Beth Gardiner (@Gardiner_Beth) is an environmental writer whose work appears regularly in a number of prominent publications, including The Guardian. This piece appeared in the New York Times.
Hundreds of thousands died in Ethiopia during a famine period in the mid-1980s. But much has changed in that nation; “rates of undernourishment have plummeted in the past 25 years, child mortality is down by two-thirds and 90 percent of children go to primary school.”
Like many countries around the world, Ethiopia has made progress toward the goals of the United Nations’ Zero Hunger Challenge, a campaign that the organization launched in 2012. The Zero Hunger Challenge has an ambitious goal: to eradicate world hunger. The Zero Hunger Challenge has some key goals, including “ending stunting in children under 2 years old; ensuring universal access to food year round; making all food systems sustainable; doubling the productivity and income of small landowners or workers; and ending food waste.”
And experts say it’s helping, by lending “structure and clarity to efforts to ensure that even the very poorest have enough to eat and to make food systems more resilient in the face of climate change, droughts, floods and other pressures.”
Zero Hunger “is a challenge and it’s a hope,” said Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, a research and advocacy organization in New Orleans. “It gives us a concrete framework so we can get to a situation where everyone is well fed. I think that’s a realizable goal over the next 50 years.”
The goal to end world hunger is complex. It’s not only a matter of producing enough food, but doing that within the context of a changing climate and a world population that continues to grow. There are myriad issues that contribute to world hunger, including food waste, lack of infrastructure, gender inequality, lack of education and poverty.
Improving nutrition is vital, because “deficiencies in micronutrients like vitamins and iron, especially in the first years of life, stunt development and leave children with permanent physical and cognitive deficits.” The consequences of poor childhood nutrition may last a lifetime.
“We used to many years ago think of hunger as just growing enough food to feed the world, and I think we’ve now understood it’s not a matter of sufficient aggregate supply,” said Homi Kharas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It’s a matter of making sure the people who really need the food are able to produce and buy it.”
This piece is a must-read. It provides a superb overview of hunger issues globally, as well as examples about programs and progress in a number of countries. One positive example comes from Brazil, which by some estimates has reduced child malnutrition by 73%, in part due to a school-based meal program that feeds 43 million of the nation’s children each day.
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