SEATTLE, Washington — Located in North Africa, Algeria is home to approximately 43 million people. Of those 43 million, 23% were living below the global poverty line, according to a 2006 estimate by the CIA World Factbook. Primarily composed of desert land, Algerians rely predominantly on food imports from other countries. Only a mere 17.4% of Algeria’s total amount of land is viable for agricultural farming, according to a 2016 study by the World Bank. This lack of resources combined with an increasing population of refugees led to severe food insecurity in Algeria.
Refugees Increasing the Population
Since 1975, Algeria has seen an influx of Sahrawi refugees, making the country a top contender in the longest-lasting world refugee crises. These refugees live in jarring desert conditions in camps, often relying on humanitarian aid to survive. According to a 2018 study by U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP), there are approximately 52,000 refugees who are already food insecure and another 100,000 who are in danger of becoming food insecure. This means that there is a lack of access to enough food for a single person to lead a sustainable lifestyle. Due to a lack of iron-rich foods, refugee women and young girls are susceptible to suffer from anemia. Correlating with high maternal mortality rates and lack of childhood development, anemia impacted 45% of all Sahrawi refugee women and girls.
The WFP has been combating the increasing rates of food insecurity and hunger in Algeria refugee camps since 1986. WFP has made monthly distributions of more than 125,000 rations of food to the camps. To keep a healthy rate of refugee children enrolled in school, WFP administered milk, biscuits and dates in 80 different schools. At least 40,000 children have received aid. As a preventative measure to combat anemia in refugee women and young girls, WFP has 29 nutrition centers available. These centers have helped 22,500 women.
High Malnutrition and Food Insecurity Levels
Currently, according to the 2019 Global Hunger Index, Algeria ranks 47 out of 117 countries, with a moderate level of hunger score at 10.3. Children under the age of five are at the most risk for malnourishment. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), one in 10 children is underweight and stunting affects one in five. Due to poor feeding practices in infants and young children, malnutrition cases have risen drastically.
Severe hunger has also impacted the adult population of Algeria. The number of undernourished Algerians reaches an astounding 1.2 million. These are individuals who partly experience food insecurity and malnourishment due to the high prices of imported goods.
Mortality Rates in Algeria Due to Malnourishment
Despite the high levels of malnourishment and food insecurity, there has been a continuous decrease in the overall number of cases. The infant mortality rate caused by malnourishment decreased from
28.8% in 2005 to 20.1% in 2018. Furthermore, the overall life expectancy of Algerians has also risen. In 2005, life expectancy in Algeria was approximately 73 years. With malnutrition cases diminishing, thanks to efforts from the World Food Program and other humanitarian organizations, the life expectancy rate increased to 76 years as of 2018.
While severe hunger in Algeria is still prevalent, necessary actions are being taken to alleviate the number of individuals experiencing food insecurity. Yet, much can still be done to help both refugees and Algerians meet a sustainable lifestyle. Food imports are one of the most critical aspects of providing aid to the people of Algeria. With combined efforts from humanitarian organizations, there is much hope to eliminate hunger in Algeria.
– Jacey Reece