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Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe
Rates of food insecurity in Zimbabwe have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the fall of 2019. Internationally, food prices have increased by about 38% since January 2020. Some household food staples, including corn and wheat-based products, have increased by as much as 80%. The World Food Programme (WFP), an organization that supplies aid for countries struggling with malnourishment, estimated that by April 2021, an additional 111 million people would be malnourished because of COVID-19. For Zimbabwe, a country already facing large amounts of food insecurity before the pandemic, the increase in food prices has only added stress to its acute hunger crisis.

Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe

Voice of America (VOA) recently reviewed a report from the government of Zimbabwe on the country’s rising food insecurity. The report revealed that about 2.4 million Zimbabweans who were not food-insecure pre-pandemic are now struggling with food insecurity. The food scarcity problem is especially difficult for members of Zimbabwe’s urban communities. In urban centers, misinformation about the virus was rampant during its initial spread. Many urban Zimbabweans received conflicting information about COVID-19, increasing the number of cases.

Like many sub-Saharan African countries, Zimbabwe also struggled to counter the virus because healthcare facilities are typically under-resourced or too expensive for many residents. Many urban Zimbabweans lost their jobs during the peak of COVID-19 and have struggled to find consistent work since, only increasing the cases of food insecurity.

Although international aid organizations and the government of Zimbabwe have indicated that plans are emerging to help combat the growing hunger crisis, many Zimbabweans have taken matters into their own hands. The way they are fighting food insecurity is by growing mushrooms.

Mushroom Growing in Zimbabwe

One Zimbabwean who lost his factory job during the pandemic, Murambiwa Simon Mushongorokwa, said that growing mushrooms was keeping him and his family members afloat. “I used to get about $30 a week. It was not enough for my needs. But when the lockdown came, it got worse, until I started growing mushrooms. It’s slowly improving my life,” said Mushongorowka.

Others are following Mushongorokwa’s lead. Several nonprofit organizations, including the World Food Programme (WFP), have begun teaching other Zimbabweans how to grow mushrooms. The Future of Hope is another such organization. The Future of Hope has been able to provide Zimbabweans with additional income that has improved their situation. Simon Julius Kufakwevanhu, an official from The Future of Hope, has been teaching about the benefits of mushroom farming. Kufakwevanhu stated that “Before the introduction of mushroom farming in this place, it was very tough for people in this community to survive because of the lockdowns and so forth. But when The Future of Hope brought in mushroom growing, it’s changing because you can now buy something, able to go to shops and buy mielie meal [coarse flour], sugar and so forth. Even if I fall sick I can go to the hospital after selling mushrooms.”

Mushroom growing has proven to be a viable way to fight food insecurity in Zimbabwe. According to the WFP, over 700 mothers have received training in the past few months. The process allows the mothers to grow their own mushrooms and to pull their families out of food insecurity. The WFP plans to expand the mushroom classes in the future.

– Grace Parker
Photo: Flickr

Chad's Food Security
Chad’s food security is a persistent issue and challenge. More than 2 million people suffer from malnutrition, and 43% of children under 5-years-old have developed stunting due to malnutrition. In total, 3.7 million people experience food insecurity in Chad. Fortunately, many great organizations work to reduce food insecurity. These organizations include The World Food Programme (WFP), The World Bank and The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States (FAO).

The World Food Programme (WFP)

The World Food Programme has provided food assistance to 1.4 million people in Chad. Furthermore, this organization has provided food assistance and school meals to 370,000 refugees and 135,000 children.

WFP worked with other nonprofits on a project in Farchana, a refugee camp in Chad in 2018. This project allowed about 30,000 people to unite and help build a more self-reliant, food-secure community. The project consisted of reworking the landscape and providing workers with money to purchase food or other necessities. According to WFP, “The work done by both host communities and refugees expands the availability and diversity of food produced and consumed locally, and ensures that local food production and income-generating activities can continue through shocks and crises.”

Furthermore, WFP has developed a strategic plan for 2019-2023 that includes how the organization plans to aid in improving Chad’s food security. The nonprofit will help ensure that people in targeted areas have access to food year-round, meet their basic food needs and have more self-sustaining ways of obtaining food. WFP also hopes to increase the nutritional levels in the population and make sure the government can help feed the population.

The World Bank

The World Bank has supported over 50 projects in Chad and is currently working on 19 projects. This organization launched the Emergency Food and Livestock Crisis Response AF project in 2017. The project aimed to “improve the availability of and access to food and livestock productive capacity for targeted beneficiaries.” Additionally, the project received an $11.6 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) that focuses on social protection, agriculture, fishing and forestry, livestock and crops.

The World Bank approved a $75 million grant from the IDA to continue the Refugees and Host Communities Support Project for Chad (PARCA) in September 2020. PARCA has helped improve the lives of impoverished and vulnerable people in the country. The project is set to end in 2025 and has received a rating of “moderately satisfactory” as of October 2020.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO)

The FAO has been working hard to improve Chad’s food security for the past several years. Furthermore, the World Bank published an analysis of a project that the FAO and other organizations contributed to in 2019. This project consisted of providing agricultural knowledge and tools to people in Goré, a town in Southern Chad. In addition, the project aided almost 500,000 people and established a process for the community to feed itself year-round at an affordable price.

The FAO provided “emergency agricultural assistance to vulnerable populations” in 2019. Additionally, the organization helped just under 300,000 people improve their agricultural output and prevented them from suffering from future climate inconsistencies or disasters.

The FAO completed the Sustainable Revitalization of Agricultural Systems project which aided about 4,000 people in 2020. In addition, it provided irrigation systems and fences to protect crops. The project succeeded in increasing agricultural yields.

Chad rates 187/189 on the Human Development Index and 66.2% of the population lives in severe poverty.  Despite these struggles, organizations are helping improve the lives of the people. The government of Chad has also been working to help improve the lives of its population. Chad created a plan to improve Chadians’ quality of life by developing human and social capital, social protection and economic empowerment by the end of 2021.

– Sophie Shippe
Photo: Flickr

International Aid to El SalvadorEl Salvador faces threats from multiple angles as heavy tropical flooding has been compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. While El Salvador has managed to curtail infection rates by imposing strict restrictions, in October 2020, more than 32,000 people had COVID-19, with around 1,000 deaths. Due to the stringent measures to protect against the pandemic, economic growth has been stifled and poverty reduction efforts have waned. Organizations are stepping in to provide international aid to El Salvador.

Dual Disasters in El Salvador

In May and June of 2020, the tropical storms Amanda and Cristobal wreaked havoc on the people of El Salvador. Nearly 150,000 people were affected by heavy rain, flooding and severe winds. Developing countries such as El Salvador have poor building infrastructure and during natural disasters homes are more likely to be destroyed by storms. The World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated that about 380,000 people in El Salvador do not have sufficient access to nutritious food due to the dual disasters that have weakened infrastructure and the economy. An estimated 22,000 farmers have suffered from the destruction of flooding, with over 12,000 hectares of agricultural crops being destroyed.

COVID-19 Pandemic Increases Poverty

El Salvador has been moderately successful with poverty reduction, marked by a consistent decline in poverty over the past 13 years, as poverty rates plummeted from 39% to 29% between 2007 and 2017. Extreme poverty was cut from 15% to 8.5% over this time period as well. Additionally, El Salvador has increased its level of equality and is now the second most equal country in Latin America.

Despite this positive trend in poverty reduction, El Salvador has suffered from forced economic restrictions due to the pandemic. Its GDP is projected to decrease by 8% this year due to economic restrictions, a weakened international market and diminished funds sent from El Salvadorians abroad in the United States. Additionally, low income and marginalized individuals are becoming more vulnerable to health issues and wage deficiencies and are falling victim to predatory loans. El Salvador’s economic shutdown and destruction from tropical storms have prompted calls for international aid to alleviate the crisis.

Swift Action to Mitigate COVID-19

El Salvador has seen relatively low COVID-19 cases as a result of its swift response to the pandemic. It adopted strict containment measures faster than any other Central American country and invested heavily in its health system. The government has provided cash distributions to the majority of households, food for low income households and payment deferrals for rent and mortgages in order to curb the effects of the pandemic on citizens.

International Aid to El Salvador

Requests for international aid to El Salvador have been granted in the form of assistance from USAID and the WFP. These organizations are providing disaster relief and bringing in resources to those affected by the storms and the COVID-19 pandemic. USAID has donated $3 million to be dispensed by cash in stipends for vulnerable citizens to buy food. This stipend will boost local economies and reinforce food security for impoverished citizens affected by the dual disasters.

– Adrian Rufo
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in the Central African Republic
Poverty is an issue the Central African Republic continues to face. In fact, around 71% of the Central African Republic’s population lives below the estimated international poverty line. In particular, child poverty in the Central African Republic is prevalent with an estimated half of the country’s population being under the age of 14. Many of these children are born into poverty, a situation they did not choose.

The Central African Republic is also one of the most impoverished nations in Africa; about 60% of the population lives in poverty. Some of the largest issues that children in the Central African Republic face are low enrollment for primary school, various armed conflicts and malnutrition. While these are big burdens, there are several solutions that should drastically improve the situation of child poverty in the Central African Republic.

Low Enrollment for School

In countries that poverty ravages, schools can be a safe haven for many children. Not only do they offer a stable and caring environment, but they can also offer a lifeline to many children with hopes and dreams of leaving their situation. There are schools in the Central African Republic, such as the Youth Education Pack, that specifically teach trades and other professions to help young people obtain skills during the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth Education Pack receives funding from Education Cannot Wait, a fund that is working towards providing education during crises.

The Central African Republic enrollment is incredibly low, with only 62% of boys and around 41% of girls enrolled in primary school. This creates a significant gap, with many children already deep into poverty not going to school to progress. One cause of this problem is the various armed groups in the country. One of these is the People’s Army for the Restoration of Democracy, which frequently kidnaps children and forces them to fight.

While some attend school, the problems continue. Around 6% of high schoolers in the Central African Republic complete school. One solution would be to dedicate more resources to education. Through schooling, many children in poverty in the Central African Republic would be able to both learn and grow, while progressing in their education and moving from their current living conditions. After school programs could be of great use and benefit as well, allowing children to have a safe space away from their home lives. Baha’i communities are an incredible example, where they have found multiple ways to prioritize and bring education to children who need it. There is a definitive aspiration by many to boost education in the Central African Republic and more success stories such as the one in Baha’i are inevitable.

Armed Conflict

Unfortunately, warring groups often recruit or kidnap many children of the Central African Republic to fight as soldiers. While many generally consider the use of children in warfare abhorrent, children are often incredibly susceptible to this. They are much easier to manipulate through coercion and threats of violence to themselves and their families. These children often become physically and mentally scarred by what they have seen and done.

An effective solution is to create more programs to help reintegrate former child soldiers. As stated before, many of these children need psychological help. By being able to discuss their trauma with professionals, they are able to process what happened to them and recover from the lasting effects. Other programs must emerge to make sure children do not even join said groups in the first place, educating them on what happens when they become child soldiers.

There are efforts already on the ground to help reduce child poverty in the Central African Republic. For example, War Child has been successful in helping former child soldiers of the Central African Republic, aiding around 7,947 children in 2018 alone. Another such organization is UNICEF, which has been reintegrating child soldiers for nearly 13 years after signing an agreement with the government as well as a rebel group known as Assembly of the Union of Democratic Forces. While there is a great deal that needs to happen, there is hope for the children of the Central African Republic who the armed conflicts of the region personally affect.

Malnutrition

 A significant problem amongst impoverished children in the Central African Republic is malnutrition. It is almost a residual effect of poverty itself and of the other problems that children face in the Central African Republic, mentioned above.

Around 38% of children in the Central African Republic are chronically malnourished and in need of serious care. This is parallel to the armed conflicts as well as the considerable rise in both food prices as well as shortages. In fact, around 45% of people in the country suffer from some level of food insecurity. These problems create a cycle where a lack of food resources for farming creates poverty and poverty itself creates more food shortages.

Luckily, many organizations, like the World Food Programme (WFP), are helping combat child malnutrition in the Central African Republic. WFP began the Central African Republic Interim Country Strategic Plan in 2018, a plan which aspires to help many children and at-risk families receive food daily. This can and will tremendously help combat the issue at hand and ensure that many children do not go hungry.

WFP’s efforts extend towards schools with its school feeding programs as well. These programs have both had positive effects on school attendance as well as the nutrition of many children. Malnutrition might be a definitive problem facing the Central African Republic, but much effort is going into making sure children receive the proper nutrients daily.

While the impoverished children in the Central African Republic seem to be in an incredibly tough spot physically, mentally and emotionally, there is a future for them. Many organizations have dedicated themselves to helping them. Moreover, the granting of awareness about child poverty in the Central African Republic should help prompt others into swift action.

Remy Desai-Patel
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Lebanon
Three recent events in Lebanon have crucially impacted its ability to feed its people. Conversely, there are three organizations or political actors working to combat the devastating hunger and guide Lebanon toward food security. Here are three recent crises and three organizations that are working to provide aid and reduce hunger in Lebanon.

The Beirut Explosion

On August 4, 2020, an explosion devastated the port of Beirut, Lebanon. Without a functioning port, the country is missing 65% to 80% of its food imports. The explosion destroyed 15,000 metric tons of wheat and the main grain silos. The disaster at the port has exacerbated hunger in Lebanon by preventing and delaying access to food, while also increasing the cost of imported food.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

As of early August 2020, the World Food Programme (WFP) agreed to distribute 5,000 food parcels to families currently suffering from hunger in Lebanon in light of the explosion. Each package includes necessities such as rice, sugar and oil and contains enough ingredients to feed five people for one month. Moreover, the World Food Programme has partnered with the government’s National Poverty Targeting Programme to provide over 100,000 Lebanese people with prepaid debit cards so they can purchase groceries. Lastly, the organization, in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered 8.5 metric tons of surgical and trauma equipment to Beirut two days after the explosion. Not only will this equipment help those the disaster affected, but it will also allow the country to focus on repairing the port, which is crucial to its survival.

The Challenges of COVID-19

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has made it significantly more difficult for families to put food on the table, and Lebanon is no exception. Relieving the devastating effects of the virus has become more important than addressing food insecurity. In a recent study that the World Food Programme conducted, due to the virus, one in three workers have found themselves unemployed and one in five workers have seen a pay cut. Moreover, there has been a country-wide halt in channeling resources toward hunger, as they have all gone toward the containment of COVID-19.

The United Nations

The United Nations has involved itself in providing aid to Lebanon during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF, an organization that provides aid to children across the globe, has created an eight-point plan for countries in the Middle East and North Africa dealing with the combined effects of COVID-19 and food insecurity. There are three points in particular that are closely related to the inability to afford food due to COVID-19. These points include establishing job and income security for those who perform agricultural or casual labor and instigating social protection schemes and community programs for the benefit of vulnerable groups and those who are unemployed due to lockdowns. The aforementioned will ensure access to sufficient, safe and nutritious foods. Another point involves creating a food security and nutrition surveillance system that will collect and update necessary information to identify populations at risk and address factors that will negatively affect said populations.

Furthermore, the UNHCR, a refugee agency, has allocated $43 million as of late August 2020 in response to the coronavirus and its effects. This aid will allow Lebanon to purchase proper medical equipment and create isolation units, both of which will help treat those suffering from the virus and slow its spread. As a result, Lebanon can renew its feverous efforts on solving hunger.

Political and Economic Turmoil

Since October 2019, an extensive list including corruption and civil unrest has led Lebanon’s economy to the tip of a very steep iceberg. The Lebanese pound has since lost over 80% of its value, thousands of businesses have gone under and candlelight is the new normal. Due to these extreme changes in the political and economic climates, hunger in Lebanon has reached an unprecedented level, affecting citizens and refugees alike. To bridge their income gap, citizens have reported spending less money on food, an intuitively counteractive response. As for the 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon due to civil war in their home country, nearly 200,000 have reported going 24 hours without eating, and 360,000 have reported skipping meals.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity has been providing help to Lebanon. The branch of this organization based in Great Britain employs tradesmen and builders from the Lebanese and Syrian communities in order to complete its various infrastructure projects in Lebanon. For example, empty and distressed buildings that vulnerable families reside have undergone rehabilitation. Rehabilitation efforts included water and sanitation upgrades, heat and solar light installation and the addition of necessary furniture such as beds. During this process, the spaces were either free or had reduced rent. Not only does this benefit the community by providing jobs which in turn boosts the economy, but it also allows families to focus their resources on food as opposed to shelter, an issue specific to refugees.

Despite how daunting the aforementioned issues are, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Various global organizations are taking action to bring attention to and end hunger in Lebanon. As resources and support continue to pour into the country, the people of Lebanon will begin to see brighter days.

– Mary Qualls
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Libya
Torn by civil war and violent conflict since 2011, Libya is a centerfold for poverty and mass hunger. Due to its geographical location and long history of favorable migrant-worker policies, hundreds of thousands of migrants flock to Libya every year. However, coupled with the country’s instability and the burden of over 600,000 refugees, Libya is reaching a tipping point.

Moreover, when it comes to dwindling food supplies and collapsing regional markets, hunger in Libya is becoming a more pressing issue with each passing day. So far, international organizations such as the World Food Programme are teaming up with local and regional nonprofits to provide meal kits to internally displaced families. While these efforts are noble, more work is necessary to resolve hunger in Libya.

Overview

Since 2014, children in Libya have lacked access to clean water and nutritious food. In fact, “21% of children aged less than five are stunted [in growth and development].” The situation is dire, as both institutional and external reforms are needed for any change to occur.

One of the main challenges for citizens and refugees in Libya in search of food is high prices and stagnant job markets. In fact, one of the most significant challenges for Libyan migrants relates to finding a way to make a living, followed by high food costs.

Furthermore, key EU countries, such as Italy, are criminalizing humanitarian assistance and food aid to refugees. This makes it incredibly difficult for nonprofits and local organizations to take care of fleeing migrants. As a result, they frequently have to return to Libya, which in turn increases the scarcity of food in Libya.

According to the Center for Global Development, “France and Italy have forbidden citizens from giving food, water, and shelter to refugees and migrants. Hungary passed the “Stop Soros” law, criminalizing individuals and NGOs helping migrants claim asylum. Anti-smuggling laws are also being used to prosecute individuals who provide aid close to the borders.”

Overcoming the Challenges of Hunger in Libya

Despite challenges presented to them, nonprofits and international organizations are taking gradual and significant action to reduce hunger in Libya. For instance, one prevalent challenge is the ever-changing environmental landscape and sporadic resource availability. Due to dramatic fluctuations in global markets, food has become more scarce. Since the Middle East and North African region is one of the world’s largest food suppliers, rising temperatures and diminishing ability to sell food amplify hunger, especially in Libya. In fact, countries like Libya are also the most stressed for water, making matters worse.

Moreover, growing conflict in the region is straining already fragile food supplies in Libya. As Libya engages in a series of ethnic, political and military conflicts, millions have descended into hunger to the point where some are considering it one of the top 18 countries struggling with hunger.

Furthermore, warring governmental and political forces are amplifying corruption and halting aid. Since the government relies upon oil for 95% of its funding, tanks in the oil markets for the past two years have devastated the national reserve. Moreover, in a country where militias are a priority, mass Libyan hunger is often a backburner issue.

Reforms for the Future

Although hunger in Libya is a prevalent issue, if international organizations and governments work together, they can make the situation less bleak. For example, inter-regional cooperation between neighboring local governments and regional organizations can maximize food availability.

The opening of trade routes in the region has had positive effects in the past. Take, for instance, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA), which has so far provided a solid framework for increases in agricultural markets and boosting food supplies. Moreover, internationally sponsored research and development into sustainable food systems could provide fruitful prospects, such as:

  1. Increase evidence of the nutritional value and biocultural importance of these [sustainable] foods.
  2. Better link research to policy to ensure these foods are considered in national food and nutrition security strategies and actions.
  3. Improve consumer awareness of these alternative foods’ desirability so that people may more easily incorporate them into diets, food systems and markets. This approach already underwent testing in seven countries and has already shown several positive effects, reducing hunger and increasing food quality.

If international organizations, local governments and development aides spearheaded such policies, hunger in Libya could reduce if not resolve. Hunger in Libya is a serious problem, one that affects hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Nevertheless, if the world bands together to fight against poverty and hunger, Libya could see beyond tomorrow.

– Juliette Reyes
Photo: Flickr

SDG 2 in the Dominican Republic
The Sustainable Development Report states that despite the major challenges present in eradicating hunger, the Dominican Republic is moderately improving on its goal of reaching zero hunger. Here are some updates on SDG 2 in the Dominican Republic.

Poverty in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has reduced poverty from 10.4% to 9.5% in just a year from 2017 to 2018. In 2004, the rate was 24.4%. The decline in these figures shows that the malnourishment rate in the country has gone down continuously over 14 years and that the Dominican Republic can complete the Zero Hunger objective if it continues to sustain its current trend. The malnourishment situation in the Dominican Republic has harmed the children of the island. A joint report from FAO, IFAD, WHO, WFD and UNICEF stated that the delay in growth of children under 5 years old was 7.1% in 2019 while wasting or low weight for height in this age was 2.4%.

Approximately 10% of Dominicans are suffering from malnourishment and chronic malnutrition in kids in poverty-stricken homes. According to a report from the 2030 Agenda, 11.3% of kids in households in the lowest wealth quintile suffer from malnourishment in comparison to the less than 7% national average. The report also stated that “… there is evidence that the productivity and income from small agricultural growers are the lowest in the economy.”

Ways to Reach SDG 2 in the Dominican Republic

In order to accomplish the goal of eradicating hunger in the Dominican Republic, the government, along with the WFP, must “[strengthen] the design and implementation of legal frameworks related to food security, nutrition, sustainable agriculture and disaster risk reduction…” The plan intends that the country will use the “whole of society” method which means “… – involving national and provincial authorities, disaster management agencies, national non-governmental organizations, the International Red Cross and private sector and other institutions – where no one is left behind.”

The WFP has three goals to accomplish this:

  • The Dominican Republic must strengthen and coordinate the public and private sectors in order to eliminate hunger in the country’s most vulnerable population by 2023.
  • The WFP aims to improve the nutrition status of the most nutritionally vulnerable groups by 2023.
  • It also intends to set up national and local systems to improve and resilience to shocks, adapt to environmental challenges and reduce disaster risks among the vulnerable population by 2023.

Hunger in the Dominican Republic

In 2019, the Global Hunger Index ranked the Dominican Republic a 9.2. According to its rubric, this means the country’s level of hunger-related issues is low, an improvement from the turn of the century when the country received an 18.2. That score meant that hunger was a moderate problem on the border of escalating to a serious issue. The index also reported that the mortality rate decreased slightly. After a brief uptick from approximately 8% in 2000 to 11% in 2005, the prevalence of stunting in children under the age of 5 has decreased to approximately 6% in 2019.

In order to reach SDG 2 in the Dominican Republic, it must adapt to a post-pandemic world, where even the most developed countries are experiencing increased poverty and food disparity as the world struggles to adapt to the new reality.

–  Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Egypt
With more than 98 million people, Egypt remains the most populated country in North Africa. More than 32.5% of citizens live below the poverty line, making malnutrition and hunger in Egypt pressing issues. The current influx of poverty leaves children and adults without proper education, left to partake in dangerous and under-compensated work such as mining, quarrying and cement production.

The Situation

Although marketplaces are bustling and full, Egypt relies on imported foods. As the world’s largest wheat producer, Egypt is at risk of any drastic changes in commodity pricing and economies. While markets have more than enough fruits, vegetables and bread, most of the population cannot purchase essential grocery items. Without the capacity to control possible economic fluctuations, Egypt’s vulnerability leaves its hungriest citizens without a safety net from their government, let alone their savings.

Egypt’s hunger crisis is an accumulation of many setbacks, including global financial crises, food shortages and disease. Yet another economic or social misfortune has followed each attempted effort towards success. As a result, more than 1.3% of Egypt’s population was living with less than $1.90 to spend per day in 2015; the average American spends $164.55 per day.

How Did This Happen?

Since the early 2000s, Egypt has faced a series of difficulties including the 2006 avian influenza, food and fuel crisis of 2007, economic despair through 2009 and most recently, COVID-19. As a country treading between minor stability and complete poverty, each challenge, both global and local, has severe implications for Egypt and its people.

Hunger in Egypt has roots in food costs; a majority of the Egyptian population can only afford minimally nutritious meals. A 2011 UN World Health Organization study found that 31% of Egyptian children less than 5 years old suffer from stunted growth in comparison to 23% in 2005. Malnutrition not only affects brain development but also contributes to a cycle that perpetuates and exacerbates Egypt’s weaknesses.

Malnourished children cannot perform well in school; malnourished workers are incapable of providing for themselves and their families, making financial and cultural growth seemingly impossible.

Solutions

The prominent changes in Egypt’s condition are a result of the Egypt Vision 2030. As a roadmap to Egypt’s eventual security, Egypt Vision 2030 emerged to increase employment rates, begin food security initiatives, increase clean water access and generate accessible screening and treatment for malnourished individuals.

The mission is that by 2030, Egypt will rank within the top 30 countries for economy size, market competitiveness, human development, life quality and anti-corruption. With such improvements, eradicating hunger in Egypt becomes possible.

Within the economic and social dimensions of the plan, the sixth pillar outlines that by 2030, improvements in health conditions will occur through “early intervention, preventative coverage,” guaranteed protection for the vulnerable and prioritizing the satisfaction of health sector employees.

These extensive efforts have led to program and policy implementation, propelling Egypt to meet its targets. For instance, at the onset of the plan in 2015, the malnourishment rate was 4.5%. By 2030, Egypt hoped the rate would be below 3%. With 10 years until the 2030 deadline, 3.2% of the Egyptian population is malnourished. It is evident that the strategy behind Vision 2030 is effective.

Feeding Children Through Education

A vital pillar of the Egypt Vision 2030 is the National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education. The World Food Programme (WFP) is spearheading the plan to increase school meals’ nutritional value. Though it helps enrolled students, the plan does not benefit children not attending school. The school meals incentivize students to attend, serving as an aspect Egypt tactfully uses to increase pre-university enrollment rates.

The Pre-University Education Plan resulted from new investment and financing strategies to develop curriculum, financial aid, illiteracy and dropout elimination programs, technical teacher training and recurring student assessments to ensure the meeting of international standards. To execute these programs, The National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education set a goal to spend 8% of GDP shares on pre-university education by 2030. Currently, that number is at 6%, double the initial percentage that Egypt spent in 2014. Additionally, Egypt’s Ministry of Finance reported an 82% spending increase in education and health. With increased pre-university education attendance, children receive nutritionally balanced meals every day. Health and education funding creates a domino effect, which will eventually lead to the elimination of hunger in Egypt.

The budget increase, in addition to malnourishment, serves Egypt’s education system. Classroom sizes decreased from an average of 42 students in 2015 to between 23 and 16 in 2019. The National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education 2030 target was to have an average of 35 students per classroom. Egypt’s strategies prove to be highly successful, as its school attendance numbers are higher than its once-projected targets.

Higher enrollment, smaller classroom sizes and well-trained teachers have replaced Egypt’s dated culture of memorization. This new approach emphasizes individual learning, life principles, and modern technology. Repairing the education systems tears has an undeniable correlation to employment and hunger rates.  In changing the fundamentals of the educational experience, Egyptian students now have proper nourishment. As a result, they can have the brainpower to master skill sets that will earn them stable jobs with livable incomes, thus ending the cycle of poverty.

Aid from organizations like the UN and World Food Programme, in collaboration with the Egypt Vision 2030, can eradicate hunger in Egypt. In breaking the cycle of malnourishment and lack of education, Egypt will continue on its path towards growth, prosperity and stability.

– Maya Sulkin
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Cameroon
Commonly called “Africa in miniature,” many know Cameroon for its geographical diversity and cultural vibrance. However, despite its status as a nation of peace and steadiness, Cameroon nonetheless faces a multitude of threats to the food security of millions of its citizens. A staggering 2.6 million people in Cameroon are facing phase three (crisis) food insecurity, leading to severe malnutrition and stunting for vulnerable children. In order to find solutions to reducing hunger in Cameroon, one must explore the causes behind such significant food insecurity. Here are five reasons behind Cameroon’s hunger crisis.

5 Causes of Hunger in Cameroon

  1. Violence from Boko Haram’s presence in Nigeria has spilled into the Far North of Cameroon. Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in Nigeria have caused more than 100,000 Nigerians to take refuge in Cameroon. More than 300,000 Cameroonians have experienced displacement as a result of Boko Haram’s terrorism. Not only do fleeing refugees place an additional burden on the already strained food resources of Cameroon, but the internal displacement of Cameroonians due to violence prevents farmers from accessing agricultural fields. In 2016, Cameroon’s cereal production in regions that Boko Haram has affected decreased by 25% from the previous year.
  2. Armed rebel forces are stealing livestock by the thousand. Tension rose between ethnic Mbororo ranchers and armed separatists after the Mbororo refused to support the separatist’s mission to form a new anglo-Christian state. This denial has led the armed separatists to steal thousands of the ranchers’ cattle between July and September 2020 in order to fund and feed their army. Furthermore, the Mbororo have been victims of kidnapping and murder by separatists, which has led to more than 11,000 Mbororo relocating.
  3. Farmers are exporting grain instead of selling it domestically. The lack of profitability of domestic sales of grain has led farmers to export goods to neighboring countries such as Nigeria. This has led Cameroon to block farmer’s cereal and grain exports in the Far North. The Food Control Unit seized 6,000 tons of grain and will return them when owners commit to selling only in Cameroon. This policy aims to improve the tenuous food security, reducing hunger in Cameroon and increasing resilience against famine.
  4. Climate disasters such as drought and floods have stressed food supplies and agricultural centers. Future solutions must focus on disaster preparation and being proactive instead of retroactive in mitigating disaster reduction. The lack of preemptive warning systems has prevented the mitigation of the African Sahel Floods, which displaced 1,500 hundred families in September 2020. A legislative emphasis on implementing early warning systems and disaster risk reduction equipment and technology will be critical to mitigating the damage future climate disasters have on the food supply. The government should focus on land use management and educating the public about disasters to lower their effects when they do occur.
  5. Almost 700,000 Cameroonians have been internally displaced by drought, floods and violent conflict, 40% of whom are children under 5. These children are especially vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition and may never recover to optimal health. Around 31.7% of children under 5 suffer from stunting, which is a higher rate than the average of 25% for developing countries.

Combating Hunger in Cameroon

These causes of hunger in Cameroon suggest a clear pattern of turbulence in the Far North. It is integral to focus on devoting resources to this area and promoting organizations that provide relief to this hunger afflicted population.

In order to combat malnutrition, organizations such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and Action Against Hunger have been working to allocate supplies and introduce health education and services in regions lacking such resources. In 2019, Action Against Hunger reached more than 300,000 Cameroonians through nutrition, health, and food security programs. Action Against Hunger distributes food supplies and sets up clinics to supply displaced people with health and medical care.

Among its numerous initiatives, the World Food Programme targets improving nutritional access and education for Cameroon’s under 5 population. The WFP uses strategies including giving financial support and training to smallholder farmers and providing communities in need with food assistance to improve their resilience. WFP has had a presence in Cameroon since 1978 and succeeded in reaching over 400,000 people in 2019 through its food and nutrition assistance initiatives.

Cameroon is facing threats to its food supply from violence, disaster and poor government support. Fortunately, organizations such as the WFP and Action Against Hunger are working tirelessly to improve the nation’s food security so the people of Cameroon can live healthy and happy lives.

– Adrian Rufo
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in South Sudan
Since the country’s independence in 2011, South Sudan has been in a state of instability as it recovered from a six-year-long conflict with Sudan. This instability has had quite an effect on the nation’s nutrition, with 51% of the country’s total population reporting food shortages in 2020. Some of the main causes of the continued food insecurity in South Sudan include flooding due to poor land management, destruction of agriculture and businesses due to conflict, elevated food prices and lack of access to livestock products that would enable citizens to cultivate a reliable food source. Additionally, the ever-present conflict in the area often prevents people from being mobile, meaning they are unable to search for food, find better agricultural land or access markets that may be nearby.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

Despite this situation, many humanitarian organizations have allocated resources towards fighting food insecurity in South Sudan, including the U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP). The effort provides direct food aid to roughly 5.32 million South Sudanese people. Each year, the WFP transports 325,000 metric tons of food into 50 warehouses across the country, helping to fill the large gaps in domestic agricultural production.

The U.N.’s program has also introduced a new means of efficiently and evenly distributing aid called SCOPE, a database in which individual aid recipients register by fingerprint. The database records who receives food and how much, and even tracks an individual’s health and nutrition levels, noting when signs of malnutrition cease or appear. So far, the SCOPE system alone has registered 1.4 million people. Since 2018, the U.N. has also administered over $30 million USD in vouchers that one can redeem in exchange for food through the SCOPE system.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Similarly, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been working with farmers to boost domestic crop production in hopes of reducing food insecurity in South Sudan. Due to constant displacement and poor land quality, creating a strong agricultural sector has proven to be challenging for the nation.

However, FAO’s program works to distribute seeds and hand tools. Moreover, it conducts land assessments across the nation to determine which plots might produce the highest yield. As a result, the cultivated land area increased by 15% from 2017 to 2018, and cereal production rose 10% from 2018 to 2019. In 2018, the program also began its seed distribution effort, administering 5,970 metric tons of seeds across the nation, benefiting 406,408 households.

Action Against Hunger

Nonprofit organization Action Against Hunger has also worked alongside the U.N.’s efforts to reduce food insecurity in South Sudan. The organization has worked with 7,215 farming families, with a focus on dyke and irrigation system construction to ensure farms are resistant to the region’s heavy flooding.

Additionally, volunteers and locals constructed and/or rehabilitated 5,000 water points, where people can easily access potable water and plumbing. In an effort to solve the issue of lack of mobility in the nation, Action Against Hunger also constructed 71 kilometers of roads, which allow the average South Sudanese person to access markets, clinics and other vital services.

Without intensive aid from humanitarian organizations, the state of food insecurity in South Sudan would be much worse than the recent statistics show. As the nation builds its foundations and recovers from its violent past, access to nutrition will undoubtedly become more widely available. However, with more than half the population unable to fill their stomachs each day, much work is still necessary.

– Jane Dangel
Photo: Flickr