organizations are working to help refugees in Tripoli. Thousands of residents in Tripoli are deserting their homes as the impending fighting poses safety concerns.

Since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, factions in Libya have battled for control of the country. The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar is on the march to take territory from the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Now the LNA is moving closer to Tripoli, at times as close as seven miles south of the city.

The international community, such as the United Nations (U.N.), the U.S. government, and the European Union (EU) are concerned about Tripoli. In fact, these organizations are appealing for a ceasefire to avoid a bloody battle for the Libyan capital. The U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, told reporters “We have a very dangerous situation and it is clear that we absolutely need to stop it.” U.N. workers have been meeting with faction members in an attempt to bring together a peace process that eventually results in elections.

Increasing Refugees in Tripoli

Meanwhile, refugees in Tripoli, many of whom were in detention centers, are moving away from the capital to safe zones. The U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has already relocated more than 150 refugees.

In general, Libya is a major transit point for refugees from Africa trying to relocate to Europe. As a result of the conflicts in Tripoli, migration to Europe is increasing, as displacement is also increasing. In total, the U.N. reports 6,000 displaced peoples from Tripoli.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Food Stability

The U.N. is increasing the humanitarian response to help refugees in Tripoli. So far, 58 families have been evacuated. Additionally, the U.N. has established 12 shelters across Tripoli. They are working with the municipalities to find spaces for additional facilities. They anticipate that as the frontline shifts, some shelters will end up inside the conflict zone.

Together, the U.N. and the World Food Program (WFP), has collected enough food supplies to sustain 80,000 people for two weeks. That being said, as part of the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), the WFP and other humanitarian partners are planning to distribute two-week dry rations to 100 displaced households.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Health

The U.N. has medical supplies stockpiled in four sites to provide treatment for up to 210,000 people. Six EMT teams are working across Libya to assist various hospitals. So far 15 civilian casualties have been recorded and verified by the U.N. A branch of the U.N., the U.N.’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene team (WASH) have hygiene kits stocked for up to 24,000 people.

Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing field hospitals, ambulances, and medical supplies. Dr. Sayed Jaffar Hussain, the WHO representative in Libya, implored the global humanitarian community to help, saying, “We fear that prolonged conflict will lead to more casualties, drain the area’s limited supplies and further damage health infrastructure… We call on the international community to ensure adequate funding to support the current crisis.”

U.N.’s WASH is also working on the logistics of treating, storing and transporting water to different areas of Tripoli. Addressing these goals include utilizing collapsible water tanks, water trucks and purifying tablets. They are also working to negotiate with armed groups for the protection of water shipments, advocating that water should not be used as a weapon.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Safety

UNICEF is monitoring detention centers and providing child protection services. Additionally, the U.N.’s Population Fund (UNFPA) is providing safe spaces and psycho-social support to help prevent gender-based violence and provide treatment for victims.

In unison, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working with the U.N. to find places for displaced people. In addition, the IOM and the U.N. are helping some families set up private accommodations or relocate to family members.

The safety and well being of refugees in Tripoli are progressing, as the conflict rages closer to the Lybian capital. However, as the international humanitarian community recognizes Libya’s need for aid, they are working to prepare a multi-faceted response to help those in need.

– Peter S. Mayer
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about the Ukraine-Russia Conflict
2017 brought significant changes to Ukraine as 6.4 million Ukrainians rose above the country’s poverty line thanks to increases in minimum wage and a boost in social welfare programs. However, after five years of conflict with Russia and 39 percent of the country still living below the poverty line, the future of Ukraine’s poor remains uncertain. As the Ukraine-Russia conflict continues, aid from the U.S. and other countries is the only sure-fire way for those in Ukraine to find relief from the violence at hand.
Here are 10 facts about the conflict in Ukraine and its effect on this eastern European nation.  

Top 10 Facts about the Ukraine-Russia Conflict

  1. The Ukraine-Russia conflict began in 2013 when the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych declined a resolution that would allow for Ukraine to engage in more economic activity with the European Union. After Yanukovych declined the deal, protests began in the capital city, Kiev. When police intervened, the number of protesters increased to contest the brutal treatment from the officers. Yanukovych fled the country in 2014 amid the turmoil, leaving Russia to occupy Ukraine soon after.
  2. Currently, the Ukrainian military is fighting rebels in eastern Ukraine who are being supported by Russia and who wish to annex and become part of Russia.
  3. The Ukraine-Russia conflict has killed more than 10,000 and wounded at least 23,000.
  4. Since 2014, fighting between the two countries has damaged more than 700 schools as well as 130 medical centers. Breaches in ceasefires have endangered more than 200,000 children who are often put in harm’s way and lack access to safe learning spaces.
  5. The front line of the war stretches 280 miles across Ukraine, blocking much of the country’s access to trade and supplies from neighboring countries and the U.N.
  6. In 2017, UNICEF, along with nongovernmental organizations and utility companies, worked to provide more than 962,000 people clean drinking water in both government-controlled and non-government-controlled areas. They also provided vouchers for cash and hygiene education to 160,000 people living closest to the front lines, 30,000 of them children.
  7. UNICEF offered psychosocial support to 82,000 children and caregivers within 15 km of the front line through community support centers. The organization also provided 700,000 children and their families with mine-risk education. Futhermore, the rehabilitation of 87 schools and kindergartens within 5 km of the front lines, provided by UNICEF aid, allowed 138,000 children to return to school, with teachers and aides receiving emergency training.
  8. In order to provide proper healthcare, education and shelter for its citizens, Ukraine requires consistent aid from the United States. Americans can alleviate the effects of the violence in Ukraine by contacting their congresspeople and representatives and asking that they support the International Affairs Budget. Ongoing support from the U.S. will help to improve the conditions of those in the middle of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
  9. USAID supported elections in 600 communities throughout Ukraine, with many of these townships experiencing their first true election process.
  10. For 2018, Ukraine requires $23.6 million in aid in order to properly improve the country’s predicament. The top three main areas of need are:
    • Access to clean water, sanitation services and hygiene products ($13,619,000)
    • Child protection from violence ($3,200,000)
    • Education ($3,050,000)

Although there is still a long way to go in ending the Ukraine-Russia conflict some important steps have been made. The Ukraine government passed a healthcare reform law in October, which was signed by President Poroshenko, to improve the quality of care provided to its citizens and reduce corruption in the system. The work being done by UNICEF and USAID in Ukraine is helping to alleviate the damaging impact of the conflict. The next step will be working to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict once and for all.

– Jason Crosby
Photo: Flickr

Famine Action Mechanism
The World Bank has discovered a new approach to helping the 124 million people currently affected by crisis-levels of food insecurity: artificial intelligence.

Three international organizations: the World Bank, the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross, have partnered with three of the world’s largest tech giants: Microsoft, Google and Amazon, in a joint initiative to preemptively address world hunger. The result? It’s called the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM).

What is Famine Action Mechanism?

Launched by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on September 23, 2018, in New York, the Famine Action Mechanism seeks to improve international food aid through famine prevention, preparedness and early action. FAM is being created to augment the capability of existing warning systems to effectively distribute aid prior to the emergence of famine. This is being done through the establishment of official procedures that connect early warnings with financing and implementation.

With the cooperation of humanitarian development organizations, tech companies, academia, the insurance sector and, of course, international organizations, this collaborative effort hopes to see success through the investment of a wide variety of stakeholders.

While other forms of famine prediction, like Famine Early Warning Systems Network started by USAID in 1985, already exist, it lacks the ability to give real-time data and requires the hard work of hundreds of employees.

If successful, the Famine Action Mechanism will be the first quantitative modeling process using an algorithm to calculate food security in real time.

Hope is high for executives at Google and Microsoft who have seen the humanitarian power of technology firsthand. Advanced technologies have already proven effective in helping farmers to identify the disease in cassava plants as well as keeping cows healthier and more productive. President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, has expressed that artificial intelligence holds huge promise in forecasting early signs of food shortages.

How is FAM going to be implemented?

Famine Action will be implemented through four steps:

  1. Early warning systems. Microsoft, Google and Amazon web services are coming together to develop a set of analytical models known as “Artemis” to predict cases of famine using artificial intelligence and machine learning that detect correlations between different risks. With more powerful early warnings and information in real time, this will allow aid agencies to create a faster response and preemptively halt escalating insecurity.
  2. Pre-arranged financing. Syncing the early warning system with pre-determined finances helps to prevent food insecurity because it secures funding before a situation devolves into a crisis. The financing for this program is not only set to tackle the immediate symptoms of poverty and famine but also help the community to build safety nets and coping skills to encourage local development in hopes of preventing repetition in the future.
  3. Increasing resource efficiency. The Famine Action Mechanism plans to partner its resources with existing systems to reinforce the most effective and efficient efforts that are already working on the ground. This way, it will be producing a joint response system with the organizations involved with the program.
  4. Stressing preventative and preparedness approach to global famine crises. International Organizations like the U.N. and World Bank are redefining their approach to food insecurity, poverty and famine, making a proactive system of action rather than reactive aid a top priority of their efforts.

Isn’t Famine Pretty Easy to Predict?

While seemingly slow to take place, the cause of famine, defined as a daily hunger-related death rate that exceeds 2 per 10,000 people, is extremely complex.

The usual suspects of food insecurity like drought and crop production aren’t always the forces that bring a community to famine. Other factors like political instability, inflation or a natural disaster have the potential to significantly alter a community’s food supply. Additionally, nine of the last 10 major famines were triggered by conflict and war.

The uncertainty around when and how an undernourished community shifts into a crisis of famine adds to the importance of preemptive action for food insecurity and the demonstrated need for the Famine Action Mechanism.

Hunger in the World Today

After years of progress on decreasing hunger in the world, we have backtracked on those advancements with more than 820 million undernourished people in 2017. Approximately 155 million children will see the effects of stunting for their entire lives due to chronic malnourishment as well as a reduction of up to 13 percent of their lifetime income. Additionally, last year in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan, more than 20 million people faced famine or near crisis levels of food insecurity.

One in nine people in the world today do not have enough to eat, but that does not mean we cannot get back on track. Not only can early response to famine result in saved lives and decreased suffering, but it is also cost effective. The World Bank predicts that an earlier response rate can reduce humanitarian costs up to 30 percent.

In 2017, the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pledged to have zero tolerance toward famine, and in the declaration of this program that pledge has been renewed. In the eyes of the United Nations, the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development means ending hunger everywhere for everyone.

To conclude, in the words of Mr. Guterres: “Crisis prevention saves lives. We need to put cutting-edge technology to full use, in the service of all humankind in order to feed everyone in our world and to leave no one behind.”

– Sara Andresen
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in America and World’s Poorest Countries Has Common SolutionThe United Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 as a minimum standard of treatment and quality of life for all people in all nations. Article 25, section 1 of the declaration states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food…” As important as these words are, they have not yet become a reality for many people in the world. Some common solutions to food insecurity may help alleviate world hunger.

Falling Short of the U.N. Standards

Often, countries represented in the U.N. fall short on the promise to provide adequate, nutritious food to everyone, including the United States of America. Malnutrition and food insecurities can be attributed to many causes worldwide: political turmoil, environmental struggles and calamities, lack of financial resources and lack of infrastructure to distribute food equally within a country.

It is widely known that the poorest nations often lack the means or the will to sufficiently supply food to the people and their most vulnerable populations. Ethnic minority groups, women and children and those living in rural areas often suffer the most. In 2006, the Center for Disease Control reported that widespread media attention in 2005 brought global awareness to a food crisis in the West African country of Niger. According to the report, out of Niger’s population of 11.5 million in 2002, 2.5 million people living in farming or grazing areas were vulnerable to food insecurities.

Identifying the Problem in Food Distribution

In her article entitled Food Distribution in America, Monica Johnson writes, “With each step added between the farm and the consumer, money is taken away from the farmer. Typically, farmers are paid 20 cents on the dollar. So even if the small-scale/medium-sized farmer is able to work with big food distributors, they are typically not paid enough to survive.” Essentially, the middlemen are taking profit directly out of the farmer’s hands.

In America, conventional food supply chains are used in the mass distribution of food. This method starts with produced raw goods. These products are transferred to distribution centers that may offload goods to wholesalers or sell them directly to food retailers where these goods are finally purchased by consumers at grocery stores and markets. Food may travel very long distances throughout this process to be consumed by people who could have purchased comparable foods grown much closer to home.

One example is the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center (HPFDC), which is one of the largest food distributors in the United States, with over $2 billion in annual sales. According to the New York Economic Development Commission, it sits on 329 acres of land in the Bronx, New York. It supplies over 50 percent of the food consumed by people in the area and also supplies its goods to about 20 percent of people in the region. Yet, still, the Food Bank of New York City reported a meal gap of 242 million in 2014 and food insecurity levels of 22.3 percent, with 399,000 of those people being children.

Solutions Lie in Local Support

About 13 years after the Niger food crisis, the country is still one of the poorest in the world. The World Food Program (WFP), headquartered in Rome, Italy, continues to focus on fixing the problem of food insecurity in nations like Niger. Through helping those like Nigeriens build sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems for crop cultivation, the WFP hopes to lower the high levels of food insecurities and issues related to them, such as malnutrition and the high mortality rate among children under the age of five.

One essential component in the common solutions to food insecurity is assisting locals with the sustainable management of local natural resources through soil conservation, water harvesting, rehabilitating irrigation systems and reducing the loss of biodiversity. This is directed toward localized measures to solve food deficiency issues.

The same steps need to happen in America. The HPFDC in New York, in an effort led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is planning to upgrade facilities and operations. A plan that includes working with other food distributors at the state level to increase integration with upstate and regional food distribution, supporting local farms and providing growth opportunities for emerging regional food distribution models.

These common solutions to food insecurity could help feed millions of people around the world. Reducing the middlemen in food distribution will put more money back into the hands of the farmers. Additionally, by reinforcing sustainable farming at local levels, farmers will have more opportunities to provide relief from food insecurity in their own communities with more nutritional diversity, which can reduce malnutrition and high mortality rates.

Matrinna Woods

Photo: Flickr

The Role of Mental Health in PovertyOn the Mental Health page of the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a quote from Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Annan said, “The biggest enemy of health in the developing world is poverty.” This is a strong statement that reflects the need for more mental health awareness in the fight against poverty.

In 2010, the WHO published a report about the importance of mental health in poverty and development. In order to properly help people out of poverty, groups must take mental health into account in all aspects of life and society. Research has shown that poverty negatively affects one’s mental health and affects one’s ability to do day-to-day tasks. As a result, mental health issues occur more often in the poor. For example, depression is more frequent in people of low socioeconomic status. Mental health needs to be addressed with the same focus given to physical health, especially in lower-income and vulnerable communities.

The WHO’s Mental Health policy and service development department works on issues related to disabilities and mental health issues, specifically for those in poverty. Individuals with mental health issues are more likely to be marginalized, so the department is working to publish reports and advocate for more awareness of this subject. One method is via the WHO QualityRights Initiative, which is “reforming mental health services and promoting the human rights of people with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities around the world.”

There are other examples of groups working to improve mental health around the globe. For example, “BasicNeeds, an NGO working in the area of mental health and development, assessed economic outcomes of people with mental disabilities in their North India Programme, which promotes livelihoods and treatment and care.” Many groups and people around the world are trying to get countries to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mental health needs to be a focus in the development of new and existing societies. Organizations like the WHO need to continue leading the way with its initiatives related to mental health in poverty. If groups focus on mental health and its connection with poverty, then people and their lives will be impacted in a more positive way.

Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr