Hunger is not just a scarcity of food, but the manmade unavailability of food to the most vulnerable sections of human society globally. Claiming more lives than epidemics like tuberculosis or fatal diseases like HIV, the cycle of hunger is a vicious one that passes terminal consequences from a suffering mother to her new-born.
On World Hunger Day, celebrated on May 28th every year, we will shine the light of some major facts about hunger that has its tentacles spread worldwide.
1. 11% of people are hungry worldwide, despite producing surplus food
Though the world collectively produces enough and more food to feed the global population, over 820 million people suffer from hunger each year. There was a steady decline in this figure for a decade, but the slant of world hunger is moving upward, affecting around 11 percent of the people worldwide. The estimated low record of 775 million undernourished in 2014, had swelled to 820 million by 2018.
2. Hunger is highest in Asia and the Pacific
Asia and the Pacific are where over 520 million malnourished people live. Ethiopia, Mali, and Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa have about 243 million people faced with hunger, while the tally springs to several million even in Latin America and the Caribbean, where men, women, and children struggle to find just enough meal to fill the stomach.
3. Positive changes in these countries
Countries that have seen some improvement in these stats and achieved success in pulling a large segment of their hungry population out of this condition in recent years are Brazil, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ghana, Cuba, Georgia, Thailand, Kuwait, Venezuela, Saint Vincent, and Grenadines
4. School children in Africa are going hungry
It is reported that about 66 million children attending primary classes, go to school in a hungry stomach in the developing countries, with Africa alone being home to approximately 23 million such deprived children.
5. Chronic hunger is resulting in serious health issues
People subjected to chronic hunger for prolonged periods are susceptible to recurring ailments, and show low productivity and developmental disabilities, yet, find themselves compelled to exhaust all their scanty physical and economic resources to put a square meal on the table.
6. Most of the hungry people are women and girls
Women and girls constitute about sixty percent of the world’s population forced into hunger. The reasons backing this discouraging statistic range from patriarchal social-structures that leave little to nothing for women in families that are financially week. Having limited access to financial independence, job opportunities, education, and knowledge on their own health also contribute to misery.
7. Undernourished mothers are birthing malnourished babies
When a woman goes hungry or stays undernourished during her pregnancy, the baby in the womb is also deprived of nutrients and is often born with symptoms of malnutrition, are likely to have low birth weights, and it’s a major determinant of whether a child will survive till he turns 5. An estimated 17 million children are born undernourished every year, while 1 in every 15 dies before the age of 5 in the developing world due to hunger-caused issues.
8. Counties with food surplus have the most hungry
Shockingly, most of the global population suffering from hunger live in countries that produce surplus food, but the food doesn’t reach those who need it the most. You could list down lack of infrastructure, corruption, uneven economic distribution, unfair pricing, diplomatic structures as reasons leading to the hunger for a legion of hungry people, and not the shortage of food. Hundreds of tons of vegetables and grains are destroyed in years of surplus produce, while millions sleep on an empty stomach.
9. Small farmers have no food
It’s disconcerting that those who toil the land, sow the seeds, and grow much of the food, are enduring hunger pangs worldwide. The International Fund for Agricultural Development estimates that 80 percent of the food in the developing countries grows by millions of small farmers with over 2 billion people depending on agriculture for their livelihood. Broken infrastructure incapable of distributing the growth, lack of investment, unfair trade policies compel them to go hungry.
10. Zero Hunger by 2030
In 2013, the United Nations launched the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific as part of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Governments, scientists, civil societies, farmers, businesses, and end consumers were called on to work together in the direction of eliminating hunger in these regions as they host the majority of the world’s food-deprived population.