Child Poverty and Malnutrition

Stunting and poverty ‘could hold back 250m children worldwide’, By Sarah Boseley, October 4, 2016, The Guardian: “Nearly 250 million young children across the world – 43% of under-fives – are unlikely to fulfil their potential as adults because of stunting and extreme poverty, new figures show.  The first three years of life are crucial to a child’s development, according to a series of research papers published in the Lancet medical journal, which says there are also economic costs to the failure to help them grow. Those who do not get the nutrition, care and stimulation they need will earn about 26% less than others as adults…”

Child Mortality and Hunger in Developing Nations

  • Despite declines, child mortality and hunger persist in developing nations, U.N. reports, By Rick Gladstone and Somini Sengupta, September 16, 2014, New York Times: “The United Nations on Tuesday reported significant declines in the rates of child mortality and hunger, but said those two scourges of the developing world stubbornly persist in parts of Africa and South Asia despite major health care advances and sharply higher global food production. The trends, detailed in two annual reports by United Nations agencies, were presented before the General Assembly meetings of world leaders, where the Millennium Development Goals, a United Nations list of aspirations to meet the needs of the world’s poorest, are an important discussion theme. While one of those goals — halving the number of hungry people by 2015 — seems within reach, the goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds is years behind, the reports showed…”
  • World making progress against hunger, report finds, but large pockets of undernourished persist, By Daniel Stone, September 16, 2014, National Geographic: “No one on the planet should go hungry. That’s because the world’s farmers grow 700 more calories per person than the World Food Programme’s daily recommended 2,100 calories—an abundance of plants and animals that surpasses the daily needs of the world’s 7.2 billion people. In most places, the challenge is access. Global access to food is improving overall, according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released Tuesday, yet challenges in the developing world—from poor infrastructure and political instability to erratic weather and long-term changes in climate—are keeping 805 million people from having enough to eat…”

Maternal and Child Malnutrition – International

Fighting malnutrition, 50 countries say they’ll make good nutrition a priority, By David Nabarro, June 25, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “In 2008, an international medical journal (the Lancet) released a series of research papers on maternal and child nutrition. At that time the journal’s editor wrote, ‘nutrition is a desperately neglected aspect of maternal, newborn, and child health. The reasons are understandable, but not justifiable and the international nutrition system is broken. Leadership is absent, resources are too few, capacity is fragile, and emergency response systems are fragmentary. New governance arrangements are urgently needed.’ At that time the importance of nutrition as a key driver of development was not widely understood, or acknowledged; it was lost amongst the many competing issues straining to attract political attention and financial support. An article about the importance of malnutrition in human and economic development would have started by making the case . . .”

UN World Hunger Figures

UN revises world hunger figures, blames flawed method, data for faulty 1 billion estimate, Associated Press, October 9, 2012, Washington Post: “The United Nations said Tuesday its 2009 headline-grabbing announcement that 1 billion people in the world were hungry was off-target and that the number is actually more like 870 million. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization blamed flawed methodology and poor data for the bum projection, and said it now uses a much more accurate set of parameters and statistics to calculate its annual estimate of the world’s hungry. FAO issued its 2012 state of food insecurity report on Tuesday, and its core point was to set the record straight about the number of the world’s undernourished people, applying the more accurate data retroactively to 1990. And the good news, FAO said, is that the number of hungry people has actually been declining steadily — rather than increasing — over the past two decades, although progress has slowed since the 2007-2008 food crises and the global economic downturn…”

Summer Food Programs

Summer food programs seeking new ways to assist children, By John McAuliff, July 1, 2012, USA Today: “Summer food programs aiming to keep U.S. children from going hungry have grown 25 percent in the last five years amid a nationwide push by local food banks to change the way they serve food to needy people. Summer food programs aiming to keep U.S. children from going hungry have grown 25 percent in the last five years amid a nationwide push by local food banks to change the way they serve food to needy people. Food banks say the rise in numbers is because of a push to find more creative ways to bring food to an estimated 19 million hungry U.S. children. . .”

Food Insecurity and Nutrition

A food stamp paradox: Starving isn’t the issue – it’s access to nutritious foods, By Eric Schulzke, April 28 2012, Deseret News: “When Jill Warner’s husband lost his job as a product manager in 2009 and entered a bout of hard-core unemployment, they and their four children eventually turned to food stamps. For the first four months, they had zero family income and received $900 a month in food stamps. ‘We ate what we wanted,’ Warner recalls. ‘And we had plenty of flexibility.’ She would leave Costco loaded with snap peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and fresh meat, and after a busy day she would stop at Papa Murphy’s on the way home. Because Murphy’s is ‘take and bake,’ rather than served hot, she could use food stamps. ‘Food access was great,’ she said, ‘but mortgage, utilities and car payments were another matter.’  After a few months, her husband found entry level work that barely paid the bills, and their food benefit dropped to $500. ‘That was very tight,’ Warner said. ‘We had to compromise and buy more basic foods, and it was a close call.’ Firmly entrenched in middle class habits and attitudes, Warner is not quite the face of American hunger…”

Poverty and Nutrition

The nutrition puzzle, February 18, 2012, The Economist: “In Eldorado, one of São Paulo’s poorest and most misleadingly named favelas, some eight-year-old boys are playing football on a patch of ground once better known for drug gangs and hunger. Although they look the picture of health, they are not. After the match they gather around a sack of bananas beside the pitch. ‘At school, the kids get a full meal every day,’ explains Jonathan Hannay, the secretary-general of Children at Risk Foundation, a local charity. ‘But in the holidays they come to us without breakfast or lunch so we give them bananas. They are filling, cheap, and they stimulate the brain.’ Malnutrition used to be pervasive and invisible in Eldorado. Now there is less of it and, equally important, it is no longer hidden. ‘It has become more visible-so people are doing something about it…'”

International Food Aid for Children

WHO to recommend improving food aid for malnourished children under 5, Associated Press, October 13, 2011, Washington Post: “The World Health Organization said Thursday it plans to recommend tighter nutritional standards in food aid for young children, a move activists say is necessary to improve donations from countries such as the United States. The new guidelines are likely to make food aid more expensive in the short term, but the improved formulas will be more effective at reducing moderate malnutrition in children under the age of 5, the head of WHO’s nutrition department told The Associated Press…”

Drought and Famine – Somalia

  • UN declares Somalia famine in Bakool and Lower Shabelle, July 20, 2011, BBC News: “The United Nations has declared a famine in two areas of southern Somalia as the region suffers the worst drought in more than half a century. The UN said the humanitarian situation in southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle had deteriorated rapidly. It is the first time that the country has seen famine in 19 years. Meanwhile, the UN and US have said aid agencies need further safety guarantees from armed groups in Somalia to allow staff to reach those in need. Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group which controls large swathes of south and central Somalia, had imposed a ban on foreign aid agencies in its territories in 2009, but has recently allowed limited access…”
  • Somalis dying in world’s worst famine in 20 years, By Katharine Houreld (AP), July 20, 2011, Denver Post: “Tens of thousands of Somalis are feared dead in the world’s worst famine in a generation, the U.N. said Wednesday, and the U.S. said it will allow emergency funds to be spent in areas controlled by al-Qaida-linked militants as long as the fighters do not interfere with aid distributions. Exhausted, rail-thin women are stumbling into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia with dead babies and bleeding feet, having left weaker family members behind along the way. ‘Somalia is facing its worst food security crisis in the last 20 years,’ said Mark Bowden, the U.N.’s top official in charge of humanitarian aid in Somalia. ‘This desperate situation requires urgent action to save lives … it’s likely that conditions will deteriorate further in six months.’ The crisis is the worst since 1991-92, when hundreds of thousands of Somalis starved to death, Bowden said…”

Hunger and Malnutrition – India

India asks, should food be a right for the poor?, By Jim Yardley, August 8, 2010, New York Times: “Inside the drab district hospital, where dogs patter down the corridors, sniffing for food, Ratan Bhuria’s children are curled together in the malnutrition ward, hovering at the edge of starvation. His daughter, Nani, is 4 and weighs 20 pounds. His son, Jogdiya, is 2 and weighs only eight. Landless and illiterate, drowned by debt, Mr. Bhuria and his ailing children have staggered into the hospital ward after falling through India’s social safety net. They should receive subsidized government food and cooking fuel. They do not. The older children should be enrolled in school and receiving a free daily lunch. They are not. And they are hardly alone: India’s eight poorest states have more people in poverty – an estimated 421 million – than Africa’s 26 poorest nations, one study recently reported. For the governing Indian National Congress Party, which has staked its political fortunes on appealing to the poor, this persistent inability to make government work for people like Mr. Bhuria has set off an ideological debate over a question that once would have been unthinkable in India: Should the country begin to unshackle the poor from the inefficient, decades-old government food distribution system and try something radical, like simply giving out food coupons, or cash?..”

UN Food Price Index

U.N. food price index increases 22 percent, Associated Press, June 7, 2010, The Oklahoman: “Families from Pakistan to Argentina to Congo are being battered by surging food prices that are dragging more people into poverty, fueling political tensions and forcing some to give up eating meat, fruit and even tomatoes. Scraping to afford the next meal is still a grim daily reality in the developing world even though the global food crisis that dominated headlines in 2008 quickly faded in the U.S. and other rich countries…”

Drought and Hunger – Niger, Africa

Millions face hunger in arid belt of Africa, By Jon Gambrell (AP), May 28, 2010, Modesto Bee: ” At this time of year, the Gadabeji Reserve should be refuge for the nomadic tribes who travel across a moonscape on the edge of the Sahara to graze their cattle. But the grass is meager after a drought killed off the last year’s crops. Now the cattle are too weak to stand and too skinny to sell, leaving the poor without any way to buy grain to feed their families. The threat of famine is again stalking the Sahel, a band of semiarid land stretching across Africa south of the Sahara. The U.N. World Food Program warned on Friday that some 10 million people face hunger over the next three months before the next harvest in September – if it comes…”

Hunger and Obesity

The obesity-hunger paradox, By Sam Dolnick, March 12, 2010, New York Times: “When most people think of hunger in America, the images that leap to mind are of ragged toddlers in Appalachia or rail-thin children in dingy apartments reaching for empty bottles of milk. Once, maybe. But a recent survey found that the most severe hunger-related problems in the nation are in the South Bronx, long one of the country’s capitals of obesity. Experts say these are not parallel problems persisting in side-by-side neighborhoods, but plagues often seen in the same households, even the same person: the hungriest people in America today, statistically speaking, may well be not sickly skinny, but excessively fat. Call it the Bronx Paradox. ‘Hunger and obesity are often flip sides to the same malnutrition coin,’ said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. ‘Hunger is certainly almost an exclusive symptom of poverty. And extra obesity is one of the symptoms of poverty.’ The Bronx has the city’s highest rate of obesity, with residents facing an estimated 85 percent higher risk of being obese than people in Manhattan, according to Andrew G. Rundle, an epidemiologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University…”

Child Hunger and Malnutrition

  • Poor nutrition ‘stunting growth’, By Nick Triggle, November 11, 2009, BBC News: “Poor child nutrition still causes major problems in the developing world – despite some progress, experts say. A third of deaths in children under five in those countries are linked to poor diet, a report by Unicef suggests. It also reveals 195m children – one in three – have stunted growth, even though rates have fallen since 1990. Unicef said the number of underweight children also remained high, with many countries struggling to hit official targets to halve the figures. An estimated 129m children are underweight…”
  • 200 million children under age 5 are starving, By Ariel David and Maria Cheng (AP), November 12, 2009, Halifax Chronicle Herald: “Nearly 200 million children in poor countries have stunted growth because of insufficient nutrition, according to a new report published by UNICEF Wednesday before a three-day international summit on the problem of world hunger. The head of a UN food agency called on the world to join him in a day of fasting ahead of the summit to highlight the plight of a billion hungry people. Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said he hoped the fast would encourage action by world leaders who will take part in the meeting at his agency’s headquarters starting Monday. The UN Children’s Fund published a report saying that nearly 200 million children under five in poor countries were stunted by a lack of nutrients in their food…”

Drought and Food Aid – Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia appeals for international aid 25 years on, By Tom Pettifor, October 23, 2009, The Mirror: “It’s been a quarter of a century since the Ethiopian famine which shocked the world – and history could be about to repeat itself. The government of Ethiopia, a country in the grip of a five-year drought, yesterday asked the international community for emergency aid to feed 6.2 million. The request came at a meeting of donors to discuss the impact of the drought, affecting parts of East Africa. The UN’s World Food Programme said £173million will be needed in the next six months and some aid officials say the numbers of hungry could rise. But an Oxfam report to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1984 famine – Band Aids and Beyond – warns that drought will be the norm there for the next 25 years. And it called for a new approach to tackling the risk of disaster in the country…”
  • Is U.S. food aid contributing to Africa’s hunger?, By Dana Hughes, October 29, 2009, ABC News: “Drought-stricken Ethiopia is pleading for food aid again to stave off starvation, but some critics are complaining that the policies of the country’s most generous donor, the United States, is exacerbating the cycle of starvation. A hungry Ethiopia gets 70 percent of its aid from the U.S., but according to a new report by the aid organization Oxfam International, that help comes at a cost. U.S. law requires that food aid money be spent on food grown in the U.S., at least half of it must be packed in the U.S. and most of it must be transported in U.S. ships. The Oxfam report, ‘Band Aids and Beyond,’ claims that is far more expensive and time consuming than buying food in the region…”
  • Oxfam says Band-Aids insufficient, By Peter Goodspeed, October 23, 2009, National Post: “Twenty-five years after Ethiopia suffered a staggering famine that killed more than one million people, the world has done little to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy. A new report by the international aid group Oxfam claims ‘the humanitarian response to drought and other disasters is still dominated by ‘Band-Aids,’ ‘ instead of finding ways to reduce the risks of recurring crisis…”

Child Hunger and Malnutrition in Guatemala

  • A national shame, August 27, 2009, The Economist: “It is hardly one of Latin America’s poorest countries, but according to Unicef almost half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished-the sixth-worst performance in the world. In parts of rural Guatemala, where the population is overwhelmingly of Mayan descent, the incidence of child malnutrition reaches 80%. A diet of little more than tortillas does permanent damage. This chronic problem has become acute. Higher world prices for food have coincided with a recession-induced fall in money sent back from Guatemalans working in the United States (remittances equal 12% of Guatemala’s GDP). Drought in eastern Guatemala has made things worse still. Many families can scarcely afford beans, an important source of protein, and must sell eggs from their hens rather than feed them to their children…”
  • Hungry in Guatemala, By Samuel Loewenberg, August 26, 2009, The Atlantic: “At the G8 meeting in Italy last month, the world’s richest countries agreed to devote $20 billion to food security and agricultural development. President Barack Obama declared that the ‘purpose of aid must be to create the conditions where it’s no longer needed, to help people become self-sufficient, provide for their families and lift their standards of living.’ The initiative was primarily spurred by concerns about the effects on struggling populations of global warming and the economic downturn. But it is also perhaps a reflection of Obama’s stated intent to put a greater emphasis on what his administration calls ‘smart power’ – diplomacy and development, as opposed to primarily defense – in his approach to foreign policy. Here’s an unlikely candidate to be the poster child for the new program: Guatemala. The Central American nation has the sixth-worst rate of chronic malnutrition in the world, despite being what might be described as a relatively well-off lower-middle class country…”

Hunger and Food Security in Nigeria

Little keeps Nigeria from a crisis of hunger, By David Hecht, August 2, 2009, Washington Post: “The nation blessed with Africa’s largest oil reserves and some of its most fertile lands has a problem. It cannot feed its 140 million people, and relatively minor reductions in rainfall could set off a regional food catastrophe, experts say. Nigeria was a major agricultural exporter before oil was discovered off its coast in the 1970s. But as it developed into the world’s eighth-largest oil producing country, its big farms and plantations were neglected. Today, about 90 percent of Nigeria’s agricultural output comes from inefficient small farms, according to the World Bank, and most farmers have little or no access to fertilizers, irrigation or other modern inputs. Most do not even grow enough food to feed their own families…”

Report: Hunger in India

Report highlights hunger in India, July 31, 2009, BBC News: “India is emerging as the world centre of hunger and malnutrition, a report by Indian campaign group, the Navdanya Trust, says. The trust says that there are more than 200 million people – or one-in-four Indians – going without enough to eat. The prominent environmentalist Vandana Shiva, who runs the trust, said there were now more hungry people in India than in sub-Saharan Africa…”