Rising World Hunger

According to a recent report regarding world hunger trends in 2018, titled “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, ” over 820 million people worldwide are undernourished, up from 811 million in 2017. This is continuing a fairly recent trend of rising world hunger since 2016 when the number increased for the first time in over 10 years. Prior to that, world hunger had been decreasing at a fairly consistent, slow rate since 1992. This marked a trend of over 20 years.

History of Rising World Hunger

Overall, this is not the first time there has been an increase. From 2000 to 2005, numbers began increasing for the first time since 1992, before decreasing again. That trend continued for about ten years, decreasing at a solid rate until 2015. In 1992, the number of individuals undernourished in the world was just over one billion.

In 2015, the number was 784 million. Likewise, over 200,000 people were freed from hunger during this time. This is about a 22 percent decrease in the number of hungry people. This was all accomplished over the span of 25 years.

Why Rising World Hunger Is a Cause for Concern

Considering the history of overcoming an increase in world hunger, is this recent increase cause for concern? According to the UN report, it is still a cause for alarm.

The report details that world hunger is rising due to multiple supplemental factors. For one, the global economic downturn of 2008-2009 caused uneven recovery. It has also led to unstable GDP growth. Reliance on global commodities, which were disrupted around that time, has caused volatility and unpredictability in the economies of those countries. Due to these events, households often experience a decrease in purchasing power. As a result, they cannot purchase as much food.

What Can Be Done?

Economic stability would alleviate hunger for many people, so what can be done to increase economic stability in these countries? According to the UN, this has much to do with socioeconomic inequalities. In the report, economic growth is not always enough to ensure the reduction of poverty and hunger. Even if a country’s GDP is rising, inequality means that those of lower socioeconomic standing will not see nearly as much of the positive impacts.

The report ultimately calls for countries experiencing severe hunger problems to implement policy change in protecting the income of those living in poverty. Additionally, it identifies the need for diversification of economies to avoid over-dependence on global commodities. Reliance on more unstable commodities does provide massive short-term profits and boons for the GDP. However, that reliance damages the integrity of those economies in the long-term run.

Overall, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN believes there are ways to fight rising world hunger. Tackling inequalities via effective policy and strengthening the consistency of individual economies will be the keys to reversing this trend.

A Number of Efforts

Other nonprofit organizations such as Rise Against Hunger, The Hunger Project, and Heifer International are also taking the approach of targeting long-term stability in order to reverse the trend that world hunger is rising. For instance, Rise Against Hunger has initiatives in countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. Each initiative focuses on giving impoverished communities the tools to become more economically stable. All of these organizations have their own similar initiatives which follow the UN report.

Ultimately, with the continued effort on the part of the UN, nonprofit organizations and individual action, world hunger can be overcome. Though world hunger is rising, the trend is still reversible. The fight is far from over.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr