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Refugee Food AssistanceFor more than 60 years, the U.S. Agency for International Development has upheld its commitment to end global poverty, providing desperately needed refugee food assistance today. USAID works in more than 100 countries. It primarily provides humanitarian assistance, promotes global health and supports global stability. All around the world, more than 25 million people face refugee crises. And among these 25 million people, more than half are young children.

Food Assistance

USAID assists refugees by providing emergency refugee food assistance to 25 countries. In particular, USAID’s food assistance reaches Lebanon, Jordan, Ethiopia, Chad, Uganda and Bangladesh. One of the world’s biggest refugee camps lies in the southeastern corner of Bangladesh, in Cox’s Bazar. There, an estimated 868,000 Rohingya refugees seek safe haven. In order to escape western Myanmar, refugees must travel on foot through forests and turbulent waters. Often times, refugees do not have enough food for the trip and witness the deaths of loved ones. By the end of this journey, many refugees have nowhere to live and no source of living. Fortunately, USAID’s programs offer assistance.

Furthermore, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace and the United Nations’ World Food Programme partnered to assist those seeking peace, who lack a home and food. USAID and WFP provide packs of high-energy biscuits as meal replacements for arriving refugees. Moreover, USAID gives WFP resources to buy rice from Bangladesh’s national rice reserve. However, it takes time to distribute food to refugee camps. USAID even supports CARE International, which provides U.S. imported food to Cox’s Bazar.

Relief Tactics

Altogether, USAID programs lay out plans for permanent and stable recoveries using four types of relief tactics. Firstly, USAID provides locally and regionally purchased food, which is more quickly accessible than imported food. Secondly, if local food is unavailable, USAID provides U.S.-grown food. Thirdly, if imported food distorts local prices, USAID offers paper or electronic food vouchers. These vouchers allow refugees to purchase local food and support local communities. Fourthly, if more flexible solutions are required, USAID supplies cash, mobile or debit card transfers.

Beyond relief tactics, USAID helps improve global stability. Every year, USAID assists more than 40 to 50 million people worldwide with emergency food assistance. In 2018 alone, USAID gave more than $690 million to help refugees around the world. Overall, numerous countries benefit from USAID. By providing refugee food assistance, USAID plays a huge role in helping millions living in extreme poverty.

Fita Mesui
Photo: Flickr

End Global HungerWorld Food Programme and Palantir have recently announced a five-year partnership. WFP delivers 12.6 billion rations across the globe every year. Palantir’s technology has the potential to help WFP reach even more people in need while saving money.

Palantir’s Track Record

Palantir is a private software company that focuses on data analytics. Palantir emerged in 2004 with the intention of providing a different kind of technology than the ones it had seen fail before. The company has worked with several government agencies and other nonprofit organizations such as Mercy Crops and NCMEC. Both organizations have stated that Palantir has helped them become more efficient and that they had become a vital part of the organization’s operations.

How Will Data Mining Help World Food Programme?

World Food Programme has recently stated that it believes that technological innovation is a vital part of reaching its goal to end global hunger by 2030. With Palantir’s help, WFP can develop new analytical technologies to further enhance its global reach. WFP generates tons of data every year with its immense purchases and deliveries of rations. The benefits of the WFP and Palantir’s partnership have already been seen in the two organizations’ pilot application.

WFP and Palantir’s partnership has come from its foundational project together on WFP’s Optimus. An application that pulls together different datasets about types of food which allows for better decision making. Optimus saved WFP $30 million during operation and WFP projects to save up to $100 million. The success of the Optimus application has pushed WFP to partner with Palantir.

Controversy

Although the WFP and Palantir partnership could be extremely beneficial, many worry that it could actually harm the people that it aims to help. Some claim that without oversight, this collaboration could put impoverished people’s data at risk which could be exploited. However, WFP has already expressed that it would not give Palantir access to data about specific people. The nonprofit has also expressed its trust in Palantir and that the company will not use WFP’s data for its own benefit or use the company for data mining unless authorized by WFP.

Although WFP has expressed that this partnership will not put people in harm’s way, it still worries some. However, there have been great benefits from Palantir’s other partnerships with nonprofits and with WFP’s own Optimus project. The WFP and Palantir partnership has great potential and may allow WFP to reach even more hungry people in the next five years.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tunisia
Tunisia, a small North African country, is often seen as a success story of the Arab uprisings after making strides towards consolidating its democracy. However, the economic woes that triggered the 2011 revolts have yet to be addressed and some citizens are unable to access sufficient nutrients as a result. These top 10 facts about hunger in Tunisia outline the issues that the country faces today in regards to food insecurity.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tunisia

  1. There are a handful of factors that negatively impact Tunisia’s most vulnerable citizens’ access to a nutritional, balanced diet. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), those include a stagnant economy, high unemployment rates, regional disparities and dependence on cereal imports. Approximately 28 percent of the country’s rural-dwelling citizens are poor, coming out to around one million people.
  2. Due to the arid, dry nature of Tunisia’s location, water scarcity is a major roadblock when it comes to the country’s agricultural production. The International Development Research Centre reports that the country must import most of its basic foods and all of its livestock feed and focus its own agricultural efforts on high-value crops for export. Financial, technical and climate conditions are all major factors that impede an increase in domestic food production. Because of these conditions, Tunisia is heavily dependent on foreign trade for food.
  3. Food waste is a serious problem. Bread is the most wasted product with around 16 percent going uneaten. The Tunisian National Institute for Consumption states that food waste represents around 5 percent of food expenditures per year, coming out to the equivalent of about $197 million. The average family loses $7 on food waste per month.
  4. Tunisians most vulnerable to facing hunger are those living in rural areas, in the Central West and North West regions, as well as women and children. Poverty rates exceed 32 percent in the country’s Central West and North West regions. In addition, low-income rural households headed by women are especially at risk of hunger. Although physical access to food is virtually guaranteed nation-wide, economic barriers, such as price inflation and unemployment, pose a serious threat in achieving it.
  5. Hunger in Tunisia has led to some of its citizens facing a plethora of nutritional ailments. The most prominent of those include deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and obesity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that anemia, or iron deficiency, was estimated at 31.2 percent for women of reproductive age (15-49) in 2016. Rates of this disorder in this demographic have been steadily increasing since 2010. According to the FAO, approximately 27.3 percent of the country’s adult population (over 18) was considered obese in 2016. This number is over 10 percent higher than in 2000.
  6. With a score of 7.9 out of 50, Tunisia has a low level of hunger according to the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), and this number continues to trend downwards. In other words, fewer and fewer Tunisians go hungry each year. This an improvement from moderate levels of hunger recorded in 2000 when Tunisia had a score of 10.7. In 2018, the country was ranked 28th out of 119 qualifying countries. The GHI score is calculated based on four indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. As the score has improved over the last two decades, this indicates that these factors have been decreasing in frequency and that hunger in Tunisia is improving.
  7. Prevalence of stunting in children under the age of 5 has decreased by 5.7 percent since the year 2000 according. Currently, 10.9 percent of children of this category is considered to have stunted growth, meaning that their growth is below normal due to prolonged malnutrition. While the percentage of children affected has fallen since 2000, it is slowly on the incline, rising from 9 percent in 2005 to 10.9 percent last year.
  8. The mortality rate for children under the age of 5 is decreasing. Death is the most serious consequence of hunger, and children are the most vulnerable group. However, the percentage of children losing their lives before their fifth birthdays has more than halved since 2000, dropping from 3.4 percent to just 1.4 percent in 2018.
  9. Government-run National School Meals Programs to combat hunger in Tunisia reach approximately 260,000 children per month. Tunisia’s investment in school meals that reaches 125,000 girls and 135,000 boys in around 2,500 schools is fully funded by the government and totaled the equivalent of $13.2 million in the 2014/15 school year. The Tunisian government has also allocated the equivalent of $1.7 million for the construction and equipment of a pilot central kitchen and a first School Food Bank hub.
  10. Over the past two decades, Tunisian agriculture has made significant progress. The most notable improvements are achieving self-sufficiency in products such as milk, meat, fruit and vegetables, limiting import dependence and strengthening the country’s presence in foreign markets as a result of the good quality-price ratio of its products.

Overall, as demonstrated by these top 10 facts about hunger in Tunisia, the situation in the country is improving. Fewer people are, according to the data, going without food every year, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. The efforts today appear to be more concentrated on the nutritional density of food available than its access. While no situation is perfect, Tunisia has made and is still making strides towards minimizing food insecurity within its borders.

– Chelsey Crowne
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu
Mogadishu is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, withstanding famine, drought, war and terrorist occupations to earn this title. Mogadishu is also a budding tech hub, home to coffee shops, new colleges and even a TedX conference. Underneath these contrasting descriptions of Somalia’s capital city lie two issues that continue the cycle of poverty for the majority of residents, famine and terrorism. The root causes of many of the following 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu can be traced back to these two underlying issues.

10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu

  1. The issue of poverty in Mogadishu is being worsened by famine in Somalia’s countryside. More than 500,00 Somalis have been heading toward Mogadishu in search of food, water, and shelter, and around 100,000 have reached the borders of Mogadishu. They are desperately in need of food assistance.
  2. Camps have been set up around Mogadishu to deal with the influx of famine refugees; however, they have been described as “no man’s land”. Leftover members of the Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab have attacked international humanitarian workers trying to provide basic services to those living in the camps. For example, a convoy from the World Food Programme was hit by a roadside bomb on May 15, 2017.
  3. This is not the first time a famine has affected the quality of life and poverty rates in Mogadishu. In 2011, a deadly famine raged the Horn of Africa, with Somalia unable to escape its effects. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people moved to Mogadishu to escape the famine’s effects and few have plans to return home. Even though the economy is said to be rapidly growing, most who fled to the city live in settlements and subsist on odd jobs to meet their basic needs. There are concerns that the huge number of young, unemployed people in camps may provide the opportunity for extremism to take hold.
  4. The unemployment rate in Mogadishu in 2016 was 66 percent with 74 percent being women. This high unemployment rate, paired with large population growth and the constant threat of violence, has earned Mogadishu the title of the “world’s most fragile city”.
  5. Organizations like the World Food Programme (WFP) work in Mogadishu to support some of the most impoverished parts of the population. Namely, female-headed households, families with children under age 5 and the elderly. Their soup-kitchen style meal centers serve approximately 80,000 a day. WFP is also working with the European Union’s humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO) to provide financial assistance to families in need.
  6. There is concern over disease outbreaks, such as cholera, migrating from the countryside to Mogadishu along with those escaping the famine. One employee of the Mercy Corps describes the hospital conditions in Mogadishu as “overwhelming”. When dealing with outbreaks of cholera overcrowding and a lack of resources prove deadly: “The hospital is so overstretched that there is no room or time to properly screen and separate or quarantine the incoming patients, so kids with measles and cholera are side-by-side with kids who are malnourished, but not infected — yet.”
  7. Around 5,000 boys live on the streets of Mogadishu. This group of boys is part of a number children who have been left in the city to fend for themselves. One boy who was interviewed said his family lost everything in the 2011 famine and as a consequence, he was left because they could no longer provide for him.
  8. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s Al-Qaeda franchise, occupied the capital for almost a quarter of a century. To this day, they continue to have control over two neighborhoods of the city where it is impossible for police and government forces to enter. The group often attacks the international airport.
  9. Despite progress being made, terror attacks continue to disrupt the lives of millions. In 2016, Mogadishu suffered at least 46 terrorist attacks. In 2017, al-Shabaab attacks have killed or wounded more than 771 people.
  10. Poverty and climate change are intimately connected in Mogadishu. Just last year, six people died due to some of the heaviest rainfalls the country has seen in over three decades, with more than 750,000 having been affected through property loss. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq underscored the importance of getting to the root of the consequences climate change has had on poverty

Looking Towards Mogadishu’s Future

While these 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu suggest a bleak future, that is not entirely the case. Some experts believe that the rapid growth of Mogadishu will actually spur economic transformation as long as it is accompanied by international aid and careful management. Michael Keating, the U.N. special representative in Somalia, argues that “The massive shift into urban areas can be an opportunity. It is the way of the future, it is what needs to be done to build a different economy, a different country. But that needs huge investment.” More support needs to be given to reduce the suffering of the Somalian population.

Georgie Giannopoulos
Photo: Flickr

Crop fields Nigeria
Food insecurity is outlawed by international rule of law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948, as a minimum standard of treatment and quality of life for all people in all nations. Article 25, section 1 of the declaration states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food.”

Causes of Food Insecurity

Often times, countries that are a part of the U.N. fall short on this promise to provide adequate nutritious food to everyone, including the United States of America. Malnutrition and food insecurity can be attributed to many causes worldwide, from political turmoil, environmental struggles and calamities, lack of financial resources and lack of infrastructure to distribute food equally within a country.

It is widely known that the poorest nations often lack the means or the will to sufficiently supply food to the people and their most vulnerable population, ethnic minority groups, women, and children often suffer the most.

In 2006, the Center for Disease Control reported that widespread media attention in 2005 brought global awareness to a food crisis in the West African country of Niger. According to the report, with a population of 11.5 million in 2002, 2.5 million people living in farming or grazing areas in Niger were vulnerable to food insecurity.

Food Supply Chains

In the United States, conventional food supply chains are used in the mass distribution of food. This method starts with produced raw goods. These products are transferred to distribution centers that may offload goods to wholesalers or sell them directly to food retailers, where these goods are finally purchased by consumers at grocery stores and markets. Food may travel long distances throughout this process, to be consumed by people who may have purchased comparable foods grown closer to home.

In her article entitled Food Distribution in America, Monica Johnson writes, “With each step added between the farm and the consumer, money is taken away from the farmer. Typically, farmers are paid 20 cents on the dollar. So even if the small-scale or medium sized farmer is able to work with big food distributors, they are typically not paid enough to survive.”

Hunts Food Distribution Center is one of the largest food distributors in the United States with over $2 billion in annual sales. According to the New York Economic Development Commission, it sits on 329 acres of land in the Bronx, New York and supplies over 50 percent of food consumed by people in the area, and also supplies food to about 20 percent of people in the region. Still, the Food Bank of New York City reported a meal gap of 242 million in 2014 and food insecurity of 22.3 percent, with 399,000 of people affected being children.

Solution to the Problem

About 13 years after the Niger food crisis the country is still one of the poorest in the world. The World Food Program (WFP), headquartered in Rome, Italy, continues to focus on fixing the problem of food insecurity in countries like Niger. Through helping those like Nigeriens build sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems for crop cultivation, the WFP hopes to lessen the high levels of food insecurity and issues related to it, such as malnutrition and high mortality rates among children under the age of 5.

Assisting locals to manage sustainable local food resources through soil conservation, water harvesting, rehabilitating irrigation systems and reducing the loss of biodiversity among other efforts, the organization focuses on local measures to solve food insecurity issues.

The same is happening in the United States. The country plans to upgrade agricultural facilities and operations, a plan that includes working with other food distributors at the state level to increase integration with upstate and regional food distributors, supporting local farms, and providing growth opportunities for emerging regional food distribution models.

Food insecurity is a big problem in developing, but in developed countries as well. Countries need to make sure to promote local agriculture development in order to achieve food production that will suffice each country needs.

– Matrinna Woods

Photo: Flickr

World Hunger
Over 815 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. The majority of these millions plagued by hunger come from lower income countries. Hunger and poverty are inextricably linked together in a cycle, poverty causing hunger through a lack of sufficient means, and hunger causing poverty due to high food prices and malnourishment, which affects performance in schools and in the workplace. Thus, in order to address hunger at any level, poverty must also be considered. There are a number of key organizations fighting world hunger as well as looking into its underlying factors.

Underlying Factors in World Hunger

In addition to stemming from poverty, world hunger can be the result of conflicts, climate change and economic and political issues that are seemingly unrelated. Long-term conflicts can interfere with food and agriculture production and also make humanitarian assistance very difficult. A poor economy can drive up prices, making food insecurity and hunger more prevalent. Natural disasters can decimate countries, leading to severe, temporary hunger; for example, El Nino is said to have been responsible for hunger in 20 million cases. Global climate change has also affected crop production as flooding or drought can destroy crops, which can lead to food insecurity.

In 2016, it was estimated that 10.7 percent of the world’s population faced chronic undernourishment.  This can lead to long-lasting physical and mental health impairments. Hungry people are 2.9 times more likely to have health issues. Over 3 million children die per year as a result of a hunger-induced illness such as stunting, vitamin deficiencies, and growth restriction (for babies and fetuses). There are also many diseases that can lead to death in which hunger is an underlying condition, and malnutrition magnifies the effects of all diseases including measles and malaria. Hunger can also exacerbate mental health issues; children who are hungry are four times more likely to need professional counseling.

Key Organizations Fighting World Hunger

In order to fight world hunger, there must be more education that inspires understanding and leads to action. A multitude of organizations exists to assist those experiencing food insecurity. The most influential organizations are those that address root issues rather than just addressing band-aid issues.

  1. Bread for the World addresses world hunger by lobbying world leaders to attack underlying causes, preaching that “we need to do more than just giving people a meal a day.”
  2. Results is another group that also uses education and lobbying as a tool to end world hunger through highly-trained advocacy volunteers.
  3. The Food Research and Action Center is a hub for an anti-hunger network of individuals and agencies seeking to improve public policies surrounding hunger and malnutrition in the U.S.
  4. Action Against Hunger eliminates hunger through detection and prevention measures as well as provides aid in treating malnutrition.
  5. The Hunger Project is committed to sustainable ways to end world hunger, empowering people to be self-reliant in the long run.
  6. Heifer International donates livestock to create long-term agricultural solutions and provide training in farming techniques.

These are but a few of the innovative organizations dedicated to helping the world’s hungry. The U.S., for example, assists in hunger reduction by providing emergency food aid, supporting long-term developmental agriculture programs and assisting with organizations in trying to achieve global food security.

In order to help reduce world hunger, it is important to support research and policy and give to dynamic organizations. When looking at where to donate, keep in mind creative initiatives, the desire to address the root causes of hunger and programs that promote self-sufficiency and sustainability in the long term.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Cameroon
Despite relative peace and political stability in Cameroon, it remains a country plagued by food shortages and malnutrition.

The Problem

Cameroon is home to 23.7 million people, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Poverty is concentrated in four regions —  the Far North, the North, Adamaoua and the East. These same regions are those most severely impacted by food insecurity. In fact, OCHA (the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) reported a 189 percent increase in food insecurity between 2013 and 2016 and stated that 2.6 million people in Cameroon were food insecure in 2017.

In April 2018, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that that number has risen to 3.9 million, 2.5 million of whom are living in one of the four aforementioned regions. In other words, 36.7 percent of the population in these four regions is food insecure.

Cameroon’s harsh climate makes growing crops extremely challenging. In the North, between 25 and 30 percent of the land is completely barren and unsuitable for cultivation. Furthermore, the dry season is long, during which severe water shortages are widespread and, when rain does come, ruinous floods become common.

Refugees and IDPs in Cameroon

The relative peace and stability of Cameroon make it attractive to refugees fleeing danger and violence in neighboring countries. Namely, refugees emanate from Chad (to the North/Northeast of Cameroon), Nigeria (to the North/Northwest) and the Central African Republic or C.A.R. (to the East).

At the end of 2017, the UNHCR (the U.N.’s Refugee Agency) reported that over 85,000 Nigerian refugees lived in the Far North region of Cameroon and about 231,000 refugees from C.A.R lived in the North, Adamaoua and East regions. Such dramatic population influxes take a severe toll on the already limited food supply of Cameroon.

In addition, Boko Haram — the major cause of most Nigerian refugees fleeing for Cameroon — has been active along the Nigerian-Cameroonian border; so, along with forcing Nigerians to flee violence and resettle in the Far North of Cameroon, Boko Haram violence also forces local Cameroonians from the Far North to flee south into the North and Adamaoua regions.

These internal Cameroonian refugees are officially referred to as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Between 2014 and 2015, over 70 percent of farmers in the Far North region, fleeing Boko Haram violence or over-crowding caused by the influx of refugees, deserted their land to move elsewhere to a less crowded area.

However, rather than lessen the pressure placed on the already scarce food resources of the Far North, IDPs abandoning their farms only increases it, for much viable land is now not being farmed. As a result, the production of cereal crops, the main staple food of the region, was down over 50 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Efforts to Help & Reasons for Hope

The WFP is committed to helping achieve the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) goal number two and to helping end hunger and malnutrition in Cameroon. To accomplish this, the organization chose to target the four above-named regions most impacted by food shortages and malnutrition in Cameroon.

Regional violence — such as that caused by Boko Haram — makes delivering food especially difficult, but the WFP has remained committed to helping in Cameroon nonetheless. The organization continues to raise money and increase the amount of food and nutritional supplies being sent to refugee camps. Furthermore, the WFP runs a supplementary feeding program that specifically targets childhood nutrition, as an estimated 31 percent of all children in Cameroon between the ages of six months and five years are chronically malnourished.

Despite continued challenges, the impact of WFP shows reasons for hope. In April of this year alone, the WFP helped over 292,000 people in Cameroon. Almost 75,000 CAR refugees living in East, Adamaoua and North regions, 47,500 Nigerian refugees and almost 17,000 Cameroonian IDPs in the Far North region received food rations or cash transfers from WFP.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Child Malnutrition in MaliAfrica is the only continent in the world in which poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. In a vast country with an undiversified economy, Malian households are especially vulnerable to poverty food insecurity.

Recently, Mali has faced “shocks” to its economic profile, including from a partial drought and internal strife. A 2013 World Bank study found that a 25 percent increase in cereal prices and 25 percent decrease in cereal production would push over 600,000 individuals to food insecurity levels in Mali. In addition, sustainably high population growth rates have risen the number of malnourished individuals in the country.

Effects of Child Malnutrition in Mali

While millions of Malians of all ages are affected by food insecurity, malnutrition is the second highest cause of death of children under the age of five. Almost 900,000 Mali children are at risk of global acute malnutrition in Mali, including 274,000 facing severe malnutrition and at risk of imminent death, according to UNICEF and the World Bank. To put this in the context of the country’s population, a 2013 World Bank study found that 44 percent of Malian households have at least one chronically malnutritioned child.

Malnutrition leads to devastating, long-lasting effects on young people. Research by an associate professor at the Federal University of São Paulo, Ana Lydia Saway, shows that malnutrition is linked to higher susceptibility to gain central fat, lower energy expenditure, higher blood pressure and disruptions in insulin production. These are all factors which heighten the risk of other chronic diseases later in life. 

How Mali is Combatting the Issue

Child malnutrition in Mali is a significant concern, requiring action and deserving worldwide attention. But a major problem limiting international assistance comes in the form of funding for aid.

In May, UNICEF reported that limited donor interest in the region has made it increasingly difficult for the organization to provide children with therapeutic food necessary to combat malnutrition. Funding for humanitarian organizations is low, as nearly 80 percent of UNICEF’s $37 million call for humanitarian aid for the year 2018 has not been raised.

“The children of Mali are suffering in silence, away from the world’s attention,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore said during a visit to the country this year. “Amid increasing violence, more children are going hungry, missing out on learning and dying in the first days of life.”  

Still, community and international-based organizations are working to mitigate the effects of child malnutrition in Mali. For example, in the capital of Ségou Centre, the local population, with the help of the World Bank and Swiss Corporation agency, is working to provide necessary social services to its commune.

The third phase of this project involved the decentralizing of health facilities, which were starchly underequipped. The commune recently constructed a community health center, showing promising bottom-up action within Mali. Other organizations are helping out to create sustainable progress in development, including Groundswell International.

Furthermore, farmers and processors in Mali have been working together to increase the presence of Misola flour to combat malnutrition. During processing, vitamins and minerals are added to the flour, targeting those with nutritional deficiencies. 

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that Misola can help rehabilitate undernourished children and help those with depressed immune systems. “The porridge made from the flour allows for a nutritional transition from breast milk to traditional solid food,” Fernand Rolet, co-President of the Misola Association, said. 

Overcoming Child Malnutrition Globally

Rwanda provides a prime example that overcoming child malnutrition is possible. The nation, which has a similar wealth level to Mali, has made progress in lowering malnutrition levels. A 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Access Report found that the level of stunting in young children dropped seven percent from three years prior. In Rwanda, the World Food Programme has been largely active, supplying food assistance such as providing meals for thousands of primary school children.

Combating malnutrition is an ongoing struggle, especially in Africa. Due to poor economic conditions and food scarcity, malnutrition continues to take the lives of thousands of children in Mali each year. Although citizens have founded programs to improve child nutrition and the issue is on humanitarian aid organizations’ radars, it is clear that more effort is needed to eradicate the problem. With continued efforts, child malnutrition in Mali will begin to decline.

– Isabel Bysiewicz
Photo: Flickr

Reduce Malnutrition in AngolaThe first 1,000 days in a child’s life are crucial to their nutritional development throughout life. Children lacking nutrition experience growth stunts, muscle loss, communicable diseases, inability to keep up with school work and weight gain as they age. Unfortunately, quality nutrition is hard to find in Central Africa. If left unaddressed, an intergenerational cycle of poor nutrition, illness and poverty can continue. Some organizations, however, are teaming up to reduce malnutrition in Angola.

Organizations Partnering Up

Angola is among the top 40 most poverty-stricken countries in the world. Basic causes of malnutrition include limited access to resources such as land, education, income, and technology. Food uncertainty, unstable home environments and lack of health services are also challenges for healthy nutrition. 

While malnutrition in Angola might seem grim, several organizations are collaborating around the world with Sub-Saharan Africa to help reduce malnutrition in Angola:

  1. The U.N. Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
  2. National Directorate of Public Health
  3. World Health Organization
  4. Global Alliance for Vaccines
  5. World Food Programme
  6. Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN)

While Angola has not officially partnered with SUN yet, it is hopefully only a matter of time, as this organization is a recent country-led global movement to end stunting and other forms of malnutrition.

The Goal: Reduce Malnutrition in Angola

Some of the programming efforts include building and maintaining Special Nutrition Therapeutic Centres, which screen for nutritional deficiencies and other related health issues. They provide essential medications including vitamins, ready to use therapeutic food, and provide household visits to monitor the sustainability of food within families. Other programs include WASH, which promotes safe and appropriate sanitation and hygiene efforts. Construction of pumps, wells and restrooms for waste have also been ground targets for improvement. Health promotion teams have partnered to provide inpatient and outpatient services to help screen and vaccinate for diseases, as well as train for disease prevention and household practices to keep families healthy.

Interventions specific to nutrition in order to reduce malnutrition in Angola directly work with mothers, youth and infants. Most interventions focus on preventing low birth weight, providing complimentary feed or formulas that better meet the nutritional needs of the child, treating of micronutrient deficiencies, practicing good sanitation and accessing clean drinking water. Other supporting initiatives have been encouraged through legislation, health systems, community-based counseling and support. Counseling and community-based approaches in conjunction with other health and wellness strategies work to screen for acute malnutrition, deworming and delivering vitamins and supplements that holistically promote healthier development. 

Improvements for the Future

Future developmental goals are to continue partnerships and programming with various organizations. Most of the programming partnerships have occurred between 2000-2016 and allowed 1.9 billion children around the world to be vaccinated (3 million children in Angola). Currently, the government is working to increase social services, such as birth certificates, available to Angola citizens in order to recognize the identity and age of a child for better protection.

By 2019 it is projected that vulnerable women and children in Angola will have less illness and disease. Cases of diarrhea will be treated with oral rehydration using salt and zinc, children between 6 months and 5 years old will have access to 2 annual doses of Vitamin A supplements, more restroom facilities will be available and there will be reduced open-defecation in communities. It is projected that 80 percent of children under 18 years old will have a birth certificate. More than 40,000 vulnerable families will have access to social assistance transfer programs.

As of May, the government in Angola is meeting to monitor social programs and continue developing initiatives for quality education. However, currently 37 percent still live in poverty and 54 percent are under the age of 18. Efforts are still needed to reduce malnutrition in Angola.

– Ashley Cooper
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in SyriaThe crisis in Syria began in the March of 2011 when thousands of Syrians took to the streets protesting for a democratic government. Since then, there have been reports of horrific human rights violations. Syrians are either forced to live in fear or flee their country. Due to the political unrest and unfair treatment of Syrians, basic humanitarian needs such as food is not fulfilled. Hunger has increased dramatically in Syria and it is important for other nations to know the facts about hunger in Syria and realize the struggles and successes it experiences as a result of the hunger crisis.

Facts About Hunger in Syria

  1. One in three people is unable to meet their basic food needs because they live under the poverty line.
    Bread is the most basic food source in Syria, however, its prices have risen by 1000 percent in the most violent areas leaving thousands unable to provide for themselves or their families.
  2. Food production has decreased by 50 percent.
    Farmers were only able to plant wheat on an estimated 900,000 hectares of land in 2017 compared to 1.5 million hectares before 2011. This is a neverending cycle because farmers rely on the community to buy their produce in order to continue farming but when the community does not have money to buy food, there is a continuing lack thereof.
  3. More than 11 million Syrians have fled their homes seeking refuge.
    Constant displacement does not provide Syrians with food security. Being food secure is one of the most basic necessities but also somehow overlooked.
  4. Living under siege, 400,000 Syrians across Syria have little to no access to a food source.
    During a siege, all humanitarian resources are cut off from people thereby leaving them with no option but to starve to death or die of diseases without proper medical attention.
  5. Various food donation groups have been able to provide for certain besieged areas via airdrops.
    Although there are still more than 4.5 million people living in hard-to-reach zones throughout Syria, airdrops have been able to deliver food to approximately 4.2 million of those in need.
  6. The U.N. will need $ 3.2 billion to provide humanitarian assistance in Syria.
    After analyzing the number of refugees in need of humanitarian assistance in 2016, the U.N. was able to estimate the funds required to help the current refugees. However, this does not account for new refugees if the conflict continues.
  7. The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made it difficult to provide resources to Syrians.
    This group has created checkpoints and sealed off all roads into and out of besieged areas to prevent any aid from reaching the people located within.
  8. Before the crisis in 2011, Syria was a middle-income country; however, it now ranks as one of the poorest with one-third of the population living in poverty.
    This does not include refugees who sought shelter in neighboring countries but merely the remaining population living in Syria.
  9. Since the beginning of the Syrian war crisis, the World Food Programme (WFP) has donated more than $ 1.3 billion to support Syrian refugees.
    They do this by providing food rations, e-cards and vouchers to the Syrians who are in dire need of food and medical resources.
  10. For only one dollar, the WFP can feed a Syrian refugee for a day.
    When the cost of feeding refugees is so low, it is a wonder how we are still struggling to find ways to help them. This accentuates the necessity to donate anything, for every little bit counts.

There is still a long way to go for Syrian refugees, however, these top 10 facts about hunger in Syria highlight the good and the bad in this devastating crisis.

– Adrienne Tauscheck
Photo: Flickr