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MERCY Meals

Food is one of the most needed resources that human beings require for survival. MERCYWORLDWIDE believes that there is only one race, the human race, and as such every individual deserves the right to have a nutritious and healthy meal to eat as well as food security.

In our efforts to assist the humanitarian need for food around the world MERCY has implemented the establishment of the “MERCY village” in all 6 continents of the world and in the 54 cities that have an established MERCY branch. Each MERCY village will take 6 six years to be completed, in third world countries, and during the second year of establishment there will be a focus on food security.

The establishment of the MERCY village follows the pattern below:

  1. Water – First Year –> MERCY H2O
  2. Food – Second Year –> MERCY Meals
  3. Health – Third Year –> MERCY Health
  4. Disaster Preparedness – Fourth Year –> MERCY Disaster
  5. Education – Fifth Year –> MERCY Education
  6. Workforce Development – Six Year –> MERCY Workforce
What is hunger?
  1. Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth.
  2. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished.
  3. Asia is the continent with the most hungry people – two thirds of the total. The percentage in southern Asia has fallen in recent years but in western Asia it has increased slightly.
  4. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished.
  5. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
  6. One out of six children — roughly 100 million — in developing countries is underweight.
  7. One in four of the world’s children are stunted. In developing countries the proportion can rise to one in three.
  8. If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
  9. 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
  10. WFP calculates that US$3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children.
Who are the hungry?

Rural risk Rural risk

Three-quarters of all hungry people live in rural areas, mainly in the villages of Asia and Africa. Overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture for their food, these populations have no alternative source of income or employment. As a result, they are vulnerable to crises. Many migrate to cities in their search for employment, swelling the ever-expanding populations of shanty towns in developing countries.

Farmers Hungry farmers

FAO calculates that around half of the world’s hungry people are from smallholder farming communities,  surviving off marginal lands prone to natural disasters like drought or flood. Another 20 percent belong to landless families dependent on farming and about 10 percent live in communities whose livelihoods depend on herding, fishing or forest resources.

The remaining 20 percent live in shanty towns on the periphery of the biggest cities in developing countries. The numbers of poor and hungry city dwellers are rising rapidly along with the world’s total urban population.

Children Children

An estimated 146 million children in developing countries are underweight – the result of acute or chronic hunger (Source: The State of the World’s Children, UNICEF, 2009).  All too often, child hunger is inherited: up to 17 million children are born underweight annually, the result of inadequate nutrition before and during pregnancy.

Women Women

Women are the world’s primary food producers, yet cultural traditions and social structures often mean women are much more affected by hunger and poverty than men. A mother who is stunted or underweight due to an inadequate diet often give birth to low birthweight children.

Around 50 per cent of pregnant women in developing countries are iron deficient (source: Unicef). Lack of iron means 315,000 women die annually from hemorrhage at childbirth. As a result, women, and in particular expectant and nursing mothers, often need special or increased intake of food.

What causes hunger?

Poverty trap

People living in poverty cannot afford nutritious food for themselves and their families. This makes them weaker and less able to earn the money that would help them escape poverty and hunger. This is not just a day-to-day problem: when children are chronically malnourished, or ‘stunted’, it can affect their future income, condemning them to a life of poverty and hunger.

In developing countries, farmers often cannot afford seeds, so they cannot plant the crops that would provide for their families. They may have to cultivate crops without the tools and fertilizers they need. Others have no land or water or education. In short, the poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.

Lack of investment in agriculture

Too many developing countries lack key agricultural infrastructure, such as enough roads, warehouses and irrigation. The results are high transport costs, lack of storage facilities and unreliable water supplies. All conspire to limit agricultural yields and access to food.

Investments in improving land management, using water more efficiently and making more resistant seed types available can bring big improvements.

Research by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization shows that investment in agriculture is five times more effective in reducing poverty and hunger than investment in any other sector.

Climate and weather

Natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and long periods of drought are on the increase — with calamitous consequences for the hungry poor in developing countries.

Drought is one of the most common causes of food shortages in the world. In 2011, recurrent drought caused crop failures and heavy livestock losses in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. In 2012 there was a similar situation in the Sahel region of West Africa.

In many countries, climate change is exacerbating already adverse natural conditions. Increasingly, the world’s fertile farmland is under threat from erosion, salination and desertification. Deforestation by human hands accelerates the erosion of land which could be used for growing food.

War and displacement

Across the globe, conflicts consistently disrupt farming and food production. Fighting also forces millions of people to flee their homes, leading to hunger emergencies as the displaced find themselves without the means to feed themselves. The conflict in Syria is a recent example.

In war, food sometimes becomes a weapon. Soldiers will starve opponents into submission by seizing or destroying food and livestock and systematically wrecking local markets. Fields are often mined and water wells contaminated, forcing farmers to abandon their land.

Ongoing conflict in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo has contributed significantly to the level of hunger in the two countries. By comparison, hunger is on the retreat in more peaceful parts of Africa such as Ghana and Rwanda.

Unstable markets

In recent years, the price of food products has been very unstable. Roller-coaster food prices make it difficult for the poorest people to access nutritious food consistently. The poor need access to adequate food all year round. Price spikes may temporarily put food out of reach, which can have lasting consequences for small children.

When prices rise, consumers often shift to cheaper, less-nutritious foods, heightening the risks of micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition.

Food wastage

One third of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) is never consumed. This food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security in a world where one in 8 is hungry.

Producing this food also uses up precious natural resources that we need to feed the planet. Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River. Producing this food also adds 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, with consequences for the climate and, ultimately, for food production.

What is malnutrition?

A malnourished person finds that their body has difficulty doing normal things such as growing and resisting disease. Physical work becomes problematic and even learning abilities can be diminished. For women, pregnancy becomes risky and they cannot be sure of producing nourishing breast milk.

When a person is not getting enough food or not getting the right sort of food, malnutrition is just around the corner. Even if people get enough to eat, they will become malnourished if the food they eat does not provide the proper amounts of micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – to meet daily nutritional requirements.

Disease and malnutrition are closely linked. Sometimes disease is the result of malnutrition, sometimes it is a contributing cause. In fact, malnutrition is the largest single contributor to disease in the world, according to the UN’s Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN).

Malnutrition at an early age leads to reduced physical and mental development during childhood. Stunting, for example, affects more than 147 million pre-schoolers in developing countries, according to SCN’s World Nutrition Situation 5th report. Iodine deficiency, the same report shows, is the world’s greatest single cause of mental retardation and brain damage.

Undernutrition affects school performance and studies have shown it often leads to a lower income as an adult. It also causes women to give birth to low birth-weight babies.