Food & Agriculture

In South Sudan, a connection between conflict and hunger

With more food on the planet than ever before, it's difficult to believe that people still go hungry every day. You might assume that natural disasters, drought, or a lack of access to necessary farming equipment are to blame for a lack of food. What may surprise you, though, is that conflict is a leading cause of hunger.

Currently, conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is causing food shortages affecting millions, leaving children most vulnerable. While it is easy to see the role that a natural disaster or drought plays in hunger, the connection between conflict and hunger can be complicated. To make this complex issue easier to understand, World Vision's James Addis outlines some key questions below.

30 Hour Famine: A crash course in global hunger

This weekend, thousands of students across the country will participate in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine -- an event where teenagers fast for 30 hours, learn about global hunger, and raise funds to feed and care for hungry children around the world.

Nicole, a home-school mom and youth leader, started doing the Famine when she was 16. Nicole offers some incredible insight, having seen the Famine from the perspective of both a student and a leader. We asked her to share why she does the Famine.

Caring for God's creation on Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, an opportunity to step back and appreciate the care and detail God put into creating our universe. God is an amazing artist, and He has set creation before us to show us His glory and remind us of His love.

Psalm 95:3-5 tells us: "For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land."

In Seattle, where I live, this verse comes to life all the time -- natural beauty is evident all around me. Lush green trees, beautiful mountain ranges, numerous lakes, and the Puget Sound remind me of God’s creativity and craftsmanship daily. Spring has brought cherry blossoms and daffodils in abundance. Everywhere I look, I see His awe-inspiring creation.

Frogs: The other, other white meat

It’s lean, green, and full of protein. Frog -- the other, other white meat.

In many parts of the world, frog meat is seen as a delicacy. In some areas where World Vision works, it is one of the only sources of protein within reach.

One small cry: Hassane's fight against malnutrition

Lauren Fisher, emergency communications manager with World Vision, has been deployed to Niger for five weeks.  Throughout West Africa, as many as 23 million people may be affected by the hunger crisis there in the coming months, including 13 million in World Vision's program areas. Follow Lauren here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.

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It was the best moment of the day. Not the warm smiles and waves of the villagers, not the sound and sight of sparkling, precious water hitting the waiting buckets, not even the laughs of children seeing how my camera worked.

Instead, the moment that brought us all to laughs, clapping, and even near tears came from one little wail from a tiny 2-year-old.

The nurse had tried to change the angle of the Plumpy’Nut™ little Hassane was clutching so tightly. Moments before, he was all but motionless in his mother’s arms, reacting only with shrieks as the nurse at the child nutrition clinic tried to weigh him.

We didn’t need the red marker of the band measuring his arm circumference to tell that he was severely malnourished. With tiny arms and legs, little Hassane looked to me much more like a small infant than a boy who was nearly a toddler. He weighed just 16 pounds.

Hunger in West Africa: Putting you in their shoes

You are in a small health clinic in southern Chad. It is 9 a.m. The air is hot, dry, and filled with cries.

You are amidst 40 mothers sitting on the ground or on the clinic’s porch, babies in their laps. Under brightly colored headscarves, their faces look tired, drawn, sad. You catch glimpses of the babies. Their skin is stretched over their chests like paper over wire frames. Their legs are long and thin. Their bellies are protruding. Four of the mothers, clearly malnourished themselves but still trying to breastfeed their babies, are sitting on a wooden bench. In front of them is a row of tall, yellow roses.

You have never seen so much color and sadness in the same place. The contrast is unbearable. But you try to cope.

Then, your name is called out. You look up. But it’s not you who is being called. It is one of the mothers. She struggles to get onto her feet. She walks with her baby into the consultation room. Tears flow down the baby’s face as he is measured, weighed, and the nutrition-monitoring band is wrapped around his arm. You don’t need to wait to hear the results to know that he is severely malnourished.

What does true hunger look like?

I am a textbook “hangry” person. When I get hungry, I get angry. It’s not a pleasant experience for those around me, and it leads me to snack about every two hours. My closest friends know that without food in my body, no decisions will be made, and the conversations will not be pleasant.

So, I end up talking about the issue of hunger a lot -- usually my own.

The proper definition of the word “hunger” is “a compelling need or desire for food" or "the painful sensation or state of weakness caused by the need of food.” I recognize that my hunger pales in light of what others go through, and the endless access I have to food is abnormal compared to the majority of the globe.

But rarely do I consider the full weight of the word “hunger.”

Food for thought: Giving children the best start in the first 1,000 days

You’ve got to respect the tenacity of a babe in arms to hold up his head, focus his eyes, and grasp a grownup’s finger. An enormous amount of mental heavy lifting is going on behind those eyes, and a lot of high-quality fuel is needed to build the muscle and brain cells at work.

Mom’s milk is the perfect fuel, and it’s all that’s needed for the first six months of life. But a new report from World Vision called “The Best Start” makes clear that other simple and inexpensive measures can help ensure that millions more children get a healthy start toward a full life.

Why? Because:

  • Undernourishment is a child’s worst enemy. Around 2.5  million children die each year from a variety of ailments that can be traced back to one problem: not enough of the right nutrients.
  • The first 1,000 days -- from conception to age 2 -- are critical. A child who misses out on the proper nutrients during this time will not achieve his or her mental or physical potential.

World Food Day in a time of famine (Blog Action Day)

World Vision New Zealand's nutrition specialist Briony Stevens has just returned from East Africa. She blogs about her experience as part of today's Blog Action Day, dedicated this year to discussion on the topic of food given that today is also World Food Day.

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World Food Day seems such a bizarre concept when you’re standing in an over-crowded refugee camp in East Africa where there is a distinct lack of anything edible. When you’re measuring the circumference of a child’s upper arm as a means of determining how malnourished they are. When you watch a mother continue to clutch her baby to her, long after he or she has passed away.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 4: A world apart but the same at heart

The following was written last night, on day 4 of the Bolivia bloggers trip in Cochabamba.


Tonight I got an email from a colleague with a note from Charles Owubah, World Vision’s regional leader in East Africa. All I could thinks was this: my mind has been consumed with the people we’ve met here in Bolivia. Now I’m reminded of the 11.5 million people there affected by the drought.

Charles tells the story of one of them: Atabo.

“Yesterday I was in Lokori, Turkana East, in North Eastern Kenya where I met Atabo Ekaale.  Atabo is one-year-old but looks like six months old because he has almost nothing to eat. His mother, Lorenyi, is desperate because she wants her son to live and go to school. I saw many mothers like Lorenyi,” writes Charles.

I have a 15-month-old son. He’s loud and delightful and eats more than my three-year-old girl. I can’t imagine not being able to answer his cries for food.

Food is an answer, but what's the solution?

What if there was one nutrient that would take away feelings of constant fatigue, keep hearts beating regularly, and help kids to get better grades in school and reach their potential? What if this “magical” nutrient would prevent dizziness, provide strength and energy, protect against other diseases, keep mothers from dying during delivery, and keep babies alive past their fifth birthday?

If you had access to that food, would you buy it for yourself? If you had it, would you give it away -- even to someone halfway across the globe?

In the world of global nutrition, that nutrient does exist. It is called iron. Iron is all over the place in America -- beef, pork, chicken, seafood, beans, breads, cereal, and dark leafy greens. With all of these food sources, it seems like it would be so simple to get enough iron.

Fast facts: Hunger

Editor's note: June is National Hunger Awareness Month. This weekend, more than 8,000 students across the country will participate in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine. They'll experience hunger firsthand, while raising funds to care for children who face this stark reality every day -- going to bed hungry.

In the past half-decade, global food prices have reached historic highs. The grocery store -- and restaurants, when we can afford them -- account for greater portions of our paychecks. Eating in or eating out costs more now than it did even seven or eight years ago.

But where increasing food prices are merely a source of frustration for Americans, they can be devastating to people who live in poverty in other parts of the world.

In places like sub-Saharan Africa, where staple foods like grains account for nearly half of all calories consumed, rising food prices can cripple families and communities. The price of maize increased by 80 percent in just two years. Wheat prices shot up 70 percent, while the cost of rice increased by 25 percent.