Issue

Food

The United Nations defines food security as "all people at all times hav[ing] both physical and economic access to the basic food they need." For approximately 2 billion people throughout the world, this security is anything but guaranteed. Food security is a complicated issue that is susceptible to many forces.

Insecurity results from climate change, urban development, population growth, and oil price shifts that are interconnected and rarely confined by borders. It's an issue of global importance, and explored in-depth in the articles, videos and comments you'll find here.

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, a legacy of corrupt governance and an economy based primarily on oil exports has left the agriculture sector significantly weakened and millions of Nigerians hungry. And as poorer neighboring countries export more food to Nigeria in exchange for petrodollars, people there also go hungry. In 2005, thousands of children in neighboring Niger died of malnutrition, not because the country had had a particularly bad harvest, but because there was a food shortage in Nigeria, and people in Niger could not afford the ensuing higher prices.

A different threat is set to face the continent's second biggest crop: wheat. In 1999, 50 years since the last outbreak, a new and virulent strain of stem rust attacked Ugandan crops. Its spores then traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya before appearing in Iran last year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has since warned six other countries in Central and South Asia to watch for signs of the new strain while scientists in the U.S. are urgently working to find a resistant wheat variety. In India alone, more than 50 million small-scale farmers are at risk because they rely on wheat for their food and income.

In Tajikistan, the global financial crisis is forcing thousands of newly unemployed Tajiks to return from Russia. In a country already straining to accommodate Tajik refugees from Afghanistan, the government's chronic mismanagement has amplified the power and food shortages that permeate the countryside.

In Guatemala, income inequality is among the worst in the world, with indigenous communities at a particular disadvantage. In some regions, an estimated 75 percent of the children from infants to the ages of 6 and 7 are chronically malnourished. It is a startling example of food scarcity in a country a mere four-hour flight away from the U.S.

Asia faced its own food crisis as the price of rice doubled last summer. Some hunger experts are seeking out large-scale responses, including stepping up commercial agricultural techniques by introducing genetically modified rice and related products into the region. Other more localized efforts by universities and organizations are providing training in sustainable techniques for traditional farming families and minority ethnic groups.

Pulitzer Center grantees explore the connected causes and effects of food insecurity including efforts to secure the physical and economic access to food in countries most in need.

Food was produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in partnership with the Project for Under-Told Stories and Saint Mary's University.

Food

Guatemala's Malnutrition Crisis

Although most of Guatemala's children have enough food to eat, many are not receiving the right kind of food. Samuel Loewenberg reports on the country's growing crisis of chronic malnutrition.

In the clean, toy-filled interior of a clinic in Chiquimula, a 9-year-old girl appears to be frowning. Her name is Domitila, and her muscles are too weak to form a smile (see webvideo). Her body is fragile: arms and legs wasted, patches of hair missing, the veins in her legs forming a black web-like pattern that shows through her delicate skin.

Honduras: Fighting to Make Ends Meet

Maria Digna Ramos Mendoza wishes for a pretty house and a large basin to store fresh water for her five children. But, when she wakes up, "there is nothing."

Mendoza lives in a one-room, mud hut with her children. Her husband left four years ago to work in the United States, where he met another woman. She said whenever they call him asking for money, he says that he is more sick and needs money sent to him instead of to them.

Honduras: The Cost of Care

After speaking with the mayor of Santa Lucia and several locals about Shoulder to Shoulder, it is evident that mis-communication between the locals and the non-profit has caused recent strife in the community.

Shoulder to Shoulder currently operates seven clinics throughout the southern region of Intibuca, six of which are primary health centers owned by the Honduran government. These centers run under the government's standardized healthcare system and charge five lempira per visit, the equivalent of 25 cents.

Honduras: Reporting Amidst A Military Coup

Working in the midst of a military coup brings unexpected hardships. The Honduran government has shut off power across the entire country on numerous occasions, trying to squelch any outgoing or incoming information on Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president. One power outage lasted nearly 24 hours, preceded by a series of five brief outages. Interestingly enough, as I sit here and write this, the power has once again been shut off.

Honduras: What's in the Water?

Friday morning I headed out early with a team of health professionals to observe a community clinic. Many places are so rural in this part of Honduras that people rely on Shoulder to Shoulder health workers to travel to them every three months or so and set up makeshift clinics in schools and churches.

Honduras: Not So Sweet

Santa Lucia is hidden deep in the mountain range of southwestern Honduras. I traveled for eight hours by car from the San Pedro Sula airport to Santa Lucia, a tiny community in the remote region of Intibuca. The gravel road hugged the mountainous terrain as we weaved up, around, and down. Pot holes and washed-out areas from torrential rains created a nearly impassable road. The recent 7.2 earthquake that struck Honduras crumbled many of the bridges, leaving only holes in its wake.