“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Theresa
Many people are familiar with the issue of world hunger and many even understand the numbers associated with the global problem. While sustainable development goals are still striving to minimize the hunger gap and empower vulnerable communities to achieve food security, acute malnutrition is rife among the extremely poor in vulnerable countries.
Organizations across the globe are providing education and resources to promote sustainable agriculture, grow the agricultural workforce, and tackle climate change. Transformation is occurring from vulnerable individuals all the way up to national governments’ policies on food access and health systems.
But statistics show that global hunger has actually gotten worse since 2016 after back-to-back decades of progress. What happened? Why is it still such a huge issue and how much would it cost to end world hunger?
How much money would it cost to end world hunger?
When you consider how much money it would take to solve world hunger, it’s best to start with the numbers. According to a 2020 report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development, financial estimates to stop world hunger by 2030 would require an input of US$33 billion per year or a total of $330 billion.
But wait, surely it doesn’t cost $330 billion to provide nutritious food to hungry people? Why is this number so large and what does it actually mean?
Well, it’s a matter of approach. The easier and less expensive approach focuses on reducing malnutrition by providing medical intervention and proper nutrition resources. This goal may be more easily attained, but it’s not sustainable in the long run.
On the other hand, the more challenging and costly approach aims to end hunger by first tackling the issue of poverty, which would not only prevent hunger among vulnerable populations but solve many other issues as well. Among them would be reducing gender inequality, promoting climate-smart agriculture practices, improving the overall food system of a country, and enhancing disaster risk reduction.
No matter which approach you consider, there is no quick fix for solving hunger, and asking how much money it would take to solve world hunger is not the only factor we need to take into account. The main reason for this is the need for infrastructure to transport the necessary food and resources to poverty-stricken regions. This means roads for transporting food and resources, agricultural solutions such as irrigation (which requires a reliable water source), education having to do with sustainable farming techniques and nutrition… the list goes on.
World hunger is so much more than empty stomachs, which is why many organizations believe a more holistic approach, while it may take longer and cost more money to achieve, is a more permanent solution to global hunger.
The World Health Organization considers hunger the single greatest threat to global health because it affects so many aspects of human life and it traps those affected by it in a vicious cycle. If a child’s family lives in poverty, their chances of a life in poverty are much higher. Hunger prevents children from learning, which prevents them from being able to work as adults, which keeps them rooted in a lifetime of poverty.
Why Should We End World Hunger?
Poverty, and the mass hunger that results from it, is a systemic and cyclic issue that often means communities are too disempowered or weakened to pull themselves out on their own. There are many reasons that poverty has historically arisen. It may be attributed to corrupt government leadership in some past or current time, internal or external exploitation of natural resources, or the unequal distribution of resources in an area. Many generations later, communities remain disadvantaged and in need of help.
Ending food insecurity across the globe is not so much the solution, as a key indicator of the solution. That is, to end poverty. Ending poverty involves those around the globe with the resources available to contribute their skills and support so poverty-stricken regions can support themselves over the long term. This is to create equal opportunities for all people and to promote the opportunity for people across the globe to live full and happy lives, rather than having to worry about their most basic needs.
How Many People Live in Poverty?
There are more than 700 million people (nearly 10% of the world’s population) that live in extreme poverty and struggle to fulfill basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation.
Hunger is the leading cause of death worldwide, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Besides starvation, acute malnutrition diminishes a person’s ability to fight infection or to travel long distances to collect the water and food they need to stay alive.
What is the poorest country in the world?
The majority of the world’s population suffering from severe poverty and hunger live in sub-Saharan Africa. The poorest country in the world in 2021 is Somalia, according to the 2021 United Nations Least Developed Countries report. The country’s annual income divided by its population (GNI per capita) leaves the individual living off around US$104 annually.
The life expectancy of someone born in Somalia is about 57 years. Despite having agricultural and aquacultural resources like livestock, forestry, and fisheries, Somalia maintains an informal economy largely based around livestock exports, money transfer companies, and telecommunications.
Just over half of the population lives in rural areas and 96% of the population is living in severe drylands. According to the World Population Review, only 31% of Somalis have access to clean drinking water, and 23% have access to improved sanitation facilities.
Due to the unfortunate cyclical nature of hunger and poverty, it’s difficult to point to the single greatest cause, even within a specific region. Having said that, the sub-Saharan African nations suffer prolonged drought causing food shortages and medical emergencies. Many countries are landlocked, preventing trade, and many suffer from political instability, war, or ethnic and religious violence.
So…can we actually end world hunger?
At Food For Life Global, we believe there is a solution to world hunger. The most frustrating thing about the issue of global hunger is that it is not the result of a lack of food–there is plenty of food grown and produced around the world each year to feed everyone.
So in order to solve it, we have to attack the problem at its root cause. This is a long-term solution, however, and the question of how much to solve world hunger will take far more educational and material resources than what we currently have available. When the global community unites in advocacy and support to end hunger around the world, our force is far greater than any individual or organization can achieve alone.
Issues contributing to Global Hunger
So let’s take a look at the three key issues that are contributing to global hunger:
Lack of resources like farmland as well as the means to harvest, store, and preserve food are major challenges for poor populations. The cyclical nature of hunger makes it extremely difficult for those suffering from hunger to help themselves. This is why those with access to sufficient resources need to step up and provide assistance.
The United Nations estimates that nearly one-third of the food the world produces is wasted each year. This is more than enough food to feed the undernourished multitudes. The food that currently gets wasted is unlikely to be sent to poor communities, however by respecting food, we can work towards the global redistribution of food resources to help those in need.
Farmers in developing countries can’t grow food and crops in areas where the temperature has risen and the rain patterns are less predictable. Farmers plant too late or too early and lose their crops due to unforeseen weather patterns like storms and droughts. A light harvest can devastate a community already battling hunger. From 1998 to 2017, world economic losses from disasters were estimated at almost $3 trillion, according to the United Nations.
The solution to global hunger is a world where everyone has the resources and tools necessary to produce their own food. After all, a full stomach only remains full for so long.
How to Solve World Hunger
Increase Agricultural Output
By matching food production with food demand in poverty-stricken areas, we can help reduce the debilitating effects of long-term hunger.
- Connect local farmers to the agricultural workforce and provide them with the resources that can help them expand their crop production.
- Increase the yield produced by local farmers and help them to protect crops from pests and weeds without the use of harmful chemicals.
- Healthier soil leads to healthier crops, which leads to healthier people. This also includes introducing better options for long-term food storage, particularly in communities where electricity and freshwater are not readily available.
To achieve zero hunger around the world we need to encourage sustainable practices at all levels in vulnerable communities.
This extends beyond farming practices. Helping societies develop the skills and strategies necessary for creating a stable economy and for managing their financial resources, is key to their health and survival.
This includes supporting gender equality by developing female farmers and supporting women’s groups, establishing disaster risk reduction, and instituting accessible medical facilities.
Support Government and Infrastructure
Supporting the governments of affected communities to do what is needed in order to move forward is crucial to solving world hunger. Without the laws and policies necessary to support farming families, it won’t matter what kind of agricultural techniques or even what financial resources are available. This also includes access to clean water and education.
Providing information on how to produce, prepare, and preserve food capable of sustaining a nutritious diet and perpetuating a stable economy is the key to the future success of impoverished parts of the world.
To abolish food insecurity worldwide, we need to address systemic poverty issues. By providing resources and education to women and men, we equip vulnerable populations with the tools to perpetuate a sustainable workforce that supports economic growth and enhances long-term food security. This also helps build resilience against natural disasters when they hit poverty-stricken communities.
It’s this kind of work that humanitarian and global development organizations engage in to make ending hunger possible. But you don’t have to leave all the effort to these organizations. Ending hunger will take the participation of everyone. The United Nations’ goal is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030. It’s the responsibility of those who hold the power to create change that will help to achieve this goal.
If you’re passionate about eradicating the number one threat to global health, look into opportunities to donate, contribute within your community or launch a global fundraising campaign. Educate your family and friends about sustainable farming practices and reducing food waste. Any little bit counts and helps provide a suffering family with some relief. Also, there are more ways to contribute to ending hunger other than donating.
What would the end of world hunger look like?
Ending hunger would break a vital cog in the poverty machine, finally allowing impoverished populations a chance at a healthy life. When people aren’t worried about where their next meal is coming from, they can focus on things beyond their most basic needs. Education and the status of women would improve, agricultural practices would advance and nations everywhere would become more productive and self-sustaining.
Ending global hunger would not only improve the lives of populations who have suffered from systemic poverty for millennia, but it would also facilitate peaceful relations around the world. If you have the capacity to donate, become an advocate for ending world hunger, or raise awareness for global hunger relief, get in touch with Food For Life Global and help perpetuate the change today. With your help, all people around the world will gain access to healthier and more fulfilling lives.