According to the most recent statistics, the over one billion people are going hungry every day, which equals to the one sixth of the world’s overall population. The world hunger is currently one of the world’s most burning problems. Its effect and the results are not obvious but the figures are nevertheless astonishing: 6 million children under five die every year of hunger or hunger related diseased (e.g. neonatal disorders and treatable infectious diseases, like diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria or measles). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report of the State of Food Insecurity in the World in 2004, every six seconds a child dies because of hunger and related causes.
With the growth of the world population, the number of people starving also growth proportionally (The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2004).
On June 19, 2009, the FAO reported 1 020 million people around the world are undernourished, most of them live in the developing countries. And although eradicating hunger and extreme poverty is goal number one among the Millennium Development Goals proclaimed by the United Nations in September 2000, almost a decade later, in 2009, the real figures of hungry people around the world is record high. Basically, the figures stated above mean every sixth person does not get enough food to be healthy or even to live.
According to the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations intend to reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day and reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. In reality, the situation is getting worse every year, and the saddest fact is that the increase of the amount of people suffering from the world hunger has not been caused by poor global harvest. On the contrary, according to the FAO, the world already produces enough food to feed every person living and could feed twice more – 12 billion people (Ziegler, Jean, 2008, 1). The current world hunger problem has been caused by the economic crisis and high food prices. Previously, its main reason has been the slow growth of agricultural output, backed by expanding populations.
There also are various other reasons for the food imbalance and lack of food support around the world. Among them are the reasons linked to the weather conditions(e.g. drought, heavy rains or flooding, resulting in crop failures); the social-economic reasons: warfare and civil disturbances; environmental problems like soil erosion, lack of water, pollution or excessive use of natural resources.
In some regions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia millions of inhabitants are chronically hungry since 1990. The percentage of hungry people in the developing countries varies from sixteen to twenty percent, depending on the year. According to the report of the Food and Agriculture organization, the share of hungry people in the developing world was almost 20 percent in 1990–92, less than 18 percent in 1995–97, and just above 16 percent in 2003–05 (FAO, 2008, 6). In 2008 the proportion of undernourished people worldwide was again 17 percent estimates mainly due to the rising food prices. (FAO, 2008, 6).
As for the real figures, according to the most recent FAO report, Asia and the Pacific, an estimated 642 million people are suffering from chronic hunger; in Sub-Saharan Africa 265 million; in Latin America and the Caribbean 53 million; in the Near East and North Africa 42 million; and in developed countries 15 million in total. According to the FAO report of the State of Food Insecurity in the World, two thirds of the world’s hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia (The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2008).
The problems of hunger and poverty prevent the society from normal development, bringing instability and chaos into the life of people around the world. They add to the economical and political insecurity and may provoke military or social outbursts bringing causes for further instability and poverty.
The economical inequality is growing due to the relatively high food prices, which result it reducing real income and purchasing power, and eventually reducing the quantity and quality of food consumed in the poor households (higher food prices hurt most the poorest of the poor, especially the landless poor and the households headed by female).
The food prices were on average 24 percent higher in real terms by the end of 2008 compared to 2006 and 33 percent higher than in 2005 (FAO, 2009).
The combination of the steadily high food prices and crisis which hit the world economy in 2008 (bringing unemployment and depreciation of the world currencies) resulted in a sharp increase of the amount of hungry people worldwide. However, the crisis is not the one to blame, FAO reports that even before crisis the hunger growth rate among the Earth population prevented reaching the Millennium Goal of halving the number of the poor and the hungry. The latest FAO report claims that the economic crisis is expected to increase the number of hungry by about nine percent in 2009. The previously projected baseline increase for 2009 was two percent even in the absence of crisis. (FAO, 2009)
It has been estimated that the economic crises have a significant impact on infant mortality: a 4 percent decline in per capita GDP is associated with a 2 percent increase in the infant mortality (and five times larger for girls than for boys) (FAO, 2009). The connection is obvious: the worse is the economic situation, the worse is the socio-economic impact on the world population.
Another important impact of the economic crisis is the decrease of investments, including the investments into the agricultural sector, which is believed to be the key sector in alleviating poverty and hunger. Lack of investments, both public and private, into this sector cause poor agricultural results and overall stagnation of the global food market. Proper investments might have become the key solution to both the high food prices and economical crisis, offering additional working places and incomes to the people in need.
The global hunger problem is closely linked to numerous burning issues: the ecological situation, politics, economical crisis, unemployment, stagnation, etc.; only a global approach to resolving or alleviating these problems would result in eliminating the world hunger. Creating and developing new non-fossil sources of energy might add to the fight for better ecology and improve the overall agricultural results, equal access to the natural resources and self-sufficient agricultural sector would enable the world’s population obtain the needed daily amount of calories, and the combined forces of the developed countries in supporting the hunger victims around the world might eventually result in reaching at least the current goal number one.
The right to food (the right of every person to have continuous access to the resources necessary to produce, earn or purchase enough food not only to prevent hunger, but also to ensure health and well-being) is a basic human right supported by the international law. Depriving a certain part of the population of this right is threatens the well-being of humanity. It abases the dignity of every human being and makes our world insecure. Recently, another hundred thousand of humans joined the lists of hunger victims, and the trend continues on a yearly basis. Which means nobody is secure from getting enlisted. Only uniting the forces of the high and mighty in a fight against hunger will make the world a better place to live.
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