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We are the zero hunger generation – let’s change the world

Sadhbh Goodhue
Sadhbh Goodhue | 14 October 2016 | 0 Comments

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.“Achieving Zero Hunger is our shared commitment. Now is the time to work as partners and build a truly global movement to ensure the Right to Food for all..." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Graphic: Concern Worldwide.

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.

Great progress has been achieved in relation to poverty, child mortality rates, and maternal deaths since 1990. Graphic: Concern Worldwide.

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.  

792.5 million people went hungry in the world in 2015. Graphic: Concern Worldwide.

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

The Hassane family sit in their small house. Baby loubaba is severely malnourished and is attending a Concern Worldwide supported health centre in Commune de Bambaye, Tahoua, Niger for treatment. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.

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:

Goal two of the global goals: getting to zero hunger.

“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.

Every human on earth – even the most indifferent, laziest person among us – can contribute to ending global poverty. Reading UN’s Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World is a great place to start.  part of the solution. Source: UN http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/

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.

Download now

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