This is what Plan International is doing against hunger

The world is facing a food crisis. 193 million people in 53 countries are in urgent need of food aid. Due to an accumulation of conflicts, climate change and food scarcity, the future of children is at stake. Plan International is therefore rapidly scaling up its programs in the areas of food, money and vouchers and child protection in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, among others.

Conflicts

Sixty percent of hunger worldwide is due to conflict or insecurity, according to a report by the World Food Programme. In the search for protection, children and families are forced to leave behind all their belongings and flee. Due to the conflict in Ukraine, the prices of bread and other wheat products have also exploded worldwide.

Climate change

Rising temperatures, persistent drought or extreme rain are increasingly affecting farmers and their crops. For example, in the Horn of Africa, season after season, crops fail due to lack of rain, and livestock have died or been severely weakened. As a result, farmers lose their source of income. Livestock are also an important source of food for children, but weakened animals produce almost no milk. Therefore, they make almost no money on the livestock market.

Influence of hunger on education

How far would you go for water or school? For twelve-year-old Nasra from Tana River County in Kenya, that’s about fifty kilometers a day. The ongoing drought has forced her to walk further and further for water, worsening the situation. Every morning and afternoon she walks in the scorching sun with a few other girls from her village to the nearest water source, twelve kilometers away.

When she comes back, she will be late or too hungry to go to school. She says: “I often get headaches. When I’m at school, I can hardly concentrate because I’m so tired and hungry.’

School is often the only place where children like Nasra get a meal because there is not enough food at home. When parents can no longer pay school fees or when schools close during the holidays, these children have nothing to eat.

As more and more children drop out and teachers migrate to other areas where there is more food or work, schools are closed. This means that the rest of the children in the local community can no longer go to school or have to go to the nearest school.

Girls are the most vulnerable

The long walks to school and water expose girls to the risk of abuse and sexual violence. Hibbaq (18) from the Togdheer region of Somaliland says: “We walk long distances to go to school and we are afraid that one day we will meet someone who will abuse us. To reduce that risk, we usually collect water in groups. But if my neighbors already have water, I have to go alone.”

In many cultures in these regions, it is common for girls to cook for their families but eat last. If there is too little food, they skip the meal. As a result, girls are at greater risk of hunger and malnutrition.

The drought also has a major impact on hygiene. If there is not enough water for daily use, people may wash and care less. This increases the risk of infectious diseases. Girls are at greater risk because good hygiene is especially important during menstruation.

More child marriages, teenage pregnancies and child labour

Families are often at their wits end due to lack of food. To earn some extra money for the family, children are taken out of school to work. Out of desperation, parents force their daughters to get married. If a girl is married off, the family has one less mouth to feed. The family also receives some money or cattle as a dowry. After marriage, girls often get pregnant quickly and rarely go back to school.

13-year-old Faisa from the Togheer region of Somalia says she is afraid of being married off to an older man. “I see that many girls are sent to the city to work or get married in exchange for money. Every time I see a man talking to my mother, I’m afraid they’re making a deal about me.”

This is what Plan International does (among other things) against hunger

Plan International is active in many of the hardest hit countries with programs that include school feeding, cash and voucher assistance and child protection. Plan International also supports the restoration of livelihoods and the distribution of seeds or livestock.

South Sudan

131,000 people in Aweil East, Koch, Malakal, Fashoda, Wau and Pibor are supported by their livelihood.

• Households receive agricultural supplies to grow their own food
• Entrepreneurs receive training in sustainable agriculture and climate
• Vouchers and money to cover their basic needs

Kenya

• Distribution of money and food against direct food insecurity
• Provision of daily meals in schools
• To provide ready-to-eat diet food for pregnant or lactating women
• Support for girls and women who have married or experienced violence.

Ethiopia

• Distribute cash transfers to improve food security and thus prevent, for example, child labor and forced marriages
• Distribution of improved seeds for crops that are more drought resistant
• Livestock vaccinations to prevent even more livestock deaths
• Restore degraded fields

Somalia

In Somalia, Plan International is active in the Todgheer, Sool and Bay regions.

• 18,000 people receive emergency water from trucks. Each household gets 30 liters a day.
• 17,000 people receive monthly cash transfers for food and other basic needs

Burkina Faso

• 1,400 vulnerable households receive a monthly financial contribution for food
• Support for income-generating activities such as donation of livestock for breeding

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