Nutrition Opportunities in Disaster Areas

23 July 20208 min reading

The problem of hunger, a bleeding wound of all humanity, is growing day by day. Many charitable foundations are fighting hunger and malnutrition. The supports conducted regardless of the language, religion, race and culture difference unfortunately fall short. The existing nutritional imbalance brings obesity deaths on the one hand and death and security threats brought on by hunger on the other.

The world population is constantly growing and the vast majority of people now live in cities. While technology has been developing at a dizzying pace, economies have become interconnected and globalized in parallel. However, many countries have not yet experienced the continuous growth, which is a part of this new economy. The growth of the world economy as a whole did not occur as expected. Conflict and instability increased steadily and became permanent, causing larger groups of people to move. Increasing climate variability and unusual weather events with climate change negatively affect agricultural productivity, food production and natural resources. This situation has an effective also on food systems and rural livelihoods and leads to a decrease in the number of farmers. All of these cause significant changes in the global production, distribution and consumption of food and new challenges related to food safety, nutrition and health.

The international alliance of the United Nations, government agencies and non-governmental organizations has published the new edition of the annual Food Crises Global Report that addresses the underlying causes of high levels of hunger. According to the main findings in the Global Report, the number of people on the threshold of hunger may double due to the global pandemic. On the one hand, Covid-19 on the other hand, another emergency, food safety, threaten people's lives. According to the 2020 Global Food Crisis Report, while 135 million people in total are currently on the breadline, this figure is likely to increase to 265 million by the end of the year,

COVID-19 MAY NEGATIVELY EFFECT HUMANITARIAN AIDS The report, which was prepared for the fourth time this year, focuses on the increasing likelihood of acute food hazard, which has a major impact on life and livelihoods. The report addresses the hazard to food safety in five different categories such as minimum, tense, in crisis, emergency and disaster. According to the report scale, 135 million people are currently on the hunger threshold, urgent measures are needed to alleviate these effects starting from Stage 3. The report stresses that the main causes of acute food insecurity in 2020 will be conflicts in the international system, bad weather conditions, desert grasshoppers, migration, economic shocks and the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the report, as the global economy will contract due to the Covid-19 crisis, funding cuts can be encountered in large humanitarian organizations. According to the World Food Program President, if this will happen, 300 thousand people may die every day due to the food crisis. "When the dust cloud formed by the Covid-19 virus collapses, we will be able to see the food crisis more clearly," says Iman Gosh, Visual Capitalis expert analyzing the report.

According to the "Food Safety and Nutrition Report" published by the United Nations organization in 2018, the global number of people struggling against hunger has approached 850 million. The vast majority of these hungry people live in the countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa region. In the Sub-Saharan Africa region, the rate of hungry people to the general population has increased from 20.7% to 24.1% within the last 5 years.

Thanks to the comprehensive programs and campaigns carried out in line with the Millennium Development Goals, significant and steady progress was made towards the solution of the hunger problem between the years 2000 and 2015. Unfortunately, as of 2015, there have been negative changes in this situation and the number of hungry people has started to increase again. As of today, the total number of hungry people has reached 850 million. This situation shows us how difficult and inaccessible the United Nations' goal of "Zero Hunger by 2030".

One of the most important stages of the "Millennium Development Goals", which was put into effect in 2000 with the cooperation of the United Nations and its affiliated bodies, has been to combat hunger. Within the scope of this target, it was aimed to eliminate hunger and malnutrition problems with sustainable programs and campaigns in various regions of the world, particularly in the regions of Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. As a result of the steady works carried out, very positive results were obtained especially in Asian and Latin American countries. Despite the positive results in African countries, unfortunately, the level reached has been much lower than expected.

TERROR INCREASES HUNGER AND POVERTY When the main causes of limited improvement across the continent are analyzed, it is noticed that the main factor is focused on global changes rather than the targets and programs of the United Nations. At this point, it should be particularly emphasized that the main factor in the progress made was the cessation of arms and ammunition flow to the continent following the end of the Cold War, as a result of which ethnic and religious clashes in the continent ended and the African countries entered into a relative stabilization process.

However, since 2015, when the first fifteen-year Millennium Development Goals came to an end, the increase in hunger across the continent made it necessary to rethink the effectiveness of the program at this stage. Another basic view of the report at this stage is that the rise of hunger on the continent again cannot be considered independently from global developments. Especially in the end of the development program, the emergence of the African branch of global terrorism and the increase of the activities and influence of the radical organizations in the region have been the main factor in the continuation of the problem of malnutrition and hunger on the continent.

Accelerating terrorism in African countries and, in addition, hunger and nutritional crises due to inadequate and dysfunctional state mechanisms have led to other crises, especially in Sub-Saharan African countries, such as mass migration, class conflicts, mass actions against government mechanisms, and war lords fed from local conflicts. These other crises triggered by hunger and malnutrition have been most common in Cameroon and Nigeria in the African continent.

THE IMPORTANCE OF NUTRITION IN DISASTERS Nutrition is the activity of taking the nutrients and energy source from the external environment in order to fulfill the necessity of life and maintain metabolism activities. Nutrients provide the energy needed for the constantly ongoing chemical reactions in the body, as well as the substances that support the body, necessary for the formation and renewal of cells.

Nutrition is not only suppressing the feeling of hunger, feeding the stomach or eating and drinking indiscriminately, but it is an action that needs to be done consciously to get the nutrients that the body needs in adequate amounts and at the appropriate time to protect and improve our health and raise the quality of life.

The human body needs a sufficient amount of the right food for reasons such as growing, learning, working, moving, thinking, and staying healthy. Therefore, health and nutrition are closely related. Adequate intake of each of the energy sources and nutrients necessary for the growth, renewal and functioning of the body and proper use in the body is stated by the expression “adequate and balanced nutrition”. The goal of healthy nutrition is ensuring adequate and balanced nutrition.

An individual eating sufficient and balanced food looks healthy in every way. In the opposite case, the individual has an unhealthy appearance, his movements are heavy, he seems reluctant, anorexic and tired. In addition, mental retardation, imbalance in states and movements are among the advanced signs of malnutrition.

In extraordinary situations that interrupt normal life, such as disasters, it is extremely important to ensure healthy nutrition. Effective organization of health and nutrition services in disasters that cause major losses is imperative for people to overcome both physiological and psychological consequences of the disaster. The purpose of nutrition programs in emergencies is to provide adequate, balanced and healthy nutrition conditions and to prevent people from malnutrition, unbalanced and unhealthy nutrition.

Providing a hot drink such as soup, tea, high energy nutrients to the disaster-victims during critical hours following the disaster and emergency is a tool that provides psychological support to the people affected by the disaster while meeting their nutritional needs. In the first days, it is appropriate to give ready foods (bread, simit, cake, biscuit, juice, high energy nutrients etc.) that are easy to supply and do not require any treatment. In this period, food products that are easy to consume and do not spoil quickly have to be provided.

Depending on the magnitude of the disaster and emergency, the tools to be used in the nutrition service will vary. Since fast and effective response to disasters and emergencies are vital, it would be appropriate to use the vehicles that are easy to arrive upon the scene, easy to install and provide service quickly. While catering vehicles are used primarily in areas with limited scope and service capacity; mobile kitchens, mobile ovens, kitchen kits, mobile kitchens and modular systems are shipped and used simultaneously with catering vehicles in areas with a wide scope and requiring a large service capacity.

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