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Why are 80 million people in the world still going hungry?

January 19, 2018

White plate with World Food Programme message on it

It’s a very unequal world we live in, where 80 million people go hungry everyday while the rest have so much food it costs an enormous sum to throw away what they don’t eat. In fact the money that it costs to dispose of unwanted food, or produce that is not able to get to people in time for them to eat it, is enough to solve the entire problem and ensure there is sufficient for everyone.

In my comfortable world of excess I thought I knew the scale of this problem. When the World Food Programme asked me to support them by posting an image of plate illustrated by a calligraphy artist on my Instagram account I didn’t hesitate – it’s a tiny gesture. But once they started to send me the information it made me realise that this is a huge issue that I know very little about.

How are they tackling this?

I’ll admit I might have been a tiny bit sceptical beforehand too. Large organisations can be very political, and the GM lobby has (inaccurately) hijacked many parts of the ‘Feed the World’ message (in other words ‘feed the bottom line’).  However, once I delved deeper I realised that the World Food Programme is tackling the causes of this inequality and malnutrition on many levels with 17 Global Goals for sustainable development to improve people’s lives by 2030.  Goal 2 – Zero Hunger – pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and is the priority of the World Food Programme.

Global Goals WFP officer raising a flag in Nepal

WFP officer Nimdoma Sherpa, raised a flag to represent Goal 2, Zero Hunger, in a remote mountain village in North-West Nepal. Credit: WFP/Samir Jung…

That’s my summing up but here are the words of the World Food Programme which have really hit home:

Five steps to Zero Hunger

Step 1 – Put the furthest behind first – The SDGs recognize that our world is only as strong as its weakest member and commit to leave no one behind. WFP works each and every day to save the lives of those furthest behind. Raising the purchasing power and resilience of the poorest two billion people through social protection schemes will create new demand and new jobs, and jump start local economies – thus changing those lives.

Step 2- Pave the road from farm to market – Access to affordable, nutritious food for everyone is vital. A plate of bean stew can cost a woman in South Sudan 155 percent of her daily income – the equivalent of paying hundreds of dollars in New York. By innovating and investing in supply chains, while supporting durable market development, we can make food systems work for the poorest of the poor.

Step 3 – Reduce food waste – Of the 4 billion metric tons of food we produce each year, one-third is wasted costing the global economy US$750 billion annually. In developed countries, food is wasted on the plate, while in developing countries it is wasted before it reaches the plate, when crops go unused or unprocessed because of poor storage or because farmers can’t get their produce to market.

Step 4 – Encourage a sustainable variety of crops – Today over 60 percent of all kilocalories consumed are from four staples: wheat, maize, rice and potatoes – overlooking the vast majority of the world’s quarter of a million or more edible plants. Dependence on these four crops not only puts great pressure on the planet’s resources but also dominates local markets and the nutritional value of our diets. We must support farmers in the cultivation of these crops and build the necessary consumer markets by educating communities about the importance of eating a wide range of foods.

Step 5 – Make nutrition a priority – starting with the first 1,000 days. To prevent stunting and to promote healthy development we must ensure children, pregnant women and nursing mothers have access to the foods that will enable them to eat a balanced diet, with the nutrients required to help children grow to their full potential.

Global goals grid

The Global Goals

The United Nations World Food Programme

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Every year, they provide food assistance to 80 million people in around 80 countries.

WFP’s efforts focus on emergency assistance, relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations. Two-thirds of their work is in conflict-affected countries where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries without conflict.

Their work is 100% voluntarily funded, and 93% of every contribution gets to people in need.

Ending hunger by 2030

Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 815 million people across the globe still go to bed hungry every night. To eradicate hunger by 2030 means we have to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food.

How can we help?

I’m now looking at ways to do more to help including by doing my own small bit to spread the word and cut down on food waste.

Find out what you can to on the World Food Programme website.

Please also support the awareness campaign by liking, commenting and sharing on social. Go and check out the different plates on other Instagrammer’s feeds.

Follow @WFP_MENA (on Instagram) and these hashtags #WorldFoodProgramme #WFP

Were you as shocked as I was in reading this?

One Comment
  1. January 24, 2018 2:05 am

    Good on you for using your blog to spread the word Sally – such a worthy cause….

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