We sit and watch advertisements of starving men, women and children in third world countries and we ask ourselves what is world hunger? World hunger refers to the multitudes of people presently facing the risk of an insufficient or inadequate food supply, something known as food insecurity. When people in the United States go to the grocery store they have a choice of thousand of products including fresh meat, fruits, vegetables and diary products. Restaurants serve huge portions and we waste millions of pounds of food a year.
I just threw away pounds of leftovers without a thought or care in the world to the many people that are starving right now. It is hard for most Americans to even understand world hunger. At least a half a billion people suffer some form of malnutrition. It is said that about 40,000 to 50,000 people die from malnutrition everyday.
The effect of hunger and malnutrition are malnutrition due to nutrient needs or low tissue reserves in children, pregnant women, those who are ill and the elderly.
In many countries, hunger is an obsession. The number of hungry and malnourished people in the world continues to grow. The problem is not over-population, it most often is based on economics. Only through education will we be able to move these people out of poverty.
In the developed Western world, very few people know the true meaning of the word starving. In the developing world, it’s a reality that is faced every day. Many children die daily as a result of food shortages. At the root of world hunger is the issue of inequality, not a scarcity of food. Poor political decisions and unequal distribution of food are the primary causes of the hunger that cripples those living in developing countries. Correcting this inequality, therefore, and prompting political activism and accountability for this issue is crucial.
Who is affected? Women and children are the main sufferers of hunger in the developing world. The numbers are rising every day. About 18 million children a year are born with preventable mental disorders due to dietary iodine deficiency. Although women grow over 60% of food in developing countries, they own less than one per cent of the land. Fixing the world hunger problem, therefore, will also involve correcting gender inequality to food access.
The causes of world hunger are both internal and external factors that influence it. For many of the world’s poor access to land, water and seeds make it impossible to harvest the food necessary for survival. Food security is one of the largest problems facing our world today. To be “food secure” a country must have enough food to feed its population and be capable of feeding its growing population in the future.
Women, particularly, are disadvantaged due to traditional land practices that privilege men. Outside influences also have a significant impact. Excessive fossil fuel consumption in rich countries has dire consequences for poorer developing nations, which become more susceptible to frequent and serious droughts and floods. The pressure from wealthier countries for the developing world to adopt free trade policies also makes it difficult for them to be competitive and protect their agricultural sector and population from unfair subsidies.
The United States are as a country can do a lot to help. There are a number of organizations and programs dedicated to rectifying the situation. Such organizations provide hunger relief and support, but also provide pressure needed for the political, government and legal action that is necessary to address world hunger. There are also other avenues to address the issue. Child sponsorship programs, for example, ensure that children suffering from hunger have access to adequate food and nutrition.
Realization of world hunger is a problem which needs to be a concern for all the people of the world. It is not a problem just for those it directly affects. We all know the feeling of hunger as the urge to eat that signals the time for the next meal. But many know hunger as a constant companion because that meal does not follow. Then hunger is ceaseless discomfort, weakness, and pain. No matter how much money or time we have to devote to other priorities, every bit helps towards addressing world hunger. Food rights are one of the most important humanitarian crises facing the world today, and whether you volunteer your time and money to organizations committed to correcting it, or sponsor a child, world hunger is not an unsolvable problem.