Believe it or not, around 24,000 people die directly from hunger or hunger related diseases every day, in spite of the fact that there is enough on earth for every single person to have about five pounds of food per day. Since most of this food is produced in developed nations, like the United States, to make it reach the countries that need it, there are huge expenses in packaging, transporting, and distribution.
Food problem arises in some countries as they have very little arable land due to the soil being too hard, temperature too extreme, or there might not be enough water in the area. However, new land is being made available through continually developing technologies. Another problem might be that the land is not being used efficiently enough. Some methods of food production are more efficient than others naturally.
For example, beef production takes about 10 to 20 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food while typical US corn production takes about 1 calorie of energy to produce 1 calorie of food. Dry-land Asian rice culture averages using 1 calorie of energy to produce 20 calories of food.
Food production per hectare has soared in the last fifty years with more countries using fertilizers. When food can be produced in greater quantities more efficiently in areas geographically closer to where it is needed, costs for this food will reduce enabling more people to buy sufficient amounts to feed themselves and their families.
Economic conditions in an area also contribute to hunger conditions. Many times, citizens simply do not have or earn enough to buy the food that is available. The flow of money outside the country also hurts the economy and the government’s ability to improve the region. Some of the world’s poorest countries owe hundreds of billions of dollars in debt to many of the more developed countries. This restricts the ability of the government to spend money in improving local conditions.
The presence of large multinational companies has also added to the problem as these companies send all or most of their profits from a less developed region back to their main headquarters, in a more developed country. This act takes more money out of the economy of the less developed country, and simply adds more to the great imbalance of economic strength. Thus, the outflow of money from less developed countries leaves very little to establish an economic infrastructure.
Often, cultural beliefs prevent progress. People are restricted from helping their communities not because they are physically or economically restrained, but are instead limited by the often deeply rooted social structures and ‘rules,’ official or unofficial.
There are many different organizations fighting hunger today, but for the most part, they can be classified into two main groups. The first group accumulates canned food and sends it to other places where food is required. This is not a long-term solution as it forces the people who receive this food to become reliant on it, instead of making themselves reliable.
The other group of organizations is those that believe in making a country reliant on itself. Organizations like The Hunger Project believe in ‘society-wide transformation’ led by ‘indigenous leadership’. These organizations work to build infrastructure that will allow a country to be self-sufficient, and not rely on other countries for aid. This is a long- term solution which allows the country to survive without foreign charity. Some organizations in this category are CARE, Food for the Hungry, and Freedom from Hunger, Future Harvest, Oxfam International, UNICEF, and UN World Food Programme (WFP).
The statistics of hunger are alarming. In the Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty”. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed; one-third is under-fed while one-third is starving. According to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one in twelve people worldwide are malnourished, including 160 million children under the age of five. Nearly one in four people, live on less than $1 per day.
Half of all children under five years of age in South Asia and one third of those in sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished. A death due to hunger occurs every 3.6 seconds. It is estimated that some 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, about 100 times as many as those who actually die from it each year.
It is possible to solve the global hunger problem, particularly chronic persistent hunger. The current world food production could feed 7 billion people compared to the 6 billion people who live on the Earth. So, the problem lies not in the production of food but in its distribution. One solution might be to encourage national governments and state departments to subsidize the purchase of food by less economically developed countries. In this way, the less economically developed countries will be able to increase their food supplies, while the farmers will still gain competitive prices for their produce.
The repayments for their huge amount of debt take up a very large portion of income of world’s poorest countries, leaving them with very little to help themselves and solve their hunger problems. Cancelling world debt is one solution that can provide these countries with the ability to help themselves, such as being able to develop their economy in order to safeguard against future hunger problems, develop and import technologies to begin and increase the amount of output from their arable land or help fund imports of food from abroad, helping to solve the redistribution problem.
When there is lack of food, terrorist groups try to gain enough food as not to starve resulting in a civil war situation. In turn, the civil war becomes a major cause for hunger to persist in a country. Ethiopia suffered civil unrest in time of particular hardship and hunger. The problem of civil war also often prevents aid entering or reaching those areas which are in need of it. As a result, chronic persistent hunger takes a grip and people start to die.
Global hunger problem can be solved by educating the people, especially women. It is because when people understand the reasons why there is hunger in their country, and the solutions that can help eradicate it, the problem can be solved in a much easier and quicker manner. People can also be educated about how to use farming machinery more efficiently or be trained for jobs in factories. Education would also enable people to understand and adapt to technological advances like wide use of artificial fertilizers and the rapid developments in mechanization.