Posts

Hunger in Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America, sharing a border with Mexico and Honduras. Active volcanoes border the nation, carving high mountains and desert valleys into the landscape. Despite its beautiful scenery, however, Guatemala is considered to be one of the most unequal societies in the world. With a population of over 16 million people, nearly half of Guatemala’s population struggles to afford even the most basic of food items, and according to the World Food Program, two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2 a day. As a result, Guatemalan citizens continue to flee to neighboring countries, seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. Here are five things you should know about the impact of hunger in Guatemala.

5 Things to Know About Hunger in Guatemala

  1. Changing weather patterns cause food shortages in Guatemala. According to National Geographic, unpredictable weather patterns were what induced a devastating 2018 drought that was determined to be one of the worst in Guatemala’s history. Farmers rely on consistent weather patterns, and just a few unexpected changes in rainfall can spell disaster for food supplies. Guatemala has suffered from several long and sustained periods of drought over the past decade, and continues to experience increasing numbers of hurricanes and natural disasters. Severe El Niño storms and droughts are increasing in their intensity, forcing many families to flee their homes in hope of a better life.
  2. Children are the most vulnerable. A recent article by Reuters reports a 24% increase in malnutrition in children aged five years or younger. Even during the peak of the rain season, Guatemalan farmers are struggling to keep staple crops like wheat and grain safe from dry heat. As periodic drought continues to weaken Guatemala’s peak rain season, children experience the brunt of the impact, with their families are unable to afford food for daily meals.
  3. The government is working to improve nutrition. For some children, school meals may be the only ones that they receive. To address child malnutrition, the Guatemalan government passed a new law to increase investment in school meals for children. This law increases the reach of its school meal program to all of its departments, benefiting over 2.5 million school children across the country. Additionally, this expansion increases the economic impact of these nutritional meals, requiring 50% of the food for the program to be purchased from local farmers, in order to bolster local businesses.
  4. International organizations are focusing on female empowerment and education initiatives to fight hunger. The World Bank is working to target female farmers and connect them with markets for fresh food, including school feeding initiatives. By empowering these female farmers in Guatemala, the country is simultaneously increasing income equality and replenishing the food supply for impoverished children. Pilot programs by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization have shown success in strengthening these ties between female farmers and schools, ultimately keeping children in education and empowering local farmers. Overall, the programs have overwhelming public support, with 95% of school children enjoying the new menu implementations.
  5. USAID is contributing to Guatemalan efforts to reduce hunger. In addition to empowering local farmers and strengthening education initiatives, USAID currently oversees three main initiatives to increase the effectiveness of medical, educational and economic measures combating hunger in Guatemala – Feed the Future, the Global Health Initiative and the Global Climate Change Initiative. These initiatives include programs to expand the current Guatemalan infrastructure in partnership with nonprofit organizations, increase access to basic health care for citizens in rural areas, provide education and community outreach to convey the importance of a nutritious diet and streamline access to medical care and treatment for malnutrition.

The Guatemalan government and international organizations are working collaboratively to address the serious problem of nationwide hunger. While current projects are seeing substantial progress, sustained efforts will be needed as climate change continues to increase the influence of erratic weather patterns.

Amanda Ozaki-Laughon
Photo: Unsplash

Hunger in Norway
The nation of Norway utilizes comprehensive social service programs in order to provide medical care, education and pension to its citizens. These policies have assisted in maintaining a low rate of poverty and hunger in Norway. In the previous decade, Norway has experienced an increase in labor and refugee immigration. Though only 3% of the nation’s citizens suffer from food insecurity, immigrants often face hardships in gaining adequate nutrition.

Immigrant Hunger

Asylum seekers are defined as individuals who are forced to immigrate to another country and await refugee status. In Norway, such individuals often represent the countries of Syria, Turkey and Eritrea. The nation experienced a steady increase in refugee applicants beginning in 2006, peaking at 30,470 applicants in 2015 and declining in the following years. In 2017, Norway granted each asylum seeker 250 euros per month while they awaited approval. However, a typical adult in Norway spends 250 euros each month on food alone, and food-related costs account for only 11% of an average family’s total spending.

Language barriers, low income, unfamiliar cuisine customs and religious standards also contribute to immigrant hunger in Norway. For instance, a study conducted in 2014 discovered that immigrant women shopping for food in Norway largely purchased what appeared “familiar or safe” due to lack of knowledge about meal preparation and ingredients that would affect religious customs. Along with acquiring monetary means to purchase food, lack of nutritional savvy poses a barrier to sustaining a healthy diet.

School lunches also pose a threat to immigrant food security. While equal access to free public education is a norm, school lunches must either be purchased or provided. A study analyzing the influences of ethnicity, financial constraints and food consumption revealed that immigrant families must often make small sacrifices to supply the standard packed lunch of bread and meat. Thus, the inability to provide packed lunches contributes to hunger in Norway among school-aged children.

Immigrant Statistics

  • A 2018 study found that individuals with an immigrant background were three times more likely to experience economic difficulties and inadequate housing.
  • The same study revealed that individuals with an immigrant background were twice as likely to possess insufficient income, further exacerbating immigrant hunger in Norway.
  • In 2019, a study focusing on asylum seekers found that 93% were food insecure and 78% were food insecure with hunger.
  • Of families with children in the same study, 20% encountered child hunger.

Welfare Policies

Generous social policies and relatively equal wage distribution are trademarks of Norway’s welfare model. Such policies, however, are contingent upon a qualified labor market and a high rate of employment in order to generate the economic stability required to fund the country’s programs.

When considering immigrants, this model presents negatives and positives. Negatively, integration into the labor market has proved difficult among immigrant populations due to differences in qualifications, educational backgrounds, professional experiences and instances of discrimination. Positively, educational systems and equal wage distribution provide foundations for crafting a prosperous life.

An article published in the New Political Science journal in 2018 revealed that strict immigration policies of right-wing populist groups (exemplified in Norway by the Progress Party) have contributed to the groups’ recent successes across Europe. Debates between the coalition government of the Progress and Conservative Parties and the Labor Party reveal a wide range of stances. Opinions vary, from tightening the immigration policy to celebrating the increased economic productivity and diversity.

These debates concerning how to address the new realities of immigration have the potential to affect the Norwegian welfare model. Specifically, these beliefs could impact the educational system frameworks, training for employment and qualifications for government assistance.

Norwegian Humanitarian Initiatives

Domestically, a humanitarian foundation called Caritas provides career services, housing accommodations and healthcare counseling to immigrant families in Resource Centers across five major Norwegian cities.

In 2019, the Norwegian government developed an action plan titled “Food, People and the Environment” to promote global food security through sustainable food development in accordance with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. This action plan is an integrated governmental approach that addresses malnutrition and inefficient agricultural practices as a part of Norwegian foreign and development policies.

Additionally, Norway has worked with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to utilize its knowledge of aquaculture to promote responsible fishing practices among developing countries. This partnership also works to combat deforestation, provide emergency relief and establish prosperous legislative frameworks.

 

As a leader in foreign assistance and domestic development, Norway exhibits strategies for promoting food security. Though there is a relatively low rate of hunger in Norway, it remains necessary to resolve immigrant food insecurity, and this nation has taken steps to do so.

Suzi Quigg
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Fiji
The island of Fiji is located in the South Pacific Ocean and has a population of more than 895,000. A vibrant native population traverses the tropical climate of Fiji. The economy is dependent on agricultural products and tourism. Farmers cultivate bananas, cocoa, pineapple and taro root to supplement trade between nations, and commercial fishing and sugarcane are similarly important exports. Despite the high amount of trade between bordering islands and nations, 28% of native Fijians live below the national poverty line.

Relocation on Limited Land 

Many citizens of Fiji make a living in the boat-making or fishing industry; as a result, relocation threatens the livelihood of a small business economy. Rising water levels often force villages to move. Changing weather patterns have caused widening rivers and altered seasons, contributing to the issue. “Where there was rain, there is now sun,” reports a native islander who recently relocated because his village was flooded.

In the next ten years, an estimated 676 villages will be forced to move, which will increase the number of unemployed islanders. As unemployment increases, those who live above the poverty line are at risk of falling below the global margin of $1.90 per day. The relocation of one village costs an estimated $445,000.

Education and Health Care

Fiji consists of 100 inhabited islands, a number that is drastically decreasing due to the rising water levels. Implementation of primary healthcare practices and basic amenity improvements in villages provide locals with clean water and permanent housing. The adoption of these principles by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund sought to improve Fiji’s situation between 1970 and 2000. In the past 20 years, though, the flow of central health support from the capital city of Suva into villages has slowed due to a limited number of health professionals.

Previous Health Minister Jona Senilagakali states, “…the government did not schedule workers to go to all communities in all the islands to monitor the project. And health workers were not encouraged to work more with the communities to improve their health standards.”  The slow progress of Fiji’s modern health initiative is also a direct impact of “brain drain.” This occurs when educated individuals emigrate for higher-paid positions. Proper education in Fiji is also progressing rather slowly. Though secondary enrollment and literacy rates are high, the university system in Fiji lacks resources and government funding. Improving higher education largely depends on the willingness of the government to provide more aid to the people.

Prospects of Hope

Last year Fiji saw high prospects in the global market of reduced unemployment and the lowest amount of extreme poverty in the country’s history. The percentage of those living below the global poverty line, currently 0.5%, continues to fall as a result of incentives by the United Nations. In 2013, Fiji received honors from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization for a substantial decline in poverty and hunger among the population.

– Natalie Williams
Photo: Pixabay

 

Hunger in GeorgiaThe Republic of Georgia was one of the most prosperous nations in the Soviet Union. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union also collapsed Georgia’s prosperity. Conflicts and economic deficits ensued and hunger in Georgia became an issue.

A report by Food Security and Nutrition in the South Caucasus stated that Georgia “cannot ensure the population of the country with stable and high-quality or adequate food, even in non-crisis situations.” Market supply-and-demand largely dictates food provision, relying on the physical presence of food in shops and markets. With 70 percent of food being imported into the country, food insecurity and the quality of goods are ongoing issues for citizens.

Though there is economic growth in the country, it is largely unrelated to food-related industries such as agriculture. Agricultural stagnation contributes to the issue of food insecurity as there is no dependable market. More than 50 percent of the population derives income and sustains themselves from the agriculture industry that only accounts for 10 percent of the nation’s aggregate GDP.

There are a few organizations that aim to minimize and eliminate the extent of hunger in Georgia.

The first is Action Against Hunger. They have been involved with hunger in Georgia since 1994, helping 2,754 people gain economic self-sufficiency in 2016 alone. This economic self-sufficiency can help individuals and families avoid hunger in the current food economy and beyond. The organization does this through a focus on the development of long-term food security programs. In at-risk communities, Action Against Hunger identifies income-generating activities and provides training in conflict resolution as well as encourages community participation in water, sanitation and hygiene programs.

Another organization is the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Their work in Georgia started in 1995 and is concentrated on six priority areas: post-conflict livelihoods and food security, animal health, plant protection, food safety and consumer protection and forestry and fisheries. Overall, FAO puts an emphasis on utilizing natural resources and developing legislation for food safety and trade standards to help the impoverished of Georgia.

Heifer International is another organization that has been supporting Georgians since 1999. They have implemented specific projects in Georgia and within the Caucasus region. In 2007, they launched the Chiauri Dairy Farm Rehabilitation Project and Khashmi Dairy Farm Rehabilitation Project in the Kakheti region.

These organizations, as well as others, raise awareness for Georgians and encourage reform in the country so that widespread hunger does not remain a concern in the country.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr