What’s Keeping Global Hunger Alive?
Hunger Yesterday millions of U.S. families celebrated Thanksgiving with dishes commemorating our heritage. But for 1 in 9 people worldwide, harvests are too meager and meals too few.
The world’s hungry are people of all ages, from infants whose malnourished mothers can’t produce enough milk to the elderly with no relatives to care for them. They are the jobless residents of urban slums, the landless farmers tilling other people's fields, the orphans of AIDS and people suffering from preventable diseases like cholera and dysentery. They are families who have been driven out of their homes by war and natural disaster. Above all, the hungry are women, children and families living in rural, undeveloped regions.
Hunger in perspective
Chronic hunger is one of the worst forms of violence. It forces millions of people to live without dignity or hope. In many ways, it is a silent emergency. In fact, hunger contributes to more deaths each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
But hunger is solvable and we know how to do it. These solutions include better training and tools for smallholder farmers so they can boost their productivity and move from subsistence to the marketplace. It means humanitarian organizations buying these surplus crops to source food assistance programs, thereby reducing time, transportation costs and providing a reliable market for locally grown crops.
"Over the past 25 years, the number of undernourished people worldwide has dropped by about 200 million, from 1 in 6 people to 1 in 9."
Mother knows best
Solving hunger means educating young mothers about the importance of breastfeeding, dietary diversity and sanitation, as well as distributing fortified foods during the first 1,000 days—from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday—so babies can have a healthy start to life.
It means fueling achievement and healthy development in the classroom by giving nourishing school meals to students in the world’s poorest schools. It means offering lifesaving food assistance to natural disaster survivors and conflict refugees who don’t know where or how to find their next meal.
These are smart, sustainable solutions—and they’re working. Thanks to investments in programs like these, the world is making real progress in the fight against hunger. Over the past 25 years, the number of undernourished people worldwide has dropped by about 200 million, from 1 in 6 people to 1 in 9. That’s one more child making it to her first birthday; one more mother cooking nutritious meals for her family; one more farmer harvesting crops to feed her community.
Yet prolonged wars across the globe are threatening to unravel this progress. Conflict in countries like Syria, Iraq and South Sudan has driven millions of families from their homes and into hunger. In fact, there are more refugees in the world right now than at any other time since World War II. The capacity exists to address this global refugee crisis. It’s just a matter of marshalling public support and political will to get the job done.
We can be the first generation to make hunger history.