Charities in the Central African RepublicPoverty in the Central African Republic is an ongoing problem showing few signs of improvement. Despite being abundant in natural resources, the nation is one of the poorest and most economically fragile countries in the world. As of 2022, approximately 71% of the population is living below the international poverty line, surviving on less than $2.15 a day. Still, several charities are working to address poverty in the CAR.

5 Charities in the Central African Republic

  1. Concern – Operating in the CAR since March 2014, Concern aims to build community resilience by taking integrated approaches to alleviate the suffering of conflict-affected communities. By focusing on the drivers of poverty such as health and nutrition, sanitation, food security and gender equality, Concern has seen major success in its integrated programs. In 2021, the organization reached 152,000 people with its initiatives. In 2022, Concern focused its efforts on alleviating violence against women and improving literacy rates.
  2. War Child – War Child is a charity that has been operating in the Central African Republic since 2014. Its most notable work has been with conflict-affected children and their families, supporting the reintegration of 15,500 children from the armed forces back into their communities. The organization’s focus on improving the lives of children most affected by conflict has extended to programs that provide child-friendly spaces, the promotion of peace-building through child-led advocacy and working with schools to build child protection committees.
  3. Islamic Relief – Islamic Relief came to the Central African Republic in 2014 with the goal of providing emergency aid and psychosocial care. The organization carries out its mission by developing child-friendly spaces in the nation’s capital for roughly 8,000 children in partnership with War Child and Enfants Sans Frontiers (ESF). Islamic Relief’s interfaith project has supported community cohesion for more than 4,000 people. In addition, faith leaders work together to secure the bright future of their communities by rebuilding the livelihoods of those lost to violence.
  4. World Food Programme (WFP) – The WFP helps communities meet their basic nutritional needs by distributing food or cash while working alongside schools to improve children’s nutrition and school attendance in areas facing food insecurity. The WFP also works to reintegrate people back into their communities.
  5. International Rescue Committee (IRC) – The IRC has been operating in the Central African Republic since 2006 and focuses on providing medical care, water and sanitation services. Moreover, the organization is also focused on protecting the most vulnerable people in society. There are multiple facets to IRC’s recovery plan in the Central African Republic. Most importantly they focus on the safety and well-being of high-risk communities while providing sanitation assistance and education initiatives.

Overall, the work of these five organizations has been integral in the elevation of underprivileged communities plagued by food and health crises, civil war and poor literacy rates.

– Namra Tahir
Photo: Flickr

Chad’s Food ShortageOn June 1, 2022, Chad declared a food emergency due to a dwindling supply of grain. A decrease in exports from Ukraine, as a result of their war with Russia, has caused food prices in Chad to skyrocket. Amid Chad’s food shortage, the country has asked the international community to provide aid as it is estimated that about one-third of the population of Chad will require humanitarian assistance this year.

Causes of Chad’s Food Shortage

While drought has ravaged Chad and surrounding countries for the past couple of years and undoubtedly plays a role, it is not the most significant factor causing Chad’s food shortage. Many factors have contributed to the severity of food insecurity in Chad.

In 2021, Chad experienced its second straight year of recession, with the country’s GDP dropping by 1.2% over the course of the year. Rising food prices, due to a combination of gradual inflation and rapid inflation sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have placed the final nail in the coffin. Internationally, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global wheat prices have increased for the fourth month in a row, rising 5.6% in May 2022 alone. Rising prices combined with dropping income place the people of Chad in a difficult situation. The U.N. ranks Chad as the third most impoverished nation in the world in 2022, a status that the current food emergency does not ease.

Solutions and the Way Forward

Chad’s food shortage has prompted the country to request urgent aid from the international community. While at the moment it is unclear which countries will answer the call, one organization that is already helping is the World Food Programme (WFP).

The humanitarian organization aims to provide assistance to approximately 3 million people facing food insecurity in Chad in 2022. About 42% of the population of Chad falls below the poverty line, but the WFP plans to help in a few ways. The organization provides displaced people within Chad with cash-based transfers to purchase food. The WFP also works with the Ministry of Health to support government-backed nutrition programs, reaching “458,000 children and 235,400 pregnant and nursing women with specialized nutritious foods” in 2021.

Another measure the organization is taking is working to provide children within Chad with school lunches. These provided meals not only help with food insecurity but also encourage school enrollment in a country with low rates of education. These school meals reached 200,000 children in 2021.

Chad’s call to action came just days before a meeting between Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and Macky Sall, the head of the African Union. On June 3, 2021, Sall met with Putin to discuss “freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilizers, the blockage of which particularly affects African countries.” The discussion did not spark any immediate change but there is cause for optimism as Putin said “We strive to develop humanitarian ties with African countries and will do everything in our power to make this process gain momentum.”

Whatever the outcome, Chad will need the support of numerous countries and organizations across the globe.

– Thomas Schneider
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Sri Lanka Child poverty occurs when children from low-income families lack the resources necessary for their overall development and well-being. In 2019, 9.2% of Sri Lanka’s population lived below the poverty line of $3.20 per day. Child poverty in Sri Lanka is one of the major issues the nation is trying to tackle. Based on data from 2019, Sri Lanka’s Child Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) indicates that more than four in every 10 children younger than 5 endure multidimensional poverty. Furthermore, about 33% of children aged 4 and younger suffer multidimensional poverty and are “either underweight or stunted.”

Effects of Child Poverty

According to the American Psychological Association, child poverty can lead to hunger, illness, insecurity, depression and several behavioral problems. Living in poverty creates constant, toxic stress that can impair the development of the brain and impact mental and emotional cognition.

The effects of child poverty in Sri Lanka are long-lasting as these consequences later affect different aspects of adulthood, such as emotional and behavioral self-control and the development of skills necessary to obtain jobs.

The Sri Lanka Journal for Child Health conducted research and found that individuals suffering from child poverty in Sri Lanka experience different implications. The Journal stated that “they can experience deficiencies in nutritious food, housing, safe environment and access to health care and are at higher risk of being exposed to trauma and stressful life events.”

In addition, the study points out that children living in poverty are more likely to experience neglect and separation from their families. Their needs are overlooked due to the unresponsiveness of their parents and the stress arising from chronic poverty. As a result, child poverty can lead to difficulties in building bonds and relationships with others and children can experience language deficiencies as they grow up. Child poverty affects a child physically, mentally and emotionally. Here are several solutions to reduce child poverty in Sri Lanka.

Solutions to Child Poverty in Sri Lanka

  1. Resource Use: There is unequal accessibility of social services for children in Sri Lanka. For example, most schools and health care centers are located in large cities rather than in the suburbs. Local child support programs and social protection systems such as Sevana Sarana Foster Parent Scheme ensure children have equal access to education and other services regardless of financial situations. The SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka provides vulnerable children and their siblings with family-like care and a place to call home. The organization also sets up schools and medical centers in each SOS Children’s Village.
  2. Daycare Centers: According to the World Bank, many childcare centers are understaffed and lack infrastructure. In 2015, the World Bank introduced the Early Childhood Development Project to establish more child care centers, provide training for childcare givers and make improvements to existing facilities. Now, the World Bank is moving toward a more holistic approach by making daycare centers more affordable and having them operate longer hours to accommodate children whose parents work night shifts.
  3. The World Food Programme (WFP): Based on a report from the WFP, “the country faces the impact of a nutritional ‘triple burden’ spanning undernutrition, high levels of overweight and obesity and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.” In 2019, the WFP introduced the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network to engage in solutions related to nutrition while establishing school feeding programs. The organization has been closely working with the Sri Lankan government to establish a social behavior change communication strategy to improve dietary practices in Sri Lanka.

Looking Ahead

The issue of child poverty in Sri Lanka requires sustained work and attention from the government and global organizations. Children who live in poverty suffer long-term effects physically, mentally and emotionally. The efforts of child support programs, well-equipped daycare centers and humanitarian organizations, such as the World Food Programme, ensure the well-being and development of Sri Lankan children.

– Jiaying Guo
Photo: Pixabay

food security in ChinaFor about 65% of the Chinese population, rice is the most essential part of a good diet. In fact, rice is a key part of food security in China. For thousands of years, families in China have farmed rice in large fields called paddies.  Surprisingly, the methods for growing and harvesting have remained the same for thousands of years with farmers still using hand cultivation and livestock-drawn plows. In recent years, soil salinity and overuse of fertilizers have presented challenges to rice production, and thus, food security in China. Fortunately, a Chinese scientist has discovered a way to revolutionize food security through a type of grain called “sea rice.”

How Does Rice Grow?

Fresh, clean water is absolutely essential to rice cultivation and farmers construct rice paddies with that in mind. The rice paddies are made with a relatively watertight subsoil on the bottom and at the borders. This allows for the paddy to hold around five inches of water for most of the growing season. Because the rice-growing field must stay flooded for months on end, if it is not naturally filled with rain or floodwater, it must be irrigated. Rice is also very sensitive to soil salinity (salt content) and pH (acid/base content), and as such, rice cannot grow in what agronomists refer to as saline-alkali soil — earth that is too salty and chemically basic.

Why is Rice Farming in Trouble?

Unfortunately, China has a large amount of this saline-alkali land that cannot be used for agriculture, spanning about 100 million hectares. That is a little more than 386,102 square miles; roughly the size of Egypt.

There is currently a lack of food security in China. According to the World Food Programme, around 150.8 million people endure malnourishment in China. Further, more than 186 million people face the impacts of floods and other crop-destroying national disasters.

Additionally, Chinese farmers have dramatically. increased the amount of fertilizer use in recent decades. As of 2014, the average application rate was 434.3 kg/hectare, which is almost twice the internationally recognized safe upper limit. This plays into a vicious cycle; such excessive long-term use of fertilizer turns previously fertile land saline-alkali, providing an incentive to use even more fertilizer to meet previous productivity levels.

Discovery of Sea Rice

Since the 1950s, there has been a consensus among scientists that these problems could be fixed if farmers could grow rice in saline-alkali soil. In 1986, a Chinese scientist named Chen Risheng finally had a breakthrough. While studying mangrove trees at a beach, he stumbled across a single green stalk sticking out of the ground.

Against all odds, there was a wild rice plant actually growing in saline-alkali soil. Chen collected around 500 grains and began a painstakingly precise breeding process. By 1991, that breeding resulted in about 3.8 kg of precious salt-tolerant grains. Chen named his cultivar “sea-rice 86” and continued selecting, planting and harvesting the seeds for years.

The result? A variety of rice with remarkably valuable characteristics. Chen’s research confirmed that sea-rice 86 (also called SR86) can be planted in heavily saline-alkali soil for six years. Not only does the rice survive but it also improves the soil quality in half that time. This variety of rice can withstand up to three times the amount of salt than other strains.

SR86 is also more resistant to flooding and waterlogging, and in strong conditions, the stem does not break as easily. Thus, the strain is less delicate and more resistant to natural disasters in comparison to regular rice varieties. This rice does not require fertilizer, it is naturally resistant to pests and disease. Furthermore, it is significantly more nutritious than other major rice strains.

Recent Progress with Sea Rice

Since the discovery of SR86, scientists have been working to identify the exact genes that make it so desirable. These efforts have been largely successful, and now, the scientific community has a starting point for future projects involving genetic rice modification as they now know the precise genes that give SR86 its astounding properties. In this way, sea-rice 86 has the potential to strengthen food security in China.

Currently, SR86 and other salt-resistant rice strains have yet to be introduced into the mainstream farming community and market, although rapid progress is in motion. In the autumn of 2021, the Chinese district of Jinghai (a location filled with saline-alkali soil) was able to harvest more than 100 hectares of salt-resistant rice.

The research team that led the harvest has since received 400,000 hectares for the purpose of continuing farming and observation. Additionally, the team is confident that it will be able to cultivate salt-resistant rice across 6.7 million hectares by October 2031.

Risheng, the original pioneer of SR86, has also expressed a desire to turn the area where he found the original rice plant into a preserve where SR86 can be grown all over the beach as a permanent commemoration of the advent of sea rice.

500 Grains Toward Food Security

It is strange to think that a single stalk of rice could provide such a natural solution to enhance food security in China. Because of one plant, the Egypt-sized portion of Chinese land now has agricultural potential. In the future, people will have access to a grain that does not waste freshwater, improves the quality of the soil it grows in, stands strong against the elements, needs no fertilizer and is very nutritious. SR86 provides agronomists today with the tools necessary to solve tomorrow’s problems regarding food security in China.

– Mia Sharpe
Photo: Flickr

War in Ukraine
As the war in Ukraine continues, many begin to think about the consequences that are going to result from it. One can already see some of the consequences of the damage done in Ukraine. From a humanitarian perspective, this war will have severe consequences on poverty around the world. The impact war has on poverty does not always get the most attention. However, it is just as important as the other consequences that come from war.

War and Poverty

People often overlook those living in poverty during war as well as how greatly it affects the demographic. For example, damage to infrastructure and the economy can set a country back in the progress previously made in minimizing poverty. It also makes the living conditions of those living in poverty worse. War affects poverty and poverty has impacts on war as well. Countries with lower GDPs have a higher possibility of conflict. Poverty can reduce a government’s ability to prevent conflict as well.

Poverty in Ukraine Before the War

Poverty in Ukraine has always fluctuated. According to a UNICEF article, absolute poverty reached peak values in 2001 and 2015 in Ukraine. Poverty in Ukraine was declining from 2015 to 2019. In 2020, poverty began to rise again in part due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Impacts on Poverty from the War in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has already caused damage to infrastructure, economy, unemployment and inflation. According to the New York Times, the damage Russia has caused to Ukraine’s infrastructure is more than $119 billion as of March 14, 2022. The damage caused is detrimental to Ukraine’s infrastructure and poverty rate. The loss of life and displacement of Ukrainian people will cause a rise in poverty. UNDP tweeted that “According to our early projections, almost one-third of Ukrainians could fall into poverty within a year and an additional 62% are at risk of falling into poverty.” Ukraine is not the only country that is going to feel the impacts of this war. Countries all over the world are facing an increase in prices of products and goods such as gas and food. The Center for Global Development stated, “Our analysis suggests the scale of the price spike will push over 40 million into extreme poverty.” The entire world is going to feel the impact of the war in Ukraine.


In an effort to help those in Ukraine, the United Nations Foundation has created a link on its webpage so anyone can donate. The U.N. is providing humanitarian assistance by using money from the Central Emergency Response Fund as well as providing assistance on the ground. According to the United Nations Foundation, “The UN is on the ground delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance and support to the people of Ukraine.” Local governments are also creating programs to provide aid. In Northern Virginia, the collection of necessities such as blankets and coats for Ukrainian refugees began on March 23, 2022. The World Food Programme (WFP) has also been providing food assistance. An article from WFP stated that its operation will be working towards providing assistance to people inside of Ukraine and neighboring countries. 

A Look Ahead

The effects of poverty will be more detrimental the longer the war in Ukraine continues. Ukraine was making progress in eliminating poverty before COVID-19 and is now going to see a significant increase in the number of people facing economic hardships. The entire world will be affected by this increase as well.

Anna Deutsch
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a former French colony in the Sahel region of Africa. Burkina Faso has an estimated population of 21 million people. The country shares borders with five francophone-speaking countries — Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Ivory Coast to the southwest and Togo to the south. Here is some information about the impact of COVID-19 on Burkina Faso.

About the Situation in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is an agrarian society. In fact, more than 80% of the nation’s households depend on income from agricultural products. Cotton is one of the major exports and sources of revenue for the country. The country is endowed with natural resources including gold, limestone, marble and salt. Burkina Faso’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.9% from $16 billion in 2019 to $17.9 billion in 2020.

Burkina Faso has experienced political unrest in the past decades. The incessant regime changes among government officials have led to leadership crises that have contributed significantly to the poor economic and security challenges that Burkinabe people experience. Regional alliances of the Economic Community of West Africa States and the African Union suspended the country due to political instability. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened living conditions in Burkina Faso, severely affecting the nearly 40% who live below the poverty line. Inflation has risen by 3.2% in 2020, which has driven up food prices.

COVID-19 Cases

In 2020, due to rising cases of COVID-19, Burkina Faso closed its air, land and sea borders to control the spread of infection. Border closure restrictions occurred in response to the country’s weak health infrastructure and resources stretched thin and overwhelmed by the pandemic. While the interventions showed efficacy in limiting the spread of coronavirus, the social and economic impact of restrictions takes a toll on Burkina Faso. By February 22, 2022, Burkina Faso noted more than 20,751 confirmed cases and 375 deaths and the nation administered more than 2.3 million vaccines.

Rising Unemployment

At the height of the pandemic, some of the lockdown restrictions, among which were the closure of markets, schools, tourist centers and other places of economic activity in the country, were effective against COVID-19’s spread but negatively impacted the workforce. The restrictions affected production, resulting in loss of employment, supply shocks and a decrease in economic growth.

International border closures and supply chain disruption led to a sharp decrease in economic activity for the country as Burkina Faso could not export most of its products. These factors significantly affected trade in Burkina Faso, leading to shocks in household income and plunging families into poverty.

Diaspora Earnings

The country is among the top four countries that depend heavily on diaspora earnings. The effect of COVID-19 globally has affected foreign remittances from abroad to families back home. Burkina Faso’s earnings have reduced by 10% and these have affected vulnerable households whose mainstay income depends on these remittances. These diaspora remittances have become insufficient due to rising food prices from a 3.2% increase in inflation.

 Food Insecurity

The combined impact of the pandemic, coupled with security unrest, has resulted in more than 1.4 million Burkinabe citizens facing internal displacement. Civil unrest and the climatic drought challenges the country faces worsen food insecurity. The humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by COVID-19, has reached alarming levels. Estimates from the World Food Programme (WFP) determine that about 2.1 million people are in need of food in Burkina Faso.

Alleviating the Impact of COVID-19 on Burkina Faso

The global impact of the pandemic has been far-reaching. The WFP has continued to play a leading role in fighting global hunger. The organization deployed resources to mitigate some of the challenges in Burkina Faso by providing school feeding programs to support the education of children. Internally displaced Burkinabe receive support with a monthly food ratio, equivalent to $8 per person. About 700,000 of the population have benefited from the food and cash assistance program of the WFP, but more resources are necessary to abate hunger and poverty and stabilize conflict in the region.

Sylvia Eimieho
Photo: Flickr

Food insecurity in GhanaMany consider Ghana “one of the most stable and democratic countries in West Africa.” However, poverty rates are high, standing at 25.5% in 2020, according to the World Bank. In the last 30 years, Ghana has made great progress in reducing poverty from a 49% poverty rate in 1990 to a 13% poverty rate in 2018. Still, inequalities exist between the north and south of the nation as well as between the urban and rural populations. During the lean season in 2020, the World Food Programme noted that more than 21,000 people suffered from food insecurity in Ghana, particularly in the northern region.

Difficulties in Northern Ghana

Food insecurity in Ghana is more severe in the north of the country largely due to climatic issues. In the northern region, 90% of Ghanaian households depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, however, this region only has one rainy season in comparison to the south, which has two rainy seasons. This climatic difference impacts food production and worsens both poverty and food insecurity in Ghana’s north. Farmer also face other issues such as “low [market] prices, poor road infrastructure, lack of access to finance, inadequate markets, post-harvest losses, insufficient education and knowledge[and] unsustainable farming systems.” Due to an agricultural dependence among rural people, food insecurity and poverty largely affect rural populations.

The World Food Programme (WFP) Combats Food Insecurity in Ghana

The WFP’s work in Ghana, in general, focuses on four key areas to fight food insecurity in Ghana.

  1. Private Sector Collaboration. To address stunting and nutritional deficiencies, the WFP provided support to the private sector to supply and promote “affordable and safe fortified nutritious foods.” For example, the WFP gave technical and financial assistance to two companies and linked these manufacturers to local small-scale farmers. The two Ghanaian companies manufacture Tomvita and Maisoya, which are fortified foods that improve the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding women. The companies aim to extend production to supplemental foods for children.
  2. Nutritional Assistance. The WFP partners with various government institutions to fight against food insecurity in Ghana and address nutritional deficiencies. The partnership aims to ensure citizens consume nutritious local-based diets and learn behaviors conducive to good health. The WFP also supplies electronic vouchers to supplement the nutrition of pregnant or breastfeeding women and children younger than 2.
  3. Food System Resilience. The WFP connects small-scale Ghanaian farmers to local markets “to increase the availability, access and utilization of staples foods” such as “maize, millet, cowpeas and soybeans.” So far, the WFP has connected “10,000 smallholder farmers to two industrial agro-food processing companies that produce specialized blended nutritious foods.” The WFP also aims to strengthen the food supply chain and ensure proper “post-harvest facilities, technologies and services” to improve the quality and safety of foods.
  4. Policy-Making Assistance and Capacity Expansion. The WFP is offering its support and services to improve Ghana’s existing programs and develop policies that focus on combating malnutrition and establishing adequate food systems. This involves connecting Ghana’s national school feeding initiative to the country’s agricultural arena. The WFP helps Ghana to implement food security monitoring measures and establish guidelines to “improve food quality and safety and emergency preparedness.”

Impact in Numbers

According to a WFP Ghana Country Brief published in August 2021, for the year 2021 overall, the WFP aimed to help 45,000 people through nutritional assistance. In August 2021 alone, more than 4,500 people “received direct food assistance through vouchers.” If one looks at the gender proportions of beneficiaries, women formed 72% of the beneficiaries while men accounted for 28%.  Moreover, in 2021, the WFP helped 22,020 small-scale farmers to increase their capacity and connect to markets.

Even though the WFP is seeing success in improving food insecurity in Ghana, worsening environmental conditions like drought stand as additional barriers to food security. Through ongoing support in strengthening the country’s food systems and resilience overall, Ghana can remain out of famine.

– Ander Moreno
Photo: Flickr

Angolas Drought
The drought in Angola is the worst the country has seen in four decades. Angola’s drought has initiated widespread food shortages and hunger among Angolans, touching as many as 1.3 million people in late September 2021. The World Food Programme (WFP) has recognized the dangers of the drought and its impact on Angola. As a result, it has begun to provide
nutrition support in the country.


The Drought in South-West Angola

Angola’s rainy season typically occurs from
November through April. The remaining months of the year are the “colder” season, and rainfall dwindles during that time. However, during the 2020-2021 rainy season, fewer than 100 millimeters of rain fell per month. 

Based on averages from previous years, the predicted rainfall shows little to no rain predicted in December, which was often one of the months to receive the most rain in Angola. The Cunene, Huila and Namibe provinces have been bearing the brunt of Angola’s drought’s impacts. Climate experts have predicted that Angola’s drought will persist, and it already began impacting the agricultural and livestock sectors in Angola
 in April 2021

The Impact of Drought in Angola

Angola’s drought has caused a loss of up to
40% of agricultural output. Most of the farms in Angola are small, communal farms designed to serve communities. The farms typically produce vegetables and fruits, such as cassava, bananas, potatoes, maize, sweet potatoes, citrus and pineapples. All these crops require low-to-medium levels of water, which under normal conditions, is not an issue.

The drought has increased food insecurity across Angola. The diminished crops and livestock have left more than 100,000 children under the age of 5 years old hungry. The number could increase over the next year.

Many in the workforce work in the agricultural sector, accounting for more than half of the labor force at approximately 50.2%. The lowest pay for an agricultural worker in Angola is 66,100 AOA, roughly $110 USD per month. 

Many live in extreme poverty in Angola. With the low agricultural output, farmers are often unable to earn wages. As a result, poverty, which reached 88.5% in 2018, could rise further by the close of 2021. 

The World Food Programme’s Assistance

Angola’s drought has brought distinct challenges to the country, but even though the situation seems dire, the World Food Programme (WFP) has outlined plans to provide resources to the country, such as food and nutrition support.
The WFP will likely set up food distribution centers. Additionally, the organization has analyzed the regions that the drought most impacted in order to organize relief efforts. 

When Angola’s drought began, the WFP saw that its assistance would be necessary and initially collaborated with schools to provide food and nutrition to children, easing the burden for parents. However, the issue of food has extended beyond school. In fact, almost daily, children in Angola struggle to secure food. 

The WFP is working with the officials representing the
Angolan provinces to expand nutrition activities and outreach to maximize the effectiveness of their work. The WFP is a branch of the United Nations (U.N.), serving as the world’s largest aid relief organization. With funding from the U.N., WFP plans to secure $6.3 million to pay for the services and supplies to assist Angola.

The WFP’s aid will not undergo strict coordination and organization by WFP alone. The assistance will help Angola’s government regulate food security and nutrition mechanisms within each province to limit the
necessity of WFP’s assistance later.

The WFP’s work in response to
Angola’s drought will help the Angolan government build resilience and hopefully become less reliant on aid from organizations, such as the WFP.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in The Gambia
Child poverty in the Gambia is a rampant issue throughout the country. While the smallest country in West Africa, the Gambia’s rising poverty and food insecurity cause significant concern for children’s future safety and health. Despite the attempts to encourage positive change, 48% of the 2.1 million people living in the Gambia live in poverty, and 10.3% of the children suffer from acute malnutrition, with a more significant number being food insecure.

COVID-19 and Poverty

Globally, COVID-19 has struck economies and the healthcare systems of every nation, regardless of size or wealth. Though COVID-19 indiscriminately targeted the world’s populations, the healthcare system’s integrity and economic power were essential in protecting and supporting a nation’s citizens. In August 2020, households with insufficient food intake rose to 22% from 20% in July 2020, with the World Food Programme (WFP) attributing those changes to the pandemic. COVID-19 has more than doubled the quarterly increase of acute malnutrition at 5.6%, impacting approximately 58,177 children.

On top of increasing food insecurity, COVID-19 causes an increase in child poverty in the Gambia as employment decreases and the nation’s food supply decreases. The combining factors in the past two years add to the previous instability in the Gambia that included high rates of poverty and malnutrition.

Child Labor and Abuse

In the Gambia, child labor is a common occurrence, and even child prostitution remains a significant issue within the country. According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the United Nations, minors’ commercial exploitation and trafficking in the Gambia contributes to the illegal sex tourism business. This form of labor is illegal while enforcement and allegations fail to eliminate the reoccurring allegations. Without a robust justice system and significant improvement in entrepreneurship in the Gambia, illegal and horrifying child abuse will likely continue with minimal justice for the victims.

Besides the concerning presence of child prostitution, children ages 5 to 14 are working at a rate of 22.6%, and children attending school while working are at 21.7%. Typical fields of child labor are farming, mining, scavenging or street begging. While the child labor forms are nowhere near the complete list of potential labor fields, the necessity and use of children in the positions reflect the high rates of child poverty in the Gambia.

Education and Poverty

As with any nation, there is a direct association between poverty and education, especially with commonplace child labor. Although there have been slight improvements in education, such as 78% enrollment in primary schools, retention remains a significant issue for Gambian children. Of the 65.5% of students that complete primary school education, only 45.8% enter a lower secondary school and only 29.2% reach an upper secondary school education. The primary concern is approximately 20% of school-age children never enter the education system, reflecting a significant piece of the population unable to reach full economic potential.

Education is an essential aspect of youth in many emerging economies, as it allows individuals to enter specific and unique aspects of the global market. Without education, it can be challenging to improve socioeconomic status or advance development within one’s country. The combined rates of child education and child labor reflect the loss in economic potential and the inability to decrease poverty in the Gambia internally. Child poverty in the Gambia will continue without increasing the assistance to build up the education system and enforce ratified child labor laws. The factors of food insecurity, child poverty and weak systems to combat social issues contribute to the estimation that Gambian children only reach 40% of their full potential.

Looking Ahead

In an attempt to reduce child poverty in the Gambia, NGOs are providing supplies and monetary support to ensure safety, health and education. Child Aid Gambia is one organization that is supporting children, with multiple programs, including Bakoteh Rubbish Dump or Feeding Programmes. The Bakoteh Rubbish Dump spans over one kilometer in each direction and sits in the district of the busy township Serekunda. This dump is one of the largest and most toxic in the Gambia and Child Aid Gambia found children between 4 years old and older scavenging for metal and scraps to sell in the location. The Bakoteh Rubbish Dump Program works to reintegrate the children scavenging the dump back into local schools to ensure their education.

With the high rates of food scarcity, the Feeding Programmes assist the poorest communities by providing high-quality food for families and those suffering from malnutrition, especially with shorter rainy seasons in recent years causing massive drought. The care packages act as lifelines for communities experiencing drought or economic losses stagnating development. Without organizations such as Child Aid Gambia, there would be higher food insecurity and poverty levels throughout the nation. To end child poverty in the Gambia, NGOs and government organizations need to increase support for systemic change for education and ground-level support for food-insecure and impoverished children.

– Mikey Redding
Photo: Flickr

people in ColombiaIn collaboration with the Colombian government, the World Food Programme (WFP) created a pilot program in August 2021 to help fight poverty and food insecurity in Colombia. The country faces significant struggles due to the pandemic and rising tension with the government, increasing the number of those in poverty over the past year. The program hopes to help people in Colombia obtain more access to food for their families, as food security is a particular struggle, especially over the past 15 months or so.

Protests in Colombia

Since the end of April 2021, more than 50 people have died during protests across Colombia. At first, the demonstrators opposed a tax reform lowering the tax thresholds of salaries. As such, any individual earning 2.6 million pesos (roughly $684) or more per month is subject to tax. Furthermore, many tax exemptions would disappear and there would be an added increase in taxes for businesses. The aim of the reform was to help the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of people protested, and after four days, President Iván Duque finally declared that he would withdraw the bill.

However, the protests did not stop there. There was significant police presence during the marches as a court order prohibited protesting due to the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Human rights groups say riot police had used tear gas and even live ammunition to disperse protestors. Evidence from social media show violent clashes, and now, many have lost their lives. Demonstrations have only strengthened as anti-government protests continue since November of 2019. More than 2,300 citizens and members of security forces were injured as the protests persisted.

Protests, led by the National Strike Committee, go on for several reasons, but the main issue igniting outrage among citizens was “the actions of riot police.” Protests against the police began long before the pandemic as tens of thousands marched in 2019 after the death of Dilan Cruz, “a teenager who was hit by a projectile fired by riot police at an anti-government protest.” The protestors want the riot police to disband and security forces to have more accountability. However, the president does not currently plan on disbanding the riot police.

Poverty in Colombia

Poverty in Colombia is another significant problem as the pandemic pushed more than 3.6 million people into poverty. In some cities like Quibdó, the number of people experiencing extreme poverty rose to 30% and in the supposed “economic powerhouse” of Colombia, Medellín, the rate of extreme poverty is now 9%. Indigenous groups joined the protests against inequality and the riot police as they were hit the hardest due to violence in rural areas. Before any progress can be made, President Duque said protestors must lift all roadblocks as the barriers have already caused significant damage to the economy. On May 28, 2021, the president said “he would deploy 7,000 troops to clear main highways.” Duque ruled out the protesters’ main demand of dismantling the riot police so it is likely that protests will arise once more.

Poverty Statistics in Colombia

  • Poverty in Colombia rose from 34.7% in 2018 to 35.7% in 2019, equating to 662,000 people falling into poverty. Just a year after, 3.6 million fell into poverty during 2020.
  • Inequality measured by the Gini index, which looks at the distribution of income for a population, went upwards in 2019 as the Gini index measured inequality at 52.7. Income inequality continued to grow in 2020.
  • There were about 2.5 million job losses in 2020.
  • In 2020, the unemployment rate jumped to 15.9% and 22% of citizens worked less than 20 hours per week.
  • Challenges in Venezuela made food insecurity a significant hurdle as 1.8 million Venezuelans and 500,000 Colombian returnees entered Colombia for food and other basic resources.
  • The Venezuelan crisis means at least 1.8 million people in Colombia “require food assistance.”
  • The United Nations projects that 5.1 million Colombians require humanitarian aid.

Help From the World Food Programme

The WFP and the Colombian government are fighting poverty in Colombia through the pilot program, expanding the national social protection system to include migrants and vulnerable host communities. The assistance “included cash transfers and in-kind food distributions aimed at more than 72,000 vulnerable people, among them Venezuelan migrants, Colombian returnees and vulnerable Colombians.”

The WFP and the Colombia Administrative Department for Social Prosperity worked together to fight Colombia’s poverty crisis. The cash transfers from the WFP “aligned with the emergency social protection programs provided by the Government of Colombia, to ensure consistency with the national social protection system.” The WFP could obtain important information from the national social registry to better understand where to efficiently use its resources. Poverty in Colombia continues as a significant concern, but the program provides hope, alleviating food insecurity for thousands of families.

– Alex Alfano
Photo: Flickr