Significant progress has been made on the issue of hunger in Oman, including the country already meeting eight of its Millennium Development Goals. The amount of extreme poverty and hunger has been cut in half in Oman since 1990.

The World Food Program defines hunger as undernourishment, or chronic undernourishment. Undernourishment is the result of chronic hunger, that can result in stunted growth in children, the loss of mental and physical abilities, and even death. Undernourishment affects one in six people around the world today.

Another unfortunate result of hunger is referred to as the “under five mortality rate” or the proportion of children who die before reaching the age of five. Hunger plays a large part in this rate, and Oman reduced it’s under five mortality rate by two-thirds since 1990. In fact, the percentage of children under five who were underweight was 9.7 percent in 2014, compared to 23 percent in 1995.

Maternal health is also a big beneficiary of the fight against hunger. As mentioned, undernourishment can have drastic effects on the health and livelihood of individuals, let alone those who are eating for two. Maternal mortality is a huge problem in countries where poverty and hunger rates are high, and Oman was no exception. Since 1990, the maternal mortality rate has been reduced by 75 percent.

Oman has made such strides in the past two decades, that it is now on the other side of the coin. In 2014, Oman donated $1 million to the World Food Program to be used to fight hunger in Mauritania and Senegal, two countries in Africa that are plagued by drought and constant violence.

Success stories like this on hunger in Oman should be built upon for future progression across the board. Oman was near the bottom, with poverty levels and hunger levels affecting the lives of its citizens. Thanks to collaboration from other countries throughout the world, and the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals, Oman has come closer to stabilization than ever before.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Somalia
Situated on the Horn of Africa and plagued by a history of instability, Somalia has fallen victim to crisis after crisis. The end result has created massive hunger in Somalia. Clan warfare, droughts, famines, and the presence of terror group al-Shabab have left much of the country vulnerable and without food.

10 Facts about Hunger in Somalia:

  1. Most recently, hunger in Somalia has worsened due to a two-year drought. Of the country’s 12.3 million people, 6.2 million are severely food insecure. In addition, almost three million cannot reach their daily food requirements.
  2. This is not the first hunger crisis to occur in the country. In 2011, an estimated quarter-million people died due to a severe famine.
  3. Somalia is not the only country currently suffering from a hunger crisis. Hunger levels worldwide are at their highest in decades. Four countries, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, are at risk of famine.
  4. Somalia has been attempting to gain stability since the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991. The country has been slowly rebuilding itself, with the establishment of a transitional government in 2012 and the election of a new president on February 8.
  5. Somalia has an infant mortality rate of 13.7 percent, the third-highest in the world. Malnutrition is largely to blame, according to UNICEF.

  1. The situation is worse in rural areas, as poor rainfalls have resulted in failing crops and water shortage. As a result, nearly three-quarters of the country’s livestock has died, which harms pastoralists’ livelihoods.
  2. The drought has reduced maize and sorghum harvests to about 25 percent of past averages. Food prices in Somalia have reached near-record levels.
  3. Hunger in Somalia is also high among internally displaced populations (IDPs). Approximately 638,000 of the 1,200,000 IDPs in Somalia are struggling to feed themselves. IDPs are on the move and suffer from loss of income and reduced access to social services.
  4. Somalia has one of the world’s lowest school enrollment rates. Just 42 percent of children — 36 percent are girls — are in school. The U.N. World Food Program operates a program that provides free school meals as a way to both improve attendance and address hunger in Somalia.
  5. “Humanitarian assistance has saved lives in the drought-affected north over the past year, but as the crisis spreads we have no time to lose,” Laurent Bukera, country director of the U.N. World Food Program told the U.N. News Service. The U.N. issued an appeal for 2017 for $864 million to provide assistance to Somalis. The U.N. World Food Program has also put together a $26 million assistance plan.

Hunger in Somalia has a detrimental impact on communities and future generations. The conflict hinders the country’s progress toward establishing stability. However, understanding the facts and conditions surrounding hunger in Somalia is an essential first step in becoming a part of the solution.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

Somali Refugees
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Somalia “remains the epicenter of one of the world’s largest displacement crises.” Of the approximately 11 million people living in Somalia, well over one million are internally displaced while another one million Somalis are registered as refugees in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Somali refugees have suffered the consequences of a “failed state,” enduring decades of political turmoil, severe drought and the presence of extremist groups.

Because Somalia is one of the countries specified in President Trump’s executive order regarding the immigration ban, it’s important to understand the implications of the country’s situation. Here are 10 facts about Somali refugees:

  1. Since 1991, when President Mohammed Siad Barre fled the country to make way for a power struggle between two warring clans, Somalia has lacked a stable government. Fighting among warlords and rebel groups has made it extremely difficult to restore peace in the country.
  2. It has been difficult to provide Somalia with the international aid that it needs. The country became so dangerous that the U.N. pulled its international aid workers from Somalia in 2001. In 2005, the U.N. World Food Program shipments to Somalia were stopped because they were being seized by rebel forces. Today, it is still difficult to ensure that aid shipments do not fall into the wrong hands.
  3. The total number of native-born Somalis living outside their country more than doubled between 1990 and 2015. The number increased from approximately 850,000 to two million.
  4. Today, there are close to 150,000 Somali immigrants and refugees living in the U.S., and under the Obama administration, nearly 43,000 Somali refugees came to the U.S.
  5. This decade, more than 260,000 people have died in Somalia as the result of severe drought, which has contributed to a lack of clean water and the disintegration of agriculture across the country. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated in a 2016 report that one in 12 Somalis struggles to meet their needs regarding food and water. The report also stated that approximately 305,000 children under the age of five were suffering from malnutrition.
  6. Somalia’s neighboring countries host the largest number of its refugees. According to data collected by the UNHCR, there are just under 330,000 Somali refugees registered in Kenya, 241,000 in Ethiopia and 255,000 in Yemen. Thousands more have found temporary living situations in Tanzania, Uganda, Djibouti and Eritrea.
  7. Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world, was home to more than half a million Somalis in 2015. The camp is located in northeastern Kenya and was initially set up as a temporary living situation for refugees fleeing conflict in Somalia and Sudan. Unfortunately for many, the camp has become more permanent. Refugees are often stuck in camps for several decades, unable to emigrate to another country or return to their own. Kenya now plans to close the camp as it has become a breeding ground for extremist groups.
  8. Islamist group Al-Shabaab has a strong presence in Somalia, initially gaining support by promising safety and security to citizens. Al-Shabaab’s credibility quickly declined due to violence and the denial of Western aid. Al-Shabaab’s presence in Somalia has contributed heavily to the refugee crisis, committing senseless acts of violence that contribute further to the chaos.
  9. According to the U.S. federal budget proposal for 2017, Somalia will receive $116.8 million in funding for security assistance and even less in humanitarian aid.
  10. Somali refugees around the world have been resettled and have succeeded in creating productive and successful lives in Western countries. Apart from the many Somalis living in the U.S., around 280,000 Somali immigrants live in European countries.

Somalia continues to be one of the most prominent sources of the world’s refugees, as it has been for several decades. The call for humanitarian assistance and the need for development in the country is at an all-time high, especially considering the possibility that, under the new administration, Somali refugees may not be allowed to enter the United States.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

Food_AidAs humanitarian crises grow across the world, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is increasing food aid with one simple solution: bag redesigns.

Before getting into the solution, it is imperative to diagnose the problem first.

The world currently faces six qualified food emergencies, as stated by the World Food Program. Between civil wars and the environmental effects of the recent El Nino, civilians in Syria, Iraq, southern Africa, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen are all in dire need of food assistance. If lives are to be saved, agencies like USAID must increase food aid.

USAID is considered to be one of the world’s most significant food aid donors. Yearly, it donates around $1.5 billion in rice, sorghum and wheat to countries in need all around the world. These shipments are ordered to port in one of three chosen locations: Djibouti, Ethiopia or South Africa. However, under law, this food aid must be bought within the U.S. and half of all aid must be transported via U.S. ships. Realistically, this process takes around four to six months to ship. This donation process can be tedious and, in emergency situations when food is needed in less than a week (like the Haitian earthquake), deadly.

Not only this, but it is estimated that one percent of food donation cargo spoils along the way. While the percentage appears insignificant, the repercussions are fierce. One percent of USAID’s food donation is equivalent to 10,000 tons of food, costing up to $15 million. And so, when one percent spoils, an estimated 200,000 families will go hungry for an entire month. For some, one percent is the difference between life and death.

Alongside the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USAID sought out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to tackle this mission last year. MIT researchers will assess how food aid is packaged in present-day and then research alternative packaging systems that will both delay the food aid’s expiration and decrease the cost of making the package. Should they find an alternative, USAID and MIT could be responsible for increasing food aid around the world.

MIT is currently testing bags that will avoid water damage and slow insect infestation, two leading causes of food aid spoiling. Currently, these newly design bags are carrying $1.7 million worth of food aid to Djibouti and South Africa. Only time will tell if USAID and MIT have found success in the redesigns. Regardless, for 200,000 families, the world of food aid is growing a little brighter.

Brenna Yowell

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in ZimbabweThe Republic of Zimbabwe, a landlocked nation in southern Africa, was once known as one of the best in health and education on the continent.

However, between 1990 and 2003 the political and economic climate began to decline, causing the rates of poverty in Zimbabwe to more than double from 25 percent to 63 percent.

While urban areas of Zimbabwe face the threat of unemployment, it is rural Zimbabweans that feel the presence of poverty and food scarcity the most acutely. More specifically it is Zimbabwe’s rural farmers that need reinforcement to start back on the path towards development.

In some areas rates of poverty in Zimbabwe have grown to exceed 90 percent. These include Lupane, Gokwe South and Mudzi. The cause of this can be traced back to the many problems plaguing the agricultural industry.

Food shortages are an on-going threat for both rural and urban populations. Even those with access to food are not always able to afford it; around 96 percent of those living in rural farming areas are forced to get by on less than one dollar per day.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe is most easily explained by dividing it into the two main subsets of large-scale production and smaller local farms. Large-scale farms produce many cash crops such as tobacco and grain, which at one point were being harvested in enough excess to export around the world. The more scattered, rural farms grow mostly maize, as it is an important crop to feed people in towns and villages across the country.

Government sanctioned land reform jeopardized the employment of more than 400,000 people in these rural farming areas, affecting the economy by preventing new investment and in turn discouraging budding enterprises from flourishing.

Scorching temperatures in an area already prone to drought has made a difficult situation even more of a challenge for the farmers of Zimbabwe.

With such an amalgam of obstacles for rural farmers, it is estimated that almost 20 percent of the population has fled the country since the 1990s. Many others are afflicted with HIV/AIDs and unable to work, further contributing to the slowed production of food.

UNICEF estimates that one-third of Zimbabwe’s children suffer from malnutrition as a direct result of these issues. Many organizations and relief groups have come together to impact the lives of Zimbabweans. Most notably, the United Nations and World Food Program were at one point feeding over half of the country.

While the risk of recessing further is always a possibility, aid such as this provides Zimbabweans the opportunity to put effort into other aspects of life besides basic survival.

A group called TechnoServe put together Agro Initiative Zimbabwe in 2011 with funding from the Department of International Development. This initiative provides innovative solutions for the agricultural industry impacting 40 businesses and 54,000 smallholder farms.

This program and efforts like it have the potential to get Zimbabwe on a brighter path so long as it receives the necessary support. Donations and volunteers matter at all levels, from home and overseas in order to keep lawmakers and leaders focused on what is important.

The cycle of poverty in Zimbabwe can be reversed and Zimbabwe has many great organizations on its side as well as hardworking and passionate citizens striving to do what they can for the good of their nation. Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) and many other strategic programs are hard at work to make Zimbabwe and the rest of the world a better place.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Cambodia

In 2011 heavy rain caused one of the worst floods in the history of Cambodia. The severe weather inundated 70 percent of the country leaving a lasting impression that is still felt today. In addition to the sheer destruction of communities and loss of human life, one of the worst backlashes was the wiping away of fields of crops resulting in widespread malnutrition and hunger.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), “Cambodia produces a surplus of paddy rice for export, household access to sufficient and nutritious food remains a serious challenge.” This problem directly correlates to the high level of poverty in the country. About 90 percent of the poor population in Cambodia live in rural areas. These individuals are the most affected by hunger.

Currently, two-thirds of the country’s 1.6 million rural households face seasonal food shortages each year. The practice of farming in Cambodia is traditional and with that comes along the problem that productivity is very low because it takes longer and it’s a more tedious practice of farming.

The numbers in regards to rates of malnutrition in Cambodia are extremely high, almost 40 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished and suffer from stunting. Within that 40 percent over 28 percent are underweight. Children aren’t the only ones suffering from malnutrition and hunger as one in every five women is underweight.

Although the fact and figures on hunger in Cambodia are alarming, aid is being provided. In December 2015, Action against Hunger with the help of Google launched Nutritional Resilience, a project that takes an integrated, multi-dimensional approach to implementing sustainable solutions to undernutrition.

The WFP is also helping by working with the Royal Government of Cambodia reaching over 1 million food-insecure people annually in the rural areas through its 2011-2016 Country Program which includes providing food-based safety nets in the sectors of education, nutrition and livelihoods.

Mariana Camacho

Photo: Flickr

Search for a President in Haiti
The Haitian government would have an arguable point to debate with the U.S. regarding their humanitarian assistance. Before they negotiate, however, Haitians must complete the search for a president.

Contentions are rising over a joint project between the USDA and UN World Food Programme (WFP) that is providing 500 metric tons of peanuts to the Haitian people. The “Stocks for Food Program”, as it is called, is distributing these peanuts to school-aged children.

But over 60 NGOs agree that it might as well be dubbed “the great peanut dump.”

In the poorest country in the Americas, the economic shock created by such a program could negatively impact Haiti’s 150,000 peanut farmers. “We’re talking about small, very poor farmers that are very dependent on a single crop,” says Dr. Louise Ivers, senior policy advisor at Partners in Health.

Yet in Port-au-Prince, politicians are distracted by the search for a president in Haiti. Without a leader since February, party officials are busy organizing the next round of elections, scheduled for October 9.

Haiti is currently led by interim President Jocelerme Privert, who received a 120-day mandate after Michel Martelly completed his term. That mandate expired this June and is beginning to alarm the foreign governments that finance Haiti’s elections.

The EU has announced the withdrawal of its electoral observation mission because Haiti’s 2015 elections were “generally in line with international standards.” The U.S. followed suit and canceled its $33 million in electoral funding to Haiti last month.

According to State Department spokesman Mark Toner, “The Haitian people deserve to have their voices heard, not deferred.”

Toner’s comment resonates in a country where over 80 percent of the population lives in poverty.

Haiti’s medical system is in shambles and depends on foreign doctors to function. This is especially true given its recent experience with cholera, a disease that has now killed 10,000 and affected 800,000 more.

In fact, cholera victims sued the U.N. in 2011 for allegedly causing the outbreak of the disease. Bases for the Haitian stabilization mission, MINUSTAH, were suspected of improperly treating their wastewater.

Over $40 billion in damages were sought, though the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals found the case to be “without merit.”

Nevertheless, the search for a president in Haiti continues. Among the candidates are favorite Juvenel Moise, along with runner-up Jude Celestin.

Objectors include the Tet Kale, or “Bald Head” Party, which has not accepted the schedule proposed for the repeat election.

With so many troubles at hand, Haiti would do well to expedite the election process to find a leader.

However, the U.S. should also remain cognizant of its impact through humanitarian aid. After all, destabilizing half a million people who live off the peanut trade is hardly the way to assist Haiti’s democratic governance system.

Alfredo Cumerma

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Honduras

It is estimated that 1.5 million people will face hunger in Honduras at some point every year. Honduras is the third poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean, with over 62% of the population living below the poverty line.

Rural areas of Honduras are even more susceptible to issues of hunger due to higher poverty levels and a lack of food security. Chronic malnutrition levels can reach up to 48.5% in the poorest rural areas.

According to the World Bank, Honduras is ranked ninth among countries with high-risk of mortality from exposure to two or more hazards. It is one of the most vulnerable countries to extreme weather conditions. Hunger in Honduras, therefore, is largely due to the reoccurrence of natural disasters such as flooding, drought, and hurricanes.

For small-scale subsistence farmers living in rural areas of Honduras, exposure to the disasters aforementioned can both decrease production and ruin crops and further prevent access to food and nutritional security.

Things, however, are looking up. Numerous global organizations, including the World Bank and World Food Programme (WFP), are initiating projects to alleviate Hunger in Honduras:

World Bank

The Corredor Seco Food Security Project is projected to lift 50,000 Hondurans out of poverty and reduce chronic malnutrition among children under the age of five by 20%. In order to achieve this goal, the World Bank is supporting small-scale farmers in one of the most drought-stricken areas of Honduras. The project will support the introduction of high-value crops, improve access to new markets, and increase food production.

In a recent press release, World Bank Representative in Honduras Giorgio Valentini stated, “This project is of vital importance because it aims at fighting poverty in rural areas, where most of the poor are concentrated, and to boost agriculture, one of the key sectors of the country’s economy.”

World Food Programme (WFP)

The School Meals Programme in Honduras is implemented in the poorest schools to provide funding for children’s meals and increase access to education. Thanks to such programs, 1.4 million Honduran students in over 17,500 preschool and primary schools are able to receive a meal. The Programme in Honduras is WFP’s third-largest school meal initiative worldwide.

In 2009, the School Meals Programme joined with WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P), which has been supporting agricultural production for small-scale farmers by connecting them to the local markets.

Two years later, nearly half of the maize and beans for the school meal rations were bought from smallholding farmers participating in P4P. In turn, the farmers’ yearly income was estimated to have increased by $500 and their crop yields by 50-80%.

With the support of global organizations like the World Bank and the World Food Programme, farmers increase crop production, children receive adequate nutrition, while poverty and hunger in Honduras continue to decrease.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: Flickr

Dangote FoundationThe Dangote Foundation delivered food items worth millions of Nigerian naira to thousands of vulnerable internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.

During a visit to the IDP camps of Abuja, Dangote Foundation chairman Alhaji Aliko Dangote was saddened by what he saw and pledged to alleviate the suffering of thousands of IDPs. The Dangote Foundation is a branch of the Dangote Group. The foundation provides charitable funds to a variety of causes in Nigeria and other African states.

Abuja currently has 13,481 internally displaced persons according to the latest assessment by the International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix. The Dangote Foundation donated food items to the IDPs during Ramadan as a philanthropic action geared toward alleviating poverty in Nigeria.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Malam Muhammad Musa Bello directly received the donation and ensured that the IDPs would expressly benefit from the donations. These items included Dangote sugar, Dangote salt, Dangote Spaghetti, rice, Danvita and wheat meal.

The FCT Minister stated that the donation Abuja received was extremely generous and the country is grateful to the foundation. Moreover, the FCT Administration is committed to alleviating poverty and respects non-governmental organizations with a similar mission.

This donation has been one of many recent philanthropic actions by the Dangote Foundation in Nigeria. Within a span of five years, the foundation has donated N6.3 billion to various IDP camps in Nigeria. Currently, one US dollar equals 315.25 Nigerian Naira.

Previously, the Foundation made donations to Nigerian universities and women’s causes. They have also provided donations during ethnoreligious crises. In addition, the Dangote Foundation donated to the World Food Program to help Pakistan during massive flooding in 2010 and raised over N11billion for flood relief in Nigeria.

In coordination with the Gates Foundation; the Dangote Foundation, USAID and Nigerian governors joined together to secure political and financial resources to enhance immunization programs within Nigeria in order to keep the country polio-free.

The Dangote Foundation focuses on health, education, economic development and disaster relief through their commitment to decreasing the amount of people suffering or dying from poverty-related issues.  The Dangote Foundation’s donations work to rectify the lack of education for children, to create quality healthcare and support underprivileged adults by improving access to education and healthcare.

Kimber Kraus

Photo: Flickr

Food Assistance in IraqAn increase in food assistance for Iraq will become a reality thanks to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) in Iraq will receive an additional $20 million in emergency food assistance per an announcement from Stuart E. Jones, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, made on Feb. 29, 2016, according to USAID.

With this new support, provided through USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP), the U.S. government has contributed nearly $623.8 million to support humanitarian activities in Iraq since the 2014 fiscal year, according to USAID’s Iraq-Complex Emergency Fact Sheet.

The new funding will support the distribution of household food parcels, including beans, dry peas, flour, oil and rice — and immediate response rations for vulnerable populations comprising ready-to-eat food items, such as beans, biscuits, canned meat, canned peas and dates according to USAID’s Iraq-Complex Emergency Fact Sheet.

USAID is helping the WFP reach 1.5 million displaced and conflict-affected Iraqis throughout the country according to USAID’s Feb. 29, 2016 press release.

This significant boost in aid has the potential to help Iraqis who were adversely impacted by cuts to the WFP last year. In August 2015, the WFP was forced to cut back food assistance due to a funding shortfall, according to the U.N.

“Unfortunately, lack of funds and the rise in the number of displaced Iraqis forces us to reduce the size of the food rations we provide to tens of thousands of families living outside camps,” said Jane Pearce, WFP representative and country director in Iraq, in an August 2015 press release.

This recent increase in food assistance for Iraq comes at a crucial time. The food and medicine shortage in Iraq resulted in the death of approximately 20 children and older persons in recent weeks according to a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Between December 2015 and January 2016, the price of some food commodities in Fallujah increased by more than 800 percent, according to the WFP; as of late February, a 110-pound bag of rice cost $400 and a 110-pound sack of wheat flour was priced at $550, reported the IOM.

There is hope that this increase in food assistance for Iraq is a sign of more good to come for internally displaced persons living in the country.

Summer Jackson

Sources: UN, USAID 1, USAID 2
Photo: Wikipedia