Building the #ZeroHunger Generation

What is hunger?

We know that hundreds of millions of people are hungry all over the world. But why does this happen? Where do hunger and malnutrition come from? What is the cause, and how can we fight it?

Looking back at history, hunger has always existed, and always for the same reasons. Poverty is one of the main causes of hunger. If you are poor, you can’t afford nutritious food. This makes it difficult to work or earn a living and often means that people remain in a poverty trap.

Conflicts disrupt farming and food production. Millions of people are often forced to flee their homes, and then they find themselves deprived of access to sufficient food. The vast majority of hungry people in the world live in countries affected by conflicts. Wars or uprisings can also be a direct consequence of hunger: it’s natural to explode with anger when access to food becomes impossible. Food can therefore be a powerful tool in bringing peace to the world.

We human beings have been overlooking the effects of pollution over the past couple of centuries. Pollution has affected the climate causing an increase in extreme weather events – such as floods, tropical storms and long periods of drought. Poor farmers, fishermen, pastoralists and forest dwellers suffer most during and after a natural disaster – they don’t have enough to eat and they are often forced to leave their homes. Rising temperatures as a result of climate change also affect the environment dramatically and can turn healthy soil dry and infertile.

Poverty, war, and natural disasters particularly affect the less wealthy areas of the world today. But even in wealthy, industrialised countries there are large groups of people living in poverty, unable to feed themselves properly. They often live in the same neighbourhoods as overweight or obese people. Overeating and irresponsible consumption of unhealthy junk food are a big part of the hunger problem causing an increased number of deaths every year. 1.9 billion people, which is more than a quarter of the world’s population, are overweight. 600 million of these are obese and adult obesity is rising everywhere at an accelerated pace. The production and waste of huge quantities of food is contributing to pollution, and affecting people’s health everywhere. Malnutrition, therefore, is a global issue: it concerns us all, no matter where we live.

Economic growth is often the key to help countries out of hunger. Sadly though, when not controlled and fair, it can widen the gap between rich and poor, generating further hunger, conflict and tension. Growth must include vulnerable people and consider society as a whole: it will only work when every single part is considered essential to the whole. We know that people are the special ingredient in the recipe to end world hunger: everyone needs to take action to achieve this common goal.