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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora