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Today Is World Hunger Day, and Yes, It's Still a Huge Problem

by Matt Hershberger May 28, 2015

TODAY IS WORLD HUNGER DAY, and for most of us in the developed world, that doesn’t mean all that much. Starvation is not a widespread issue in the United States, after all, and it can seem bizarre to us that this isn’t true for all of the world. But as it stands, 800 million people in the world (about 11% of the entire world population and more than double the population of the United States) are undernourished. The problem is still huge.

Which people are undernourished?

The vast majority of the world’s undernourished — about 97% — live in the developing world. In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly a quarter of people are undernourished, and worldwide, 60% of the undernourished people are women. 146 million children are estimated to be underweight as a result of undernourishment, and you’re far more likely to be undernourished if you live in a rural area.

What can we do?

It turns out, this is a totally solvable problem. For one thing, empowering women in their families results in expenditures going more towards children and their nutrition. So in part, just working for women’s rights helps the problem.

We also actually produce enough food on this planet to feed everyone — but there are issues with getting that food to everyone and we waste nearly a third of all of our food. But the cost is relatively small: $50 can feed a child for a year in some parts of the world.

So how is it fixed? It’s actually not an issue that can be solved from the top down. As the Hunger Project UK points out in this great video, the issue is best approached at the local level.

The cool thing? While this is still a huge problem, it’s not at all hopeless. Extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last 25 years, and thousands fewer children are dying of malnutrition than there were a few decades ago. We’re within sight of eliminating one of the horsemen of the apocalypse.

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