According to the 2012 State of Food Insecurity in the World (published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation), 870 million people representing 12.5% of world population were ‘chronically undernourished’ in 2010 – 2012 (www.fao.org/publications/sofi/en/)
This represents 1 in 8 people on our planet at a time when the world has never been wealthier, better fed and better informed. The consequences for those who are hungry are immense not just in human terms but also in terms of life chances, economic and social possibilities as well as intellectual and political potential. Their hunger and its immediate and long-term impacts are an affront to their human dignity at all levels; they are also an affront to our human dignity in that our capacity to respond to the challenge has never been greater but our resolve to effectively do so remains very weak despite all the rhetoric spoken on the subject.
On defining hunger and malnutrition see: http://www.developmenteducation.ie/8020-extracts/20-defining-hunger.pdf
On describing who are the worlds’ hungry and why they remain hungry, see the excellent summary by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter:
See other important documents by De Schutter at www.srfood.org/
For information on food as a human right, see:
- www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/otherdocuments/factsheet34en1.pdf (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
For an analysis of how hunger and poverty confronts us all morally, practically and politically, see Peter Singer (2009) The Life You Can Save: acting now to end world poverty published by Picador. Also, see the arguments of philosopher Thomas Pogge in Politics as Usual (published in 2010 by Polity Press – Chapter 1). For a summary of many of Singer’s arguments especially as regards hunger, famine and affluence see this article www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1972—-.htm
Worth reading on the subject:
- Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman (2009) Enough: Why the Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, Public Affairs, New York (an annotation of which can be found here
- E.M. Young (1997) World Hunger, London, Routledge
- UNDP (2012) Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future, Oxford University Press (available free here).