What is hunger?
Hunger exists when people don’t have enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active, healthy life. This means they live in a state of food insecurity – which can be chronic, seasonal or transitory. Food insecurity can be caused by not enough food being available or by people not having enough money to buy it. Food may also be badly distributed because of weak systems or economic inequality. It may also be poorly used at the household or country level.
Why no food?
The reasons for food shortages vary from country to country. There are many complicated reasons why families don’t have access to food. Here are some of the main reasons why countries like Haiti, Zambia, Syria, and Iraq are suffering from a lack of food:
- Extreme poverty: No money? No food. Unfortunately, it’s that simple. Poverty keeps a tight grip on individuals and families who can’t afford to receive an education and find good jobs. Even when people try to grow their own food, often there are too many obstacles.
- Drought: Crops and livestock can’t survive during droughts. And the countries with the worst droughts almost always suffer the most debilitating famines. Without rain and proper irrigation, farmers aren’t able to feed their families or help earn an income.
- War and violence: It’s no surprise that where a hunger crisis is found, war and violence often took up residence long before. In countries like Syria and Iraq, war has destroyed countless acres of farmland. Fighting in port cities or along trade routes means food can’t get to the people who need it most. And this food scarcity means that what little food is available usually costs much more than the average family can afford.
Why can’t mothers feed their babies?
You may be wondering why babies and children under age 2 are the most affected during a hunger crisis. Shouldn’t mothers be able to keep their children alive naturally by nursing them?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Mothers are often too weak and malnourished themselves to produce milk for their kids. And because of the reasons already mentioned — poverty and scarcity caused by war — buying formula is usually out of the question.
If a baby girl survives infancy, she will likely grow up into a malnourished young woman. She, herself, will be too sick to produce milk for her own children. So the sickness and malnutrition will continue … at least until someone breaks the cycle.
Even if a child survives infancy, what are additional risks?
If children survive past the age of 2, they are still not out of the woods. Their quality of life may be reduced to the point of complete debilitation.
Physical stunting: Because of malnutrition, children are often left physically disabled. Some children never learn to walk, their bones are brittle, they don’t grow very tall, and they’re often left too sick and weak to work when they become adults. This means they will be completely reliant on the help of others for the rest of their lives. Most of the results of stunting are irreversible.
Mental delays: Starvation weakens children to the point that they don’t have the energy to run or play … let alone pay attention in school. Even if they could, they would struggle to absorb vital information since extreme hunger can prevent a child’s brain from developing properly. Many starving children — even though they desperately try — may never even learn to read.
Cycle of poverty: Children suffering from health complications and mental delays will not grow into functioning adults able to find jobs and support their own families. And without good jobs, they will never have the opportunity to escape poverty. Starvation, a lack of education, and a low sense of self-worth will continue to pass from generation to generation.
What can you do to help?
By now you realize that extreme hunger is one of the biggest obstacles impoverished people face, especially children whose brains and bodies are still developing. . But the solution is simple — they need food.
Through charities, you can help feed one starving child for an entire year.
That’s an entire year of nutritious food that will help a child survive and thrive. It’s an entire year of peace of mind for parents who have no idea how they’re going to keep their baby alive.
What is malnutrition?
Malnutrition exists when people don’t have the proper combination and balance of nutrients in their diet. It includes both under and over nutrition. Undernutrition can result in a person being underweight, too short (or stunted), dangerously thin (or wasted) or deficient in vitamins and minerals (suffering from micronutrient malnutrition).
Who is undernourished in the world?
About 870 million people in the period 2010–12. That’s 12.5 % of the world’s population, or one in eight people. The vast majority of these – 852 million – live in developing countries, where nearly 15% of the population is believed to be undernourished. In Latin America and parts of Asia, the number and proportion of undernourished people is falling, but in Africa and west Asia it is increasing.
What does the right to food mean?
The right to food – and water – is a human right recognised under international law which protects the right of all human beings to feed themselves in dignity, either by producing their food or by purchasing it. To produce their own food, a person needs land, seeds, water and other resources. To buy it, they need money and access to the market. This means countries have to provide an environment in which people can use their full potential to produce or procure enough food for themselves and their families, with adequate incomes and social safety nets.