Action Against Hunger
Updated: Mar 27
From the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, to conflict in Haiti and drought and famine in East Africa, Action Against Hunger is on the ground helping people.
For over 40 years, Action Against Hunger has been a global leader to end hunger, for everyone, for good. 828 million people are hungry. 3 million children die of hunger yearly. In more than 50 countries Action Against Hunger is working to save people from needless suffering. Listen to this inspiring but sobering account of hunger in our world and how they are making a difference.
Guest: Emily Bell Tyree, associate director of communications at Action Against Hunger.
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Unknown Speaker 0:00
...103.7 on your dial and globally at wpvmfm.org
McNair Ezzard 0:27
This is WPVM 103.7 FM in Asheville, North Carolina
Hello and welcome to A Better World on WPVM. My name is McNair Ezzard and I'm your host for today's show. We come to you every week at 103.7 on your FM dial, or you can stream us at wpvmfm.org. Each week we take an in depth look at the people and organizations locally, nationally and internationally, who are working to create a world that works for everyone. And our guest today is Emily Bell Tyree. Emily is with the organization Action Against Hunger. She's the Associate Director of Communications. Action Against Hunger as a nonprofit global humanitarian organization. Emily has worked in communications and advocacy for over 20 years. She holds a bachelor's degree from Yale, and a master's in public affairs from Princeton University. Emily, welcome to the show.
Emily Bell Tyree 1:34
Thanks for having me.
McNair Ezzard 1:35
Appreciate you coming in. First of all, tell me what is Action Against Hunger.
Emily Bell Tyree 1:40
So Action Against Hunger has been around for almost 45 years. And we tackle both the underlying causes of hunger, as well as treating hunger and preventing needless deaths from hunger.
McNair Ezzard 1:58
I read where there're somewhere around 8 billion people on our planet, or fast approaching that number. And how many people-, do we know how many of those people are, are hungry or malnourished?
Emily Bell Tyree 2:12
Yes, it's about about 10% of the global population goes to bed hungry every single night. So that that translates into to over 800 million people across the world who lack enough food to meet their daily needs.
McNair Ezzard 2:31
Has that number stayed fairly steady, say over the last 10 years? Or is it gone up or down?
Emily Bell Tyree 2:38
Well, the good news is we've made a lot of progress over the last four or five decades in the fight against global hunger. So the proportion of malnourished children in the world has actually been cut in half in the last 45 years. The bad news is that in the last few years, we've seen an uptick. So COVID, a rise in conflict worldwide, climate shocks, all of those factors have contributed to an increase in hunger in the last few years.
McNair Ezzard 3:20
So where are those hotspots today, the hunger hotspots in the world.
Emily Bell Tyree 3:25
There are several spots. Asia and Africa are among the area's most most severely affected. So there's 45 countries actually globally, where people are on the verge of famine. So East Africa is one hotspot right now for example, where there's a significant drought that has been going on for several years. Other areas tend to be areas where there have been emergency situations like earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, for example, or Haiti, where we're seeing a surge in conflict, gang violence. So those are among the areas that are under gravest concern right now.
McNair Ezzard 4:17
Yeah, a little bit later on in the show I wanted to ask you about East Africa, specifically I guess the Horn of Africa, and also Haiti. Since you brought up the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, is Action Against Hunger involved there?
Emily Bell Tyree 4:33
We are. We are. So our teams have been on the ground in Syria for a number of years. So we were ready to respond. And then we have emergency teams in Turkey as well working with local partners.
McNair Ezzard 4:51
So what kind of work would would you be doing there?
Emily Bell Tyree 4:55
So a lot of it is emergency support hygiene kits. Community kitchens, for example, we've set up, which I find really interesting because we're actually allowing people, hundreds of people every day in Turkey to, to come and use these community kitchens to prepare local food that we provide. So it preserves people's dignity and also respects local culture while meeting emergency needs. And then it's also about providing shelter, blankets, those kinds of basic supplies, water, and clothing.
McNair Ezzard 5:40
There's a lot of organizations on the ground over there right now, aren't there.
Emily Bell Tyree 5:46
There are. Thankfully there are. Although, if you look at where the earthquakes hit in Turkey and Syria, those regions were among the poorest areas in in the countries. They desperately need help. You know, the, the earthquakes have set a lot of people back. I mean, I heard reports the other day where some people are still in the same clothing that they were in the night that earthquakes hit. And, you know, with the aftershocks of the earthquakes, it also presented a lot of challenges for emergency teams to reach people in need. The good news is, we are reaching people now and helping people to get back on their feet.
McNair Ezzard 6:36
Typical, at least in the Western world, United States media. It's gone from the headlines now. And it's only been what couple hasn't been a couple of months yet, or month. Right? It already disappeared.
Emily Bell Tyree 6:50
Exactly. I think it's only it's been less than a month and it's disappeared. You know, it's, I appreciate shows like yours, trying to highlight emergencies that really persist. And I think you know, that's something common that we see in the aftermath of a natural disaster or other emergencies, there's a ground swelling, oftentimes of support. But then that support fades away, when it fades from the front of the headlines. So it's important to offer longer term support to help people become more resilient to these kinds of shocks.
McNair Ezzard 7:34
Yeah, I mean, the may be out of the headlines, but the people are still suffering, still hungry, still without housing and food and everything else. Exactly. I saw on the website, the question, "what is hunger?" and went on to say that hunger is more complicated than just an empty belly? And I was wondering, could you kind of explain what that means?
Emily Bell Tyree 7:57
Yes. One fact is that there's more than enough food to feed the entire planet. So hunger is related to food insecurity. But it's also about access. And what we're seeing are three, three great drivers of hunger, which are climate change, conflict, and inequality. So people, if you take climate change, for example, climate shocks, we're seeing drought, flooding, which are, are hitting certain regions of the world harder than others. So not everyone is equally affected by climate change, right now. And so and it's usually the poorest communities who are most vulnerable because they have the fewest resources to bounce back.
McNair Ezzard 8:52
So it's usually the people on the lower end of the economic spectrum that suffer the most at least, I would think from from climate change. Is that right?
Emily Bell Tyree 9:02
That's exactly right. And the other unfair fact is that those countries who are hardest hit are contributing the least in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
McNair Ezzard 9:16
Let me ask you, if you know what, specifically as the US-, is the US highly involved in Turkey and Syria as a result of the earthquake?
Emily Bell Tyree 9:26
They are. So the US government, especially through US Agency for International Development. USAID, is is is a leader in in responding to emergencies like earthquakes, and global hunger. We are among the governments in the world contributing the most when it comes to foreign assistance. However, there's a lot more we could do. So if you look at percentage of GDP we're actually not one of the leaders. When it comes to our response, we there's a lot more that the US government could do. And so that's one of the things that, you know, people listening to your show could do is to, to urge their members of Congress to, to contribute more.
McNair Ezzard 10:19
There were some terms on the website that I think listeners, they may already already know what they mean. But I wanted to ask you just in case, the kind of if you can kind of explain them to us. First one is food insecurity, what what is meant by that?
Emily Bell Tyree 10:36
Food insecurity is when people don't have enough to eat to meet their daily nutritional needs. So I believe the definition is, if they skip two or more meals per day.
McNair Ezzard 10:52
And that, that's, applies no matter what country somebody may live in, whether it's the US or Syria or East Africa.
Emily Bell Tyree 11:00
That's right. That's right. I mean, hunger is certainly a problem here in the United States, for example. But the difference is that generally people aren't dying of hunger, thankfully, here, and we're seeing much more acute food insecurity elsewhere in the world, where it's especially children under five years old, and pregnant, and breastfeeding women who are most vulnerable.
McNair Ezzard 11:32
So I was looking at some when I was doing some research for the show last night, I came across some pictures of children in Africa, just barely infants. Just so malnourished, you know, you just see every bone and their facial structure and their ribs. And that just, I was just aside from how sad it is to see that it made me think of the malnutrition and Action Against Hunger talks about this idea of malnutrition, like chronic malnutrition, and acute malnutrition. And I'm wondering what the difference is between those, those two.
Emily Bell Tyree 12:13
So someone could be, first of all, I agree that it's completely heartbreaking to see, and here at Action Against Hunger, I focus on communications. So we try to present the right balance between portraying the gravity of the situation, but also portraying people with dignity and respect. So we try not to show too many of those heartbreaking photos, and then instead try to focus more on the positive stories of change, and that offer hope. But in terms of chronic malnutrition, and acute malnutrition, chronic is generally over a longer period of time. So someone could be chronically malnourished, which leads to stunting, which is a low weight and height, or low, very low height to weight ratio. Whereas, and someone could be acutely malnourished for for even a short period of time. But, and that term, is when they're actually experiencing wasting. So that's a term used for severe or moderate acute malnutrition. It's a lot of technical terms, but that anytime a child has severe acute malnutrition, they, their bodies are so malnourished that there is a there-, they could be in a life threatening situation.
McNair Ezzard 12:56
Is that the chronic or the acute that ends up affecting children in terms of the development of their brain, and therefore it can affect their their work in school on down the road?
Emily Bell Tyree 14:11
Exactly. I mean, so stunting or the chronic malnutrition can can actually impair cognitive development, especially if it's, you know, children under five over a longer stretch of time. And with a with acute malnutrition, there can also be grave consequences. But the good news is it's treatable. There's a there's a medical proven treatment to bring children back and back to health in as little as six weeks.
McNair Ezzard 14:48
Oh, even if they've had acute situations?
Emily Bell Tyree 14:51
Even acute situations. So the good news is they might-, there-, they might not suffer lifelong consequences, if they receive treatment soon enough.
McNair Ezzard 15:04
What is malnutrition? Does it affect children differently than adults? Does it affect adults in the same way?
Emily Bell Tyree 15:12
With children, their bodies are weaker, especially under five years old. And their brains are still developing so much that it, they are more vulnerable. They're more susceptible. But adults could die, of course of malnutrition, especially women who are breastfeeding or pregnant because their immune system are compromised, and they're trying to nourish another life.
McNair Ezzard 15:42
What about famine? What's what, how do you characterize famine?
Emily Bell Tyree 15:47
So famine, there are actually several criteria for famine to be met. In the 21st century, famine has only been declared twice. So it's a term that sometimes misused in the media. But one of the criteria, for example, is that 30% of the population faces food insecurity, severe food insecurity. And there's a whole political process behind it, there are famine review committees, there's a UN-, there's a whole coordination network that the UN is part of, as well as other agencies. So it's become-, it can become quite politicized, because were famine to be to be declared, the country government involved needs to acknowledge that there's a serious issue. So there's been some controversy lately about the process. And we actually have a great article on our website called "what is famine", on our website, actionagainsthunger.org, that I encourage people to check out.
McNair Ezzard 17:05
What's the read on the website about something called the Integrated Phase Classification? How does that play into declaring a famine?
Emily Bell Tyree 17:15
Right, right. So there are five different levels of this IPC system. And it's pretty technical and complicated. So they're, they're different. It's based on different levels of food and security, basically, and a country could be experiencing phase three or four, and be in an emergency crisis mode, where children are dying every single day. So and then Phase Five is where famine is declared, and that's where government and international action have failed. By the time famine has been declared, it's too late, you know, it-, we need to act sooner. So that's part of what Action Against Hunger is trying to do, is sound the alarm when we're seeing levels three and four. Because our our evidence shows that for example, with the 2011 famine in Somalia, most-, there are actually more deaths that occurred before famine was even declared.
McNair Ezzard 18:34
I understand there were like a quarter of a million people who died during that, that period.
Emily Bell Tyree 18:39
Terrible, terrible and now, unfortunately, we've seen a rise in deaths in Somalia over the last couple of years because of severe drought.
McNair Ezzard 18:53
That's Emily Bell Tyree. She's with Action Against Hunger. And you're listening to A Better World at 103.7 WPVM. And we're streaming live at wpvmfm.org. [muscial interlude]
That's "People help the people" sung by Birdie from her debut studio album, titled Birdie. And our guest today is Emily Bell Tyree, Associate Director of Communications at Action Against Hunger. And we are talking about the hunger situation around the world. Emily, before the break, we were talking about famine and the number of people who died in Somalia in 2011. Before it was ever actually declared a famine. And I understand about the political part of declaring a country-, wanting a famine declared in their, within their borders. But it seems like waiting until a famine is declared, so many people die. And would an earlier declaration make a difference in how the rest of the world responds? Would the rest of the world respond quicker if something was declared earlier?
Emily Bell Tyree 21:11
Exactly. I mean, I think this delineation between famine and and then emergencies is kind of artificial. So we can't wait for famine to be declared to act. And that's one of the things that Action Against Hunger is trying to do through our advocacy efforts, is put the pressure on governments and other donors to act sooner to save more lives and get help to communities who need them.
McNair Ezzard 21:46
Does Action Against Hunger-, I know, you probably work with other organizations in these countries like Turkey, Syria, East Africa and such. Do you have a working relationship with the UN?
Emily Bell Tyree 21:59
We do. We do. We work closely with UNICEF, which is a UN agency as well as the World Food Program. And UNHCR, which is the refugee program. So we work closely with the UN agencies. And we also work closely with other NGOs, nongovernmental organizations, and local partners and leaders on the ground. And of course, our biggest partner is the communities themselves. So we work closely with community leaders, with like women's support groups and other organizations on the ground in the communities where we live-, where we work.
McNair Ezzard 22:43
I suppose it's, I mean, that's the best way to do it, rather than an organization coming in from halfway around the world thinking they know the answers to the problems. It's the local people who know.
Emily Bell Tyree 22:57
Exactly, exactly. So actually, over 95% of our staff are from the communities they work in. So that's been a major asset in terms of building trust and relationships on the ground.
McNair Ezzard 23:14
Well, you mentioned about the advocacy, does that mean at the UN level? Are you talking federal or state level here in this country?
Emily Bell Tyree 23:23
At Action Against Hunger, we work-, we do global advocacy with the United Nations, and other international bodies, like that. IPC, the famine committee that you mentioned. And then we also, we also do local advocacy. So our teams in East Africa, for example, are are working with their governments to address malnutrition and related issues like water and sanitation.
McNair Ezzard 23:59
And it's great, organizations like yours are going in and hitting the hotspots trying to save people from starving to death. But the long term solution has had has to be sustainable. It seems to me there has to be a change in our-, everybody working together to change the political economic climate so that people can have a way of life that they don't-, they're not suffering all the time from hunger and have to have emergency aid. I don't know if you get if you get what I'm trying to what I'm trying to say here.
Emily Bell Tyree 24:30
Yeah, exactly. I mean, what we're trying to do at Action Against Hunger is really build a movement. It's not just nongovernmental organizations that need to be involved but government, everyday people, you know your listeners, everyone can play a role. Companies, musicians, celebrities, we really need to build a movement to to fight global hunger because it is a manmade problem, but the solutions are manmade, too. So, the good news is, as I said, we we've cut the number of malnourished, the proportion of malnourished people in half in the last four decades. It's a solvable issue. We have the tools at our disposal, but what we need is funding and leadership. And to accomplish those, we need a movement to show that there's momentum and that there's interest across the world in tackling this important issue, because, as you noted too, hunger is so interrelated with economic well being, with people's development, with their ability to think and be functioning members of society. And it's just, it's just such a shame that people are needlessly dying when we have the tools to help them.
McNair Ezzard 26:01
I don't think we're-, we'll ever have real justice in the world until everybody is fed and has the means to have a life without having to worry about what they're going to eat for their next meal. That to me is, is injustice in some of it's worst form.
Emily Bell Tyree 26:18
Completely agree. I mean, this is this is an issue where it's an issue of justice, as you said, and we have the moral imperative to do our part. I think there's this kind of adage that you know, that, that hunger will always be with us that, you know, oh, come on, are you going to solve world hunger? You know, people might mock that idea, but but the fact is, we can end global hunger in our lifetimes. It's about equity and how resources are distributed. When it comes to food, medical care, and also other issues, like access to water.
McNair Ezzard 27:04
Yeah, all the world's resources, I think, we have to look at how we're going to share that equitably among all people. [Exactly.] You talked earlier about a malnutrition with children. Are there any, any statistics about how many people or how many children die each year from hunger or hunger related causes?
Emily Bell Tyree 27:26
Yes, over 3 million children every year, die of hunger, that number may actually be higher. What happens is when when deaths are recorded, sometimes hospitals might not know whether to record the death as a death from malnutrition or a related illness. Often, malnourished children are also dealing with other illnesses, whether it be malaria, cholera, pneumonia, and so sometimes their deaths might be recorded from as another cause of death.
McNair Ezzard 28:09
Are seniors an at risk group as well?
Emily Bell Tyree 28:12
Elderly people are at risk, women are disproportionately affected. And also people with disabilities tend to have-, it's partly a matter of access to health care, and resources.
McNair Ezzard 28:27
I wanted to go back to something you said earlier in the interview about how the number of I think it was hunger or undernourished people what has been really cut in the last 40 years. But in recent years, one number I came across is that it's the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 150 million. And this was after decades of decline. And you talked about conflict, climate change, COVID-19, the pandemic, this situation with the war in Ukraine can't be helping the situation because a lot of the grain-, doesn't a lot of grain come from there to Africa or East Africa.
Emily Bell Tyree 29:10
Exactly. It's grain and fertilizer and other supplies. So I think, for example, in Somalia, about 90% of grain imports come from the Ukraine and Russia or it came from there. So with the blockade and and other issues in terms of trade, that that that caused a huge grain shortage, and many countries and also food prices have been rising the last few years. Some countries were hit with shortage of supplies, grain and fertilizer but also rising food prices. And Markets just haven't been able to recover.
McNair Ezzard 30:02
And the COVID 19 pandemic, people in America suffered from that. But imagine people in East Africa, the Horn of Africa, and other elsewhere, poor countries suffered, as well from that.
Emily Bell Tyree 30:16
Exactly. I mean, here in the US, we've seen-, we saw a rise in food insecurity during COVID-19. But because of the paralysis in terms of movement and trade, it created huge issues for many countries, you know, what the secondary impacts of COVID in some countries have been worse than the virus itself.
McNair Ezzard 30:42
Earlier we talked about, at the beginning of the show, about the hotspots, and I'm wanting to kind of go towards talking about a couple of those places, the Horn of Africa: which which countries do you include when you talk about the Horn of Africa?
Emily Bell Tyree 30:58
So the Horn of Africa has several countries, the ones that are worst impacted by the drought right now are Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
McNair Ezzard 31:10
And as I understand this been several years that the rain hasn't come or there's been very little rain.
Emily Bell Tyree 31:18
Yes, since 2020 we've seen five failed rainy seasons and now experts are predicting a sixth.
McNair Ezzard 31:29
When is the rainy season supposed to be happening?
Emily Bell Tyree 31:33
So I think it varies in each country but the next rainy season is supposed to be in a couple of months I believe.
McNair Ezzard 31:43
If you just joined us you're listening to a conversation with Emily Bell Tyree, she's the Associate Director of Communications at Action Against Hunger and we'll return with Emily in just a few minutes after this break. [musical interlude]
Okay welcome back. That is "Forgotten Promises" that was Sami Yusuf's song dedicated to the World Food Program from his album Continuum. And you're listening to A Better World on 103.7 WPVM and Asheville, North Carolina, and we are streaming live at wpvmfm.org. Each week, we take an in depth look at the people in organizations locally, nationally and internationally, who are working to create a world that works for everyone. And today, our guest is Emily Bell Tyree, Associate Director of Communications at Action Against Hunger. And we are talking about the world hunger situation. And just before the break, we were talking about the situation in the Horn of Africa, Emily, I was looking at the Action Against Hunger website before the show and another problem that they've had to deal with in the Horn of Africa. I don't know if it's still a problem, maybe you can enlighten me on it. But these insects called the desert locusts that was a problem in 2020, a huge swarms that hadn't been seen for generations, I was amazed that the size of one of these locusts is can be the size of an adult hand. Is that Is that still a problem?
Emily Bell Tyree 37:21
Not as much right now. But you're right a few years ago, that was quite alarming to see these swarms of locusts, literally of like biblical proportions. The size of you know, entire US cities, basically huge geographic areas, just decimating crops, it presented a huge challenge. And it had to do with climate change, because of the because of the mix of flooding, you know, severe rain, and then drought and kind of those cycles that produced ripe conditions for locusts.
McNair Ezzard 38:02
We've talked a little bit about conflicts and and places around the world that that are a factor in hunger, and organizations like Action Against Hunger. Do you have difficulty accessing people or communities in certain areas in those countries in the Horn of Africa, where conflict is happening?
Emily Bell Tyree 38:22
It can be challenging, it can be challenging, as I mentioned, I think one thing that sets Action Against Hunger apart is that we are reaching these last mile communities, we'll do whatever it takes to reach people in need. And it's often because our staff are from the countries we serve, that we have that trust. So we try to stay above the fray and often have the respect of both sides of conflicts and are able to navigate those very tricky situations. But there are cases where where we just can't access because international humanitarian law has been broken and, you know, just too difficult to reach.
McNair Ezzard 39:17
What about the-, Could you tell me some of the kind of work that Action Against Hunger is doing in the Horn of Africa?
Emily Bell Tyree 39:24
Yes. So first of all, with the drought situation, we're seeing, obviously a huge need for water. So water's been chief concern and water-, access to water and hunger really go hand in hand. Because if people don't have access to clean water, they're more likely to become malnourished, especially if they're susceptible to waterborne diseases from contaminated water or don't have water to wash their hands. They are more susceptible when their bodies are now are weakened from these diseases, they're more likely to become malnourished. And also, of course, without water, you can't grow crops. And so that's another reason, communities affected by drought are more prone to food insecurity. So what we're doing is we're bringing in emergency supplies for countries-, for regions in very desperate shape that need emergency water, trucking, cash support for like emergency cash support for families in need. We're also but we're also helping communities become more resilient and plan for the longer term so they can equip themselves to deal with these shocks. So one of my favorite examples in Kenya, for example, is we're working with women to help raise gala goats. It's this breed of goats that's very hardy, and considered drought resistant. So instead of raising cows, or other livestock, goats are better, better able to withstand extremely harsh conditions, especially this one breed the gala goat. There are also technology related solutions like drought resistant seed. And then we're doing surveys to help communities understand where to build borehole, for example, so that they can have-
McNair Ezzard 41:44
What is that- is that a well?
Emily Bell Tyree 41:46
Like a well, yeah, we can actually create solar powered bore holes. So we have some some stories on our website about those kinds of solutions, to help to help communities for the longer term, because as we as we're seeing with climate change, these shocks, like droughts and severe flooding, which we see in South Sudan, are becoming more severe and more common.
McNair Ezzard 42:16
You mentioned about women and the work you're you do with groups earlier, I was impressed that on your website, you said the women there are really resilient that have and they've formed women's groups. Could you talk a little bit about that, that supportive for each other?
Emily Bell Tyree 42:35
Yes, yes. So Action Against Hunger helps to facilitate these support groups for women, where women have a safe space to come together, to brainstorm how they can help their communities, but also to share tips for nutrition, child rearing, there are also water committees, where we've seen women leaders shine to help their communities figure out equitable distribution of water, for example, one, one solution I'm also excited about is called the Smart Tap system, which is essentially what we're calling a vending machine for water. So it's a water spigot in a community connected to a borehole or well, where people pay a very small amount, like less than two cents, to fill up their buckets with water. And both for household use, and for livestock. There're separate spigots for livestock use than for and for household use. And so by separating those two functions, it's actually helped to reduce gender based violence in those communities, because previously, men who are often in charge of the livestock are kind of vying for water to keep their livestock alive. Whereas the women are often trying to push for water to meet their household need, and to feed their children.
McNair Ezzard 44:25
Don't women and girls in a drought anyway face increased dangers to their health and safety?
Emily Bell Tyree 44:32
Exactly. We're seeing how the drought is impacting girls and women the most, there's an increased risk of violence and attacks when they're walking longer and longer distances to fetch water. It's not uncommon in East Africa for women and little girls to have to walk many miles each day just to get a bucket of water. And on those walks, it can often be dangerous and they're prone to attack. They're also more likely than boys to be pulled out of school. In these emergency situations where families may have to migrate, they're called climate refugees in search of water, so they're not in stable communities where they-, or stable families where they can actually go to the same school every day. Or they might be pulled out of school because the school doesn't have running water or separate bathroom facilities for girls. And so that's very important in many cultures, and so, families will keep their girls home from school.
McNair Ezzard 45:53
And also, I would think having the boreholes in the local community will save on time and the risk that they put themselves out by having to travel miles to get water.
Emily Bell Tyree 46:04
Exactly, it makes it water more accessible, safer. And when women and girls can spend less time fetching water, it also means they can use that time in other productive ways. So whether it's creating kitchen gardens or community gardens, to help them have more sustainable food supply, or attending school, they'll just-, it frees up their time to do other things.
McNair Ezzard 46:43
You're listening to A Better World at 103.7 FM in Asheville, North Carolina, and we're streaming live at wpvmfm.org. [musical interlude]
Okay, that's "With No Money We Are Equally Poor". That's a music collaboration between Forum Members at Desteni from the album Carney. And today our guest is Emily Bell Tyree, Director, Associate Director of Communications at Action Against Hunger, a world global humanitarian organization. Emily wanted to ask you about Haiti, since it's in our hemisphere. And tell me what Action Against Hunger is doing there. We hear we hear a lot about it. It's the poorest country in North America, terrible earthquakes, corruption, violence and everything going on there. What sort of hunger and related issues are the people of Haiti facing?
Emily Bell Tyree 48:39
Yes. So what we're seeing in Haiti is really concerning right now in terms of a very unstable environment where there's been a huge uptick in gang violence. And so gangs have literally overtaken the capital Port-Au-Prince, destroyed infrastructure. And 35% of the population of Haiti now lacks basic drinking water, and over 65%, lack basic sanitation services services. So, as you said, it was it was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. And now with this surge in gang violence and political instability, it's become very challenging, both for rise in in diseases like cholera, and also malnutrition.
McNair Ezzard 49:41
What are you guys doing in Haiti?
Emily Bell Tyree 49:44
So we've been there for over, well over a decade. We were there for example, when the great 2010 earthquake hit, and we focus on water and sanitation activities. And we also do work to build people's resilience when it comes to malnutrition, including through education, about nutrition, and also emergency cash transfers. So, as I mentioned, in emergency situations, and crises near famine condition, cash assistance is often one of the best ways to help people in need, because those people-, families can then decide how to spend their money. And it also stimulates local markets. So it helps entire communities build back.
McNair Ezzard 50:47
And I'm not saying it's the case in Haiti, but there's some countries I would imagine, even with cash assistance, there's no food to buy.
Emily Bell Tyree 50:56
That can be a problem. Right. Or just rising food prices that even with cash assistance, food can be unaffordable. So that's why-, yeah, we really need the world to focus on Haiti, and provide more support. I think it's a forgotten country, people have gotten used to seeing Haiti, labeled as one of the poorest countries in the world. And I think there's a tendency to feel like it's a helpless situation. But that's not true. We have actually made a lot of progress. For example, in the category of, of water and sanitation, we had almost we had almost eradicated cholera, a couple of years ago. And it's, unfortunately, come back because of present conditions. But-.
McNair Ezzard 51:53
There again, are you working with local people on the ground?
Emily Bell Tyree 51:58
Yes, yes. So we're working with all most of our staff are Haitians themselves. And we're working with a variety of partners, including UNICEF, with-, on cholera control, we are a leader in in the worst hit area of the country, in terms of spreading awareness, and also providing hand washing stations, and other interventions to help people prevent the disease. We're actually working with Facebook, for example, to launch a series of ads on Facebook as well, so that people know the basic facts about cholera. With a number of diseases like cholera, there can be stigma, because one of the causes is open defecation in the streets. So people really need to understand the facts about how to prevent it, that it is preventable, treatable, if it's caught in time.
McNair Ezzard 53:03
You mentioned earlier in the program about there is enough food to feed, to feed the world. And in fact, when I was doing some research for the, for the show, I came across a study put out by the University of Minnesota and McGill University that said the world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. And I'm wondering, if this is true, is it a question of distribution? Political will? Or what, about why people are not being fed?
Emily Bell Tyree 53:34
It's about distribution. I think all of those, all of those factors you mentioned. We live in an unequal world, an unjust world. There are certain communities, entire countries that are cut off from a lot of the global food supply and don't have access to basic foods, either through the markets or because food prices have risen so much in the last few years.
McNair Ezzard 54:03
Do you ever see a sense of complacency on the part of the people in countries that have enough to eat towards towards the countries and the people that don't have any food?
Emily Bell Tyree 54:15
We do see that. Unfortunately, I think many people here in the United States and elsewhere, just simply aren't aware of the global hunger crisis. And so others are aware and choose not to do anything about it. The good news is that we actually did a public opinion poll of Americans a couple of years ago. And while there is lack of awareness, once they understand the gravity of global hunger and the fact that over 3 million children die every year and over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, once they're equipped with those facts, they're more motivated to act. So I still believe in the power of compassion and empathy, that there are more good people than bad out there. So I think that with more awareness, we can build a movement to end hunger.
McNair Ezzard 55:25
Yeah, the power of educating people seems like it can make a big difference. [Exactly]. Just got a few minutes left, I wanted to ask you, do you ever get discouraged in this work? Some days, it seems like the hunger issues are just insurmountable.
Emily Bell Tyree 55:43
It is easy to get discouraged. But I think what gives me hope is, it's seeing those children who have recovered, who have an opportunity to have a shot at life. Seeing those success stories, I think are what keep our team going. And also seeing momentum seeing more people, like your listeners who want to make a difference, who are spreading the word, who are donating, that gives me hope and and keeps me energized.
McNair Ezzard 56:19
So speaking of those, those people, what what advice can you give for someone who might want to get involved in issues of hunger, but don't know where to start? People who might want to do more than just donate money? Because what can you recommend?
Emily Bell Tyree 56:33
Beyond donating money, you can spread the word. So I think, get on social media, follow our our channel. We're actionagainsthunger.org. And you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and start sharing our posts. Spread the word. If you see a website story or story in the news that moves you, tell your friends, tell your your congregations, your colleagues, because it's important to remember that hunger is preventable. It's predictable, and it's treatable. So we can, we can absolutely eliminate global hunger in our lifetime. It's a matter of leadership and making it a priority. So another thing people can do is write to their members of Congress and tell them how much they care about this issue and that they hope that the US government will continue playing a leadership role to tackle global hunger and prevent famine from happening.
McNair Ezzard 57:47
There's a place for everyone isn't there in this in this work?
Emily Bell Tyree 57:51
Exactly. It really takes a movement. We need everyone involved.
McNair Ezzard 57:57
Oh, we've come to the end of our time with Emily Bell Tyree, Emily's the Associate Director of Communications at Action Against Hunger, a nonprofit global humanitarian organization. And today we've been talking about world hunger and more specifically in the Horn of Africa and Haiti. Emily, thank you so much for being with us today and all the best in your work.
Emily Bell Tyree 58:22
Thank you so much McNair and I really appreciate you're shining a spotlight on this important issue.
McNair Ezzard 58:33
You've been listening to A Better World on 103.7 WPVM. And we're streaming live at wpvmfm.org. This is McNair Ezzard. Thank you for joining us and hopefully we'll see you next time on A Better World. And we're going out today with "Bangladesh" by George Harrison from the Concert For Bangladesh.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
A Better World radio show with McNair Ezzard
Streaming Sundays @ 9am ET on wpvmfm.org