Many people currently reading this article are using a smartphone from the comforts of their homes, which means that they probably enjoy other basic necessities such as food, clothing, and clean water. Sure, you may want a newer phone, nicer clothes, or a home-cooked meal instead of that $0.99 burger. However, it may be safe to say that you at least had one meal in the past 24 hours.
In industrialized nations, it is stressed that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and people usually have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, people may go to work and feel that they are “starving” after a few hours if they don’t have lunch. Imagine going days or weeks without eating anything until you finally put something in your stomach to keep you alive just long enough to further suffer from hunger pangs – until the day comes when you never eat again and die hungry. This is exactly what happens to millions of individuals around the globe. However, it goes unnoticed in many regions of the world.
- Every day 821 million people or about 1/9 of the world’s population goes to bed hungry and suffers from chronic food deprivation.
- Every year 9 million people or about 25,000 individuals a day die from starvation.
- Every 10 seconds, a child under the age of 5 dies of hunger.
- 1/3 of the total food produced worldwide or 1.3 billion tons of it goes to waste each year.
- 98% of those suffering from hunger and malnutrition live in underdeveloped countries.
These numbers are staggering and should cause alarm. However, when was the last time that it made national news? According to The Guardian, sufferers of the hunger crisis often have a silent voice and are invisible to the masses living outside of the horrid conditions. Apparently, we are desensitized to the suffering of others or are simply ignorant of the fact.
What’s more, is that political interests and corporate greed seem to contribute to the problem. For example, AmericanProgress.org points out that 40% of the corn grown in the U.S. goes to biofuels while millions are starving.
In addition, unfair trade policies further exacerbate the problem. Poor farmers in third-world countries sell their own crops at marginally low prices and then purchase food at a higher price when they need it. Thus, getting less for their dollar (The Guardian). An analogy would be selling a dollar for 75 cents and then buying it back again for $1.50.
Other factors contributing to world hunger
- Poverty: Poverty is by far the most prevalent reason why world hunger exists. If you can’t afford to buy food then you will not eat plain and simple. That is why poverty and hunger go hand in hand and are passed down from generation to generation in a vicious cycle.
- War and conflict: Due to war and conflict millions of individuals are displaced without work and millions of acres of farmland are abandoned. In Yemen for example, entire populations are confined to certain areas because frequent airstrikes make it dangerous to leave. This limits their access to food by not being able to receive deliveries nor being able to leave in order to go get food.
- Infrastructures: A lack of critical infrastructures such as highways to rural areas and efficient storage units to properly store food makes for waste in the form of food that never reaches the consumer.
- Food shortages: It is worth noting here that food shortages are concentrated in certain areas, but there is not a lack of food in the world as a whole. As noted above 1/3 of total food produced goes to waste.
- Other factors: The lack of education, unstable markets, natural disasters that destroy entire crops, and overpopulation in areas where food is scarce also contributes to people going hungry.
So what’s the solution?
There are many competing theories, but some of the most popular propositions include genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to help produce high yield crops, government intervention to help end conflicts, donating food and providing assistance to poorer counties, investing in urban farming, and birth control education to help contain population growth in certain areas amongst others. (MercyCorps.org)
However, there is rarely a consensus as to the best course of action, and many futile attempts have only led to temporary relief. Some of the things we may do to produce high yield crops may be ecological mistakes, and leaders disagree as to which solutions would be most effective (WorldHunger.org).
Mira Lyonblum – National Programs Manager at Action Against Hunger Canada- states that raising awareness may be the catapult to finally extinguishing world hunger.
“If we galvanize enough people to use their voices – and wallets – to make it clear that ending world hunger is a priority for them, then we can compel world leaders to see their citizens going hungry as not only a human rights blight on their country, but also one which will see them forced out of power.”
There are many factors that contribute to world hunger. Ironically enough it is not a lack of food itself that causes world hunger, but rather unequal distribution, greed, and the lack of a cohesive effort to mediate the problem. It will take solidarity from many experts and individuals from many different realms and organizations if world hunger is to be properly addressed. In essence, it would take for everyone to work together as one and perhaps that is why world hunger stills exists today.
Food for thought
- Every year Americans spend $600 billion on Christmas gifts while $70 billion could feed the entire starving population for a whole year.
- The vast majority of those in the starving population earn less than $1.25 a day while a mocha latte at Starbucks costs $3.65 plus tax. Imagine working 4 days for a cup of coffee!
- We take clean water for granted while many wake up at the crack of the dawn and walk miles just to go get water that may very well be contaminated.
Eradicating world hunger is a complex problem that would involve a multilayered approach by the collective. Many solutions have been proposed. However, raising awareness may be the single most important factor towards developing solutions and taking action. Empathizing with the suffering of others and being grateful for one’s fortune may come a long way. Simply sharing this article or the video above may change someone’s perspective who may change another’s perspective that may, in turn, have the means or abilities to take action and so forth. One thing is for sure. We have to stop turning a blind eye and get rid of that “us versus them” mentality. The ball is on your court. What are you going to do?
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