When’s the last time that you skipped a meal because you were “too busy”, or “nothing sounded good” or you simply “weren’t hungry”? Having food available to us at any given time—day or night, is a luxury that we often take for granted without really thinking about it. We’re not afraid to spend large portions of our paycheck at the grocery store, fast food drive-through or dinner out with friends, where leftovers and extra food ultimately find their way into the trash can, to be whisked off to the local landfill. Once our extra, rotten food is thrown out, we might feel a tiny bit of guilt while tossing food, only because it cost us money to purchase that food and we are wasting it; but once it’s in the garbage we tend to forget about our guilt, just to repeat the cycle the following week.
Now imagine living in a world, where you do not know when you will get the chance to eat again, or where your food is going to come from. Imagine that when you do eat, it is only a small amount of food, that doesn’t even begin to satisfy your hunger, rather teasing you that your hunger will be satisfied, only to be disappointed. Imagine what little food you do get might be old, spoiled, or rotten, but you eat it anyways as your only other option is to continue to go without food and nourishment. Unfortunately, for a whopping 795 million people in the world (that is approximately one out of every nine) this imaginary world is their reality according to 2017 statics.
Food is an essential element to human life. It not only provides vital nourishment that is needed, it also fuels the body and provides a livelihood that can lift people out of poverty and bring communities together. When there is a lack of food for the population, malnourishment ensues along with increased poverty rates and crime. Think about how many times growing up your parents told you to “think of the starving kids in Africa” as a method of persuasion to get you to eat your food; or think about every time you have to throw food out that has gone bad before you had a chance to eat it. Both of these represent that vast amount of food that is thrown away and goes to waste. In fact, a staggering one-third of all food produced goes to waste.
World hunger is something that many of us have heard of, but have a hard time fully comprehending. Often times we don’t give a lot of thought to world hunger, because it doesn’t have an effect on our day to day lives. Before you can address a problem and work to alleviate it, it is important to know what exactly world hunger is, how many people are affected, where are the majority of people who suffer from hunger located, what causes world hunger and what is currently being done to combat this worldwide epidemic.
Facts about World Hunger
For many of us, we know that world hunger affects a large group of people, but do you know exactly how many? There are many facts surrounding world hunger, that many people don’t know or don’t recognize as being a contributing factor. One of the best ways to be able to combat world hunger, is to know all the facts.
A report published in September of 2018 stated that there are 821 million people worldwide who are chronically undernourished. Out of the 821 million, ninety-eight percent live in developing countries around the world—Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Knowing where the majority of those suffering from hunger live, can help in targeting efforts to alleviate the lack of food.
With so many people around the globe suffering from hunger, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the answer to solving world hunger is to simply grow and produce enough food to feed the world population. Interestingly enough, the world already produces enough food to feed the entire population. Even though there is enough food produced, many still go without because they are not able to grow and produce their own or they lack sufficient funds to purchase food for themselves.
Hunger also claims the lives of nearly one in every fifteen children living in developing countries prior to the age of five. In 2010 alone, nearly 7.6 million children across the globe lost their lives, with over half being attributed to poor nutrition. Furthermore, when an undernourished woman becomes pregnant, the baby is often born undernourished as well. Every year, nearly seventeen-million children are born undernourished as a result of the mother’s lack of adequate nutrition before and during pregnancy. When a woman is undernourished as a result of a lack of food, she is often deficient in basic nutrients, such as iron, which results in nearly 315,000 dying during childbirth from hemorrhaging every year.
Causes of World Hunger
According to the World Food Programme, there are a few predominant reasons why hunger persists throughout the world, and oftentimes, these reasons are interconnected with each other. These reasons include: being trapped in poverty, lack of infrastructure, climate and weather, war, economy, and various other reasons that all contribute to the worldwide epidemic. Many of the reasons that are considered to contribute to world hunger are often complex and vary widely but they are still interconnected.
Trapped in Poverty
Poverty is considered to be the leading cause for hunger worldwide. For many who are living in poverty, they are living in a trap that provides little to no way for them to improve their lives. Unfortunately, as a result, many that are living a life of extreme poverty also live in a world of constant hunger. Many who live in poverty are unable to purchase nutritious, healthy food for themselves or their families. Without proper nutrition, the human body begins to weaken, physically and mentally. This in turn results in individuals being unable to work for a livable wage, preventing them from being able to escape the grasp of poverty and starvation.
According to Bread for the World the largest group of people who suffer from hunger and live in extreme poverty tend to be smallholder farmers. The definition for “extreme poverty” means that they have an income of less than $1.25 per day. Most of these farmers live in developing countries and do not have adequate land to grow enough food for themselves to eat year-round. What little food they are able to produce, doesn’t bring in enough of an income to allow for them to be able to purchase the necessary food they need from other farmers once they run out of their own supply.
Lack of proper nourishment has a ripple effect, children who are malnourished tend to be stunted in their growth, resulting in adults whose average income is significantly lower than their counterparts. Without adequate income, many of those living in poverty are in developing countries and are unable to purchase seeds to plant crops that would feed their families. For the rare few that are able to obtain seeds, many do not have the land or the water or knowledge to grow and harvest their seeds, ultimately keeping them trapped in poverty.
Lack of Infrastructure
In underdeveloped countries, a lack of infrastructure such as roads, warehouses and irrigation systems all contribute to a hunger epidemic. Due to the lack of these key features, communities are left facing high transportation cost, lack of storage facilities and unreliable water supply. With the lack of ability to safely and affordably transport food, store food or even grow food, many people are denied the access to food which is vital to their survival.
A lack of adequate infrastructure in developing countries can be attributed to the challenges that many farmers face when trying to grow their own crops. Because there is a lack of a water supply, in areas of countries where hunger is prevalent, many women and girls spend countless hours walking great distances to gather what water they can. This results in women not being able to contribute to other productive activities and girls are not able to attend school. In some countries that are developing, there are areas where there is a great shortage of food, due to the lack of adequate infrastructure to get food and supplies to the people, whereas, in other parts of the country there is an abundance of food because they have the ability to transport and grow enough food to feed those living in close proximity.
Climate and Weather
With the climate changing all across the world, there appears to be an abundance of natural disasters, including floods and tropical storms and drought. With the increased number of natural disasters, the consequences can be detrimental to those living in underdeveloped countries, who already experience a shortage of food. Natural disasters are known to wipe out crops, crop failure, and livestock losses, eliminating what food there possibly was available. Climate change is responsible for damaging food production and water security in significant ways all across the globe. How successfully the world responds to climate change will play a huge factor is being able to combat and ultimately eradicate world hunger. It is projected that in order to keep up with climate change and a growing world population, agricultural production will need to increase by at least seventy percent just to be able to keep up.
It should come as no surprise that war and displacement has far reaching effects all across the globe. Throughout history, food has been both the cause the overall effect of war. War disturbs farming and food production by destroying farms and crops; fighting also forces people to flee from their homes, as they are displaced and no longer able to provide for themselves or their families. During a war, it is also not all that uncommon for food to quickly become a weapon of sorts. Over the course of history, troops have used food to their advantage, by starving their enemy into submission by seizing food, destroying farms and killing off livestock. Other times, humanitarian food that has found its way into a war zone, can be confiscated by government officials and used to feed their troops rather than their citizens. Fields become mined and water sources are contaminated, resulting in land that is no longer usable for growing food, and water that cannot be consumed. During times of war and conflict, the poorest citizens of a nation, are generally the ones who feel the effects first and suffer the most, as resources are dedicated to a nation’s military members and leaders. All of this contributes to the worldwide epidemic of world hunger.
The world’s economy plays a big role in world hunger. When the price of food rises, those who are poor or living in poverty are then unable to afford nutritious food, instead of consuming unhealthy food. For good health, it is important that everyone has access to nutritious, adequate food year-round. When food prices go up, food may temporarily be priced out of reach for some. When individuals and families are no longer able to purchase the necessary food due to increased prices from an unstable market, there can be lifelong consequences for small children. When nutritious food becomes too expensive for the poorer population to purchase, they often resort to cheaper, less-nutritious food, leading to an increased risk of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
These are some of the biggest, most noticeable causes for world hunger, there are other, smaller reasons that contribute to this worldwide epidemic.
In developed countries, such as, the United States and other countries that are deemed to have a high-income the reasons for hunger are dramatically different. In most cases people in developed countries suffer from hunger as a result of a poor paying job, lack of jobs, or poor economic status.
What is Being Done to Combat World Hunger?
Because world hunger is affecting so many people around the globe, there are various groups and organizations that are working tirelessly to combat world hunger and bring food to those who are starving around the globe. Knowing the reasons why so many people are malnourished and starving helps to provide direction to alleviate the need for nutritional food.
Currently, organizations, such as Mercy Corps are working alongside communities that are most vulnerable to hunger by educating people, improving their communities and implementing plans for sustainability into the future.
Being able to grow and produce food to feed their families and make a living is an important step towards fighting world hunger. When farmers are able to get their resources that they need, they can then increase their food production, providing nutritious food to feed themselves, their family and sell to others, therefore, increasing their current income to be able to continue to provide food for their families when their supply runs low.
In Kenya, small farmers who were unable to compete with large scale farms, have been able to boost their production, while working on minimizing crop loss with the assistance of organizations such as USAID. This has been accomplished as they have been able to implement skills that they have gained through educational opportunities that are brought to them from humanitarian groups. Many farmers are able to sell their excess crops to the UN World Food Program that goes to help other communities around the world that are suffering from hunger and starvation.
It’s one thing to be able to take care of immediate food and hunger needs, it’s something entirely different when you are able to provide nutritious food for the foreseeable future. When individuals and communities are provided with the necessary resources to create plans that allow for them to learn the skills necessary to adequately manage their resources, they are then able to improve both their crop and livestock production. This allows for them to provide nourishment not only to satisfy their immediate need, but also into the future.
Different organizations are helping communities around the globe to develop stronger food systems that will allow for them to make food that is grown in their areas easier to access for everyone. This is accomplished through teaching individuals and communities better ways in which they can manage and utilize what resources they have available to them to improve their crop and livestock production.
Education goes a long way in helping people to make improvements so that they can better care for their families. Many people who suffer from malnutrition and hunger, do not know or understand the importance of proper nutrition, sanitation or hygiene. Through education, people learn about the importance of good nutrition, sanitation and hygiene practices that allow for them to be able to consume a more diverse and nutritious diet.
Food for the Hungry believes it is making an impact now that will have far-reaching effects into the future. Through their organization, they have been able to provide life-changing resources, including clean water supply, medical aid, food, educational opportunities to those living in the harshest of conditions. In order to provide these resources and education to people across the globe, they work closely with local leaders to know how best to respond to the needs of the people living in the area.
Meeting Immediate Needs
In areas of the world, where hunger and malnutrition run rampant, humanitarian aid strives to bring life saving food and nutritional needs. This is achieved through actual food and food vouchers. In areas that are affected by a natural disaster, relief is rendered through food, food vouchers and cash that allows for individuals to purchase food for themselves and their families. Through cash, individuals are able to provide nourishment to their families while helping to rebuild their communities.
Children’s Hunger Fund is an organization that works closely with different church groups around the globe to provide food, water and other basic necessities to those living in extreme poverty. This is accomplished by delivering food and other necessary supplies to those in need through local church leaders in various communities who are able to distribute supplies to those who stand in need the most.
Working with Local Governments
World hunger is not a new development that we are just learning about, but it has come back into focus in recent years. Following years of underinvestment for many of the wealthier countries around the world, including the United States have begun to reinvest into programs that are designed to help combat world hunger. Through combined efforts of world leaders, private companies, NGOs, universities and academic institutions, ending world hunger has become a top priority that many are striving for.
Since its peak in 2015, many of those who have been working together to fight and ultimately end world hunger have been able to make substantial strides in achieving their goal. Through the combined efforts of the United States in partnership with the above-mentioned groups, the Feed the Future Initiative, which is an anti-hunger response has had tremendous results. These results include lifting 9-million people out of poverty, 1.6-million households free from hunger and 1.8-million children properly nourished.
Feed the Children works closely with donors, experts, partners, leaders and communities to find those who are suffering the most and providing relief. It is the mission of Feed the Children to work with local and world leaders to use donations to eliminate starvation and hunger for starving children around the globe.
How You Can Help to Alleviate World Hunger?
The success of organizations such as Feed the Future Initiative show that ending world hunger is possible, but it is going to take everyone to achieve the ultimate end goal. Because alleviating world hunger is going to require extensive efforts, everyone has the ability to contribute to this great cause. There are different ways in which you can contribute and help to make a difference in the life of someone who is suffering from hunger and lack of food.
This is probably the easiest way in which you can help to alleviate hunger around the world. You can start by donating food to your local food pantry, to help those in need in your own communities. If you are looking to help on a larger scale, consider donating monetarily to an organization that is committed to fighting and alleviating hunger across the globe. This can be done directly to the organization, or you can donate through A Good Cause, where all the money donated goes directly to various charities that are working tirelessly to provide nutritious food to those in need. These charities include Feeding America, Children’s Hunger Fund, Feed The Children and Food for the Hungry. When you make a donation through A Good Cause, you can make a one-time donation, or you can set up to make recurring donations to help those in need.
If you’d like to do more than make a monetary donation, consider creating your own fundraising campaign using A Good Cause’s crowdfunding platform, where you can invite friends and family members to also donate to alleviating hunger around the world. Through your campaign, you can help to bring awareness to others about the need for funds to help those who are unable to obtain food for themselves and their family members.
By working together, we can all make an impact on those around the world who don’t know when or where their next meal is going to be coming from. We can help to bring nutritious food to those who otherwise will be going without. Whether you can afford to make a monthly donation, or simply spread the word to others, we can all work together and alleviate hunger across the globe. Alleviating world hunger is a goal that we can all band together on, regardless of our race, political affiliation, or geographical location and make a huge difference in the world. Through our efforts we can turn the idea of not knowing when or where someone will eat again into a distant memory for all, as nutritious food will be available to everyone, all across the world.
To make a donation or establish recurring donations through A Good Cause, please visit: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/alleviate-hunger/
Author: Ashley Christensen