The world has set an ambitious target to end hunger by 2030. There are many challenges ahead, but progress made since 2000 shows that where there’s a will, great progress can be made – and you can play your part! This World Food Day, we remember that we are the zero hunger generation – by joining together, we can end the scourge of hunger in our lifetimes.
Only one year ago the world united and made history: global leaders pledged themselves to a political manifesto that commits us all to ending poverty and hunger by 2030.
It seems almost outlandish, doesn’t it!? That we could end poverty and hunger within our lifetimes, and what’s more, within the next fifteen years!
But actually, when we work together real change can be affected, as can be seen in the massive progress made since 2000.
Hunger: a massive global issue
Despite this progress, however, hunger remains a serious problem. 792.5 million people went hungry last year. That’s more than the total populations of the US, UK and Ireland combined – and even higher, in fact, than the total population of the European Union. One in nine people went hungry last year, and this isn’t because there’s not enough food. According to the UN, the world produced 123% of the food it needed last year.
But more importantly, we have to remember that behind each statistic is a real person suffering the dehumanising, life-threatening effects of hunger and malnutrition – people like Nadiya Imbrahima and her family.
The people behind the statistics
Nadiya knows from bitter experience what it’s like to be hungry. As a subsistence farmer in Niger, she has faced severe food shortages this year: “We planted beans and maize but there was no rain and now we have no harvest and no food to eat,”she told us. Her husband Hassane added: “We went ten days last month without eating and this increases every month”.
And when families go hungry, it’s the children who suffer most. Hassane and Nadiya’s youngest child – seven month old Loubaba – is currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition because Nadiya cannot produce enough breastmilk to support her. “I feel miserable and helpless that I cannot provide enough food to feed my children. I haven’t eaten anything at all today... All we can afford is millet and most days I survive on a bowl of millet porridge a day.” Read the full story
Sadly the experience of Hassane and Nadiya is far from unique. Factors like conflict and climate change exacerbate the vulnerability of subsistence farming communities across the developing world to hunger. The current crises in Ethiopia, Malawi and South Sudan bear witness:
- Extreme drought in Ethiopia has left 10.2 million people needing food aid
- 5 million will need food aid in Malawi in the next six months due to the El Niño crisis
- In South Sudan, civil war has left 8 million people food insecure this year
“I cannot do everything – but everybody can do something.”
A timely rallying cry from former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.
Those of us who believe in justice and equality, and the fundamental right of all people – wherever they were born – to have access to sufficient food, can no longer stand by and leave the work of creating a fairer world to others. We have a massive opportunity under the auspices of the 2030 Agenda to really galvanise public and political action to make the aspirations of the Global Goals become a reality.
We each can make a meaningful contribution to the ambitious, idealistic, and visionary humanitarian agenda that was set out by global leaders in New York last year.
Here are a few beginning suggestions:
- Become informed of the issues: read the recently published Global Hunger Index 2016
- Hold leaders to account: our leaders have committed to the 2030 Agenda – let’s make sure they set in place the plans, actions and – mostly importantly – money to realise these noble aspirations
- Drive change in our personal lives: through more conscientious food consumption and waste habits. Here's our guide to active citizenship
- Activate and give voice to the hungry through our communities and social networks
For some great ideas of the little things you can do to make a difference see the Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World.
Read the Global Hunger Index
The 2016 Global Hunger Index, jointly published by IFPRI, Welhungerhilfe and Concern, maps hunger levels across the world to identify improvements or deteriorations in food security. It’s essential reading on the topic of getting to zero hunger.
Find out more
- Blog: How far away is an end to world hunger? Find out in the 2016 Global Hunger Index
- Blog: Malawi’s foot soldiers in the fight against hunger
- Blog: The daily battle with hunger in Niger
- UN: Zero Hunger Challenge