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The Key to Ending Global Hunger is to End These Kinds of Practices

Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Agencies & Systems, Government with 0 Comments

Tove Danovich | Takepart

Hands-Around-An-Empty-Bowl-Hunger

Around the world, conflict remains a major cause of malnourishment.

When the United Nations announced new goals for reducing global food waste last month, the plan was couched in terms of helping those who don’t have enough to eat. By limiting the amount of food we throw away, the idea goes, we can limit the amount of people who are hungry too. But according to this year’s Global Hunger Index, which was published Wednesday by the International Food Policy Research Institute, to eradicate global hunger for good, we may need to work a little harder to achieve world peace.


Related Article: Here’s How We Can End Global Hunger in 15 Years

The kind of “calamitous famines” that kill more than 1 million people “have vanished,” according to an essay by Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Program, included in the report. “The end of the Cold War, the adoption of international human rights norms, and the rise of globalization” are key factors that allowed the elimination of massive famine, he wrote. But all is not rosy in the world. Just because governments can no longer easily starve an entire population without the world knowing about it does not mean all nonnatural famine (as in the case of drought or other natural disaster) has been eradicated. “When famine or acute hunger occurs today, it is usually the result of armed conflict,” de Waal added.

Between 1970 and 1997, agricultural losses owing to conflict averaged $4.3 billion annually, according to the report, “exceeding the value of food aid to these countries.”

Related Article: Can Bugs End World Hunger? American Student Goes On 30-Day Insect Diet to Show Viability


In the past, governments have regularly used hunger as a weapon. “Scorched earth” campaigns—when an army burns or otherwise ruins natural resources or food—have been used by armies since ancient times. Herbicidal weaponry such as the Agent Orange the U.S. used in the Vietnam War caused not only a loss of agricultural crops but also topsoil damage that led to flooding. In 1977, the Geneva Convention banned the practice of harming civilians either directly or through destroying necessary resources, though that has not entirely stopped the practice.

But a conflict doesn’t have to directly raze farmland to decrease food security. As the FAO has noted, this doesn’t make the impact on life less severe. War can harm more people through hunger and malnutrition than direct violence can. A report by the Wilson Center showed that, on average, peacetime production levels were 12.3 percent higher than during conflict periods—though in some countries the difference was as high as 44 percent.

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