Can we really end world hunger? If so, what do we need to know about it and do we have a solution to it? Continue reading to find out!
To end world hunger, one of the first steps to making it happen is to raise awareness. Many of us do not know nor understand the complexities of what creates hunger or world poverty specific to a region. So the first step to ending world hunger is educating the population and creating awareness. In empowering action and participation of people by engagement with dialogue pertaining to food system issues, this will not only educate people on the causes and consequences of hunger, it will allow people to make informed, appropriate decisions on how to take action on them.
To fully understand the topic of hunger, I have asked multiple friends from across the world their opinion on world hunger because my definition alone will not capture the whole picture of world hunger. This allowed me to incorporate not only my definition but many others on the understandings of the global issue of hunger that may align with myself and many of you readers!
The question I have asked my friends were more or less the same three general questions:
1. What is your definition of hunger?
2. What do you think is the cause of it?
3. Do we have a solution for it?
Include a picture that encapsulates your definition or solution to world hunger.
Hunger is not having enough food on the table for the day.
Ellen (D.C., USA):
My definition of hunger is a strong craving for needs/rights (food, education, aspirations). Because much of it include disparities in health/access to resources. Solutions include humanitarian efforts, building stronger networks, reshaping built environments (e.g. cities, suburbs etc) to ease access to certain things (make things within walking distance rather than assuming everyone can afford cars).
|Martin Chan (Hong Kong):
I think hunger is a sensation that reminds us to eat food. But for hunger as a social problem, it is caused by the shortage of food in the population rather than a short term personal sensation. The causes behind such shortage include many factors with one notably as poverty among the population, as they cannot afford to buy food. Improving economy and public welfare may help alleviate such problems.
Kristi (Calgary, Canada): Being hungry is the slight physical discomfort you get when a person skip a meal. Feeling starved can make a person extremely weak, unfocused, and have incapability to perform even the simplest tasks. For people who don’t have unlimited access to food, feeling malnourished meant that they are not receiving sufficient vitamins and nutrients that their body would need to function well leading to possible health issues. When people such as those who live in developing countries don’t have adequate access to food resources who are not intaking enough nutrients to maintain a healthy weight. Because our country and other developed countries can attain sustainable food resources, there are many ways we can contribute our time and commitment to stop world hunger: providing food bank donations, support small farmers, have government partner with food organizations, and educate people about food resources and sharing these resources equally (prevent land grabbing).
That’s really complicated! Hunger is linked with multiple factors such as poverty, lack of resources and government. Also, education is huge. This has more to do so with poverty as hunger is just a feeling. I can be hungry right now but I’m not in poverty.
Hunger is a state in which your body lacks nutritional needs. World hunger is a condition that effects people all around the world. It is also referred to extreme conditions like malnutrition. Knowledge about world hunger should motivate us to do something about it, act upon it. One of the reasons why there is food hunger in the world is because of climate change. People living in warmer countries, for example Egypt, have limited options for crops because of the dry soil. Another reason is because of poverty. People who have not enough money cannot buy food for themselves or in many cases for their families. Another reason is war. People who are forced to flee their homes and leave what they possess are suffering from hunger because they cannot afford food. So how do we solve world hunger? Definitely by starting campaigns which would spread awareness and supporting organizations which try to prevent hunger.
Jean (Calgary, Canada):
It’s hard to pinpoint one definite cause of hunger. Social, political, historical, economic factors and much more contribute to who goes hungry and who doesn’t. Specific cases like hunger in Canada amongst the homeless could be caused by a combination of a lack of mental awareness, aid with addiction, the cost if living, etc. I went to Brasil and I saw hunger caused by a disparity between the working class and the privileged and the struggle for the working class to make a decent living under a less than perfect government. There are maybe commonalities for hunger around the world which may include things like access to food, bills to pay, unemployment rates, rising or falling currency, etc. I obviously am no professional or have any real depth as to how to eradicate hunger but some ideas that come to mind focus not on setting up organizations to feed people but setting up programs that give people the autonomy/resources to feed themselves. Maybe that includes increasing minimum wage, which is what is happening right now, so people can afford proper wholesome food. Or rehabilitation or therapy programs to help people overcome obstacles in their life that prevent them from feeding themselves. Maybe it’s just educating young people venturing out into the world proper financing and saving skills.
- Asking other people their definition on hunger and seeing their perspective and understanding made me realize everyone’s answers contain parts of the truth on this issue surrounding hunger. We all understand the underlying causes of hunger to some degree. It’s insightful as the collection of peoples perspective and experience allows others to look at the problem in a different light they may not have previously seen. This creates greater depth as it integrates peoples worldview, knowledge, and experience of the world as we all come together to see and understand different aspects of it.
Interestingly enough, this was not any easy question that could be answered by the respondents on the spot. The magnitude of this problem is just astounding. But there’s no right or wrong answer.
The World Food Program (2015) estimates:
“…795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth.”
“Asia is the continent with the most hungry people – two thirds of the total.”
” Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished.”
In addition to the definitions provided by everyone above, if we were to define hunger in a global context, it is not limited to the mere hunger pangs of an empty stomach. According to Nah and Chau (2010), hunger arises from the inability to obtain the proper nutrients needed to maintain growth and a healthy lifestyle. Hunger is not limited to the sensation and includes the inability for an individual to achieve their cognitive or physical potential due to dietary inadequacy. Another thing to note is hunger is a consequence of several limiting factors in a developing country (though it is applicable to developed countries as well) that can be seen below.
|Many factors must be considered in order to understand hunger. A common misconception is hunger is it’s caused by a shortage of food in an area. It is true in the case of drought or other unpredictable weather conditions and having no access to transportation to transport food is one exception. But that may not always be the case. Through increased efficiency and innovation, we have enough food in the world to feed every man, woman, child in the world. Hunger is cause by the unequal distribution of food, poverty, lack of infrastructure and public services (e.g., health care).|
Factors of World Hunger
Why Some Countries Are Poor and Others Rich
This is not all of the factors but are some of the major ones that contribute to world hunger/poverty.
Lack of Infrastructure
Now this was mentioned many times throughout this post but what does it mean for a country to have a lack of infrastructure? It’s everything you would expected to find in a developed country. Things such as an adequate system for transporting and water treatment plants, electricity, and heating. Accessibility to basic health care facilities and transportation are also significant and the same goes for infrastructure that need to be resilient to environmental shocks such as earthquakes and floods. Many developing countries do not have developed systems for transporting safe water and as a result spend an hours to obtain clean water. Children and women are typically the ones to do these tasks. The United Nations (UN) has estimated in sub-saharan Africa, 40 billion hours a year is spent on collecting water. That time can be spent doing other things such as getting an education, cooking, working, etc.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines food security as:
“existing when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life.”
A community may have markets that sell an abundance of food but if people cannot afford food or choose the foods they wish to consume due to limited economic finances or other reasons, they are food insecure. This suggests economical development is crucial to allow people the autonomy to build their livelihoods and provide for themselves. Many factors interconnect to food security such as poverty and all other factors mentioned. Food security can come from a lack of resources available for an individual.
Many countries in the Middle East, Africa, and much more are war-torn. This is problematic as people are forced to flee from their home to protect their safety. Not only are civilians removed of their assets (e.g., farms, home), this strips children of the opportunity to attend school and increases the likelihood of malnutrition and its consequences of all.
| In many developing countries, poverty which creates the issue of hunger arise from war and political corruption. For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), many terrorists groups attack rural villages robbing communities of their assets and livelihoods. In many cases, terrorists groups cannot continue without funds and collect financial capital for their cause through disguising themselves as legitimate businesses or charities (Nester, 2010). It creates a great deal of consideration of the impact we may indirectly have on hungry from our purchasing choices.
Testing their metal: The new tech sector focus on conflict minerals
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Some of the leading questions I have when I think of world hunger/poverty include:
How can we implement solutions on world hunger that are sustainable? In other words, how can we stimulate local economies, make positive impacts that are not detrimental to the environment, and inspire youth leadership among community for future growth initiatives?
How can we help build and rebuild communities empowering them to sustain their livelihoods and prevent creating a dependancy on foreign aid?
What is the root of the underlying problem and how should we go about addressing it?
Consequences of hunger
Depending on whether one is deficient in micro-, macro-nutrients, or both, the general trends towards them are similar. Micronutrient deficiencies (e.g., lack of adequate intake of Vitamin A, D, C, B, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Selenium) impact physical and cognitive development in young children inhibiting children from reaching their full potential. For adults it may impact productivity impacting the economy and the ability to provide for the family. In addition, macronutrient deficiencies such as protein can cause wasting and and/or stunting
The reality of eradicating world hunger
If we hold the answer and resources to ending world hunger, then why does it feel like we are not doing anything or making any progress? You may have remembered Kim’s response to topic of world hunger and she has brought up a real significant perspective. We do care about ending hunger and poverty. No one wishes for other people to be in that place. As human beings, we all have the same goal in creating a life for ourselves in this world. But we are very invested in our lives. We are constantly kept busy with our fast paced lifestyle faced with overcoming one obstacle after another. There will be may be other priorities and concerns such as paying off a debt, starting a family, buying a house, travelling, building a career, and the list goes on. And that’s okay to be busy. That’s just how life is. We do not have to donate a huge sum of money to an organization or travel across the world to a rural village to build wells or donate our time to the community to make an impact. We can initiate change right where we are.
So why should we care?
Because unknowingly, our choices and actions impact another human being or a population somewhere in this world.
Initiating change comes from the knowledge we have of our world, through awareness of our choices and the impact of our actions. In modern times, we live in a very globalized world where we are inadvertently interconnected to the people, places, and things in this world.
So what can we do to end world hunger?
“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.”
– Sydney Smith (British writer and cleric, 1771-1845)
Doing nothing is not a solution. Any action we take big or small does have an impact. There is so much we can do, we just have to know what’s out there and understand the underlying root of hunger before we take action. This blog post aims to empower people to take actions big or small the issue of world hunger on a global and/or local level which can make a difference.
We have to be careful though. Although many of us and organizations have good intentions and would like to contribute our knowledge and time, foreign aid may not always be the best solution to address long term food system issues. If you think about it, many experts from developed countries such as ourselves have taken on problems in developing communities through a Needs-based Approach. What this means is we come into a community, look at their problem, and create a solution the community members can follow up on. This may be problematic because not only are we creating a dependency of community members on us, we look at what’s wrong in the community without building off on what their doing right.
A new perspective that has gained positive attention and has proven to be effective is a perspective called Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). This is a new approach that focuses on members of the communities to take charge on the developmental process through their existing assets (i.e., their skills and knowledge). In other words, they drive their own change (Mathie & Cunningham, 2003). This is effective because the community itself has extensive knowledge on the current issue, geography, culture, and much more that will help them overcome obstacles to help them thrive. Foreign help is limited to providing resources communities may lack such as knowledge or financial capital.
What can we do?
The world is doing so much to lessen the impact of hunger on communities. Although international aid is crucial to addressing immediate issues such as environmental disasters (e.g., earthquakes, floods), it is only a band aid solution that is short-term. They must be complemented with careful planning to address long term issues in a region. Donating hundreds or thousands of dollars to make a difference is not necessary to address world poverty because the first step to creating change is to understand the problem. It’s a continuous trial and error and we are steering into the right direction on how to go about this situation.
Rural communities are typically the most at risk for poverty, hunger, and micronutrient deficiency due to a lack of infrastructure, economic development, and can be inaccessible to reach when aid or supplies are needed. A company called Grey for Good have developed an innovative way to tackle the prevalence of iodine deficiency for women in rural India. The Bindi spots worn on the daily by women are infused with iodine and has the same technology as nicotine spots.
The Cola Run
Diarrheal mortality creates zinc deficiency and is prevalent in children and accounts for 800 000 deaths per year. WHO recommends 10-14 days of supplementation to combat against zinc deficiency (Rideout., 2016). In places such as rural villages, supplementation and fortified foods are inaccessible but interestingly, products such as Coca Cola can easily be reached almost everywhere including rural villages.
So can these items be distributed?
An experiment was conducted by piggy backing zinc supplements into the distribution chain of Coca Cola by putting the supplements into the crates. By creating an entry system, these supplements have found their place in the market which had an economic benefit to the local community and markets.
The Peepoo Toilet
Many developing countries lack proper infrastructure to properly dispose human excrements. Consequently, this can contaminate drinking water and cause spread of disease and increased infection that can contribute to secondary malnutrition as it may impair absorption of important nutrients. This Peepoo bag is biodegradable and prevents contamination of feces in the environment. The organization claims “After use, Peepoo turns into valuable fertiliser that can improve livelihoods and increase food security.” – Peepoople.
More information: http://www.peepoople.com/peepoo/start-thinking-peepoo/
What can we do?
Mealshare is a social enterprise that originates in Vancouver. Partnering restaurants, donate a meal with every menu item purchase to communities members in need. In addition, this enterprise spreads awareness on hungers and allocates money to local and global organizations such as Save the Children Canada
More information can be found here!
UNICEF Tap Project
“The UNICEF Tap Project challenges you to put down your phone and help save children’s lives. This year’s initiative provided clean, safe water for children around the world by encouraging you to stop texting, calling, emailing, tweeting and posting — and challenge your friends to do the same. Millions of children around the globe do not have safe, clean water to drink, and the lack of this basic necessity is not merely inconvenient — it can be lethal. Time donations are now inactive, but you can still go without your phone and donate to support the UNICEF Tap Project.”
This app can be found in the app store!
Have you ever heard of Kiva?
|Kiva is a non-profit organization which aims to alleviate poverty through a platform connecting people willing to lend money to low-income individuals (usually entrepreneurs) across the globe. This is a great way to donate (but not really if you wish) and get the money you’ve lent back!|
Adopting a more sustainable diet?
Faced with an increase in the world population (i.e., expected to reach nine billion by 2050) and due to the rising demand of meat causes detrimental effects on the environment. Meat production is very energy intensive. It requires many inputs including water and feed and expels outputs into the environment such as feces and methane gas that contributes to global warming. In shifting the demand of meat to alternative sources (e.g., insects, vegetarian diets), less water and feeds will be demanded from our already scarce resources.
These are just a few ways we can get involved in ending world hunger. There are many more initiatives going on around the world that have yet to be known, created, and discovered. So what is your opinion and definition on hunger? Feel free to share or comment down below!
I would also love to hear from you guys. Comment down below or send me a message on your opinions and feedback!
- Clancy, H. (2016, January 20). Testing their metal: The new tech sector focus on conflict minerals. Retrieved February 13, 2016, from http://www.greenbiz.com/article/testing-their-metal-new-tech-sector-focus-conflict-minerals
- Hunger Statistics | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2016, from https://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats
- Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based community development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice, 13(5), 474-486. doi:10.1080/0961452032000125857
- Nester, W. R., & Palgrave Connect Political & International Studies Collection 2011. (2010). Globalization, war, and peace in the twenty-first century (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Rideout, C. (2016). Micronutrient Malnutrition 4: Iron (Cont’d) and Zinc [PDF document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://connect.ubc.ca/webapps/portal/execute/tabs/tabAction?tab_tab_group_id=_1_1