Wednesday August 21, 2019

North Korea’s Poor Early Harvest Increases Hunger, Malnutrition, Water Borne Diseases: IFRC

Current food crisis is likely to lead to rising malnutrition rates and water borne diseases, such as diarrhea and colitis

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hunger, malnutrition
FILE - North Korean farmers plant rice seedlings in a field at the Sambong Cooperative Farm, South Pyongan Province. VOA

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is warning about increased hunger, malnutrition, and waterborne diseases in North Korea due to a poor early harvest.

North Korea’s expected June-to-September harvest has been cut in half due to an early spring drought. The International Red Cross Federation reports the destruction of crops is having a devastating impact on thousands of the most vulnerable people.

It says the elderly, families with young children, breast-feeding mothers, those suffering from chronic illnesses or disabilities are in desperate need. Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said the humanitarian situation for many communities across North Korea is extremely critical. He said the U.N. estimates more than 40 percent of the population, around 11 million people, is in need of food aid.

“It has been and remains one of the world’s truly silent humanitarian emergencies,” he told VOA  “The work that we are doing now really is about trying to help very vulnerable communities survive the coming weeks and months, but it is a drop in the ocean, I think and much more support is needed.”

hunger, malnutrition
Current food crisis is likely to lead to rising malnutrition rates and water borne diseases, such as diarrhea and colitis. VOA

Cochrane said 20 percent of North Korea’s children are malnourished. He warned the current food crisis is likely to lead to rising malnutrition rates and water borne diseases, such as diarrhea and colitis.

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“Often you see in a drought [a] situation where — obviously there is a lack of water — the water that is available is polluted, is not really fit for human consumption,” he said. “But people really have no choice but to consume that water. So, by providing clean water, not just for the crops but also for all the people, we hope to have the added benefit of improving crop yields and improving food security. But also helping protect people against waterborne illnesses.”

The Red Cross Federation is appealing for nearly $500,000 to provide life-saving assistance for thousands of people in the most affected communities in North Phyongan province. Given the severity of the situation, it says quick action is needed to save what can be saved from the failed harvest and to ensure that people whose food stocks are almost gone do not go hungry. (VOA)

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39 Million People Suffering from Hunger in Latin America and The Caribbean

(Hunger) is a really worrying trend because, after undernourishment and hunger had declined for decades in that region and around the world

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People, Hunger, Latin America
Eve Crowley, who is in Montevideo to present a book commemorating FAO's 68 years in Uruguay, described the current situation in the region in an interview with EFE on Saturday. Pixabay

An increase in the number of people suffering from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, now totaling 39 million, is a cause of concern for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), according to its deputy representative for that region.

Eve Crowley, who is in Montevideo to present a book commemorating FAO’s 68 years in Uruguay, described the current situation in the region in an interview with EFE on Saturday.

“(Hunger) is a really worrying trend because, after undernourishment and hunger had declined for decades in that region and around the world, we’re now seeing an increase,” she said. “In the Latin American and the Caribbean region there are now 39 million people suffering from hunger.”

On the other end of the spectrum levels of obesity and overweight also are elevated in the region and ascend to as high as 65 per cent of the population in Uruguay, compared to 60 per cent for the region as a whole.

People, Hunger, Latin America
An increase in the number of people suffering from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, now totaling 39 million, is a cause of concern for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), according to its deputy representative. Pixabay

“We have a target of … eradicating malnutrition in all of its forms, and currently one of its expressions is that in many countries there’s a combination of simultaneous problems – not only in the country, (but) at times in the home and at times in the same person,” she said, noting that undernourishment occasionally goes hand in hand with overweight and obesity and micronutrient deficiency.

Regarding the high level of meat consumption in the region, although the FAO promotes and recognizes the importance of that food group, the expert expressed concern that animal protein is being consumed in excess at the expense of fruit and vegetables.

“The use of antibiotics in the production chain of meat and fish is a very big source of concern for the FAO, Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health because we know that in 2050 antimicrobial resistance will be the biggest cause of death in the world, ahead of cancer and noncommunicable diseases,” Crowley added.

She said it is very important for governments to levy taxes on unhealthy foods and to incentivize the consumption of fruits, vegetables and fish, as well as to promote family farming and educational campaigns such as the latest nutritional guide released by Uruguay’s Health Ministry.

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“If governments don’t take action now, they’re going to pay with (heavy burdens on) their public health systems, something that’s already happening with the spending of millions of dollars to alleviate noncommunicable diseases,” Crowley said. (IANS)