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In our world, there is enough food to feed the whole population. However, according to FAO’s recent report, one out of every six or seven people is hungry and it is a possibility that one out of three children is underweight. Today a massive number of people are living under poverty and many are dying of hunger each day. According to a report, 40% of the world’s population is living under poverty” (www.thp.org). The World Bank states “in India, the world’s second most populated nation, has 34% living on less than $1 a day and 80% living on less than $2”. The situation is the same in Sub- Saharan Africa. The same source indicated above claims that “41% of the population in Sub- Saharan Africa live on less than $1 a day” which is considered as the international poverty line. What are the causes and effects of poverty and hunger and how are they spread out around the world?
What does Poverty and Hunger Mean?
Poverty and hunger are defined in different ways by different individuals. Poverty is defined as “people living in household below 60 percent of median income” ( Raffo et al 5). Encarta Dictionary also states poverty as “the state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing and housing.” Encyclopedia Britannica defines poverty as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions”. All the definitions assert that poverty is a state in which one cannot afford to achieve a basic living standard such as food and clothing. Poverty may be considered as the condition of being extremely poor.
Poverty is classified into two categories according to World Bank. These are income poverty and human poverty. Income poverty is related with only “financial income” whereas human poverty includes lack of “proper diet, clothing, shelter and work”. So far, we’ve defined poverty but what is hunger?
In many sources including Encyclopedia Britannica, hunger is viewed as a feeling we have when we need something to eat. Both poverty and hunger are spread all over the world but the degree varies from country to country. The less developed countries suffer from it strongly whereas the developed countries are affected to a much lesser degree.
Poverty and Hunger Facts
Do you know how many people are living in poverty and how many are diying of hunger each day worldwide? There are a number of people who are poor and hungry in the world. The United Nation’s bulletin on the “Eradication of Poverty” claims that “1.2 billion people live on less than $1 a day which is viewed as the absolute poverty level. It is very shocking to know that so many people are living under poverty. According to the bulletin, “24,000 people die of hunger each day, 16,000 of whom are children under five years of age”. In addition to this, “800 million people, or one in every six people, are malnourished, 200 million of whom are children”. As a result, the average life expectancy where hunger is serious, is low.
“There are 19 million hungry people in developed countries and 53 million people are hungry in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Sub- Saharan Africa, 239 million people are also hungry” (www.stwr.org). World Hunger Project further states the issue as follows:
As of 2008, the World Bank has estimated that there were an estimated 1,345 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1.25 a day or less. This compares to the later FAO estimate of 1.02 billion undernourished people. Extreme poverty remains an alarming problem in the world’s developing regions, despite some progress that reduced “dollar–now $1.25– a day” poverty from 1900 million people in 1981, a reduction of 29 percent over the period. Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, and especially, East Asia, with the major improvement occurring in China.
Hunger around the world
There are many factors that are assumed to be root causes for the existence of poverty in the world. Lack of resources, an unequal income distribution, conflict, drought, famine and climate change, for example, are some of the causes of poverty and hunger in many countries.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people in extreme poverty has increased. The
economic systems of a nation may also be the principal cause of poverty and hunger. A number of international organizations which are working with poverty and hunger believe that the principal underlying cause of poverty and hunger is the “ordinary operation of the economic and political systems in the world”. In the developing countries especially in African, control over resources and income is based on military power. Therefore, everything is in the hand of people who are leading a comfortable life whereas the poor are the victim of the system.
One of the causes of poverty and hunger according to FAO is conflict. FAO strongly believes that large number of people are poor and hungry due to conflict either inside their nation or outside. Moreover, UNHCR strenghens this fact in the following way:
At the end of 2005, the global number of refugees was at its lowest level in almost a quarter of a century. Despite some large-scale repatriation movements, the last three years have witnessed a significant increase in refugee numbers, due primarily to the violence taking place in Iraq and Somalia. By the end of 2008, the total number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate exceeded 10 million. The number of conflict-induced internally displaced persons (IDPs) reached some 26 million worldwide at the end of the year . Providing exact figures on the number of stateless people is extremely difficult. But, important, visible though it is, and anguishing for those involved conflict is less important as poverty as a cause of hunger. Using the statistics above 1.02 billion people suffer from chronic hunger while 36 million people are displaced (UNHCR 2008).
Hunger can be viewed as the cause of poverty in a such a way that it causes poor health, low levels of energy, and even mental impairment. Due to this fact, hunger can lead to even greater poverty by reducing people’s ability to work and learn. Therefore, we may conclude that hunger is one of the causes of poverty.
Climate change is another serious cause of hunger and poverty as global warming is increasing rapidly. As the result of change in climate, drought in the world is increasing day by day. Flooding and farming practices are other key issues regarding poverty and hunger. As it is mentioned earlier, factors such as land rights and ownership, land for non-productive use (such as tobaco industries and floriculture) increasing of export of food when the country’s people don’t have enough to eat, poor methods of farming, war, drought, and many more are causes of poverty and hunger .
How does poverty affect hunger? Poverty and hunger are almost inseparable. Poverty is the main cause of hunger, when people do not have money they can not afford to buy food and support themselves. Hence,world hunger is a symptom of world poverty. Although hunger is caused by many factors, the most dominant reason is linked with poverty.
The world community has the material and all that is needed to prevent and fight hunger and poverty. Yet, people are hungry even when there is enough food because it is not equally distributed and due to political unrests. Providing aid food for the hungry is not an ever lasting solution to tackle poverty and hunger. We need to find a sustainable solution to eradicate hunger and poverty.
We need to address the issues such as poor farming practices, deforestation, overcropping and overgrazing that are exhausting land fertility and cause hunger. Wars are another underlying issue to poverty and hunger that need to be addressed as millions of people get displaced every from their homes leading to hunger and poverty.We need to find better ways of fighting hunger and poverty by addressing the issue at a prevention stage.
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