2021-2022 Trócaire Annual ReportLearn More
Millions of people are starving, despite the world producing more than enough to feed everyone. What can we do about it?
World hunger is worsening at an unprecedented rate. The number of people suffering from chronic hunger worldwide has climbed to more than 800 million as of 2022. That’s one in every 10 people in the world.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warn that acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further in 19 countries or situations – called hunger hotspots – during the outlook period from October 2022 to January 2023. The situation has gotten so catastrophic that for the first time since 2011, famine is likely to be declared in parts of Somalia, with other areas in the horn of Africa also at risk.
What is hunger?
The United Nations’ (UN) Hunger report defines hunger as “periods when populations are experiencing severe food insecurity.” hunger is when people spend entire days with nothing to eat for various reasons such as lack of money and lack of access to food and other resources. When a person consumes below 1,800 calories per day, it qualifies as food deprivation or undernourishment.
Why is hunger a problem in the world?
The world produces enough food to feed the entire population 1.5 times over. Yet millions of people still don’t have enough food to sustain them.
Research on hunger consistently identifies the same three drivers; conflict and insecurity, global and national economic shocks, and weather extremes and climate shocks. These are all compounded by longer term systemic vulnerabilities and weaknesses from underinvestment in agriculture, to the concentration of power over the food systems in the hands of a few private companies, to land grabbing.
World hunger in numbers:
What are some solutions to hunger?
In order to effectively fight chronic food deprivation, governments, non-governmental organisations and global leaders across all sectors need to work together to find new solutions to world hunger. Below are some of the ways world hunger could be reduced:
Meeting humanitarian needs
Reducing hunger rates starts with meeting current humanitarian needs. Humanitarian actions with short-term responses need to be framed with increased resilience and reduced vulnerability in mind.
Make access to food a human right
Access to food globally should be made a basic human right.
A profound shift of our global food systems is needed to reduce the number of people facing extreme hunger. With industrial agricultural systems making up the lion’s share of the estimated 24% of agriculture’s direct share of global greenhouse gas emissions, transitions towards more sustainable and equitable production systems are required globally. One way to do so is through agroecology, which takes into account natural ecosystems and planting a diversity of crops to boost the resilience and sustainability of the farming system as a whole. Evidence from Trócaire’s projects in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa confirm how agroecological approaches support people’s right to adequate food and build farmers’ resilience (socio-political and economic trading power) to climate change and other shocks.
Read More: Going Wild: The wild and traditional foods that Trócaire is working to recover in Africa and Central America
Increase investment in agriculture
To end hunger, there must be an increase in investment in agriculture at a global level through overseas development aid and at a national level. Richer countries should also allocate much higher rates of climate finance as significant resources are needed to adapt to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of a changing climate. Increased investment should be non-market distorting and promote social equity and sustainability.
Read More: 5 things you need to know about famine
Disaster risk reduction
A crucial part of Trócaire’s work is supporting people to protect themselves, their livelihoods and their belongings from shocks and disasters including climate-related, political, conflict, disease epidemics, economic and financial disruptions. Climate extremes and variabilities are predicted to worsen in the future, so we must find ways to strengthen farming systems and livelihoods around the world. This can range from locally-led active monitoring, early-warning measures, to infrastructural measures such as reinforcing homes, to natural resource management such as regeneration of vegetation in hazardous, eroded zones.
In the Horn and East Africa farmers are facing a fifth consecutive season of drought, compounded by the recent rise in food and fuel due to the war in Ukraine. The World Food Programme (WFP) says with crops continuing to fail and livestock being wiped out, an estimated 7.2 million people are waking up hungry every day in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia for example. In Somalia the situation is so bad that famine may be declared in parts of the country in the coming weeks.
Mother-of-five Ayoyo Daguto from the South Omo Zone, in southern Ethiopia said the recent drought has destroyed all her crops and her family have no food to eat.
“I remember three very serious droughts in my life. But this is the worst,” Ayoyo says. “My children are not with me anymore because of the hunger. They have left to find food, to go fishing at the river. Only the small ones are left with me and they don’t say anything about the drought. I dream that my older children are healthy and that they will come back.”
Ayoyo, who was widowed five years ago, is receiving cash assistance from Trócaire, SCIAF and CAFOD so she can buy a healthy variety of food from local markets.
“A good life is when I have lots of livestock and grow a good harvest and when I am able to give my family the good things,” she says.
Hygiene and sanitation
Even when families have enough food to eat, if they don’t have access to water, sanitation and hygiene, they become susceptible to diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases that could prevent them from absorbing the necessary nutrients from their food. Children are particularly vulnerable to becoming malnourished in this way. A huge focus of Trócaire’s health programme is ensuring that people have access to clean, safe water and adequate hygiene and sanitation services.
Focus on women
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, women make up 43 per cent of the global agricultural labour force, while in developing countries, two in three women are employed in farming. Yet these women are not treated the same as their male counterparts. They routinely face more extreme poverty, less education, competing priorities and have less access or control over land and resources. Trócaire is working to close this gender gap by helping women control the resources needed to feed their families, grow nutritious food, expand their businesses and participate in leadership roles in food and agricultural systems.
Read More: How technology is changing lives of female farmers in Sierra Leone
Supporting refugees and internally displaced people
In Somalia alone, over seven million people, more than 40% of the population, are struggling to find food. The drought has led to the forced displacement of 800,000 people. Trócaire’s programmes support the immediate needs of people who are forced to flee their homes with cash transfers, food distribution and access to health services. Trócaire also provides early interventions that involve provision of food to children before they become acutely malnourished, and work their families to build long term resilience.
You can donate to Trócaire’s hunger appeal in the Horn of Africa here