Behind the stories and images that are associated with global hunger issues, there are hard facts that underscore how pervasive the problems are, and how workable proposed solutions may be. Sometimes personal stories give rise to more questions than answers.
Data and numbers are becoming an important part of efforts to bring attention to global hunger and other challenges faced by poor communities. Internews argues that using numbers to tell compelling stories is a critical part of providing people with the information they need to both understand and take action on important global issues. The organization supports several global projects focused on fostering data-driven journalism.
Accurate and accessible data can provide concrete answers to some fundamental questions. What is hunger? How widespread is it? How many undernourished persons are there worldwide? Where are the most undernourished people living? Which countries are struggling the most? How many calories does one person need to eat in a year? How should those calories be divided between the main three macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and proteins)? If most of the world’s hungry have access to some food, how many calories are they short?
A new book, “Hunger Math: World Hunger by the Numbers” is seeking to answer many of the data-driven questions that arise about hunger in a useful way. The book’s author, Ronald L. Conte Jr., also blogs on a site with the same title that highlights the book.
According to Conte’s site, “Hunger Math is a resource book for persons working on the problem of world hunger. It is not light reading. There are no photos. There are no inspirational stories of persons overcoming hunger. This book is filled with pedantic data and tedious mathematical calculations – used to answer questions pertaining to hunger.”
These calculations provide useful information, as several chapters of the book analyze a variety of staple crops and break down which ones would be most effective in alleviating world hunger based on the amount of macronutrients they supply.
The book also includes an overview of the forces contributing to world hunger such as food waste, insufficient agricultural production, unequal food distribution between rich and poor countries, and other factors.
Conte includes a chapter on possible solutions or steps individuals can take. The book’s proposed solutions are divided into three categories: developed nations, all nations and developing nations. Suggestions for developed countries like the U.S. include growing food instead of biofuel, using money from wealthy nations and reducing food waste. In developing countries the suggestions include using irrigation and fertilizer to increase crop yields, employing philantrocapitalism for agriculture development and education for both children and adults. All countries could help the problem by simple steps such as devoting more land to growing food, increasing the production of protein and fat and developing and using a protein concentrate. The book is currently available for Kindle, or by downloading free reader software.
– Liza Casabona