The next time you go to the grocery store or a local farmers market, think about what you are buying. Do you have access to fresh produce and other food items that cater to a healthy lifestyle? Are there any limitations to the number and/or types of things you can buy? Imagine if you had no options – no grocery store or market nearby and no fresh produce, beans, meats, cheeses, eggs, or grains?
Even though every corner of the world is currently battling the current health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another major health crisis that no country is immune from and that is malnutrition. Malnutrition in every form is one of the greatest global health challenges. Whether fighting obesity or undernutrition, millions are being impacted and it is devasting the physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being of adults, children, and infants all over the world.
Malnutrition is defined as deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. There are three broad groups of conditions:
- Undernutrition, which includes wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age) and underweight (low weight-for-age). Undernutrition makes children in particular more vulnerable to disease and death.
- Micronutrient-related malnutrition, which includes micronutrient deficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals) or micronutrient excess.
- Overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers)
An alarming 47 million children under 5 years of age are wasted, 14.3 million are severely wasted and 144 million are stunted. Around 45% of deaths among children under 5 years of age are linked to undernutrition. These mostly occur in low- and middle-income countries. (Source: World Health Organization).
While we don’t often connect overweight or obesity to malnourishment, they are actually directly connected, and believe it or not nearly one-third of the world is obese or overweight. The term overnutrition, which is another form of malnutrition, means that an individual’s diet contains an excess or imbalance of energy, protein and micronutrients, that can lead to obesity. Both undernutrition and overnutrition can be devastating to a country’s overall health and productivity. Sadly, many developing countries now suffer from both problems at the same time. (Source: NewsDeeply)
Proper agricultural programs and educational resources are key to ensuring that communities can fight malnutrition (and all its various forms), have access to nutritious foods, and create a sustainable future. It’s not just about the volume of food consumption, but the types of foods being consumed and their nutritional value, as one can easily be overweight but still be profoundly undernourished. Education on the importance of a balanced diet of protein-rich foods, grains and starches, fruits and vegetables, ensures that proper dietary management is adhered to throughout life. Also, programs for crop production and water resource management, which not only provides the immediate accessibility to key food groups but long-term sustainability for communities as well, is of paramount importance. Vegetables specifically have become increasingly essential for both their nutritional value and food security.
Recently, the World Forgotten Children Foundation (WFCF) expanded its mission to encompass both the health and welfare needs of orphaned children with disabilities AND the health and welfare needs of underprivileged communities. As such, in addition to projects that directly benefit orphaned children living with disabilities in developing countries, WFCF now also welcomes proposals and prospective partnerships for projects that can benefit underprivileged communities and stop the cycle of poverty. The programs will be environmentally friendly, with sustainable and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.
The hope overall is to be able to support communities with creating diets that are nutritious, safe, affordable, and sustainable. Focusing on ways to sustain the four main food groups: 1) fruits and vegetables, 2) bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, cereals, and other starchy foods, 3) milk and dairy foods, and 4) meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and other non-dairy sources of protein.
Recognizing that safe drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights and critical to sustaining healthy livelihoods, WFCF, in partnership with African Community Project, recently collaborated on a unique water management program that will enable underprivileged communities in rural areas of Africa, such as the Zimba District of Southern Province, Zambia, to properly utilize water for developing a more sustainable community.
This project will provide ample water to a specific group of local women in a community where they are currently struggling to provide food and livelihoods for their families and children. WFCF and African Community Project have been given a track of traditional land that will provide space for these women to unite and grow vegetables and fruit for the upkeep of their families, and the surplus will be sold in the Zimba market. Most labor around the farm will be paid with in-kind trading among the members. Vegetables and other commercial crops grown on the farm will be sold and the money generated will provide funds to maintain the upkeep of the project. As the project matures, chickens and other farm animals can be added to enhance the products produced.
For anyone interested in submitting these types of projects for funding consideration to WFCF, a project proposal can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Detailed background information
- Detailed project description
- Level of community involved in the project
- Economic benefits and poverty reduction impacts
- List of equipment and their utilization plans
- Detailed costs, budget, and timeline
- A list of five (5) references with their contact information
WFCF encourages everyone to unite to support these communities and the nourishment of people all over the world.
NewsDeeply. (2017, December 15). Obesity and Malnutrition: Two Sides of One Crisis. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.newsdeeply.com/malnutrition/articles/2017/12/15/obesity-and-malnutrition-two-sides-of-one-crisis-2
World Health Organization. (2020, April 1). Fact Sheet – Malnutrition. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malnutrition