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Hunger in South Sudan
In 2011 South Sudan became the newest nation in the world. Gaining independence gave much celebration and hope for the future, yet South Sudan was created as a very undeveloped country. Nearly seven million people face the risk of starvation, which is 60% of the population in the country. In order to fight hunger in South Sudan, these organizations have come together to provide aid.

Rise Against Hunger

In parts of South Sudan such as Unity State and Jonglei, famine was officially declared in February of 2017. However, humanitarian organizations such as Rise Against Hunger fought to prevent worsening conditions. The national Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) has reported that the extent of the famine has since diminished. One of the ways Rise Against Hunger fought against hunger in South Sudan is by supporting programs managed by Mothering Across Continents in Old Fangak. The programs focus on providing school meals for children, constructing sustainable food storage and stabilizing markets through the purchase of local foods. Through the efforts of this support, more than 1,300 school children have received aid at the Old Fangak community school.

Action Against Hunger

Factors such as poor living conditions, climate change, limited access to clean water and public services lead to many becoming undernourished. The team at Action Against Hunger works to make hunger in South Sudan a thing of the past. The team focuses on bringing programs to local communities that work to prevent underlying causes of hunger. Teams at Action Against Hunger worked on supplying 7,215 families with agriculture support. They also constructed 71 kilometers of roads that will allow more easy access to schools, markets and health services. With 91,000 people living near poor-quality roads, these new 71 kilometers of roads will give much-needed relief to the people in South Sudan.

World Food Programme

Since December of 2013 civil war has been causing havoc in South Sudan. It has caused widespread destruction and death, which tanked the economy and reduced crop production and imports. This has made it difficult for 1.47 million displaced people to secure enough food for the year. To combat the hunger in South Sudan, the World Food Programme has worked to provide food assistance in nearly every part of the country since 2011. The organization also makes sure to provide nutritious food and nutrition counseling to pregnant women and children. The World Food Programme also establishes secure farming grounds in areas that do not see conflict.

Organizations such as Rise Against Hunger, Action Against Hunger and the World Food Programme are able to help prevent hunger in South Sudan and give relief for the people who are put at the risk of starvation. With the help of organizations aimed towards preventing hunger, the people of South Sudan are able to make steady progress towards food security.

Ashleigh Jimenez
Photo: Flickr

ugly foodSome countries are creatively battling hunger and food waste by repurposing and rebranding unappealing produce as “ugly food” in Africa. Two projects in Kenya and South Africa demonstrate an interest in reducing food waste to relieve food insecurity.

The Serious Problem with Food Waste

While hunger remains a pressing issue around the world, nearly one-third of all food that is grown or produced is thrown away before it can reach anyone’s dinner table. On the African continent, nonprofits and governments are confronting food waste as a barrier to relieving widespread hunger. These groups focus on improving data collection, promoting sustainable practices and improving food policy to reduce food waste after production.

Adaptability and innovation are key. The Minister for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development of Zimbabwe, Joseph Made, recently stated, “Obviously, new strategies and approaches are needed to reduce food losses and waste, especially due to the rapidly changing nature of agri-food systems and rapid urbanization.”

A New Approach to Reducing Food Waste

One increasingly popular approach to food waste is encouraging the use of unappealing or “ugly” foods. Ugly foods are fruits, vegetables or other food products that farmers, markets and shoppers reject due to discoloration or misshapenness. While perfectly edible and nutritious, these foods are unmarketable, so markets throw them away. In countries such as the U.S. and France, a growing number of businesses are buying ugly produce from farmers and markets and reselling them to shoppers who want to end excessive food waste.

Nonprofit Work Meets Ugly Food in Africa

In many African countries, nonprofit organizations are finding ways to repurpose unappealing foods to reduce food waste and end hunger. In South Africa, for instance, food waste is a huge problem. About 44% of all foods wasted in South Africa are fruits or vegetables. However, Slow Food is a nonprofit changing that. Through an initiative called World Disco Soup Day, Slow Food sponsors festivals in many cities around the world, including Johannesburg, where ugly vegetables are brought in to make an eclectic, community soup. By feeding the community, World Disco Soup Day raises awareness about food waste and teaches people how to use unappealing produce.

Similarly, according to the United Nations, “farms in Kenya reject up to 83 tons of perfectly nutritious vegetables simply because they are considered too ugly and off-putting for consumers.” An initiative sponsored by the World Food Programme is trying to change that by feeding schoolchildren with fruits and vegetables that would have been thrown away. This project in Nairobi, Kenya has been able to provide school lunches for over 2,200 students.

While still new, the ugly food in Africa movement is growing as a means of reducing food waste and hunger. Organizations like Slow Food and the World Food Programme are leading the way by using creative approaches to feeding communities.

– Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Unsplash

Agricultural Sector in Kenya
Agriculture is one of the most critical production sectors in society. Proper agricultural techniques and efficient transportation of goods are crucial in reducing food insecurity. They are also vital in ensuring that everyone is provided with adequate nutrition. Based on a 2020 food insecurity projection by the European Commission, between 6% and 9% of Kenyans have faced food insecurity this year. This is a result of many factors in the agricultural sector in Kenya.

In Kenya, the agricultural sector makes up 24% of its GDP via direct agricultural production. It makes up an additional 3% via agricultural manufacturing and distribution. More than 80% have jobs in the farming sector in Kenya. Unfortunately, many barriers over the past decade have inhibited agrarian success in Kenya.

Political Climate and Environmental Barriers

Following a controversial presidential election in December 2017, conflict broke out in Kenya. Throughout the months of conflict, more than 1,000 Kenyans were killed. More than 500,000 fled their homes to avoid violent areas. This displacement negatively impacted the agricultural sector in Kenya. It separated farmers from their property and destroyed crops.

Additionally, the climate of Kenya makes it susceptible to drought, flooding and landslides. Roughly 83% of Kenya is on “arid” or “semi-arid” land. These areas are much more likely to suffer from droughts, which drastically diminish crop yields. These droughts also impact livestock in Kenya by depleting water availability and grazing locations. Many areas in Kenya also experience periods of continued rainfall that can cause flooding. Flooding can overwater crops and cause an increase in livestock-related diseases.

Increasing Cost of Agricultural Inputs

The rising price of necessary agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, has been making it difficult for farmers to compete with importers. Importers can sell their products at lower costs and push local producers out of the market. In the first half of 2018, food imports rose by more than 50%. For a country whose economy is mainly dependent on agriculture, this can be very detrimental.

Policy

In recent years, the Kenyan government has begun implementing subsidies on farm inputs such as fertilizer. These subsidies have made local farmers equip to compete in the agricultural market. In tandem with this, the government has been improving rural infrastructure so that these farmers have access to a broader customer pool.

In addition to these policies, the Kenyan government has been working on implementing educational programs. These programs provide farmers with a comprehensive understanding of agricultural diversification techniques and irrigation strategies. The climate of Kenya can make it exceedingly difficult to sustain agricultural growth. Therefore, educational resources could improve the crop yields of farmers.

Nonprofit Work

It is estimated that each day, 83 tons of produce grown on Kenyan farms are rejected after being deemed aesthetically imperfect for export. In many cases, these products end up in landfills. In January 2017, the World Food Programme began an initiative to reduce the amount of wasted food in Kenya.

This program diverted these “ugly” fruits and vegetables from landfills to schools. These products help make school lunches for those in disadvantaged communities. This program both combats childhood hunger and reduces food waste. Within the first four months of this program being enacted, it provided more than 11,000 pounds of produce to schoolchildren.

To combat food insecurity and help raise the GDP in Kenya, innovations in its agricultural sector need to be made. These changes will require investment in crop-related technologies and resources, either by the government or by international donors.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: Flickr

world hunger aid app
Chronic hunger is still an issue that plagues many countries and communities around the world. Many solutions proposed to solve world hunger have been ongoing for decades, yet the problem persists. In the technology-focused 21st century, these attempts at solutions have become increasingly digital. One such digital solution is a world hunger aid application from the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

The World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is the U.N.’s top organization in charge of managing and solving world hunger crises. It is focused on emergency food aid as well as helping communities maintain high nutrition standards. The WFP’s efforts are responsible for the allocation and distribution of billions of rations, worldwide to food-insecure communities each year.

Most of these food aid efforts happen on the ground, in the affected areas. However, a new initiative from the WFP can involve far more people in the crusade against world hunger. The solution is the world hunger aid application, “ShareTheMeal.”

ShareTheMeal: How Does it Work?

Launched in 2015, ShareTheMeal is a one-of-a-kind world hunger aid application. Its sole purpose is to allow users worldwide, to donate meals to adults and children around the world via their smartphones or tablets. To participate, users simply tap a button to send an $0.80 donation to the WFP, which covers the cost of one meal.

ShareTheMeal also allows users to assist with its mission in several other ways. Within the user interface, the hunger aid application splits donation tiers into higher amounts, such as “Feed a Child for a Week” or “Feed a Child for a Year,” which correspond to a donation value, to fund that goal. The application also has a feature called “The Table,” where a monthly donation matches the user with the family they are supporting. This allows users to receive updates on how their donations helped a specific family.

In addition to its general donation tiers, ShareTheMeal has real-time, cause-specific donation sections. These include assisting with the famine crisis in Yemen and supporting Syrian refugees in Iraq. The application’s “Teams” option also allows users to form teams with friends, coworkers or family members to meet a donation goal.

ShareTheMeal’s Impact

To date, ShareTheMeal has donated more than 78 million meals to people in need via its 2+ million users on iOS alone. It has received thousands of five-star reviews for its efforts and was named the Google Play Store’s Best Social Impact app. ShareTheMeal has also been featured by several major global news outlets, from CNN, Forbes and Al Jazeera to Spiegel Online.

The application has directly contributed to the WFP’s efforts to continue providing aid to communities affected by global hunger. ShareTheMeal combines peoples’ desire to support a cause with the technology that permeates their everyday lives — in a masterfully simple idea that offers tangible results. In doing so, the application brings the world of charity to a new generation of contributors via its smartphone presence.

Outlook — Positive

As hunger persists around the globe, ShareTheMeal continues to grow and evolve today. The world hunger aid application announced that during the next five years, it aims to donate 800 million meals to the world’s poor. ShareTheMeal’s goal is massive, but with its millions of users, exceptional usability and the emotional connections it creates between users and those they assist (with their donations) — this clever piece of technology seems to be on track to succeed in its quest to end global starvation.

– Domenic Scalora
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Eswatini
The Kingdom of Eswatini (referred to as Swaziland until 2019) is a small country in the southern tip of Africa, bordering South Africa and Mozambique. The country has a dense population of around 1.14 million, and it is estimated that 63% live below the poverty line. Eswatini is currently ranked 74 out of 117 countries on the Global Hunger Index and received a GHI score of 20.9, putting them at a “serious” hunger level. The 2019 Eswatini Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (VAA) estimated that as much as 25% of the rural population — around 232,000 people — experience severe hunger and food insecurity during the lean season.

Little to no rain across Eswatini poses a huge threat for the harvest season. Many farmers choose not to plant their usual amount of crops in anticipation of severe drought, and crop production is projected to decrease by 30% in the coming years. Labor opportunities on farms also decrease, as a result depriving some people of their source of income for the season. Decreased crop yield leads to a huge spike in prices, which limits food access for those already living in poverty.

Hunger Leads to Increased Sickness and Disease

Sickness and disease are typically more prevalent in tight-knit communities that face hunger and poverty daily. Often, sickness in impoverished countries is a direct result of prolonged deficiencies of essential nutrients and inadequate caloric intake. Eswatini has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 25% of the population being infected. HIV is a disease that harms the immune system, meaning many Swazi citizens experiencing HIV are at a heightened risk for other infections.

The under-five mortality rate for children in Eswatini is 54 out of 1,000 live births, the lowest value on record as of 2018. In terms of maternal health in Swazi women, there is not enough data on their specific nutrition and diet habits. However, it is important to note that approximately one-third of women of childbearing age experience HIV, compared to only 19% of men. The high prevalence of HIV in pregnant and nursing mothers increases the likelihood that their children will experience nutrient deficiencies as a result. Fortunately, HIV can be prevented with proper sexual practices and an increase in condom usage.

Factors Increasing Hunger in Eswatini

Citizens have attempted to import maize from the neighboring country of South Africa, but much of it is confiscated by border control due to strict limitations on the amount of foreign products allowed into the country. Government officials claim that these regulations help protect domestic vendors and farmers, but many citizens are unable to afford the local prices. With limited access to imported goods and steep domestic rates, many Eswatini people are left helpless and hungry.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all the residents of the Kwaluseni township have lost their jobs, forcing people to stay home and avoid going to their place of work. Already impoverished citizens, now with no source of income, have resorted to scavenging for food. Some have even been sighted consuming weeds for sustenance. Local soup kitchens and schools were also forced to shut their doors due to coronavirus concerns, leaving more than 11,000 children without daily access to meals. Before, children received two meals a day provided by the government and various international donors. Now, the Swazi government has offered little to no aid to combat the exacerbated hunger crisis, especially in its larger cities.

Foreign Assistance Has Begun, But It’s Not Enough

Many foreign aid organizations have helped fund the World Food Programme (WFP) in Eswatini, reaching over 55,000 people in vulnerable areas this past year. WFP also provides support to many orphans and vulnerable children by establishing Neighbourhood Care Points for food and social services across the country. While much is being done to help the people of Eswatini, more resources are needed to cover a growing funding gap.

The hunger crisis in the Kingdom of Eswatini is an immense threat to the livelihoods and wellbeing of Swazi people. As a result, organizations such as the WFP are stepping in to help those in need. Along with the help of outside organizations, understanding hunger in Eswatini is an important step toward finding a long-lasting, successful solution.

Mya Longacre
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Niger
Niger is a country in West Africa and is one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Although the country has made significant effort in poverty reduction, Niger’s extreme poverty rate remained at 41.4% in 2019, affecting 9.5 million people. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Niger.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Niger

  1. Niger’s fast-growing population adds to its high poverty rate. The United Nations expects Niger’s population to triple by 2050. As a result, the country’s inability to break the cycle of poverty for impoverished families will increase.
  2. Population Services International (PSI) Corporation promotes family planning resources in Niger. In 2019, PSI partnered with the Nigerien Ministry of Public Health to administer an outreach mission for voluntary family planning to rural areas of Niger. For example, the operation provided long-acting contraception methods and health education.
  3. Niger battles hunger. As of 2015, with a population of 18 million, 81% of Niger’s population lives in rural areas. Due to the rurality, most of the community does not have access to a food market. This exacerbates the problem of food security for the 20% of citizens who do not have enough food.
  4. Action Against Hunger aided 429,301 Nigeriens in 2018. The program provided better access to food markets and seasonal cast-for-work opportunities. Action Against Hunger assisted families by donating seeds and agricultural tools to those in need.
  5. Niger encounters climate challenges. As a country in West Africa, 80% of Niger is coated by the Sahara Desert, causing challenges for agriculture. The dry climate and minimal crop growth force 40% of Nigerien children under the age of five to experience malnutrition.
  6. Frequent droughts harm Niger’s economy. Niger’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, accounting for more than 40% of its GDP. As a result, when the country faces continuous short rainy seasons, there are food and job shortages.
  7. The World Food Programme (WFP) assists Niger’s farmers. The WFP buys produce from local Niger farmers and connects the farmers with corporate markets. This program helps the farmers to gain a steady income and reduce poverty.
  8. CARE Niger transforms the lives of Nigerien citizens. Since 1973, CARE Niger has reduced hunger through its Food Security and Nutrition and Management of Natural Resources Program. The plan established farmer field schools that advocated for markets and nutrition.
  9. Conflicts near Niger’s borders affect its citizens. Thousands of Nigerians have fled Nigeria to Niger due to violent extremism. As a result, almost 23,000 Nigerian refugees arrived in Niger in April 2020 alone.
  10. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) establishes nutritional opportunities for Niger. In April of 2020, USAID announced a five-year plan titled the Yalwa Activity, which plans to bolster the capabilities of Nigerien farmers by mandating access to affordable, safe food. Additionally, the Yalwa Activity will enhance food storage for farmers, allowing farmers to sell their produce at markets across Niger.

With its growing population, harsh climate and troubled borders, Niger remains one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Nevertheless, through outreach and international aid, Niger hopes to reduce its extreme poverty rates.

– Kacie Frederick 
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Philippines
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the estimated poverty rate was 16.6% in 2018 and 17.6 million people faced extreme poverty. Hunger is one of the critical problems stemming from poverty in the Philippines, with 64% of the population suffering from chronic food insecurity.

According to the World Food Programme, factors such as climate issues and political challenges have contributed to the food insecurity that Filipinos continuously face. The Mindanao region has endured four decades of armed conflict that resulted in more than 40% of families displaced between 2000 and 2010, thus deteriorating food security. Natural disasters like typhoons are a typical experience in the Philippines, at a rate of about 20 per year. In fact, the country ranks third out of 171 countries in the 2015 World Risk Index and fourth out of 188 countries in the 2016 Global Climate Risk Index.

In response, many organizations have shown interest in improving the conditions in the Philippines through various programs and projects. Here are five organizations that have stepped up to address hunger in the Philippines.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is an organization that has worked in the Philippines since 2000. Since then, it has aided a total of 302,014 Filipinos in poverty to improve various aspects of their daily lives.

In particular, the organization has reached 2,000 people with nutrition and health, 221,820 people with water and sanitation and 73,207 people with food security and livelihood programs. Action Against Hunger also focuses on community-led initiatives within the areas affected by armed conflicts and natural disasters.

World Food Programme

World Food Programme (WFP) tackles hunger in the Philippines with an emphasis on rebuilding communities. For example, its food and cash assistance programs provide aid in exchange for participation in vocational skill training and asset creation activities.

One major program of the WFP is Fill the Nutrient Gap, which aims to address malnutrition among children which can cause health issues like stunted growth. In the Philippines, 33% of children aged 5 or younger, which amounts to 4 million children, are less likely to reach their full mental and physical potential due to stunted growth. To address these issues, Fill the Nutrient Gap has helped identify and prioritize certain policies and program packages. Its goal is to improve nutrient intake for target groups through increased availability of nutritious food. The program resulted in various recommendations on health, social welfare and food processing policies for the country.

The organization also provides school meals to more than 60,000 children in the areas of Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur in the Philippines. In addition, WFP deals with early childhood nutrition. WFP encourages certain products like micronutrient powder for children aged 6 months to 23 months and fortified food for those under 3 years old.

Feed the Children

Feed the Children has battled hunger in the Philippines since 1984. Its programs have positively influenced more than 283,000 people in 38 communities. Through the use of Child-Focused Community Development (CFCD), the organization helps children overcome both short-term and long-term hunger issues.

The CFCD approach works with vulnerable and at-risk children as well as their caregivers and communities. Through this program, Feed the Children has provided caregivers with necessary training and resource provisions required to feed families, build clean communities and increase access to education.  As a result, it was able to achieve the goal of cultivating appropriate conditions required for thriving, specifically in terms of food and nutrition security.

FEED aids Filipinos in many areas, such as improving childhood nutrition and development or training on water and sanitation. It also utilizes the idea of child-managed savings groups to teach financial management to children and allow them to develop savings for food and family use.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines

Rise Against Hunger Philippines is an international organization focused on the distribution of food and relief aid. Its primary goal is to provide packaged meals and facilitate shipments of donated products like medical supplies, water and food. Numerous volunteers contribute by packaging meals that contain an array of micronutrients vital for human growth and sustainability. So far, the organization was able to supply 20.75 million meals to the Philippines, saving 1.4 million lives.

Rise Against Hunger Philippines also provides relief aid for natural disasters and political conflicts through vast networks that work to address various needs. Additionally, it has created safety net programs that provide nutrition and vocational skill training for the poor to transition out of poverty.

Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry (FH) has been active in the Philippines since 1978. Beginning with helping refugees, the organization has expanded its efforts to other developmental programs which include the issue of hunger. It has reached 23 different communities and sponsored 6,565 children in the Philippines.

With a significant portion of the Filipino population under the poverty line, FH has focused on long-term developmental programs. These are to create opportunities for improved nutrition and poverty reduction. To create foundations for self-sufficiency, FH employs a four-phase community development plan in Filipino communities.

Phase One begins with discovering the risks and needs of the people, especially in regards to the children. Phase Two is where local government and community leaders come together with FH. From there, they develop action plans that would create livelihood programs and training for future leaders. Subsequently, Phase Three promotes these development projects, handles solutions for health and reduces disaster-related risks. The main goal in this phase is to reduce food insecurity in the event of natural disasters or political conflicts. Finally, Phase Four evaluates how people’s needs were properly addressed and how the community gained a sense of independence in food provision.

These five organizations are just a glimpse of the work that some are doing to help reduce hunger in the Philippines. They have implemented a wide variety of plans to help reduce poverty and provide nutritional meals to the poor. Furthermore, there have been additional efforts in helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, even with the progress, more aid would help combat the ever-imminent issue of hunger in the Philippines.

Kiana Powers
Photo: USAID

Hunger in GuineaGuinea, a nation on the west coast of Africa, has a population of 13.1 million people. With 55% of its population falling below the poverty line and 21.8% of households considered food insecure, hunger in Guinea is one of the nation’s most pressing issues. Hunger and malnutrition are particularly urgent problems for children, with 24.4% of Guinean children suffering from stunting. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse and has put many of Guinea’s most vulnerable citizens in danger.

Factors Limiting the Potential of Guinea’s Untapped Natural Resources

Guinea is rich in natural resources and has a climate capable of supporting a variety of crops. Its economy relies heavily on mining and agriculture, but poor infrastructure, lack of education and corruption have prevented Guinea from using its natural resources to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty. The situation is further complicated by political instability in surrounding countries resulting in many refugees fleeing to Guinea, putting further stress on the food supply and economy.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, agriculture accounted for 19.8% of Guinea’s economy in 2017. Although this is a significant portion of the economy, there is room for considerable growth in the industry. Many farmers are limited by poor infrastructure that prevents them from having access to profitable markets and forces many to practice subsistence farming on small plots of land. This greatly reduces the potential productivity of farmers and leaves many households, particularly in rural areas, without sufficient food supplies and dangerously vulnerable. Guinea has an extreme wet season and is prone to flooding that can wipe out entire fields, leaving subsistence farmers with no food for their families.

In addition to flooding, Guinea is susceptible to a variety of natural disasters that threaten food security for many Guineans. In the dry season, bush fires can burn through fields, and disease outbreaks in the last decade, such as Ebola and COVID-19, prevent many people from obtaining the resources that they need.

Emergency Relief and School Feeding Programs

With hunger in Guinea remaining so high, school attendance and literacy rates are very low, as children must leave school to work. The World Food Programme reports that only 32% of Guinea’s adult population is able to read and write. This issue is even worse for women, who had an adult literacy rate of 22% in 2014 compared to 43.6% for men. Women also account for 60% of those who suffer from chronic hunger in Guinea.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been working to address hunger in Guinea since 1964 in a variety of ways, including providing emergency food assistance during crises and school feedings. In the last decade, WFP’s emergency response has helped the Guineans who are most vulnerable during floods and Ebola outbreaks. Their school feeding program has reached 150,000 students, offering school meals that encourage attendance. The program also includes take-home rations for girls in their last year of primary school to incentivize the education of young girls.

Programs Developing Sustainable and Local Food Systems

The World Food Programme runs Smallholder Agriculture Market Support (SAMS) and Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) programs that work to provide farmers with financial and technical support while also building sustainable food systems. These programs have been able to improve crop yields and connect farmers with stable and profitable markets, including the school feeding program.

The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) also operates in Guinea, in an attempt to promote economic growth and reduce poverty. WAAPP works to help farmers in Guinea increase their crop yields by adopting improved crop management practices and using more productive crop varieties. Post-harvest losses are a large issue for many Guinean farmers, but these losses have been reduced through WAAPP and the implementation of small-scale food production. WAAPP has been able to reach 120,000 Guineans and increased their beneficiaries’ income by 30%. This program indirectly impacts many more people, as more productive farms require more workers, which creates jobs and stimulates economic growth.

The result of these initiatives is the development of a sustainable food system focused on local markets that rely less on transportation infrastructure and remote markets. If successful, this focus on local markets may simultaneously address multiple challenges for both producers and consumers. Farmers generate more revenue and are more productive; households are incentivized to send children, including girls, to school, which increases the national literacy rate; and the number of hungry children falls. With continued development, systems like these will be able to feed more people and leave many farmers more resilient to disease outbreaks and flooding, ultimately reducing hunger in Guinea.

Despite these efforts, political instability and COVID-19 have created new challenges that keep many people in Guinea in poverty. Programs such as SAMS, FFA and WAAPP have succeeded in helping those that they can reach, but they are still unable to help the majority of Guineans. Corruption and political unrest further exacerbate food insecurity and lead to underfunded domestic aid programs. If the underlying corruption and political instability can be addressed,  increased funding to build necessary infrastructure and sustainable food systems through programs such as SAMS, FFA and WAAPP could reduce poverty and hunger in Guinea while fostering a sustainable and strong economy.

William Dormer

Photo: Wikimedia

Poverty in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an island country that has 21.7 million inhabitants. However, that number sharply increases throughout the months of December to March as tourists flock to the island to visit its alluring beaches and mountainous terrain. The island nation resembles a tropical paradise, but poverty in Sri Lanka remains a critical concern as the country is still recovering from the tumultuous 30-year civil war which occurred from 1983 until 2009. Over the past decade, Sri Lanka has focused on reconstructing its economy and restructuring the distribution of wealth. The nation has made significant improvements but many serious issues remain in regard to poverty and the reconstruction process. Here are five facts about poverty in Sri Lanka.

5 Facts About Poverty in Sri Lanka

  1. Economic Growth and Living Standards: The poverty rate of Sri Lanka (excluding the Northern and Eastern provinces) decreased from 22.7% in 2002 to 6.1% in 2013. Unfortunately, the nation’s living standards do not reflect the same improvement. In 2013, approximately 45% of the population survived on less than $5 per day. However, the Sri Lankan economy has grown at an average of 5.6% over the past 10 years. This significant growth rate is expanding the middle class, improving purchasing power and increasing the disposable income of Sri Lankan citizens. Consequently, experts expect that living standards in Sri Lanka will improve in the years to come.
  2. Rural Versus Urban Regions: Sri Lanka has a large rural sector which causes an unequal spatial distribution of wealth. In 2013, 75% of Sri Lanka’s total population and more than 85% of Sri Lanka’s poor population lived in rural areas. The country’s wealth largely concentrates in urban centers, limiting poor, rural citizens’ access to resources and establishing a correlated pattern of economic inequality. After the Sri Lankan Civil War ended in 2009, the nation began rebuilding its economy with a focus on manufacturing and important services. This focus encourages the expansion of an urban-based economy which will help to spread resources and balance the apparent economic inequality.
  3. The Agriculture Industry: Almost 30% of Sri Lanka’s workforce and about 50% of the employed poor work in the agriculture industry. The agriculture industry typically has lower wages and fewer opportunities to advance compared to jobs in other sectors. Therefore, it is difficult for poor Sri Lankans in the agriculture sector to increase their annual income and improve their social standing, further perpetuating the rural pockets of poverty in Sri Lanka. Urbanization helps to counteract this phenomenon as it enables rural inhabitants to experience the resources and opportunities that once concentrated in Sri Lanka’s crowded cities. This structural transformation provides a wider array of choices in terms of employment and leisure, and it encourages poorer citizens working in the agriculture sector to engage in more productive industries which resultantly challenges the cycle of poverty in Sri Lanka.
  4. Key Development Indicators: Other socioeconomic issues, such as malnutrition and climate change, directly affect Sri Lanka’s poverty rate. According to the World Food Programme, 22% of Sri Lankans are undernourished or malnourished which signifies that many citizens lack necessary vitamins and minerals. Climate change also negatively affects the poverty rate in Sri Lanka as severe floods and droughts threaten food security and limit access to clean water. To combat these issues, the Sri Lankan government partnered with the World Food Programme to provide “technical and policy support to build national capacity to ensure access to food, end malnutrition and improve the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers.” Additionally, the Sri Lankan government has made significant advances in reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to primary education. The percentage of skilled practitioners attending births in Sri Lanka has dramatically increased in recent years. Resultantly, Sri Lanka’s maternal mortality ratio has decreased from 500-600 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 60 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020. Education is a primary focus for the Sri Lankan government, as education is one of the most salient factors in alleviating poverty. Today, 99.08% of children ages 5 to 14 years old attend primary school in Sri Lanka.
  5. COVID-19: Predictions determine that Sri Lanka will experience a 25% (or $750 million) decrease in exports due to COVID-19. The global pandemic has dramatically reduced Sri Lanka’s export earnings, consumption and investment. As a result, top export industries (apparel, tea and rubber) have had to deliver devastating job and earning cuts. Social distancing requirements continue to restrict job performance and tourism, thereby threatening the stability of the economy and the national poverty rate. While the country braces for the economic impact, the government has focused on efforts to contain the spread of the virus. In April 2020, the Sri Lankan government issued a 24-hour curfew, closed all international flights and increased coronavirus testing to slow its spread. These measures made identifying cases of coronavirus quicker and easier which prevented thousands of more deaths from occurring, and which limited the damage to the national economy and poverty rate.

While these five facts about poverty in Sri Lanka show the country’s challenges, it has made significant strides to reduce its poverty rate. Through its continued work independently and with NGOs like the World Food Programme, the country should be able to continue alleviating its poverty rate.

Ashley Bond
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Poverty in Africa's Sahel RegionThe Sahel region of Africa has been described as “the long strip of arid land along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.” The Sahel is comprised of parts of various countries, including but not limited to Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan and the Northern tip of Nigeria. Due to geography, climate and violent conflict, the region’s perpetual plight with poverty has deep roots. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Africa’s Sahel region and initiatives that are helping the region find solutions.

10 Facts About Poverty in Africa’s Sahel Region

  1. Infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. The country of Chad experiences the highest number with 85 deaths per 1000 births. Niger and Mali see 81 and 69 deaths respectively.
  2. The Sahel struggles with education as well. Epidemiologist Simon Hay created a detailed map that displays years of education and sex disparity in years of education across African countries. Mali and Chad rank especially low. Chad has a literacy rate of about 22 percent. For men, the rate of 31 percent is almost double that of women at almost 14 percent. In Mali, the literacy rate is around 33 with 45 percent for men and 22 percent for women.
  3. The Sahel is one of the most youthful regions in the world. At least 65 percent of the population is below 25 years of age. This makes education and child healthcare even more crucial to the region’s development. As a result, the U.N. Support Plan for the Sahel specifically prioritizes youth empowerment. The plan’s goal is “to scale up efforts to accelerate prosperity and sustainable peace” in 10 targeted countries in the region.
  4. The Sahel region receives limited annual rainfall and experiences frequent droughts. This poses enormous obstacles to poverty reduction and food security. Severe droughts that have occurred between 1970 and 1993 have caused major losses in agricultural production and livestock, according to UNEP.
  5. In 2012, more than 18 million people living in the Sahel region experienced severe food insecurity due to the region’s third drought in a decade. This came after the region’s previous food crises in 2008 and 2010. In 2014, the Sahel region received $274 million in humanitarian aid from USAID to help mitigate its agricultural and food insecurity crises. WFP provided food for 5 to 6 million people monthly through its nutrition and food security program.
  6. Desertification and deforestation have long threatened the region. Abject poverty has led farmers and herders to cut down forests, overgraze livestock and overcrop land. According to the FAO, more than 80 percent of the Sahel’s land has been degraded. Nora Berrahmouni, a forestry officer for drylands at FAO, says, “It’s a battle against time because dryland forests are disappearing and climate change is really happening.” In 2012, FAO programs assisted more than 5.2 million people in crop production and soil and water conservation.
  7. To reverse land degradation, the FAO is working on the ground in multiple countries in the Sahel region. One program trains villagers on how to prepare farmland and how to choose, collect and sow seeds. According to Berrahmouni, the FAO is also implementing traditional techniques such as planting trees and crops together. This helps the land regain its fertility and reduce the chance of drought. To combat desertification, the African Union began the Great Green Wall project in 2007. The goal of the project is to create a plant barrier along the Sahel that is 8,000 km long and 15 km wide.
  8. Violence is affecting more people than ever recently in the Sahel. This could lead to an “unprecedented” humanitarian crisis, according to the U.N. The area where Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger meet is considered the Sahel’s epicenter of violent activity where jihadists have “stoked inter-communal fighting.” More than 1,200 civilians have been targeted and killed here in 2019. To defend the region against violence, the U.N. and France have deployed thousands of troops while the U.S. and EU have “funded joint military operations by five Sahel countries.”
  9. Due to violence and desertification, displacement is occurring at alarming rates. About 4.2 million people are displaced across the Sahel.” This displacement is straining communities that are already scarce with resources and worsening the food insecurity crisis.
  10. Recently, the Sahel region has been experiencing rapid population growth. Though fertility rates are decreasing, the average number of children per woman is more than five. Predictions say the population in Nigeria will be 733 million by 2100. Naturally, this will come with an increase in poverty in Africa’s Sahel region. Every minute, the number of Nigerians living in poverty increases by six.

While the Sahel has seen its struggles with healthcare, education, food insecurity, land degradation and violent conflict, many believe the future is bright. The World Bank says many of the region’s natural resources remain untapped. The U.N. says the Sahel can potentially be “one of the richest regions in the world with abundant human, cultural and natural resources.” These 10 facts about poverty in Africa’s Sahel region reveal why, despite desperate conditions, progress could be on the horizon.

Adam Bentz
Photo: Flickr