News / Africa

Building Resilience Against Hunger

A Zimbabwean mother arrives to collect her monthly rations of food aid from Rutaura Primary School in the Rushinga district of Mt Darwin about 254km north of Harare, March 7, 2013. More than 6 million people across Angola, Lesotho, Malawi and Zimbabwe are at risk of severe food shortages because of repeated cycles of drought and flooding. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
A Zimbabwean mother arrives to collect her monthly rations of food aid from Rutaura Primary School in the Rushinga district of Mt Darwin about 254km north of Harare, March 7, 2013. More than 6 million people across Angola, Lesotho, Malawi and Zimbabwe are at risk of severe food shortages because of repeated cycles of drought and flooding. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A new report said the developing world is taking a beating from climate change, extreme weather, conflict, environmental degradation and poor governance. It said to ensure food security under these conditions, emergency aid must be coupled with development assistance.


The Global Hunger Index, or GHI, for 2013 says while overall hunger is decreasing – it remains pretty bad in 19 countries. In fact, the index described hunger in those countries as ranging from alarming to extremely alarming.

Chris Bene of the Institute for Development Studies in London is one of the GHI authors. He said, “Sub-Saharan Africa is a part of the world where things are not as easy as they are probably in some other region. So indeed, some of the major concerns, that the report [stresses], are actually countries in sub-Saharan Africa - for different reasons. You still have some pockets or so in South Asia, but some of the major concerns are still in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The index lists Burundi, Eritrea and Comoros have the highest levels of hunger in sub-Saharan Africa.

The 8th annual report is published by IFPRI - the International Food Policy Research Institute – Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide. It monitors 120 developing countries and countries in transition. Findings are based on the proportion of people who are undernourished; the proportion of children under five who are underweight; and the mortality rate of kids under five.

The GHI said more than two-and-a-half-billion people live on less than two dollars a day. So, a sick family member, a drought or the loss of a job is a major crisis. The report said they have no coping mechanisms left to deal with a crisis.

“A lot of people in the world are still very vulnerable to shock. When those people don’t have those ways to protect themselves – when they are hit by those shocks – they may make decisions which seem very rational at the short-term level, but may actually have very detrimental consequences in the longer term,” said Bene.

For example, if farmers lose their crops to drought or flood, they also lose their income and food supply. They may try to cope by cutting back on the amount of food their families eat.

“Which,” he said,“is what everybody will do in the short term. But one of his kids is still under three-years-old. The thing is that when kids in their very early age and very early stage of development don’t receive the appropriate amount of food -- appropriate amount of nutrition -- that can actually have [a] detrimental effect not simply in the next two months, but actually for their entire life.”

An undernourished child may have an under developed brain, damaging his or her ability to learn.

Bene agreed with a growing call from humanitarian groups that communities need to build resilience against shocks.

“Resilience will be the ability of people to prevent themselves from making [a] decision that can affect them detrimentally in the long term.”

But building resilience is not a one-size-fits-all policy. It has to be tailored to specific circumstances. For example, pastoralists in the Sahel depend on livestock for their livelihoods. But recurrent droughts may decimate their herds.

“So, their livestock is dying or they’re failing in terms of getting enough cash. So they will have the tendency to make a rational decision in the short term, which is I’m going to sell some of my livestock to get some cash to be able to buy food. In the short-term fine, but in the long-term that livestock is actually their bank. Getting milk. They get meat. But they also use it later to buy some assets,” he said.

But Bene said that in the long term they would struggle because they’re selling their livelihoods.

“One way to strengthen the resilience of those types of communities would be to put in place an intervention that helps those households or communities not to sell the livestock following a drought. You can put in place some form of insurance. If it’s proven that your community has been affected by a drought, you receive a certain amount of cash, which you use so that you are not forced to sell your own livestock. OK. That would be an example.”

Another example would be to establish early warning weather systems for those living in coastal communities. Knowing exactly when a major storm will hit would allow residents to take timely action.

He said, “It seems pretty simple, but for those people it may actually make the difference between leaving too late, not leaving at all or deciding in a proper way to protect yourself.”

Good governance at the local level can also build resilience through emergency response plans or the building of shelters.

The Global Hunger Index says building resilience “fundamentally transforms economic, social and ecological structures” to absorb both mild and severe shocks.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs