Hunger in Rwanda: The Good and the Bad
In Rwanda, poverty and hunger continue to pose a major challenge for the rapidly developing country. Based on the UNDP Human Development Index for 2011, the country ranks 166 out of 187 while maintaining one of the highest population densities in Africa. The large population puts a strain on proper healthcare as well as the already limited natural resources of the country. Although the government of Rwanda, together with the World Food Program, has found that nutrition levels and food security have been improving over the last seven years, the situation is still far from optimal.

Some of the major challenges Rwanda faces with regard to poverty and hunger could be solved by foreign aid investments or direct cash donors from developed nations and foreign aid organizations. 83.7% of the population survives on $2 a day or less, and without proper disposable income, it is impossible to support families with proper food, water, and nutrition.

Up to 90% of the population engages in subsistence agriculture. This, combined with the extreme crowding and limited access to land, makes subsistence farming inefficient.

WFP’s country director for Rwanda, Jan Delbaere, weighs in on the topic, explaining that “during 2012, WFP bought 23,000 metric tons of food in Rwanda, mostly for operations in neighboring countries. This is a clear sign that Rwanda is more than self-sufficient for its staple crops. However, households with only a small area of land for cultivation simply cannot afford to access enough nutritious food to live healthy, active lives or to provide for their basic needs from their land alone.”

The WFP remains committed to supporting the government in Rwanda to increase food security and food production programs, and the country itself has chosen to sign the “Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) compact and to secure funding, thus confirming malnutrition and food insecurity as one of the government’s key priorities.” In spite of its food insecurity, Rwanda’s GDP has been growing by 7.2% annually since 2010. With proper investment and aid, these issues can be solved, and the country set further on the right track to stability.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: WFP,Hope in Action
Photo: ESB Blog

According to the World Food Program, there are 870 million people that are living with chronic hunger worldwide. The estimated cost of feeding those people is USD 30 billion, a fraction of what the United States allots to the Military and War budgets. While there has been tremendous progress in reducing hunger worldwide, today one in eight people do not get enough food to lead a healthy, active life.

Malnutrition is the number one health risk across the globe, but it is entirely preventable. Listed below are five ways to reduce poverty and help eradicate malnutrition and chronic hunger.

1. Donate to a cause or organization that will make a difference.

2. Learn the facts, spread the word, and build buzz. The more people that are involved and dedicated to ending world hunger, the better. Great sites to surf for facts are UNICEF, USAID and WFP and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

3. Call or write to Congress! A phone call or letter to state representatives and congressmen can persuade them to support bills that will protect and reduce hunger around the world. Learn how to contact state leaders at The Borgen Project.

4. Volunteer. Whether you have the time or the money, volunteering is a great way to fight the good fight and end world hunger.

5. Fundraise! Hold a garage sale, a non-event or start a fundraising website to generate awareness and funds.

– Kira Maixner
Source: WFP, The Borgen Project
Photo: SCH

Eva Longoria Impressed by World Food ProgramActress Eva Longoria, best known for her role in Desperate Housewives, visited rural Honduras this March with philanthropist Howard G. Buffett (the eldest son of Warren Buffet). The actress wanted to see first-hand the work of the World Food Program (WFP) and its Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative – to which the Howard G. Buffett Foundation is a major donor. Eva Longoria impressed by World Food Program, especially sighted the P4P ability to tailor development practices and policies for each community differently, as “there’s not a template for the world” for achieving success.

As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, WFP is also a major food buyer. In 2012, WFP bought over $1 billion worth of food – more than 75 percent in developing countries. The P4P program is a logical agenda for the WFP – its mission is to increase the WFP procurement of food through local/small scale farmers, thereby increasing rural development with the WFP’s buying power.

Through the initial pilot program in 20 countries, P4P will provide greater incentive to small farmers to invest in their production, as they will have the stability of a reliable buyer and receive a fair price for their crops with WFP’s promise to buy their crops. It is envisioned that with the WFP stabilizing and developing small-businesses, then local governments and other private companies will also start to buy on a smaller level, further increasing demand and development. Farmers are learning how to increase crop quantities and quality, how to negotiate markets, pricing and contracts, and improve their businesses. P4P also invests in capacity building in areas such as post-harvest handling and storage, which in turn yields sustainability through boosting national food security reserves.

The five years pilot P4P, 2009 – 2013, rests on three pillars:

1. Demand: Through P4P, WFP tests innovative ways to buy staple food and promote marketing opportunities for smallholder farmers.

2. Supply: P4P links WFP’s demand with the expertise and resources of partners who support farmers to achieve better yields, reduce their losses after the harvest and improve the quality of their staple crops.

3. Learning and Sharing: P4P will gather and share lessons on effective approaches to connect smallholder farmers to markets in a sustainable way and share them widely with stakeholders.

A wide range of partners regionally, nationally, and globally supports the P4P program, with the US being a key donor.

 – Mary Purcell

Source: FLickr, WFP

Take a Quiz - Feed a Family in SyriaBy taking this short quiz, participants can literally feed a family in Syria. Sponsored and facilitated by the UN World Food Program (WFP), the five questions survey will help you learn more about the crisis in Syria and how the WFP is responding.

The questions range from the cost of living expenses to refugee status. One question asks, “Of all the refugees now living in Jordan how many are women & children?” Answer: of this particular Jordanian population of 60,000 refugees – 75% are women & children. The WFP provides nutritious ready-to-eat meals for anyone in need.

The UN has just counted the one-millionth refugee coming out of Syria. More than 70,000 people have died and two million have been internally displaced since the conflict began almost two years ago. Starting as demonstrations against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the protests quickly turned violent as opponents of Mr. Assad took up arms against the brutal crackdown coming from the authorities. There is still no resolution in sight.

Find out more – and feed a family in Syria for a day.

– Mary Purcell

Source: WFP, BBC
Photo: unostamps

Malnutrition is not necessarily about not having enough to eat, but rather not having the right minerals and vitamins in what you eat. This World Food Program (WFP) video says everything you need to know about malnutrition – in two minutes.

The cycle of malnutrition starts in the womb, malnourished mothers give birth to children with health problems who grow up to be adults with health problems, then raising the next generation, and so on. The goal of the WFP is not just to treat malnutrition, but to also help it from happening in the first place. WFP realizes that it costs half as much to help a child under two, than it does to wait until the child is older and in need of greater assistance.

In raw figures, WFP indicates it would cost $3.6 billion to provide the special foods needed to treat all the moderately malnourished infants and toddlers in the world. Seemingly a large sum of money, but it is less than half of the $10 billion that Europeans spend on ice cream annually. Thus, the amount needed to treat malnourished is attainable.

Relatively, the fight against malnutrition is not that daunting; the world has the ability and the means, “the challenge is to do it.”

– Mary Purcell

Source: Youtube

michael-kors-joins-the-united-nations-to-end-world-hungerMichael Kors joins the United Nations‘ initiative to try and end world hunger. Michael Kors recently launched a PSA, or a public service announcement, stating he would raise awareness and money for the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP). Together, Michael Kors and the United Nations are committed to a long-term campaign to attain the goal of a hunger-free world. Michael Kors has promised to take a large part in various awareness-raising events, as well as separate events to engage in fundraising for the United Nation’s program.

The United Nation’s World Food Program aims to primarily help mothers and children in need and to help provide sustenance and other assistance when needed. The first initiative planned, as Michael Kors joins the United Nations’ goal of ending world hunger, is focused on a pair of unisex watches. Kors recently announced the launch of a new product, the two watches, with the slogan “Watch Hunger Stop.” Through this program, every single watch sold will help feed 100 children.

Kors commented, “I am so proud to be joining the World Food Programme in one of the greatest global fights of our time – the battle to end hunger.” His words reflect his excitement to be a part of the initiative. As Michael Kors joins the United Nations’ battle against world hunger, and he will certainly do his best to make it happen. WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin made a similar comment reflecting the company’s excitement to have Michael Kors aboard. Although the global fashion community is not the most obvious audience of the world hunger campaign, reaching so many people will certainly help the cause tremendously.

To watch Kors’ official PSA, look here.

– Corina Balsamo

Sources: World Food Programme, WFP News
Photo Source: Haute Living