The elimination of world hunger
Today around 793 million people are undernourished globally
Sophie Hart | 3 December 2018

Today around 793 million people are undernourished globally, and this figure may seem daunting but when compared with previous years, the number of people going hungry is decreasing. The figure has gone down by 167million over the last decade and is 216 million less than in 1990-92. By tackling things like poverty, food distribution, government action and climate change, it will mean that hunger can be eliminated.  

Crops and food security could mean that there are enough crops being produced currently and the use of genetically modified foods can allow crops to be disease resistant. New crops are being genetically modified in order to have higher yields and be disease resistant. Pathogens are a worry to farmers as they can cause harvest and crop failures, but new crops have resistant mechanisms that could stop a new pathogen in its tracks.  

If, as a society we each individually take steps in our daily lives to stop climate change then we will be simultaneously taking a step towards ending hunger. This is because in areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa, climate change is resulting in crops (e.g. cereals, maize) being affected by drought. Cereal crops are grown in the South as they need more rain and are failing because there is not enough rain needed for them to grow due to climate change. Climate change means that we cannot rely on enough rainfall in order to grow crops and if plants reduce the amount of water they take in, they cannot take up as much carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and thus growth. One of the main contributing factors towards climate change is eating too much meat. The farming of cows and sheep releases 100 million tonnes of methane into the atmosphere every year contributing to climate change massively. Beef is particularly harmful, as it requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-changing emissions. The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat less red meat. A shift towards a more plant-based diet could reduce food-related emissions between 29 and 70%.  

If we eliminate poverty in the world, then we can eliminate hunger. The number of overweight and obese people in the world, suffering their own health problems, including a sharp rise in heart disease and diabetes, is roughly equal to the number of hungry people. That highlights one of the underlying causes of hunger – extreme levels of inequality, both within and between countries. By reducing the inequality gap between rich and poor it will reduce the number of hungry people in the world. Providing the additional calories needed by the 13% of the world's population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply, showing that only a tiny percentage of food is needed to eliminate hunger. Research institutions have determined that ending extreme poverty is possible by 2030 and because poverty and hunger are inextricably linked, this has a direct impact on ending hunger.  

By reducing food waste and improving food distribution we can be one step closer to ending world hunger. Currently there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but the food needs to be distributed around the world evenly to solve the hunger issue. High volumes of food are wasted in the western world as they are imperfect and so are just thrown away, this ‘imperfect’ food has nothing wrong with it besides the fact that it doesn’t look flawless and this ‘imperfect’ food could be used to feed the hungry. Denmark is trying to stop this food wastage by a setting up a food-waste pop-up market which lets customers fill shopping bags with soon-to-be discarded fruits and vegetables for about $3 U.S. Denmark also slashed its discarded food by 25 percent. We waste one third of our food worldwide and so the elimination of hunger is possible as the food is there for the hungry people to have but it is getting the food to the people which needs to be improved.  

There are many steps to be taken before our world is hunger free, many changes need to be made on a national scale, however it is essential that as a society we take steps every day in striving for this goal which is certainly within our reach.

Original illustration by Lewis Bushell

James Routledge 2016