|The main cause of hunger across many countries is not a lack of food but because of poverty / Photo by Riccardo Lennart Niels Mayer via 123RF|
If you grow up in a well-to-do family, you won't worry much about what you're going to eat. There's always food in the refrigerator and you can afford to eat out. Unfortunately, it’s the complete opposite for the millions of people across the globe. They are either malnourished or undernourished simply because they don't have much or even any food to eat.
Many people assume that the reason why so many people are hungry today is because there's simply not enough food to feed everyone. However, that is not true. In fact, according to official reports, the world produces enough food to feed all 7.5 billion people worldwide.
But how come 821.6 million or one in nine people go hungry each day? That’s 513.9 million in Asia, 256.1 million in Africa, and 42.5 million in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to an article by Concern Worldwide US, a global community of partners working to transform the lives of the world’s poorest people, as of 2018, Central Africa remains the world's hungriest country.
Causes of world hunger
Despite the level of hunger worldwide has decreased by 27 percent since 2000, we still have a long way to go before we can solve this issue once and for all. The main cause of hunger across many countries is not a lack of food but because of poverty. People, especially those who are living in the marginalized sectors, are too poor to be able to buy food. They also lack resources to produce or grow their own food. These include the land to till and the means to harvest, process, and store food.
And poverty is not the only cause of world hunger. You can also add war and conflict to the list. For instance, the civil war in South Sudan has resulted in mass displacement and abandoned fields. With crop failure alongside a soaring inflation rate, over six million people in the country are left hungry. Another example is the ongoing conflict in Yemen. As of now, approximately 17 million people are in dire straits in the absence of humanitarian food assistance.
Recently, the World Economic Forum reported that climate change is also causing hunger in some of the world's poorest countries. The study, “Hunger Strike: The climate and food vulnerability index,” showed that about 0.08 percent of global carbon emissions are generated in the 10 most food-insecure nations in the world. Climate change has been producing intense rainy seasons and hotter and dryer summer months. As a result, many countries are prone to floods and other extreme weather events that wreak havoc on food production.
Then there is the issue of food waste. It is indeed a shame that even as millions of people go hungry every day, there is also so much food wasted. The UN estimated that approximately 2.9 trillion pounds of food are wasted annually. That's enough to feed the world's undernourished more than twice over. Reports showed that the wasted food problem is rooted in each step of the food production, distribution, and consumption process.
World hunger not only impacts people in the most vulnerable communities but also on the world's economy in general. We can never claim success in our society if millions of people go hungry every day.
Increasing Global Hunger
Last July, the UN released a new edition of the annual “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” report. It showed that people who did not have enough food to eat increased by an estimated 820 million in 2018 compared to 811 million in the previous year. This is the third year of increase in a row and affects the progress of reducing the number of children who are stunted and the number of babies born with low birth weight.
Aside from those challenges, it was reported that cases of obesity and being overweight continue to increase among citizens in all regions of the world.
|World Economic Forum reported that climate change is also causing hunger in some of the world's poorest countries / Photo by Алексей Резин via 123RF|
The report identified the key drivers behind the rise of hunger. This includes conflict and economic slowdowns, climate extremes like droughts and floods, rainfall patterns, and agricultural seasons. In the 2018 UN report, the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) said, "The alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition are a clear warning that there is considerable work to be done to make sure we ‘leave no one behind’ on the road toward achieving the SDG goals on food security and improved nutrition."
According to an article by WHO, hunger is rising in places where economic growth is slowing down, particularly in middle-income countries. Also, income inequality causes hunger worldwide that makes it even more difficult for the marginalized to cope. “If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes,” the leaders said.
The report also showed an alarming hunger rate in Africa. Throughout the years, it continues to slowly but steadily increase in almost subregions. For instance, about 30.8 percent of people are undernourished in Eastern Africa. It was reported that there has been poor progress made in reducing the stunted growth of children due to hunger. In 2017, almost 151 million children aged under 5 are too small for their age due to malnutrition. Africa and Asia accounted for 39 percent and 55 percent of all stunted children in the world, respectively.