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Why millions of people are starving even though there is enough to eat

As the saying goes, you are what you eat. So who are you when you eat (almost) nothing? In three out of four cases, you are a smallholder, a livestock breeder or a rural worker, probably in Asia or Africa – the regions where most people are starving. What needs to be done to bring about change? Ten facts on hunger and food security around the globe.

  • Fact 1: There is sufficient food to feed everyone on earth every day.

    Fact 1: There is sufficient food to feed everyone on earth every day.

    Or rather: there is more than enough food for everybody. We have enough food to sustain one and a half times more people than the earth’s population today.

  • Fact 2: Some 795 million people are starving worldwide.

    Fact 2: Some 795 million people are starving worldwide.

    In other words: one in nine people do not have enough to eat day after day. Most of them live in Africa and Asia and are smallholders, livestock breeders and rural workers. Some 108 million people are even suffering from extreme hunger and acute malnutrition.

  • Fact 3: The United Nations wants to make sure that all people have enough to eat in 2030.

    Fact 3: The United Nations wants to make sure that all people have enough to eat in 2030.

    Major progress has been made in recent years, with global hunger falling by 27 per cent since 2000. Nevertheless, almost 800 million people are still starving today. The community of nations agreed to eradicate global hunger in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  • Fact 4: Almost 40 per cent of all food is lost after harvest.

    Fact 4: Almost 40 per cent of all food is lost after harvest.

    That is more than one billion tonnes each year. The reasons are varied: in many countries, the majority of food is thrown away by retailers or consumers. Additionally, some food spoils because it is not properly dried after harvest and goes mouldy or falls victim to pests in storage halls. Sometimes, the harvest simply cannot be transported to market rapidly enough before it spoils.

  • Fact 5: There is a growing number of conflicts over the use of land in our world.

    Fact 5: There is a growing number of conflicts over the use of land in our world.

    Farmland is not only cultivated for agricultural purposes, but is also used to grow raw materials, such as firewood, cotton and ingredients in packaging and cosmetics, and increasingly for biofuels. In addition, people are eating more and more meat, meaning that animal feed is being grown on even more land. Consequently, less arable land is left to grow food for people.

  • Fact 6: Some 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil are destroyed every year.

    Fact 6: Some 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil are destroyed every year.

    This is caused by climate phenomena like droughts, flooding and soil erosion, but also by humans who overuse farmland and seal surfaces. Farmers often have to switch to new land, leading to forests being cleared and wetlands being drained.

  • Fact 7: A particularly large number of people are undernourished in places where war or violent conflicts are waged.

    Fact 7: A particularly large number of people are undernourished in places where war or violent conflicts are waged.

    After all, this means that it is often too dangerous for farmers to farm, and wars and conflicts also hamper commerce. What is more, people frequently flee warzones to safer regions, but are often no longer able to support themselves in a new place.

  • Fact 8: Food prices have been unstable for a few years.

    Fact 8: Food prices have been unstable for a few years.

    If food is too expensive, some people are unable to afford regular meals or opt for the cheapest food available, which in turn leads to an unbalanced diet. This can damage their health.

  • Fact 9: More than 9 billion people will likely live on earth by the year 2050.

    Fact 9: More than 9 billion people will likely live on earth by the year 2050.

    Dietary habits are becoming more sophisticated. Most people want to regularly eat a piece of meat or drink a glass of milk – both animal products. The United Nations estimates that demand for food and feed will be 60 per cent higher in 2050.

  • Fact 10: Global agriculture needs to become more sustainable to create food security.

    Fact 10: Global agriculture needs to become more sustainable to create food security.

    Smallholders must undergo training to this end. In particular, farming must not damage the environment. For instance, soil must not be overfertilized because this damages fertility in the long term. Plants must also be irrigated sparingly so that there is enough water in future and people have fresh drinking water in the long term too.

We can do a whole host of things to end world hunger. Do you have an idea about what can be done to combat global hunger? Do you know of any initiatives that advocate for sustainable agriculture or farmers’ land rights? Then tell us about it in the Community!

Community discussion

One good example is the online platform ConnectFarmer.com, which helps Indian smallholders to stay in business. Shrikrishna Hegde Ullane, a Germany-Alumnus from India, came up with this idea.

How a start-up is helping to secure the livelihoods of Indian smallholders

Young entrepreneurs are contributing to rural development, food security and economic growth in Mali and Ethiopia with their innovative ideas.

Entrepreneurship in Africa – How young entrepreneurs are making a difference in rural areas

Author: Wiebke Schönherr
FLMH Labor für Politik und Kommunikation GmbH

July 2017

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Comments

Dieudonné Vangu NGOMA
20 July 2017

THank you the question because this subject is one of my ability and epertise. I am an food security analyst and member of the food ceurity cluster in DR CONGO. I will share you the last results of our analysis for our country in a few days.

Best regards.

Nguyen Kim Lam
20 July 2017

Dear Sabine,

"How to contribute for targer “The world don’t have hungry people”?

Most of important what kindly reason in global strategies&solution at present.A example for Mekong river,hydrolic water power plant have sabotaged to ecology serious now,where are in China,Vietnam,Thailand,Lao,Cambodia.Government just focused to their national benefit only.
Other example, we are coming to fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0) now.It is clean energy&water will be distribute profuse more ... just was massively developed and used reliably in developed countries. On the contrary, developing and poor countries are not enough finance and technology so it is difficult for them to plan to build hydro electric power plant and thermal power … obviously the using of backward technology will waste a great deal of power&water in poor and developing countries.

So the co-operation, trust, solidarity and responsibility of peoples, nations, regions around the globe are the destination of mankind.The role of developed countries and investors (corporations) around the globe is obviously important. Their a great deal of experience, finance, technology ... combined with economics development strategies association with the field of sustainability in developing countries will be our basic solution. About us, International Alumni Project is not only the expansion of international relations or network.WE can co-operate,contribute to strategies,solution,action...in each country and all world better".

Best regards,
Nguyen Kim Lam.

Mubarak Inuwa
20 July 2017

Agricultural occupation, is indeed the oldest occupation man does on earth.Before the advent of any tool, for the purpose of crop cultivation, man's earliest tool, for that purpose, was hoe and ancient dagger.He used to roam all over the jungle and forests together with wild animals.The idea of hunting, came into his mind.
Man developed the idea of killing wild animals for meat.This idea of food production, became complexed as time went on.This circumstances, existed up to the time when man invented more sophisticated farming tools, which are improved and modernised from time to time as a result of technological advancements.The production of food, in large scale, was introduced at the international level after the second world war, when there was hunger catostrophy in some african countries.This body, was FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS (FAO).The formation of this organisation, was made in 1945.Food production, is the most essential and first agenda of man's development.

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