In 2000 the United Nations established Millennium Development Goals (MDG) outlining worldwide initiatives to end hunger and poverty. One goal was to reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by 50%. Officials ended 2014 evaluating progress towards achieving these goals.
Fifteen years after the goals were set, progress seems to have stalled. Despite UN reports of progress on other MDG goals, like improved access to healthcare and safe drinking water, much work remains before hunger will be halved, much less eradicated entirely. The UN’s post-2015 initiative statement notes 2030 as the year by which hunger should be eliminated; however, without intense intervention, the numbers suggest otherwise.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the total number of people experiencing extreme hunger worldwide dropped by 65 million to 805 million. Overall, there was 20% drop in the number of hungry adults and children in the past 20 years – a full 30% short of the UN’s established goal.
The UN’s latest data for 2012-2014 suggests victories have been achieved elsewhere, as undernourishment is on a steady decline. A significant reduction in hunger was also reported in Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, where factors such as increased economic sustainability have contributed to overall improvement.
Unfortunately, the hunger crisis is worsening in Africa, where an additional 64 million people were added to the continent’s list of hungry residents between 2010-2012. The World Food Programme outlines multiple factors preventing the reduction of hunger in Africa, including a high population of children and the presence of many rural communities situated far from resources.
Bill Gates, who has seen the food crisis occurring in Africa firsthand, called attention to the fact that more than 40% of children in Africa are experiencing stunted growth due to malnutrition. As Gates pointed out, the cause of stunted development isn’t lack of food, but lack of nutrition.
In areas where a steady supply of meat, fruits, and vegetables is nowhere to be found, the likelihood of a child’s growth being stunted increases exponentially. Gates proposed the dispersion of nutrient-enriched foods and further adoption of genetically modified foods.
“We’re also beginning to develop new crops that are more nutritious,” Gates writes, and references crops enriched with vitamins and capable of higher yields. However, not everyone agrees that this is the solution. As EarthIsland.org’s John Robbins noted, genetically modified crops have been grown for the past 15 years without a significant reduction in the hunger crisis.
So what’s the answer? Organizations like Action Against Hunger are taking a traditional approach to solving the hunger problem: See a need and fill it. A humanitarian organization with an international focus on hunger and malnutrition, Action Against Hunger operates in more than 40 countries and helped nearly four million people in 2013. Recognized as one of the best hunger nonprofits, AAH allocates 91% of funds raised to the charity’s programs.
Another group rolling up its sleeves to battle hunger is Kids Against Hunger, a food aid organization with more than 15 years of hands-on experience gathering food resources and distributing them to families and children in need worldwide. Thus far, the organization has provided more than 40 million meals for hungry kids and adults.
Truly eradicating hunger in every country will likely involve a collaborative effort between compassionate citizens and local governments. Although the UN vowed to take on this challenge, lofty goals established more than a decade ago have not yet been met, and nonprofit organizations continue to struggle to meet demand.
What are your thoughts on the hunger crisis? What do you think is the best solution?[amazon template=iframe image&asin=9251073163]