Between 2015 and 2016, world hunger rose by 20 million people, according to most recent estimates released in a 2016 U.N. report. This issue affects 815 million people worldwide. The single biggest cause of hunger is poverty, but there are also other heavily contributed factors. Since the turn of the century, food production has outpaced population growth, and the world now produces enough food to feed 1.5x the global population. The question of how to end hunger stretches beyond simply farming more effectively. To end hunger, we have to address the issue as more than a supply-demand deficiency.
Only 11 percent of world hunger comes from developed countries; by far, the regions most afflicted by hunger are middle- and lower-income. In 2016, 22.7 percent of Sub-Saharan Africans were reported as malnourished. For those living on less than $2 per day, food can be too expensive to maintain a healthy diet. Economic hardship is further expounded by a lack of education and inadequate access to basic needs such as food, potable water and shelter. In this context, poverty and hunger have a cyclical nature. To reduce poverty, you have to reduce hunger and to reduce hunger, you have to reduce poverty. Take a look here to see how the Borgen Project plans to end poverty.
Armed Conflicts and Political Instability
Poverty is not the only factor in global hunger. Armed conflicts and political instability play a major role in keeping food out of hungry mouths. In recent years, conflicts have been rising, which may correspond to the increase of worldwide malnourished people.
War has also increasingly occurred in regions already vulnerable to disease and malnourishment, such as sub-Saharan and Eastern Africa. For example, South Sudan has been the site of a civil war since 2013. In 2017, the fighting played a major role in South Sudan undergoing the first declared famine in six years. Six million people (one in three residents of South Sudan) have been declared severely food insecure.
Violence takes away human capital, removing productive people from countries that need this capital the most. War destroys infrastructure, disrupts children’s schooling and creates more refugees. Peace is no easy task, but it’s a necessary one to achieve food security for all.
Steps Toward Ending World Hunger
The search for how to end hunger continues, despite the recent setbacks. Humanitarian organizations, such as Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) have worked hard to fight hunger and alleviate the problems associated with it. CARE works in 94 countries and impacts 80 million people worldwide.
Other organizations have developed more atypical answers of how to end hunger. Freedom From Hunger, a charitable organization dedicated to ending world hunger through economic empowerment, has instituted savings and micro-financing programs to people at risk of food insecurity. The goal of these programs is to help people plan for the future and pull themselves out of poverty through education, financial services and monetary savings.
The road to ending hunger will be long and hard. There will be more setbacks, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the world to pave a better future.
– Peter Buffo