Facts about World Hunger

Finding a solution to world hunger and bringing about food security is currently the primary agenda of most administrative organizations. Here are some facts that explain why.
Hunger is a seemingly simple word, but when considered in a global perspective, it takes the form of one of the most dreadful problems ever to confront humankind. This is a crisis created not by virulent pathogens, atmospheric changes or deadly nuclear warheads, but an inability of the human population to feed itself! World hunger is considered the worst threat in modern times, an estimation borne out by the fact that, at present, hunger-related issues claim more lives than malaria, HIV-AIDS and tuberculosis put together.

Unnerving Stats
  • About 16,000 children die every day due to hunger-related issues. This equates to about 6 million per year.
  • The Indian subcontinent houses almost half of the world's hungry people.
  • There are more than 950 million hungry people in the world, of which more than 800 million are malnourished.
  • Children under the age of 5 make up more than 150 million of the world's malnourished people.
  • Since the Black Death in the 19th century, malnutrition is responsible for more than half of the deaths worldwide.
  • Over 500 million people in the American, Asian and Latin American countries are living in "absolute poverty". Poverty is a prime factor behind hunger.
  • It is estimated that only one-third of the world is well-fed; a third is under-fed, while the rest is starving. Ironically, studies have shown that the Earth is capable of sustaining its present population in relative comfort.
  • Norman Borlaug, an eminent agronomist, brought about the Green Revolution in the 1960s and 70s by introducing new, high-yielding strains of food crops. His work is often said to have saved more than a billion lives.
  • The emergence and advancement of biofuels have further worsened the food crisis, since biofuels are produced from maize, a major food crop.
  • It has been found that women tend to suffer from malnutrition more than men, possibly a result of their preference and/or need to feed their children first. However, malnutrition during pregnancy can be fatal for the fetus and can also lead to severe congenital disorders.
  • A Tomahawk missile costs about $600,000. If $5 is considered sufficient for a day's food, the amount of money used to fund a war machine (not even the most modern one) can feed a person for 120,000 days, i.e., 329 years!
Nutritional Disorders

Malnutrition leads to various nutritional disorders. The human body needs a minimum amount of nutrients for sheer sustenance, the absence of which can lead to potentially fatal conditions. Some well-documented examples of such disorders include kwashiorkor, which arises from a deficiency of proteins, scurvy, a result of vitamin C deficiency, and other vitamin deficiency disorders. Children suffering from malnutrition also suffer learning disorders, and are susceptible to mental disorders such as schizophrenia et al. Iodine deficiency is the worst offender in this category, since iodine is necessary for mental health.

Malnutrition and world hunger are closely related to poverty. Undernourishment and prolonged hunger lead to drastic reduction in work performance, which, in turn, affects the individual's remuneration, continuing the vicious cycle. Mass financial inability to buy nutritious, wholesome foods leading to malnourishment is illustrated by the fact that more than half of all malnourished children in the world have been found to be living in countries that produce excess of food items, in a study conducted by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). It has been determined that our planet is capable of producing enough food for its current population, so the unequal distribution might be an indication of a need for global cooperation to coordinate in the fulfillment of each man's basic needs.

Every year since 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been celebrating 16 October as World Food day. Since 1995, 14 of the 18 themes of the World Food Day have revolved around the crisis of world hunger and food security. It is sad, really, that such efforts are required to ensure that one of the most primeval and basic needs of man does not go unsatisfied.