People who have enough to eat do not read!

Some 800 million people around the world are suffering from hunger at this very minute! Eight hundred million people are sick on account of chronic malnutrition—primarily children. Today, 24,000 people will die because they do not have enough to eat. Today is World Food Day. Here is some food for thought.

More people die of hunger and malnutrition than of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis together. Two hundred million people suffer from goitre because of iodine deficiency. Iron deficiency causes anaemia and a deficiency of vitamin A leads to blindness. The list of diseases caused by food shortage is long.

According to a definition by the United Nations, chronic hunger sets in when somebody consumes less than 2,100 calories a day. Ninety-eight percent of those who die of starvation live in developing countries. Three quarters of these are children under five years of age. This is what UNICEF says—and people just carry on as usual. October 16th has been set aside especially to make people aware of this problem, but is anybody really interested? The hungry continue to be hungry. And people who have enough to eat obviously do not read. t.

The problem is distribution, not scarcity

The developing countries have to cope with malnutrition and the industrial nations have to deal with overweight societies. That is a myth and incorrect. It is not quite as simple as that. Actually, the earth offers enough of everything if only it would be better distributed. Scientists, politicians, and ethics committees agree: the problem is distribution, not scarcity. Not enough food reaches those who need it.

Some facts

  • Fifty per cent of those suffering hunger are subsistence farmers, who are so poor that they cannot afford to buy additional food to fill a plate for themselves and their families. A poor harvest destroys not only their millet but also their hope. The world market prices are exploitative and do not cover the time, effort, and money it takes to grow the crops. Pricing policies, trade barriers, dominant marketing structures—although the causes are clear there are no solutions in sight.
  • Global warming is leading to more frequent natural disasters. Armed conflicts, dictatorships, and terrorism particularly affect countries that are already suffering from poverty. People live in slums not because they want to but because they are driven there. Short-term security for the price of starvation. The causes are obvious, the solutions are not.
  • The United Nations estimate that 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted—green waste. In purely mathematical terms, this would be enough to feed the hungry of this world. Today, according to scientific research, one kilogram of grain is available per person per day. That alone makes 3,000 calories per person per day. Clear causes, no solutions.
  • Even in richer countries or in large cities like New York, London, or Moscow more and more people have come to depend on food banks and soup kitchens. They simply cannot afford to buy enough food with their income. Other necessities of life also cost money and are becoming more and more expensive. Yet, at the same time, industrial nations have to deal with a growing number of obese people. Who has a solution?

There is no one single and easy solution to eliminate hunger, as there is, for example, in the case of some diseases. Solutions are complex. Social, ethical, political, economic, and geographic factors play into it. What can we do? We can preserve and protect the creation, for example, by eating less meat, reducing consumption of bio fuels, using less palm oil, living more consciously, buying food more consciously, not wasting food, sharing food, feeding the hungry, donating, and, and, and …

Photo: ChristArt - Fotolia

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Peter Johanning
Aid agencies, Social commitment