Can you think of a time recently when you’ve been really, really hungry? How did that feel?
Lots of people in the world are hungry. This means that they often do not have access to adequate food and may go to bed feeling hungry.
There are lots of different causes of hunger like climate change, conflict and poverty.
When people don’t eat enough it can have serious effects, such as: stunted growth, a weakened immune system, impaired intellectual development and reinforced poverty.
So what can we do to help?
Solving the hunger problem is difficult but people are working on different ways to improve things. One short-term solution is to send food rations and parcels to people who need them.
In the long-term things like using special climate resilient crops, supporting smaller famers and ending poverty will help beat hunger around the world.
There are lots of ways that anyone, including you, can make a difference in solving the hunger problem. For example, you could: raise money for those in need of food or make a poster to raise awareness about food waste.
Everyone can take action to make real change. What will you do?
There are lots of charities that need your help to end hunger around the world.
For example, The Trussell Trust run food banks across the UK, FareShare redistribute leftover food to those in need and Action Against Hunger provide emergency food to malnourished children.
See how you can support them in their amazing work.
When you get very hungry, you can’t wait to eat something. And if you don’t eat something you might start feeling tired and dizzy. You might not even be able to think straight and you could develop a headache and feel shaky. Hungry people often tend to get a little grumpy too!
It isn’t nice at all to feel like this. People usually don’t feel like doing anything on an empty stomach. Imagine needing to take your exams while you feel dizzy and shaky from hunger, or what it would be like to live like that every single day. What would it feel like to go to bed while you’re hungry, not knowing where your next meal is coming from?
While you’re exploring this sustainable development goal, don’t think of ‘hunger’ as feeling hungry once in a while and then eating to make the hunger go away.
The hunger discussed here is:
Hunger causes people to:
So just keep in mind, that when talking about world hunger, being hungry is much more than the feeling of wanting to eat pudding after dinner!
There are many different causes of hunger. These include:
Climate change is causing extreme weather events – such as floods and droughts – that some crops cannot withstand, meaning that the crops fail and food production is halted.
For example, in the country of Lesotho (in Africa) corn is one of the most commonly eaten foods. When a droughtA period of dry weather resulting in a water shortage. strikes, the water shortages lead to crop failures and Lesotho is suddenly unable to produce enough corn to meet the needs of its people. Since there is less corn available and people have to compete for what there is, the price of corn goes up and many people find themselves in a situation where they can no longer afford to buy corn. Sadly, climate change is making drought more and more common in Lesotho.
Conflict disrupts economic activities, such as tradeBuying and selling goods and services. Goods are things that people make (for example food or clothes). Services are things that people do (for example nursing or car washing).. A country in a state of conflict may no longer be able to importBring something in from another country. goods from abroad, leading to food shortages. Conflict often forces farmers and food producers to hide to stay safe, so they can’t work and make food for everyone. Finally, conflict triggers the displacement of people, who are known as refugeesPeople who leave their country to escape something bad. For example to escape war or flooding.. Refugees often end up living in makeshift camps with limited access to resources.
Watch the video on the right of An Ordinary Day At Zaatari Refugee Camp. This video shows the food situation in a refugee camp in Jordan. The World Food Programme has done a fantastic job here and it looks as though everyone receives some food each day. Think about the food that is on offer – how does it compare to the food that you might eat at home? Think about what it might have been like before the World Food Programme got involved.
Poverty means people do not have enough money to buy food. In some cases, this means that they cannot buy food at all, in other cases it means that they can only buy cheap food, low in nutritional valueWhether food has the right amount of substances that give your body what it needs to function well and stay healthy. Foods with low nutritional value include sugary drinks, chocolate, cakes and pastries. Foods with high nutritional value include nuts, salmon and beans.. Shockingly, the people that are most affected by poverty and hunger are the people who produce our food. More than 50% of the world’s hungry people are farmers who work on small farms.
There are two main reasons for this:
Watch the video on the right about the ‘Paradox of Hunger’ (the fact that farmers are most likely to suffer from hunger).
You’ll notice that ‘too little food in the world’ is not one of the causes of hunger. This is because there is enough food in the world to feed everyone (at the moment). Sadly, a lot of this food is wasted. Up to 1/3 of all food that is produced goes to waste – all the way from the farm, right up to the point where it goes to waste in people’s homes. This is a pity because a lot of precious water and other resources go into producing food and it’s becoming harder and harder for farmers to grow crops with the changing climate.
There are many reasons for this food waste and they are quite complicated. One big contributor to food waste is inequality. Food inequality relates to the unfair distributionHow something is shared among people. of food.
On the one hand, there are lots of hungry people who cannot access food and are considered undernourishedSomeone who does not get enough food, or enough healthy food.. On the other hand, some people can access food so easily that they buy too much and end up eating too much and wasting the rest. These people are considered overnourishedSomeone who gets too much food.. Eating too much is a problem in itself. People who eat too much may end up putting on weight and become overweight or obese. More than 2 billion people (1 in 4) in the world are considered overweight.
Since climate change, conflict and poverty are present all over the world, there are hungry people in all countries. The causes of hunger are more common in countries that are still developing and so hunger is more likely to exist there. This is particularly the case in Africa, where nearly 21% of the population is considered hungry. But hunger is not just a problem in developing countries. In the UK for example, 12.5% of the population is considered hungry and 2.5 million people had to rely on food banks in 2020.
This map shows the percentage of people in each country who are undernourished, meaning their total daily food usually contains less energy than what they need. The key at the bottom can help you interpret the map. In the countries in dark red, up to 60% of the population is undernourished. In the countries in cream, less than 2.5% of the population is undernourished.
Being hungry, or not having enough nutritious foodFood that is good for your body and contains what your body needs to stay alive., can have serious short- and long-term effects.
This is when someone stops growing at the rate that a person of their age is expected to grow. They sometimes begin to waste, meaning that they lose an extreme amount of body fat and muscle.
This is when someone has not eaten enough nutrients so the production and activity of antibodiesProteins in the blood that help fight off disease. in their body is reduced. People with a low immune system can’t fight disease very well, so they get sick.
When someone faces severe hunger as a baby or young child, their intellectual developmentChanges in someone’s thinking and reasoning as they grow. won’t be as good as it should be. This means that they will not be able to reach their full potential. Children and adults suffering from severe hunger also can’t focus as well and do a good job at school and work.
The effects outlined above mean that those suffering from severe hunger are often trapped in a cycle of hunger (shown below). They are more likely to be weak, get sick, have impaired intellectual development and/or can’t do as much as a well-fed person can. This makes it very difficult for them to get jobs and earn money to buy the food that they need.
The final estimated price is :
The world produces enough food to feed all 7 billion people. In fact, experts think that at the moment we are probably producing enough to feed 10 billion people.
The challenge is to make sure that food is fairly distributed so that everyone gets what they need.
In the short term, there are lots of charities and organisations that offer temporary and emergency relief to those in crisis all over the world. They rely on donations from people like you to bring food rations and parcels to as many hungry people as they can. This could be supplying food banks that give out food to those who can’t afford the food they need in the UK or delivering food parcels to those living in a war zone. Watch the video below to see how a Food Bank works and the impact it might have on users.
In many developed countries, such as the UK, governments allocate some of the money that they raise in taxMoney that people have to pay to the government. The government uses this money to pay for public services such as education and healthcare. to those most in need. For example, the UK government provides free school meals to 1.7 million children living in the UK whose parents cannot afford to provide them with a nutritious meal. But providing food to all the hungry people in a country is very expensive so some people are left behind. In 2020 it was estimated that, even with the help of the government and charities, almost 2 million children in the UK missed meals because their families could not afford food.
Rather than offering people help when they find themselves hungry, we are striving for a fairer world in which everyone can access adequate food themselves and food banks and emergency support systems are no longer needed. The following long-term solutions can help build a sustainable solution to hunger:
Climate change is disrupting food production, leading to shortages in certain areas. There are many ways that our agricultural processesSteps involved in growing and harvesting food. can be adapted to make them less vulnerableBeing weak and without protection. to climate change. For example by:
To make small-scale farmers less vulnerable to hunger, they need training and equipment to keep up with large-scale farmers. But a lot of the time this is very expensive and small-scale farmers cannot afford the cost of machinery all in one go. So, farmers need to borrow the money from a bank, or the person selling the machinery needs to be willing to be paid in small amounts over time. This is called credit.
They also need to be protected so that they are paid a fair price. You may have seen the Fairtrade certification badge on some of the products that you buy. In fact, 1 in 3 bunches of bananas sold in the UK is Fairtrade. For products to receive the Fairtrade certification producers need to show that their farmers are paid fairly. Watch a video on what Fairtrade is below.
To ensure that everyone has enough money to buy the food that they need to lead a healthy and productive life, we need to end poverty worldwide.
As a priority, we need to:
Now that you understand a bit more about Hunger, it’s time to make a difference. It isn’t nice to think about people having to skip meals and some people feel guilty about having food while others don’t. If this is you, be grateful for your food, and realise that because you aren’t stuck in the hunger cycle, you are in a position to help others. If you want to do something practical to help, the power is in your hands. Take a look at some ways you can take action right now.
If you have any other ideas of SuperKind things people can do to help eradicate hunger, we would love to hear from you here.
Here are some amazing young people who cared about beating Hunger and took action to make change happen. These change makers were all passionate about the same cause but used their unique skills to make change happen in different ways.
Everyone can help make a difference. Consider what your unique superpower might be. Are you someone with a strong voice who likes to spread awareness by talking to everyone you meet? Or do you prefer a behind the scenes approach – making sure that donations are collected to take to those in need?