Although it has been said that ‘hunger does not discriminate’, this is not true. It does. Hunger attacks the already vulnerable and disadvantaged, such as women and ethnic minorities. It is groups with the least economic, social or political power that suffer the most.
On February 20, 2017, the world awoke to a headline that should have never have been written: famine had been declared in parts of South Sudan, Somalia Northern Nigeria and Yemen, the first time famine had been announced anywhere in the world in six years.
The world is committed to Zero Hunger by 2030, yet 20 million people are still at risk of famine and 815 million people across the world go to bed hungry. Why? The answer is complicated, but a number of factors – including profound inequalities, climate change and conflict – undermine efforts to end hunger and malnutrition.
The world has managed to reduce hunger significantly from 1991 to 2015, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and according to the annual Global Hunger Index (GHI). It is worrying that there seems to be an upward trend again. The FAO has just published its State Of Food Insecurity (SOFI) report for 2017 and it notes a rise in hunger in the last two years, with the numbers going hungry rising from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.
At its core hunger is political, it is ‘man made’ and it is a failure of systems.
We can see that hunger and malnutrition often reflects wider inequalities of power in society. It is therefore surprising that often power isn’t the main focus of global food policy and debates. And, when it is, it is mostly drawing attention to the power of men over women in poor households as opposed to the power of big firms.
If we are to reach the Zero Poverty SDG by 2030 we need to tackle the causes of hunger by addressing food security, ensuring that every person on the planet has access to and can afford the types of food that are critical for their survival and for them to reach their potential. That is why we need to work across all of the Sustainable Development Goals at the same time, on Peace (SDG 16), on Health (SDG 3), on Gender Equality (SDG 5), on Education (SDG 4) on Climate Change (SDG 13)…
Concern is well placed to comment on hunger and the factors that drive it. We have been working in conflict-affected countries since our founding in 1968 in response to hunger during the Biafran War and we’ve been working on hunger in many countries since that time.
We are delighted to be part of the Development Perspectives SDG Challenge. As Ban Ki Moon said when launching the Sustainable Development Goals; “We can be the first generation in history to end hunger and poverty.” With the will, effort and cooperation we believe his words will not be in vain.
Head of Active Citizenship
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