This young scientist is tackling food insecurity for the world’s most vulnerable groups

starve 19

(Ben White, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Lamis Jomaa, Assistant Professor, American University of Beirut


What is the big problem you’re trying to solve?

I am trying to explore the main causes and consequences of food insecurity on the nutritional status and overall health and well-being of vulnerable groups, including children, women and refugees. I am particularly interested in advancing the dialogue on food insecurity within conflict-affected settings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

What is the big idea you’re trying to use to solve it?

Food insecurity can only be addressed through a multi-disciplinary and a multisectoral approach. I am currently working with a multidisciplinary team of researchers and humanitarian practitioners to conduct translational science that goes beyond assessing the prevalence, determinants and consequences of food insecurity among vulnerable groups, to designing, implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of existing and novel community-based interventions to improve nutritional security.

How would you explain that to a 5-year-old?

I can see and sense the anxiety and fear that many people feel when they are unable to get food for their families and when they go to bed hungry, so I try to learn more what causes this and what can we do about it. I like to use numbers to tell the story of people who are left unheard, and I strive to help reduce their pain.

What has been the most difficult/challenging part of the journey?

The difficulty of my line of work lies in the complex interplay between the different macro- and micro-level factors that lead to poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition among the most impoverished and vulnerable population groups. This is particularly challenging in a conflict-prone region such as the MENA, where I work and live. In fact, the political instability of the region, taken together with ongoing wars, protracted refugee crises, and looming environmental and economic constraints will continue to be the biggest challenges to our work.

What is the most shocking fact that people are unaware of?

Although food insecurity is known to be a global threat that affects millions of individuals worldwide annually, I think the fact that shocks people the most is the extent to which food insecurity is likely to continue to grow as a serious and imminent threat for our future and that of our children. Climate change and severe environmental conditions are projected to cause more severe droughts, natural disasters and other emergencies, increasing the risks of conflicts and food insecurity.

Is there an interesting backstory to your work?

During my childhood and a good part of my adulthood, I witnessed first-hand what wars and conflicts can cause in terms of mass destruction, loss of life and food insecurity. In fact, I had to leave my native Lebanon and seek refuge in other neighbouring countries when my homeland was plagued by war. During my university years, I felt the urge to volunteer and conduct humanitarian work. It was my way to reconnect with my country. Little did I know that the first summer project that I got involved with during my senior year, working with Palestinian refugee children living in very poor neighbourhoods and communities in Beirut and northern Lebanon, was going to have such an impact on my life – and later my career.

The experience allowed me to learn first-hand the hardships of marginalized communities, who may live only one or two neighbourhoods away from mine. I also witnessed how small-scale projects can have such a positive impact on the lives of children and their families. I fell in love with community work after that experience and decided to pursue a more community-based field of work.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

How the great COVID-19 reset can help firms build a sustainable future

UN rights chief ‘strongly’ condemns ‘shocking’ mass executions in Saudi Arabia

‘Stronger’ effort must be made to cement peace deal for South Sudanese women and girls: UN Women chief

Antitrust: Commission fines Sanrio €6.2 million for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products featuring Hello Kitty characters

More than half of the global population is now online

From the boardroom to the consulting room: pharma’s role in curing gender bias

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

More refugees being helped by family, work and study permits, finds OECD and UNHCR study

Consumer protection: Deal on EU-wide rules for those sold faulty products

From zero to one: a realist’s guide to overcoming hopelessness

Generalist practicing: is it worth it?

A Sting Exclusive: “Consumer expectations for the 2015 UN summit on climate change”, Director General of BEUC Monique Goyens outlines from Brussels

Can self-charging batteries keep us connected for ever? A young scientist explains

“Move fast, build to last: Europe’s new generation” – op-ed by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Commission presents EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements for signature and conclusion

Is the advent of nationalism to destroy economic neo-liberalism?

First peaceful transfer of power in DR Congo ‘an extraordinary opportunity’ for advancing rights

Protecting whistle-blowers: new EU-wide rules approved

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

5 ways to make your organization a great sustainability partner

This is how we make cancer care sustainable and available for all

‘Stay together and step up’ action to meet Global Goals, ECOSOC President tells development forum

The 2019 European elections: A pro-European – and young – electorate with clear expectations

This AI-powered app aims to help people with autism improve their social skills

Eurobarometer: protecting human rights tops citizens’ list of EU values

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

Hydrogen isn’t the fuel of the future. It’s already here

Mergers: Commission clears E.ON’s acquisition of Innogy, subject to conditions

4 key trends on how COVID has impacted women in business

European Commission launches global coalition for biodiversity

MEPs call for decisive action to fight inequalities in the EU

Electronic cigarette – is it really a safer alternative to smoking?

These 5 start-ups are shaping the future of Africa’s cities

European Commissioner for Youth wants young people to be at heart of policy making

Brexit: when the hubris of one man can set the UK, the EU and the entire world on fire

Workers want flexibility. After COVID, they just might get it: Poll

MEPs adopt revised rules for road haulage operations in another EU country

What do refugees really need from those who want to help? A refugee explains

These 4 leaders are working to improve integration in Southeast Asia

Women’s work faces the greatest risk of automation, says new research

GSMA Announces Speakers for Mobile 360 – Russia & CIS 2018

World Mental Health Day is a chance to listen to those with the condition – the biggest experts of all

34 million Americans know someone who died after being unable to pay for medical treatment

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

How women in developing countries can harness e-commerce

Venezuela: Parliament recognises Guaidó, urges EU to follow suit

More than 90% of the world’s children are breathing toxic air

Back to the basics for the EU: Investment equals Growth

How 5G can connect the affordable homes of the future

The UN came of age with the nuclear bomb. Time for it to step up to the AI era

Climate change and health – can medical students be the solution?

Our tourism system is broken – time to customize

80,000 youngsters at risk in DRC after forcible expulsion from Angola: UNICEF

The COVID-19 pandemic is not a break for nature – let’s make sure there is one after the crisis

Employment MEPs want to ensure more flexibility and clarity for EU mobile workers

One small flight for a drone, one ‘big leap’ for global health

MWC 2016 LIVE: Zuckerberg warns mobile industry not to ignore the unconnected

Coronavirus: Eight macro-financial assistance programmes agreed to support enlargement and neighbourhood partners

COVID-19: EU working on all fronts, €232 million for global efforts to tackle outbreak

Zeid calls for ICC probe into Myanmar Rohingya crisis

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s