Today, some 821 million people suffer chronically from hunger. And although this is significantly fewer people than the numbers we saw a decade ago, hunger still kills more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
On May 28th, we observe World Hunger Day. It is an effort to focus attention on the fact that despite global progress, some 21,000 people still die every day from hunger or malnutrition.
People do not go hungry because the world does not produce enough food for everyone. According to the world Hunger Education Service, over the past three decades, significant growth in food production, along with improved access to food, helped reduce the percentage of chronically undernourished people in developing countries from 34 percent to 15 percent. The principal problem is that many people in the world still do not have sufficient resources to purchase or grow enough nutritious food.
Indeed, hunger is a consequence of poverty, and also one of its causes. Hunger exists because many countries lack social safety nets; because in many countries women, although they do most of the farming, do not have as much access as men to training, credit or land. Conflict, governance systems that do not encourage investment in agriculture; poor management of land and natural resources, lack of educational opportunity, displacement of small farmers by natural disasters; and financial and economic crises that eliminate jobs at the lowest levels, all contribute toward creating conditions that push the poorest into hunger.
Over the past decade, a global push to reduce hunger and extreme poverty has marked some significant successes, thanks in part to the efforts of numerous international and transnational institutions, foundations, researchers and the private sector, NGOs and governments, including the United States.
“By bringing partners together, the U.S. has led a global effort to tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty,” says Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator for the USAID Bureau for Food Security and Deputy Coordinator for Feed the Future. “In the face of increasingly dynamic and complex challenges, the global community must adapt and build resilience to accelerate and protect progress into the future.”
On World Hunger Day, let us not forget that with over 821 million people still living in daily food insecurity, we still have a long way to go before we can safely say that no child goes to bed hungry.