Top 5 Causes of Hunger

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Concern Worldwide is investing in women farmers in Malawi to improve nutrition (Photo: Malawi, Concern Worldwide)

We asked readers, Facebook fans, and fellow tweeters what they believed was the greatest cause of hunger. There’s enough food for all of us, every single human being, to eliminate world hunger. We are capable of producing enough food for everyone to receive adequate nutrition. Yet, nearly 1 billion people suffer from crippling hunger every day. Why is this? What do you think are the leading causes of hunger?

Below is a list of the top five causes of world hunger:

  1. War and Conflict – It’s no coincidence that many of the world’s “conflict hot spots” are also the regions most ravaged by hunger. Imagine how difficult it is for a community stressed by violence, crumbling infrastructure, and fleeing refugees to support stable food systems. In many cases, a family whose life has been interrupted by war will see a drop in income and access to arable land. War and conflict drastically impact food supply and security.
  2. Weather and Climate Change – Natural disasters leave dramatic impact on the production of arable land. Between droughts, floods, and tropical storms, weather can be unpredictable and devastating. Although a natural disaster may strike quickly, its long-term damage can be unimaginable. In many developing countries, farmers depend on one small plot of land. If this land is destroyed by natural disaster, their source of food and livelihood is washed away with it.
  3. Agricultural Practices – In recent years, farmers have seen an increase in deforestation, desertification, soil erosion, and drought. Combined with overgrazing, over-cropping, and deforestation, the impact of poor agricultural practices can destroy arable land. By improving farming practices and increasing access to quality infrastructure, we can make huge strides in eliminating hunger.
  4. Population Growth – As the populations of countries rise, so too does the demand for food. Population growth has hit developing countries especially hard. Compounded with rising food prices, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to match food production rates with population growth rates.
  5. Poverty – Like hunger, poverty is often a cyclical, structural crisis. In most cases, poverty and hunger go hand-in-hand. As a family sinks into poverty, they are forced to stretch their meager income. As more money is spent on food, less money is available to spend on health care, savings, and education. Farmers may find themselves unable to purchase seeds, tools, or farming equipment. Poverty is a cause of hunger, but it is an effect as well.

Do you think there is one cause that should be addressed first?  How would you attempt to address these issues?