With other global issues such as climate change, the Zika Virus, Ebola and international terrorism, it’s easy to forget that there are people who go without even the most basic needs. We became aware of World Hunger in the 1980s with Band Aid in the UK (and Live Aid in the US) following catastrophic drought in eastern Africa.
Despite efforts to end world poverty, there are people who still simply do not have enough to eat or do not have access to the right nutrition.
World Hunger Day 2016
World Hunger Day began just five years ago as the brainchild of The Hunger Project. They estimate that 795 million people worldwide are classified as experiencing hunger. In 2016, with all our modern farming practices, this seems shocking. Some 98% of these people suffering hunger live in the developing world.
You may also be shocked to learn that hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, TB and malaria combined. Although there has been much improvement since the 1980s, there is still a long way to go.
The Hunger Project has a remit that goes beyond making sure that people in developing countries have enough food; they also encourage sustainable farming practices. In some areas of the world, over-intensive farming has led to the collapse of soil fertility. They encourage a ‘bottom up’ approach in empowering communities to grow produce sustainably and teaching them about management practices.
The Causes of World Hunger
What are the main causes of world hunger?
- Natural disasters: Nature sometimes puts a heavy burden on communities, especially where farming practices are not particularly advanced and there is little in the way of food surplus. One of the best-known disasters was the African drought of the 1980s, but North Korea also experienced drought in the same decade and suffered more dead than Ethiopia.
- Marginal landscapes: Many of the world’s hungry live in what are called ‘marginal landscapes’. This means land that is agriculturally viable is still quite fragile and will often suffer in times of natural disaster. A slight change in acidity, or slightly more or less rain than is normal, and the land can be useless until the situation returns to normal.
- Corruption: In some countries, corrupt governments or regimes restrict access to a food supply. These people are able to produce enough food to live on, and even to make a living, but the bulk of it is seized.
- Poor nutrition: Being hungry is not just about having enough food. It is more often about having enough of the right food. The effects of a lack of calcium, vitamins, protein and other minerals can have catastrophic consequences to our health. It is this element of world hunger that the project focuses on in 2016.
This Year’s Campaign
This year, The World Hunger Project is focusing on the importance of the correct nutrition for the world’s most hungry. There are a number of preventable illnesses caused by not eating enough of the right foods.
- Anaemia: Caused by iron deficiency. It leads to weakness and pallor. Food high in iron include red meats, rice, peppers and cereal crops.
- Rickets: This is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D and / or calcium. It causes soft and weak bones, muscle weakness and other long-term health effects such as deformity.
- Scurvy: Caused by a deficiency in Vitamin C, this used to be a blight on the world’s navies until the source was discovered. It is reported that the British Navy’s option to stock limes on board ships led to the British nickname of ‘limey’.
- Keratomalacia: One of many conditions that result from Vitamin A deficiency; it can lead to blindness. Most Vitamin A deficient patients have extreme problems with their eyes.
These are preventable diseases. In many cases, these conditions can be treated and cured with cheap food stuffs such as cereals, rice, dairy and even small amounts of meat.