Eating on $1.75 a day

livebelowtheline-500x305

You may have heard of this new initiative Live Below the Line launched for the first time in Canada last Monday, April 29th, by the Global Poverty Project and followed by hundreds of citizens across Canada to support four non governmental organizations: CUSO InternationalResults/Resultats CanadaRaising the Village and Spread the Net.

“Live Below the Line” is an innovative awareness and fundraising campaign that is challenging individuals and communities to see how well people can live on just $1.75 a day. The principle of this campaign is quite simple but really powerful: by living off just $1.75 per day for food and drink for five days, anyone can bring to life the direct experiences of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty and can help to make real change.

I took the challenge for 5 days last week and raised money for Results/Resultats Canada. My mission accomplished, I went back eagerly to my real life. Moreover, I was still thinking about this valuable experience, how it has changed not only my perception of extreme poverty, but also my engagement as a nutrition security specialist, and more importantly, my implication as a citizen who wants to use her political will to enact change on global poverty issues. For me, the quintessence of “Live Below the Line” is still in motion!

To be honest, the first time I heard about “Live Below the Line” and started to picture myself doing this kind of challenge was an authentic moment of panic. How can I survive on $1.75 per day for food and drink? It was impossible for me to cope with the idea, since this budget was ridiculously low when compared to the Canadian standard of “eat well and be active.”

Living in Canada for many years now, I am used to a certain standard, and I expect to be able to attain healthy lifestyle without any major constraints. With $1.75 per day, mission impossible!

To give you an example, the city of Toronto defines each year the real cost of healthy eating, i.e., $49.87 per week for individuals my age range, which corresponds to $7.12 per day. In this context, $1.75 per day, which represents 24.6% of the cost of a nutritious food basket, is definitively below the line.

Forget as well the Canada Food Guide 3 fruits and 4-5 vegetables, 5-6 grains, 2 dairy and/or alternatives, and 2 meat and/or alternatives – during these five days, this won’t be possible at all.

When you are health & food conscious, “Live Below the Line” demands a good understanding of nutrition science, a lot of planning and a strong mental spirit. And I really tried my best. Two weeks before the challenge, I tested different recipes, localized best bargains for food, found ways to maintain my protein intake at an optimal level, and made some drastic choices between having fruits or vegetables – not both, too expensive. My menu for this 5-day challenge was quite simple: oat pancakes with banana for breakfast, congee (Chinese soup with rice and lotus seeds) for lunch, rice with split peas and grapes for dinner, two snacks (a boiled egg and an apple) to stave off hunger and the same tea bag for the whole day as well as a lot of water. No fancy French cuisine!

My first day was difficult, a few hunger pains, a mild migraine and caffeine withdrawal. But the fact that I had 5 small meals per day, a good breakfast to start, and a good intake of protein, helped me to adjust quite well with my new diet. An analysis of my food showed me that my daily calorie intake was slightly too low to maintain my body weight (-23%); these calories were mostly carbohydrate (+26%, when compared to my daily requirement) and protein (-12%). In contrast, my fat intake dropped significantly (-64%). Impossible for me to meet my daily requirement for essential omega-3 fatty acids, I didn’t plan to eat fatty fish, enriched eggs, flaxseeds, chia or raw hemp seeds or walnuts, too expensive.

The “Live below the line” diet had also a significant impact on my micronutrient intake, mostly because I was not able to diversify my food during these five days. As I was able to maintain my iron and vitamin C adequately, my calcium (43% of my daily requirement), vitamin A (40%) and vitamin D (0%) were significantly low or nonexistent. Hypothetically, continuing the same foods and nutritional pattern may ultimately affect my overall health. I might develop cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death for women in Canada, and suffer later in live from osteoporosis. This is a non negligible risk factor for me, mainly because I really think that access to diversified and nutritious foods is a pivotal aspect of a healthy and active lifestyle.

“Live below the line” requires a lot of discipline and self-control but this is not enough to ensure good health when nutritious food access is limited. There is no place for creativity around food. It is more like a routine. You fill your stomach, you just want to fill it and move on.

What I missed the most, was the possibility to diversify my food intake, to maximize my healthy food choices without financial constraint and more importantly, to cook, give and share food with my friends and relatives. Food defines our place in the society! Food is pleasure!

When doing this specific challenge, I was able to experience the dehumanization of the feeding process. Feeding ourselves, our family and friends is a social act. Generally, food is the most important thing a mother can give to a child. Universally, mother’s milk is definitely the best food for infants. Food is not just a symbol of love, it is also security, an opportunity for each child to grow adequately and develop his (her) full potential. Food is life!

As I am thinking one more time about my experience, I recall the definition of the Right to Food as a Human Right.  Each word resonates more deeply than before the challenge, and the whole statement becomes now a reality for me because I have modestly experienced the day-to-day life of people living in poverty. I was part of the “Live Below the Line” campaign.

Nutrition and food security are key in the context of human development, economic growth and poverty reduction; and a global effort has been growing around nutrition over the past decade. As a result, the G8 has now put global undernutrition high on its agenda. Moreover, 34 developing countries, “highly-impacted” by undernutrition, have committed to scaling up their nutrition programs.

On June 8th, the UK Government will co-host an event with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF): “Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science”. It is going to be a day of international action, bringing together governments, business, science, and civil society to improve the quality and quantity of food available to the world’s poorest people.

On the eve of the G8 Summit in London (June 17-18), world leaders will have an opportunity to support the developing countries that have developed cost effective plans for scaling up their nutrition programs through the SUN Framework. It is important that we continue to bring international attention to the issue of undernutrition, invest in and scale up nutrition programs that not only reduce child mortality but also consolidate the future of children by reducing the incidence of stunting and its detrimental long-term impacts.

At the June “Nutrition for Growth” event in London, Canada will have the opportunity, because of its leadership in nutrition, to inspire other members to invest in developing country-led efforts to reduce undernutrition.  It is extremely important that we work together to commit additional finances and political capital to invest in nutrition and food security, to make sure that less and less women and children live below the line in a near future.

164284_366973203411043_399639358_n

(Image from https://www.facebook.com/LBLca)

 

Published in the Ottawa Citizen – http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2013/05/12/francoise-briet-eating-on-1-75-a-day/

Advertisements

Greenpop: Update

If you recall, back in December we introduced you to a wonderful organization called Greenpop whose main mission is to plant trees in Africa. Here is an update from them on what they have been up to since then:

Trees for Zambia Update
We’re in full Zambia-mode and making good progress on different levels! On our recent planning trip to Livingstone, we met with the Prime Minister of Mukuni Village and he endorsed the project, which we’re very happy about. We also met with the Town Clerk, the African Wildlife Foundation, the Zambian Wildlife Authority, National Heritage, and so many more. We’re swamped with enquiries from people around the world who’d like to join us as volunteers, which is very exciting! Join us – email  zambia@greenpop.org.  From a fundraising point of view there have been some exciting developments too; we are talking to several companies about corporate sponsorship (video proposal here), we are selling tree rings, and we’ve just launched a campaign onIndieGoGo, a crowdfunding website. Have a look, help us spread the message, and gift a tree – or two or three! 

How to raise trees?
How do you raise funds for 5000 trees in less than 6 months? You get creative! We’ve started all sorts of tree raising campaigns, and one of the most exciting is our Ambassador Program. Because not everyone can come with us to volunteer, the opportunities to support the project needed to be varied, hence the Trees For Zambia Ambassador Program. It’s a competition which will see the person who sells the most trees come with us to Zambia for free, alongside 8 other fantastic prizes sponsored by awesome companies. Huge thanks to everyone who has sponsored prizes… and if anyone feels like adding to the list, please email charlotte@greenpop.org! Our first 25 ambassadors from all over the world have already surprised us with their creativity and motivation, not to mention their success: in just 4 weeks they have already sold 224 trees which is ZAR26,880 altogether!

Healthy Trees from 2010
The Greenpop monitoring team visited Ithemba preschool in Capricorn Park on last weeks monitoring trip. We planted at Ithemba on 1 September 2010 – one of our first planting days ever! Jeremy from Greenpop who was out monitoring last week said: “It was absolutely the highlight of my day! Every tree that we have planted at this beneficiary is alive and well. I spent time chatting with Colin (their groundsman who at the end of last year received environmental training through our partnership with Kirstenbosch Education) about watering, pruning and just how on earth their trees are growing so well!”. Our monitoring team doesn’t always have days like this – planting trees in the Cape Flats is not an easy business. We have good relationships with all of our beneficiaries and are continuously working on improving conditions and on best practice methods. This however, is not fool proof and our team has to work hard with the ground staff to continuously educate and come up with solutions. At the moment our tree survival rate is above 80% and we’re working hard to keep it high.

SOA 2012
This coming May in Cape Town a group of dynamic and inspirational African business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and artists, who are driving change across the continent, will be joined at Sustain Our Africa by an outstanding group of their international peers. Read more here

 

We at CKi would like to congratulate Greenpop on all their success and look forward to hearing more about what they are doing to benefit Africa. Keep up the great work!

 

‘International Girls’ Day’ Gets A Final Push

We are almost there! The resolution was adopted by consensus at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly and will go to the full Assembly for adoption the week of December 19th.

Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been a long standing supporter of an international day dedicated to girls. She said it would help bring to light the issues of girls before governments, media, and educational institutions. “Girls are the future of the world and we definitely need a day dedicated to their issues.”

Research has shown that simply being born a girl can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. In the poorest societies, a girl faces greater risk of malnutrition, hunger, and disease compared to her brothers. She will have fewer opportunities for an education and career. In many developing countries 1 out of 7 girls marries before age 15, resulting in them having to drop out of school before they have a chance to receive the education they deserve.

Girls themselves first raised the crucial issue of the need to recognize their rights at a UN gender summit in 2009. Since then girls have lobbied for this day, with the support and guidance of Plan. This idea was reinforced through the amazing ‘Because I am a Girl’ Plan campaign (http://becauseiamagirl.ca/).

Focusing on women and girls can have the greatest impact in alleviating poverty impact on the most vulnerable. This is well established in the Plan report “State of the World’s Girls 2009: Girls in the global economy’”
(http://plan-international.org/girls/resources/girls-in-the-global-economy-2009.php) as well as through the work done by OXFAM for whom ending global poverty begins with women’s rights (http://www.oxfam.ca/).

To read more about this great news, go to:

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/international-day-of-the-girl-child-gets-a-final-push

The tranquil revolution is underway!

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

Sowing the Seeds of Food Security

Another great initiative in South Africa, similar to what Cki is trying to achieve through its new project in the Chorkor community, Accra, Ghana:

Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) is a non-profit organization based in Cape Town that creates learning gardens as part of their Organic Classroom Program, in partnerships with schools in South Africa’s poorest communities.

Founded in 2002, SEED trains teachers to design, plant, and nurture a garden according to permaculture principles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture), which encourage a sustainable approach to agriculture modelled after an ecosystem. Teachers are using organic vegetable gardens to help children learn about science, geography, health, and economics—and to unlearn hunger. Produce from the gardens is used in the school’s cafeteria or sent home in parcels with the students for their families.

SEED website: http://www.seed.org.za/   
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SEED/152379438141624

 is not alone…

Greenpop is working in an environment similar to the Chorkor community, where homes are crammed next to one another, the earth is more sand than soil, and strong winds often blow. This organization is a tree-planting social enterprise that is beautifying these areas, starting with the schools. They start with hardier indigenous trees and if they survive, they come back with fruit trees that can produce 20-100 kg of fruits each in a season, helping to increase food diversity. Children are assigned a tree to look after and must each bring in 2L (1 gal) of gray water—recycled from the bath or sink—to water their tree every 2 days. It is gaining attention from media and corporate sponsors for its gung-ho attitude toward mobilizing volunteers for tree-planting days—largely from among Cape Town’s privileged youth. They also partner with larger companies that can tick their corporate social responsibility box when their employees get involved in tree-planting initiatives.

Greenpop website: http://www.greenpop.org/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GreenpopTreevolution

To learn more about these great initiatives, read this article published in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/business/global/28iht-RBOG-CAPE28.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

THANK YOU

THANK YOU to all who attended and contributed to our Rainwater Harvesting System Fundraiser on Saturday November 26th, 2011 for making it a GREAT success!

We hope you enjoyed the evening and we look forward to seeing you at future events.

Subscribe to this blog to keep posted on upcoming CKi events, initiatives, and the progress we are making in Ghana. We will also be featuring the latest news about nutrition, agriculture, food security, food diversity, food development, and international food issues.

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~