Hunger

Why should I care?

None of us can survive without food. We either produce food or purchase them. When food prices go up, we can choose to eat out less. But a price rise to the poor often means they don't eat. Hunger and malnutrition are still the number one risk to health worldwide.

Ironically, the amount of food thrown away in rich countries each year is almost the same as that produced in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), around a third of global food production is lost or wasted annually. In Hong Kong, according to the Environmental Protection Department, there is approximately 3,382* tonnes of food waste produced every day. These numbers are alarming and embarrassing in a world where nearly 800 million people do not have enough to eat.

As a responsible global citizen, besides treasuring food and resources that we enjoy, we can do more! Use the sections here to learn more about the brutal reality of hunger, and more importantly what it takes to save the lives of hungry children. As you learn more about the challenge of global hunger, feel free to share what you discover with friends and family. Together we can make our world a better place for all!


* Source:Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong 2015 Report, EPD

What

Today, there are nearly 800 million undernourished people worldwide.

Aside from the obvious kind of hunger resulting from an empty stomach, there is also the hidden hunger of micronutrient deficiencies whic
h makes people susceptible to infectious diseases, impair physical and mental development, reduce their labour productivity and increase the risk of premature death. Hunger affects every aspect of human development, from physical to mental growth, from childhood to adulthood. Hunger does not only weigh on the individual. It also imposes a heavy economic burden on the developing world.


Compared to those more sudden, headline grabbing disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis, hunger is a relatively slow-onset emergency,
which does not always draw enough attention or prompt quick action. It is important for people to realise that this silent killer is claiming millions of precious lives each year and there are ways to prevent it.Compared to those more sudden, headline grabbing disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis, hunger is a relatively slow-onset emerg


Let's look closer at some hunger facts:

  • Nearly 800 million people do not have enough to eat and the vast majority of them live in developing countries. (WFP, 2015)
  • More than 6 million under five children die every year from preventable causes. Hunger and malnutrition are the underlying causes for close to half of such deaths. (WHO, 2014)
  • About two thirds of the world's hungry live in Asia. (WFP, 2015)



Who

At times of a food crisis or a famine, the following groups often bear the brunt of the impact.

Watch this video to understand hunger's impact on children

Children

Worldwide, 1 in 6 children in developing countries are underweight as a result of acute or chronic hunger. Children under the age of 5 are especially vulnerable to hunger. A malnourished child is four times more likely to die from an infectious disease than a well-nourished child. Almost half of under-five preventable child deaths are caused by hunger. Child hunger is often inherited. Every year, many children are born underweight, often related to inadequate nutrition in mothers before and during pregnancy.


Women

Women make up half of the world's population but in many parts of the world, they are more likely to go hungry than men. Even though they are world's primary food producers, they are much more affected by hunger and poverty. Hunger also deprives mothers of the energy they need to care for their children. Malnourished mothers often give birth to underweight babies who are more likely to die before the age of five.


Rural poor

Three-quarters of all hungry people live in rural areas, mainly in the villages of Asia and Africa. Many are rural subsistence farmers that depend highly on agriculture for food. They have little or no alternative source of income or employment, and therefore are especially vulnerable to hunger. However, there is a rising trend for rural-urban migration where people migrate to cities in search for employment, swelling the ever-expanding populations in urban slum dwellings in developing countries.


Why

Hunger and food insecurity are caused by a number of factors, many of which are interrelated. In addition to natural causes such as drought and crop failure, there are other man-made problems contributing to hunger in different parts of the world.

Nature

With increasing environmental degradation, global climate has been changing. In recent years, we have seen more frequent, widespread and intense droughts and floods that lead to increasing crop failures which certainly affect food security in the developing countries. In 2011, East Africa was hit by the worst drought in 60 years, triggering a famine that has affected millions of Africans. Meteorologists have shown that mean temperatures in East Africa have risen by more than two degrees Fahrenheit in recent years, while rainfall has decreased. This combination makes growing crops more difficult and therefore diminishing the available food supplies.

Conflict and War

Armed conflicts lead not only to human or financial loss, but also destroy farmland and agricultural infrastructures, thereby stopping or reducing food production. Sometimes, food itself becomes a weapon. Soldiers will starve opponents into submission by seizing or destroying food and livestock and systematically wrecking local markets. Fields and water wells are often mined or contaminated, forcing farmers to abandon their land.

From Asia to Africa to Latin America, fighting displaces millions of people from their homes, leading to some of the world's worst hunger emergencies. In the recent Horn of Africa hunger crisis, even though moderate rainfall in several regions has enhanced food production in Somalia, many of its fundamental problems that led to food shortages in the first place remain unsolved. These include ongoing fighting, dysfunction government, and the inability of humanitarian organisations to reach the most severely affected areas due to expulsion by militants.

Pover
ty Trap

Hunger perpetuates the vicious cycle of poverty. When the poor are hungry, they lack strength for any kind of production. Their hunger traps them in poverty. In developing countries, many poor people either cannot afford the necessary resources to produce food for themselves or they do not have enough money to buy food to feed their families


Many poor children have to sacrifice school because their families need them to find food or to do household chores. Yet education is crucial to long-term food security. Research has shown that a farmer with four years of elementary education is almost 9 percent more productive than a farmer with no education
(FAO).


Over exploitation of environment

Poor farming practices, overgrazing, mechanised agriculture, deforestation, and the overuse of pesticides all contribute to soil and water loss, which will affect food production in the long run.

Majority of the world's worst polluters are the developed nations. However, the poor people living in developing countries who depend more heavily on natural resources for living usually bear the brunt of the environmental impacts and consequences.



Other causes of world food crisis

A number of factors have also contributed to the recent food crisis:

  • Dramatic economic growth in China, India and other developing countries has resulted in higher demand for food and energy.
  • High fuel prices have increased the costs of producing and transporting food.
  • Increased biofuel production from food crops has resulted in higher prices for staples like maize (corn), rice and wheat.
  • Speculation by investors in food and industrial commodities markets in recent years has fuelled further price rises.
  • Protectionist trade policies and panic hoarding are preventing food from reaching markets in other countries, contributing to potentially deadly food shortages.

Where

Around the world, almost 800 million people go hungry on a daily basis. Many people usually associate hunger with Africa, but in fact, Asia and the Pacific are home to the majority of the hungry population! See World Food Programme’s Hunger Map to find out where people are hungry.  

How We Help

Hunger is one of the world's greatest solvable problems. Together we can work towards creating a world without hunger.


What World Vision is doing:

As an international relief and development organisation, World Vision focuses its work on three key areas:

Development

Development

Most of our development works in different countries build upon an Area Development Programme model (ADP). We work with local communities and stakeholders to identify their needs and layout a community development framework. The long term goal is to empower sponsored children and their families in the community to become self-reliant.

Typical phases of an ADP:

Years 1–3

Years 1–3

  1. Building trust and partnership
  2. Planning together with villagers
  3. Addressing sponsored children's urgent needs
Years 4–10

Years 4–10

  1. Momentum builds on initial project successes
  2. Increasing community ownership
  3. Improving sponsored children's lives
Year 11 to Project Close

Year 15 to Project Close

  1. Capacity enhanced and confidence built
  2. Community takes the lead in development
  3. Sponsored children and their families become self-reliant


Many ADPs will include food and nutrition programmes. World Vision supports large-scale actions to prevent malnutrition at the community level in highly food insecure countries. This encompasses agricultural production and marketing, mother and child health and nutrition, HIV and nutrition, early warning, and infrastructural development. World Vision fosters vibrant community-based activities that develop local capacity to address food insecurity, build resilience against future shocks, and provide for a clearly articulated sustainability plan so that community residents have greater access to nutritious food.


World Vision also partners with World Food Programme in delivering both short and long term food security development projects. In some countries, World Vision works closely with governments as well, calling on leaders to prioritise the prevention of hunger and to convert rhetoric about hunger into concrete action.

More project examples include:

  • Providing farmers with vital food production resources, such as drought-resistant seeds and training in improved agricultural methods.
  • Helping families enhance their methods of food storage, minimise post-harvest losses, and gain access to markets where they can sell their excess crops.
  • Introducing improved livestock breeds and livestock farming techniques.

  • Enhancing environmental conservation through suitable agro forestry practices.
  • Improving access to microfinance service.
  • Providing nutritious food for children, pregnant and lactating mothers.
  • Improving medical supplies of health centre, and the management of Severely Malnourished Children at Therapeutic and Stabilisation centre.

In everything we do, we put children first because they are most vulnerable to the effects of hunger.


Relief

Development

World Vision has been helping hungry children for over six decades. In 2014, we provided food assistance to 8 million people in 35 countries. World Vision is also the largest distributor of food aid provided by the World Food Programme.

In 2015, 8.6 million people faced food crisis in East Africa. Situated in eastern Africa, the continuous conflicts and climatic issues have put South Sudan and Somalia in despair. People were forced to flee to Kenya and stayed in refugee camps. Displacement has left these refugees with no identity and no way to sustain themselves, but to rely on food aid distributed by humanitarian organisations.

World Vision’s response in South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia:

  • Distribution of food supplies (including cooking oil, pulses and sorghum) to refugees and families suffering from food insecurity
  • Provision of nutrition supplements to malnourished children
  • Construction of water facilities and distribution of hygiene kits
  • Distribution of emergency shelters, kitchen sets, mosquito nets, blankets and other necessities
  • Provision of tools (such as fishing nets) and seeds (such as sorghum and maize) to improve their livelihood

Please join World Vision in the fight against hunger.


Education and advocacy

Development

We share the world's needs and stories through different ways, with the hope of touching more people's lives so that in the end even more lives across the globe can be touched and transformed. They include:

Myths and Realities

Myth 1: There is not enough food to go around

Reality:Enough food is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food to every person on this planet every day. That's enough food to make most people fat! The problem is that many people don't have access to the resources to produce or purchase food.

Myth 2: There are too many people

Reality: Globally, population growth is slowing. Although rapid population growth remains a serious concern in some countries, population density does not lead to hunger. Hunger results from underlying inequities that deprive people, especially poor women, of economic opportunity and personal security.

Myth 3: There are not enough natural resources to support everyone

Reality: The world is capable of producing enough food for everyone in a sustainable way but as people without access to resources struggle to survive, they are often forced to farm marginal lands that are susceptible to erosion, flooding or drought.

Myth 4: The free market can end hunger

Reality: Unfortunately, market efficiencies only work to eliminate hunger when purchasing power is widely dispersed. We must therefore concentrate on promoting not only the market but also the ability of people to participate in the market in ways that reduce poverty.

Myth 5: There is little we can do about hunger

Reality:World hunger can be ended. The outcome of the war on hunger is determined by decisions and actions well within the capability of nations and people.

Myth 6: Nature is to blame

Reality:Food is always available for those who can afford it. Starvation during hard times hits only the poorest people living on the brink of disaster because they are deprived of land, trapped in the grip of debt, or poorly paid. Natural events are rarely the sole culprit for deaths; they are simply the final push over the brink. The blame belongs on the shoulders of governments that fail to offer their citizens employment opportunities and societies that accept hunger as inevitable.

Myth 7: New technology is the answer

Reality:Thanks to new seeds and improved agriculture techniques, millions more tonnes of grain are being harvested each year. But increasing crop production alone doesn't alleviate hunger. People with economic power determine who is able to access additional food. That's why in countries where grain production has increased, such as India, Mexico, and the Philippines, hunger persists.

Myth 8: We need larger farms in the developing world

Reality:We need both large and small scale farms in the fight against global hunger. In some cases, smaller farms achieve four to five times greater output per acre than larger farms because they use more "hands-on" farming practices. A World Bank study done in northeastern Brazil estimates that moving farmland into smaller holdings would actually raise output by an astonishing 80 percent.

Glossary

Acute malnutrition

It is usually caused by a sudden lack of food — often due to a drought or other natural disasters. The telltale sign is wasting, measured by low weight in relation to height. Without sufficient food, a child's body uses energy stored in fat – eventually causing the body to break down.

Chronic malnutrition

It occurs when a child lacks sufficient nutrition over a long period of time. The telltale sign is stunting, measured by low height in relation to age. A stunted child's body and brain develop at a slower rate than normal, especially during the first 1,000 days of life. The effects are irreversible.

Corn Soy Blend (CSB)

Made by American farmers and distributed through the North American Millers' Association (NAMA), Corn Soy Blend (CSB) is a particularly effective example of in-kind commodity food aid. The nutrient-packed food is made primarily from cornmeal, soy flour, and soybean oil. It is easy to prepare and easy to digest, making it ideal for nursing severely malnourished children back to health.

Drought

A period of diminished rainfall — in both frequency and amount — lasting a season, a year, or several years. Droughts can diminish crop yields or destroy crops altogether. In many parts of the world, droughts are occurring with greater frequency and severity as a result of climate change.

Famine

A severe and widespread shortage of food, that results in large-scale starvation, malnourishment and death. In 2011, famine was declared in the Horn of Africa region where over 13 million people were affected.

Food aid

Any food-supported intervention meant to improve the food security of people experiencing poverty and hunger. There are different forms of food aid, including in-kind commodity and food for work programme.

Food insecurity

Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food to maintain overall health and well-being.

Food losses

Food losses refer to the decrease in edible food mass throughout the part of the supply chain that specifically leads to edible food for human consumption. Food losses take place at production, post harvest and processing stages in the food supply chain. (FAO, 2011)

Food security

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (Definition adopted by the 1996 World Food Summit).

Food waste

Food losses occurring at the end of the food chain (retail and final consumption) are rather called "food waste", which relates to retailers' and consumers' behaviour. (FAO, 2011)

Hunger

A general term describing any condition in which the body does not absorb enough nutrients for basic health.

In-kind commodity food aid

A form of food aid in which physical food supplies are procured, shipped, and distributed to hungry populations. Most food aid distributed through World Vision comes in this form.

Malnutrition

It is not the sensation of hunger pangs – it is a medical condition in which the body cannot maintain normal physical functions due to lack of nutrients from food. There are two types of malnutrition: acute malnutrition and chronic malnutrition.

Plumpy'Nut

Plumpy'nut is a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) that looks and tastes like peanut butter. Plumpy'nut is frequently used for treatment of emergency malnutrition cases. When administered regularly, Plumpy'nut can help acutely malnourished children recover in a matter of weeks.

Starvation

A term sometimes used to describe the most extreme form of malnutrition, which often results in death.

Stunting

One of the primary indicators of malnutrition among children. As defined by the World Food Programme, this term refers to children whose height is below average for their age group as a result of an inadequate diet.

Subsistence farming

Practiced by many in the developing world, subsistence farming involves growing only enough crops to feed one's own family. Subsistence farmers and their families tend to be food-insecure; one drought or crop failure can push them into hunger. Helping them grow surplus crops and gain access to markets is one way of equipping these families to overcome poverty.

Wasting

One of the primary indicators of malnutrition among children. As defined by the World Food Programme, wasting refers to severe weight loss, usually associated with starvation. Wasting is measured by low weight in relation to height

Ways you can help :