A guest post by Eimear Rigby from the global hunger charity Concern Worldwide.
The 28th of May is World Hunger Day.
There are 875 million people in the world are hungry today.
It’s hard to comprehend that figure – 12 times the population of the UK, or one in eight people worldwide.
At Concern Worldwide we believe that no one should have to live with hunger and the damage it causes. We work hard alongside the poorest and most vulnerable, in order to build a world where lives are not limited by lack of access to enough nutritious food.
Our staff in Aweil in the north of the country shared their stories of just some of the people affected by the crisis earlier this year, including four year old Avur – one of thousands of children who were badly affected. Avur and her grandmother Amou had walked for miles from their home in the north of the country, an area with widespread hunger and soring child mortality rates, to one of 34 health centres supported by Concern in the south.
Avur was not only malnourished; she was also suffering from diarrhoea and coughing fits that were further weakening her. Concern’s specialist staff at the center admitted Avur to an intensive feeding programme, providing special therapeutic food designed to bring malnourished children like her back to health over six to eight weeks. This removed Avur from danger and set her on the road to recovery.
There are many more children like Avur in South Sudan and Concern Worldwide provides help and support in order to help improve their own lives, such as training local volunteers to spot the signs of malnutrition so that families know when to seek treatment. Concern is also distributing therapeutic food and teaching mothers how to use it, so that malnourished children recover in the safety and comfort of their own families.
As well as providing urgent crisis response, Concern works within communities to help them protect themselves from the prospect of future crisis. In Tanzania around 75% of the population are poor rural farmers who can’t afford the tools, seeds or crops they need to grow food in a country susceptible to both flooding and drought. Concern is able to offer support in these rural areas by proving simple tools and resources, and transfer skills to local communities: Marcelina Bedastus and her husband used to struggle to feed their four children and usually survived on just one meal per day. In 2009 Marcelina joined a Farmer Field School run by Concern and received training and three chickens to help boost her farm. Marcelina was able to breed her chickens and now has coop of 20.
Reflecting on the difference this has made to her life she says, “I had nothing before, but now I have something. I can sell eggs to get money for items like clothes and food. We have three meals a day and I can vary the types of food we eat. I can also pay for school uniforms and I hope for all of my children to go to school – education is the most important thing for them.”
Concern would obviously welcome your support for its work, but even more importantly this World Hunger Day, asks that you tell as many people as possible about hunger in the world, the damage it does, but how many, including Concern Worldwide, are working hard to tackle the problems and transform lives.