Launching 10 Myths About World Hunger – sorting facts from fiction

Today is World Food Day and we are delighted to launch a new pocket-booklet, 10 Myths About World Hunger as part of a new series that looks to sort facts from fiction on key global development, human rights and justice issues.

Check out the quick guide to lesson plan ideas and teacher activities to support further engagement with World Food Day 2018 too, as well as the various blogs and features below.

The #ZeroHunger series is brought to you by, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), Concern Worldwide and Self Help Africa.

Toni Pyke reflects on the humanitarian and political crisis in Yemen following international pressure mounting in the last week and looking at Yemen’s standing in the Global Hunger Index – Yemen’s alarming crisis: ‘The worst famine in the world in 100 years’.

14 videos on our international food system and why it needs to change by Tony Daly

Farmers using mobile phones in the fight against poverty and hunger across Africa by Dorothy Jacob

Levelling the field: supporting Africa’s women farmers – a photo essay by Dorothy Jacob

This online gallery is based on Self Help Africa’s “I am…” exhibition which opened to the public in August 2017 and includes the introduction to the exhibit and a photo essay of ten farmers.

Toni Pyke’s blog introduced the #ZeroHunger series with background notes on the story behind how World Food Day started.

Plus a cartoon by Brick as part of Colm Regan‘s guide to 5 quick activities on World Food Day:

14 videos on our international food system and why it needs to change

In the lead up to World Food Day on October 16, Tony Daly presents 14 videos related to food, covering food waste, food production, energy and solution-based ideas that go against the grain. This blog forms part of the #ZeroHunger series, brought to you by the Professional Development Support Service for Teachers (PDST),, Concern Worldwide and Self Help Africa.

1. We share ONE future. If WE don’t shape it, who will?

Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

Our actions are our future, and a zero hunger world is possible. The FAO offer a concerted call to action beyond World Food Day.

2. To achieve #ZEROHUNGER, we must have ZERO CHILD LABOUR

Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

Child labour is defined as work that is inappropriate for a child’s age, or more specifically, work that affects a child’s education or is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.

3. The first 1,000 days in every child’s life are the most critical


The food that a child gets in their first 1,000 days of life are critical in ensuring healthy growth and development. An animation by UNICEF UK exploring the reality that one in every four children doesn’t have the food they need during this critical period.

4. Consumption in a World of 32:1


Is the current rate of consumption sustainable? What about trends in population growth? An animation that explores the issues. Don’t forget to check out part 2 on (over)consumption.

5. The 4 man-made famines threatening 20 million people – Vox Media

South Sudan’s famine is man-made. And so are the 3 other famines developing in Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. Wars in these countries are threatening to starve 20 million people … or in all four countries, it’s war that’s threatened to put 20 million people at risk of starvation. Video journalist Sam Ellis uses maps to tell these stories, understand the international conflicts and trends shaping our world and chart their effects on foreign policy.

6. The global food waste scandal

Source: TED Talk by Tristram Stuart

Now regarded as a classic in the food waste movement, this talk by Tristram Stuart has continued to be a lightening rod for local activists and community workers everywhere (most especially in the UK).

7. Why is nutrition so important?

Source: Concern Worldwide

An animation exploring the impact of malnutrition and how nutrition can break the cycle of hunger and poverty.

8. Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice Conference Animation

Source: Irish Aid

An animation that explores the links between hunger, nutrition and climate change, produced as part of a major global conference in Dublin in 2013.

9. Why do we need to change our food system?

Source: UN Environment Programme

Folks in the UN know things aren’t right. One body of the UN, the UN Environmental Programme (or UNEP) have railed against various systems that the world turns by – climate, human rights,

10. Food Waste: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Source: LastWeekTonight

Producers, sellers, and consumers waste tons of food. US-based comedian John Oliver discusses the shocking amount of food we don’t eat.

11. Uganda’s food waste warrior aims to help farmers

Source: BBC News

Food wasted every year in Africa could feed up to 300 million people, according to the United Nations. Lawrence Okettayot, a 23-year-old engineering student in Uganda, hopes that his food dehydrator will tackle not just his country’s food waste problems but the world’s.

12. COP – Malawi’s climate change challenge

Source: SelfHelpAfricaTV

Malawian journalist Tiwonge Ng’ona travels through Malawi with Self Help Africa to rural communities facing new challenges as a result of climate change.

13. Nepal: Coping with Climate Change, Addressing Migration

Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

Nepal is one of the countries hardest hit by climate change. Farmers are the worst affected. Poverty and impacts of climate change are pushing people to migrate. In Southern Nepal, This short video shows how FAO supports some 3,000 farmers through 120 farmer field schools, so that families can be reunited and farmers can continue to live on and off their land.

14. Hunger isn’t a food issue. It’s a logistics issue

Source: TED Talk by Esther Ndichu

Most people presume that world hunger is caused by a lack of food. But Esther Ndichu, the humanitarian supply chain director at UPS, argues that the real issue is logistics. She points out that food often rots just miles from the neediest people and that farmers often can’t get goods to market. By fixing the “last mile,” she shows that hunger can be solved in our lifetime.

Farmers using mobile phones in the fight against poverty and hunger across Africa

Mobile phones aren’t just useful as alarm clocks or for making calls, updating your social status and sending messages. Dorothy Jacob from international development NGO Self Help Africa reflects on how farmers in Malawi, Kenya and Uganda are using innovation and technology to lead the fight against hunger.

Our lives have all been revolutionised since the very first handheld mobile phone rolled off the assembly line in the early 1970s.

The Motorola-Dynatac 8000x mobile phone, launched in September 1983

Back then, few would have thought of the many and various evolutions that have been made in the decades since that ‘peat briquette’ shaped Motorola device first came onto the market. And fewer still would have had any idea of the profound effect that the mobile phone might have on efforts to end hunger and poverty in some of the poorest parts of the globe.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Self Help Africa has been harnessing the potential of the mobile phone to assist it in its efforts to improve agriculture, and increase the incomes of small scale farmers for much of the past decade. Right now, the potential of mobile telephony is pushing several new boundaries.

In Malawi, and in West Africa the organisation is supporting a mobile phone based SMS service that is providing hundreds of thousands of rural poor farming families with up to date information about a range of topics that are relevant to their work.

On their phones, farmers are receiving information about crop diseases and current prices being paid for their crops at market, while they can also get the latest weather information, details on rains, and also early warning about impending weather events that might threaten their crops, or their homes. It is revolutionising how farm extension advice is being disseminated to communities, and in Malawi alone logged more than one million calls, free of charge, last year.

As a farmer, shop keeper, mother of 3 and chairperson of Kazinga United farmers group in Kazinga, Uganda, Samada Masanda (38) invests in cross border trading by selling chickens and buying palm oil and brushes with the Democratic Republic of Congo (December 10, 2014). Photo: Self Help Africa

The potential of the mobile phone as a communications device is fairly obvious, you could say – but there are two other projects that Self Help Africa is currently involved with that take the possibilities of the mobile off in entirely new directions.

Just this year, the organisation received an international innovation award for its use of mobile phone technology on a trading platform TruTrade that sources markets and shares price details with rural farmers. And the most exciting part of this use of the mobile has been the the fact that farmers are also PAID for their crops via credit transfer to their phone, and the social impact that this has had.

On a recent visit to Uganda, where this service is operating, I heard from colleagues how farmers were now being paid better prices and sourcing new markets for their crops with TruTrade, and that the platform, and it’s method of ‘mobile payment’ has also brought encouraging many more women to bring their produce to the market.

Raima, a woman broker with TruTrade explained to me that women were often nervous about going to the market or to the depot, as they were afraid that they might be ambushed and robbed when returning home with cash in hand to the village. However, as TruTrade was operating without cash, and the money was secure on their phones, the risk of robbery was significantly reduced.

And meanwhile in Kenya, Self Help Africa has been taking the potential uses of mobiles even further, with a smart phone app having been developed that can detect particular diseases in one of the country’s most important food crops, cassava, several days quicker than the naked eye.

The app has been developed in conjunction with Penn State University in the United States, and users just need to take a picture on the phone’s camera for the app to detect signs of disease. As a result, farming households have a vital early warning when their crops are at risk.

Mobile phones have entered the frontline in the fight against hunger and poverty, and in the work of many farmers, small holder farming co-operatives and organisations to improve Africa’s agricultural production.

This blog is part of the 2018 #ZeroHunger series onWorld Food Day 2018 taking place on 16th October, brought to you by the Professional Development Support Service for Teachers (PDST),, Concern Worldwide and Self Help Africa.

  • Feature photo: Damaris Auma Oloo (56) is a cassava farmer and seed entrepreneur in Sinogo Village, Kenya. Photo: Self Help Africa

Are you ready for World Food Day 2018?

Tuesday next week, the 16th October, is World Food Day. Toni Pyke sketches out the background to the international day and introduces a new #ZeroHunger series, brought to you by the Professional Development Support Service for Teachers (PDST),, Concern Worldwide and Self Help Africa.

World Food Day (WFD) commemorates the founding of the UN agency the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which was formally established in 1945. For nearly 40 years since 1979, countries around the world have marked WFD not only as a reminder of the founding of the FAO, but more importantly, to remind the world of the relentless hunger and malnutrition that continues to plague millions of us around the globe. Marked by more than 150 countries around the world, WFD seeks to heighten awareness and action in support of those experiencing hunger, food insecurity, undernourishment and malnutrition.

The first global action of WFD was marked in 1981 with the theme: Food Come First. The theme for this year is Our Actions, Our Future (see here for a full list of themes).

According to the FAO, the objectives of marking and acting on World Food Day are to:

  • encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to achieve this
  • encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries
  • encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions
  • heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world
  • promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world
  • strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

The wider message is that food for all is a basic, fundamental human right. Yet despite this, the WFP report that some 821 million people worldwide – that’s 1 in 9 – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night. Added to this, 1 in 3 suffer from malnutrition (the deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients – WHO). There are also while 1.9 billion people in the world who are overweight.

Being aware of, marking and publicising WFD is a chance to demonstrate that we are committed to the achieving ‘Zero Hunger by 2030’, which is the aim of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.

8 reasons why zero hunger changes the world, as argued by the World Food Programme:

  1. Zero hunger could save the lives of 3.1 million children a year
  2. Well-nourished mothers have healthier babies with stronger immune systems
  3. Ending child undernutrition could increase a developing country’s GDP by 16.5 percent
  4. A dollar invested in hunger prevention could return between $15 (€13) and $139 (€120) in benefits
  5. Proper nutrition early in life could mean 46 percent more in lifetime earnings
  6. Eliminating iron deficiency in a population could boost workplace productivity by 20 percent
  7. Ending nutrition-related child mortality could increase a workforce by 9.4 percent
  8. Zero hunger can help build a safer, more prosperous world for everyone

It’s time to take action on food inequality within our societies and across our global community. Be the #ZeroHunger hero that the FAO is challenging us to become.

Over the next week will include a whole host of information, resources and activities that will support you on this journey, in partnership with the Professional Development Support Service for Teachers (PDST), Concern Worldwide and Self Help Africa. Keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook and e-zines straight to your inbox for details as they happen.

Keep an eye on the website over the coming days in the lead up to World Food Day 2018. For starters:

  • Take a look at the teaching materials and reference materials developed by our PDST colleagues over at Scoilnet, pulling together a raft of teaching materials and lesson plan ideas (and presentations) for Junior Cycle geography, science, home economics and CSPE.
  • Check out the 2018 Global Hunger Index published today: a collaborative resource produced by Concern WorldWide, the International Food Policy Research Institute and Welthungerhilfe. The Global Hunger Index traces the state of world hunger and highlights the most critical areas where hunger is most acute. The focus of the 2018 Index is Forced Migration and Hunger. What the Global Hunger Index shows is that although there has been some progress over last 2 decades in terms of the global averages of incidences of hunger and malnutrition in some parts of the world, in others hunger and undernutrition continues and in some cases has deteriorated. The report finds that,

“Levels of hunger are still serious or alarming in 51 countries and extremely alarming in one country”.

The 2018 GHI finds that in the Central African Republic hunger is extremely alarming.

  • In Chad, Haiti, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Yemen, and Zambia, the level of hunger experienced by populations is categorised as alarming.
  • Forty-five out of 119 countries show serious levels of hunger.
  • Despite the absence of data, the report finds that hunger and undernutrition in countries including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria, are of significant concern.
  • Whilst not on the critical lists, the report shows that across all regions of the globe, countries demonstrate variations in hunger and undernutrition levels. For example, Latin America demonstrates one of the lowest regional hunger levels, yet stunting levels in Guatemala range from 25 percent to 70 percent.

In the meantime, begin that ‘Zero Hunger hero’ journey today.

That’s a wrap for the consultations on Ireland’s approach to overseas aid and international development work

Since the start of September, staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Irish Aid, Ireland’s overseas aid development programme, have been working overtime.

Public events in Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Dublin, plus a call for written submissions, have occupied the collective ears of Irish Aid in a broad consultation process with the Irish public (and overseas) to discuss and review Ireland’s proposed new approach to overseas development work for the next five years.

Despite my best attempts to register for the public consultation event in Dublin yesterday, the 180-person capacity limit was reached at the Irish Emigration Museum. It’s interesting to observe that public listening and discussion exercises such as this are quite capable of drawing in the crowds. I imagine if another date was added to the listen exercise roster it may very well, once again,

A tour through the tweets sent out gives us a flavour of some of the pressing raised in public (we’ll have to wait for the consultations report for more detail).

The launch event for Irish Aid’s 2017 annual report ahead of the Dublin consultation brought a particular momentum to the night (we’ll be covering the annual report in another blog).