Hunger is a result of extreme poverty, but it also causes poverty by seriously reducing the productivity and productive ability of individuals, societies, and nations. Reducing the rate of hunger is, therefore, an excellent move, as it enables people to change from a state of economic dependence and exclusion to partaking in and contributing with their talent and energy to growth and development.
Poverty situations are mostly experienced in rural areas, especially amongst small farmers and landless families. Much urban poverty is as a result of rural deprivation and rural economic decline which creates uncomfortable change in shelter to the cities.
To reduce poverty, the fight therefore, has to begin in the countryside. It also has to begin with policies and resources which promote agricultural growth and broad-based rural development.
HISTORY OF HUNGER AND POVERTY IN AFRICA
At the beginning of the 21st century, we were still far from achieving what humanity has lost for thousands of years, a world free from poverty and hunger. However, in the past three decades, we have been brought closer towards reaching this goal in a wider part of Africa. The lives of millions have been transformed at a speed in human history and to an extent, that would have seemed impossible only a generation ago.
Even today, close to 1.2 billion people – a fifth of the world’s population – continue to live in abject poverty. Almost 800 million people in developing countries, Africa inclusive are continually hungry. A fundamental right, the right to adequate and nutritious food, which most people take for granted, remains a distant dream for those who fight with a shortage of food every day of their lives.
The increase in hunger and poverty is surprising and cannot leave anyone unconcerned. An estimated 174 million under-five children in the developing world were not fed well from 1996 to 1998, and 6.6 million out of 12.2 million deaths among children in that age group are associated with malnutrition.
THE REVERSE LINKAGES
Hunger is an essential cause as well as an effect of poverty. The effects of hunger are far beyond its bad toll on people suffering from it. Hunger has enough economic costs for individuals, families, and whole communities. One major resource of the poor which is labor, is devalued for the hungry. Mental and physical health are also threatened by lack of food, cutting productivity, output and the money people earn. Hungry people cannot afford the human capital which would allow them to escape poverty. It also harms pregnant women, thereby, giving birth to underweight children.
There is evidence that 46 million years of productive life free of disability were lost in 1990. The result of the lost social productivity were caused by four different types of malnutrition: disorders and stunting related to iodine, iron, and vitamin A deficiency.
90 percent of anemic preschoolers and pregnant mothers live in developing countries and about 17 percent of newborns suffer from intrauterine growth retardation, (a sign of poor maternal food intake). Low birth weight means a high risk of sickness and death during infancy coupled with reduced work capacity and strength as a result of malnutrition.
The continuous spread of hunger and malnutrition in a world of enough food implies that extreme poverty is the major cause of undernourishment. However, we don’t always understand that hunger and malnutrition are the major causes of poverty as they affect the ability of individuals to get rid of poverty in many ways through:
Causing serious long-term damage to health, linked to higher rates of disease and early death.
Going from generation to generation, hungry pregnant mothers give birth to underweight children who start their lives being handicaps. This contributes to social and political instability that further reduces government capacity to reduce poverty.
WAYS TO TACKLE HUNGER AND POVERTY
In this section, I will be discussing 6 possible solutions to hunger and poverty.
1. FOOD DONATIONS:
Food donations are one of the simplest ways to fight hunger. One can of food may seem like a small offer or step, but that small offer can go a long way to make a huge difference in someone’s life.
2. URBAN FARMING:
Researchers in the agricultural sector believe that building indoor farms or engaging in subsistence farming in some areas in cities can help solve the world’s hunger and poverty problem.
3. GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION:
This is another way to tackle hunger, and this is done when foreign nations are encouraged to be more focused on different government intervention programs like those that provide food to mothers and children in poor areas.
4. BIRTH CONTROL EDUCATION:
Lack of reproductive education, lack of access to contraceptives, etc lead to high birth rates, thereby posing problems. When people are properly educated and have access to contraceptives, there would be proper family planning, economic freedom, and a reduction in world hunger.
5. ACCESS TO CREDIT LOANS:
Many people have little or no capital to start up businesses that they can earn from. As a result, this contributes to the economic instability in the society. When adequate loans are given, it will help create a sustainable provision for people and also develop nations economically.
6. ACCESS TO EDUCATION:
A better education system is the answer to most of the world’s problems (especially in Africa). In the view of world hunger, education can provide better opportunities and more access to income and food. In addition to this, some countries have food-for-education programs where students are given free food for coming to school.
If these solutions and more can be put in place, we would have a better place for everyone. Africa and the world at large, will be free of hunger and poverty.
As individuals and cooperate bodies, what are you doing to help your society become free from poverty and hunger? Let’s rise to the challenges within our society and together, we can build Africa to be a better place.
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