International Aid Organizations

By Cleo Faraone

Every aid organization has a goal to improve the lives of people who are suffering. Each is likely to do it in its own way. In recent years, it had become obvious that it is better not to simply give starving people food because it is a short term solution. Instead, aid organizations are now trying to spread sustainability by helping people in underdeveloped countries create long term solutions that provide them with food. These programs give people a livelihood that lasts into the future. The goal of all this is improved nutrition and food security.

What is food security? Food security is defined as “access to enough food to sustain a healthy and active life”. If everyone in the world had food security then no one would go hungry. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As many as 852 million people are undernourished and many more do not have complete food security because they are suffering from acute poverty.

Many organizations, seeking to improve lives, attempt to lift people out of poverty and move them away from food insecurity. One organization that attempts this by improving food access is CARE. This aid organization works with women and children in underdeveloped countries who they believe suffer from poverty more than most. It aims to help them build lives that allow them to be self-sufficient. CARE works with farmers to increase their crop yield by varying crops and implementing irrigation systems. They also aim to preserve the ability of the land to produce crops so future generations can continue to farm. CARE works to increase children’s nutrition, not just their food source. Women are taught about breastfeeding and nutrition and health care systems are strengthened as well.

WHO, the World Health Organization, also has programs that work to increase the food security and nutrition of those in underdeveloped countries. Their overall goal is to end hunger and malnutrition. This is obviously far from an easy task. To achieve it, the organization, over the past twenty years especially, has worked with governments of various countries to implement programs that improve nutrition. They work towards putting into practice national nutrition plans, creating programs that protect those that due to their socioeconomic standing are at risk for poor nutrition, encouraging mothers to breastfeed their infants and promoting healthy diets and lifestyles.

UNICEF is yet another program that works hard to improve the lives of children by improving their nutrition. The organization, realizing the importance of providing children with all their necessary vitamins and minerals, tries to give children in underdeveloped countries vitamins. Also, using “[e]xisting low-cost, low-technology and high impact interventions such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, insecticide-treated bed nets, improved breastfeeding practices and adoption of safe hygiene practices [they] prevent unnecessary maternal and child deaths and reduce [mal]nutrition.” While this organization does not work as directly with people to improve their farm’s food producing capabilities, they do work to improve the nutrition of children around the globe. UNICEF has programs that focus specifically on the elimination of certain micronutrient deficiencies. An example is Iodine. UNICEF runs a program called Universal Salt Iodization that works with governments, salt producers and WHO to make sure that salt has iodine added to it, consequentially reducing the number of people suffering from iodine deficiency.

A fourth aid organization that works to advance the number of people living with food security around the globe is the FAO, the Food and Agricultural Organization, which is part of the UN (United Nations). FAO tries to work at all levels, with governments and individual communities, to improve food access. They provide scientific advice on advancing the production of crops and help governments to establish nutritional guidelines to meet. Also, in a national emergency or crisis, FAO will provide aid. They give help and training to underdeveloped countries trying to lessen the number of people suffering from food insecurity.

Each of these organizations goes about their goals a little differently and they do not have exactly the same goals. However, each has the same underlying theme; they seek to improve the lives of millions by improving their nutrition. More information can be found at each group’s website.

Sources:
1. Whitney, Ellie and Sharon Rady Rolfes. “Understanding Nutrition 11th Edition”. Thomson Higher Education, Belmont, CA: 2008.
2. Wikipedia “Food Security”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_security accessed 6/8/09.
3. CARE “What do we do?” http://www.care.org/careswork/whatwedo/index.asp?s_src=170920500000&s_subsrc= accessed 6/7/09
4. World Health Organization “Developing effective food and nutrition policies and programmes.” http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/policies/en/index.html accessed 6/7/09
5. UNICEF “Young children survival and development introduction”. http://www.unicef.org/childsurvival/index.html accessed 6/8/09.
6. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “Food Safety and Quality. http://www.fao.org/ag/agn/agns / accessed 6/8/09

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