Hunger in Third World Countries
Hunger is a serious question that affects many countries in the world, especially in developing countries. A recent report states that “925 million people do not have enough to eat and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. ”(FAO,2010) “Hunger is not just the need to eat; but can be defined as “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite, [or] the exhausted condition caused by want of food” (Oxford English Dictionary), which means a continuing deprivation in a person of the food needed to support a healthy life.
Over time, people in third world countries who suffer from hunger have slower physical and mental developments than well fed people and are vulnerable to illness and disease. Poverty is the condition of having insufficient resources or income. In its most extreme form, poverty is a lack or deprivation of basic human needs, such as adequate and nutritious food, clothing, housing, clean water, and health services. In developing countries, people are faced with extreme poverty, because there are almost no jobs, a near complete lack of public services, and lastly, because of weak and corrupted central governments.
The consequences of this situation are staggering. Millions of people are homeless, disease is rampant, and starvation is a common occurrence. “Extreme poverty remains a daily reality for over 1 billion people who live on less than US$1 a day and 800 million people who suffer from acute scarcity of food. ”(MDGs, 2005). More third world countries, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia, have more poverty-related ills. These regions are also the most adversely affected by hunger because poverty is rising at a rapid rate. ith the ”hungry representing 33 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa, 22 percent in Southern Asia and 13 percent in South East Asia. ”(MDGs, 2005), Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia were the worst affected regions in terms of the number of hungry people during the period 1990-2002. Most of the hungry people are from rural areas depending “on consumption and sale of natural products for their income and their foods” (UN, 2005, p. 8). Poverty became the fundamental cause of hunger. At the end of 2005, more than enough food [was] produced to feed all of its 6 billion inhabitants, but there are still 842 million poor suffering from chronic undernourishment, including 798 million in developing countries” (FAO,2007) . “Farmers in developing countries are unable to compete with the uncompetitively priced well-developed agricultural products dumped onto poor countries, and are forced to sell their land leading to the mass exodus to urban slums. ” With less food produced domestically, poor countries are losing the struggle to achieve food sovereignty, thus becoming less ability to feed their own.
Overpopulation is a term that refers to “a condition by which the population density enlarges to a limit that provokes the environmental deterioration, a remarkable decline in the quality of life, or a population collapse. ” “Each day 200,000 more people are added to the world food demand. The world’s human population has increased near fourfold in the past 100 years” (UN population Division, 2007), it is projected to increase from 6. 7 billion (2006) to 9. 2 billion by 2050. “More than 850 million people worldwide are classified as undernourished”, many of whom suffer from food insecurity.
Rapid population growth is intensifying food insecurity in parts of the developing world where populations are increasing fast in a short term, the number of chronically hungry people increased by nearly 4 million per year in the mid- to late 1990s. (world bank,91 ) Rapid population growth is greatly straining already fragile food supplies in the country, with more people facing chronic food shortages. Furthermore, most of the least developed countries with the highest rates of poverty and hunger also have some of the highest rates of population growth, which is no coincidence.
In Angola, for instance, “[where] average annual population growth was 2. 8 per cent during 1980-2002, 48. 8 percent of the population was undernourished in 1999-2001. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, population growth was 2. 8 per cent annually and an estimated 75 per cent of the population suffered from chronic hunger. In Zambia, population growth was 2. 6 per cent per year and half the population did not have enough to eat. ” (FAO, 2003) These countries represent a few extreme examples, but with rapid population growth and the resulting high dependency ratios, there is no surplus to invest.
In those circumstances, breaking out of the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger is much more difficult, if not impossible, especially in light of other related factors, such as political instability and a high incidence of infectious disease, including HIV. Moreover, although Zambia, for instance, “experienced a very respectable 3. 6 per cent average annual increase in agricultural output during 1980-1990 and 3. 5 per cent during 1990-2002, because its population was growing at 2. 6 per cent per year,” (World Bank, 2004). The increase in per capita food supply was quite modest.
People suffer from hunger because they don’t get enough food, and not getting enough food over the long term can lead to malnutrition. People with malnutrition are lack of the nutrient which is necessary for their bodies to grow and stay healthy. Someone can be malnourished for a long or short period of time, and the condition may be mild or severe. Malnutrition can affect someone’s physical and mental health. People who are suffering from malnutrition are more likely to get sick; in very severe cases, they may even die from its effects.
Malnutrition permeates all aspects of health, growth, cognition, motor and social development of young children in developing countries. Children who are malnourished are more susceptible to infections, and are more likely to become ill and/or die from these infections than a well-nourished child. “Undernutrition contributes to 53 percent of the 9. 7 million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries”( UNICEF, 2006) “Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10. 9 million child deaths each year—over five million deaths” (UNICEF 2008, p 1).
Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Under nutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria. The estimated proportions of deaths in which under nutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhea (61%), malaria (57%), pneumonia (52%), and measles (45%) (Black 2003, Bryce 2005). Malnutrition can also be caused by diseases, such as the diseases that cause diarrhea, by reducing the body’s ability to convert food into usable nutrients.
Malnutrition affects the proper mental and social development of a child, to the effect that malnourished children do less well in school and are less likely to reach their full potential than if they were well nourished. When malnutrition is widespread, this restricted development has obvious effects on the development potential of a community as a whole. Malnourished women are more likely to have complications during pregnancy and die during childbirth than well-nourished women. “About 11 percent of children in the developing world are born small”(the lacent, 2008).
Malnourished women are more likely to give birth prematurely, and more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies. Faced with a poor start to life, these children are more likely to grow up physically and cognitively impaired, factors that will make it more difficult for them to escape hunger and poverty later in life. These babies are at a higher risk of many complications during the immediate postpartum period and early childhood. Low birth weight babies, particularly those who are born prematurely, may have problems breastfeeding, which again puts them at higher risk of malnutrition.
Since hunger is worsening in most developing countries, concerted action is necessary at the local, national, and international levels. Every individual should be conscious of their obligations toward others and do their best to combat hunger. Food security should not be equated with national food self-sufficiency, which implies that domestic production is adequate to satisfy domestic demand. India, for instance, has largely become self-sufficient in food and during some years it has actually been an exporter of food.
However, India has more undernourished people than any other single nation. People in India are hungry because they are poor. The poor’s food needs cannot be satisfied through the market because they lack the means to buy the food they need (Runge and others, 2003) Recent reports advise that the best way to increase output for small farmers is to “increase the productivity of the existing land under cultivation, rather than expanding into wild lands that provide balance for the agricultural systems. () They also agree that sustainable agriculture is the key to increasing productivity for the small farmers of the world. Sustainable agriculture can be defined as a system of agriculture involving a combination of inter-related soil, crop and livestock production practices; discontinuance or reduced use of external inputs that are potentially harmful to the environment and the health of farmers and consumers; and emphasis on the use of techniques that integrates are adapted to local natural processes.
In 2007, FAO official Nadia Scialabba stated that sustainable organic agriculture is:“A holistic production management system that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and genetically modified organisms, minimizes pollution of air, soil and water, and optimizes the health of plants animals and people. ” The benefits from this type of agriculture are its reliance on fossil-fuel independent, locally-available resources that incur minimal agro-ecological stresses and are cost-effective. 15 The international community and local governments hould also do more to balance their food storage and supply systems. If countries such as India first export vegetables or foods to developed countries and import them again to fulfill their own needs, serious wastages are involved. If a farmer grows apples in Himachal Pradesh, for example, and exports them overseas, and the people in Chennai import apples from abroad instead of purchasing them from Himachal Pradesh directly, only traders benefit while local people in Chennai ultimately have to pay more in the process (Shiva, n. . , para. 76). So what developing nations first must do is secure local demand for food. They should also formulate plans for regions where availability and accessibility of food have become challenges. If hunger and poverty are to be conquered, it is essential that governments at all levels and international bodies change their attitudes and policies.
They must show their commitment to abolish a global problem for which they can solve. People, and not profits, should be prioritized while policies are formulated and implemented. At the individual level, meanwhile, we all must look beyond our immediate interests. The task of hunger reduction can be accomplished at the global level only if we always act in accordance with our individual and collective responsibilities.