World Hunger Explained

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. 16,000 children die daily as a result of food shortages. This unfathomable statistic – one child dying every five seconds – is hard to comprehend. At the…

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. 16,000 children die daily as a result of food shortages. This unfathomable statistic – one child dying every five seconds – is hard to comprehend.

At the crux 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.

The vast scope of it and the sky-high statistics can make the issue of world hunger and food rights hard to understand, so here's a breakdown of the issue and tips on how to help:

Who is affected? Women and children are the main sufferers of hunger in the developing world. The statistics are staggering – 70% of the world's hungry are women, and 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.

Causes of world hunger. There 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. Women, particularly, are disadvantaged due to traditional land practices that privilege men.

Outside effects also have a significant impact. Excessive fossil fuel consumption in rich countries has dire consequences for poor developing nations, which become more susceptible to frequent and serious droughts and floods. Corporate abuse – with big corporations controlling the global food chain, also makes it harder for smaller players to participate. 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.

What can you do 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 holistically 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.

No matter how much money or time to you have to devote to such initiatives, 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 insurmountable problem.

What can you do to help fight world hunger?