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Food Insecurity in South SudanThe North African country of South Sudan is currently facing its worst hunger crisis to date. Estimations indicate that close to 8.5 million people out of the nation’s total population of 12 million people “will face severe hunger” in 2022, marking an 8% spike from 2021. There are several reasons for the worsening levels of food insecurity in South Sudan.

Issues Contributing to Food Insecurity in South Sudan

South Sudan’s most recent civil war, beginning in December 2013 and ending in February 2020, is one of the many reasons for the major food insecurity in South Sudan, among other issues. According to Oxfam International, the war caused an “economic free–fall,” leading to rising food prices and a crumbling economy. Furthermore, food stocks have diminished and harvests are poor due to extreme weather conditions.

The country is facing “the worst floods in 60 years,” affecting close to 1 million people and serving as a significant contributor to food insecurity in South Sudan. In just seven months, from May 2021 to December 2021, about 800,000 South Sudanese people endured the impacts of “record flooding” within the country. The floods have not only destroyed lands where crops were growing but have also led to the loss of a quarter million “livestock in Jonglei state alone.” The floods also swept away vital supplies such as fishing nets, impacting people relying on fishing in waterways as a means of securing food sources.

Along with the devastating floods, in 2021, the United Nations had to cut its food aid by about 50% due to reduced funding and increased costs of food. This reduction in the amount of food aid from the United Nations alone affects more than three million people.

Extreme Measures and Potential Collapse

To prevent starvation, families are resorting to extreme measures such as “ground-up water lilies” as their only meal of the day. Other people living in hunger have attempted to flee to other towns and states in search of food and shelter.

Further compounding the issue of food insecurity in South Sudan is “government deadlock as the country’s two main political parties try to share power.” Resistance among the political groups to work together is a cause of concern for the head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, who warns of “a collapse in the country’s peace deal” if parties cannot find common ground in the political arena.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

One of the organizations working to help end food insecurity in South Sudan is the WFP. The WFP is currently employing a variety of methods to get food to the millions of South Sudanese people enduring food insecurity. These methods “include airdrops, all-terrain vehicles, river barges and SCOPE registration.”

The WFP utilizes airdrops as a last resort to deliver food to the most “dangerous and inaccessible” locations in South Sudan where safe road travel is not possible. The WFP also utilizes SHERPs, a type of all-terrain vehicle, to deliver food supplies to isolated areas where travel is challenging but still possible. The SHERPs can traverse the most adverse roads, go over obstacles and “float across water” in flooded areas.

The WFP also uses river barges that run along the Nile River to transport food to families who live in areas where there are no roads. Lastly, the WFP uses SCOPE, which is a blockchain service employed to “register and document people who receive food assistance” from the WFP. SCOPE helps workers to track the individuals receiving assistance and record each person’s “nutrition and health status” and determine full recovery and treatment success.

Looking Ahead

Although the situation in South Sudan is dire and experts predict these circumstances will worsen, many organizations are committing to providing as much aid as possible to South Sudanese people facing the devastating impacts of several disasters. By supporting these organizations, even an ordinary individual can make a difference in reducing food insecurity in South Sudan.

– Julian Smith
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in AngolaThe catalyzation of food insecurity is causing around 6 million people to fall into hunger in Angola, according to UNICEF. The number of people going hungry in Angola, however, continues to rise due to the most severe drought since 1981 in conjunction with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of droughts, especially in Southern Angola, caused the death of 1 million cattle. This created surges of poor malnutrition and severe illnesses. Despite this, hope exists for those suffering from hunger in Angola.

Drought

The severe drought in Angola has continued spreading for almost three years now, traumatically affecting hunger in Angola. Crop production has decreased by nearly 40%, forcing more families into poverty. The drought has, within only three months in Cunene, Angola, tripled levels of food insecurity. The growing scarcity of food and heightening hunger of Angolans is pushing them to seek refuge in proximate countries such as Namibia.

Pedro Henrique Kassesso, a 112-year-old man, can attest that this three-year-long drought has been the worst he has ever experienced in Angola. The drought has affected almost 500,000 children. Not only has food insecurity heightened, but school dropout rates have risen due to increasing socioeconomic troubles. Hunger in Angola has forced children to put aside their education to support their families in collecting food and water.

Longing for Land

Former Angolan communal farmers are longing to get land back from commercial cattle farmers. According to Amnesty International, the Angolan government gives the land to commercial cattle farmers. Commercial cattle farmers have taken 67% of the land in Gambos, Angola. The battle for land has exasperated the hunger levels of communal Angolan citizens who have been reliant on their land and livestock for survival. The combination of loss of land and drought equates to millions of Angolan citizens ending up in poverty.

Despite the drought and rising food insecurity in Angola, people from neighboring countries are seeking refuge in this nation. As of 2017, 36,000 people have undergone displacement from the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and found refuge in Angola. Because of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing to Angola, the nation’s population is rapidly growing. Angola’s population is growing by 1 million people every year, according to the World Population Review. As a host country to asylum seekers, battles for land, ongoing drought and rapid population growth, more people are succumbing to poverty and hunger in Angola.

Hope on the Horizon

Despite the surging levels of food insecurity in Angola, hope is rising on the horizon. In fact, the government of Japan donated $1 million toward United Nations agencies that serve to uplift Angolan citizens who have succumbed to poverty especially due to the drought and the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy of Angola. The donation from Japan, along with the funds raised to end hunger in Angola by the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Programme (WFP) projects to at last tackle the issue of malnutrition and hunger in Angola.

– Nora Zaim-Sassi
Photo: Flickr

WFP in Venezuela
In April 2021, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reached a deal to distribute food to vulnerable school children in Venezuela. The program ambitiously seeks to help 185,000 students in 2021 alone and 1.5 million children by the end of the 2023 school year. Since schools in Venezuela remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and teachers can pick up rations at their local schools. A monthly ration consists of nine pounds of lentils, 13 pounds of rice, one pound of salt and one liter of vegetable oil. The WFP additionally manages its own supply chain and partners with local teachers and nongovernmental organizations to distribute food. Once schools open again, the WFP in Venezuela will also teach school faculty about food safety.

First Shipments Arrive

Recently, the first shipments of food arrived in Maracaibo, Venezuela. The stockpile includes 42,000 packages of food for this month. The WFP in Venezuela targets children under six deemed to be the most food insecure. Originally, the program began in the state of Falcón and intends to expand to other Venezuelan states gradually. The first set of rations went to a total of 277 schools in the state of Falcón.

Venezuela’s Economic Crisis

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, 96% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. The country is heavily reliant on the export of natural gas and oil. In fact, oil makes up one-quarter of Venezuela’s gross domestic product (GDP). As oil prices dropped dramatically in 2014, Venezuela began to undergo an economic crisis. Between 2014 and 2016, oil prices had decreased from $100 to $30 per barrel. Since 2015, over 5 million Venezuelans have left the country in search of better opportunities, according to the United Nations. Additionally, Venezuela’s GDP reduced by two-thirds between 2014 and 2019.

Venezuela was once the second-largest producer of oil in the world, behind the United States. Venezuela was also a founding country of OPEC in 1960. The country has had a long history of dictatorships and consolidation of the oil industry, which the state and a select few companies controlled. Some believe that the current president, Nicolás Maduro, underwent reelection through undemocratic means in 2018. In January 2021, after Maduro had claimed victory in the election, candidate Juan Guaidó argued that Maduro had won illegitimately. The United States and several other countries acknowledged Guaidó’s victory.

Although exact figures are unknown, the WFP estimates that one-third of Venezuelans do not have enough to eat. Furthermore, approximately 16% of children suffer from malnutrition within the country. About 7 million Venezuelans are in need of humanitarian aid.

The Importance of WFP in Venezuela

The WFP in Venezuela is much needed as the country struggles economically and fails to provide for its citizens. WFP representative Susana Rico said that “We are reaching these vulnerable children at a critical stage of their lives when their brains and bodies need nutritious food to develop to their full potential.” Hence, this program will be instrumental in providing the necessary resources to underserved young children.

– Kaylee DeLand
Photo: Flickr

child poverty in BoliviaBolivia is one of the most impoverished countries in Latin America. According to Children Incorporated, Bolivian children account for 2.5 million of nearly 60% of the total population living in poverty. Bolivian children face malnutrition, inadequate access to education and child labor. Several organizations are showing their commitment to addressing child poverty in Bolivia.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Bolivia

  1. Rural areas in Bolivia suffer higher rates of child poverty. People living outside urban areas have fewer opportunities for economic growth. Roughly three out of four residents of rural areas live in poverty. Higher poverty rates in rural areas mean families cannot adequately care for their children, intensifying child poverty rates. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), “almost one-third of Bolivians living in rural areas cannot afford the cost of a basic food basket.” In rural children younger than 5, the stunting rate is almost 24%.
  2. Poverty directly links to the mortality rates of children younger than 5. Poverty-ridden conditions lead to diarrheal diseases, which account for 36% of the total deaths of Bolivian children younger than 5. Malnutrition accounts for about 28% of the total mortality rate for children in this age group.

  3. Many Bolivian children are out of school and involved in child labor. Roughly 13% of Bolivian children are not enrolled in school and about 26% of children are involved in child labor to provide an income for their families. Although primary education is compulsory, free and available to children between the ages of 6 and 13, attendance is low. Fortunately, Save the Children implements early childhood learning programs, early literacy programs and innovative training for educators. The organization educated 68,000 Bolivian children in 2020 alone and promotes education, sustainable income and food security to help fight child poverty in Bolivia.
  4. Bolivian children are vulnerable to exploitation and sexual abuse. “Bolivia has the highest rate of sexual violence in Latin America,” especially among children. Equality Now estimates that one in three Bolivian girls experiences violence of a sexual nature before reaching 18.  As a result, Bolivia has “the highest adolescent pregnancy rate in Latin America.” At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, A Breeze of Hope, a nonprofit that supports sexually abused children, received several calls from children who were stuck with their abusers during the lockdown.
  5. Indigenous Bolivian children face high levels of marginalization. Bolivia is home to the largest group of Indigenous people in Latin America.  Indigenous people often lack access to healthcare and education due to disparities in culture, language and location. Schools in Indigenous communities have few or no libraries and school materials. Indigenous children also face violence, food insecurity and inadequate access to sanitation.

Fighting Child Poverty in Bolivia

In addition to the efforts of Save the Children and A Breeze of Hope, the WFP directly assists the Bolivian government in combating malnutrition and food insecurity. Children Incorporated works with 14 projects in the Bolivian cities of La Paz, Sucre and Santa Cruz. The organization provides children with basic necessities and school materials. Additionally, Canadian Feed the Children provides more than 355,000 nutritious snacks and meals to Bolivian children annually. It also sponsors classes to educate parents on “healthy child development” and children’s rights. Although there are still challenges to overcome, significant work is being done to eradicate child poverty in Bolivia.

– Cory Utsey
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Uganda
The landlocked country of Uganda is located in East Africa. Poised to be a significant oil-producing country, Uganda has an estimated 6.5 billion barrels worth of oil reserves in its territory. Nevertheless, Uganda remains a lower-income country. The people of the country have struggled to combat hunger in Uganda even though poverty decreased from 56% in 1993 to 21.4% in 2016. Because of poverty, Uganda faces widespread malnutrition, which has led to more than 110,000 deaths of children between 2004 and 2009. Organizations have committed efforts to address the issue of hunger in Uganda.

4 Key Facts About Hunger in Uganda

  1. Uganda has a fast-growing population due to refugee intake. The refugee population in Uganda has increased from 200,000 in 2012 to more than 1.2 million. As a whole, these refugees are coming from Uganda’s neighbors, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is partly because of Uganda’s willingness to accept and aid refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has praised the country’s refugee policies. Rather than placing refugees in designated camps, Uganda gives refugees a plot of land and access to services such as healthcare and education. As benevolent as these policies are, the rise in Uganda’s refugee population strains already limited resources and funds.
  2. Dependence on agriculture increases hunger in Uganda. In order to reduce malnutrition, there has been a focus on increased agricultural output globally. The rate of global agricultural production has increased, but the level of undernourishment in developing countries remains at 13.5%. In Uganda, for example, agriculture makes up 25% of the GDP and it provides the main source of income for all rural households. But, despite this agricultural output, Uganda still suffers from a 30% malnutrition rate. A study conducted in Eastern Uganda finds that some rice cultivators starve as they sell all the food. While the effects vary, agricultural reliance in Uganda has increased supply, but access to food has not necessarily increased. This leads to high levels of food insecurity.
  3. Hunger in Uganda has significant economic impacts. The effects of malnutrition extend far past the immediate deaths it causes, having substantial and negative consequences for the economy at large. Specifically, malnutrition negatively impacts “human capital, economic productivity and national development.” High rates of malnutrition require healthcare intervention, which puts strain on the healthcare sector and economy. Moreover, malnutrition makes individuals more prone to diseases, incurring costs to families and the health system. Undernourished children are more susceptible to diseases like malaria and anemia, which can burden the country with a cost of $254 million annually. Overall, the national income is reduced by 5.6% as a result of the undernourishment of young children stemming from hunger in Uganda.
  4. International aid organizations address hunger in Uganda. Aid organizations are committing to creating significant progress in the fight against hunger in Uganda. The World Food Programme (WFP) has dedicated efforts to prevent and treat malnutrition in Uganda. Among other activities, the WFP initiatives provide nutrition-sensitive money transfer as well as nutrition counseling in the areas of Uganda most affected by malnutrition. Action Against Hunger provides nutritious food vouchers to refugees and implements digital, data-driven technology to optimize agricultural production. To date, Action Against Hunger’s nutrition and health programs have reached more than 110,000 people. Moreover, the government has joined multiple international commitments to reduce hunger in Uganda. As a signatory of the Malabo Declaration, by 2035, Uganda seeks to reduce the impacts of childhood malnutrition to 10% for stunting in children younger than 5 and 5% for wasting.

Overall, the efforts of organizations and the commitment of the Ugandan Government show a strong dedication to combating hunger in Uganda and improve the lives of people in the country.

Kendall Carll
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a country in West Africa that is home to more than 20.9 million people. The Burkinabe people have dealt with ongoing instability, displacement and food insecurity as the result of the dissolution of a government regime in 2014. With 40% of the country’s population living in poverty, there is a clear need for humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian organizations like the World Food Programme have been working to help combat food insecurity and malnutrition in Burkina Faso.

Current Situation in Burkina Faso

The World Food Programme (WFP) released its 2020 Annual Country Report for Burkina Faso, which contains various statistics and the humanitarian goals for the country until 2023. Burkina Faso has experienced an 80% increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) since 2019, with more than one million IDPs. The WFP estimates that 15% of the country’s population, or 3.3 million people, face food insecurity.

Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization, states that more than 1.5 million children under 5 are affected by the nutrition crisis in Burkina Faso. COVID-19 has worsened the situation in Burkina Faso as it becomes more difficult to get humanitarian aid to those in need. Other factors contributing to the current food insecurity crisis in Burkina Faso include the armed conflict, droughts and poverty.

Humanitarian Response

The WFP states that the number of people it reached in 2020 doubled compared to 2019, with the WFP reaching more than two million people. The WFP has worked in Burkina Faso to provide people with cash transfers and emergency school feeding initiatives. It also provided more than 305,000 children as well as pregnant and lactating women with treatment for acute malnutrition. The organization’s ability to help the Burkinabe people weakened as COVID-19, access and security restraints as well as regional instability made it more difficult for assistance to reach vulnerable populations.

Save the Children has been working in Burkina Faso since 1982, reaching more than 85,000 children in 2020. The nonprofit is focusing its efforts on providing children with a healthy start to their lives, providing children with opportunities to learn and protecting them from any potential harm. The organization has been working with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health to strengthen healthcare systems in the country. The organization has programs that provide food assistance, clean water, sanitation and hygiene products to children, pregnant women and mothers.

Save the Children works with schools and teachers to create literacy centers to improve the quality of education for children. An alternative education program called Youth in Action focuses on providing an education to IDPs and children without access to school. The education program focuses on literacy, basic finance knowledge and developing life skills. The organization is also working to protect children from dangerous jobs, educating people on ways to protect their children and promoting parenting methods that support children. Other efforts also promote local organizations that are actively working to provide children with more opportunities and end child marriage in Burkina Faso.

Looking Forward

With 40% of the population living in poverty, increasing insecurity from conflict and more than a million IDPs, Burkina Faso is facing a growing humanitarian crisis that requires continued humanitarian attention to combat. COVID-19 has caused the conditions in Burkina Faso to deteriorate as humanitarian assistance becomes more difficult to deliver. The WFP and Save the Children intend to increase efforts to combat malnutrition in Burkina Faso by providing nutritious food, building resilience and empowering the Burkinabe people.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Sustainability in the DRCDespite the Democratic Republic of the Congo harboring the second-largest cultivable land in the world at 80 million hectares, food insecurity and malnutrition are pressing issues in a country that ranks among the poorest in the world. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) characterizes almost 22 million of the 89.5 million residents as severely food insecure, despite 70% of the employed population working in the agricultural industry. Lack of infrastructure combined with prolonged national armed conflict has led to only 10 million hectares currently under cultivation, leaving enormous potential for agricultural and economic growth. Agricultural sustainability in the DRC is crucial to address food insecurity and poverty.

The Joint WFP-FAO Resilience Program in DRC

A combined effort from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) focuses on the optimization of agriculture production as well as market revisions and improvements to reduce food insecurity and bolster a declining national economy. Improving agricultural sustainability in the DRC could prove effective in stabilizing a region with enormous agricultural potential.

The Need for Agricultural Sustainability

Providing direct financial relief to the DRC has proven both necessary and effective, especially in the wake of nationwide flooding in 2019 and 2020 on top of widespread armed conflict and displacement. Since 2018, USAID reports that the DRC has received roughly $570 million worth of direct food relief. However, direct relief does not equal sustainability and is a relatively short-term solution. The joint program from the WFP and FAO implements successful strategies to provide much-needed agricultural sustainability in the DRC and creates an important foundation for further improvements.

The Benefits of Cooperation

Promoting organizational cooperation and improving managerial structure has allowed for combined agricultural improvements nationwide. Since 2017, this project has reached 30,000 small farm households and stimulated cooperation that has improved organizational structure and operational capacities. This cooperation has allowed for the distribution of newer agricultural technologies and concepts such as improved seeds and more advanced tools to optimize production.

Increased cooperation has also helped eliminate local conflicts between farmers and has increased the total area of land being cultivated. The program has also provided 7,000 local women with functional literacy education, allowing for more female community engagement as well as involvement in managerial duties in farming communities.

Addressing Nutrition in the DRC

At a local level, the joint program has implemented enhanced nutritional programs to utilize the increasing resources. Increased cooperation and education have allowed for the growth of crops with enhanced nutritional value. To promote long-term sustainability, in 2020, the project utilized direct aid to establish 300 vegetable gardens, reaching 13,510 residents. The program also held 150 culinary demonstrations regarding optimal cooking techniques that are both affordable and nutritious.

Developing the DRC’s Infrastructure

Large agricultural areas such as the DRC rely heavily on infrastructure for transportation and storage of goods. The joint program has fixed 193 kilometers of agricultural roads since implementation in 2017, with 65% of the road rehabilitators being women.

Not only has the program enhanced transportation capabilities but it has also constructed 20 different storage buildings as well as 75 community granaries, allowing for the long-term storage of agricultural products. This enhanced storage capacity reduces waste from spoilage and allows product to be sold during favorable selling seasons, allowing for advanced agricultural sustainability in the DRC.

The Joint WFP-FAO resilience program in the DRC has made significant accomplishments in the country. With further efforts, agricultural sustainability in the DRC can be further developed to improve poverty in the region.

Jackson Thennis
Photo: Flickr

2020 Nobel Peace PrizeIn October 2020, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) accepted the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. The award came during a challenging period. COVID-19 is putting strain on world hunger, global health and peace processes. For instance, in Ethiopia, the politicization of national COVID-19 responses amplified tensions during elections. In Libya, the pandemic affected the process of conflict resolution and exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis. In India, the pandemic intensified pre-existing frictions between ethnic groups creating scapegoats and marginalizing migrants. The WFP’s 2020 Nobel Peace Prize brings new hope for world hunger and conflict resolutions during the global pandemic. According to Claude Jibidar, the WFP country director in Chad, the award given to the WFP is a wake-up call. Jibidar says, “Our success or our failure today will determine the future that we leave to our children tomorrow. We want them to live in peace and in a world with zero hunger.”

The UN World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is a leading humanitarian organization that has been fighting world hunger and poverty for more than 50 years. The organization works with communities and local authorities to deliver food assistance and improve nutrition. In 2019, the WFP provided meals to more than 17.3 million pupils, of which 50% were girls. The WFP’s actions are crucial on a global scale to meet the 2030 zero hunger goal set up by the international community in 2015 as part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The zero hunger goal aims to completely end world hunger, improve global nutrition and achieve food security and agricultural sustainability. Since the establishment of the goal, the WFP has made zero hunger its priority.

WFP Programs

To achieve this goal, the WFP uses educational and nutritional programs. Not only does the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize laureate bring food to countries in need but it also develops programs to educate local populations and authorities. In 2016, the WFP partnered with the government of Cameroon for a prevention-oriented program to address the rising numbers of malnutrition cases in children and pregnant or lactating women. The prevention-based program was a success. By 2017, the number of children reached had doubled in comparison to a treatment program in 2015. Additionally, the cases of acute malnutrition drastically fell. The proportion of children having a mid-upper arm circumference of fewer than 125 millimeters went from 17% in May 2014 to 2% in November 2017.

The WFP’s largest operation started in 2015 in Yemen and is still in progress. In 2021, after more than five years of conflict, more than 20 million people are still food insecure and facing hunger in Yemen. To address the food emergency and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, the WFP continues to provide food assistance in Yemen. However, the ongoing conflict and growing tensions, amplified by hunger and food insecurity, make it challenging for the WFP to assist Yemeni people. In fact, one of the main issues the WFP faced was that rebels in the area were diverting food from people in need. The WFP engaged in negotiations with rebels in order to ensure food assistance would go where it is needed.

Hunger and Peace Interlinked

As said by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, “the link between hunger and armed conflict is a vicious circle.” To fight world hunger and conflicts, the international community needs to address these two issues conjointly. Treating hunger and food insecurity can prevent the rise of tensions leading to violence. Furthermore, addressing violent conflicts can also improve local food security. The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize acknowledges the WFP’s efforts of combining humanitarian aid endeavors with peacekeeping efforts.

However, to define food security as the main instrument of world peace, international cooperation remains essential. The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize reminds the world that food insecurity and peace are interlinked while recognizing the substantial contributions of the World Food Programme in combating hunger and achieving peace.

Soizic Lecocq
Photo: Flickr

Bread Shortage in SyriaMore than half of Syria’s population is labeled as food insecure: about 8 million people do not have access to a reliable food source. Syria is facing a major bread shortage, the first since the country’s civil war. During that time, citizens had to cut back their meals drastically due to the minimal harvest. Now, without reliable access to food, projections show that more than 500,000 children could become chronically malnourished. The shortage adds to the many other issues the country currently faces, including the civil war and the COVID-19 pandemic. This problem has a variety of implications. However, one stands out as essentially alarming: the bread shortage in Syria is deepening poverty.

The Importance of Wheat

In Syria, people consider wheat the staple ‘staff of life.’ As a sustainable agricultural product, farmers sow more than a quarter of land in Syria with wheat. The people depend on this crop as a steady food source, as it can serve poor communities in a harsh economic environment. Bread derives from wheat and is popular in the Syrian diet. If there is a disruption in government assistance to bread productivity, the entire Syrian population could be at risk of food shortages.

Bread Shortage Politics

The United States enforced the Caesar Act on Syria. This restricts humanitarian aid t0 hold President Bashar al-Assad’s government accountable for war crimes. Many Syrians dislike the Western sanctions, believing they have created overall hardships for the country: for example, the value of Syrian currency has dropped immensely due to the sanction and other contributing factors. President Assad was not able to financially compensate for the shortcomings in imports.

The Syrian President wanted to implement a rationing system in response. During the bread shortage, Syrians would be able to purchase government-rationed goods through authorized retailers. A smart card system facilitated the distribution, but only in the capital of Damascus and in Rif-Dimashq. As a result, the smart card system—and, thus, bread rations—was not accessible to all.

Western sanctions did not restrict food but implemented banking restrictions that froze assets. This action led to a trade difficulty for Syrian businesses. Grain traders were unable to conduct business as normal, and the government had to rely on businessmen to conduct bread transactions.

Living During a Bread Shortage

Overall price increases have made it difficult for Syrians to survive amidst these turbulent times: one Syrian’s monthly salary of 50,000 pounds ($21), for instance, is not enough to live on. Living on less than $1 per day makes it difficult for Syrians to eat, afford living expenses and obtain other necessities. Many citizens live in debt, and some even sell their furniture to pay their cost of living.

Food prices have also drastically increased, making it even more challenging for Syrians to eat a simple meal. Through the ration card, one family can get two kilograms of sugar, one kilogram of rice and 200 grams of tea. This amount of food should supposedly feed an entire family. However, the low quality of these products motivated many Syrians to wait in long lines for bread.

Improving the Bread Shortage

To alleviate poverty resulting from the bread shortage in Syria, the World Food Programme (WFP) provides assistance to more than 4.5 million food-insecure Syrians each month. WFP improves nutrition for malnourished families by providing emergency food during times of national hardship. Syrian mothers and children are at the greatest risk of malnutrition. WFP accordingly provides those in need with food vouchers to promote a healthy diet. Although the wheat shortage caused Syrians to cut their three meals a day to two, WFP continues to help alleviate this disparity by donating meals to families and lunches to children during school.

Wheat is a major component of the Syrian diet. The bread shortage in Syria has disrupted many lives by leaving individuals and families without sustainable amounts of food. The government introduced bread rations, yet families still go hungry with minute portions. Although Syria requires more progress, assistance from programs like WFP provides hope to those in need.

– Ann Ciancia
Photo: Flickr

Syrian Refugees in Jordan
Recently, the Syrian War has caused a large influx of refugees to make their way to Jordan. Since the start of the conflict, Jordan has seen an increase of about 1.3 million Syrian refugees. Of these Syrian refugees in Jordan, about 17% live in dangerous conditions within displacement camps. The other 83% may also face extreme levels of poverty and often cannot establish a livelihood to feed their families.

Hunger Reduction for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Hunger is particularly an issue for Syrian refugees who live in Jordanian camps. In comparison, hunger for average Jordanians is relatively minimal. The World Food Programme (WFP)’s Integrated Context Analysis (ICA) demonstrates the differences in hunger throughout the area. The WFP’s ICA is a map that includes analysis of which populations are most vulnerable and food insecure. The population of Syrian refugees in Jordan is currently the most desperate in terms of need and food insecurity.

This ICA can help through the identification of broad national programmatic strategies, which can consist of resilience strengthening, disaster risk mitigation and implementing social protections. ICAs can also identify sectors wherein food security monitoring and assessment are necessary. The ICA categorizes the country’s districts into categories that it labels one through five, representing which areas face the most critical food insecurity needs. On the map, the Syrian refugee camps on the border of Jordan showed the most severe essential food security issues.

Syrian Refugee Displacement Camps

Displacement camps for Syrian refugees exist at the edge of Jordan and Syria. Salah Daraghmeh, the Médecins Sans Frontières representative for Syrian refugees, commented on their high risk. He stated that Syrian refugees who have escaped death from conflict and war, become more at risk of dying from preventable conditions, like dehydration and illness, during the process of resettling in Jordan. Refugees at the border of Jordan often sleep in the desert, where they have limited access to food, water and medical supplies. Additionally, refugees use holes in the ground as toilets and have to live in makeshift tents. Refugees frequently die from dehydration, scorpion stings and drinking contaminated water.

Organizations Helping Syrian Refugees

Action Against Hunger is one organization that has taken a stand to end hunger for Syrian refugees in Jordan.  The most urgent need for these refugees is providing access to livelihoods in Jordan, which should enable them to feed their families. Action Against Hunger was able to open a base in December 2019 in Madaba, Jordan. This base provides water, hygiene, food, sanitation and potential livelihoods for Syrian refugees. It also offers waste management programs and “Cash for Work” to enhance the lives of Syrian refugees.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) also does valuable work in Jordan. The IRC focuses primarily on health care, mobile outreach and empowerment/employment programs. On a practical level, it offers skill training, counseling, recreational activities, cash assistance and employment opportunities. The IRC’s goals for 2020 include improving refugee’s health, safety, education and economic well-being. Its action plan for 2020 includes focusing on these goals by providing direct aid. The IRC’s mission is to grant assistance to those whose livelihoods disaster and conflict have ruined so that they may survive, recover and become independent again. Its efforts are particularly significant in repairing the lives of Syrian refugees, who have suffered immensely.

After fleeing life in Syria, refugees face additional struggles while living in Jordan. From food scarcity, dangerous conditions and difficulties adapting to Jordanian life, Syrian refugees have to combat many issues even after leaving their war-torn country. To help overcome these problems, the Jordanian government has partnered with Action Against Hunger and the International Rescue Committee. These organizations seek to provide a resilience-based approach to help Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr