When most people think of world hunger, they picture the emaciated children shown on television commercials or news footage of refugees lining up for food rations. The media portrays hunger as a dire emergency directly resulting from natural disasters, war, or some other kind of unrest. These graphic examples of acute hunger do portray actual people and circumstances, but they fail to account for the 92 percent of the world’s hungry who suffer from chronic undernourishment rather than food emergencies. Though the number of people living with chronic hunger has decreased by 130 million people over the past two decades, one in eight people in the world still goes to bed hungry each night. Listed below are five facts about world hunger.
- Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Listed as the number one health risk on the WHO’s list of the world’s top ten threats to health, hunger causes 10 million deaths each year. That is roughly equivalent to the number of people killed in the Holocaust.
- If female farmers had the same access to resources as their male counterparts, the number of the world’s hungry could be reduced by 150 million people. Though women often hold responsibility for feeding their families, they face severe constraints in accessing the materials and markets needed to contribute successfully to the agriculture sector.
- 870 million people currently suffer from hunger. 98 percent of these people live in developing countries, with the largest proportion living in Asia and the Pacific. While the number of hungry people is declining in Asia and Latin America, it is steadily rising in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Another 24 million children could be hungry by the year 2050 due to climate change and irregular weather patterns. $7.1-7.3 billion is needed in order to offset the negative impact of climate change on world hunger.
- According to the World Food Programme, hunger is the “single biggest solvable problem” facing the world today. It costs just $0.25 per day to provide a child with the nutrients he or she needs to live, and $3.2 billion is needed to feed the 66-million school-age children who are currently hungry. While this may seem like a large amount of money, the U.S. spends more than 200 times that amount on the military alone.
– Katie Bandera