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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.