Nutrition in the developing world
It is impossible to underestimate the food to the affected population in the developing countries when there is any emergency. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adequate food and water are the main human rights for people to have a standard living (Young, 2006).
To provide energy, feed body systems and repair muscles, macronutrients are needed and these macronutrients include protein, fat and carbohydrates (Insel et al, 2009). Macronutrients are needed mostly for young children, elder people, nursing mothers and infants. Cultural and most importantly safety issues are important to take into consideration for food ration levels. For example, the food habits of refugees. The composition of an emergency ration, for example, maize, or wheat, may be unfamiliar to the refugee population who normally eat other locally grown produce (Ingram, 1989). Also in case of disaster, foods that are part of familiar diet are also introduced to the population within the delivery of food rations. (Webb et al, 2005). It is also very important to make selection of food for people depending on what malnutrition level they are on in order to be able to help their bodies to recover in normal way.
Another consideration to make is the environmental and geographical factors within the area where the food supply is importantly needed .Therefore, the United Nations and World Health Organization worked together to develop guidelines for each area depending on what geographic and environment they are in and what type of food is needed for the people lives in those areas in case of emergency.
According to WHO, shortages in micro and macro nutrients are the biggest causes of people catching life threatening diseases, because there are not enough economical situations to help production. Therefore, diseases grow faster since there will be no nutrients to fight against (WHO, 2001).
To be on the safe side of providing people with required healthy food supplies, sources such as corn-soya blends, vegetable oils with added vitamin A are fortified for each food supply to be sure that people are receiving right amount of nutrients (FAO/WHO, 2005, World Food Programme, 2004).
Being organized and being ready for any emergency situation, there are some guidelines that need to follow. These guidelines are derived from average age, average weight and some required adjustments for pregnant and breast feeding women. Climate is also included in these guidelines for supplying right nutrients to people in right weather conditions. However, FAO/WHO (2002) stated that it is not accurate to follow these guidelines all the time and suggested staff to check if they are the right nutrients before making the final decision to be able to provide the most essential nutrients for a healthy life. Most levels of requirements are derived from WHO recommendations (WHO, 2000).
In developing and affected countries, in the development of guidelines for basic nutrition, the work of the sphere project plays a fundamental role. Their agreement is available for all aid agencies and this sphere project is recommended by UN and WHO for any type emergency.
Daily intake of calories has to be 1200 according to WHO for a healthy life and this number has to be broken down to adjust the entire population. Table below shows the food and nutrition requirements for the overall population. The overall population is divided into males (57.9%)and females(42.1%) and each gender is divided into several age groups to show required nutrition of each age of group. Several calculations are made to show how much maize meal is required weekly for each segment. Maized meal includes micronutrients which are the most convenient food ration to use in case of emergency and it is selected for the calculation of this study (Henry & Seaman, 1992).
Calculation of Average Food Ration Requirements for Whole Population
Male & Female
% of total population
Energy requirement per caput
% of total population
Energy requirement per caput
% of total population
Energy requirement per caput
Food aid for population (maize meal)
Food aid for 1 week
(maize meal) (g)
Protein requirement (g)
Energy Requirement for whole population (male and female)
2224x 57.9 / 100
= 1287.7 kcal
1793 x 42.1 /100
1287.7 + 754.9= 2043 kcal
Food aid for whole population:
567.5 g x 7= 3972.5g
3972.5x 60000= 238500000g
Table specifies some major factors that are important for the emergency food ration calculations. Main factor is the age group to decide that needs aid. In this table, it is shown that 19-50 year old group has the largest percentage of 31.43%. This percentage is divided into 19% male and 11% female. Especially for this age group, nutrition and disease prevention are highly important. Also for this group, energy intake is needed more than other age groups (Schofield & Mason, 2007).
As a part of the emergency food ration plan, the groups that are over 50 and groups that is under five needs more care to prevent those getting diseases which are caused by lack of nutrition and these groups are also known as vulnerable groups at the end of the population scales (Prinzo & Benoist, 2002). For young children and infants, having excess amount of nutrients can make the difference in the development of their healthy bones and muscles and this can prevent malnutrition or other diseases to survive.
In the previous section, WHO suggested that average of 1200 calories per day for healthy life is required. However, for males which are in 15-18 age groups, they need three times of this amount per daily use and people aging above 50 need double of this amount per daily use. And if pregnant and lactating women are added to this figure, then the amount comes up to 2043 calories as an average per day. According to WHO, 2043 calories is just enough for a person to survive for a day but it is not for helping them to overcome with the diseases (Mason, 2002).
Average protein requirement for whole population is 60.7g per day which is equal to 11.9% of energy requirement for whole population.. However, this amount differs for people age under 6 and people classified as teenagers. The reason is that since at those ages, children need more protein for their muscle development and body repairs. In addition to this, people who are at 19-50 age groups, they require to have 4 times more of this average protein intake since they burn higher amount of energy. In addition, average fat requirement for whole population is 42g per day which is equal to 18.5% of energy requirement for the whole population.
On the other side, when the amount of required energy is converted into grams for a maize meal as it is stated previously, 248g maize meal is needed for children under age 1 and 675g for males and females aging between 15 to 18.
Table exactly shows that what type of emergency is needed for the population and this helps for getting more accurate results from the calculations. However, adjustments can be done as a part of the emergency planning process and at the initial state of an emergency, information for agencies is limited, therefore food supply take place quickly to prevent any nutritional deficiencies (Barrett & Maxwell, 2005).This is the first stage of the emergency.
Long term supply of nutrients is an important issue as well. In long-term, population will not receive sufficient intakes of vitamin C, and A or iron and folic acid, where food rations in the emergency situation can be fortified with some nutrients. If they don't have enough essential nutrients, anemia, scurvy, beriberi and other vitamin deficiency conditions have chance to occur. If an individual does not have the healthy immune system to fight with the diseases, it can be very weakening or even mortal.
Therefore, careful consideration is needed to find out how long the issue of the rations are required and how soon the rations can be reinforced with more nutrient rich diets when calculating rations based on nutritional needs.
In conclusion, planning is important which needs to be done depending on population level, understanding population type, geographical, cultural and environmental factors of the specific site before supplying food and aid. Therefore, more effective outcomes can be achieved.
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