“The world’s hunger is getting ridiculous. There is more fruit in a rich man’s shampoo than in a poor man’s plate.”
‘Zero Hunger’ features as the second goal in the list of United Nations’ sustainable development goals. With the population increasing every minute, every second, what is also bound to grow is the demand for food. According to a study by United Nations, one in nine of the global population is undernourished, accounting to about 795 million people. A majority of these people are living in the developing countries, that are already in a position of a lot of other deficits.
According to FAO, “Food security is a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food security as a concept emerged in mid- 1970s, in the wake of several issues associated with food. These issues were largely related to the availability, affordability and quality of the food that was prevalent at that point of time. Even today, they render themselves equally relevant. In fact, a Un report posits66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
The top ten hungriest countries in the world as per Global Citizen have extremely disappointing figures to offer in terms of various socio-economic indicators, which is clearly indicative of the kind of life our fellow humans are being subjected to. Burundi, which ranks first in this list, has 73.4% of its population suffering from undernutrition. Timor-Leste, ranking fourth in this list has almost half of its population suffering from undernourishment because of its ‘hunger season’ from November to March, when the old stores run out and new crops are yet to be harvested. Sudan, Chad, the Yemen Republic and many other countries feature in this list. Such undernutrition stems from a number of sources. In some cases, it is war and displacement; others it is the primitive methods of agriculture or the extreme climatic conditions. These factors fester underdevelopment and extreme poverty, consequently making hunger an inevitable scenario.
As per Global Food Security Index by DuPont, Ireland ranks at number one position in terms of overall food security, ranks 2nd in terms of food availability, ranks 5th in terms of food affordability and 9th in terms of quality and safety of food. Qatar ranks 1st in terms of food affordability, United Kingdom ranks 1st in terms of food availability and Portugal ranks 1st in terms of food quality and safety.
Provided Ireland has the best scorecard in the Global Food Security Index of DuPont, it is important to look at its strong points. First of all, the proportion of the population under Global Poverty line is of a data value of zero, which means that Ireland has already done away with the first cause of hunger-poverty. Secondly, Ireland scored a 100 in the category of ‘Presence of food safety net programmes,’ which is, according to the
Global Food Security Index, an assessment “of public initiatives to protect the poor from food-related shocks. This indicator considers food safety net programmes, which include in-kind food transfers, conditional cash transfers and the existence of school feeding programmes by government, NGOs or multilateral sector”. Thirdly, Ireland scored another hundred for the indicator of ‘Access to financing for farmers’ and ‘Urban Absorption capacity’. Urban Absorption Capacity relates to the ability of the country to ensure food security despite the effects of urbanisation. If we look at these indicators, the reason for Ireland’s excellent ranking becomes all the more obvious. The fact that the farmers have adequate access to financing helps in ensuring good conditions and continuity in food production, thereby securing the supply of food to a great extent. This, when supported by good urban absorption capacity results in cutting down numerous factors which act as an impediment in the process of high levels of food security.
The kind of conditions that Ireland has been able to create for itself has a lot of ideas to offer to the rest of the world. The United Nations Organisation has a number of its agencies (like the World Food Programme, The World Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the International fund for Agricultural development) working towards international food security. Now it is the countries which have to treat food security as a serious issue that must be given attention, not only because it is a very important social indicator but also because for most countries the reasons for the unavailability of food and for depreciating levels of food security are rooted in the countries themselves.
-Contributed by Richa Bhatt
Picture Credits: wfp.org