28 May 2014 – Are you hungry now? You may have already eaten or be planning your next meal, a meal you know with absolute certainty will be coming. But over eight percent of the world’s population are unable to quell growling stomachs, and live in extreme hunger and poverty.
Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, including two million children a year. Of the 842 million people who live in poverty and hunger, only 10% live in famine or crisis-situations, the rest live in developing areas. They are starving not merely due to lack of food, but due to the lack of opportunities. Chances such as education, earning proper wages and being a part of the political process surrounding them.
The changes that could eliminate hunger can be made quickly, and hunger could end in our lifetime. The UN is pursuing this through its Zero Hunger Challenge aiming to eliminate hunger…now. This means working on solutions to obtain less waste of food, increased sustainability and investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection and equality of opportunity. The goal is for everyone, everywhere, to have adequate access to food at all times.
The Zero Hunger Challenge takes place in the framework of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. The first goal aims at the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty. The UN’s fact sheet on hunger finds that the proportion of undernourished people has decreased from 23 per cent in 1990-1992 to 15 per cent in 2010-2012. Yet, conversely the number of unemployed people has increased by 28 million since 2007, and an estimated 39 million people have dropped out of the labour market, creating new people at-risk for food insecurity.
To this end, The Hunger Project, a UK-based NGO has dubbed May 28, World Hunger Day. Around the world when a disaster strikes, when conflict erupts, food security is one of the first things to suffer. However, on a daily basis, separate from any disaster of conflict, thousands of people are starving. World Hunger Day is about raising awareness of this situation, so that not only emergency crisis zones receive food aid. The day’s theme is “get fit” and will host walk/run/jog events around the United Kingdom.
The focus of World Hunger Day, and the Zero Hunger Challenge, is on development. Rather than investing in short-term relief packages, subsidizing innovative and sustainable projects to make people able to produce and obtain food on their own is the ultimate goal. To fill empty bellies, and ensure a decent existence now and in the future for those who are starving, investment in sustainable farming, books, teachers, schools and new technologies is a necessity. It was once said, “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. But teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry again.”
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2,7th and 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 788 8484 / Fax: 32 2 788 8485