This section of my site, has been put together by a group of individuals from who wish to spread awareness of the problems that the lack of food is causing around The World. The hunger definition from the dictionary describes three different meanings:
- The feeling you get when you haven’t eaten something for a while which is an uneasy and sometimes painful sensation. This also includes the feeling of exhaustion you get when you are hungry
- The lack of available food in an area or a country
- The strong desire to eat or a craving
Whilst most of us recognize the situations of 1 and 3, most people reading this will not even be able to begin to understand meaning 2. The scarcity of food has a related technical term which is malnutrition. World hunger is all about malnutrition. Malnutrition refers to the lack of all or some necessary nutritional elements that are necessary for the health of a human.
There are two different forms of malnutrition:
Protein Energy Malnutrition
This is also known as PEM. Protein energy malnutrition is the lack of protein and the lack of food which provides energy. All basic food groups supply energy and this is what we mean when we talk about calories. PEM is the most deadly form of malnutrition. Protein is essential for the normally bodily functions such as the production of amino acids and muscle development and maintenance.
When we talk about world hunger we are not usually talking about micronutrients. These are vitamins and minerals and are of course very important, but in the fight against hunger we need to stay focussed on protein energy malnutrition as this is the real killer.
In recent times a third type of malnutrition is sometimes included which is obesity. Obesity is caused by poor selection of food and eating too much food. This is something that just does not happen in third world and developing countries so we will say no more about that on this site.
Where are the hungriest places?
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) quoted in 2010 that there were 925,000,000 hungry people in The World. Breaking this down into different areas reveals these figures:
- 18,000,000 hungry people in developed countries
- 37,000,000 hungry people in the Near East and North Africa
- 53,000,000 hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean
- 239,000,000 hungry people in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 578,000,000 hungry people in Asia and the Pacific
It is impossible to say exactly how many people are malnourished. The FAO like to use a term they call ‘undernutrition’ in their statistical analysis.
Who are the most vulnerable victims of underntrition?
Poorly fed children can expect to have 160 days of illness each year and undernutrition is resposible for more than 50% of childrens deaths each year. The total figure is a sickening 5,000,000 deaths each year. The real problem is that when not properly fed a child will suffer much more severly from any illness or disease that a properly fed child might easily survive from. Typically children die from diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia and measles. If malnutrition causes diseases, the diseases can in turn cause diarrhea. Diarrhea becomes fatal as it reduces the body’s effectiveness of converting food into nutrients that are both usuable and essential.
Child undernutrition can start from birth when they are born from a mother who is malnourished. Typically about 17% of babies born will have a low birth weight in this case. This gives the baby a high risk of death in the first 4 weeks of it’s life and if it does survive, it will have an increased risk of poor health, blindness,learning disabilities, mental retardation and premature death.
What can we do?
Hunger has been a problem as long as mankind has existed. Oddly enough, many will be surprised that there is actually enough food on the planet for everyone, nearly 3000 calories worth per day. The problem is that alot of people do not have enough land to grow their food or do not have enough money to buy the food they need. To end the fight against hunger we have to address these problems:
- Find ways to counteract poverty and remove the extreme poverty from extreme areas
- Improve harmful economic systems that manage resources in the wrong way
- Stop war and conflict
- Slow down the effects of climate change that are causing drought, flooding, changing climates
None of this is easy at all and at the end of the day the hunger problem is not going to go away overnight, if ever. What you can do for now is to have a look through this site and make yourself aware of the different hunger problems there are and educate yourself and other people. There are ways that everyone can help.