By: Ava Framm
Hunger is not something that just affects Americans; it is a global issue that, despite numbers dropping within the last twenty years, still affects over 800 million people. Global hunger is due in part to environmental and socioeconomic factors. Our world population continues to grow, especially in areas that already struggle to provide food for their societies. So the question remains; how does it get this bad? What factors occur that allow for millions of people to fall asleep at night with empty stomachs?
In 2017, the United Nations (UN) humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, called global hunger the worst humanitarian issue to affect our world since 1945. Global hunger occurs because of natural disasters, war, or, in some cases, both. Droughts destroy crops, and wars cause people to flee their homes, leading to displaced persons in an unfamiliar area. But the reason that affects most developing populations is poverty. People are unable to improve their lifestyles if they are unable to afford proper housing or even enough food for their families. With poverty comes malnutrition, and with malnutrition comes diseases and even stunted growth. In many cases, children who grow up in developing countries suffer permanent effects from growing up in these areas of the world.
Other significant factors that cause hunger in developing countries is gender inequality and lack of access to clean water. Women are not only expected to take care of their children, but at the same time they are also the main producers of food. Furthermore, clean water is important for successful crops as well as for the health of the surrounding populations.
Of the over 800 million people who suffer from hunger, 98% of these people live in developing nations such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Southern Asia, Western Asia, and Southeastern Asia. But despite the fact that in Sub-Saharan Africa 1 in 4 people do not have access to proper food, Asia has largest population of hungry individuals at over 500 million.
As a result of increased conflict in these developing areas, such as Yemen and Sudan, the UN has stated that they are planning to eradicate world hunger and malnutrition by 2030. They expect to achieve this by implementing food production systems in developing areas that are able to withstand the most common problem: climate change. In doing so, they hope to maintain sufficient food for these populations all year round, thus avoiding the “hunger season” that plagues these areas when crops are not as fruitful, such as in the winter. While the number of hungry people has decreased, it is still a significant issue and will take some serious funding and aid to solve a problem that for many societies has been their normal. Although it is impossible to prevent war and conflict, preventing the starvation of a society should be an achievable goal.
There are several organizations that you can donate to help end world hunger, including the websites listed below.