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.
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.