Severe Hunger in Turkey

As we discussed in our previous article, nearly 8.9% of the world population is facing severe hunger conditions and related diseases. Despite the production capacities or economic conditions of countries, hunger is a deal of survival in every one of them. Even the “greatest” countries like the United States face the harsh consequences of acute hunger. Turkey would be a suitable example to demonstrate these consequences. Turkey is ranked as the 17th most prolific economy in the world. However, there is an increasing population of malnourished people. With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP)1 of $ 2,449.68 billion dollars and with a population of 83.43 million people, Turkey has 2.5% percent of its population malnourished. This percentage increased marginally last year alongside a 3.5 % increase in poverty.

For acute hunger conditions to become a major societal issue, there could be several reasons. One major reason for Turkey is the refugees. Many civilians of different countries, especially of Syria, migrate to other countries due to poverty and severe life conditions of wars. Turkey, in this case, has become one of the most refugee-hosting countries due to the close borders with Syria, Iraq, and several other war-occurring countries.  Currently, Turkey shelters nearly 3.1 million Syrian refugees. This means that the government should allocate money to support the needs of refugees alongside its own citizens. So far, Turkey has met refugees’ needs of protection and nutrition with over  $10 billion. As this high value suggests, Turkey is spending a tremendous amount of its sources to support the refugees. The equation here becomes supporting its own citizens but also an additional 3.1 million of refugees which definitely creates a higher population to nourish and leaves less source per person. 

Unemployment Rates in Turkey

Another major issue that causes acute hunger recently in the country is the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all know, due to the pandemic lots of people lose their jobs. The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) has released its Labor Force Statistics for February 2021. The number of unemployed people has increased by 250 thousand people when compared to the previous month, says the report. This means that 4 million 236 thousand people are not earning enough money to support themselves as well as their families. Since people are not able to provide food to their families as well as to themselves, they lack a great deal of nutrition. Especially in the COVID-19 crisis, being malnourished can put those people’s lives at risk, increasing the overall rate of malnutrition.

Many international organizations, such as the World Food Program (WFP), have partnered with the Turkish government to assist with the migrants and refugees living in the country. Refugees have put a strain on local markets and infrastructure in Turkey which affected the overall production and the food provision rates. Hence, WFP has provided cash assistance to refugees to stave off hunger insecurities and to remove the excess burden from the government. Also, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) partnered with and provided resources to Turkey to eradicate hunger in the past years. IFAD realized that especially the rural villages in the country needed physical and social infrastructure. The rural poverty rate in Turkey is about 35% which is now seen as one of the roots of growing hunger in Turkey. Thus, it mainly worked to improve rural living conditions and by its low-interest loans and grants, it developed projects to help the rural population overcome hunger and poverty. The UNDP itself also launched a project to eradicate hunger in Turkey which is now known as the Ardahan-Kars-Artvin Development Project (AKADP). This project aimed to work with local farmers from the rural areas and introduce them to sustainable agricultural practices. These practices would increase the livestock and crop productivity which would reduce overall poverty and hunger by improving economic and social infrastructure. However, these efforts were not enough to end hunger in the whole country. 

Living in poverty impacts food security, employment, education and healthcare. It is not only a deal of not having access to nutritious products. Turkey is making remarkable advances toward reducing hunger and now acknowledged for reducing its total undernourished population by half. However, we all know that there is still a long way to go before hunger is totally eradicated. Although we mostly talked about how governmental organizations helped eradicate hunger, it is not just the government’s job to find solutions to end hunger in the whole country; it is also our job as responsible citizens. There are various charities and social organizations, waiting for more people to join them, that work towards reducing hunger.We will only achieve our goal of distributing food support to all people in the country, if we work together consistently and pertinaciously.  Do not forget that “We are all in this together”.

1 GDP is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period.

CITATIONS

World Food Program USA. “Turkey.” World Food Program USA, 26 Mar. 2019, http://www.wfpusa.org/countries/turkey/#.

“Global Food Security Index (GFSI).” Global Food Security Index (GFSI), foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/Country/Details#Turkey. Accessed 12 Apr. 2021.

Chrol, Jenna. “Understanding Hunger in Turkey.” The Borgen Project, 29 May 2020, borgenproject.org/tag/hunger-in-turkey/#:%7E:text=The%20WFP%20recently%20acknowledged%20Turkey,children%20under%20five%20years%20old.

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