Why World Hunger is Still a Problem?

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SEATTLE, Washington — The level of hunger around the world is said to have reduced by 27 percent since 2000 when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established. Unfortunately, world hunger is still a problem. In 2015, the world established a new set of development goals to replace the MDGs. One of these goals includes zero hunger.

The World Health Organization estimates that in 2018, 820 million people didn’t have enough to eat. Unfortunately, this figure has been increasing for the past 3 years in a row. The plan is to end hunger by 2030. With only about 10 years to go, this raises concerns about whether or not this goal can be reached.

Why World Hunger Is Still a Problem?

  1. Poverty: Many people around the world are too poor to either buy food or to access the resources they need to grow, harvest and store their food. This is the primary reason why world hunger is still a problem. In 2015, the World Bank estimated that 10 percent of the global population was living on less than $1.90 per day. While the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined globally, the number of poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa shot up. It’s no wonder then that Africa has the highest rate of hunger in the world. Poverty contributes to world hunger by forcing people to sell their livestock, tools and even land just to make ends meet. Poverty and hunger then form a vicious cycle. People who can’t afford food become undernourished. Then they cannot even work to earn or produce food. 
  2. Climate Change: Climate extremes are also contributing to world hunger. The World Bank estimates that climate change could push more than 100 million people into poverty over the next 10 years. Countries in Asia and the Caribbean have been affected by cyclones and hurricanes that have caused damage to their livelihoods and agricultural production. In 2016, floods and drought brought about by El Niño left 100 million people across Latin America, southern Africa and Asia to face a hunger crisis. 
  3. War and Conflict: War and conflict are another reason why world hunger is still a problem. World Hunger estimates that more than half of the world’s hungry population lives in areas with conflict. Conflict causes hunger because it interferes with food production. The process of conflict often involves seizing and destroying land or other resources. Additionally, this often includes the destruction of transportation infrastructure used to move food from one point to another. This means that some people could go for days without access to food. All of this drives up food prices and makes it impossible for the world’s poorest to afford food during times of conflict. Conflict also contributes to the forced displacement of people. Displacement leads to crop failure and puts a strain on resources in the regions where refugees move. The World Food Programme found that Yemen faces the world’s largest food crisis. Around 20.2 million people in the country would experience life-threatening hunger conditions if it were not for humanitarian aid. This situation requires political intervention to find lasting solutions to conflict around the world.
  4. Food Waste: World hunger is still a problem due to the high rates of food waste. Food waste commonly occurs when restaurants and people at home throw out food. Often, distributors and retailers reject fruits and vegetables that have blemishes or spots. Estimates show that about a third of the world’s food production goes to waste annually. The U.S. alone wastes about 40 percent of the food they produce. This wasted food costs the world economy around $750 billion annually. Additionally, these 2.9 trillion pounds of food would be enough to feed undernourished people in the world more than twice over. To combat this problem, people should plan to buy only what they need or will use. In addition, storing food properly should be an important consideration. Finally, preparing and freezing meals ahead of time can also prevent them from going bad.

These are just a few reasons as to why world hunger is still a problem. It will take a combined effort from governments, the private sector and individuals to achieve or at least come close to zero hunger by 2030. These efforts must be enacted across all nations. Efforts include finding lasting solutions to empower people and lift them out of poverty, bringing an end to conflict, taking better care of our planet and making a conscious effort not to waste food. The success of reducing hunger levels in the past highlights the potential to do so again in the future.

Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Flickr

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