Hunger is one of the most important problems humanity is facing in the world today. We are producing more food than ever before in history, yet millions of people are starving every day around the planet.
Having said that, data shows that hunger has improved over the last 30 years. It is worth mentioning that 193 governments have committed to zero hunger through the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the SDGs. It is in this context international organizations such as the World Bank and United Nations bodies also work toward ending hunger.
Yes, we need to implement transformative policies that address inequality and promote shared prosperity in a different way than we have been doing so far. We have analyzed it all in the following blog post.
What is world hunger?
The United Nations (UN) defines hunger as “periods when populations are experiencing severe food insecurity.” This means that world hunger is when people spend entire days with nothing to eat for various reasons such as a lack of money or lack of access to food and other resources.
How many people are starving worldwide?
Up to 811 million people go hungry worldwide. That is around 10% of the world’s population that goes to bed hungry every day. That’s insane, isn’t it?
Moreover, the situation worsened in 2022 because of the war in Ukraine. The conflict has led to food supply restrictions and price spikes, posing a serious threat to the most vulnerable people and countries around the world.
Where is world hunger concentrated?
In 2021, nearly 70% of people facing crisis levels of hunger were living in 10 countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Northern Nigeria, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Pakistan, and Haiti. In seven of these countries, conflict/insecurity was the main driver of the food crisis, among other causes.
Mozambique, where Green Pedal is present, is 11th on the list. It is a low-income country experiencing a serious food deficit, with a largely rural population of 28 million people.
Mozambique ranked 181 of 189 countries in the 2020 Human Development Index, 103 out of 107 in the 2020 Global Hunger Index, and 127 out of 162 in the 2019 Gender Inequality Index.
How many people die of hunger everyday in the world?
According to a 2021 report from Oxfam, between 7,750 and 15,345 people die everyday of hunger and malnutrition.
This means that every minute, 11 people die of hunger. This is simply absurd… According to the report, the death rate from hunger surpasses the current COVID death rate, which killed about seven people per minute in July 2021.
These are heartbreaking numbers that clearly tell us we should rethink our model of society.
1 in 9 people go to bed hungry
The decrease in the number of people affected by hunger has happened in a
period where the world population has increased by 2.2 billion, from 5,3 billion in 1990 to 7.5 billion in 2018. If we do the math, the proportion of undernourished people in the world has declined substantially over the last 3 decades.
Here is data on the proportion of undernourished people in the world:
The data also shows that the number of people affected by hunger is highest in the African continent, where 20% of the population don’t get enough to eat. In parts of Eastern and Southern Africa, the number goes beyond 30%.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 3 children experience stunted growth because they don’t get enough food or vitamins. Stunted growth not only causes a series of health issues but also affects the children’s cognitive development.
Addressing hunger is more than just having enough food to eat – it’s about having enough nutritious food to eat. As a matter of fact, a diet characterized by insufficient intake of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals will hinder human development at all ages. When children don’t get the nutrition they need for their physical and mental growth, it results in a “stunting”, which can cause long-term, irreversible health effects.
Malnutrition in childhood impairs school performance and undermines the socio-economic growth of entire communities across the world.
Moreover, undernutrition explains around 45% of deaths among children under five.
The thing is, as explained above, our planet produces enough food to feed the over 7 billion people who inhabit it, yet systemic inequality and economic disparity have led to unbalanced distribution and unequal access to food.
What are the main causes of hunger in the world?
There are many underlying causes of world hunger but here are four of the main drivers:
Millions of people simply don’t have access to nutritious food because they have no land and no farming supplies to grow their own food. This is why it’s important for Green Pedal to equip the most vulnerable agricultural populations with the necessary tools to grow a wide variety of food.
When those populations cannot grow food, they can get trapped into a vicious circle with devastating effects: being constantly hungry leads to low levels of energy and reductions in mental and physical functioning, which in turn makes it difficult to work or learn. This then seriously undermines the socio-economic growth of communities.
Climate variability and extremes are becoming a key force behind world hunger. The number of climate-related disasters has doubled since the early 1990s.
Chronic food deprivation is significantly worse in regions with agricultural systems that are highly sensitive to climate variables such as temperature and precipitation.
3. Conflict and instability
The 2018 Global Report on Food Crises highlighted that conflicts and instability were the major drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries.
Conflicts affect people both at individual and community levels, from the impact on the infrastructure and land availability to displacements and inflation of food prices.
4. Economic instability
A global economic slowdown has led to increased costs and reduced spending. As a result, many people around the world are struggling to afford food.
Is it possible to end world hunger?
Facts and data tell us that ending world hunger is possible. Since the early 1990’s, the number of hungry people has declined by 216 million people, despite an increase in world population by two billion. That’s 7 million less than just a year ago. And that’s not all:
– Many countries have largely reduced or eliminated hunger in just 25 years
Vietnam reduced hunger from 45% in 1900 to 13% in 2014.
China reduced stunting in children (having inadequate height for one’s age) from 32% in 1900 to 8% in 2010.
Brazil had almost eliminated hunger (between 2000 and 2006, the undernourishment rate fell by half, from 10.7% to below 5%) and reduced child stunting from 19% in 1989 to 7% in 2007.
Thailand reduced hunger from 36% in 1990 to about 7% in 2014.
– Most countries had achieved the Millennium Development target of reducing hunger
72 out of the 129 countries monitored achieved the target of halving the prevalence of undernourishment by 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing the target by a small margin.
In addition, 29 countries have met the more ambitious goal set at the World Food Summit in 1996, when governments committed to halving the absolute number of undernourished people by 2015.
– Nutrition and child health, which key to ending hunger, are improving
Child stunting has decreased by 40% over the past 25 years.
– Many institutions have identified the possibility of ending extreme poverty by 2030
Poverty and hunger are intimately connected, which has a direct implication in the eradication of hunger. According to scenarios developed by the World Bank, based on the assumption of a GDP per capita growth of 4% in developing countries (which has been the average growth rate in these countries between 2000 and 2010) as well as unchanged income distribution (equivalent to the average in developing countries as a whole between 2000 and 2010), it is possible to achieve the goal of having no more than 3 percent of the world’s population living in extreme poverty by 2030.
– The world has committed to ending hunger through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
More than ever, investing in nutrition and ending hunger are considered key development priorities. SDG 2, the «zero-hunger» target, aims at ending hunger and improving nutrition by 2030. and 193 countries have pledged to make this happen.
What are the solutions to world hunger?
The fundamental objectives that we have been defending and working towards at Green Pedal to end poverty are based on four fundamental pillars:
1. Women’s empowerment
Women make up 45 per cent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, but they usually face more from extreme poverty than their male counterparts as they have less access to education as well as less control over land and resources. By addressing the gender gap, women can be empowered to feed their families, grow nutritious food, expand their businesses and participate in agricultural markets.
2. Combating climate change
Green Pedal works very hard to find ways to strengthen agricultural systems and improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable agricultural populations through cleaner farming systems and techniques that will benefit both the land and the environment.
3. Sustainable agriculture
We need to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. With proper management, our agriculture, forestry and fisheries would provide a sufficient amount of nutritious food to feed the world’s population, while generating sustainable incomes and protecting the environment.
This is why Green Pedal promotes solar irrigation systems, water pump bikes for water extraction or reforestation with native species as a way to produce food without damaging the land.
Governments, non-governmental organizations and world leaders from all sectors must work together to develop new solutions to ensure food security for all. And efforts to fight hunger in the world must go hand in hand with peace-building efforts.
So far in Mozambique we have made great strides through bringing together many farmers to form agricultural associations, which has enabled us to gain a greater bargaining power with local and government actors in bringing about change.
What can you do on a personal level to help end poverty and world hunger?
Here are a few things that you can do to help end world hunger:
1. Buy and eat local
Shopping the local farmers’ market or growing your own herbs and vegetables is a sustainable, feasible step towards good health and nutrition. This move would benefit local producers and save endless transportation costs with their corresponding levels of pollution.
2. Aim for zero food waste
1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year. We can all do our bit to help that number go down.
This zero waste target can be achieved by avoiding overbuying food, taking advantage of leftovers to cook new dishes, sharing food or donating our surplus of food, among many other things.
3. Collaborate with organizations that fight hunger
In organizations such as Green Pedal we fight to provide the most disadvantaged farming communities with tools so that they are able to produce more varied crops in larger quantities in a sustainable way, in addition to earning an income from the sale of food surplus.
Moreover, we are responsible for providing resources to populations affected by natural disasters such as Cyclone Eloise, so that they receive immediate food and nutritional assistance. Those resources also help feed and educate hundreds of children through our Schools of Peace project.
As you can see, we have made significant progress but there is so much more to be done. If you would like to collaborate with us and help us fight world hunger, all you need to do is to click on this link and choose the way and the amount you wish to help us with, because your participation is key.