Hunger is one of the biggest social evils affecting the globe today. At a global level, 795 million people are affected by hunger and are unable to get sufficient food required for healthy living. These people are concentrated in the developing nations, where 12.9% of the population is affected by hunger. When one looks at these statistics, it gives one a picture of the magnitude of this issue. Many people enjoy sumptuous meals of their choice while many in the world face severe challenges in procuring one square meal per day. This is a major concern because there is the idea of humanitarian injustice involved in this issue, along with several misconceptions.
As far as the distribution of this issue across the globe is concerned, Asia and Africa are continents that have been severely affected. These are also the continents which have a high concentration of developing and underdeveloped economies. Asia has the highest number of people affected by hunger on a day to day basis. Even though southern Asia has been able to reduce the levels of hunger, the hunger levels in western Asia have increased rendering Asia at the top position. Africa, on the other hand, has the highest prevalence of hunger as 25% of the population is undernourished in African countries.
Hunger cannot be seen as an independent issue, but has often been linked to various causes and consequences. When one looks at the causes, poverty and inequality emerge as important ones. In a world where food production has been expanded, the reason for the existence of hunger is the lack of sufficient income on one hand and the skewed distribution of resources on the other. When one looks at the consequences, one finds that hunger is associated with severe health consequences such as undernourishment, weakened immune system that reduces one’s ability to engage in physical work and so on. These consequences in turn, severely affect one’s ability to get incomes and in turn food. Hunger in this sense is a vicious cycle which deters an individual’s attempt to break away from poverty and in turn from hunger.
A very alarming issue associated with hunger is the malnourishment of young children. It has multitudes of consequences at present and in the coming future. Hunger induced malnourishment is the greatest cause for mortality of children below the age of 5, contributing to 45% of the deaths. It has severe health consequences as the lack of nutrition in the developmental ages can cause irreversible physical damage to the body, stunted growth and development. One in 4 children in the world is stunted in the growth due to poor nutrition. This in turn also affects their education which in turn leads to an inability to build the human capital. Therefore, their ability to secure a life for themselves in the future also gets severely affected.
There are several misconceptions associated with hunger. Many continue to believe that it is a consequence of the inability to produce sufficient food or the excessive growth of population. However, in reality, one-third of the food produced is wasted. Our food production technologies have grown enormously over the years making it a paradoxical situation. On one side, we have people who face severe challenges in procuring two well-balanced meals per day and on the other side we have individuals with plenty of food who are wasting. This points out to the fact that hunger is a consequence of inequality and faulty distribution within the economy. This also brings into focus poverty as a consequence of inequality and a cause for hunger.
Traditional explanations regarding overpopulation and underproduction of food have been dismissed by various people. The United Nations calls hunger as the world’s greatest solvable problem. Several initiatives and efforts have been taken to address this issue, and some results have also been established. A concerted global approach is warranted to address hunger as a global social issue. In the present day, those individuals who have plenty of food must rethink about their consumption patterns, and become a contributing member towards averting the hunger crisis that people are facing all over the globe. The humanitarian approach is to ensure at least close to equality for all, if not the absolute equality. Eventually, only a hunger-free world can be labeled as ‘a just and humane world’, a world where everybody lives happily and gets at least something to eat for a subsistence living.
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