The United Nations reports that over 7.6 million people die annually throughout the world because of hunger or a hunger-related cause. This means about 21,000 people, on average, die every day because of food insecurity. That’s one person every 4 seconds.
A great majority of these deaths are typically children.
This means an important question must be asked. If the world is producing 17% more food than is necessary for every person to receive the daily food resources they need, then why is hunger still an issue? The answer is complex, yet simple: poverty.
Why Does Poverty Create Malnutrition When We Have So Much Food?
There may be plenty of food for everyone on our planet, but those who are trapped in severe poverty may not have access to the resources they need for their households. They may lack money to purchase food or to purchase the resources needed to grow their own food. This causes malnutrition to begin, which can create chronic weakness and illness to form.
This cycle then causes the individual to work less. Less work means less money. Less money means a greater lack of access to food resources. This causes malnutrition to continue, which restarts the cycle once again. It is a downward spiral that often ends in death unless an intervention can happen.
How Can Malnutrition Be Stopped?
There are many effective programs which can be implemented around the world that can begin to heal the damage that malnutrition can cause. In some areas, work-for-food programs are encouraging household adults to build schools, create roads, or dig wells for safe water. This builds local infrastructures and gives families the food they need to survive.
Similar programs for children, such as food-for-education, provide students with food whenever they attend school. Food provisions are not based on grades or performance, but simply on attendance. By receiving an education and the food they need, it becomes possible to escape the cycles of poverty once and for all.
Eliminating the waste from our distribution networks will also stop malnutrition. At the retail level, more than 130 billion pounds of food in the United States goes to waste every year. That’s enough food to eliminate hunger in entire nations that are struggling with poverty.
How many people die from malnutrition each year? Too many. With the right ideas, however, we can stop hunger for good.