A look back on a year of responding to hunger

Monday, December 17, 2018

As 2018 comes to an end, we want to take the opportunity to reflect on the year behind us. We hope you find the following report of how we used your donations informative, and that like us, you’re able to find hope in what can be accomplished when we work together for a world without hunger.

As it is written in the Bible, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10).

From left, Atok Chong, Achien Akech and Nyibol Dot of Lakes State, South Sudan, prepare to cook the lunch meal at Malek Primary School. The women participated in a project of Foodgrains Bank member Mennonite Central Committee Canada. (Photo: Christoph Pueschner/Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe)

An alarming trend: Hunger on the rise 

For many years, we were encouraged to see the number of hungry people in the world slowly but steadily decrease, thanks to things like basic infrastructure improvements, improved agricultural productivity, economic growth and strengthened social protection systems.

For the first time in a decade though, the number of people experiencing hunger has increased—mostly due to conflict.

This is sad news. In 2017-18, over 65 percent of our food assistance went toward responding to hunger crises in conflict situations. We’re examining how best to respond in these conflict-related crises, and what contribution we can make to help prevent conflict.

Looking at hunger through the lends of resilience 

At the same time, drought, floods and other natural disasters continue to impact millions of people, requiring us to respond with emergency food and nutritional support.

We are looking at such crises through the lens of resilience. This means looking at how our long-term agriculture and livelihood support can strengthen the ability of communities to withstand such disasters and erratic weather.

For instance, our Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa program helps farmers in drought-prone areas adopt agriculture practices that better preserve moisture in the soil. This means they will still be able to produce some crops when rains are poor or late, reducing their need for outside help.

There is still much to be done in the fight against world hunger, yet, we are encouraged by all that is being accomplished.

Thuli Chepang of Dhading district, Nepal, grows mustard greens (known in Nepali as Raiyo ko Saag) in her garden. Chepang participates in an agriculture and livelihoods project of Foodgrains Bank member Mennonite Central Committee. She learned how to grow vegetables for her own consumption and for sale at local markets. (Photo: Matthew Sawatzky/MCC)

Responding in times of emergency 

We spent $23 million helping over 450,000 people affected by humanitarian emergencies and disasters in 2017-18, ensuring they had access to the food and nutritional support they need in the midst of crises.

Humanitarian food and nutrition assistance is provided in times of crisis when families are not able to provide for their own food needs, and levels of malnutrition, particularly in young children and pregnant or nursing mothers, are critically high.

In Koch County, South Sudan, mother Mariah believes that Plumpy’Nut, a special fortified food made from peanut flour, saved her one-year old daughter Nyruei’s life. Mariah brought Nyruei to a clinic supported by Foodgrains Bank member Tearfund Canada when the little girl suffered from frequent diarrhea. Her arm circumference measurement indicated she was extremely malnourished. She was given five weeks of Plumpy’Nut rations while Maria received five weeks of training and classes around child health and nutrition.

“If it were not for this program, my child might have died,” says Mariah.

Responding in the longer-term 

We spent $14 million in 2017-18 to reduce hunger and malnutrition in the longer-term for 389,000 people, and are seeing reduced hunger and malnutrition for many families.

Our work to address long-term, chronic hunger includes promoting sustainable agriculture practices, supporting people in improving their livelihoods, assisting people to return home after displacement and helping ensure families and communities can withstand and recover from natural disasters and erratic weather.

We also work to reduce malnutrition through nutrition education, maternal health programming and promotion of good sanitation and hygiene practices.

“We are illiterate because our parents were not able to send us to school. We didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of our parents, so we are sending our children to school out of the incomes we are now gaining. We are very much happy to be able to send our children to school.” – Biratu Dakka and Nimma Abdurahiman, Ethiopia. The couple are participants in a project that is part of the Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa program. Through the project, they are learning how to improve the health of their soil. The couple has been able to improve their yields and increase the amount of produce they can sell for much-needed cash.

We also worked to influence Canadian, international and developing country policies toward ending hunger, and continued to engage Canadians on issues of global hunger.