FEAST AND FAMINE

In a world that grows enough food to feed ev­ery­one, it seems per­verse that hun­dreds of mil­lions across the globe still suf­fers from chronic hunger.

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Lifestyle • Calendar -

A re­cent re­port warned that Ye­men, caught in the throes of a civil war that broke out in 2015, is on the brink of a cat­a­strophic famine that will hit up to 14 mil­lion peo­ple. Chil­dren, es­pe­cially, are at risk from what has been pre­dicted will be the world’s most lethal famine for 100 years.

Ye­men, of course, is not the only coun­try fac­ing a hunger cri­sis. Irony doesn’t quite de­scribe the sit­u­a­tion where, in a world that grows enough food to feed ev­ery­one, one in nine per­sons suf­fers from chronic hunger. A 2017 re­port by the UN’s Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion found that more than 815 mil­lion peo­ple suf­fered from chronic un­der­nour­ish­ment, more than half of whom live in coun­tries af­fected by con­flict, while 155 mil­lion chil­dren un­der five are stunted. Nearly half of in­fant deaths are re­lated to mal­nu­tri­tion and about 60 per cent of the world’s hun­gry are women. Hunger kills more peo­ple ev­ery year than malaria, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and AIDS com­bined.

On the other end of the scale, around 1.9 bil­lion peo­ple, more than a quar­ter of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, are over­weight, with 600 mil­lion clas­si­fied as obese. Around 3.4 mil­lion peo­ple died each year from over­weight. In many coun­tries, obe­sity kills more peo­ple than homi­cides.

Such has been the change in cir­cum­stances around the world that, af­ter a pe­riod of de­cline, chronic hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion have been on the rise again. Vi­o­lent con­flict, cli­mate change, and ris­ing eco­nomic and gen­der in­equal­ity have all con­tributed to ad­verse food se­cu­rity, threat­en­ing to undo decades of gain. At present, un­less things change dras­ti­cally, the hopes of achiev­ing Zero Hunger by 2030 looks in­creas­ing bleak.

It is not im­pos­si­ble, of course, but it’ll take a con­certed and sus­tained ef­fort from ev­ery­one, from gov­ern­ments to in­sti­tu­tions and in­di­vid­u­als, prac­tis­ing po­lices like pro­mot­ing equal­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity, em­pow­er­ing farm­ers, adapt­ing to cli­mate change and ex­pand­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties. One of the eas­i­est things most of us can make is re­duc­ing food wastage. An es­ti­mated one of all food pro­duc­tion is lost or wasted. Just imag­ine how much of a dif­fer­ence that would make to the world’s hun­gry.

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