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Hunger in the Gambia
The Gambia is a country located in Western Africa near the country of Senegal. Over the past 5 years, The Gambia has been dealing with an increase in food insecurity. This increase is largely due to the 2018 drought which caused a decrease in food production. In 2019, The Gambia only produced 50% of the food supply needed, leaving many to go hungry. As food insecurity continues to rise, from 5% to 8% in recent years, many organizations are stepping in to help decrease hunger in The Gambia.  

The Fight Against Hunger in The Gambia

The World Food Programme (WFP) is an organization that has been committed to helping individuals in The Gambia since 1970. WFP has created a campaign designed to bringing food to households and schools in The Gambia. It is estimated that 10,000 households have been affected by hunger. The main focus is to send money and food to certain areas in The Gambia, specifically households that may need more support during the food crisis. More vulnerable populations include women, persons with disabilities and people suffering from diseases such as HIV. Through the WFP’s school program, the organization has helped 115,000 children throughout primary and pre-schools.

UNICEF, WFP, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) worked with The Gambia’s government in 2017 to launch the ‘Post-Crisis Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia.’ The program aims to help decrease hunger in The Gambia. Not only will it help to fund and bring food to the country, but it also aims to help farmers produce sustainable agriculture.

Malnutrition in The Gambia

Malnutrition largely affects individuals in rural areas of The Gambia. Underfunding, lack of resources, such as foods high in vitamins, and limited knowledge of nutrition are all factors in the problem of malnutrition. Though malnutrition in children has decreased from 23% in 2010 to 19% in 2018, there is still more work to be done. In 2016 UNICEF worked closely with The Gambia’s government to help address malnutrition. UNICEF is urging the officials to have better funding within the healthcare system in regard to nutrition.

Small Victories

The ‘Post-Crisis Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia’ was also able to donate nearly 3,000 metric tons of nutritious foods, in the hopes of bringing down malnutrition rates. The European Commission has also funded additional programs that not only help supply nutritional food resources, but also educational promotions about nutrition as it relates to infant and child feeding. These programs help to bring resources to rural areas of The Gambia while also informing youth about how to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition.

Over the past few years, The Gambia has been facing increased food insecurity. Providing resources to the public on malnutrition and hunger is more important than ever, as 48% of Gambians are still living in poverty. Programs such as the ones organized by UNICEF and WFP are working to decrease hunger in the coming years. 

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

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

Threats to Food Security in Niger

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

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

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

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

The International Community’s Role in Ending Hunger in Niger

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

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

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

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

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

Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Flickr

healthcare in Chad
Chad is in the top ten countries for oil production in Africa. However, very little of the revenue of oil sales goes into improving the living conditions and healthcare in Chad.
 In Chad, it is reported that 66% of the population is living in poverty. The World Bank reported in 2018 that 88% of the Chadian population does not have access to electricity. Additionally, it is estimated that 44% of the population does not have access to clean drinking water. These factors create obstacles for the healthcare system. Here is what you need to know about healthcare in Chad.  

Access to Health Services 

Chad has a very low number of healthcare professionals. The World Health Organization reported that there are 3.7 doctors per 100,000 people. This number is well below the global average of 141 doctors per 100,000 people. The number of healthcare professionals remains low in Chad due to the many insecurities the Chadian population faces. Due to ongoing violence, 122,312 people have been internally displaced in Chad. This factor causes an obstacle that inhibits the population from seeking education and training. 

Chad spends approximately $30 per capita on healthcare. Spending on healthcare in Chad fell by $14 per capita from 2014 to 2017. The decrease in funding has caused many healthcare facilities to be poorly equipped and unable to pay healthcare workers, leaving the Chadian population with minimal access to medical services. 

Maternal Health 

Maternal health is considered to be a major indicator of the strength of a healthcare system in a country. Currently, in Chad, 80% of births are not attended by a skilled professional, whereas in the United States, only 1% of births are not attended by a skilled professional. This lack of access to maternal health professionals causes Chad to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. In 2017, the World Health Organization reported the mortality rate in Chad to be 1,140 deaths per 100,000 live births. This number is far higher than neighboring countries such as Sudan and Libya, who have mortality rates of 295 and 72 deaths per 100,000 live births, respectively.

The lack of access to maternal healthcare in Chad is made more severe by many young teenage girls becoming pregnant in Chad. UNICEF reported that 68% of girls below the age of 18 are married and under five percent of these girls have access to contraception. The World Health Organization cites that maternal complications are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15 to 19 years old. Mothers under 18 years old are also more likely to experience systemic infections and neonatal complications. These complications can become fatal to young mothers in Chad due to the lack of access to maternal health services.  

Malnutrition

Chad experiences some of the highest levels of malnutrition in the world. In the central Chadian town of Borko, almost half of all child deaths are due to malnutrition. Also, 40% of Chadian children experience growth stunting due to a lack of access to food. Chad goes through periods of severe drought causing food insecurity and lack of income for many families. The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) has set up a hospital in Chad. ALIMA reported that the malnutrition ward is overrun and the organization had to expand malnutrition treatment services to cope with the demand. 

The Burden of Diarrheal Disease

Diarrheal disease is among the leading causes of disease burden in developing countries. In 2017, diarrheal disease caused 1.6 million deaths globally and 528,000 of these deaths occurred in children under the age of five. In Chad, mortality due to diarrheal disease is 300 per 100,000 people. Chad’s diarrheal mortality rate is higher than the mortality rate observed in developed countries, which is reported to be 1 per 100,000 people. Diarrheal diseases are perceived to be treatable; however, they are highly fatal in Chad due to the lack of healthcare services.

Healthcare Improvements

Due to the instability in Chad, external organizations are working to improve the living conditions and access to healthcare in Chad. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the United Nations to provide immunizations and sanitary facilities to Chadian children. The initiative aims to decrease the mortality rates of diarrheal disease and other communicable diseases such as measles and pneumonia. 

Doctors Without Borders is another organization working to improve the conditions in Chad. The organization is currently running projects in six different areas around Chad. In 2018, these programs conducted 142,400 health consultations. Doctors Without Borders focuses healthcare efforts towards treating and preventing malaria, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition.  

The World Food Programme has established the School Meals Program to help decrease childhood malnutrition. The program ensures that all children at elementary school receive a hot meal throughout the school day. The program also encourages families to send their daughters to school by giving girls in grades five and six a ration of oil to take home. The School Meals Program aims to feed 265,000 elementary-aged children.

Healthcare in Chad faces many challenges regarding the high burden of disease, political instability and low availability of healthcare training. With a heavy reliance on outside organizations, the Chadian healthcare system needs to improve to be able to effectively tackle these challenges. Healthcare in Chad requires foreign aid funding to be able to increase access to healthcare and properly train medical professionals. The United States currently spends less that one-percent of its annual budget on foreign aid. With increased funding, the United States government has the power to increase healthcare for the Chadian population.

Laura Embry

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Côte d'IvoireFollowing the conclusion of a civil war in 2011, the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast, has experienced economic growth rates averaging around 8% per year. Despite its growth, the nation still struggles with endemic poverty and hunger. It ranks 165 out of 188 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index. Under President Alassane Ouattara, Côte d’Ivoire has focused on the economy and the middle class, launching an ambitious National Development Plan in order to transform Côte d’Ivoire into a middle-income economy by 2020. Ouattara’s government has also made some strides to combat severe hunger in Côte d’Ivoire, particularly regarding child care. Côte d’Ivoire’s fast economic growth is admirable. However, it is also crucial to understand the problems afflicting the world’s most vulnerable people, such as hunger, and not just economic growth.

7 Facts About Hunger in Côte d’Ivoire

  1. Côte d’Ivoire has been successful in combating one of the worst consequences of widespread hunger: stunted growth in childhood. Between 2012 and 2016 rates of stunting and wasting for children under the age of five dropped to 21.6% and 6.1%, respectively. The average rates for developing countries are 25% and 8.9%.
  2. Another area of progress in combating hunger in Côte d’Ivoire is in promoting the exclusive use of breastfeeding for babies. Between 2012 and 2016 rates of exclusive breastfeeding rose from 12% to 23.5%
  3. The World Food Programme (WFP) has worked with the Ivoirian government to combat hunger in Côte d’Ivoire at the childhood level. The WFP distributes school and take-home meals at primary schools across Côte d’Ivoire. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the organization was set to expand its coverage to 125,000 schoolchildren in insecure zones. 
  4. Côte d’Ivoire has also experienced success in fighting severe food insecurity. This issue had previously disappeared from the country before returning in 2019. The overall food insecurity rate has declined from 12.8% in 2015 to 10.8% in 2018.
  5. Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire employs over half of the labor force and takes up 84% of the arable land. Farmers in Côte d’Ivoire largely grow cash crops, such as cocoa. (Côte d’Ivoire is the largest producer of cocoa in the world.) A successful harvest is vital for Ivoirians to be able to feed their families. To that end, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has distributed agricultural kits throughout the country in an effort to improve productivity and competitiveness.
  6. Hunger in Côte d’Ivoire is significantly impacted by the fact that 46% of people in Côte d’Ivoire live below the poverty line ($1.22 per day). Poverty is concentrated in the North and the West, which are more rural and insecure. Food insecurity is a bigger issue in these areas. It is more difficult to implement food distribution and agricultural aid programs there.
  7. The WFP gave Côte d’Ivoire a Global Hunger Index of 25.9 which indicates a “serious” problem. Such a ranking stems from the triple threat of malnutrition, undernutrition and overnutrition. Overnutrition is a newer problem that disproportionately affects the adult women population. However, malnutrition and undernutrition in Côte d’Ivoire have deep roots in food insecurity. The issues stem from a high dependency on the quality of the local harvest and a widespread lack of support among small farmers for food crop production.

While poverty and hunger in Côte d’Ivoire remain endemic, the government and a variety of international organizations have made significant progress in their struggle. This is particularly true at the childhood level. Developing market competitiveness and advancing economic growth is necessary. However, it is important to assist those who need the most help, like those who experience severe hunger and malnutrition.

Franklin Nossiter
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Myanmar
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a nation with a diverse population of approximately 53 million people of at least 135 different ethnic groups. While it is the second-largest country in Southeast Asia, Myanmar remains one of the least developed nations in the world.

Progress in the fight against hunger in Myanmar

The country of Myanmar has made significant progress in the fight against hunger in the past few decades. The rate of under-five overweight children fell from 2.6% in 2009 to 1.5% in 2016. Myanmar’s low birth-weight prevalence also decreased slightly from 13.9% in 2000 to 12.3% in 2015.

The proportion of undernourished people in the population also declined remarkably. In 2019, around 1 in 10 Burmese were undernourished, which shows significant progress compared to 2000 where almost half of the population was undernourished.

Myanmar is also performing well among developing countries in reducing wasting in children. Wasting in children means having a low weight for height ratio, which is a strong predictor of under-five child mortality. Compared to the average developing country rate at 8.9%, Myanmar’s national under-five wasting prevalence stood at 6.6%.

Despite these achievements, more than a third of Myanmar’s population who live in poverty spend a significant amount of their limited income on food, and they are still struggling with malnutrition.

Malnutrition burden

Malnutrition among the under-five population is a serious factor when it comes to the state of hunger in Myanmar, as it hinders the children’s growth and development. This issue also exposes these children to various illnesses.

Approximately 29.4% of the children under five were stunted in 2016. While this percentage is indeed an improvement from the national prevalence of 35.1% in 2009, it is still significantly high when compared to an average of 25% in other developing countries. In some states or regions, the prevalence could be upwards of 41%, indicating that 4 in 10 children will not be able to reach their full potential in life.

Malnutrition also disproportionately affects children from the poorest households. While the rate of stunting in children from the wealthiest group is 16%, the rate is more than doubled for the poorest group of children, with 38% of them stunted.

Malnutrition due to poor diets not only negatively affects the children, but is also a great burden to the adult population in Myanmar. A staggering 46.3% of women of reproductive age have anemia, while 7.9% of adult women and 6.9% of adult men are diabetic. Meanwhile, 4% of men and 7.3% of women are obese, leaving them at risk of different cardiovascular diseases and other serious health consequences.

Rohingya crisis

The Rohingya people are among those who are the most at risk of poverty and hunger in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddist nation. The Rohingya population, a large majority of whom are Muslims, has long been experiencing discrimination, restrictions from basic services and denial of citizenship by local authorities despite condemnation from the international community.

In 2017, after attacks from the Rohingya insurgents killed several members of Myanmar security forces, the Myanmar military ferociously retaliated by massacring and destroying villages in the western Rakhine state. This forced nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. After the army crackdown, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that more than 80,000 children under 5 years old living in parts of western Myanmar were wasting and may need treatment for malnutrition.

Withholding food supply or forced starvation are other strategies being used against the Rohingya Muslims to drive them away from their homes. The Rohingya refugees interviewed by Amnesty International reported that soldiers blocked them from accessing rice paddies and other food resources, stole their harvests, and gave their food and livestock to non-Rohingya neighbors. Sometimes they would have to go for several days without food.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have been displaced due to violence in previous years must live in makeshift shelters with appalling living conditions and under direct threat of dangers caused by monsoon rains. Surveys show that 38% of children living in these camps are stunted, and at least 12% are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Assistance from the international community

High exposure to natural disasters, armed conflicts or inter-communal clashes are just some of the numerous challenges that Myanmar faces. These factors combined leave a large proportion of Myanmar’s population suffering from poverty and hunger. It is estimated that nearly 1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since 1994, Action Against Hunger has worked to fight hunger in Myanmar by improving nutrition, food security, water quality, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities where ethnic minorities reside. In 2018, the organization’s nutrition and health programs reached 26,751 people. Another 19,461 people benefited from the water, sanitation, and hygiene programs, while 23,790 people were helped by the food security and livelihood programs. In just 2018 alone, Action Against Hunger has reached 76,312 in vulnerable communities across Myanmar.

The organization also works to respond to the urgent needs of the displaced Rohingya people who fled from violence in Myanmar. In just one year, Action Against Hunger has helped more than 700,000 displaced people with food security and livelihoods, mental support and care practices, water quality and access, and hygiene and sanitation.

 

Despite the challenges, Myanmar has achieved the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger and reached the status of a lower-middle-income country in the past decades. Many organizations are working hard alongside the government to alleviate poverty and hunger in Myanmar. However, with the conflicts between Myanmar’s authorities and the Rohingya Muslims remains ongoing inside the nation, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

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

The History of Poverty in Sudan

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

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

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

5 Organizations Fighting Poverty in Sudan

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

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

– Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Ecuador during the COVID-19 pandemicEcuador is a mostly Spanish-speaking nation in South America with a population of about 17 million people. Despite its recent successes in decreasing poverty levels, parts of Ecuador still struggle with the effects of low-income living. One of the country’s greatest challenges is malnutrition, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce hunger in Ecuador in the time of the coronavirus. 

Present-day Challenges

Since the enactment of a lockdown, hunger in Ecuador is increasing for many reasons. Namely, the price of domestic food products has increased due to the shortage of goods being grown and produced. Therefore, access to adequate food supply has decreased. As a result, many Ecuadorians lack food security and are struggling to adhere to healthy diets. People with disabilities face additional challenges. They can receive emergency food vouchers provided by the government, but the vouchers do not last more than a few days. The vouchers are also not being provided to over 20% of the population with disabilities. Many Ecuadorians with disabilities and Ecuadorians in general, continue working despite the risk of contracting COVID-19 because that is their only form of income. Those who are unable to work face starvation.

Additionally, a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) details concerns about hunger in Ecuador and other Latin American countries in relation to the pandemic. Major concerns for these countries include increased unemployment rates, which could negatively impact families that already struggle with food insecurity. Additionally, these unemployment rates are predicted to force 16 million of all Latin Americans into extreme poverty. Those who were able to afford nutritious meals before the pandemic will have to resort to less nutritious food: if they are able to find food at all. Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s executive secretary, worries that the pandemic will cause a food crisis if interventions aren’t implemented quickly and successfully. 

The Good News

Despite COVID-19’s significant impact on hunger in Ecuador, there is some positive news regarding overall poverty in Ecuador. Although Ecuador is a hotspot for natural disasters, which can destroy crops, the World Food Programme (WFP) works with the Ecuadorian government to prepare citizens for natural disasters before they happen. Specifically, Ecuador’s Secretariat of Risk Management and National Decentralized Risk Management System work with the WFP to calculate how natural disasters have affected food supply so they can learn from past crises. Vulnerable Ecuadorians can attend workshops to learn about emergency preparedness and how to protect their crops. The workshops also provide training sessions about better eating habits on a low budget. With these calculations and workshops, Ecuador can be more prepared for the next crisis. 

Another hunger-relief organization is Banco de Alimento Diakonía, a food bank that works solely to reduce hunger in Ecuador. Its slogan is “Barrigas contentas, corazones llenos,” which translates to “Happy bellies, full hearts.” The food bank’s threefold mission is to reduce hunger, improve nutrition and decrease food waste; the food bank accepts donations in the forms of money and non-perishable foods. Since 2015, Banco de Alimento Diakonía has been a certified member of the Global FoodBanking Network, and it has helped an estimated 16,200 people get access to nutritious food. Fortunately, the food bank is continuing to provide aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed economies and ways of life in every country around the globe. It will undoubtedly have long-lasting effects on poverty, such as the prevalence of hunger in Ecuador. However, citizens and governments can be more prepared for the next time a crisis comes along. With food banks, workshops and the right preparations, nations like Ecuador can recover from disasters and emerge with new tools to overcome the next challenge.  

 

Levi Reyes
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty in YemenWar and conflict exacerbate existing poverty. According to the World Bank’s 2007 Global Monitoring Report, fragile states, defined as those in civil war or without legitimate authority to make collective decisions, account for one-fourth of global poverty. In low-income countries, poverty rates average 22%, whereas, in states with conflict, the rates skyrocket to 54%. Poverty in Yemen is no exception to this trend. Yet, the world may consider Yemen the example of conflict exacerbating poverty if fighting continues. The 2019 United Nations Development Project (UNDP) report, Assessing the Impact of War in Yemen, estimates that Yemen could rank as the poorest country on Earth by 2030 if the conflict continues. Here is some information about the relationship between conflict and poverty in Yemen.

Yemen’s Civil War

The seeds of Yemen’s conflict began because of the disorganized power transitions that the 2011 Arab Spring prompted. However, 2015 marks the descent into a foreign-backed civil war. Since then, fighting between the Northern rebel Houthis has continued to decimate civilian communities and exacerbate poverty. Iran has backed this fighting, because of Shia religious interests, along with the remaining Yemeni government. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-majority countries trying to curtail Iranian influence have also supported it.

The 2019 UNDP report outlines poverty rates in both conflict and no conflict trajectories and shows that without conflict, Yemen’s poverty rate could drop dramatically. Though the country’s poverty rate started rising in 1998 due to poor economic growth, the conflict that began in 2015 increased the depth of poverty by 600% showing the relationship between conflict and poverty in Yemen. The amount of Yemen’s population that now lives in poverty, defined as less than $3.10 a day, hovers around 75%. UNDP projections suggest that 65% of that number could live in extreme poverty by 2022, meaning that they would exist on less than $1.90 a day.

Already struggling with poverty before the conflict, fighting in Yemen compounds the problem by destroying critical infrastructures, like hospitals. On top of that, the pre-2015 economy flatlined. However, the most harmful effect is on food supply. As Yemen relies on imports for over 90% of its food products, the war’s blockades and bombings prevent stable food transportation from ports. Oxfam International reports that two-thirds of Yemen’s population cannot predict where their next meal will come from.

Future Projections

Many say that Yemen suffers the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and such suffering will only increase with continued conflict. For example:

  1. By 2022, the UNDP report projects that 12.4 million Yemenis could live in poverty and that 15.8 million Yemenis could live in extreme poverty if the conflict persists.
  2. It also suggests that the depth of poverty could increase to 6,000% by 2030 compared to the rate of poverty in pre-war Yemen.

However, if the conflict ends soon, Yemen would stand 8% closer to the UNDP’s sustainable development goals of no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and gender equality than it did in 2014. If the conflict ends, the total projected poverty in 2030 would underperform 2014 levels by 3.1 million.

Foreign Aid to Address Poverty

To address poverty in Yemen as well as poverty in other war-torn states, organizations have recently implemented academic findings on the relationship between poverty and conflict.

Borany Penh, founder of the international data science and research firm, Dev-Analytics, and a researcher at the USAID Learning Lab says that “cross contributions from academic fields are beginning to clarify the kinds of solutions to poverty and conflict possible through institutional partnerships.” Penh argues that fixing the disconnect between academic literature and on the ground efforts would remedy less successful poverty reduction efforts in fragile states. Recent USAID funding acknowledges this point and now incentivizes partnerships among such fields.

For example, to better address poverty in Yemen, USAID currently funds the Yemen Communities Stronger Together (YCST) grant which supports projects and institutions that focus on social cohesion in poverty-reduction efforts. Scholars, organizations and businesses qualify for YCST. This variable grant allows the intersection of academia, nonprofit organizations and businesses to combat poverty while capitalizing on stabilization opportunities. So far, YCST gave out two $30 million awards and plans to report on its impact after the three-year implementation period ends.

On the Ground

In addition to coalition forming efforts like YCST, decreasing poverty in Yemen requires logistic strategies for navigating conflict and fighting poverty. Many nonprofits help via basic aid services, but to do so, they must create solutions to disperse aid while circumventing war zones. The World Food Programme (WFP) found great success in this arena.

Understanding the limitations of transportation in Yemen, WFP attempts to spread food imports as widely and directly as possible. Through the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service and partner organization, Logistics Cluster, food aid reaches four major cities including Aden, Hodeidah, Sana’a and Djibouti, via air and sea routes. Each month 12 million Yemenis now access WFP food rations because of reimagined delivery systems.

However, in areas with viable markets, WFP works to provide cash assistance which, while fighting hunger, also bolsters the economy. The WFP provides food to school children too. Targeting devastated areas of Yemen, the WPF incentivizes education while addressing childhood malnutrition with a school lunch program that provides small meals to 680,000 students. This reflects the new nonprofit focus on sustainable poverty recovery rather than long-term reliance on service distribution.

Many other organizations have devised new ways of bringing aid to Yemen as conflict persists. However, as Penh argues and the institutions highlighted above actualize, linking nascent poverty and conflict studies to field practices is the most hopeful strategy for fighting poverty in Yemen and other fragile states. By ending the conflict which causes such extreme poverty, countries should not face dire projections that place their populations at risk.

– Rory Davis
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in North Korea
Poverty in North Korea has been persistent for decades. North Korea is one of the most secluded countries in the world, both socially and economically. Since the Korean War in the 1950s, the nation has followed an ideology of self-reliance, called Juche in Korean. According to the official website of the North Korean government, Juche has three tenets: political independence, economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance in national defense. Adhering to these principles, North Korea withdrew from contact with other nations, gradually developing into the closed-off state it is today.

However, poor economic policies and the misallocation of resources have caused much of North Korea’s population to fall into poverty. One study estimates that the poverty rate of North Korea is around 60%, and another puts the percentage of undernourished North Koreans at 43%. The country suffers from chronic food shortages and has some of the worst income inequality in the world. Here are four influences on poverty in North Korea.

4 Influences on Poverty in North Korea

  1. Resource Misallocation: North Korea is notorious for its obsession with nuclear weapons and its military. The Korean War created high tensions between the country and its neighbors, leaving North Korea feeling threatened. As a result, North Korea funnels large amounts of resources into developing and maintaining weapons and the military, when it could better use those resources to fight famine and improve the economy.
  2. Environmental Collapse: To become self-reliant in food production, North Korea has employed intensive agricultural methods, using copious amounts of chemicals and cutting down forests to create farmland and increase crop yields. The loss of forests has led to erosion and flooding, costing the country much of its food supply. In addition, people chop down trees for firewood and eat wild animals to survive, leading to an imbalance in the ecosystem. With land growing less fertile, North Korea struggles to produce enough food for its people.
  3. Government Decisions: In 1995, the government cut supplies to the north of the country to provide more food for the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to garner support for the regime there. This decision hurt the regime greatly. Farmers began hoarding food and selling it independently of the state. Citizen support of the regime fell, decreasing even further when the regime used force to maintain its power. The Juche ideology backfired, as the country had to rely on international aid during the famine.
  4. Decreased Foreign Aid: During the Cold War, North Korea received Soviet aid. However, the country refused to pay its debts to the USSR, which responded by withdrawing support for North Korea. The fall of the Soviet Union forced North Korea to rely more on China for imports. In the 1990s, however, China decreased its grain exports because its own population needed the crops. In response, North Korea condemned China as a traitor. Without foreign aid, poverty in North Korea has only worsened.

These four influences on poverty in North Korea show that it is the product of ill-advised governmental decisions. Fortunately, the global community has begun to take note of the country’s struggles, and other nations are offering help. China has been the most generous donor, sending over 200,000 tons of food in 2012 and $3 million in aid in 2016. South Korea has also been generous to its neighbor, pledging 50,000 tons of rice and $8 million in 2019. The U.N. asked donors for $120 million to give to North Korea, eliciting responses from countries like Denmark, Norway and Germany. Non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross and the World Food Programme likewise commit to helping North Koreans in need. Hope remains for the people of North Korea.

Alison Ding
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Hunger in Cambodia
Hunger is an issue that plagues much of Southeast Asia — 9.8% of the population experiences undernourishment, which equates to 27.8 million people. Cambodia, a developing country between Thailand and Vietnam, remains one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. Although Cambodia has made considerable strides in diminishing poverty rates and growing the economy over the years, food insecurity is still an ongoing and serious issue. Here are five facts about hunger in Cambodia and what some, like the World Food Programme (WFP) and Action Against Hunger in Cambodia, are doing to eradicate it.

5 Facts About Hunger in Cambodia

  1. Political Instability: Political instability has been a major contributing factor to chronic hunger in Cambodia. The country has suffered many years of war, particularly the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, which depleted natural resources.
  2. Undernourishment: Around 15% of the country’s 16 million people suffer from undernourishment, according to the World Food Programme. This percentage amounts to more than 2 million people throughout the country. 
  3. Agriculture and Natural Disasters: Around 79% of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas, and 65% rely on agriculture, fisheries and forestry to survive. Natural disasters, like floods and droughts, often threaten the country and therefore are extremely damaging to the food system.
  4. Rice and Seasonal Shortages: Of the country’s 1.6 million households, two-thirds face seasonal shortages each year. Many Cambodians are rice farmers. In fact, rice alone accounts for as much as 30% of household spending
  5. Chronic Malnutrition and Stunting: About 40% of Cambodian children suffer from chronic malnutrition, which stunts the growth and cognitive development of 32% of Cambodian children under 5-years-old. This high statistic is mainly due to nutrient deficiency. According to World Vision, this stunting contributes to “increased child mortality as children are more vulnerable to infection and disease.” Additionally, 10% suffers from wasting, low weight to height ratio.

The World Food Programme

Since 1979, the year the Khmer Rouge ended, the World Food Programme has helped vulnerable Cambodians “meet their emergency needs and have access to nutritious, safe and diverse foods.” WFP also works toward enhancing long-term food and nutrition security for Cambodian families.

In order to meet its goal of terminating hunger in Cambodia by 2030, the WFP is working with the Royal Government of Cambodia to create programs that promote access to nutritious diets within the country and to strengthen systems to be nationally-owned. One example of this is the WFP-supported home-grown school feeding program. The WFP is working to transition the program to a “nationally-owned home-grown school meals model” that “sources ingredients from local farmers, incorporates food quality and safety, encourages community ownership, and supports local economies.” 

Action Against Hunger

Similar to the World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger is also working to end hunger in Cambodia. The organization has been serving the nation since 2013. In 2018, Action Against Hunger reached 11,291 children with lifesaving nutrition and health programs, provided 2,378 people with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions and supplied 27,568 people with food security and livelihoods programs. 

These five facts about hunger Cambodia show that though hunger is still an issue that plagues the nation, organizations like the World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger are helping to reduce it. Hopefully, with continued effort, hunger will continue to subside in the country.

Emma Benson
Photo: Flickr