Category Archives: Food insecurity

BGR Provides Emergency Aid to Yemeni Victims and Rohingya Refugees

By Tom Spies

In the second week of December, BGR made emergency donations to the World Food Program USA to provide assistance to two communities facing severe food shortages.  An emergency donation of $8,000 will help the World Food Programme provide aid to the people of Yemen; the other donation, of $4,000, will provide food assistance to the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar now living in displaced persons camps in Bangladesh.

In Yemen, over the past two years a sustained air assault by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has left tens of thousands of civilians dead and millions of people internally displaced. An outbreak of cholera, the worst in the world, has affected hundreds of thousands of people, 30 percent of them children. One child in Yemen dies every 10 minutes due to preventable diseases.

As a result of the conflict, tens of thousands of Yemenis are enduring famine conditions, while half of Yemen’s 28 million people are on the brink of starvation. A U.N.-brokered ceasefire agreement was signed in early December and on December 13, the U.S. Senate voted 56 to 41 to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. However, in November, the House of Representatives already voted to block the passage of a bill that would have ended U.S. military support for the coalition.

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The conflict has been particularly destructive in the port city of Hodeidah. The WFP is working around the clock to provide emergency rations to people fleeing violence. Many people have been displaced from their homes to different parts of the city without income or means of survival except for WFP food aid. The agency provides families with food including beans, peas, and fish. Any disruption to the functioning of the port in Hodeidah will hamper critical commercial and humanitarian flows of food, fuel, and medicine.

This year, WFP began a school meals program in Yemen to provide nutritious, ready-to-eat food to 140,000 school children. WFP hopes to scale up aid to assist 600,000 students a month. WFP will also begin providing cash assistance in areas where markets are working well to allow up to 1 million people to have greater choice of food.

Over four decades, Rohingya refugees have been fleeing to Bangladesh from Rakhine State, Myanmar, where they have faced discrimination and targeted violence. The largest and fastest Rohingya refugee influx into Bangladesh began in August 2017. Approximately 800,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh, bringing the total number of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar to nearly 920,000. Over 80 percent of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are women and children.

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The refugee population is highly dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs, while over 38 percent of the local host community are vulnerable to food insecurity, with households that are headed by women being even more vulnerable. WFP provides life-saving assistance to refugees through in-kind food distributions of rice, pulses and fortified oil. Entitlement size is adjusted as per family size. Nearly 650,000 refugees are benefiting from monthly food distributions.

Nutrition programs are implemented in refugee camps and host communities. A nutritious supplementary food (fortified wheat soya blend) is distributed to pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of five years. The program also provides nutrition assessments, growth monitoring counselling, behavior change communication sessions on nutrition, health and hygiene and the preparation and conservation of the monthly ration of supplementary food.

WFP distributes micronutrient fortified biscuits to all primary school children from the local host community and in learning centers for refugee children. Over 258,000 children benefit from this daily snack, which helps allay hunger and supports them to learn better. The biscuits are locally produced in Bangladesh.

Tom Spies is executive director of BGR. Information in this article has been taken from the website of the World Food Programme.


Children: The Face of Hunger

By David Braughton



Look into the eyes of someone who is hungry and one out of five times it will be a child under age five staring back at you. The child will probably bear little resemblance to the graphic images found on the internet of a little wizened skull with sunken eyes sitting atop an emaciated body that more resembles a skeleton than a small living being grasping for life. What you will see is an otherwise ordinary kid who appears stunted (too short for its age) and wasted (underweight for its age). Or, you may see a child who is both too short and, at the same time, obese, another seemingly paradoxical symptom of chronic malnutrition.

Stunting and wasting represent two key markers of child malnutrition.  In 2017, there were 151 million children who were abnormally short for their age.  There were also 51 million kids who were seriously underweight for their age and 38 million who were overweight.  What is particularly alarming is the growing number of children who are overweight and stunted, although no reliable statistics are available to determine the true scope of the problem (UNICEF, WHO, World Bank). Continue reading

Winning the Peace: Hunger and Instability

Winning the peaceAn increasingly hungry world is increasingly unstable. A new report issued by the World Food Program USA—Winning the Peace: Hunger and Instability—presents an unprecedented view into the dynamics of the relationship between hunger and social instability.[1]

Based on exhaustive interdisciplinary queries of a database of 90,000,000 peer-reviewed journal articles, the report explores the underpinnings and drivers of humanitarian crises involving food insecurity and conflict. Continue reading

The World Reverses Progress on Global Hunger

By Charles W. Elliott

The newest U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (“FAO”) Annual Report on food security sends a “clear warning signal” of a troubling trend that reverses a long period of progress combating world hunger.

After A Prolonged Decline, World Hunger and Food Insecurity Worsen

FAO 2017 Food Security Report Cover

The 132-page data-rich report, The State of Food Security And Nutrition In The World 2017: Building Resilience For Peace And Food Security [1] notes that for the first time in many years the number of chronically malnourished people across the globe—as well as those suffering from acute hunger—has increased from the prior year, reversing a prolonged historic decline in world hunger. The number of undernourished people jumped from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016. Every continent except Europe and North America has suffered an increase in prevalence of malnutrition. The report identifies a variety of causes for this reversal and highlights the interrelationships between global hunger, armed conflict, and climate change.

Emerging from the data is a stark picture of 44,000,000 more people now suffering from severe food insecurity than there were just two years ago. In fact, nearly one in ten people around the world, about 689 million people, now suffers from severe food insecurity. (see Report, Table 2). The people of Africa suffer the highest levels of severe food insecurity—27.4 percent of the population, four times that of any other continent.
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BGR Donates to Help Puerto Rico and Rohingya Refugees

By BGR Staff

This past week the BGR Board voted to approve emergency grants of $5,000 each to two organizations working with people in distress: to Oxfam America, which is hard at work in Puerto Rico, filling in where the U.S. government effort has been slow and inadequate; and to the World Food Programme, which has been providing urgently needed food aid to the Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in their native Myanmar and taken refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. The statements that follow have been adopted from reports by the two organizations.

From Oxfam America, on the situation in Puerto Rico

Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, millions of its residents, who are U.S. citizens, have been struggling to survive without food, clean water, or electricity. Although they have the resources, the U.S. government’s emergency response has been slow and inadequate. For this reason, Oxfam America has stepped in to make sure the island’s 3.4 million residents receive immediate aid. Continue reading

Bolstering a Food Budget for Hungry Kids in Haiti

BGR Staff

This past May BGR approved a six-month renewable grant to the Art Creation Foundation for Children, in Haiti, to bolster its food program, which a budget shortfall had forced to be cut in half. This is a brief report on the project.


Kids enjoy a meal together

The Art Creation Foundation for Children is an arts-based non-profit organization created for the personal growth, empowerment, and education of children in need in Jacmel, Haiti. The Foundation provides art instruction, tutoring, medical care, daily food and water, and educational expenses for students in the program. Its mission is to build a passionate community of future leaders, visionaries, and dynamic thinkers who are empowered to better their lives and their world through the arts and education. “Rather than hand out a temporary fix,” they say, “we focus on empowering our students with the tools to create their own reality and decide the course of their lives.”
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Climate Change and Food System Shocks: Threats of Cascading Catastrophe

Charles W. Elliott

Food System Shocks
A global pre-eminent insurance market is waving red flags about the risk of climate-change shocks to our world food system that could quadruple the price of basic food commodities, cause widespread famine and social instability, and  bring down governments. Are world capitals paying attention?

Adding to the chorus of voices warning of threats to the global food system caused by climate change is global insurer Lloyds, which recently issued its report, “Food System Shock: The insurance impacts of acute disruption to global food supply“.  Food System Shock is one in a series of Lloyd “emerging risk” reports that address risks that are “perceived to be potentially significant but which may not be fully understood or allowed for in insurance terms and conditions, pricing, reserving or capital setting.”  This is not the first risk report on climate change issued by Lloyds (see, Lloyds’ Catastrophe Modelling and Climate Change (2014)), nor the first to address global food security (see, Lloyds’ Feast or Famine (2013)).  But it is the first by Lloyds to connect these two, explicitly addressing the impacts of climate change on food production and follow-on effects to society in a globalized economy.
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