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World Food Day

Glances from the ground

  • by Fatima Khonat
  • 15 Oct 19

Photo credit: ACTED


Blog Post

Around the world, World Food Day draws attention to those who suffer from hunger; promoting awareness and calling for action.

The current 2019 Global Hunger Index figures show the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide is on the borderline between moderate and serious, indicating that year on year since the year 2000 hunger levels in the world have decreased.

" The level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide falls on the cusp of the moderate and serious categories, at a value of 20.0. This value reflects a decline in the global GHI score in each period examined since 2000, when the global GHI score was 29.0 and fell into the serious category." (Global Hunger Index)

Whilst this is no small feat, there is still much work to be done before hunger and undernutrition can be eradicated for good. Crises, violent conflicts, war, extreme climatic events and economic slowdowns continue to drive hunger in many parts of the world. 

Glances from the ground 

As part of its rapid response the Start Fund in the last year disbursed funding to 16 projects with a food insecurity component and 9 projects with elements of addressing undernutrition. 

In late June of this year, intercommunal clashes between armed groups in South Kivu triggered large-scale displacement, with more than 125,000 fleeing their homes. Serious damage was caused to shelter and critical infrastructure, leaving displaced people in urgent need of food, shelter, essential items, clean water, and health intervention.

Food and non food-items(NFIs) were considered the priority needs of these displaced people; with destruction causing limited access to food stocks and agriculture. The influx of displaced people into local host communities also caused additional stress and impacted the resilience of host families as well as adding pressure to local markets.


Food items were an essential part of the Action Aid response

The Start Fund was alerted (alert 324) and activated enabling Action Aid to reach those displaced and those affected by the crisis with essential food items and living essentials. 

As compiled by Start Fund Senior MEAL Advisor, David Burt, on completion of the Start Fund awarded response, Action Aid said: "It was noted that the food item distribution was the most impactful activity in this project. The IDPs had lost everything and immediate needs were the priority, although NFIs were important, food was critical."

Devastating drought in Kenya 

Below average rainfall across the Horn of Africa in late May 2019 caused drought conditions across the whole region, particularly in the north and north-eastern pastoral zones of Kenya. These drought conditions had been ongoing since late 2018, with delayed onset of the long-rain season leading to deterioration of farmland, loss of livestock, and increased food insecurity.

As Kenya entered the “lean-season” in June, humanitarian needs were anticipated to escalate significantly beyond typical seasonal variation. As households in certain areas had already been judged to have entered Phase 3 (Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis) of the IPC (Integrated Phase Classification) standards, the prioritisation of these areas was held to be particularly urgent.


ACTED reached affected drought communities with cash vouchers to help meet their
essential needs

The Start Fund received the alert for this crisis in early June and was swiftly activated disbursing funds to ACTED and Action Aid.With a longstanding presence in the country in the arid and semi-arid areas, ACTED was able to respond quickly to support drought-affected families. The organisation was able to provide 3,000 households with cash, which enabled them to purchase essential food items.  

Read more about the response here: https://startnetwork.org/news-and-blogs/responding-drought-emergency-kenya

Acting before a drought in Nicaragua 

A weak El Niño phenomenon developing since February 2019, affected several Central American counties across the Dry Corridor. Below-average rainfall, combined with decreasing water availability and food insecurity, prompted some negative-coping mechanisms to be utilised by vulnerable populations across Nicaragua, where close to 70% of the total population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

A delay in rainfall in 2018 led to the loss of up to 70% of first harvest crops, with excessive rainfall in the 2018 Postrera* period then destroying crops further. The forecasted information pointed to a likelihood of the situation worsening, with the political-economic context identified as potential aggravating stressors.

The Start Fund was activated awarding Save the Children Nicaragua to work with the communities in mitigating the effects of the impending drought. On analysing the response activities and learning exchange notes Start Network's Senior MEAL Advisor, David Burt, highlights the key success of acting ahead of the drought: 

During this Start Fund project it was possible to:

  1. Obtain updated information on the nutritional status of children under 5 years of age from the seven intervention municipalities in the Departments of León, Matagalpa and Nueva Segovia.
  2. Of the 1000 families selected, 95% had high prevalence of children with Acute Malnutrition and the remaining 5% were single mothers-headed-households.
  3. In the week of August 18th to 24th, in collaboration with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, 1000 vouchers for food were delivered in each of the 7 intervention municipalities
  4. During this period, monthly infant weighing sessions were held in each community and community health workers also conducted counselling with mothers and other caregivers.
  5. Some 45 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition were referred to health units for medical assistance
  6. In addition to food voucher distributions, activities were carried out at the distribution sites for the promotion of care and safeguarding actions for children and adolescents in the communities, focused on preventing the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and adolescents.
  7. A promotional campaign was conducted by 5 local radio stations to disseminate messages for changes in health and nutrition behaviour based on the community strategy of PROCOSAN[1]

Read more about the Start Fund

[1] PROCOSAN is a government programme focused on nutrition

* The end of August to middle of November planting season

Keep reading:

Start Fund

  • by Fatima Khonat