Category: Concern Worldwide
The Central African Republic with a population of 4.6 million people which is almost equivalent to that of Ireland has the highest hunger levels out 119 countries that were measured for the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI). According to the report, the conflict ridden African country has nearly half of its population experiencing malnourishment and is the only country that the GHI ranks in the category of “extremely alarming” a characterisation no other country has been described as since 2014.
20 million people at risk of starvation
A further 51 nations were ranked as either having serious or alarming hunger conditions according to the study released by Concern Worldwide and several other aid agencies and policy think tanks. The results of the study were revealed during a year when famine cast a shadow over four countries where starvation threatens as many as 20 million people. Unfortunately, researchers were unable to obtain data from 13 countries which has meant they have not been included as part of the GHI despite experts being extremely worried about at least nine of them.
War prevents research on hunger
No data exists on war-torn South Sudan which the UN officially declared as being in a state of famine back in February. Somalia is another country with insufficient data that is at risk of famine. The main reason why data could not be collected in some countries is due to ongoing conflict. The report warns that despite the fact global hunger has fallen by 27 per cent over the last decade and a half, the UN is unlikely to meet the target it set back in 2015 of eradicating hunger by 2030.
We have the resources and technology to deal with the problem
Dominic MacSorely Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide said it was shameful that large parts of the world were falling ever deeper into a state of perpetual food crisis despite wealthy countries having the resources and technology to deal with the problem. Recently the UN’s Food and Agriculture organisation revealed that the number of undernourished people in 2016 was 815 million people, representing an increase of 38 million people. This year’s GHI suggests that there has been a small fall in the number of children suffering from hunger.
Millions of children suffering
Approximately 52 million children aged under five are believed to have extremely low weight for their height and a further 155 million children have stunted growth or have low height for their age as a result of hunger. It is estimated that roughly 45 per cent of deaths of children under the age of five are the result of undernutrition. Rather unsurprisingly the report suggests that the groups most vulnerable to poverty or hunger have the least social, economic and political power.
Governments need to invest more
The authors of the GHI are urging governments to invest more in attempting to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goal of no hunger by 2030. They want increased support for small farmers and to include them in policy debates so that fairer standards in business and trade are adopted.
If you don’t know what Absolutely Leisure is, it’s an organisation which seeks to provide affordable leisure and entertainment activities such as Go Karting and Laser Combat. The organisation has announced its latest initiative which it calls Absolutely Together that seeks to provide a specific framework for kids and teens who have special needs or disabilities as well as for underprivileged youth and elderly individuals who feel isolated.
Making its facilities available to local charities
Absolutely Leisure has established activity centres across the UK since the charity was first established in 2009 and the organisation has committed itself to not only delivering affordable memorable leisure experiences, but is also providing support to local communities by making its facilities available to local charities. Absolutely Leisure does this by providing either subsidised or free entertainment activities for its partner charities. Absolute Leisure wants to make an even bigger impact by providing to support to those that are most vulnerable as well as individuals that have been forgotten in local communities. Hence the name of the initiative Absolutely Together.
Customers not aware their money goes back into the community
David Brind Group Manage of Absolutely Leisure says that few of the organisations customers and members are aware that by joining one of its top-quality gyms or enjoying a thrilling afternoon of karting actually puts their money back into the community. This money is then used to help vulnerable members of society have an enjoyable experience and gives them the opportunity to socialise, which is far more effective than simply putting money into a charity box.
Programme currently 100% funded by profits
Mr Brind adds that not only do customers receive excellent value for money combined with fabulous service and a wonderful experience, but in the process, they are also helping others. The Absolutely Together programme is completely funded by the profits made by Absolutely Leisure and this means all donations are 100% guaranteed to be used towards the provision of services. Mr Brind says his organisation seeks not just to enable local charities to make use of its facilities but also wants to get out there themselves and run entertaining programmes specifically targeted at people in need.
Children get to participate in activities they would otherwise not have the opportunity to
The pilot program is being run at the organisation’s Maidenhead kart track where children with disabilities are able to participate in Go-Karting sessions in a dual seat kart. Mr Brind says these children have the opportunity to take part in something they otherwise would not have been able to before and have the kind of experience other able-bodied kids get to enjoy.
Hopefully the programme will expand
At present the profits made by Absolutely Leisure are financing the programme, but the organisation is hoping to secure donations and grants in order to support the work that it does and enable it to expand its offerings. The mission of Absolutely Together is to ‘put a smile on faces’ and to help those that are most vulnerable in society by alleviating loneliness, social isolation and prejudice.
According to a recent report by international aid agency Oxfam, despite the fact that many governments have pledged to provide funding, small farmers living in poor countries are not receiving the help they require in order to make sure their families are fed and adapt to climate change. Oxfam analysed agricultural policies and public investments made in a number of developing countries and found that very little funding is flowing to small-scale farmers in order to help them build resilience to climate change. The aid agency also found it impossible to determine how much money is reaching female farmers who are particularly susceptible to climate change.
Money being used for other purposes
Oxfam says that instead of providing funding to farmers, governments have been diverting money towards making infrastructure investments and private sector initiatives in richer parts of the countries that were analysed. In the developing world, female farmers make up an average of 43 per cent of the total number of farmers. However, these women face barriers to access land and credit, they have very little training and this means they produce between 20 to 30 per cent less food than men. By closing the gender gap millions of people would be lifted out of poverty and starvation.
Very little money is being donated and utilised
The countries Oxfam looked at were finding it difficult to attract enough funding to help them adapt to climate change. In Pakistan for example, only 26 per cent of the $1.17 billion that was received by the country in 2014 to tackle climate change was used for that purpose. Nigeria is another country that is suffering, with just $15 million having been donated for climate change adaption as of May 2017.
The Paris Agreement
Oxfam is urging the international community to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement and increase funding to help communities adapt to climate change. The aid agency is also calling on the governments of developing countries to increase funding for female farmers. African countries under the Maputo Declaration committed to spend 10 per cent of their national budget on agricultural development. Ghana was the only country that came close to meeting this target in 2010. The average amount spent by countries on the continent between 2010-2015 was just 5.5 per cent.
Governments not doing enough
According to Oxfam, governments of all the countries that were studied were doing very little to ensure that female farmers benefit from climate and agricultural funding which is insufficient to begin with. In Nigeria for example, climate change policies do little more than encourage females to take part in initiatives however they do little more than that.
Category: Save the Children
Every day, over 20,000 under-aged girls are married off illegally according to research from Save the Children and the World Bank. When you total up that amount, it means that every year approximately 7.5 million girls are illegally married. If that is not jarring enough, close to 100 million girls are simply unprotected from child marriage by the laws of their countries. The good news is a rising number of countries are raising the legal age of marriage and binning exceptions to these laws such as parental consent. However, it still remains a challenge to implement such laws.
The practice is firmly entrenched
Over two-thirds of all child marriages which take place are with brides who are under the minimum age permitted by national law which shows just how hard it is to eliminate the practice. Enforcement of the law is minimal and there is also a disconnect between national law as well as customs and religious practice. Traditional leaders in many communities often lend their support to the practice which makes it very hard to eliminate.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Save the Children International CEO says we will not live in a world where girls and boys have equal opportunities in life until the practice of child marriage is eradicated. When an underage girl is married off, her role as both wife and mother take precedence over everything else and she is likely to drop out from school, get pregnant and perhaps even be abused. The first step is to enact laws banning the practice Ms Thorning-Schmidt says. However, millions of girls will continue to be vulnerable and at risk of child marriage unless the issue is tackled head on. The attitudes of communities must be changed so this practice can be ended once and for all.
Conference on child marriage
The research results come in advance of an African led conference on ending child marriage which took place at the end of October. First Lady of Sierra Leone, Sia Koroma said the meeting was meant to establish an understanding of child marriage, what its consequences are and what solutions there are to the problem. Delegates looked at policies and legal frameworks surrounding child marriage and shared their successes and issues they face combating the practice.
West and Central Africa problem regions
Some of the highest rates of child marriage globally occur in West and Central Africa. In that part of the world alone, 1.7 million child marriages take place every year below the national legal minimum age. Many countries in the region also face the problem of high rates of teen pregnancy outside of marriage which is more often than not the product of gender related violence and exploitation which usually go unpunished.
Reform at national and international levels
Save the Children and the World Bank are both demanding urgent action be taken to deal with the issue of child marriage at both national and international levels. The organisations are calling for legal reform to set the minimum age for marriage at 18 and getting rid of any exceptions. They are also seeking to develop national strategies that will allow the state to intervene particularly to enable girls to remain in school instead of forcing them to get married.
The crisis in Nigeria that is the result of the Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North East has resulted in over 57% of schools in Borno being closed. Borno is Nigeria’s worst affected state and the schools have stayed closed despite the fact that the new school year is about to begin. The crisis which began in 2009 in North Eastern Nigeria has resulted in over 2,295 teachers being murdered and over 19,000 being displaced.
As many as 14,000 schools have been destroyed with the vast majority of them being left unable to reopen because of extensive damage or because they are located in areas considered to be dangerous. It is estimated that as many as 3 million children require emergency education support. Unicef Deputy Director John Forsyth who made a three day visit to North East Nigeria said children living in that part of the country are experiencing unprecedented horror.
Malnutrition disease and violence
Mr Forsyth added that not only are the children subject to devastating malnutrition, violence and cholera, the attacks by the insurgents on schools means there is a real danger of creating a lost generation of children which is a real threat to both the children’s future and the future of the country. There is however some good news, with some children from the camps benefitting from education for the first time in the lives. For example, in one camp located on the outskirts of Maiduguri, an estimated 90 per cent of students were enrolled in school for the first time.
Enrolling children in school
In the three worst affected states of North East Nigeria, Unicef is working with partners to enrol as many as three quarters of a million children in school this year. The aid agency has established more than 350 temporary learning spaces and has distributed as many as 94,000 packs of learning materials that will allow children to receive an education. Unicef and its partners are also working to rehabilitate schools and classrooms as well as delivering training to teachers in order to construct a more robust education system for the future.
Living in fear
On his visit to Maiduguri, Mr Forsyth met with a number of families affected by the conflict who said they lived in fear under Boko Haram as well as the dire conditions they live in. Since the crisis first began, approximately 1 million children have been displaced and close to half a million children under the age of 5 are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year alone. Unicef’s emergency programs which deliver life-saving aid in North Eastern Nigeria remain underfunded. With only three months left this calendar year, there is a 40 per cent funding gap and the aid agency is desperately in need of money.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Recently a food revolt occurred at a school in Ireland where steamed fruit and vegetables protested about being thrown away despite the fact the hunger levels across the world have reached alarming levels. Students of Our Lady Queen of the Apostles Clonburris National School in Dublin chanted “stop wasting food” and held up signboards which demanded “don’t let me decompose”.
Raising awareness about world hunger
The Hunger Heroes Campaign which is started by Concern Worldwide and seeks to raise awareness of the global hunger crisis and teaches students techniques to help solve it. Schools all over the world are encouraged to participate in Hunger Heroes Day on October 27. To mark the occasions students will be allowed to ditch their uniforms and have fun in costumes whilst also learning how they can help the nearly billion people in the world that face food insecurity.
Hundreds of millions of people are going hungry
11 per cent of the global population according to the United Nations face food insecurity, which amounts to a staggering 815 million people. That figure is up by 38 million people in 2017 from the 777 million people in 2015 that were estimated to be chronically undernourished. According to Concern Worldwide 30 per cent of all food in the world which amounts to a whopping 1.3 billion tonnes is being wasted. The aid agency says that is enough food to feed all the world’s hungry four times over.
Fighting food waste
Lauren Wright of Concern Worldwide says the Hunger for Heroes programme is about fighting hunger and food waste both in our schools and kitchens. It has been designed to be a fun campaign that schools can run about an extremely serious issue that affects everybody. Children are taught about the connection between food waste and world hunger and how to achieve a future in which waste can be significantly reduced.
Decades of progress being reversed by conflict and climate change
Recently the United Nations issued a report on world hunger and the results were not good. For the first time since the turn of the century, the number of hungry people in the world rose. This has sparked worries that both conflict and climate change could be reversing decades of progress.
Aid agency Oxfam is warning that as many as 70 per cent of the nearly half million Rohingya refugees that have sought shelter in Bangladesh do not have adequate shelter and half lack access to safe drinking water. Oxfam is urgently seeking to raise more than £5 million to deliver aid. The money is desperately needed so the agency can respond to flooding in the camps which have left refugees facing extreme hardship.
Rain causing problems
The rain in the region has meant that the building of emergency shelters and clean water tanks has slowed down, whilst some aid delivery has been delayed. Oxfam says it is seeing an unprecedented number of refugees seeking shelter in Bangladesh over an extremely short period of time. Paolo Lubrano an Oxfam representative in Bangladesh says it is extremely distressing to see the level of need amongst the people in the camps. He adds that people are living in makeshift tents as they seek protection from heavy rains. Tens of thousands of people have no food or clean water and if they are lucky they can take shelter under plastic sheeting. These people urgently require help.
Oxfam is providing assistance
Oxfam is doing its bit and has sent 15 tons of supplies including water pumps, lavatory construction kits and water tanks. The aid agency intends to send additional supplies. Since the end of August nearly half a million Rohingya have made their way to South-East Bangladesh and rather unsurprisingly this has caused a massive humanitarian crisis. It is estimated that as many as 340,000 do not have adequate shelter and a quarter million have no clean water.
Some people have been reached
Oxfam has managed to reach about 100,000 people with clean drinking water. The aid agency has built emergency toilets and delivered food rations and water pumps. Oxfam intends to scale up its response and reach a further 200,000 people. It is also providing assistance to the government and other humanitarian agencies to ensure newly built camps meet the required humanitarian standards.
Sexual violence needs to be prevented
The situation in the region is both chaotic and volatile. As a result, Oxfam is extremely worried about the exploitation of women and young girls. Other issues include health, privacy and hygiene for women, girls and nursing mothers. The aid agency says all measures possible must be taken to prevent any form of sexual violence.
Category: Save the Children
More than a quarter million Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh over the last two and half weeks after violence against the people in the Northern Rakhine State of Myanmar escalated. Disturbing reports have emerged that hundreds of people including children have been killed. George Graham of Save the Children says the situation in refugee and host communities is becoming increasingly desperate as the Bangladeshi Government and aid agencies urgently work to scale up their assistance.
Sleeping out in the open
Mr Graham says that in and around Cox’s Bazar, which is a part of Bangladesh near the border with Myanmar, thousands of Rohingya families including children are sleeping out in the open because they have no other place to go. Many have no access to food or clean drinking water and the state of uncertainty increases the risk that children are abused or even trafficked.
Host communities have been generous
Mr Graham added that the host communities have been very generous in sharing their food and other necessities with the refugees, though some Rohingya have been left with no option but to beg for food. Many of the new arrivals feel incredibly desperate after having travelled long distances by foot, having fled their homes amid escalating violence. Many of the children are sick because they do not have access to food and clean water.
Hundreds of children have arrived either separated or unaccompanied and have lost touch with their families amidst the chaos of fleeing their homes. This is a big problem and these children require additional support and help so that they can reunite with their families. Mr Graham says it is critical that the international community fully funds a humanitarian response plan that will provide support to more than 300,000 people until the end of the year.
More aid is required
Save the Children recognises the enormous contributions made by the Government of Bangladesh as well as the local authorities in Cox’s Bazar and its host communities who have lent their support to the Rohingya refugees. However the scale of the crisis means much more aid is necessary. Save the Children is calling for an end to the violence in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State.
“We urge all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to end the violence and ensure the protection of all civilians, particularly children. We call for unhindered humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State, where the situation will certainly worsen if relief organisations aren’t able to resume their operations,” Mr Graham said.
Category: Concern Worldwide
More than 150,000 families in Nepal have been displaced by severe flooding which has also caused the deaths of at least 141 people. More than 65,000 homes have been destroyed by the worst floods seen by the country in years. In Nepal’s Southern belt where the vast majority of the country’s agriculture is based was the area that was worst affected by torrential rains last month.
The situation is bad
Concern Worldwide’s Nepal Country Director, Eileen Morrow witnessed the devastating aftermath first-hand. Ms Morrow said she walked around one village in Rautahat which is one of Nepal’s worst affected areas and saw houses that had collapsed in on themselves. She added that the muddy water line caused by the flood exceeded six feet on some of the buildings including the local school. One woman told Ms Morrow that it was fortunate the flooding occurred on a Saturday or they would have lost half the children.
Livelihoods have also been affected
The flooding has not only damaged people’s homes but has also affected their livelihoods. This means there will be a huge impact on how quickly people will be able to recover. Ms Morrow says she saw people trying to dry out their animal feed in the streets, unfortunately it had already started to rot. Many families had lost their livestock and the air was filled will with the smell of decomposing animals which is a huge health hazard. Grain stocks that used to be full to the brim are now nothing more than muddy rotting rice. Thousands of families face these problems in a part of Nepal which already suffers from very high rates of malnutrition.
The problem is that is extremely difficult to fund the response to the flood and donors have been slow to give money to finance the recovery from this particular disaster. Despite this fact, Concern is working tirelessly to deliver relief to the worst affected. The aid agency is working closely with its local partners to provide food, water and aid to the most vulnerable. So far Concern has distributed food to over 11,600 families and the agency is making sure that families have water purification tablets so that waterborne disease do not spread.
Unicef Says Children Of The Middle East And North Africa Suffering From Unprecedented Levels Of Violence
According to Unicef, approximately one in five children living throughout the Middle East and North Africa are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Unicef adds that more than 90 per cent of these children live in countries that have been stricken by conflict. Geert Cappelaere, Unicef Regional Director says that war robs millions of children of their childhood and puts at risk decades of progress that has been made across the Middle East and North Africa.
Children suffer the most
Children are the ones that suffer most from continuous violence, displacement and lack of basic services. In many cases conflict participants purposely target civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, water, energy, sanitation and hygiene installations. Rather unsurprisingly, deliberate targeting of this sort exposes children to the risk of disease and death. Millions of families have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the violence. In some case under fire and in other cases multiple times. The continuing violence and displacement makes it much harder for families and their children to cope.
No end in sight
Mr Cappelaere says that the conflict seems to be without end which has put a heavy financial burden on many families who are often left with no choice but to send their children out to work and to marry their daughters off early. He adds that the number of children that are affiliated with the fighting has more than doubled.
The situation is bad
Within Syria and those countries which host refugees, approximately 12 million Syrian children require humanitarian assistance. In 2012 that number was just half a million. It is estimated that 2 million children reside in hard to reach areas of Syria which has resulted in them receiving limited humanitarian aid over the years. In Yemen, the conflict has resulted in the destruction of water and sanitation systems which has caused the world’s worst outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhea. Half of Yemen’s health care facilities no longer function and water systems have been destroyed which has meant that 15 million people lack access to safe water of basic healthcare.
World leaders need to do more
Mr Cappelaere says the region’s children have had to endure unprecedented levels of violence. Many have witnessed acts of violence that no one should ever have to witness. If the conflicts continue, Mr Cappelaere says the consequences for the region but the world at large will be dire. He calls on world leaders to do more to put an end to the violence for the sake of girls and boys and their futures.