Year in Photos: 2016
A look back at the moments that challenged us, pained us, brought out our best, and deepened our commitment to humanity in 2016.
“We eat only once a day, and mostly only the free bread that the local baker gives us in the morning. If you could say to the powerful people to stop the war and to help us, please.”
A conflict in Yemen, which began in March 2015, has created severe food shortages and contributed to emergency levels of undernutrition, which are now among the highest in the world. Two in three people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance. Action Against Hunger is providing humanitarian assistance to families affected by conflict in the city of Hodeidah. When we asked families to share their message to the world about the crisis, this is what one of them said. And we’re doing our best to make sure the world listens.
“Boko Haram burned our village down. We are left with only the clothes we were wearing. All our sources of earning income have been taken away. We want to work again and go back home. We are not beggars.”
The group of families in this photo escaped violence at the hands of the militant group Boko Haram in their home villages in northeast Nigeria’s Borno State. They are now living in an abandoned school in Monguno town, where Action Against Hunger launched a new emergency program. Since 2009, Boko Haram has been terrorizing communities and destroying crops, villages, and health facilities. Action Against Hunger is providing families displaced by the conflict in Borno State with lifesaving food, water, shelter, and health care.
Muhammad walks from the tomato to the cucumber plants. Stopping, he smiles. “It is ripe,” he says, picking a cucumber. He continues picking, satisfied with the fruits of his labor. Muhammad is far from his farm in Syria, now living in the Gawilan camp for refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have built four greenhouses in which many refugees work daily. In the coming weeks, Action Against Hunger will take over the premises and build new greenhouses, building on the work of the project funded by a partnership between UNDP and UNHCR. Muhammad is indeed lucky. He was one of the first refugees pre-selected to participate in this agricultural project, chosen randomly with seven others. He proudly shows some of his produce.
“We’ve been living here for 18 months, I feel much better. Every morning I come to the greenhouse, I work, I can eat fresh fruit and vegetables and use the salary they create to support my family.”
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
This father had done everything he could on his own to take care of his child, but in Central African Republic, devastating conflict has made it extremely difficult for parents to find enough food to feed their families every day. This child was suffering from life-threatening undernutrition, and was admitted to our inpatient program for urgent treatment.
The inpatient nutrition unit managed by Action Against Hunger is packed with children suffering from the most severe and deadly form of undernutrition: here children are too sick to play, and too weak to cry. But these inpatient treatment units save children’s lives, and in that way, they can be places of hope. Last year, 80 percent of the undernourished children referred to Action Against Hunger’s inpatient therapeutic treatment centers in our program areas in Central Africa Republic recovered and returned home, healthy.
THE SYRIAN CRISIS
The Syrian crisis has become the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century. More than 150,000 people have died, and an estimated 4.8 million people have fled the violence, seeking safety in neighboring nations as refugees. The remaining 13.5 million face crisis in their home country, under siege.
Action Against Hunger is responding to the regional crisis where the need is greatest: in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, providing families with nutrition, water, and food security solutions—along with psychosocial support. Our Regional Communications Officer, Florian Seriex, captured this moving image of an elderly man who fled Syria as a refugee, being attentively helped by one of our staff to ensure he received services in a settlement in Jordan.
Women farmers produce more than half of all food worldwide, yet they earn only 10 percent of the world’s income. If we are to achieve zero hunger by 2030, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2015, we must invest in small-scale women farmers, so that they can have better access to education, seeds, and the capital necessary to increase healthy food production. Action Against Hunger’s food security and livelihoods program in Matam, Senegal, is all about investing in women farmers and training them to increase harvests to boost their income and improve nutrition.
Community health workers could be a powerful force for change in the fight to end child deaths from hunger. When a local health post was established in mother Namusa Nomoga’s community, life changed dramatically. A few months ago, Namusa’s two-year-old son Samakoun, suffered from acute undernutrition. “I noticed that something was wrong with Samakoun when he developed a temperature. He wasn’t able to keep his food down, and then he stopped eating altogether,” she said.
“I went to see Kindiaba, the local community health worker who moved to our village a few months ago. Kindiaba weighed and measured Samakoun, and took his temperature. And then she told me that he was ill with undernutrition and that he needed special treatment. She gave me the ready-to-use therapeutic food to help him, and I came back to Kindiaba for follow-up treatment once a week. After just a few weeks, Samakoun had recovered. Today Kindiaba still supports us.”
In 2013, war broke out in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan. Violence has uprooted 2.3 million people from their homes. Families in parts of the country not directly affected by war are now facing an unprecedented food crisis – caused by the war. Mothers like Aguwol Akec are fighting a losing battle to feed their families.
“The crisis keeps getting worse and worse. We were already extremely poor, but now the war has left us with nothing. Most of the crops we planted last year failed. The food from our harvest is gone. That is why my baby daughter is sick from malnutrition. I brought her to an Action Against Hunger treatment program, and she is slowly getting better. But still, I desperately need food for my whole family. Every day is harder and harder – and I’m afraid for my family.”
In July 2016, a new wave of violence in South Sudan forced thousands of people to flee their country, seeking refuge in neighboring Uganda. On average, there were about two thousand refugees arriving into Uganda every day from South Sudan. Most of them made the journey by foot, bringing only what they could carry.
“I took this photo at the reception center at BidiBidi refugee settlement in Uganda. The scene at this 'waiting station' felt both chaotic and calm. There was an overwhelming sense of resignation among the families — of knowing they had made it, but also knowing that they’d be staying for a while. “--Radhika Shah, Program Officer, Action Against Hunger
“The effects of a battle involving government security forces and an armed group in Zamboanga in the Philippines left an unforgettable mark on communities uprooted by the violence. Nearly two years since the end of the conflict, families are still struggling to recover. This photo literally provides a window into the lives of displaced families in Zamboanga, in transition, but ready to resume their livelihoods and futures.”
Our videographer, Guy Calaf, captured this image of a mother and baby waiting to receive emergency nutrition and healthcare services at one of our emergency mobile clinics in Monguno in northeast Nigeria’s Borno State. A nutrition emergency was declared in Borno in late June 2016. Action Against Hunger’s team worked around the clock to launch a new emergency program in Monguno in late August to reach people who had been cut off from humanitarian assistance by intense conflict triggered by the militant group Boko Haram.
Guy finds this photograph particularly moving because it shows the vulnerability of the mothers and children we serve in northeast Nigeria, as well as their incredible strength in the face of danger.
In late November 2016, Colombia’s Congress approved a peace accord with the rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, effectively reaching a deal to end a half century of war that claimed more than 200,000 lives.
“Despite all the violence that is often reported about Colombia, my visits there have exposed me to ‘the real Colombia,’ where despite difficulties, I always find hope and joy in people’s faces. For me, this photograph is an example of hope for Colombia’s journey forward. I dedicate this photo to those children, who still dare to run after their dreams.”
Action Against Hunger launched a new pilot program in Cambodia just before the start of 2016 to improve the resilience of communities to hunger. Undernutrition causes stunted growth in as many as 44 percent of children in parts of Cambodia. This family lives in Preah Vihear province, and we are working with them to improve their knowledge about nutrition, hygiene, and health care practices to help their children thrive.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Violence and unrest in Central African Republic continued in 2016. About 370,000 people have been uprooted from their homes by the crisis, and nearly 470,000 others have fled to neighboring countries as refugees. Almost half the country’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance. This photo captures the sense of fatigue and desperation of displaced families who have lost everything, but also radiates humanity and the love that can carry families through tragedy.
Undernutrition is 100% preventable. We are the generation that can end it. In Matam, Senegal, Action Against Hunger is working to prevent and treat undernutrition in children. We believe we can increase the number of children who receive lifesaving treatment if we can train mothers and community health workers to diagnose and identify undernutrition right in their own homes using very simple tools, like these colored bands. The “MUAC” bands measure a child’s mid-upper arm circumference, which is a way to detect “wasting,” a sign of acute under nutrition. This little girl was screened, and she was clearly healthy—and happy.
The goal of all our work is to unlock the potential of children like this healthy girl.
For almost 40 years, across nearly 50 countries, we have led the global fight against hunger. We save the lives of children and their families. We are there for them before and after disaster strikes. We enable people to provide for themselves, see their children grow up strong, and for whole communities to prosper. We constantly search for more effective solutions, while sharing our knowledge and expertise with the world. We push for long-term change. We will never give up. Until the world is free from hunger. Thank you for your support.