Time to teach them how to grow their own fresh food instead of keeping them dependent on food aid.


COMMENTS OF Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (Ghent University-Belgium) ON

Nearly 385 million children live in extreme poverty – UNICEF


Today I read this interesting article on UNICEF’s alarming message about child poverty, in which I find :

“The report dubbed: “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children revealed that in 2013, 19.5 per cent of children in developing countries were living in households that survived on an average of $1.90 a day or less per person, compared to just 9.2 per cent of adults.

It said globally, almost 385 million children are living in extreme poverty.

According to the report, children are disproportionately affected, as they make up around a third of the population studied.


UNICEF and the World Bank Group are calling on governments to routinely measure child poverty at the national and sub-national levels and focus on children in national poverty reduction plans as part of efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030.”

Source: GNA”.

Children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty, according to a new analysis from the World Bank Group and the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF). – http://citifmonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/download19.jpg

As a header of this remarkable text we find this scaring picture above, showing anxious children keeping up an empty plate: NOTHING TO EAT AND QUEUING FOR SOME FOOD.

Once again it shows that there is an urgent need to teach all schoolchildren in developing countries how to grow fresh food at home and at school (e.g. in a schoolgarden).

Of course, a lot of them need an urgent supply of nutritive meals.  That means that emergency programs are acceptable and very useful.

But it is not by sending loads of nutritive cookies (or other healthy meals) that one will change a single thing at this disastrous situation.  Yes, we will save starving children, but the 350 million children living in extreme poverty need more than a food aid meal a day.

We urgently have to change our food aid strategies to make them sustainable (see the new goals):

(1) Keep on going with emergency actions where needed;

(2) Set up educative programs to teach the children successful methods and simple techniques to grow their own daily rations of vitamins, micronutrients and mineral elements (fresh edible crops).

Impossible to believe that people concerned would not know a thing about the existence of these essential methods and techniques.  Since years they are fully described and illustrated.  It suffices to check some data (photos, texts, videos) on the internet, e.g. https://www.facebook.com/groups/221343224576801/.

Let us never forget that UNICEF itself has set up in 2005 a very successful program, called “Family Gardens for the Saharawis refugees in the S.W. of Algeria“, that unfortunately was stopped at the end of 2007 after showing that even in the Sahara desert families were (still are !) able to grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden.  The French would say: “Il faut le faire !”.

We keep looking forward for the global application of such a fresh food production program, using these basic, simple ways of growing food at home and at school.  That would be the real, sustainable food aid. “Il faut le vouloir !“.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.