Event Report: Save The Children Singapore - Free From Hunger Hidden Crisis Media Event

Do you know that 300 children die from malnutrition every hour of a day? According to the new report "A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition," by Save The Children, a non-governmental organisation, 1 in 4 children are affected globally by chronic malnutrition, which is largely a hidden crisis because it is not obvious until it is too late. 450 million children are currently at risk of stunted growth because they simply did not get enough nutrients when growing up.

So, "think of all the starving children in ______________(insert developing country's name)" is in fact a very real issue.

I got to know all these shocking statistics when I was invited to the media event organised by Save The Children last Wednesday 15 February 2012 when there is a global release of their report, along with a tweetchat with experts around the topic of #hiddencrisis. The lunch event was held at the Asian Food Channel studio at Orchard Central to launch the report, as well as have some industry experts discuss about the issue in a panel. Sarah Tan from 987fm did a short intro, with Soo Kui Jien as the host for the event.

Through this event, Save The Children aims to influence policymakers to put this in the ASEAN agenda next time as well as raise awareness of their work right in affluent Singapore. Just because we are living comfortably doesn't mean that there are no development issues and work that needs to be done on this.

Maria Brown, co-founder and CEO of the Asian Food Channel, also gave an interesting anecdote about how they recently did a feature on obesity in America, where the people there are very fat but in fact also malnourished because their body is not getting enough nutrients! So I guess that is a real "first world problem".

In other parts of the world, for example, hunger is staved off with Plumpy'nut peanut paste. Looks really intriguing and not exactly appetising, but this little packet has done wonders for starving children.

The aim of the report is to expose the truth that world hunger, especially in children, is a very serious issue because when children under 5 are malnourished, they are stunted for life.  This in turn affects the society and the country with future problems.

There was also a media panel with Kui Jien, Chef Khaled, Gladys Wong, chief dietician at KTPH, Andrew Powell, consultant in agriculture biotechnology and communications and Michel Anglade, Asia Director of Campaigns and Advocacy for STC (not pictured below).

An interesting answer to Maria's question on which countries are performing well in tackling this issue from Michel is that China and Vietnam in Asia had been the most successful while Rwanda and Kenya in Africa are doing well too. However in places like India they are not doing so well.

And finally, lunch was served! And tadah! A small scoop of white rice, 26 peas and some strands of lightly flavoured cabbage. Apparently this is what a typical child in a developing world eats, though in this case it is prepared by a chef. Of course it is not enough when you compare it to a normal diet!

The 'lunch' was actually quite tasty and super healthy -- but you must imagine that in places like India or Pakistan, they probably don't even have peas and the rice will be drenched in some watery curry, with a few soggy pieces of cabbage or cauliflower. Perhaps the food itself will also be not very sanitary or have been kept for a few days.

It might sound very Miss Universe, but I believe World Hunger is actually one of the issues that CAN be solved with some cooperation from the government as well as the public support. We start small, and aim to feed the children first - because they are the most innocent sufferers to poverty and injustice. Breastfeeding should be encouraged and more education done to inculcate the benefits. I feel that food distribution is also one of the easier targets -- it's not as if there is not enough food to feed the world, but because ways of transport and distributing them are warped! You have people dying from hunger, and  warehouses filled with rotting food. The food that is produced in the world is also not utilized properly if people have no knowledge of basic nutrition needs.

Then there are improvements in technology to make food production more efficient (though it raises the whole debate on genetically modified seeds and that is evil too).  All these can be achieved if world leaders spare some consideration to this largely hidden crisis since the children are not able to cry out for help, and if trade and political differences are put aside for them.

Please share this post with your friends to inform them about World Hunger, because it is a hidden crisis that needs more exposure. For those who want to help, you can write in to

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