Yemen projectYemen is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. This is almost entirely due to the Yemen civil war, a conflict raging since 2014. The war has affected every single part of the country, including the capital city of Sana’a, an area that housed nearly 2.5 million people at the start of the war. As a result of the conflict largely taking place in urban centers, staggering numbers of Yemeni people had to leave their homes. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that about 4.5 million people have endured displacement since the start of the conflict. The Greengate Trust’s Yemen Project aims to improve the lives of struggling Yemeni people.

Humanitarian Impacts of War

Within Yemen, UNICEF estimates that almost 18 million people, many of them children, lack access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. The health situation in Yemen has also turned dire, with the population routinely suffering outbreaks of “cholera, measles, diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases,” UNICEF says.

About 11 million children in Yemen require humanitarian aid and about 2.2 million children are suffering from acute levels of malnutrition, which has far-reaching impacts on children’s development. The destruction of school facilities and medical centers means Yemeni people lack access to critical health care and education. UNICEF reports that more than 2.5 million children in Yemen are not attending school. Overall, a minimum of 21.6 million Yemeni people require humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs.

The Yemen Project

The Greengate Trust, a United Kingdom-based charity that raises money for a variety of causes in Yemen, started the Yemen Project. The Yemen Project is currently gathering support through donations to set up a clinic near Aden, Yemen, specifically catering to malnourished children. The clinic will provide “immediate treatment, food, malnutrition screening and cash assistance to the most vulnerable children and their families,” the Greengate Trust website says.

Equally as important as the clinic is the Yemen Project’s campaign to build solar-powered wells in Yemen’s most disadvantaged communities. So far, these solar-powered wells have supplied 500 households across eight villages, providing clean water to at least 10,000 individuals who otherwise would not have access to safe drinking water. The campaign to provide the people of Yemen with clean drinking water goes hand-in-hand with Greengate Trust’s efforts to provide nutritious meals across Yemen. The organization’s website says, “A small donation of just £50 for [one] Food Pack could provide a Yemeni family with enough food for an entire month of Ramadan.”

The Yemen Project has also provided food in the country through the Al-Tayyibat Bakery, a bakery that, for upward of three years, has provided free bread to anyone who needed it. The bakery was burned down in a tragic accident, but the Yemen Project is in the process of raising donations via the Trust’s website to reopen the bakery and provide food for some of the 16 million people in Yemen that cannot meet their food needs.

Even though the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is dire, the efforts of humanitarian organizations and foundations like the Greengate Trust bring hope to millions of Yemeni people struggling to meet their basic needs amid conflict and violence.

– Ezra Bernstein
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Somalia
As the water crisis in Somalia continues so too does the threat to all Somalian lives. The country, alongside neighboring regions, is experiencing the most severe drought in 40 years and, with the April to May rains predicted to be at subnormal levels, the situation is only likely to worsen. To attribute the dire conditions and water supply issues to the current drought would be an oversimplification. Levels of rain largely impact any water supply, particularly in Somalia, which is part desert and has only two permanent rivers. But, one needs to consider the systemic failings alongside this in order to fully understand the gravity of the situation that prevails in Somalia.

A Lack of Resources and Regulation

According to the Somalia Water Shortage Update, by April 23, 2022, an estimated 4.2 million people in Somalia faced “severe water shortages.” The civil war, which has now raged for three decades, has had a profound impact on the country’s water systems with a lack of governance and regulation in place to coordinate and/or advance any existing framework.

The WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) 2019 – SDG report said, “40% of existing water sources are non-functional,” resulting in shortages across the country. “Weak water supply management models” and the high costs of operating and maintaining water systems stand as some of the reasons behind the lack of functional water sources.

At the government level, there is a lack of accountability, which makes planning and regulation impossible. As researcher Mourad Khaldoon notes in a study published in 2022, “Somalia is not a water-scarce country, it lacks good water governance.”

The continued civil unrest and humanitarian crises put further strain on an already strained system. The ongoing conflict has led to the internal displacement of about 3 million people in Somalia. This has led to the overuse of groundwater pumps and increased strain on infrastructure, leaving those in search of water found wanting. The hefty water costs of more than a dollar per cubic meter and the long distances individuals must travel to obtain water, along with the potential contamination of water, continue to be the greatest challenges for the poorest.

Water Contamination in Somalia

Without sufficient supply, desperation takes hold and those in need are reduced to conditions that leave them vulnerable to illness. The connection between supply and sanitation is important to consider. As supply decreases, the already limited resources are shared, resulting in water contamination. Somalia’s greatest source of water, accounting for 80%, is groundwater. But, groundwater is subjected to high levels of pollution due to a number of factors, including the extensive use of pit latrines and shallow underground tanks; high rates of open defecation; livestock and humans sharing the same water points and inappropriate wastewater disposal.

Surveys conducted in 2019 at water points by the UNICEF Somalia Country office indicated “high levels of fecal contamination in water supplies at source, point of collection and point of use.” Without any robust measures in place to regulate the quality of water, the spread of disease is inevitable. Similarly, a lack of education about sanitation further compounds existing issues as at-risk communities lack insight into water contamination and the risks of consuming such water.

The Humanitarian Impact

The WHO says, “No intervention has greater overall impact upon national development and public health than the provision of safe drinking water and proper disposal of human waste,” the Muslim Hands website highlights.

The continued drought in Somalia only serves to heighten the existing water crisis in Somalia. A water assessment published in 2019 with the support of UNICEF highlighted that 2.7 million people required humanitarian aid in the form of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. Specifically, one-third of households reported a lack of “sufficient drinking water” and about half reported a lack of access to improved latrines, improved water sources and soap.

Thirst is forcing people to make perilous journeys displacing the population while a lack of resources and sanitation are increasing the risk of contracting easily preventable diseases. As these conditions continue, the country continues to fall into further poverty, and while rain is unlikely to provide a long-term solution for Somalians, it would at least provide some level of hope to those suffering most.

UNICEF’s Response in Somalia

UNICEF’s response to the water crisis in Somalia is comprehensive. UNICEF provides the Somali government with support to establish sustainable water systems and helps improve access to toilets while encouraging proper hygiene practices in communities and an end to open defecation. UNICEF also helps the government to link more education facilities to clean water supplies. Additionally, UNICEF is helping the country to maintain and rehabilitate water and sanitation systems, among other efforts.

Humanitarian efforts by organizations such as UNICEF will continue to support Somalia in its water crisis be it through emergency water supplies and practical maintenance or education while The Borgen Project continues to foster upstream change through advocacy, appealing for more U.S. attention to the water crisis in Somalia.

– Rebekah Crilly
Photo: Flickr

Child Soldiers in South Sudan
South Sudan has one of the “youngest populations in the world, with more than 70% under the age of 30.” The U.N. included South Sudan in its shame list; a list of nations responsible for abuses against children during armed conflict. Following independence in 2011, the region has suffered “subnational violence,” which has led to the recruitment and exploitation of child soldiers in South Sudan.

Child soldiers are those under the age of 18 who join armed militias and are used in combat as fighters, spies and suicide bombers. Some become cooks and messengers and often enter into child marriage. Nations all over the world continue to use child soldiers recruited by both armed forces and groups beyond government control. Due to reduced regulation, non-state forces recruit more child soldiers, which makes the issue more difficult to challenge. These groups often recruit children by force, either through abduction or coercion or lure them with financial or drug-related assurances. However, some also join voluntarily, arguably with little comprehension of what participation will involve.

South Sudanese Independence and Civil War

In 2011, South Sudan became an independent state. In 2013, the country entered a civil war after rising political power struggles resulted in a war between the forces of President Salva Kiir, the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army and other smaller armed groups. The violence became worse once leaders began to supply communities with weapons. The South Sudanese conflict, combined with mistrust of government spending and corruption, caused international aid to dry up, which was particularly consequential for a country that relied so heavily on it.

Overall, civil war has had dire humanitarian consequences, with the U.N. declaring hunger and famine to be the worst since the country gained independence. Civilians, especially women and children, continue to suffer at the hands of armed groups and security forces.

Child Soldiers in South Sudan

South Sudan has notoriously used child soldiers in conflict. The precise number is difficult to determine due to the unregulated nature of the crime. UNICEF reported that out of the formally released recruited children in the Western Equatoria state of South Sudan, individuals younger than 15 accounted for 28% of this group. In South Sudan, armed forces recruit more boys than girls. According to Theirworld, children are susceptible to recruitment as child soldiers, when suffering from poverty, displacement or familial separation, which due to the civil war, are all conditions existent in South Sudan.

Looking to the Future

UNICEF plays a vital part in addressing the violations against children in South Sudan. This process involves the release and reintegration of each child and is essential to preventing the normalization of child soldiers. Through the signing and ratification of numerous legal frameworks, such as the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the South Sudan Child Act, the South Sudanese Government has committed to no longer using children in conflict. Since 2015, UNICEF has facilitated the release of 3,677 child soldiers in South Sudan. But, this is not possible without funding as the reintegration program that UNICEF provides costs $2,000 per child.

The family tracing and reunification teams at Save the Children are also instrumental in reuniting former child soldiers with their families. The organization works with local leaders, teachers and police to create “safe spaces” for the protection of child refugees and children who have experienced displacement following the war.

Because more than one in five children in South Sudan suffers from malnourishment, Save the Children trains health workers to address this and runs centers to distribute free medical care specifically tackling this issue. For many former child soldiers in South Sudan, who often miss out on education, it can be difficult to make a living, which is why Save the Children teaches young people vocational skills.

Looking toward the future, South Sudan is taking the steps to stop the use of child soldiers within the country and UNICEF and Save the Children play pivotal roles in this.

– Bethan Marsden
Photo: Flickr

Gender Inequality in Africa
Women in Africa are less likely to work in technology than their male counterparts. In 2019, around 22% of women in Africa used the internet. Due to the fact that men oftentimes have higher incomes than women, they are more likely to purchase a mobile device with internet capabilities. In West and Central Africa, four in 10 girls enter child marriage before the age of 18. This allows gender inequality to grow and prevent economic autonomy for young girls and women in Africa. Here is an organization that is actively fighting gender inequality in Africa by advocating for and providing for African women in tech.

African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI)

The project has been able to help women and young girls in gaining access to work in tech. The initiative aims to train at least 2,000 girls from ages 17-25 to help them gain economic independence and an advantage in the rising tech industry. In the camp’s first phase, girls learn about mainstream ICT. The program created an e-webinar to help keep the program intact during the pandemic. Awa Ndiaye-Seck, U.N. Women Special Representative to the African Union and UNECA, says that the AGCCI’s goal is to “address not only the policy-level bottlenecks related to access to technology and finances but also the gender-based harmful norms and practices that hinder women and girls from pursuing STEM fields.”

Impact and Second Stage

Since the camp began in 2018, 600 girls have received training nationally and regionally. The Coding camp has participants from a large and diverse set of countries such as Ethiopia, Burundi, Côte D’Ivoire, DRC, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The aforementioned e-learning platform provides mentorship, coursework, training tools and job opportunities. In 2022, the Belgian government spearheaded phase two of the camp by funding the project. The project will also partner with U.N. Women, UNICEF and UNESCO. The second stage involves selecting a pool of trainers to train 11 more selected countries, thereby setting up more AGCCI learning centers in participating countries and providing learners with adequate technology (phones, laptops, computers, etc.).

Continuing to Reduce Gender Inequality in Africa

A 2016 report suggested that women launched only 9% of tech startups. Low levels of female participation in the tech industry further strengthen and reinforce the inequalities women in Africa face. The African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy has set a mission to provide “digital inclusion for every African by 2030.” This means that there will be more African women in tech positions. It is an ambitious goal that will without a doubt receive help from existing programs such as the AGCCI. Consistent efforts to include women in the field of technology will alleviate existing barriers and inequalities for African women and girls.

Final Thoughts

Programs like the AGCCI are helping to alleviate gender inequality in Africa by providing women opportunities to learn about and work in tech. African women in tech is just one example of positive programs aiming for a better future for African women.

 – Anna Richardson
Photo: Flickr

Health Care in the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) is a sub-Saharan nation comprising a population of approximately 5.5 million. Its capital is Bangui. Similar to many regions of Africa, the country has poor health care with limited access to clean water and sanitary spaces. Health care in the Central African Republic is in an extremely poor state with the country having a life expectancy of just 55 in 2020. Here are six facts about health and health care in the Central African Republic. 

1. Diseases

Common diseases in Africa such as malaria, yellow fever and diarrheal-related diseases exist in CAR. Tropical diseases spread easily through the country with insufficient medical resources. The National Library of Medicine shows that malaria accounts for 40% of all illnesses in the country.

Yellow fever is also prominent in the country, as with much of north and central Africa. Although some action has occurred in the roll-outs of vaccines, with a 2021 UNICEF statistic illustrating that 41% of the population is vaccinated, the country is still far from reaching the 80% threshold which indicates a country’s immunity.

Diarrheal-related illnesses are similarly frequent, particularly in children. Although organizations such as WaterAid have taken action in the construction of clean water pumps, water insecurity provides a constant risk for the country’s majority. A statistic from the National Library of Medicine shows an average of seven episodes per child per year.

2. Children’s Health Care

Life is especially tough for children living in the Central African Republic. Conflict within the region has left many children homeless and without an education. A 2021 UNICEF statistic illustrates that 370,000 children are internally displaced across the country as a result of widespread violence. Civil unrest in the country has forced children to join armed groups or flee their homes. To aid children’s well-being, UNICEF is introducing community-based interventions to support children’s mental health.

3. Malnutrition

UNICEF also helps children formerly a part of armed groups through programs that reunite them with their families. Malnutrition is also very common among children due to a low intake of healthy food. A statistic from UNICEF predicts that a minimum of 24,000 children under the age of 5 will suffer from acute malnutrition. The Central African Republic has one of the least funded childcare health care programs in the world and continues to struggle with this issue.

4. Access to Sanitation and Clean Water

Similarly to much of Africa, access to clean water remains a serious problem in the present day. Despite charitable efforts to introduce water pumps and sanitary spaces, much of the country, especially rural communities, go without the human right of access to clean water.

A statistic from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows that only 37% of Central Africans have access to clean water. As a result, the majority of its population have exposure to dirty and germ-infected water for their everyday needs including drinking, washing and cooking. As a result of this frequent intake of dirty water, the country suffers from a high rate of water-borne diseases such as typhoid disease and diarrhea.

5. COVID-19

COVID-19 had severe impacts on underdeveloped countries. With a lack of medical knowledge, the virus spread rapidly across CAR with 15,367 cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

As a result of the lockdown and school closures, COVID-19 also increased the frequency of gender-based and child abuse. This has resulted in many people suffering mental health issues and requiring psychosocial help.

6. Hospitals

A key reason for the country’s failing health care system is the extreme lack of hospitals and medical facilities. There is one major hospital located in the capital Bangui and a few more around the country. However, these hospitals are low-staffed and poorly equipped to deal with the high number of patients requiring medical attention. Health care in the Central African Republic lacks so much funding that humanitarian organizations provide 70% of health services within the country. 


Although the current health care system is failing, with help from charities, hope exists for significantly better health care in the Central African Republic. UNICEF has put projects in place for 2023 to improve the quality of health in the country through a humanitarian approach. UNICEF’s programs prioritize children’s protection and set out to provide 140,000 with psychosocial care. In regard to combatting malnutrition, UNICEF plans to provide 60,000 children with medical treatment for this preventable condition.

In response to the low accessibility of drinking water, Concern Worldwide is conducting a project which plans to construct five water well boreholes in Mobaye town to provide people with safe and germ-free drinking water. Combined with the restoration of five damaged water wells, this project will increase the number of people who have access to clean water in Mobaye town by 50%.

Despite the challenges that the health care system is facing in CAR, several organizations are making a difference regarding its population’s health. Through their continued work, hopefully, health and health care will continue to improve in the Central African Republic.

Freddie Trevanion
Photo: Flickr

Crisis in Haiti
Haiti has been experiencing political, economic and social conflict since someone assassinated the former president, Jovenel Moïse, in July 2021. Haiti’s parliament has become ineffective as it struggles to govern amidst the recent earthquake and the prominence of gang violence in Haiti. The crisis in Haiti does not only involve one issue but rather multiple crises all at once. The three most predominant crises in Haiti are gang violence, the cholera outbreak and the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in August 2022.

Gang Violence

The number of gangs in Haiti has grown over the past five years. With more than 95 gangs occupying large portions of Port-au-Prince Bay, the crisis in Haiti has accelerated into deeper chaos. Organized crime disproportionally affects vulnerable communities, especially children. UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean has warned that women and children have become targets of gangs. She stated that “more and more incidents of gang violence have involved children and women in the past few weeks and months,” referring to kidnapping, rapes and killings.

The crisis in Haiti is worsened by gangs developing strong political and economic footing as they make themselves mercenary partners of politicians and administrators. Recently, gangs seized Haiti’s fuel terminal (its main source of energy), thus sending the country into an economic and health crisis. Many schools and hospitals have no power and small businesses have shut down completely. The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) has increased funding for 22 grassroots organizations focused on helping Haitians adapt to the various political, economic and environmental collapses. The fuel crisis has prevented more than three-quarters of hospitals from operating. The IAF has been able to supply the country with community clinics and ambulances to meet the pressing need for medical care in the midst of the cholera outbreak.

In terms of suppressing gang violence, there is disagreement on which strategy is the best. The U.N. has issued $5 million to help those that the violence has affected, as humanitarians try to negotiate with the gangs. Other experts and Haitians suggest that intervention may be a more plausible step as a large portion of money meant for more diplomatic relations has been relatively ineffective.

Health and Environmental Concerns

More than a quarter of all suspected cholera cases are children under 9. Cholera is much more likely to infect children, according to the Health Ministry. Between October and December 2022, there were reports of 13,672 cases of cholera, with 86% being hospitalized. From 2010 to 2019, there were reports of 820,000 cases in Haiti. U.N. agencies and Médicins sans Frontières (MSF), along with local organizations, have distributed medicines and treatments throughout the country. They have also established some clean water centers free of cholera while pushing for the development of vaccines for Haiti. Human Rights Watch believes that there is still a great deal that is necessary to resolve the health crisis in Haiti.

There are also environmental concerns for Haiti. A 7.2 earthquake shook the country in April 2021, leaving 620,000 people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The earthquake destroyed 70% of schools. UNICEF is continuing to provide water, food and shelter to vulnerable populations.

As violence proceeds, the crisis in Haiti will require more aid and assistance to help rebuild and develop a more resilient political and economic order. Organizations within Haiti and around the world have already begun to provide relief but more must happen to ensure vulnerable peoples are safe.

– Anna Richardson
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality Rates in Lebanon
The economic crisis in Lebanon, during which the pandemic worsened, has pushed more than 80% of the population into poverty, leading to high costs of living and decreased health care quality for mothers-to-be. Lebanon previously succeeded in reducing maternal deaths, but these rates have tripled over the last few years. Therefore, there is an urgent need to act to reduce maternal mortality rates in Lebanon. However, the Lebanese Order of Midwives, with support from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), is leading an initiative to provide vulnerable mothers-to-be with door-to-door emergency health care.

Lebanon’s Downfall

Lebanon experienced an economic crisis followed by the pandemic and the Beirut port explosions that led to massive unemployment and poverty for families throughout the region. According to UNICEF, 84% of households did not have enough money to cover fundamental necessities in 2022 and 23% of children went to bed on an empty stomach.

Additionally, Lebanon’s insufficient supply of foreign currency meant the government could not secure essential medical supplies and resources. The government’s inability to pay debts owed to hospitals also impacted health care services. As a result, Lebanon could not provide critical maternal and child health care services.

The Health Impact

Amid several concurrent crises in Lebanon, a rapid assessment, which UNICEF conducted in March 2022, showed a “12.6[%]drop in maternal bed capacity, with the Bekaa and Baalbeck Hermel (BB) governorates the worst affected at 28.6[%], followed by Beirut and Mount Lebanon (BML) at more than 25[%].

Furthermore, hospitals’ availability of pediatric intensive care unit beds decreased by 12% and the availability of newborn intensive care unit beds dropped by 5.5%. The decreased capacities arose as a consequence of the massive exodus of health care workers between 2019 and 2021 due to the economic instability in the nation.

Lebanon’s economic crisis pushed 40% of doctors and 30% of midwives to leave the country from October 2019 to September 2021, significantly decreasing the health care system’s efficiency. As a result, the medical system became overburdened and hospitals had no choice but to deny some medical care.

In October 2021, UNICEF declared that the number of neonatal deaths among refugees in Lebanon increased from 65 in the first quarter of 2020 to 137 in the third quarter across four different provinces. Additionally, a third of the children did not have access to health care in October of the same year. Lastly, transportation costs rose from a lack of subsidies and high fuel costs, impacting the ability of low-income pregnant women to reach the health centers. Therefore, after progress in reducing maternal deaths to 13.7 in 2019, maternal deaths increased to 37 per 100,000 live births by 2021.

The Lebanese Order of Midwives and UNICEF

UNICEF began supporting the Lebanese Order of Midwives council in November 2022. The council sends midwives to aid in the deliveries of pregnant women in the most at-risk areas of the country. The midwives go door-to-door and serve as emergency aid for the women. The council has already hired 57 midwives and plans to employ 300 more local community-based midwives to travel throughout the country until 2025. The council will primarily target women who hesitate to reach out for maternal care and need the service to identify early complications. Additionally, UNICEF will pay the cost of hospital transportation for the women if a case becomes too complicated for the midwives.

The rise in maternal mortality rates in Lebanon represents a regression in the country’s health care progress. Nevertheless, by funding local initiatives, international humanitarian organizations serve as valuable partners for solving pressing global issues in the most impoverished communities.

– Andres Valencia
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to Somalia
Amid a drought, political conflicts and extreme food insecurity, Somalia is facing a severe humanitarian crisis. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification projected that between January and March 2023, 6.4 million Somalis would endure “crisis” or worse levels of food insecurity. Of these people, 1.9 million individuals would endure “emergency” levels of food insecurity and 322,00 would endure catastrophic levels of food insecurity. Further, through July 2023, about 1.8 million Somali children will suffer acute malnourishment. These statistics are likely to worsen as the year progresses. With the forecasted continuation of a dry spell, foreign aid to Somalia is critical.

Famine, Drought and Poverty

Somalia has faced humanitarian crises since the civil war broke out in the 1990s, continuing to materialize in the famines of 2008, 2011 and 2017.

Droughts and famine have only brought Somalis deeper into crisis as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated that 260,000 Somalis died on top of expected deaths between the years 2010 and 2012 alone. The population of the country is difficult to precisely calculate due to the mass movement of Somali refugees in response to food insecurity and conflict. In 2018, Somalia stood as the world’s fifth-highest source of refugees, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

According to 2014 data, Somalia had only about 0.02 doctors for every 1,000 citizens and a hospital bed density of 0.9 beds per 1,000 people as of 2017. Infectious diseases run rampant, such as hepatitis, typhoid, malaria and polio. Along with food insecurity, Somalia faces problems with water scarcity, deforestation, water contamination and improper waste disposal. Due to political instability and poor governance, terrorism and extremism are prevalent in Somalia. According to Somalia’s Voluntary National Review report of 2022, “Nearly seven out of 10 Somalis live in poverty, the sixth-highest rate in the region. Poverty averages at 69[%] among nomadic pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and [internally displaced persons]” while urban poverty stands at 60%.

US Foreign Aid to Somalia

The U.S. Department of State’s website has reported that U.S. foreign policy in Somalia strives “to promote political and economic stability, prevent the use of Somalia as a safe haven for international terrorism and alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by years of conflict, drought, flooding and poor governance.”

Since 2006, the U.S. has given more than $3 billion in humanitarian aid and $253 million in developmental aid since 2011. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) allocated $411 million in December 2022 to respond to the drought and prevent famine in Somalia. In total, the U.S. contributed $1.3 billion in 2022 alone.

More Action

The U.S. can still do more to aid in the Somali crisis. Stephen M. Schwartz, a foreign policy and diplomacy expert and “the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia since 1991,” recommends the United States,  in an article published in the Foreign Policy Research Institute, “apply a whole-of-government approach” to alleviate tensions and extremism, something that could strengthen relations and national security.

He also urges the U.S. to support Somalia by improving corruption, establishing an economic connection between Somalis and U.S. citizens and businesses, accelerating and expanding developmental assistance and continuing efforts for military reform, which would improve quality of life and lessen conflicts.

In November 2022, the United Nations requested 25% more financial aid for 2023 to better aid and continue to fund humanitarian operations globally, highlighting that people in Somalia are already facing hunger-induced mortality.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has also warned about the growing gap between those suffering and response, reporting that it is working to increase its food assistance to benefit 4.5 million people per month, but required “$327 million until January 2023 to continue saving lives.”

In December 2022, UNICEF appealed for $10.3 billion to help more than 173 million people globally, including 110 million children, which would cover the millions of children impacted by famine in Somalia. By increasing funding for this appeal, UNICEF can send sufficient resources to fully meet the humanitarian needs of each struggling country. UNICEF projects that it requires $272.3 million to help the 7.7 million Somalis in need through nutrition, health, education and social protection. As countries continue and increase support financially, foreign aid to Somalia can save the lives of vulnerable people in the country.

– Audrey Gaines
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Eritrea
Eritrea is an African country between Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti on the coast of the Red Sea. It is part of the geopolitical region in East Africa called the Horn of Africa or the Somali Peninsula. With a population of 6.21 million, according to The World Factbook, Eritrea remains one of the poorest countries on the continent, with a GDP of $2.37 billion.

Since its 30-year war for independence from Ethiopia ended in 1993, the dictatorial president Isaias Afwerki has run Eritrea. The government has not recognized any other political parties besides the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, which elected Afwerki in 1993. Afwerki serves as the head of government and the head of state, making both the executive and legislative decisions for the country.

As a result of the country’s sizable poverty rate—69%—and its totalitarian government, the Eritrean people are starving. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that more than 60% of the population does not receive enough nourishment. The following six facts about hunger in Eritrea illustrate the expanse and provide background for the debilitating hunger crisis in Eritrea.

6 Facts About Hunger in Eritrea

  1. Army Over Agriculture: The Eritrean government prioritizes defense over agricultural development, despite the widespread famine. All Eritreans, men and women, between the ages of 18 and 40 must enter indefinite national service, including compulsory military conscription. Conscription often lasts decades and extends far beyond 40 years old, despite formal Eritrean law limiting it to 18 months, according to Human Rights Watch. Citizens who could be contributing to the agricultural industry of Eritrea instead end up in military service. The food supply in Eritrea is largely dependent on food imports and aid because, according to the FAO, the contribution of agriculture to the trade balance is negative.
  2. COVID-19 Travel Ban: Not only does the Eritrean government neglect agricultural development, but it also lacks foreign trade. First, the nationwide lockdown in March 2020 limited all imported food. Then, the Eritrean government banned all domestic travel in December 2020, making informal trading and market selling impossible and exacerbating starvation.
  3. Family Farm to Family Table: According to The World Factbook, more than 80% of Eritreans work in subsistence agriculture, which is the act of farming just enough to feed one’s own family and leaving a little surplus for selling. Agriculture has little effect on the country’s economy because so little is left over, accounting for just 8% of the country’s GDP.
  4. Rejecting Aid: “Aspiring to be self-reliant,” as stated by the LA Times, the Eritrean government has ushered out aid programs, including the U.K.’s ACCORD, the U.S.’s Mercy Corps and Ireland’s Concern Worldwide. According to The New Humanitarian, the Eritrean government requested for the three international NGOs to stop operations and exit the country in 2006, having already expelled USAID in 2005.
  5. Russia-Ukraine War Effects: The Eastern European conflict has impacted food prices in Eastern Africa. Eritrea is especially vulnerable because it relies entirely on imports from Russia and Ukraine for wheat, in addition to soybeans and barley, according to the FAO. A deficit of these significant food resources continues to fuel widespread hunger across Eritrea.
  6. Child Malnutrition: The World Bank reports that child malnutrition is a tragic result of rampant hunger in Eritrea. One can calculate malnutrition using four factors: underweight, wasting, stunting and overweight, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 39.4% of children younger than five years old in Eritrea are underweight. About 14.6% of Eritrean children younger than five years old are wasting, which is the most severe form of malnutrition and results in an extremely low weight-to-height ratio. These children suffer from extremely weak immune systems, making them susceptible to disease and death. Furthermore, 52% of children younger than five years old experience stunting, which is a result of malnutrition that occurs when UNICEF defines a child as a “low height-for-age.” This inhibits children from harnessing their fullest physical and cognitive capability. Finally, more than half of all deaths of children younger than five years old are related to malnutrition. These large figures demonstrate how hunger in Eritrea has a detrimental effect on the young.

The Good News

The six facts about hunger in Eritrea featured above illustrate the rampant starvation, but luckily international aid organizations have not abandoned their cause, despite the government requesting their departure. UNICEF, for example, has a plan for humanitarian action in 2023.

The organization is seeking $14.7 million from the U.S. government to provide humanitarian services to treat malnutrition, thirst, lack of access to education and poverty in Eritrea. UNICEF’s predicted impact will help 40,000 wasted children, administer health care for 600,000 women and children, grant learning supplies for 200,000 children and provide water access to 100,000 Eritreans.

Eritrea has struggled with extreme poverty and hunger ever since its liberation from Ethiopia in 1993. From travel restrictions and military conscription to child malnutrition and rejection of foreign aid, Eritrea has a long way to go. However, as COVID-19 transportation bans have loosened, there is an aspiration across the world to help the Eritrean people. Organizations like UNICEF have committed themselves to providing aid to Eritrea. Furthermore, the literacy rate is higher than ever at 76.6%, according to the U.N. – a huge leap from the 52% literacy rate in 2002. With great progress in education, there is hope for homegrown agents of change to further Eritrea’s development.

– Skye Connors
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Ghana
In Ghana, both the incidence and intensity of child poverty have steadily decreased in recent years. From 2008 to 2014, for example, multidimensional child poverty in Ghana dropped by 11.6% in urban areas and 11.4% in rural areas while severity reduced by 0.1% and 3.0% in urban and rural areas respectively. Despite these successes, however, it is still a significant problem that deserves much attention. Many Ghanaian children still face health complications, lack of education and child labor, which the U.N. and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) alike must address head-on.

General Data

According to 2014 data, multidimensional child poverty in Ghana stood at about 34.7% in urban areas and 75.9% in rural areas. Also of great concern is the severity of child poverty, which stood at about 43.7% and 52.3% in urban and rural areas respectively. A January 2020 UNICEF study also found that 73.4% of children in Ghana suffer from multidimensional poverty, experiencing at least three dimensions of deprivation. These dimensions include nutrition, health, learning and development, child protection, water, sanitation, housing and information.

The multidimensional poverty rate is greatest among children under the age of 5 at around eight in 10, whereas the rate for children aged 5-17 is about seven in 10. Many Ghanaian children are disadvantaged financially as well — 28.2% of Ghanaian children are considered monetarily poor based on their family’s income. Again, the statistics are generally worse in rural than in urban areas.


Multidimensional poverty in Ghana leads to poor health in children. According to UNICEF, “One child in every five in Ghana experiences stunted growth during the first thousand days of life caused by inadequate nourishment, frequent illness and an unhealthy environment,” affecting their development physically, socially and cognitively. Additionally, a lack of knowledge, skills and monetary resources to prepare nutritious meals for children means children’s diets typically lack diversity. Many children also go unvaccinated, leaving them susceptible to diseases.


The deprivations that come with child poverty in Ghana also impact children’s education, as “[c]lasses are overcrowded, water and sanitation facilities are inadequate and trained teachers and school books are in short supply,” according to UNICEF. Children with disabilities are especially impacted as one in every five disabled children from the ages of 6-24 has never received an education due to discrimination. Many of these issues have worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many schools to shut down, further depriving millions of children of proper education.

Child Labor

Child labor is another factor affecting children in Ghana. Estimates indicate that about 21% of children in Ghana aged 5-17 are involved in child labor, with 14% of those children laboring in hazardous working conditions. About 79.2% of working children in Ghana work in agriculture, primarily in cocoa production, where many face health risks such as musculoskeletal disorders, head injuries and fractures, among others.

While child labor in Ghana has long been a point of concern, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly exacerbated it as school shutdowns and widespread unemployment forced many more children into the workforce. According to interviews of several Ghanaian children by Human Rights Watch, many of these children faced exposure to dangerous substances and chemicals, including mercury. A number of children did not even receive payment for their services.

The Bright Side: Progress and Aid

Amid persistent child poverty in Ghana, several NGOs are stepping up to provide much-needed aid. World Vision International, for example, has worked with communities within the country to reduce poverty and injustices.

According to its annual National Impact Report from 2021, the organization has provided aid through a number of means, including providing more than 20,000 school supplies, such as books, pencils and backpacks to 7,180 children. The organization has also built water systems to provide clean drinking and bathing water for more than 38,000 children.

WVI also helped provide various health and training programs to educate Ghanaian parents on nutrition and “appropriate feeding practices” and taught more than 49,000 community members strategies for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as malaria and diarrhea.

Onechild Ghana came about in 2002 and seeks to provide educational opportunities for thousands of children by providing resources from fundamental infrastructure (classrooms and dorms with running water, toilets and electricity) to funds for vocational schools so that students can learn subjects such as electricals, masonry, math, English and health. Onechild Ghana currently supports more than 1,000 children across 14 different vocational schools in Ghana.

Such support from NGOs, along with coordinated plans by international government bodies such as UNICEF and others, can make significant improvements in the lives of Ghanaian children and reverse the course of child poverty in Ghana.

– Adam Cvik
Photo: Wikipedia Commons