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The 10 Hungriest Countries in the World and How You Can Help Them
By Nikkitha Bakshani,
The Daily Meal, 26 May 2015.

One in nine people worldwide lack the basic necessities of food and clean water. According to the World Food Programme, hunger poses more of a health risk than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, but unlike these conditions, the cure for world hunger is tangible and within reach. Here are the 10 most undernourished countries in the world, along with some ways you can help feed them.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI), which is calculated every year by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), lists the state of hunger in these 10 countries as “alarming” (20-29.9) or “extremely alarming” (greater than or equivalent to 30). The study focuses on the lack of micronutrients (zinc, folate, iron, vitamins), and the numbers are based on the proportion of the undernourished as a percentage of the population, as well as the prevalence of child mortality and underweight children under the age of five.

To find the organizations we vouch for, we focused on groups aiming to implement long-term solutions to improve food shortages and prepare for environmental disasters or drought. For example, in Zambia, the Irish charity Gorta is working to set up local beekeeping and fish farming industries. However, some of these nations are in the midst of on-going political struggle and need immediate aid. All of the organizations we recommend have been scanned and verified as legitimate charities.

While the countries on this list are ranked according to their GHI, we want to stress that there is no hierarchy when it comes to world hunger. All undernourished people need help, even the ones in developed countries. It’s also important to note that natural disasters, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal, can make the need for food donations extra critical and time sensitive; find out how to donate to that effort here. Most of all, we want to stress the importance of not getting pessimistic about ending world hunger. It is an achievable goal. According to the Food Policy Research Institute, the state of hunger in developing countries has fallen 39 percent since 1990.

We still have a long way to go, but this is a good place to start. It may not be the season of giving, but doing good in the world shouldn’t be restricted by season.

10. Haiti

Photo: Fred W. Baker III/Wikimedia Commons

Years of political instability and a powerful earthquake whose effects are still present have left Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, one of the hungriest countries in the world - two thirds of the juvenile population suffer from malnutrition. Most of the money from musician Wyclef Jean’s much-publicized charity, which collected millions of dollars for the island nation, went into administrative costs and did little to nothing to help. To make a difference, donate to Food for the Poor, which, according to its website, began its work in Haiti in 1986 and has since built 11,000 homes and installed 373 water wells.

9. Zambia

Photo: Florence Devoaurd/Wikimedia Commons

Zambia, a landlocked nation bordering Angola and Zimbabwe, rates 23.2 on the Global Hunger Index, despite being more politically stable than many other developing countries. While Zambia exports hundreds of tons of high-quality maize to Europe - so high-quality that the government denied genetically modified food donations from the United States in 2002 for fear that it would contaminate their exports - malnourishment rates stay high. To help, donate to the Irish charity Gorta, which works to improve food and water safety and set up agricultural systems like beekeeping, fish farming, and watershed management; their goal is to help Zambia become self-sustaining.

8. Yemen

Photo: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons

Political instability and violence has not only left many in Yemen impoverished, but also drastically affects the amount of food aid that can reach the small Middle Eastern nation. Oxfam's warehouse in Saada, which contained humanitarian supplies used in the organization’s water and sanitation projects, was bombed in an air raid by Saudi forces in April 2015. They need your help more than ever. Donate here to continue their efforts to provide livestock, clean water, and cash for basic commodities.

7. Ethiopia

The Ethiopian famine in 1984 killed up to one million people. It had a lasting effect not only in the country but in media coverage of famine and political struggles. According to The Guardian, it was the onset of “African pessimism.” Please don’t give up and please try your best to help. Save the Children lets you donate money for food and education or sponsor a specific child.

6. Chad

Political instability, social unrest, and conflicts with neighbouring countries have plagued the central African country of Chad since its independence in 1960, and while the situation is improving, poor infrastructure, as well as an influx of refugees from neighbouring countries, leave the nation in urgent need for food. Action Against Hunger works to provide immediate relief and initiate food security programs by supporting local markets, providing farmers with tools and education for to grow healthy crops and vaccinate livestock, and training female entrepreneurs in small business management.

5. Sudan and South Sudan

Photo: Oxfam East Africa/Wikimedia Commons

The GHI score in South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011, could not be determined because the IFPRI were unable to collect data on the nations independently. However, both Nile Valley countries are in dire need of help, especially since fighting broke out in South Sudan again in December 2013. The World Food Programme provides food for the politically unstable new nation of South Sudan as it finds its way to peace, and Save the Children continues to serve the people of Sudan.

4. Comoros

Photo: David Stanley/Flickr

While Comoros, an archipelago nation off the East African coast, is gradually becoming a vacation spot for people who want to escape to its pristine beaches, the 20 coups and coup attempts that have been executed since its independence in 1975 have left malnutrition rates in the country staggeringly high, with a GHI of 29.5. Caritas works to improve healthcare and set up nutritional and recreational centres for the people of Comoros.

3. Timor-Leste
Photo: David Stanley/Flickr

While 80 percent of the Pacific nation Timor-Leste’s population relies on agriculture for income, most families in rural areas can only produce enough food to last eight months, resulting in chronic malnutrition, especially among children under the age of five. Mercy Corps works in Timor to build local economies for food and environmental sustainability.

2. Eritrea

Photo: David Stanley/Flickr

The hunger situation in Eritrea is hard to assess. While its GHI is at a high 33.8, the country has been described as a “black hole” due to its hostility toward foreign journalists and aid workers. The nation refused aid in 2011, when agencies warned that millions in the Horn of Africa were being affected by famine, claiming that they manage their supplies better than their neighbours. However, if you’d like to donate, the American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa does have a presence in the secretive nation.

1. Burundi

Photo: Dave Proffer/Flickr

Burundi’s GHI has remained at a devastating 35.6 for a few years. The fact that violent protests are breaking out around the country at this moment - as a result of the assassination of the ruling party’s opposition leader, as well as the current president’s bid for a third five-year term - is doing nothing to improve the situation. On the onset of this crisis, Burundi needs your help; donate to Food for the Hungry today to help improve the country’s food income generation, healthcare facilities, and agricultural systems.

Top image: Batwa woman with children living in Murwi, Burundi. Credit: United Nations Photo/Flickr.

[Source: The Daily Meal. Edited. Some images added.]