Author and Page information
- by Anup Shah
- This Page Last Updated Sunday, August 22, 2010
- This page: http://www.globalissues.org/issue/6/world-hunger-and-poverty.
- To print all information (e.g. expanded side notes, shows alternative links), use the print version:
We often hear about people’s desire to solve world hunger, or to be able to feed the world and help alleviate the suffering associated with it.
However, meaningful long-term alleviation to hunger is rooted in the alleviation of poverty, as poverty leads to hunger. World hunger is a terrible symptom of world poverty. If efforts are only directed at providing food, or improving food production or distribution, then the structural root causes that create hunger, poverty and dependency would still remain. And so while continuous effort, resources and energies are deployed to relieve hunger through these technical measures, the political causes require political solutions as well.
4 articles on “World Hunger and Poverty” and 3 related issues:
Causes of Hunger are related to Poverty
Last updated Sunday, October 03, 2010.
There are many inter-related issues causing hunger, which are related to economics and other factors that cause poverty. They include land rights and ownership, diversion of land use to non-productive use, increasing emphasis on export-oriented agriculture, inefficient agricultural practices, war, famine, drought, over-fishing, poor crop yields, etc. This section introduces some of these issues.
Read “Causes of Hunger are related to Poverty” to learn more.
Solving World Hunger Means Solving World Poverty
Last updated Sunday, October 24, 2010.
Solving world hunger in the conventional sense (of providing/growing more food etc) will not tackle poverty that leads to hunger in the first place. Further, there is a risk of continuing the poverty and dependency without realizing it, because the act of attempting to provide more food etc can appear so altruistic in motive. To solve world hunger in the long run, poverty alleviation is required.
Read “Solving World Hunger Means Solving World Poverty” to learn more.
Population and Feeding the World
Last updated Monday, July 09, 2001.
The food scarcity part of the argument in the population debate is an interesting one -- people are hungry not because the population is growing so fast that food is becoming scarce, but because people cannot afford it. Food may be scarce, but it is international trade, economic policies and the control of land that have lead to immense poverty and hunger and therefore less access to food, not food scarcity due to over population.
Read “Population and Feeding the World” to learn more.
Food and Agriculture Issues
Last updated Sunday, September 28, 2014.
Food and agriculture goes to the heart of our civilizations. Religions, cultures and even modern civilization have food and agriculture at their core. For an issue that goes to the heart of humanity it also has its ugly side.
This issue explores topics ranging from the global food crisis of 2008, to issues of food aid, world hunger, food dumping and wasteful agriculture such as growing tobacco, sugar, beef, and more.
Read “Food and Agriculture Issues” to learn more.
Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty
Last updated Monday, December 10, 2007.
Food aid (when not for emergency relief) can actually be very destructive on the economy of the recipient nation and contribute to more hunger and poverty in the long term. Free, subsidized, or cheap food, below market prices undercuts local farmers, who cannot compete and are driven out of jobs and into poverty, further slanting the market share of the larger producers such as those from the US and Europe. Many poor nations are dependent on farming, and so such food amounts to food dumping. In the past few decades, more powerful nations have used this as a foreign policy tool for dominance rather than for real aid.
Read “Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty” to learn more.
Causes of Poverty
Last updated Sunday, September 28, 2014.
Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations. Why is this? Is it enough to blame poor people for their own predicament? Have they been lazy, made poor decisions, and been solely responsible for their plight? What about their governments? Have they pursued policies that actually harm successful development? Such causes of poverty and inequality are no doubt real. But deeper and more global causes of poverty are often less discussed.
Read “Causes of Poverty” to learn more.
World hunger related links for more information
Last updated Monday, December 10, 2007.
Links to web sites and articles that discuss world hunger, the relationship between populations and hunger, of poverty and hunger, agricultural issues, land rights and so on.
Read “World hunger related links for more information” to learn more.
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Anup Shah, World Hunger and Poverty, Global Issues, Updated: August 22, 2010
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Author and Page Information
- by Anup Shah
- Created: Sunday, September 24, 2000
- Last Updated: Sunday, August 22, 2010
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Save the Children is to be applauded for reminding us all of one of the most extraordinary and humiliating aspects of living in the modern world: child hunger. Drawing a parallel with the fight to abolish slavery, the Ghanaian philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah recently asked what future generations will condemn us for. One sure candidate is the needless human carnage wrought by hunger. Some 850 million people (one in eight of the world's population) go to bed hungry every night. Many of them are children, for whom early hunger leaves a lifelong legacy of cognitive and physical impairment. The human and economic waste is horrifying.
Such hunger is not due to a shortage of food – globally there is enough to go round and if (a big if) we make the right decisions now, we can continue to feed the world despite population growth and climate change. By some estimates, stopping the waste of food after harvest due to poor storage or transport infrastructure, and then in our own kitchens, could free up half of all food grown. The number of overweight and obese people in the world, suffering their own health problems, including a sharp rise in heart disease and diabetes, is roughly equal to the number of hungry people. That highlights one of the underlying causes of hunger – extreme levels of inequality, both within and between countries.
Ending hunger is entirely feasible (indeed, once achieved, the only question will be why it took us so long). It requires action at several different levels. At a national level, progressive governments in Brazil and Ghana have shown how to cut hunger sharply, through cash transfers to poor people, raising the minimum wage and investing in smallholder farmers (especially women), who both produce food, and are some of the poorest and hungriest people in the Alice in Wonderland world of a brutally unfair farming system.
That focus on national decisions and national politics highlights how fast the world is changing. In many cases, aid is no longer the main story – countries like India, growing at 8% a year and with a mushrooming middle class, need to take responsibility for their hungry masses, introducing proper taxation and effective social services to end hunger and malnutrition. Oxfam is working with people's organisations within the country to bring that about. Elsewhere, though, international food aid remains essential, but should be improved, for example by ending the waste and delay of transporting food thousands of miles from donor countries and giving cash instead.
Beyond supporting aid for food and agricultural investment, what else can we in the well-fed countries do? Start by putting our own house in order. The rich countries are part of both the solution and the problem. Europe and America's push to reduce their dependence on imported oil and gas has led them to introduce targets and subsidies for biofuels, but these compete directly with food production, forcing up prices for poor people. Rich country greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change at a pace that outstrips even the most pessimistic projections of the climate modellers, and there are few signs of governments agreeing (still less achieving) the kinds of reductions needed to avoid catastrophic temperature rises that will particularly harm tropical agriculture. We urgently need an international effort to find a way to feed the planet's growing population without destroying its ecosystems, yet current investments are feeble.
Hunger is both a cause and a symptom of poverty. Damaged bodies and brains are a moral scandal and a tragic waste of economic potential. That hunger exists at all shows the urgency of redistributing income and assets to achieve a fairer world. Providing the additional calories needed by the 13% of the world's population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply. That that redistribution has not already taken place is truly something to be ashamed of.
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